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  • Wellbeing

How to best manage the family schedule

10 February, 2016

It’s common for parents to bemoan the fact that their children never seem to be outside playing, but the truth is, children these days are busier than ever before. From homework to additional work commitments to sport and even extracurricular activities like music lessons and hobbies, there’s never been such a heavy demand on children’s time. And while this can seem at times to be overwhelming for both parents and their children, the good news is that there are tools to manage your children’s schedule.

Here is a selection of tips and apps designed to help busy parents be more efficient when organising the family schedule.

1. Set and create a list of priorities

Overloading a child’s schedule is not the way to foster healthy development. By figuring out the activities that constitute their time and working out a way to determine which ones are essential and which ones aren’t contributing as much as others, it’s easier to help yourself and your child know which activities are simply putting too much strain on the schedule. 

Keep in mind that rest is very important for children, so make sure you factor this into your time calculations. And also make sure you listen to what your child wants before you force them to give up one of their hobbies.

2. Think before committing to a request

Parents have huge pressure to say “Yes” to every request, whether it’s a birthday party RSVP or a carpooling commitment, but doing this can put a tremendous strain on you as a person. So next time before you make a commitment, ask yourself if it’s really something you can fulfil. Sometimes when you’re super-busy over the course of the week turning down a simple request can save you a huge amount of time.

3. Make sure you set some time aside for family bonding

shutterstock_148305410Family bonding is one of the most important things you can do as a parent, but if you don’t set enough time aside to do it you’ll quickly find your weekend fills up. By casually putting aside an hour or two for family-based activities, not only are you making a commitment to this important part of your child’s development, you’re also making sure that even on the busiest weekends you will be filling that commitment.

Even if it’s something simple like reading a book to your children or sharing a meal when you’d normally eat out, when it comes to family bonding time, every minute counts.

4. Use a family calendar

Encouraging the reading of calendars by your children not only teaches them an important skill they’re going to use in the real world, it also helps you manage your free time and figure out which work commitments you have to prioritise. Even in smaller families everyone is working to a different schedule, and it can be difficult to figure out what everyone is doing at one particular point in time. By using a family calendar you can not only get your head around what you’re doing, but you can see what your partner and your children are up to at any given moment as well.

5. Apps that you can use to help manage your time with your children

In our technological age when everyone has a smart phone, it’s never been easier to manage our family time and make sure everyone is taken care of. Here’s a selection of the best apps that can be used to help manage your time and help manage the elements of your children’s schedules.   

Google Calendar – Clean, straightforward and relatively simple to use (particularly if you’ve got computer-literate older children), Google Calendar is an effective way of getting the different elements of your schedule together. As an added bonus, Google Calendar can be organised to give you a selection of regular alerts, emails and texts which can be invaluable organisation tools, particularly during the busier periods of your week.

Evernote – A little more complicated than Google Calendar but equally as useful, Evernote is like a digital filing cabinet that stores all the useful information you need in your life. Whether you’re putting together important receipts, going through a checklist of stationary you need for the new term or simply doing your weekly shop, Evernote can help. 

Wunderlist – Chores are a source of frustration in many a household, but that can be eliminated in no time at all with the use of Wunderlist, a useful app that gives you the ability to share specific tasks with individual family members. This app can help lessen the load on you and, as they say, more hands make light work for any task you have.  
Cozi – one of the hardest things about getting your family schedule together is making sure everyone is on the same page. But thanks to apps like Cozi this is easy. Cozi puts everyone in your family’s schedule on the same page that is colour coded for every member of your family and easy to navigate. This way you can figure out parts of your schedule where you may need some assistance, and who’s free to give you a lending hand.

Managing your children’s schedule is one of the hardest parts of being a parent, but it’s not an impossible task. By setting some rules, following the best practice tips outlined above, and even employing organisational tools like the apps listed, you can ensure your family gets the most out of each day. 

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