Family Management Tip #3: Getting Ready for the New School Year

Clothes. Check. School supplies. Check. No doubt you've got to have all the physical goods required to carry your child through the school year. But perhaps the most important way to get prepared for the new school year is by planning to spend your time and your family's time wisely.

It's important to take a step back from your busy schedule to think about how you want your family to spend the upcoming year. What are your most important goals? Peace? Happiness? Good grades? Harmony? Weight loss? Better health? While you're planning your family's activities, be sure to allocate some time towards meeting those important goals.

You don't have to spend the upcoming year as you've spent the past year - especially if the lifestyle of the past year is not getting you closer to the most important goals you have for your family. People often hear this and agree, but discard the thought as not being applicable to them - so pay close attention: overscheduling yourselves is not necessarily in the best interests of your family.

It is one thing to make a conscious decision that some things are more important than others and to make sacrifices to achieve specific goals. But if you're just going along for the ride, unsure about what you want for yourself and the family, then you're basically gambling with your life. The consequences of these actions will be felt for a long time in your family. So take a thoughtful approach to planning the upcoming year.

Time management is central to success - for an individual or a family. But what does that term really mean? It's not about just scheduling appointments or activities. It can only be successful if time is managed to achieve certain goals. The best way to achieve this is to come up with a daily plan for each family member - well in advance to the extent possible.

Here's how you can achieve this for your family in the new school year:

  • Plan school-related activities.

    You'll want to take care of this first. Before you schedule all other activities, make sure you account for homework time. Depending on how old your kids are, this can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours in a day. Of course, this gets top priority. If you're homeschooling, you'll need to plan for the curriculum as well.

  • Plan home activities.

    Straightening up the room, making the bed, bringing in the laundry, walking the dog, feeding the fish - a thousand things to do everyday. To keep things going smoothly during the year, you need to come up with a daily, weekly, and monthly chore schedule for each family member. A little bit of planning and buy-in from the family on this front will go a long way. Don't compromise on this or prioritize this lower than other activities - much stress builds up if this schedule falls apart, and you want to avoid this. If you have a conflict with other activities, you can schedule these activities at a different time on the days where you have a conflict. For example, if Mike has hockey practice at 6am on Tuesdays, you can give him a break from dog walking on that day, or maybe he can do it in the evening.

  • Plan goal-related activities.

    Pick one or two long-term goals for each member. Maybe it's health-related, like dropping a few pounds, or perhaps it's getting a higher degree. Whatever it is, unless you plan for it, it "ain't gonna happen", so schedule these activities in.

  • Plan extra-curricular activities.

    After you've accounted for the most important activities, and only after, consider how much time is realistically left for other activities, and fit those in. If you don't keep it realistic, you're always going to find yourself compromising on your longer-term goals and you'll never get out of that cycle.

  • Assess the overall plan and make adjustments.

    Once you've set up the whole plan, talk about it as a family and see if any adjustments need to be made.

  • Use a good family organizer to implement the plan. If every member of your family can have a daily plan for each day (and they could be guided to use it as they begin each day), it will give them a head start. Plan for success this school year - I'm sure you'll be happy with the results.

    © 2005 by Saro Saravanan.

    Saro Saravanan is the Founder-CEO of Mediabee, which makes Mediabee Family Dashboard, a free family management tool built to address the needs of busy families and their organizers. Be sure to read the rest of his articles from this series on Family Management. Download Mediabee Family Dashboard today at http://mediabee.com and streamline your family life.

    In The News:

    How to Organize Your Desk  The New York Times
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