And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Monday, April 1, 2013

Put It In a Plan

So you might have noticed from last week's Cleaning Up series that I LOVE to plan and organize. I feel most at peace when I have a list and a plan. Checking things off of a list makes me feel SO accomplished. While everyone (ahem my Hubby) does not share my affinity for organization, I think it is imperative for a household to have a certain level of organization.

Luke 14:28

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?

See- it's Biblical!

I think it's also important for children to have a plan. My kids feel the most secure when they know what is happening next. This is so important for our kids that I used a GIANT dry erase board to write out our weekly activities. Not only does this help the kids begin to use time management skills but it saves my sanity because I no longer have a million questions about what's coming next.

So allow me to offer some suggestions for getting a plan in place for your family.

#1. Limit activities. This looks different for every family. It will depend on work schedules, family involvement, ages of family members, etc. No matter how large or small your family is it is too easy to become over-committed. For this stage of our lives we allow 1 sport at a time per child and Apple does choir. That's it. Because sports run in seasons our kids have the chance to participate in up to 3 sports per year.

#2. Don't commit to things you can't/ won't be able to follow up on. Our kids are watching us. If they see us constantly "quitting" activities that we've committed to then they will think that is acceptable. Don't allow your children to commit to a sport or extracurricular activity unless they can make meetings, games, etc. We all get sick, go on vacation, etc but we should always limit missing anything that we've agreed to do. (And it is PERFECTLY acceptable to say no to your child if they want just one more activity.)

#3. On the flip side of that, if you have a life change or suddenly find yourself over exerted then sit down as a family and find things that can be cut from your schedule. If you've served on a committee for 4 years and you now need a break or a change then speak up. If you just need more time as a family then let that book club go. Don't feel pressured to keep up with it all.

#4. Use a calendar. Or a GIANT dry erase board. Or a planner. WRITE IT DOWN. In your head it won't seem like too much to do in a week. On paper it will look daunting. Remember you need to "schedule" in some family meals, grocery trips, and your daily cleaning that you planned last week.

#5. If you still find it difficult to decide between activities, set down with your spouse and make a list of priorities. Seriously. You don't have to write out a family motto or a statement of intention but just jot down a list of your priorities. What do you want your family to focus on during this season of life?

For us we go by:
    A. God- we want our time and activities to reflect our service to Him
    B. Education- our second priority is educating our children. Because we home educate we have       
        to make this a priority. That means most weekdays in August- May from 8-12 are off limits 
        for other plans or activities (except scheduled field trips).
    C. Family- not only family meals daily but also time with extended family.
    D. Health- so we allow our children to participate in sports when possible for exercise and
    E. Fun- we love to have fun. We enjoy laughing together and experiencing new things.

So you see we normally wouldn't pick a fun night at the bowling alley over a regular church service. We wouldn't let our kids spend the night with cousins on a "school night." Priorities. 

Don't be afraid to make a list. It's easier than ever. You can use good old pen and paper, a Smartphone app, or a GIANT dry erase board. Write it down. Write down your grocery list, your family schedule, your monthly bills, your family goals. 

Have fun with it. Let your creative child draw a happy face on the list if it makes you feel more whimsical!

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