When the new school year kicks life into high gear, it's important to remember this: Do not bang your head against the wall or yearn to burrow yourself into a deep hole. Balancing work, school and activities with an organized, well-oiled household is feasible.
Albert Einstein said, "People are like bicycles. They can keep their balance only as long as they keep moving."
To maintain momentum and not fall off the proverbial bike, try implementing some of the following tips.
1. Jot it down
Whether it be your hand or a Post-it note, record your to-do task immediately. Don't try to remember, "buy ketchup" or "pick up Louis." Write it down, instead.
2. Reserve video games for weekends
For kids, the urge to plop down after school and play video games is strong. But a few minutes can stretch into an hour or more and suddenly precious homework or study time is lost. It's important to unwind, but avoid the video game void on busy weekdays.
3. Prep clothes, backpacks and lunches the night before
Don't scurry to finish or gather homework, lunches or clothes in the morning. It's no fun starting the day frazzled and stressed out.
4. Pray over the hard choices
If you're uneasy about a certain activity (sending your son to a camp or signing up your daughter for pricey dance lessons), pray and ask God if it's the right thing. Your feelings of peace or unease will be your answer.
5. Walk the dog together
Single out a family member to create moments of one-on-one time. Walking the dog or driving in the car creates a casual setting, perfect for good conversation.
6. Post a weekly chore list
When your kids expect a regular Saturday morning task list, they'll balk less. Work builds character, and they should be expected to contribute to the household.
7. Fast food saves time
We know it isn't the healthiest or most economical choice, but an occasional run to the drive through can be a time saver.
8. Eat dinner together
Even if it's bags of fast food plopped on the table, make an effort to eat when everyone is home. Whether it's scheduled early or late, dinnertime is important for conversation and connecting.
9. Calendar with your family
Once a week, hold a family meeting to preview your clan's upcoming events. Coordinate schedules and make sure everyone knows what is going on.
10. Cook for intentional leftovers
Prepare five freezer meals, or just double your batch of lasagna. You'll love the nights you can pull out leftovers.
11. Put your marriage first
Don't allow your kids' schedules to consume your time with your spouse. Calendar a weekly date night or just alone time. When you create time to nourish your marriage, your kids will feel more secure, too.
12. Let your kids take part in the planning
Together, plan a fun day trip or weekend away, and teach your kids to understand which activities fit your budget.
13. Keep at least one day blank
Spontaneity is nice, so don't always plan your calendar to a T. Leave a day here and there open for a surprise activity, down time, or a family service project.
14. Post a running grocery list
In an easily accessible place, jot down the groceries you're low on.
15. Laugh together
When you find a funny video or joke, share it around the table with the whole family.
As you plan your busy schedule, put your family's well being first. No activity is more important than your together time and happiness as a family.