As we enter this busy back-to-school season with just a few nods of the head you may find that suddenly you need another income and a time machine in order to meet the commitments of your childís after-school life. Below are five tips for building a family schedule that everyone can live with.
Start with a Budget
To keep from over-scheduling activities, instead of working to fill a calendar, it is helpful to work off a budget for each child. For small children who primarily take classes only a few weeks in length, a monthly activities budget will work best. For older children, it is easier to create a seasonal budget (Fall, Winter, Spring).
Expenses for certain activities may ramp up at the end of a season and expenses for other activities may ramp up towards the end of the school year. When budgeting be sure to consider things like costumes, pictures, holiday and thank-you gifts for coaches/teachers, and contributions for end of season parties.
Consider All Special Events and Commitments
When considering a time commitment for an activity, donít just plan for the weekly practices/classes that an activity requires. Be sure to include in your calendar planning additional time commitments such as tournaments, special performances, and added practices.
For seasonal sports these typically ramp up at the end of each season and for hobbies such as dance and acrobatics these events can gather steam toward year-end, where you will quickly find entire weekends can be taken up with recital and tournament preparations.
Calculate Pick-up and Drop-off Times
Especially when building schedules for multiple children, it is important to remember to build in time for picking up and dropping off. Consider if your child will be in a place where a late pickup will have them waiting alone and in a situation that might not be acceptable if you are running late. Also take into account building added time for situations where practices tend to run late, or sports/hobbies where your child may need time to change out of equipment (i.e., ice hockey) or put things away (i.e., riding).
Talk to Your Children about their Contribution
Speak to your children about what you expect them to contribute. Participating in sports and activities is a privilege that often requires sacrifice on the part of parents. Appreciating that activities are a family commitment and participating in that commitment can give a child a sense of purpose when they approach their activities. Their contribution may be money saved from a part time job that needs to go towards extra expenses; it could be responsibility in the form of caring for their equipment, or packing their bags; it could be agreeing on a certain number of practice hours on their own.
Schedule Family Time
Make sure that there is at least one block of time on your weekly calendar that allows your family to come together and talk. Whether it is a meal, or a half hour sit down one evening a week before bed, maintain a time where everyone can sit down and discuss their accomplishments or re-live the best moments of their week. Hobbies and activities are full of moments where your child may succeed and where on occasion they may fail, having a dedicated time to discuss those experiences and to learn from them is just as important as providing a place for them to happen.
Every parent knows that organization is key to running a successful family. That is why we created, HATCHEDit, a site where families can easily build a better, easier way to communicate and coordinate their busy lives. And of course, we hope that HATCHEDit.com is the tool you choose to use to hatch your family plans, to manage them throughout the year, and to coordinate them with your support structure (friends, family, sitters).