As school routines, work and other commitments collide, the weeks seem to fly by. Most of us look forward to the end of the working week and for many, Friday represents a ‘finish line.’ Weekends are great because our routines can be a little more flexible but with family weekends filled with sport, errands, socialising, housework, gardening and parties, although often fun, they can feel too busy. Then Sunday night arrives with what feels like a thud and the idea of another week on the weekday treadmill can feel overwhelming for parents.
It’s helpful to take stock of commitments and prioritise tasks. Consider what takes up the most time and what is ‘hard’ when organising your working week.
Your family is a team and as parents, we shouldn’t have to do it all. Teach your kids to step up and help the ‘team’ creating a flowing routine while developing independence.
Consider the following:
- Lunches: Is the fridge stocked for the week with bread, milk, cheese, fruit, cold cuts, cheese etc? Are lunches organised the night before to prevent a morning rush? Are your kids old enough and able to make a bulk load of sandwiches store in a fridge container? Could this be part of their chores?
- Have school notices been read (emails or, pulled out of school bags on a Friday night) in readiness for the new week? Older kids should be responsible for their own notices and keep you in the loop.
- Has homework been followed up? Ask your child early about what is expected and if they need help. If your child attends a tutor, ask their teacher to make allowances with homework. It’s about priorities and caring for our kids.
- Are school uniforms ready for the first few days? (Try to wash early to avoid wet uniforms on Monday.)
- Are extra-curricular commitments paid for and organised and are all these activities important? Can a better transport arrangement be organised? Can your child travel with another parent to activities, with you returning the favour to simplify things?
- Will your child need After School Care and is it organised?
- Are a few simple, healthy dinners organised for the week? Can double quantities/recipes be prepared? (Left-overs are a delicious time-saver!) Freeze meals.
- Does Sunday night feel relaxed? Is the family in bed at a reasonable time so that you feel refreshed and ready to enjoy a new week?
Your family values and routines will be different from others. If you feel as though you’re on a perpetual treadmill, it is worth assessing commitments and prioritising them. The list of ‘things to do’ will always be there but time with our kids, while they’re young, won’t be. Put what you value first and assess whether the rest can wait.
As adults, your kids won’t remember if their school shirts weren’t ironed perfectly or if they only did one extra-curricular sport compared to their friends (who did three) but they will remember feeling relaxed and happy at home because their family managed to balance school, family life and other commitments most of the time.
Realising that sometimes we might be doing too much as parents and making a conscious decision to care for ourselves by shifting commitments around might be a healthy and welcome first step to achieving a balance so we can be there not only for our kids but for ourselves.
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