Live Calmer – 5 Strategies for Controlling Your Family’s Schedule – Before it Controls You

If you’re striving to live a calmer, healthier, sexier life, you may find yourself in frequent conflict with your family’s schedule – the jobs, responsibilities, chores, relationships and activities that make up your family’s day-to-day life.  For many families, the number of tasks on that schedule has become overwhelming.  Mom and Dad work hard (in the workplace or at home), Dad serves on church council, Mom chairs the PTO, Dad volunteers every other Saturday, Mom coaches a soccer team, Joe plays baseball and football, Jane plays soccer and takes dance and piano, and little Jill goes to toddler gymnastics twice a week.  Whew!  Add in cooking, shopping, cleaning, maintaining the yard, helping with homework, and spending time with friends and family, and it becomes almost impossible for a family to live simply and feel relaxed.

Families in the 21st century can choose from thousands of activities, opportunities, and entertainment options, more than any previous generation of families.  But is this smorgasbord of choices a blessing or a curse?  Certainly the opportunity to play an instrument, compete in a sport, volunteer, travel, and enjoy entertainment can be a blessing.  But if it comes at the expense of family time, relaxation, relationships, good health, and marital intimacy, is it also a curse?

The ideal schedule will differ from family to family, from year to year, maybe even from season to season.  But if you’re feeling tired, stressed, and overcommitted and are longing for a more manageable schedule and a bit more sanity, try these five strategies for controlling your family’s schedule, rather than letting it control you.

  1.  Analyze the situation.  What is causing you the most stress?  Which activities are required and which are optional?  (Really think hard about this – some activities that you are treating as required may in fact be optional.)  Which activities provide little “bang for the buck” (not much value, but a lot of hassle)?  In the ideal scheduling situation, which activities would you drop and which ones would you keep?
  2. Ask yourself why the situation is occurring.  Why are you running from one activity to another, with no time to think, slow down, or take a deep breath?  Is it just that you’ve allowed the schedule to get out of control, without really thinking about it?  Are you afraid that your children will miss out on something if they don’t participate in every activity?  Is it because you don’t know how to say no?  Do you feel pressure to do what everyone else is doing?  Do you feel a need to be busy all the time?  Some of these are hard questions, but you may need to answer them before you can figure out a way to control your family’s schedule.
  3.  Identify the things you would like to do, but can’t.  What is your family’s schedule preventing you from doing or enjoying?  Do you want to exercise and get in shape, but never have enough time?  Do you want to cook healthy meals and eat dinner together as a family, but find yourself picking up fast food almost every night?  Would you like to take a weekend to play together as a family, maybe hiking or biking, building a campfire, or playing games?  Would you like to relax and enjoy some intimacy with your spouse?  Make a list of the things you’d like to do, if only your schedule weren’t so hectic.
  4. Talk with your husband and enlist his or help.  Controlling the family’s schedule is a big job, and both parents need to be on board in order for it to work.  Does your husband feel stressed too?  Would he like to do something different, if only there was enough time?  Is he feeling the need for some down time?  Talk it through and agree on a goal. My husband really took the lead on controlling our family’s schedule when are children were younger.  He just wasn’t into that whole “running somewhere every minute of every day” thing!  He wanted to have a sane family life and a sane marriage, and he wasn’t worried that our kids might miss out on that one great activity that would change their lives forever!  So, even though our schedule was busy when our boys were in elementary and middle school, it wasn’t completely insane.  Maybe you need to take the lead on this initially, but you may find that your husband is more than happy to get involved.
  5. Eliminate some activities.  This is the hard part.  If you want to take control of your family’s schedule, open up some time for relaxation, and live at a slightly slower pace, you can’t continue to do everything you’re currently doing.  Unless you have the resources to hire a maid, a gardener, and a driver, you’re going to have to let some things go.  What is most important at this stage in your life If the children’s sports activities are most important, then let other children’s activities go.  If scouting is most important, then focus on that – but music or sports may have to go.  If having a parent serve on PTO is important, then that parent probably can’t serve as a community volunteer or president of his or her civic group.

Have you been able to keep your family’s schedule under control, or is it running you ragged?  If you’ve been able to tame it (at least in part), what strategies have worked for you?  I would love to hear from you.  I also would love for you to  subscribe to Calm.Healthy.Sexy. by email.  Enter your email address in the sidebar under “Don’t Miss a Post.”  You’ll receive an email when I publish a new post, nothing else.

Gaye

 

Comments

  1. says

    Oh, this is a tricky topic for me: to do lists. We’ve been able to tame it but it’s not been easy. One of the ways is to go with the ebb and flow. If we know one day is going to be slammed with to-dos, we make provisions for the following day to have far less. And we have learned to make peace with the undone :).

  2. says

    I’m always trying to create margin in my life because it feels like sweeping back the ocean sometimes. The demands on our time are so numerous that if I said “yes” to everything, I’d be swept away, Gaye! In fact, I had that “retreat” last week that you inspired me to take back (I think it was in May sometime). I used the questions you suggested there to prepare for my day and I feel like my summer won’t be rushing past without a chance to savor its fruit and beauty! Thanks for always challenging us in this way and so many other ways too, my friend!

    • GC says

      Hi Beth – I’m so glad you were able to have your retreat! I feel like a fraud for having written that post, because the first two weeks of summer have been extremely stressful – sickness (hubby and me), major work stress, and elderly parent problems. But, we are both well now, so I’m attempting to regroup and start over.

      Gaye

  3. says

    I wish this was yet another piece of pre-marital counseling, along with finances. *sigh*

    I know way too many parents who enroll their kids in everything out of fear of missing out, of not having the “right” activities on their college applications, etc. What they overlook is the financial and relational cost of wildly running from activity to activity. They never learned to say no to the good so they can say yes to the better. Well said, Gaye. Thanks for highlighting it at HWC!

    • GC says

      Thanks Kim. I do see people running wildly from one activity to another. That kind of schedule makes it really hard to give time and effort to our marriages. And yes, this topic definitely should be included in premarital counseling.

      Gaye

  4. says

    Love this! Great advice to newly weds like us :) It gives me an idea how to deal and control family schedules in the future :)

    Visiting you from the Happy Wives Club Link Up.

    • GC says

      Thanks Mai. It’s great to think about these things early in your marriage and set your priorities for your family.

      Thanks for stopping by.
      Gaye

  5. says

    Love this! There are certain times of the year when our schedule gets totally out of control, but for the most part, it isn’t too bad. #5 is so hard to do. With my older kids, I was always working and they weren’t able to participate in all the activities my younger ones can. I tend to do a little too much, but because of my illness, I’m forced to take it easy.

    Thank you for co-hosting the hop!!

    • GC says

      Thanks Christina. It’s hard to find the right balance of activities, and I think that moms tend to want to do too much, so that their kids can have every opportunity.

      Thanks for the opportunity to co-host the hop.
      Gaye

  6. says

    Prioritizing is huge as well as enlisting the help from your partner. Thankfully hubby is great, well except for the laundry. Great tips. Our son is still too young to be involved in activities but we already started having him have an hour a day of him time and he loves it. He plays with his puzzles and opens a book nicely, phew. Thank you for linking up to the Empowered Living hop, stay tuned I will be making a few changes this coming week. Hope to see you again.

    • GC says

      Thanks Jesse. I love the idea of your son having an hour of “him time” every day – what a great idea and very good training in learning to entertain himself. Thanks for the opportunity to link up with you. I’ll look for your upcoming changes.

      Have a great weekend.
      Gaye

  7. says

    We started getting into that situation with classes and sports, and our kids are still small! Focus helps – have the kids pick one activity and put their all into it, instead of being semi-enthusiastic about several activities.

    • GC says

      Hi Courtney – I agree – we encouraged our kids to focus on one activity at a time. We didn’t always stick with that 100% as they got older, but they never did more than two at a time. It just takes too much time and energy, and leaves little for family time and couple time.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.
      Gaye

  8. says

    Love these tips Gaye! Especially tip 5 is a big one for us and something we had to learn to do. We were trying to do it all within 24 hours and it just wasn’t possible. We all had to give up some things but we feel better (more relaxed) now.
    Love all your great Posts! Have a wonderful week!

    • GC says

      Thanks Raquel. Yes, #5 is hard, but worth it (I think) if you want to have a sane family life.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.
      Gaye

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