By Wendy Dessler,
Today’s children have a much more complicated schedule than any generation before them. The requirements for school mean children are ensured to have homework at least a few hours per week. They need sports for learning social skills and values and good health. But how can they balance all of this?
The only way to make a schedule that works for everyone is for the entire family to dedicate themselves to it. Every member of the family must sit down and map out their responsibilities for the coming week. This allows everyone to see the efforts each person is making. This makes children appreciate the time dedicated to them.
When the schedule is overloaded or too heavy for one member or there are major transportation issues, everyone must work together for a solution even if that means someone must give something up. While the kids have an equal say, it is the responsibility of the parent to oversee the schedule and not allow someone to cripple themselves.
Children will have no problem carving out hours for their favorite sport or activity. But it is important that they know school is a priority. There will be times when they must do school instead of something they want to do. Just as you sometimes must work instead of going shopping. This is important life training. If you allow them to rush through school work, they will. This is not the kind of adult you want them to be.
Make a colored chart
Every family member has a color and every family member is represented on the chart. Include things like time to transport or pick up kids.
Schedule in down-time
It is hard to say, “Sunday is a family day!” and stick to it. Sooner or later, someone’s life will interrupt your Sunday and then it is fair game for all players. Schedule your time in small windows that work for everyone. Also, schedule in downtime. These are pockets of time that the child has no responsibilities, Use these windows to teach the child how to unwind and release his mind.
A kid always thinks they have time for something else. There is not a child that will not rush through the things they don’t like (homework, school, dinner) to get to something that is fun. It is up to the parent to hold the break. Explain the time restraints and explain the expenses. Then instruct your child to limit their activities to 1 or 2. A child cannot do their best at anything if they are distracted by what they have to do next.
Create a budget
Like an allowance, a child must learn to consider the cost of the things they want. Set a budget and show them when you apply things to the budget. This includes:
Clothes and footwear
Cost of extra gear
Teach them to work the budget
Teach them to budget time and money. A good example is buying supplies needed for their art. For example, buy beautiful dance costumes at a discount dance supply store. This also is a way to teach that quality matters. A dancer must have the right apparel and it needs to be high-quality so it performs and looks great.
If they are planning a birthday party or school event, show them how to make choices. For example, buying treats from an online candy store is less expensive and time-consuming than buying cakes and pastries. Teach your child to choose wisely.
Set an example
The best way to teach your child to balance their lives is to set a good example. Point out to them when a choice is made to benefit your schedule. Explain your thought process when schedules collide. Soon the entire family will be working and playing in balance.