Monday, October 18, 2010

Activities, Playdates and More – Managing your Busy Family Life

Managing the many details of family life can often seem more difficult than being an air traffic controller! With my schedule, work, Brett’s schedule and the girls’ schedules to remember along with doctors appointment, dentist appointments and the list goes on; I have had to come up with a number of ways to deal with the inevitable chaos.

1.Menu Planning – By setting aside a small amount of time during the week to menu plan, you can save yourself the hassle of multiple trips to the grocery store by ensuring that all the food you need for the weeks meals and snacks are on hand. It can also save you money as you know what you need and don’t end up buying extra food that may go to waste. It can also help ensure that your family is eating healthy, well-balanced meals instead of choosing whatever is fastest at the last minute.

2.Family Calendar - The use of one master calendar for the whole family is very useful. By having all family members’ schedule in one place can avoid confusion and missed appointments. Your family calendar can not only be used for schedules but also for chores, To Do’s and for leaving notes for other family members. A Family Calendar is an easy way to keep everyone informed about what will be happening on a weekly and monthly basis.

3.Drop the unnecessary – Take a look at your schedule and see if there is anything on it that is not necessary. Is there anything that can be consolidated? A trip to the drugstore can be combined with a trip grocery shopping perhaps? Or perhaps, there is an activity that you have to convince your child to go to that can be eliminated. Are there any tasks that can be delegated to someone else? If you can cut corners with your chores and To Do’s than do it! Our family has invested in a cleaning service twice a month for those extra chores so that I can use this time more wisely on the girls or on work. It is definitely worth it!

4.Ask for HELP – There are a number of ways one can find help with the daily grind whether or not you have family around to help you. Some ways to do this is:
-Carpool/share drop offs pick ups – Find someone at your child’s school who can share pickup and drop off responsibilities. It may only save you 20 minutes at a time but this quickly adds up.
-Share caregiving – Another way to find help is to share caregiving with another parent as well. One day you can pick up their child and have them over for lunch and a playdate in the afternoon. Then you switch.
-Drop off centres – There a number of parent relief centres in Toronto run by the Ontario Early Years Centres. You can drop your child off with them for a few hours to get a break or have time to run errands. Do some research where you live to see if there are any options available to you. While the OEYC drops offs are free, there may also be paid options available as well.

5.Assign tasks to certain days – One of things I struggle with daily is the urge to procrastinate. To combat these urges I find that when faced with an overwhelming to do list (which I often have), it is helpful to assign one or two tasks to each day. For instance, I would assign Tuesday and Thursday to be laundry day. My main focus would be laundry for these days. By doing this, it helps me stay on track and focused and keeps me from being derailed by the enormity of all that must get done.

I welcome any tips you may have for juggling your busy weeks. Comments can be left on our blog post