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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.