Hey—I’m KJ Dell’Antonia, and this is 3 tips in 3 minutes—the how to keep your family schedule sane episode.
The more kids you have, the more there is going on, but even one child and one parent can find themselves feeling overwhelmed. There’s a simple reason for that—we tend to look at sports and activities for children in a vacuum. Sure, we say, there’s nothing going on on Tuesday afternoons. Why not a pottery class?
But that nothing is really something. Every additional commitment replaces what one expert calls PDF: Playtime, down time and family time. Every hour that’s filled is an hour that can’t be spent hanging out with a friend, creating a Lego world, reading or helping make a family dinner. PDF is important for children who are still figuring out who they are in the world—and for parents, who need free time too. There are 3 keys to getting the balance right: making conscious choices, managing the details, and managing your attitude.
First: Take time to choose. Do not just say yes to anything, whether it’s rugby or math club, without taking time to think. At yes will take resources, like drive time and planning energy—can you make it happen, and at what cost to your other kids and obligations? It’s also a no to your child’s PDF. Help her decide—would she rather have an activity on Tuesday and Thursday, or have the time to make plans with friends or just hang out? The answer probably depends on what she’s doing Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Second: Don’t kid yourself. Look at the details of the schedule honestly. If something requires you and your car to be in two places at once, or to leave work at 4:45 twice a week when you’re not usually off until 5, that’s not workable. Pretending it is will lead to stress down the road. You may need help, like a driver-babysitter or a carpool, or you may need talk to your child and the adults involved to figure out what happens when (not if) you can’t get there on time. And take travel and transition time into account. Your last class and the day care center may only be five miles apart, but it’s going to take more than 5 minutes to get there.
Finally, Decide to embrace it. You can’t always control your schedule. You can control the way you follow it. If you’re someplace you need to be, doing something you need to do, then let that feel good. And if it takes a little more than that, I say pull into 7-11 and grab a Slurpee. Sometimes a little treat helps bring into focus the magic of an ordinary day.
And that’s all I’ve got! Thanks for watching, and I ‘ll be back with more from Studio KJ soon.
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