Busy Families: Have a Plan
Sep 11th, 2012 | by CareSource
By Jennifer Dozer - busy wife, mother and RN
The start of the school year often means the start of school-year stress for busy families. To families already overwhelmed with the usual chaos that comes from one or both parents working, adding homework, sports practices, and other activities into the mix can cause unwanted stress.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that families establish a daily routine. Having a routine helps children feel safe, teaches self-discipline, and helps parents avoid the stress of rushed mornings and forgotten homework.
The internet is a treasure-trove of ideas for the organizationally-challenged. Popular blogs and social networking sites such as Pinterest are full of tips both for establishing personal routines that suit your family, and plotting out ways to organize your home.
Not sure where to get started? Here are a few tips:
- Establish a Command Center. A command center is a single place in your home- in your kitchen, office, or entryway- that meets your daily organizational needs. What should you keep in your command center? Homework folders, bills that need mailing, keys, phones, chore charts, calendars, and menu plans are typical command center must-haves. Papers that otherwise would get piled on tables should have a home here. There should be only one answer to the questions “Where is it?”, “When is it?”, “What am I supposed to do?”, and “What’s for dinner?” Go to the Command Center.
- Make a Meal Plan. Having a plan ahead of time can help you avoid last-minute fast food runs and wasted time scrambling to figure out dinner. It can also help you save money! If you find you don’t have much time for cooking on weeknights, consider spending a few hours on the weekend creating freezer meals, or becoming adept at using a slow cooker.
- Keep a Family Calendar. Google makes it easy to keep a paper-free shared calendar online, and will automatically send a reminder email to your Gmail account. Setting up an account is free. If you have a smartphone, you can download the Gmail app, and get reminders directly to your phone! If you prefer to keep a calendar in your command center, you can often download and print free calendar pages for a family binder, or use a simple chalkboard or dry erase board.
- Be Prepared. If you need something the next day, be sure to prepare it the night before. Make sure homework is done, papers have been signed, and lunches and book bags are packed. Need some healthy school lunch ideas? Try here.
- Build Your Family Routine. Sit down and spend a few minutes thinking about what your family needs to accomplish before and after school, then devise a routine to help make it happen. Help your children gain some independence by delegating age appropriate tasks to them. You can post your family’s routines and chore charts in your command center or keep track of completed tasks in a family binder.
Follow CareSource on Pinterest to check out our boards. We’ve pinned plenty of tips to help get you started on a smooth transition to the school year.