We’re in the heart of the fall school year and many parents find themselves dealing with an overbooked schedule. Are you one of them? For many, handling school assignments and preparing daily lunches is one thing, but when you add in all of those after-school activities, it can send you reeling.
It can be difficult to say “No” to the little protégé who wants to be the next sports phenomena or super-star singing sensation. Making time for school plays, art classes, scouting activities and/or volunteer clubs can quickly become implausible if not impossible. And your child’s commitments always seem to involve you, as you find yourself becoming a taxi service.
What can parents do when juggling work responsibilities, home chores, kid schedules and family time? Here are three strategies I have used to keep life manageable, productive and sane.
1. “We’re all in this together.” I let the kids know that we are all in this together. Coming up with a solution for a manageable family schedule will require everyone’s input.
2. Establish a Trade Agreement. Next we establish a trade agreement. They can choose two activities in which to participate, so that I can actively support their endeavors, but still have time left to enjoy a little “me time” with friends. We also are then not too overbooked so that we have family time to stay connected in this hectic world that too often pulls us apart.
3. Post a Chore List. On the home front, we establish a weekly chore list that is posted in the kitchen. It is a chart that outlines chores for the kids and each parent to complete so that everyone (with the exception of the dog) is pitching in. It’s teamwork on a family level. The kids learn that to successfully manage a family with work, school and home commitments, everyone needs to be a contributor. Learning that there are trade-offs in life is a good lesson for kids.
What do you do in your family to balance the daily juggling act? What works — and what doesn’t?