Is your house a mess? Do you spend your nights and weekends doing chores, running errands and chauffeuring your kids about town? If so, you’re probably over-committed like the majority of us and it’s time for a little order – a little priority order that is.
Recently, I discussed prioritizing your personal life and how even though your daily ‘time’ allotment may be limited, you CAN find time for the things that are important. To learn more please read ‘The Benefits of Prioritizing Your Life’.
With this article, let’s look at family life and how to find ways of juggling only what we want and being okay with letting the other ‘not so crucial’ balls fall.
Learn how to say “NO”
First off, it is imperative we learn how to say NO. Give some thought to your external obligations – you know the kind of things you promise other people? Most of us go around saying “I have to, I have to, I have to.” But do you really? If you don’t want to do it – just say NO!
Please don’t get me wrong – it’s all about compromise. Instead of a knee-jerk YES, give yourself permission to take some time to think it over. Before saying yes to any new commitments, you need to first consider whether it’s a high priority for you personally.
It’s also a matter of getting people out of the habit of expecting you will do something just because you always have.
Start a priority dialogue
The second step to staying on top of your family life is to start a priority dialogue. And then, find creative ways to bring some order and organization into your day.
Start by discussing your one-on-one relationship and personal time needs with your significant other. Then discuss what you want as a family, where you see yourselves going and what your prioritizes are. Also consider what each of you is willing to do to accomplish your goals. Unified leadership is important before involving the kids.
Then sit down with your children and prioritize your life as a unit. If you don’t take the time to review things as a family, you will find yourself traveling at the same fast (and furious) pace indefinitely.
Implement a weekly planning meeting
You may then want to implement a weekly planning meeting that includes going through a checklist of all the activities for the week and any upcoming events that may throw a wrench into the weekly plan. Discuss both short and long term goals.
Everyone should have a say and if there’s something of particular concern it should be given equal time.
In general, meetings create a spirit of cooperation within the household and give both parents and children a better handle on what’s happening.
Use a white board to stay organized
Hang an erasable white board in your kitchen. Create two columns, one for groceries and the other for everything else. Note groceries in need of replenishing on one side and family messages and reminders on the other. A second board or a third column could include a tentative dinner menu for the week.
Color-code a family calendar
Maintain one main calendar, again the kitchen is the best place for this. The idea is to have it in an accessible location where all family members can make note of appointments. If the individual day sections are large enough you can even record the due date of bills when they come in. And, if someone is on a medication, mark that on the calendar as well. Further you can make them responsible for initialing the box each time the medication is taken.
Each family member should have a different colored pen to use on the main calendar or weekly planner. The advantage to this is a quick glance is all you need to determine who has a sports game or music lesson.
Now if you are one of these people who relish to idea of saving everything, make your calendar a powerhouse of memories by recording milestones. For posterity sake, think first steps, tying shoes, first tooth etc. And don’t forget to make note of birthdays and anniversaries. I write all our birthday and anniversaries in a gold or silver gel pen. That way, when it comes time to prepare a new calendar, all of last years static dates are easy to locate and rewrite.
Create a daily checklist
When planning for the day ahead keep mindful of what young children will need to take to school or day care. Create a checklist for daily review and get in the habit of placing everything by the door.
For older children (and possibly your spouse) consider affixing a note nearby your coat hooks or right on the door itself to remind everyone about what he or she may have forgotten. For instance, head the note with a big bold “What Did Your Forget?” Follow it with a list of possibilities – lunch money, keys, permission forms, text books etc.
Schedule in family time
Sometimes the only way to get in a little family time is to schedule it. Strive for a happy work/leisure balance. Don’t let your employer infringe on your vital recreation time and be aware of scheduling activities during all of your child’s unstructured leisure time.