If you find that keeping your family on track is stressing you out more than organizing your loved ones should, it is probably long past time to create a schedule to make sure everyone is on the same page. Children, especially teenagers, need to learn the value of structure and organization, and there is no better way than everyone in the family learning together. In this way you allow them to share in the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction you all will feel once the schedule is created and maintained. Here are five easy steps to help you get the ball rolling:
The big picture. Before you can begin scheduling, you must have a firm idea of what an average day looks like in your household. Assign everyone in your family the task of sorting out their daily activities, noting any variations of which they are aware or if they come across them unexpectedly. After a week of such research, hold a family meeting where everyone shares their personal schedule. Allow time for each family member to air any grievances they may feel because of scheduling problems. This lets you recognize where problems exist because of the timing of meals, homework, and outdoor or after school activities. You can begin the scheduling process now because you have an idea of the big picture; that is, what your ultimate goals are.
Brainstorming. If you have access to one of those fancy glass dry erase boards, use it to begin the brainstorming process, which is essential to the success of any well thought out plan. If not, stick to a marker and a large pad of paper. After the big picture meeting, your family should all be able to brainstorm more clearly in order to figure out what each member requires for their optimal day. During brainstorming no idea is considered too crazy, so make sure to write everything down. You can cross it off later.
Forming the initial schedule. Once everyone has made their opinions known, now is the time to create a preliminary, trial schedule. Make the schedule itself as large as possible. Use poster board and colored markers. Tell your family that this is the schedule and everyone will follow it. Be as strict as you can, even if you meet with resistance from your children (or your spouse). Also make sure to follow it yourself. Good parenting strategy includes modeling for your children. If they see that you aren’t following the schedule, they won’t want to either.
Following the schedule. Test it out for at least one week. Note any slip ups or inconveniences that result. Be sure that your children practice taking responsibility for their actions, which means you can remind them if you absolutely must, but remember that now is the ideal time for them to begin practicing those strategies for themselves.
Revision. After the week is up, sit down for another family meeting. Let everyone speak out about how they felt the week went. Decide as a group if any changes need to be made. Amend the schedule as necessary and practice it until it is routine!