Managing work, school, after-school, family, and leisure schedules is overwhelming. Working parents have a lot to manage and organize. It can prove to be a challenge to make sure all the work, home, and family activities are addressed. Organizing tips, tools, and ideas will help working parents keep the family on track and reduce stress.
A good calendar is essential to maintaining one or more schedules. You will want something that will manage kids, school, spouse, family, and work activities.
Paper Calendars – If you prefer to write, a paper calendar is the best tool. Select one that has enough space to write all the activities.
Color Code – Use a different pen color for each family member or activity area. Blue for little John; Orange for little Sara; Purple for family gatherings; Red for work; Green for spouse.
Electronic / Mobile Calendars – These are perfect for managing schedules on the go. You will have your calendar with you to make revisions, updates, and stay on track. Google Calendar and Cozi are great to share with family members, sync with a mobile and desktop, and view on the go. I use Cozi to remind the family about garbage day, dance recitals, and other activities.
Set aside time each week to check your calendar. Consider the calendar, carpool commitments, meal and chore planning. Designate chore assignments (everyone is involved!), carpool assignments (it’s not just one parent), and try to plan a week’s meals.
For meal planning, I typically set aside a weekend day to decide 5 to 7 dinners for the week. My shopping list is organized by aisle with the ingredients for each meal. I do the same for school lunches. If you clip coupons, this is the time to pull out the appropriate coupons and put them with your shopping list. If you are unable to do the shopping, this method is great to send the spouse with too.
After School Activities
Something I did for years with my four kids — limit the number of afterschool activities. As much as your kids want to try everything, the reality is time doesn’t allow. Consider limiting 1-2 activities per child per season or year. Some activities require a lot of travel and time. Consider the committment before saying yes.
We all have the unexpected. Someone comes down with the flu, a fever, caught at the doctor’s office, traffic – it happens to all of us. There is nothing worse than knowing you must be somewhere at 3:30 (school carpool) and you’re not going to make it. A buddy system is just for these emergencies. Have at least two people you can call in an emergency. And return the favor when you can. You can’t do it all nor are you expected to!
Just Say No
We all want to be involved in our children’s education. We want to help the teacher and school the best we can. But you cannot, nor should you, say yes to everything. Use restraint when signing up for volunteering. Over extending yourself is never a good idea. It’s ok to just say no.
Our ancestors had it right that getting up regularly and early will help you stay on schedule. You are able to start your day early, get activities done, and end the day feeling accomplished. This goes in hand with keeping a regular schedule. Not only do our children respond well to regularity and structure, so do we. We know soccer practice is over at 4:30, dinner started at 5:00, homework 4:00 to 5:00, dinner at 6:00, and so on. Consistency is good for everyone!
While You Wait
Consider putting together a while you wait bag. Fill it with thank you note cards, school paperwork to complete, birthday cards, or hobby activities (cards, crosswords, etc.). You may find yourself in an area without cell service or perhaps your phone battery is low. Having a few items packed away in a bag will fill the time while you wait for the kids to complete their classes.