Do you feel as though your children have more of a social life than yourself? With 2021 in full swing, the routine of school, sports and activities can be a fine juggling act! Add instrument practice and homework into the mix, and life for the whole family can become hectic. One of our students Lily (pictured) is not just a talented viola player but is also a very hard-working gymnast so needs to manage the commitment between the two activities.
If you’re feeling a little frazzled keeping track of everything, here are some tips to help you manage everyone’s schedules and keep on top of all the things you need to remember.
Have a visible calendar
Whether you use a shared digital calendar, a free downloaded printable or magnetic family planner on the fridge, make sure it’s visible to everyone in the family. If you’re guilty of having a calendar but never look at it, make a new habit to refer to it daily with your family so everyone knows what events are happening that week and can be prepared. Speaking of which…
Being prepared for the week is the most important step to calming chaos in busy schedules.
Sit down with your family to decide a menu plan for that week. Plan your meals so they can be simple, made-ahead, or portable for the days that may have activities around dinner time. Knowing what you’re going to eat and that you can pull out a healthy meal quickly and easily for you and your family will give you peace of mind. You’ll feel more in control knowing that everyone is eating well and reducing the evening stress that comes with the question ‘what’s for dinner?’
Similarly, with school lunches – get the kids involved to make and freeze sandwiches or snacks for school. This will save you from the morning rush of trying to get everyone dressed and out the door while trying to make lunches. Similarly it will help with the before school activities when you have to start early.
Have a ‘locker station’ for kids school bags, socks, shoes, uniforms and clothes for any activities that are coming up that week. They can be made from cheap cubes from IKEA or Kmart and will save you a lot of time and reduce the last minute panic attack for the lost shoe as you’re about to walk out the door. You could also have a mini calendar for each child on their station, so they know what activities they have on what days and get them into the habit of putting what they need into their station in advance.
Routines are a great way to reduce the stress in any household. Sit down and decide what routine you think will work best for your family and when you create it, stick to it. Kids thrive on consistency and routine, so bedtimes should be the same each night, and morning schedules should be consistent from waking up to getting out the door. It may take a bit of tweaking to find the right routine and for everyone to adjust, but in the long run you will find your household runs more smoothly and efficiently.
Although it’s easier said than done, don’t try and do everything yourself! Delegate tasks and responsibilities to your partner or kids. If they can navigate a smart phone, they can put their socks in the wash or put their sports clothes in a ‘locker station’! It will take time in the beginning to get them started and teach them how to do things correctly, but with practice they will soon be able to do these daily tasks independently from you. By having kids be involved in the running of the house or responsibilities such as putting aside what they need that week is not merely a chore for them to do, but an investment in their growth towards being more self-sufficient.
Even the most organised of us will make mistakes. Something unexpected comes up or we are simply tired and need a break. If something slips and someone misses a class, or a healthy meal turns into a takeaway, that’s okay too. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be able to ‘do everything’. And if you need help, be sure to ask for it – a partner, parent or friend.