How to reclaim your family time

Family Expert Alyson Schafer offers tips to reclaim your busy family schedule.

How much “family time” do you really need?

  • There is no magic number.   
  • Don’t compare your family to others
  • Generally speaking, modern families are suffering from overscheduling. ( we are tired and stressed and unhappy)
  • Research shows that the most important thing is that adults who are caring for kids should be positively engaged, so if you are cranky and can’t handle being around them – maybe an afterschool program is a better place to spend time! 
  • That said – kids need a good stable home environment more than they need karate lessons or kumon tutoring, so focus on THAT first if you really want to prioritize

Where do we start?

  • Awareness:  self –reflection of how you are functioning and feeling.  Overwhelmed? Do less! Rushed and late?  Add more time for traffic etc.
  • You are NOT a bad mother if you say NO ( practice it “ I am sorry, I have already made all the commitments I can manage at this time – perhaps ask me next year”)
  • Be flexible and adaptable
  • Prioritize
  • Be gentle with yourself: when you said “yes” to hockey, you were saying “no” to gourmet dinners and a clean house every night

Can a schedule add stress?

  • Only if you are type A and you associate failure with not hitting your goals
  • Adjust your attitude and embrace that life throws curves balls and we are doing our best
  • Use the metaphor of Stephen Covey of a flight path from TO – Van ( at any given time the plane is off course but constant corrections keep it on its trajectory over time.  So make a schedule and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a yoga class or can’t make the PTA meeting this month

Alyson’s Organizational tools and tips:

  • Alyson recommends ONE family calendar and one app (Alyson uses wonderlist) she plans the week ahead at a family meeting
  • Focus on incorporating some routine if schedules scare you (kids thrive on this)
  • If you habituate things, you don’t have to use up as much thinking ( makes the brain happy) Example:
    • Always having fish dish on Friday  ( you can still be spontaneous and fun about which recipe)
    • Always going to Cosco on the last Thursday of the month
    • School day breakfasts are always one of these 3 easy options kids can get themselves.  ( no hot breakfasts on school days)
  • Do things in batches (make two casseroles and freeze one)
  • Share the work: carpool to lessons, or one mom makes the snack for the whole soccer team each week so you don’t have to do it daily.
  • Delegate to kids: It’s their job to carry their hockey equipment from the car and air it out, not yours. 
  • Ask kids for input on ways to help stay organized:  Our kids discovered they were better at tackling our cleaning together rather than doing the clean as you go style. 
  • Learn to say NO (you will get a million requests to help out)
  • Don’t compare what other families are doing – they are probably doing too much too!!!
  • Stick with one habit / routine / schedule at a time ( takes 30 days to make a habit stick)
  • Drop things one at time or add things one thing at a time.