Simplify Your Schedule

Don’t Let A Busy Schedule Wear Your Family Down

Words by Christina Katz

Stress, short-tempers and the seeming inability of the household to function smoothly are typical signals that you may have slightly overdone it in the commitments department.

So, you overscheduled your family. This does not make you a bad person or a poor parent. Your family simply has a voracious appetite for participation. However, it may be time to pull the plug if you’re exhausted or your family is cranky, that’s perfectly OK. There are some specific strategies you can take as a family that will help you slay the activity-overwhelm dragon before anyone gets burned.

Make scheduling a weekly event. Gather the whole family for a weekly snack break to discuss the activities for the upcoming week. Tell everyone to bring their calendars and scheduling tools, if they are old enough to manage their own. Figure out carpooling, play dates, class schedules, cooking/meal planning and whether it is humanly possible to squeeze everything in. Soon, you’ll be kicking each week off strong using the power of good, old-fashioned communication. Listen to your children. If they’re not enjoying a particular after-school class or sport anymore, have them finish out the commitment then allow them to explore other interests. Better yet, allow them to take a break from scheduled after-school activities for a few months.

Create a master calendar. Every person in the family who is old enough to write should have his or her own calendar. Assign one parent as the keeper of the master plan and update it daily. Without a master plan, you are going to lose track of the big picture. Put all your critical to-dos on it. Glance at it in the morning and before bed. Much stress will disappear once one person takes on the role of family dispatcher.

Expect everyone to be responsible. Just because you are the dispatcher, does not mean you should manage schedules for kids who are old enough to do it themselves. Taking responsibilities off your children’s shoulders does not serve them or the family. Who is the weakest link in this scheduling arrangement? Let them know how important good communication is, and then help them figure out a system that works well for them.

Keep priorities straight. If you are following these suggestions and meeting your family commitments still feels unmanageable, then some things are going to have to give. Don’t be afraid to say no to others and yes to yourself. Here’s a suggested priority list by level of importance to your overall happiness: 1. Health (exercise, doctor appointments, nutrition) should come first; 2. Family and friendships should come next; 3. Education and work should come second; 4. Special interest, activities and family outtings should come next.

Let the extraneous go. Here’s the secret to a happy life for you and your family: Don’t do what you think is expected of you. Do what you want to do. Although peer pressure may still be challenging for your kids, it should be a no-brainer for you. You don’t need to do what the Jones family does. You need to do what your family does. Period. The world needs the unique contributions of every member of your family, and no one is going to blossom if everyone is running around like a bunch of followers. So lead by example, and live the life you want to live. Steer your own course, and teach your kids to steer theirs. If you do, your kids will follow your lead and be engaged and happy no matter how busy they are.

Books to Help Simplify Family Life
In your down time, if you have any, you can dream up ways to streamline family life by checking out these books:

Author, journalist and writing coach CHRISTINA KATZ is a mother who has given up the unconscious tendency to mother the whole world around the clock.

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