Guest Blogger, Wendy Dessler
As a parent, you know how hard it is to fit everything into your family schedule. Your kids have school, sports, dance, clubs, and friends. They have LOTS of friends.
Not only are you transporting and supporting all of their activities, you have your own career, a home to keep up, a relationship to nurture, and your own friends and activities, which are just as important to you as theirs are to them.
It seems like you are the only parent that struggles with this. You are not. This is a challenge for every family and you will have to work on it as a family. By setting up a plan of action that includes all members of the family, everyone gets their rewards, and everyone understands the sacrifice the other is making for them.
This is how care, responsibility, and respect is mastered and taught.
Most of us would agree that education must come first. The child primarily must put energy, stamina, and time into their schoolwork before you can cut that up to include other activities. The average American kid spends 6 hours per week on homework. This must be allowed into the schedule or, the kid will probably rush through it or not do it at all in order to get to dance class or football practice.
Making a chart (sorry, but it must be done)
Make a chart that shows the average week of each member of your family. Show how much time mom and dad can give in transporting, attending, and help with activities. Use different colors for each person. Children learn better when they can visualize things. It is also an eye-opener for you. Include the schedules of other kids in the family. Show what their interests cost in money and time.
Schedule in downtime
It is hard to say, “Sunday is a family day!” and stick to it. Sooner or later, someone’s life will interrupt your Sunday and then it is fair game for all players. Schedule your time in small windows that work for everyone.
Schedule in downtime. These are pockets of time that the child has no responsibilities, Use these windows to teach the child how to unwind and release his mind. Some children have a very hard time understanding relaxation.
Create a budget
Like an allowance, a child must learn to consider the cost of the things they want. Set a budget and show them when you apply things to the budget. This includes:
- Entry fees
- Clothes and footwear
- Travel expense
- Cost of extra gear
Teach them to work the budget
This is a perfect opportunity to teach your child how to handle money and get more for his dollar. For example, if you buy their dance dresses on clearance, you can show them that leaves more dollars for other things.
By now you should be at a point where the child understands the time and money restrictions. Let them have a say in what they do with the amount of money allotted.
For example, your child may want to take all of her friends to the skating rink for her birthday. By the time you buy tickets, reserve the party room, buy the cake, and gifts, this has turned into a major expense that will last 2 hours. Give her that option.
But then suggest other options. Maybe a Rainbow themed birthday sleepover would be fun. She can invite a few of her friends over for a sleepover. You can easily decorate her room in rainbows. You can buy rainbow colored candy from Sweet Services and make a candy buffet. Don’t worry, they have sugar-free and allergy-friendly candy. Your child has a unique party, she has more time to celebrate, and she saves a ton of money.