I know in some families, it’s easy to micro-manage every hour of every day. Especially if you have children who may be going in different directions for after school sports or activities. I remember myself having to balance a school day, any after school activities and then getting my chores done plus a part time job (when I was old enough to have one) could be a challenge on a Monday-Friday basis. Then when I developed my deejay service to include parties and weddings on Saturdays, I felt like I didn’t have many free moments to myself.
It’s why we maintain that delicate balance between a schedule and no schedule with our daughters.
We know there are times they have to go to therapy, to doctor’s appointments, to meetings, etc. But I think we’ve tried our best as parents to not over-schedule every waking moment. I think for our daughters, that would put more stress on them and they would implode worse than they already do. We are willing to let them do one activity per quarter of their choosing- and so far things have worked out well. We find if they aren’t into something (chorus, Girl Scouts, bowling, etc.) that three months is enough time to get in and get out into the next hobby or activity.
My oldest daughter right now has three afternoons a week scheduled for different activities. I feel that if we bumped it up to four or five, she’d feel overwhelmed and not get the chance to relax and breathe after a six hour day at school. When my youngest daughter returns from her current treatment center stay (still to be determined), she’ll probably return to afternoons at the local Boys and Girls Club, where many of her friends are and she can blow off some afternoon energy as she’s very amped up after a long school day.
The important thing is consistency. Children (much like adults) don’t want to be thrown for surprises in their day- especially if it becomes a habit. We inform our daughters to the best of our ability what’s happening day to day. Some books I’ve read on the subject suggest a family meeting on Sundays to go over what’s going to happen for events and appointments during the week- and I don’t think this is a bad idea. The more you prepare to plan, the better the plan works out in the end.
Even when we are on vacation, we’ve had at least one or two appointments to attend to per day. It’s a fact of life for myself and my wife, and we handle the workload accordingly. Even as a family we’ve often just taken a ‘holiday’ of sorts from appointments if we feel we need the break. We know we can’t be rigid and adhere to a strict sun up to sun down tight schedule. It may work for some (and kudos to those that can pull it off) but I know for us, we need to have some flexibility for spontaneous good times in the mix.
That’s all for now. It’s time for me to crack open more books.