Put it on the calendar

So much to do, so little time. How do busy people get everything accomplished? How do other parents run children in every direction without running into themselves coming or going?

Many busy parents are playing the "gee, I hope that isn't the same time" game and begging other parents at the last possible moment to pick up one of their children so that they can drop off another.

Reduce your stress. Start a family calendar. This can be in your planning notebook, on a desk or wall calendar. Make it something that your kids can refer to easily. You might also want to keep the information on your computer and print out copies for everyone in your family.

Find a calendar that is big enough to hold all of your family's information. A scheduling calendar with lines for each hour of the day is ideal, but any calendar with large date blocks will help.

Write in all of the appointments that you already have. Include hours spent at work and in transit, hours at school, activities, meals and other plans. A different color of ink for each member of the family makes it easier to track who is doing what, when. You may want to use different symbols to show which vehicle will be used for each task.

Any open spots in the calendar can be used for those tasks you don't normally schedule. Fill them in on your copy of the schedule. (Wow, you're busy!) Make sure you don't have any one person or vehicle in two places at the same time. This can be easily overlooked.

If there are conflicts, sit down with your family and discuss. Consider your options. Can your children ride to an activity with a friend, or take a bike or walk? Look at what is important to you and your kids, and what you are both really interested in doing.

Just say no! If you are scheduled to be somewhere that you really don't want or need to be, make that call and ask if someone else would be able to take your place. Explain that you have another commitment that you hadn't taken into account when you said "yes" and that you can't possibly make both. Don't wait until the last minute and leave someone short handed. Time to relax and recover are valid reasons to cancel other commitments.

Use the schedule when asked to take on any additional activities. Start by saying "let me check my calendar" instead of "yes" when approached with something you aren't excited about doing. Then look at the available time and decide how you want to spend it.

Schedule some down time. Put it on the family calendar as personal time -- you don't have to explain to anyone, just do it! Allow the rest of the family to do the same. It really helps you to feel in control of your time when you don't have every moment scheduled with activities. It also helps the children learn to amuse themselves if they aren't totally scheduled. Try it.

Whatever your lifestyle, it helps to put a little structure into your schedule. Many stay-at-home parents, in particular, have problems with scheduling because they believe that they can juggle their irregular schedules to fit anything. This simply isn't true. All busy people need a schedule.


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