As children’s activities fill your family’s schedule, guess what shrinks. You got it. Those wine tastings and pottery classes that used to fill your weekends and evenings, gone. And while that’s all part of parenting, it doesn’t mean your family schedule shouldn’t include time for you and your partner. But for that to happen, you must take control of the family schedule.
Though working at home perhaps allows a little more flexibility, it brings with it another set of issues. Your professional commitments may be mixed in your family ones--not safely sequestered back at the office.
And when back-to-school time arrives every year, the number of kids’ activities on your family schedule can explode.
Follow these five steps to tame the family schedule, build in a little time for yourself and better manage your stress levels.
- Respect your professional commitments. Set (and stick to) your work-at-home ground rules. Treat your work schedule as an important commitment even if your hours are flexible. Check out these time management tips for work-at-home moms. Often people expect that work-at-home moms have more time for volunteering or personal errands for friends. Make it clear to all that you have a job.
- Prioritize. Everyone in the household should do this. Kids may have to choose between activities. For adults, there’s work, but there should be fun too. Consider setting up a regular date night with your partner to ensure some fun. Also feel free to say no to “fun” that you may not find so much fun (i.e. home sales parties, birthday parties of kids your children barely know, etc.), particularly during the holidays or other times you’re feeling over-scheduled.
- Choose activities carefully. Not everything that everyone wants to do can go on the family schedule. Inevitably, conflicts and, frankly, exhaustion will mean that parents will have to say no. Use these 9 considerations for choosing kids’ activities to help you decide to when to say yes. Activities that are organized as after-school programs can help simplify the schedule because one-way of transportation is taken care of.
- Set guidelines. Kids always respond better to no, when they know it's coming. So setting rules and guidelines up front about the family schedule makes for fewer surprises. How many activities is a child allowed at each age? How far will you travel for an activity? How long must they commit to an activity (even when they don't like it)?
- Use a family calendar. Obviously until kids can read, they won't really check or add to the family calendar. But before reading age they should see you using it. Coordinating all the appointments and events in one place will reduce conflicts. And there are tons of options for a family calendar, i.e. paper wall calendars, dry-erase boards, electronic and online calendars, etc. Choose the right family calendar for you.