Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Busy Mom: Keeping it all together

I'm fairly certain schedules are crazier than they ever were for our parents, and I remind my mom of that all the time.  There are SO many more opportunities for kids, which of course is great, but a true scheduling challenge for parents.  This is where/why the term “it takes a village” is often used.  Racing around like a NYC taxi cab trying to keep up with the insane schedule that YOU have created, using what has become the most common phrase in the house, “Hurry up, we’re gonna be late!”

I know I am not alone in this.  I have an  6-(almost 7) year-old who goes to piano once a week for a half-hour, gymnastics three times a week for two hours, is just about ready to start soccer again on the weekends, and was devastated when I told her she simply had NO time to do karate.  She was clever too.  She said, “But I have Monday’s after piano and Thursdays!”  At that moment, I became the defender of her free time, her time to just chill or play outside, and I stuck to my guns. I told her something had to be dropped for her to sign up for karate, and she decided karate could wait.

I remind myself every day that my kids are young and have plenty of time for crazy schedules.  Maybe I am just overly aware of how nuts life gets in junior high and high school, due to my schedule then: four early mornings a week, getting up at 4:07 a.m., driving with my mom 40 minutes to swim practice or weights that lasted about an 1.5 hours; then I would go straight to school until 3 p.m.; after school I would hop back in a car to ride to afternoon practice, which would last for 2.5 hours.  I didn't get home until 7:15 p.m. most nights. That's 4:15 a.m. - 7:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday, an afternoon workout on Friday, and a longer 3 hour morning workout on Saturday.  So I know life can and will get even crazier.

But for now, my biggest challenge is organizing activities and making sure everyone is picked up and dropped off with as few mess-ups as possible. Enter my village.  I, like everyone else, have forgotten practices, messed up times and/or confused locations.  I feel like my mommy brain has turned into quite a trapper keeper calendar that could have been very useful to me in college, but nonetheless, is getting it’s full use now!  Mom’s are somehow able to keep their kid’s schedules all locked tight in their brain, but our own is a total loss at times.

My friends and I are so keen to the “village” needs that if anyone of calls during the end of school/busstop drop-off times, we know we must answer because it usually means that a mommy is panicing and cannot make it on time.  To which our only reply is always and simply, “Don’t worry.  We’ve got you!”  Ahhh, such sweet words.  The “village” has your back!

Here are my 7 Keys to Keeping it All Together

1. Fight for your child’s free time.
2. Write down your schedule on a dry erase board that is in a central place, like the kitchen.  More conversation takes place in the kitchen than anyother room.
3. Divide, delegate, and conquer.  Let me be the 10,000th person to tell you it's ok. You CANNOT be in two Places at once.
4. Talk to your kids about their schedule.  My kids have such better memories than me when it comes to stuff like this. Sidenote (I will often tell my kids’ what I need at a store before I walk in and then ask them before I leave the store as a checklist. They never fail!)
5. Carpool! It isn’t as complicated as it seems, especially if your carpool pals are flexible!  Establish flexibility in the beginning and don’t keep score.
6. Don’t panic if you mess up. Run through PLAN B with your kids in case you are not on time so they know what to do and where to go.
7. Play hookie every now and then.  Escape from your schedule every so often.  It feels great and your kids will LOVE it.

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