Today's families run at breakneck speeds. Parents toil away for 40 hours or more in the office. Kids are saddled with afterschool activities and homework. Weekend sports games, get-togethers and errands leave few spare moments to sit and smell the roses. Time is such a precious commodity these days that diligently managing your family's schedule is key to obtaining a work-life balance. Juggling multiple schedules around in your head can become overwhelming and increase your stress load.
By following a few simple tips, you can minimize the hassle of family scheduling and even pencil in some free time for yourself.
Just like managing a project at in an office, organization is vital to handling your family's schedule. First, purchase a large calendar and put it in a prominent place in your home. For added accessibility, some Web sites offer free calendars that your family members can access online.
Start by adding information about school holidays, birthdays, sports games, recitals, doctor appointments and vacations. Then, when a new activity comes up, jot it down immediately. When dealing with multiple schedules, it may be a good idea to organize the calendar by name as well. Be sure to include the following five essential facts when recording each event: who, what, when, where and how.
Knowing when to plan for hectic days can alleviate a lot of the stress that comes with managing a family schedule. If you've already set up an up-to-date family calendar, make it a daily habit to check it in the mornings. Amid the hustle and bustle, it's easy to forget Sally's haircut appointment in the afternoon or Johnny's evening guitar lesson.
On the weekends, take a few minutes to look at the week ahead. If you see an overloaded day on the horizon, you'll have more time to shift around activities or arrange for carpooling or babysitters. Leaving planning to the last minute, on the other hand, will only cause frustration and anxiety.
Share the Load
As a busy parent, sometimes you have to ask for help. When you're organizing the family calendar, look at who's responsible for accomplishing what. Is someone doing all of the transporting, while another has ample free time? Does one person have a large project coming up and might not be able to complete routine household duties?
Evaluate your resources and strategize ways to utilize them. If your neighbor's son is on the same soccer team as yours, maybe you could trade out carpooling days. If grandparents live in the area and want to spend more time with their grandchildren, perhaps they could hang out with the kids after school once a week. It's also smart to have a friend on stand-by in case of emergencies.
When compiling a family schedule, remember that there are only 24 hours in a day. If you pile up too many activities and outings, you diminish your family's quality of life. Certainly, some kids will want to pursue soccer, ballet, painting and horseback riding all at the same time, but it's up to you to teach the importance of prioritizing. Talk with them about what they would enjoy the most and can commit to long-term, and go from there.
If you need to free up time on the family calendar, first assess priorities, such as school and doctor appointments. When whittling down further, consider the importance of certain events to the people involved, any cost associated with canceling and time invested.
Schedule Time Out
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when managing a family schedule is to leave adequate room for free time. It's crucial for a busy family to slow down and spend time together to nurture relationships and relax. When looking ahead on your well-organized family calendar, keep an eye out for open evenings. These are good opportunities to pencil in a family movie or game night. Teenagers may be more resistant to staying at home, but sharing a meal at the least is essential.
In the words of John Lennon, life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. Don't let time fly by without spending it with the people you cherish the most.