Time Management for Families: Do You Have a Plan?
It's that time of year—school just started (or is about to) and you have to juggle school schedules, after-school activities and homework, all while dealing with your own work schedule. It's a common challenge for busy families, but there are ways to manage it.
Find out what the time and financial commitment is before saying yes to an activity your child wants to participate in. Ask any parent of kids in tournament sport leagues what they do on the weekends—usually one parent is with one kid at the baseball diamond all day, while the other parent is at the basketball court with the other one all day. On Sunday, the cycle repeats. Then factor in practices during the week. How much time is left for homework, household chores, paying bills and general family time? Not much. This can really take a toll on a family. In addition, the cost of traveling out of town for some tournaments, buying multiple uniforms, and the cost per family member to attend each tournament can add up fast.
If you agree to an activity that is as time-consuming and costly as a tournament league sport, make sure you know what you're getting yourself into before you say yes. If it's simply too much, just say no. There are other leagues that don't take as much time and cost less. Your child will still learn a lot about the sport too, but they—and you—will have time for life outside of it.
Another solution is to tell your kids honestly that you are fine with them having outside activities, but limit them to one or two. If both parents work, explain that too many activities doesn't leave any time for keeping the house clean, paying bills and just relaxing as a family. Kids need down time too, and overloading them with activities doesn't leave much room for that. If they want to be involved in more activities than you prefer, bargain with them. Tell them they can participate, but they will also have to keep their grades up and help with household chores.
"I've Already Said Yes…Now What?"
If you've already agreed to more than you wish you would have, enlist help. Ask another parent to trade off taking the kids to practices and picking them up. Also, try to get food in the fridge that the kids can grab and go, or something they can heat up in the microwave before practice. This allows you to make healthier meals, and it's cheaper than hitting the drive-thru so much.
Stay on Schedule
Buy a large calendar and at the beginning of each month, write down who has to be where and when they have to be there each day, if possible. Make a rule that as soon as someone knows about an activity or appointment, it has to be added to the schedule as soon as they get home. (This is a little more difficult if your child plays tournament league sports since it depends on if your child's team wins or loses.) This will help avoid "double-booking." Also, set an expectation that homework will be done by a certain time each day, preferably after school and before they have to be at a practice.
Activities for kids help build confidence in their skills and teach them time management. They also help ensure your kids don't spend all their free time in front of a video game. Just remember the phrase "Everything in Moderation" to help preserve your sanity—and theirs.