Families are increasingly busy. With dance classes, soccer games, PTA meetings and book club, it is hard to remember to stop and breathe. But the simple key to a busy and happy family is organization and a good sense of humor. Here is how you can keep your busy family in order, while still enjoying life.
- Be prepared. Know you have a busy day tomorrow? Set up all of the items you need (gym bags, snacks, etc.) so you won’t have to scramble in the morning. Keep a “go-bag” with items you regularly need so you can grab it quickly anytime you are out. Even better, leave it in your car. A go bag could consist of sunscreen, water bottles, a book and a small first aid kit.
- Create a family calendar. It is easy to overlook a traditional paper calendar with the ease of electronic calendars, but a paper calendar set up where everyone can see it will keep your family on track. If you are gone, the kids know where to find you. It also creates a strong visual reminder for family events. Try the fortnight rule: schedule everything two weeks in advance and talk about it every week. That way the entire family is on the same page and no one is surprised with a scheduled visit to Grandma’s.
- Set up a carpool. My mom always complained that she just drove around all day. That was her job. If moms (and dads) feel more like chauffeurs, it is time to set up a carpool. Find other exhausted parents who are sick of driving their own children to and from activities and alternate driving. Saves you time and gas.
- Set aside time together. Pick one night a week that you will not schedule anything. No lacrosse, no dance and no Bunko. Use this night to reconnect as a family and do something fun. Being involved in so many activities is enriching, but nothing is as enriching as spending real, quality time with your family.
- Join your busy activities together. If Johnny needs to get some extra soccer practice, involved the whole family. Take your “team” to the field to get some fresh air while spending time with the family.
- Let your kids decide. Always wanted to be a ballerina, so you push little Sally into every dance class she can stand? Think about if the classes are for her or for you. Would Sally rather be a Girl Scout or take karate? Let her decide so she can develop a talent that she actually wants and one she actually has.
- Know when to let things go. If your family only sees each other in passing, it is time to cut something loose. You know the phrase “idle hands are the Devil’s playthings?” Simply put, if your kids are busy they will be too busy to get into trouble. But there is such a thing as too much scheduling and activities. Kids are only kids once and they need time to just be a kid.