People usually think that it is only the school mornings that are full of the hustle and bustle of kids and work. But only parents know that the real rush begins when your children are done after school- when they have to head for their extracurricular activities.
One child has piano lessons, another has ballet classes, and two have basketball practice at the other end of the town. If you feel messed up around the clock, here are a few parenting hacks that can ease your chaotic weeks;-
Maintain a master calendar
Have a 10-minute session with the family every Sunday and make sure your calendar is set up for the week. Encourage the kids to have an individual calendar for their extracurricular activities.
You can get creative or personalised calendars for kids to make it a fun activity for them. Maintaining a master calendar which is up-to-date is the key to keeping everyone organised at home.
Consider your family calendar as the control centre and make sure it is placed at the central location in your house. While some of you like to keep calendars, others might prefer technology to keep a track of all the activities.
Choosing an app which allows you to schedule your activities in the most convenient way, is a good idea. Irrespective of the medium you choose, it is important to note that it should be accurate and organised.
Plan ahead to avoid chaos
Once you have scheduled all the activities and your calendar is all set for the week, it is time to plan ahead to avoid chaos. Pack snack bags a day ahead and plan easy to cook meals for lunch. Go for simple recipes and healthy food that does not need much preparation. This will save you from the worry of not having your family fed properly. Track your activities for the day and pack a night before. Make sure you are not running around at the last moment looking around for their sports shoes or art kits. Encourage your kids to pack their own bags so that you can focus on the other activities on the calendar.
Limit activities for the day
It is important to strike a good balance between their studies and extracurricular activities. Set your priorities and take out time to explain it to them. Do not be forceful but be firm on your policy that homework and assignments have to be completed on time. Taking up too much on your calendar can not only hamper your personal life but also the life of your children. Involve the kids only in activities that they truly enjoy. Engaging them in too many activities robs them of the joy of childhood. Keep enough time for them to relax and rejuvenate.
Don’t compromise on family time
Make sure to schedule a family time first, so that it doesn’t get filled up with other activities. Plan out small outings with kids or short vacations whenever possible. This can be a good time to connect with each other and refresh yourself. Spending time with the family inculcates a sense of belonging in the kids. Families who spend time together and enjoy group activities are known to have strong emotional ties. It is also a good time to check on your teens and observe any changes before it goes out of hand.
Split your duties
Whenever the activities of your kids overlap with each other, split the duties with your partner or ask help from family friends. Networking with other moms can also help you find a carpool. Most of the working parents are ready to take up driving duties and help each. While one of you can drive the kids to a birthday party, the other one can take them for a practice match. Asking for help in times of need can save you a lot of trouble. Don’t feel guilty if you aren’t able to attend every activity of your children. Your children will not remember what you missed, but the efforts you made to be there most of the time.
As your kids get involved in more activities at school, they will be faced with some tough choices. It might be tempting as a parent to take control of the situation and set their priorities for them. But it is good to allow the children to make their own choices. Teach them to learn from their mistakes and make a note of the lessons learnt. Children need to know the consequences of both good and bad decisions (hanging out with friends instead of studying for an exam). In this way, they learn to choose wisely in future. As a parent, you can guide them to prioritise their schedule and help them whenever they need you.
Unwind and relax
Take time to relax in between the activities. Take a power nap at home whenever possible. Enjoy with kids while you are driving. Have fun conversations and make it an opportunity to spend some quality time with your children. Running around all day can cause stress and burnout for the parent. Hence, it is important to put deliberate efforts and take out time to relax. Recharge and rebound with some down time in your schedule. Spending time on extracurricular activities is beneficial for your kids. But overdoing it can have detrimental effects as well. Encourage your children in activities that they really love to do. Only a healthy and happy child can be a well-rounded individual.