The back-to-school madness is approaching. Gone will be the lazy summer days where late nights, sleeping in and lax routines were the norm. It’s back to juggling the demands of your job with the needs of your on-the-go children while also squeezing in chores, homework, making dinner and shuttling everyone to athletic practices, recitals and doctors’ appointments. And, oh yeah, at some point, everyone is supposed to sleep.
Here are some strategies to help your family cope with overloaded calendars and endless to-do lists.
1. Figure out what is most important
A few weeks before school begins, start holding weekly family meetings. Ask “What are our family priorities for this school year?” If the family wants to see improved grades, then homework becomes a priority. If it’s more important that everyone gets at least eight hours of sleep, then bedtime scheduling is a priority. After setting the priorities, discuss the activities that you can—and can not—fit into the day. At each follow-up meeting, review the family’s commitment to the priorities, as well as discuss the upcoming week’s schedule.
2. Figure out what you can outsource or delegate
Talk with the parents of your child’s teammates to see if you can chauffeur the kids to practice on set days and then they take the kids on the other days to help cut the time you spend driving and waiting in half. For household tasks, examine your finances to determine whether you can afford to hire extra help mowing the lawn or cleaning.
3. Choose the right app
Since the devices probably already are in your child’s hands, you might as well as use them to keep everyone on the same page. Hundreds of apps exist that allow you to consolidate multiple schedules, share information between family members as well as set reminder features. A few that caught our eye include:
• Google Calendar for its sharing ability and color-coding options that make it easy to divide different types of tasks, activities and events, so that each person can filter their view by what matters to them.
• Cozi for its ability to synchronize family calendars, to-do lists, shopping lists, while also offering a section for recipes, a space for a family journal and the ability to send out reminders. The ad-supported version is free, but an ad-free version is also available as a paid upgrade.
• BusyKid because it allows parents to create a list of weekly chores for each child and assign an allowance that will be awarded once those chores are complete. It also offers you age-appropriate suggestions for both chores and allowance amounts. Your child can choose to save it, cash it out, donate it to charity or invest in stocks. This is a paid app.
• WeParent for its ability to help parents who don’t live together to easily share everything from medical records to photos to finances. It’s free for a month and then requires a paid annual subscription.