Time Management for Families Wirral Mums Guide to Time Management for Families
Time Management for Families INTRODUCTION Time Management for Families Life can be hectic, not only for adults, but also for children and teens. Parents work, teens have school and may work on weekends and after school, and children have school. Family members may also be involved in any number of other activities such as religious activities, sports, dance, scouting, volunteering, going to movies with friends, dating, play dates, or lessons of one kind or another. If you’re like most families whose members are running here and there, you may be wondering how to keep your head on straight while you try to get everyone where the need to go when they need to be here. You know there has to be a better way to manage everyone in the family’s schedules without losing your mind. Then, of course, there’s the topic of housekeeping. It used to be that wives were expected to do the lion’s share of the work for keeping the housework done. Times have changed and it’s no longer considered women’s work to do the cooking and cleaning for the entire family. But how do you get your family to help if they’ve never done that before. Time management for families is important, perhaps now more than ever before. With family members going in a multiple of directions each day, your family really can’t afford not to consider time management. By using some of these time management techniques, it can make a huge difference in how your home is run, how stressful your home is, and how much time you have available to spend as a family rather than everyone running late to their respective activities. It’s important to note that time management for families and team work go hand-in-hand. The sooner your family realizes the parents can’t do everything around the home, as well as running the children from place to place, the sooner your family’s life will improve. There are many ways you can begin to implement time management skills in your home, but it’ll take your entire family to make it work. Where do you begin? Know your family’s activities You can’t improve the way your family’s household runs if you’re not sure where your family members are supposed to be each day. So, your starting point is to gather a few items: * Each family member regardless of how old they are * A large, new calendar with spaces you can write in * The calendar you currently use to keep track of appointments * Any papers your children may have brought home with important dates on them * A pencil, pen, and possibly markers for colour coding * Paper to take notes * Any individual calendars your family may keep
Once you have the above items gathered together and you’re ready to work on getting your family better organized, it’s important to not be interrupted. You may not get another chance to accomplish this task; ask someone to be sure the answering machine is on so it can catch any calls that come in. Try to disregard the phone until this part of your time management planning is complete. If the telephone call is important, they’ll call you back or leave a message that can be returned later. Give everyone a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. Ask them to write down every activity they’re involved in. This includes time at school, work, and commute time. Have them write down regularly scheduled meetings, practices, lessons, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, or weekly religious activities if your family has them. Younger children may need someone to help them complete this task but they shouldn’t have many activities that another family member isn’t involved. Next, go through each person’s individual calendar to see if any appointments were missed. Write these down on that person’s list. After you’re sure you have everyone’s planned activities written down, it’s time to look at papers you may have kept with important dates on them. Add those appointments to the respective lists. Instead of writing everything on the new calendar right away, you might want to start a list for each day during the month: first Sunday, first Monday, first Tuesday, first Wednesday, first Thursday, first Friday, first Saturday, second Sunday, second Monday, second Tuesday, and so on for each of the days of the month. Go through each person’s list and write the meetings, appointments, or normal activities on each corresponding page. This accomplishes two things: 1) it allows you to see what activities are scheduled on the same days so you can decide who will be responsible for transporting people, and 2) it allows you to decide if there are too many activities planned for any particular day. Another thing you might want to do before transferring information to the large calendar is to assign each person a particular colour – use their favourite colour unless two people like the same colour. If you colour code your family with their activities, it will be easier for each person to see at a glance if they have an activity on a particular day. After you have all appointments, meetings, activities, and normal daily events listed on the daily pages, it’s time to start putting them on the large calendar. Use the colour coding system if you’ve chosen to do that. Set aside a central location for everyone in the family to place papers with future important dates on them so they can be added to the family calendar. This will make over scheduling a thing of the past because you’ll be able to see quickly if there’s already something else planned for that time on a particular day. If you’re the person who will be in charge of upkeep for this new system, you might want to make a copy of the calendar with all marked dates on a portable calendar to keep with you. If your partner calls up and asks if they can bring friends over next Friday, you can look at the portable master calendar and see two of the children have activities you’ll both have to take them to. This system really does have the ability to make at least keeping track of your family’s activities away from home more manageable.
Another topic you might want to discuss along with your family’s activities is curfews, especially for older children. If they work outside of the home on weekends, you’ll want them to be home at a particular time. Discuss when you’d like them to be home and possible consequences if they aren’t. You may want to provide them with a mobile phone so they can keep you apprised of where they are, who they’re with, and when they will be home. If plans change or there are problems, they’ll be able to reach you and keep you from worrying too much if they don’t return at the time you two agreed upon. From the big picture to a closer view It’s amazing how having a master calendar with everyone in your family’s activities in one central place can be freeing. Updating it as needed affords you an opportunity to think about things a little closer to home. You know how much time each person has at home and which days they’re at home so now it’s time to think about chores. Before everyone heads off into myriad directions, you may want to approach the subject of your house and making sure it runs smoothly. Today people don’t follow traditional roles quite as much as in the past. Men can cook and clean just as well, if not better, than some women. Some women have a green thumb and thrive at keeping the lawn manicured. With this in mind, there’s no reason why the adults in the family should be responsible for keeping the house clean and organized. There are enough things to be done in any home to allow each person to chip in. Not only will having children help take care of the household chores train them for the future, it will give the parents in the family much-needed help. They may actually be able to enjoy some relaxation during the weekend rather than spending both days cleaning up after a long week. If you look on the internet or in parenting books, you can find a list of chores children can do at different ages. Even toddlers at 2 or 3 are able to help. They can learn to pick up their toys and put dirty clothes in a hamper. Obviously the older the child, the more skills they should be able to master. Perhaps you’ve never asked your children to help with chores before. Don’t despair, it’s not too late! You may have to start by showing your child how to do a particular chore, but before long they’ll be doing that chore on their own without your supervision. Of course, the younger you start expecting your children to help, the fewer problems there are likely to be as they get older. Take the pen and paper back out and talk with your family about household chores. Make a list of all chores your family can think of. Include outside and inside activities as well as chores that would be seasonal. There are many home organization books you can either purchase or find at the library which might give you a list of typical chores. You can also look on the internet at home organization websites. They may even have free printable chore lists to make this task much easier. Discuss which chores need to be done around the house and who is going to be responsible for each one. Be sure to give everyone in the family chores to do except infants that have no skills except being cute and making messes.
Maybe you have one child that doesn’t mind washing dishes, either by hand or with the aid of a dishwasher. Another may enjoy working with animals; bathing, feeding, and care for pets may be a great chore for them. If possible, allow each person to choose one chore they either enjoy or don’t mind doing. Go through the rest of the list and assign the remaining chores. Each person should have several depending upon the size of your family. You can create a weekly schedule for each person in the family, if you’re so inclined, so they know what activities they have for the week, when you expect them to do chores, and when they have free time. Of course, this isn’t a requirement, but it may make the transition from being time challenged to having your family’s time managed. Again, to make creating this type of schedule easier, you can find pre-made examples online to either print out for your own use or for you to get ideas so you can create one that works for you. How can you encourage everyone in your family to do their share of the household chores? Here are some things you can do to make doing chores less of a dreaded task: 1. Make doing chores fun, especially for younger children. Have a race to see who can pick up the most toys out of the floor in five minutes. Ask them to pick up only items that are green and you pick up items that are red. Count to see who picked up the most items and give a small prize such as a piece of chewing gum. 2. Make sure your family knows how. If you’ve never expected your children to help keep the house clean, it’s unlikely they’ll know how. Take the time to teach them how to clean the refrigerator before leaving them to do it on their own. You may want to post a description of how to clean the refrigerator if you can’t be available while they’re busy. And when they first start out, don’t be hyper-critical. Accept their effort and try to avoid going back to redo the job later. 3. Make sure there are consequences if the chores don’t get done. Natural consequences are often the best. If your teen is supposed to do their own laundry, and they haven’t done it all week, they’ll find out how important it is when they don’t have their favourite shirt for their date Friday night. If natural consequences don’t work, consider man-made consequences that are acceptable. While you’re talking about chores, you might want to discuss when chores are to be done. Will you expect chores to be done before your children start their homework? Will they need to do some chores, such as caring for pets or laundry, before they leave for school? Your children may balk at the changes you’re proposing, but putting time management ideas into practice is important for the household to run smoothly. Each family member will know what’s expected of them, and when, so they’ll be able to enjoy their free time much more knowing they haven’t forgotten an activity or forgotten to do chores. Setting priorities You’ve come quite a ways with your time management for your family. They know what they’re doing each day by looking at the calendar. They are helping you around the house so you’re not doing everything. Now it’s time to think about teaching your family about priorities. Children, teens, and adults alike have things they “must do,” things they “want to do,” and things they’d “like to do when time allows.” If they have a list of things to do each day, they may be making poor choices about what to do first, and may be missing out because they don’t know how to prioritize.
It seems this one time management skill is one of the biggest challenges for people to learn today. Prioritizing tasks and activities each day can help you avoid being overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated. By learning to prioritize, you and your family can determine what is most important to get done right away and what can be put off until a later time or date. Part of the problem many people face is not being able to say “no.” They may already know they have something schedule with their family but won’t turn someone down when asked for help because they fear hurting their feelings. What about your family’s feelings? Aren’t they more important to you than helping serve at the concession stand? Just because someone asks you to do something, it doesn’t mean you have to say “yes” and commit yourself to that. If you have time and want to help, that’s great. However, if you’re already overbooked and don’t have the time, it’s better for everyone involved if you don’t do it. You may be overly tired, irritated, and short with people rather than smiling and having fun. If you or other family members have never told friends or co-workers “no,” they might be shocked. Try to remember that your health and well-being, or that of your partner or children, is important enough to learn to guard. Learn to multi-task You know the time will come when you’ll be waiting with your child for a doctor’s appointment. Instead of sitting there mindlessly reading a magazine, you can use that time to accomplish something. Go over your calendar to see if it’s up-to-date, plan your menu for the next week and then make a shopping list. If you’re sitting during your child’s sports practice, you can make telephone calls you’ve been putting off. You can also write a letter to a friend who doesn’t have the internet. Commuting time is another opportunity to multi-task if you take a taxi, bus, or train. It’s amazing how much you can get done while you’re waiting. Turn the television or computer off Most people don’t realize how much time they spend sitting in front of one screen or another. You may spend 6 to 8 hours a day sitting in front of the computer for work. Then you go home and watch television while you check your personal email. This goes back to priorities and deciding what is more important to you. Sure, you and your family can watch particular programs you may enjoy, but that doesn’t mean you leave the television going after the show is over. Instead of spending the little family time you have in front of the TV set, why not plan a family game night? Drag out the family’s favourite board games and set it up. If you don’t have any card games or board games, or the ones you do have are for toddlers, you might want to start a new collection. Playing games as a family enables you to bond while having fun. It also keeps the communication lines open with your children, no matter what age they are.
Perhaps there’s a series you’ve been watching and you really don’t want to miss an episode. With all of the recording technology today, not to mention the number of television shows being broadcast over the internet, there’s no reason you can’t tape the show and still have time to play games with your family. The benefits of doing this include being able to skip through the commercials, which saves you time, and you can watch the show at your convenience rather than when it’s dictated by the broadcasting company. Set family goals Goal setting as a family is a foreign concept for most families. The parents may be aware of setting goals for business, but they may not have considered setting goals as a family. What types of goals would you like to meet as a family? What is your family dreaming of? Life is precious. Each day you’re given 24 hours to spend as you see fit. You can squander your time on things that aren’t important, or you can start setting family goals you can work on together. Have you dreamed of a week-long holiday at an exotic destination? Your family can make that dream a reality if you start planning for it. What types of goals would you make to reach that goal? Perhaps your family eats out three or four times a week. Instead of eating out so much, create a meal plan that you can fix at home and stick to it. Put the money you saved by eating at home into a savings account specifically for that holiday. If someone has overtime at work, they can chip in the overtime pay to the holiday account. Children and teens can also contribute by doing odd jobs for neighbours to earn money. Before too long, you’ll have the money your family needs and you can start planning your trip. Consider poor time management Think back to how things were before you began implementing these time management techniques. Your family may have had little in common with one another. Some members may have simply tolerated others and did everything they could to avoid them. That’s not the way families are expected to act. Yes, it’s true that some families have problems. Those problems can be surpassed, however, and healing can begin. Maybe having time management skills won’t solve all of your family’s problems, but it can start your family into the process. Using proper time management will allow the parents to be available to attend school functions, sporting events, and plan activities for the family to enjoy together. Poor time management, on the other hand, will make the prospect of spending time with your family something you’re only able to dream about. Your family may not want to try these time management techniques, however ask them to consider the alternative. Ask them if they are satisfied with the way the family interacts or the amount of time you or your partner get to spend with the children. They’ll soon realize that something is amiss and these techniques may bring your family back from the brink of ruin.
Poor time management drains you while proper time management can actually give you energy. You’ll have a sense of accomplishment you may not have felt in a while because you’ve been going through life without priorities or goals. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, tired, and stressed, you can start the day knowing what to expect and know you can get the most important things for the day accomplished which will leave you time to relax and enjoy your family. Poor time management will cause you to wait until the last minute to get things done. Proper time management skills, however, encourage you to plan ahead so you can meet the deadlines you’ve set. The sky is the limit When it comes to your family and time management, the sky is the limit. Working together as a family isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time for everyone to get used to the changes you’ve made. Your partner, teens, and children may be used to moving in their own direction and have given little thought to the family as a whole. By implementing time management for families, you’re helping to bring your family back together. No longer are they coming in only to sleep or grab something to eat. Instead, they are working toward common goals and looking forward the time they can spend together. Each member of the family is important. In fact, if one family member is absent, you probably feel a void until they’re back in the fold. By using these time management techniques for families, you’re helping to make sure each member returns, not because they have to, but because they want to. It’s important to remember you’re only given a certain amount of time each day. Each member of your family can choose to squander that time by losing things, not arriving to appointments on time or missing visiting friends because they forgot about their visit. Or your family can choose to embrace the time management for families techniques explained above. The choice is yours, now it’s time to choose.