There's no doubt about it. Our children are busier than ever. I have three children so I know this firsthand. Their schedules rival that of a busy executive. From soccer practice to music lessons there's barely a chance to grab a family dinner together. What can your child's busy sports activities teach your family about juggling a busy schedule?
Who's on First?
First, make a list of all of the activities your family has each day of the week. Do this faithfully the first of the month and then every Sunday to update any changes. Be sure to include all of your doctor appointments, playdates, school, sports, and church activities. Leave nothing behind. And most importantly do this with your children. When they see the list of activities and what's involved to keep everyone on time, it helps them understand how their day flows and what is needed to run a tight ship. They are part of the family team, after all.
Time it Right
In football terminology it's the end of the fourth quarter and there are 10 seconds left to play. In the carpool world, school gets out at 3:00 pm and piano lessons start at 3:15 pm. Time it right and you won't feel rushed to win in the scheduling game. The very best thing you can do to maintain everyone's sanity is to develop a great calendaring system. Whether it is a large printed calendar posted in a key place in your house, or an electronic one such as your computer calendar or an app for your smartphone, it is the single most important tool you will need. I keep an electronic family calendar so that my husband is aware of all activities. Everyone in my family is copied on all activities so they know who is doing the chauffeuring. I also keep our holidays, school vacations and other key dates on that calendar so everyone has access to that information. You can even color code activities for a quick-glance method.
Create a Winning Team - Communicate
Even with a great calendaring system, it is vital to communicate regularly with everyone in the family. Just like a winning sports team, you must teach your family to communicate with each other so no one gets left behind and everyone is part of the action. Pick a day each week or even a time each day where you review the activities and drop off/pick up points with those involved. The calendar system is a great reference tool, but sometimes hearing out loud is a must. You're like the team captain, so be sure you remind everyone what they're responsible for each day. In time you may not have to remind everyone what their position is on the family team and they will habitually know how to play.
Second String - Keep a Contact and Emergency List
It never fails. Just when your spouse has left for a business trip all that can go wrong does. The baby gets sick, another child has a major school project due tomorrow and there's soccer practice this afternoon. So what can you do? Just like a sports team I have a list of secondary players who comprise my emergency backup. I'm fortunate to have a few members of my extended family nearby. I also have a strong group of friends and we back each other up for carpool duty. See if you can form a tag team of friends who can help with the mutual after-school carpooling. Be sure to print the list of your emergency contacts for your child to keep in their backpack or store on their cell phone. Make sure you instruct them to call any of those contacts in case of emergency. This alone has helped ease my mind. And of course I offer to be my friend's emergency contact as well. It's definitely reciprocal team agreement.
Know your Game Plan - Prepare Today What you Have Tomorrow
In order to ease the daily stress of a busy family schedule, work with your children to create a game plan. Think about those things you can do today to prepare for tomorrow. That may mean packing the soccer gear or piano books in a duffle bag and putting it near the door so you see it before leaving the house. Or it may mean making sure your child gets all of their school work done and put away in their backpack before bed so they are not hunting for it the next morning. The younger you can teach your children to think this way the better. This has saved me from last-minute panic runs to the school that some of my friends do to bring a forgotten school report or lunch bag to their child.
Eat Well, Sleep Tight - Get a Good Night's Rest & Establish a Regular Routine
While an excellent calendaring system is crucial to a busy lifestyle, it is also critical to get proper rest and nutrition. A well - rested child is more alert at school and less forgetful the next day. A well-nourished child is less cranky and has plenty of energy. This means eating a balanced diet low in sugar and refined flour, and having high fructose corn syrup treats in moderation. Take the time to read labels, and teach your children to look at nutrition labels, too. Help them focus on getting their important school work completed so that they can enjoy extracurricular activities and sports. It's all about prioritizing what's important to your family and creating a healthy, winning team.
What tips do you have for juggling your busy family's activities?Content by Tina Case .