Getting your kids plugged in for after school activities like sports, music lessons, drama club and youth group can be enjoyable and rewarding for the whole family, but it can also bring on a lot of extra stress, too. While it takes a little work to get organized, it will be well worth the effort.
Here are some things moms and dads should consider when trying to keep the sanity and stay on top of demanding schedules for the kiddos:
Is It Necessary?
No matter how many events your family is involved in, it’s a good idea to take a few moments to assess if all of them are necessary. There’s no reason to overwork your kids or overdraw on your bank account. From time to time, ask yourself these questions:
- Are my kids enjoying all of these activities or am I pushing too many on them?
- Can I really afford all of these actives?
- Are all of these activities hurting our family time together?
- Are my children getting their homework done?
- Are my children getting enough sleep?
- Am I getting enough sleep?
Mom or Dad’s In-Box
Children tend to have a number of school events each year that they “forget” to tell mom or dad about.
One way to keep everyone on task is to keep a “Mom’s In-Box” and leave it by the front door or some other location where your children will see it on a daily basis. Tell your kids that when they get anything from the school that is suppressed to go to you, to put the information in the In-Box. Then, your job is to check your in-box every day just like work.
Mark each child’s and adult’s activities on a traditional paper calendar. Use a different ink color for each family member. Hang in a central location where everyone is able to see it, like on the refrigerator. If your children are old enough, it might be a good idea for them to have their own calendars to carry with them in the school pack.
Using a program like Google Calendar will allow everyone in the family will have easy access to the calendar when out and about via a smart phone or a tablet. You will be able to schedule activities way in advance and schedule chores where your kids can check them off when they have finished. Google calendars also allow you to schedule recurring events, so if soccer practice is every Monday at 4 p.m., you only have to schedule it once as a recurring event and you’re done marking that activity in the calendar for the season.
Allow Extra Travel Time
Regardless of the activity, be sure to tack on about 10 extra minutes to get to your destination. Nobody likes to arrive late, and by tacking on a few extra minutes, you can breathe easier if you run into traffic.
Keep Communication Open
Whether or not your family uses cell phones, be sure that your children know how to get a hold of you or someone else in case there is a change in plans. Have emergency contact information written down in your child’s notebook.
Pack a “Survival” Kit
Every family is different and has different needs. Have a small container in your car ready for any unforeseen circumstance where you’ll be waiting for your kid’s practice to end. Pack small toys for restless siblings, a crossword puzzle book for you and some snacks for the group.
Carpool When You Can
Friends and neighbors with children doing the same events and activities can be a lifesaver. To cut down on stress, see if you can work out a deal that allows you to take the kids to their practice if the neighbor will pick them up when they are done.
Go to Each Event
This almost goes without saying, but be your kid’s biggest fan. Pack an umbrella to watch the soccer game in the rain. Arrive on time to see your child play.
Sometimes life will through you a curve ball that will not allow you to go to one of your child’s activities. Though you might initially feel guilty, give yourself a break. It is not possible for you to go to everything all the time. Just don’t make a habit of it and remind your kids that you’ll always be their biggest fan.