Manage Busy Family Schedules


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.

If you are simply cycling through an extra-hectic time of the year with many activities coming up all at once, you are certainly not alone. And whether you see the hectic times coming in advance or only realize them when they are almost upon you, there are some specific strategies you can take as a family that will help you slay the activity-overwhelm dragon before anyone gets burned. See if these tips are helpful:

Call a family meeting.

Take charge of the situation as soon as you can by calling a family meeting. Tell everyone to bring their calendars and scheduling tools, if they are old enough to manage their own. Make some beverages, put out some cookies, and go through the upcoming week one day at a time.

Now is also time to figure out carpooling, best shopping and errand times and whether it is humanly possible to squeeze everything in.

Make scheduling a weekly event.

Some families have formal, complex family meetings but this is not going to be helpful to most families because you likely won’t stick with it. 

Instead, a quick drink and cookie break on Sunday afternoons might just turn into something everyone actually enjoys. At the end of the scheduling session, ask, “Does anyone have anything else they want to discuss?” Soon, you’ll be kicking each week off strong using the power of good, old-fashioned communication.

Create a master calendar. Every person in the family who is old enough to write should have his or her own calendar. Without a master plan you are going to lose track of the big picture.

Assign one parent as the keeper of the master plan and keep it updated daily. Put all your critical to-dos on it. Glance at it in the morning and before bed. It’s amazing how much stress can disappear when one person takes on the role of family dispatcher.

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 — on any given day of any given week.


Christina Katz is an author, journalist, writing coach and most importantly, a mother.


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