I really thought I would never get around to writing this post! Report cards really got in the way of creating a family schedule. Parent-teacher conferences also made things a little more tricky. Add in the fact that the boys stayed at Nana’s house for sleep overs more than once this week, due to the aforementioned schedule interrupters, and I just had to admit defeat and wait a while before pulling together my master plan.
Having finally had time to work out a schedule, I feel better. I kept a few key ideas in mind.
1. There had to be balance in the schedule: categorizing activities into work, Household, Family, Personal, Hubby etc. helped to ensure all aspects of my life were accounted for in the schedule. For example, if 3-4 days had time for social activities, I need to schedule some of that time for family, my hubby and for me.
2. Scheduling “my” time first ensures it will actually happen. All too often we focus on the things we have to do and forget that, in order for us to stay fit and sane enough to do them, we have to look after ourselves too! I have to be careful not to let these be the first to go once unexpected events show up.
3. Realize that “No.” is a word we can use and it does not have to be followed by a ‘laundry list’ of things we have to do instead. Trying to take more on than we can handle not only means we cannot stick to our schedule, but if and when we cannot fulfill these new obligations, we have to let people down. People would far rather you just said no in the first place…you may even find you are able to say yes later as your schedule allows.
Keeping these ideas in mind, I created a categorized list of essential things. Note: what I am calling essential are not ‘chores’ in some cases, but activities to keep the mind, body and family strong.
CHAM (Button Check-Ups)
Once these activities were established, I decided that plugging them all into a fixed schedule would lead me to keel over from the pressure of keeping it. Instead, I decide to create a monthly overview and adapt it as needed each week, inviting the whole family to discuss how it is going and working together to make improvements. I discovered some great tools for creating a schedule that my family can refer to daily.
Our daily and weekly responsibilities were written on a dry-erase board which sticks to the fridge for easy viewing. It lists daily activities and categorizes who does what each day. I was able to show my sons’ chores along with other family and personal responsibilities, including my time for dance and family night! It was so easy to plug everything in and can be changed at any time. I found this particular organizer at Target.
I also created a monthly calendar (also found at Target) which hangs in our entryway and highlights events that come up for each family member. I did not want to include these on our responsibility chart as it became too overwhelming.
Instead, we can easily refer to both; the benefit so far being the flexibility to be able to fulfill responsibilities in a manner which suits our family – provided it is completed on the designated day. For example, Tuesdays are very difficult because I take Button to the Bronx for a visit to CHAM (Children’s Hospital). We don’t get back until 6:00pm and then we have homework and dinner. Through having a list of things we need to do, yet not having a rigid time frame for them, I can evaluate how Button is feeling and work around his needs. We eliminate the pressure and stress of “having to vacuum now, even if it is totally inconvenient!”
Schedules are designed to make life easier, not harder. If they do not work, don’t use them or amend them so they are helpful. If you become a slave to a schedule, you will be unhappy. It might be worth giving a schedule the chance to work, however. Remember it takes a few weeks for a change to become a habit.
What are your strategies for scheduling? What tools do you use to help you? What works for one may not work for another, so please share your scheduling tips and tricks and help us all get on track.