photo from Pottery Barn
Guest post by Elizabeth at Ordinary Time
Life with many children is busy and I have found it just gets busier as those children get older. They each have their own interests, activities and friends and trying to keep track of all the comings and goings of these not-quite adults can make a mother go gray even faster than she already is.
To try to save my sanity, I have come up with a game plan that keeps my busy older children happy while allowing me to keep track of what everyone is doing. Some of the key items of that game plan include:
1) Using a family calendar
We have a large, write-on calendar hanging in our kitchen. Everyone is required to write their activities and commitments on the calendar. If they aren’t on the calendar, they don’t exist.
I make sure to put family activities on the calendar so when my children are scheduling their lives, they know what to avoid. Our general rule of thumb is that whatever makes it on the calendar first takes precedence.
2) Making family dinners a priority
Our older children know that it is the very rare activity that can take precedence over family dinners. And really, it has become such a habit that it is not an issue. Sometimes, dinner time is the only time our family has to visit together. We believe that this is important to our family’s well-being and we make it a priority.
3) Planning “enforced family fun”
As children get older and their schedules get busier, sometimes we have to schedule our fun. If my husband and I want to do something as a family, we make sure to pick a date and get it on the calendar. Our children know that it is a non-negotiable activity.
When our children were younger, it was easier to be spontaneous, but as our children have aged, we have had to give up a bit of spontaneity in order to have family activities. It is worth the trade-off.
4) Teaching our children how to schedule their own time
Part of being a functioning adult means being able to plan and schedule on one’s own. As our children get older, we give them more responsibility with their own time management. We offer advice and guidance and sometimes help with the inevitable crisis as our children learn this valuable skill.
We begin when they are about 11 or 12, making daily schedules with them and as they get older, we contribute less and less. The most difficult aspect of this for me is to try not to remind as much as they get older. It is hard to watch your child get into a bind, time-wise, but sometimes it is the only way they learn.
Raising children through their teen years can be challenging for many reasons, but having a plan to keep the scheduling aspects of life under control can make it more enjoyable. Not only does is help keep life a bit more manageable, it can also help to strengthen family ties by allowing families to continue to spend time together.
Elizabeth Curry is a homeschooling mother of 9 children, ages 17 to 17 months. When she isn’t busy raising her children, she writes, sews, reads and blogs at Ordinary Time.
If you’re a mom of a teenager, I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for time management! Share them with us in the comments.