How to juggle the family schedule
Sometimes it seems impossible to juggle everything that life throws your way. Follow these helpful tips on how to handle your busy family schedule full of sporting events, extracurricular activities, carpooling and more. Learn how to be flexible and stay organized with this advice for busy families.
Our weekly schedule is tight. Seriously tight. Some weeks seem to go really smoothly, and other weeks it's like we're running and managing at the edge of a steep cliff -- one misstep and we could all go crumbling down. Maybe you have felt like that, too! You can get your family on a schedule and learn how to be flexible with these helpful organization tips.
When the kids were tiny and I was just at the beginning of my parenting journey, I would feel exhausted from running around after them and for them. I naively thought it would get easier as the kids got older. And yes, some things are easier, but there is far more running around and schedule juggling going as they grow up..
Set expectations and priorities
Over the years my husband and I have worked out a pretty decent schedule to share as much as possible. It's not perfect and things do come up, but it's fairly comfortable at this point. Most - not all - of what we would like
to accomplish does get done. We recognize that there is no way we can do absolutely everything, and we're not going to kill ourselves trying. We set expectations with one another - just as we pick
up slack for one another at times one of us feels extra stressed or there's an unexpected work demand. Likewise with the kids, we let them know as we juggle their activities and needs, that we
can't do everything. It's just not logistically possible! But we will make every effort for each one of them, and the top priorities will be just that, priorities.
When one of the boys comes to me and asks to do this or that, he knows that I won't give an answer immediately. We talk about how the particular event or activity fits into the bigger picture, and we brainstorm alternatives if necessary. If Dad already has to be on a business trip that week, it's unlikely that I'll be able to pick Alfs up from a dance at 10 PM as I'll be home with younger children asleep in bed. But can he get a ride home from his friend's mom if I offer to drive?
Everything that affects the family schedule is discussed in this way. It's one of the methods we use to make sure we can follow through on commitments and let the kids know that we work as a team. We all know that there are elements of the schedule that are "hard-coded" - things that can't be changed - and places where we can offer one another some flexibility.
Communicate clearly and effectively
Communication is key. And failure to communicate effectively on these issues can have a real impact on the family.
One couple I knew had an appointment scheduled every Tuesday night for a 30-minute review of the family's schedule. They would sit down with calendars and lists and organize the upcoming week as well as discuss events and issues. Along with confirming that they would both be at the band concert, one might ask the other if he could please look into scheduling an air conditioning service or they'd brainstorm ideas for gifts for an upcoming kid birthday.
I thought this was a great idea and we tried it - but it didn't quite work for us. It was too formal and we felt silly. Instead we modified the time and the method. Now most weeks my husband and I have a chat at mid-day on Monday about what is happening schedule-wise while he is at his office and I am at my desk. I don't know if it's really less formal, but it feels like it and it works for us.
Write it down - or type it in
Don't forget after talking to write it all down on a real calendar or type it in to an online calendar. We've been using an online calendar that both my husband and I can access, and it's color coded for each member of the family. If there's a question about something new, my husband and I both know to consult that calendar first to make sure there aren't already scheduling conflicts. Plus - and this is my favorite part - each Monday afternoon, I can print out the schedule for the week and put it on the fridge.