kids

The school lunch-box rule that will save you hours every week.

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Do you sometimes sit there wondering whether our own parents were as stressed and overwhelmed as we are?

No, you don’t, because you don’t have time.

But if you did, you might think that the stressed-out, anxiety-inducing whirl of your life and the lives of all your parent mates feel new. And really, really exhausting.

Jane Martino, for one, is over it.

Jane is the founder of Smiling Mind, a meditation app that makes ohmm-ing accessible to the masses, on their smart phones. But she’s no laid-back hippie. Jane started her first company at the age of 26. Then she had three sons, now 11, nine and eight. And since then, she’s been building businesses, writing books and advising other companies on how to be awesome. And, as the founder of A Shout For Good, how to give back.

Yeah, she’s pretty kick-arse.

So it was no surprise that when Jane came on the I Don’t Know How She Does It podcast, she gave us a few excellent pieces of take-home wisdom.

Like:

1. Don’t do it all. Get the kids to do some of it. 

Get your kids to help you. It’s very, very good for them. It’s called Mastery.

Listen to Jane explaining what Mastery is here:

Apparently, although 82 per cent of us had to do chores growing up, only around 28 per cent of us are insisting that our own children do the same.

But Jane and her husband Matt get the boys to make their own school lunches, and it’s all in the name of something called Mastery.

“There are five of us in the family and we all take a day to make the lunches and do it the night before,” says Jane. “With three under three the boys became quite independent quite early.”

But the Mastery movement encourages the teaching of your children to ‘master’ little things as they grow up so they become more independent.

“It’s so important to build our confidence and self-esteem, even if they’re really small things… even buttering bread.

“It was a need that eventuated from a fairly chaotic initial period as parents,” says Jane. “I was building my PR agency and was back at work within weeks of having each child… it was extremely busy whether I was there or not. The more I read up about Mastery and how important it is to encourage independence, the less guilty I felt about dishing out the jobs.

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2. Let your kids choose ONE extra-curricular activity.

“The number one thing is that everyone is over-scheduled,” says Jane about stressed-out parents. “It’s important to understand what works for your family. I always say to the boys: It’s one thing plus school. You choose what you want to do.

“We don’t want to be rushing around and taking them here and there. There’s so much time in life for that. When they’re young they just need to time to chill out and be kids. So I think overscheduling is a big factor. When you’re in and out of cars, packing bags… it’s a lot on top of an already busy school day.

“We try to make sure there’s time for down time, as well as the more active times. Hang time is important.”

Hear that? Hang time. It’s what we all need more of.

3. Don’t expect too much from yourself.

Before you write Jane off as a perfect, meditating mum, impossible to emulate, consider this. She says that yes, we could all get more done if we embraced meditation, but that you don’t have to find time to do it every day.

“I always said I was too busy for meditation… which is ironic. I immediately loved it, and I immediately noticed a difference.

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Jane with her three boys. Image via @smilingmind

"I fit in meditation where I can. The guided meditation starts at five minutes. Sometimes I sit in my car and do one... I don't do it every day. It's just like exercise or eating well, or trying to have an alcohol-free day... you go through times when you're really good at it."

4. Share the load.

And last, but not least, if you are able to divide and conquer, definitely, definitely do it.

"I do some of the morning drop-off, but I don't do any of the afternoon ones. My husband or one of the grandparents does that. I usually wrap my day around 5.30-6pm do dinner and then if I need to I'll jump back on afterwards and finish up work.

"We are not going progress women in the workforce until men are given a go at being at home more. "

Amen, Jane.

Listen to the full interview with Jane, including how she coped with going back to work just weeks after each of her children's births, here:

Like the sound of Smiling Mind? Find out more about it here. And while you're there, check out Jane's new book on Mindfulness here.

Would you get your kids to make their own school lunches?

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