Feeling as if there aren't enough hours in the day is a common frustration for most parents, with 60% describing their average daily lives as "hectic" and a quarter admitting that lack of family time is a "problem."
When asked which factors were to blame for the lack of family time, two-thirds of the parents identified their long work hours, weekend chores and their kids' complex school and activities schedules as the problem.
So if you've ever found yourself grabbing the kids from school, running to do errands, making dinner and heading out to practice with one child while trying to finish homework with the other, then you're not alone. Most families' endless to-do tasks are wearing on even the most organized of parents.
The good news is there are ways to make your life infinitely easier; here's what you need to know.
Help kids to understand time management
As adults, we understand that we often have to fit several tasks into a short space of time. However, many kids are overwhelmed by the prospect of doing the same. Between homework, activities, chores and just time to play, there's a lot for them to do even before they get distracted.
What's more, most kids don't have the cognitive skills to organize their schedules independently until middle school. However, you can start teaching them how to plan and prioritize their time at any age by making sure they have a clock to see the time and clear reminders of what needs to be done.
Turn your child's daily routine into a checklist
One of the best things you can do to reduce family stress during the week is to set your child's routine into a checklist that they know how to follow. Print a checklist for forgetful kids for their room and the fridge. Hold them accountable to finish their tasks, redirecting them to the list when they get distracted.
- Wake up
- Clean teeth/brush hair/wash face
- Get dressed
- Eat breakfast
- Grab lunch
- Leave by X
- Come home - snack
- Get bag ready for school
If you're looking for a fun and easy way to get your kids involved in household chores, why not try using GoHenry? Not only is GoHenry GoHenry a great tool for teaching kids about the link between work and money. It's also perfect for motivating your children to get their chores done and earn regular pocket money.
You can assign paid tasks so that everyone knows what chores need to be done and what they will earn for it.
Help your kids to understand what's expected of them
Helping kids to understand the difference between 'must do' and 'want to do’ is an essential component of time management. Must do - includes bedtime, homework and chores. Want to do - includes downtime, playtime and devices. Make it easy for your kids by showing them there is always time for both as long as they prioritize their must-dos. Show by example, explaining that you must do your work, so you prioritize it to have time for fun things with them.
Give yourself a margin for changes
If you constantly feel rushed, the problem is probably that your schedule is too tight. Always make sure that there is room for maneuver should something go wrong. That's room for a child having a bad day, room to rejig your schedule should the wifi stop working, and space to stop should you need to. Whether it's letting go of a few chores, getting up ten minutes earlier, or letting an activity slide for the, remember the goal of time management is to make your life easier, not more restrictive.
Get everyone on the same page
Learning to do things on time is hard for many kids. What helps are visual reminders (clocks, schedules, reminders on devices) and patience. If your child is struggling and hates being rushed or can't get through his daily routine, ask how you can help. Do they need more help with managing their time? Is their list too extensive? Are your daily activities too much for them? What can help is to:
- Break tasks down into smaller tasks
- Set daily and weekly goals for meeting their schedule
- Show them how to plan ahead
- Walk them through tasks with them showing them how to stay on track
- Observe what distracts them the most
- Be patient; it takes time to get to grips with time management skills
Deal with teens and time management
One of the most frustrating things about having a teen is not knowing their schedule until the last minute. Having to do a last-minute project, needing a lift to an activity, or even not sending off something on time can completely knock a busy family schedule off track.
The problem is that teens often have very structured timetables, so all their homework and classes are pre-planned. This means they often don't know the importance of having to manage their downtime and factor in how it affects others in the family.
What can help is to get your teen to:
- Make a note of their schedule on their phone calendar with alerts.
- Teach your teen how to set time aside for chores, study and other household needs,
- Set rules about expectations and consequences.
- Get your teen into a weekly routine.
- Find them a time management app (see below) that helps your teen stay on track.
Use the Cozi App
One of the best ways to manage a busy family life is to use an app to help you. Cozi is a free-to-use family scheduling app. By coordinating and communicating everyone's schedules and activities, tracking grocery lists, and managing to-do lists, lets you plan ahead for dinner and keep the whole family on the same page.
Cozi works because you can see what everyone is doing and where everyone needs to be with a shared, color-coded calendar. You can set reminders, and Cozi Today shows you everything you've got going on each day in a clear view that includes upcoming appointments, your current to-dos, and recently added shopping list items.