If your family’s ballooning schedule of activities and events is pushing the limits of time and energy, you should use the fresh start of a new school year to make a change. Think about ways you and your family can set more manageable schedules and set aside time for quality family togetherness.
How to do this? First, remember that not all activities are created equal! It’s good to have a schedule that includes activities the child or adult feels passionate about, but over-scheduling has many pitfalls.
Make Tough Decisions
Consider each extra activity in a thoughtful, conscious way before adding it to an already-busy schedule. Those activities a child is only marginally interested in are not worth the cost of time and effort. To get the most benefit, a worthy activity should be something that inspires, teaches and builds confidence. The same criteria holds true for parents. Limiting extra activities and networking events frees up time for your family, and responsible parents prioritize their time to allow for more family-oriented activities you can all enjoy together.
Another consideration when cutting activities: will the activity cut into family dinner time or cause the child to be up late finishing homework? If the activity is something like a music or dance lesson, you’ll also need to schedule in-home practice time, and be prepared for recitals and performances that could be added to the schedule.
Remember to make these decisions together: as a family, discuss and decide how many activities are appropriate and manageable. It’s a nice idea to add a “family only” night right onto your schedule. Mark down a free evening every week when you can share time, talking, playing games, or watching a movie as a group.
Organize a family schedule center in a prominent place at home. A calendar with plenty of space to note meetings and activities for all family members works well. Color code activities for each person, so you can tell at a glance which person has a scheduled event, class, lesson or other activity on any given day.
Typical kids’ activities require a once a week commitment, but if your child is involved in sports, she may have a fuller schedule: there may be several weekly practice sessions in addition to regular games and tournaments. Always note the times of activities to avoid transportation conflicts. How is the child getting to and from the activity? If parents are responsible for this then timing will be of the utmost importance.
Schools set their schedules at least a year in advance, so get a copy and add important events to your calendar: PTA meetings, parent conferences, school assemblies should be noted. And don’t forget to note doctor and dentist appointments as well!
Your scheduling center should have a file nearby for each person that contains paperwork pertaining to these activities: permission slips and release forms, a calendar of events, and contact phone numbers of those in charge of each activity. Plan ahead by setting aside an area where equipment and supplies needed for the activities are stored. Returning these things to the designated place means there’s never a frantic last-minute search that wastes time and frays tempers!