Time management for the family

Find tips and strategies to help you and your family gain control of your time.

By Tracy Lyn Moland

Time management for the family

Balancing a family's varying schedules can be near impossible. Soccer, hockey, dance, skating, Brownies, Scouts, skiing, swimming, school activities, homework, not to mention play and sleep time, fill our children's lives. Now add in the parental activities, including work, fitness, volunteering, and home maintenance -- and well, 24 hours just doesn't seem to be enough.

See if the following list of strategies can help your family learn to gain control of their time:

1. Hold a family meeting
• First parents need to objectively determine some initial priorities for their family. These need to be based upon last years schedule, the individual family member's personalities, finances, current commitments and the comfort level of the family. Some questions that will guide this process are: Do they want to focus on activities or academics based upon last years performances? Will the demands of school or work change? Do they want to fill time with activities or a balance of activities and free time? Do different family members have different needs? Is everyone enjoying their schedules? Is there time for friends, for family, for quiet time, for reading, or for playing?

• Once the family guidelines are determined, hold the meeting and give everyone a chance to choose one or two priorities for the session or year. If one member is having trouble narrowing their list down, have them put them in order of importance. Make sure everyone shares their list and explains why they put it in that order.

2. Create a Family Calendar
• Get a large calendar and input everyone's current schedules for the upcoming month into it.

• Add or remove commitments based upon everyone's priorities determined in the family meeting.

• Make sure this calendar includes school hours and activities, work schedules, activity schedules, religious events, family time, mealtime, homework time, sleep time and most importantly NON-scheduled time.

• Take into account hidden time -- travel time, preparation/clean up time, waiting time, etc.

• Determine where conflicts lie -- and as a family see if you can figure out solutions. Maybe one child can suggest a friend they could car pool with, maybe another can walk to their activity, or maybe one can bring their homework along and do it while their sibling is in a lesson.

• Depending on the comfort level of the family -- activities may need to be removed or postponed. Some families thrive on being busy while others need to have a more relaxed schedule.

• Make sure that everyone is in agreement or can live with the schedule.

• Try it for one month and then have another meeting and evaluate the schedule. Make sure it works for everyone and make necessary changes.

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover six easy ways to keep your family's schedule on track on page 2

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