Do your kids jump for joy when practice is canceled for an activity? When was the last time you had a family dinner during a weeknight at home? Have you tried to schedule a date night with your husband but realize that you don’t have a free night until next year? Does your family calendar look like a scribbled mess?

With so much on the family calendar, weeknights have become filled with frantic driving to get kids to soccer, swimming or hockey practice on time and family dinners of hamburgers in the van on the way there.  It’s time to take back the family calendar and transform your scrawled, post-it note scattered sheet into something pretty and more calming. Stand back to create some breathing room in your life. Here’s what you need to do to master time management at home.

Plan Your Time and Then Schedule Your Plan.

Start your family calendar makeover by putting aside some time to really think about how much time you can commit to sports, lessons and other activities.  Be realistic about what you can take on multiplied by the number of kids that you have.  This is the fundamental most important aspect of creating a manageable family balance.  No system, calendar or app is going to work if you are overscheduled to begin with. Resist the urge to keep adding things without letting go of something else. Take some time with your kids to decide what is really important to them and whether there is time and money to add more than one activity per child. Enroll everyone and post the activities up on the family calendar where everyone can see.  We use a different colour for each family member and stickers to highlight important events and activities. 

Management Tip: Plan one activity per child and then see if there is room for any more.

Schedule Some Time For Yourself

Everyone deserves a little time for some fun, even moms and dads.  So, while you are busy filling in your family calendar, don’t forget Mom’s yoga class and Dad’s hockey practice. Parents need some play time too and it’s important for the kids to see that. Parents can lose touch with what they were passionate about in their youth and this contributes to staying healthy and happy and modeling a lifestyle to your children that lets them see you as a person with your own needs. Go ahead and register for a class that will stimulate you and schedule a date night in ink on the calendar also. It’s not selfish and it encourages your kids that adults need to make time for themselves, despite being busy.  They will be more inclined to practice good self-care and make time for relationships as adults too.

Management Tip: Schedule some time for yourselves, Moms and Dads.

Create a Meal Plan

There is no better way to reduce weekday stress than to have a meal plan so everyone knows ahead of time what’s for dinner. Plan your meals on the weekend for Monday to Friday and do one grocery shop for the week. You will save time and money and reduce weekday stress all around. Post the meal plan up on the fridge so that everyone knows the plan and anyone can start prepping dinner, if all the groceries are already in the house.

You will be glad you did and everyone will enjoy the opportunity that family dinners give us to come together every day.  My kids are young adults now, but we still have dinner together as a family.  It allows us all to connect, have relevant conversations and interact about our daily lives.

Remember to think beyond your three basic meals when you are planning. Healthy snacks centered around fruits and vegetables are easy for everyone and staves off the hangry monsters from rearing their ugly heads at the witching hour.

Management Tip: Plan your meals on Saturday or Sunday and do one grocery shop to save time and money.

Expect More From Your Kids

Our society has become so busy ferrying our kids everywhere that many of us are forgetting to teach our kids how to do basic household tasks so that they can learn to take care of themselves and function in the world.  This lightens the load for the parents at home and teaches everyone that they can contribute to the family, starting at a young age. Kids as young as three can help with chores and by the time they are teens, they should be able to do just about everything, including putting a family meal on the table.  Don’t shortchange your kids in this area by neglecting to teach them these important life skills so that they stay dependent on their parents for too long. 

Build a team feeling by having everyone help to get dinner on the table, the lunches made for the next day and bags ready by the front door in the evening.  Once these chores are done, everyone should be able to relax, even mom and dad :)

Management Tip: Assign chores to all the family members to distribute the workload and create a team feeling so everyone can find time to relax at the end of the day.

Get your free age-appropriate chores list here!


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