For a lot of parents, most weekends are spent running children round to clubs, parties and activities or catching up on housework, shopping, washing and general jobs that need doing, meaning family time ends up getting pushed to the bottom of the list of things to do. When did it all become so hectic?
The idea of chilling out at home or having a pyjama day with the family is always appealing, that is until it’s actually happening and you remember why it’s not that much of a good idea. Most parents discover that staying at home on days off with the kids mostly result in chaos, whinging, arguments stemming from boredom and a home looking like a bomb’s hit it.
Then as an alternative form of action (with best intentions), and as a way to help your child to improve their confidence, grow and experience new opportunities, you sign them up to different activities to keep them occupied and active.
But have you fallen into the trap of committing your child to too many pursuits creating a very hectic schedule for you all to keep to? Even worse, do you have that little competitive voice in your head telling you you need to impress or keep up with others? Somewhere along the way, it’s become more like a parenting win of how busy your child is rather than them enjoying the value in extracurricular activities. Not only that, we expect them to excel in what they’re doing. No pressure there.
Along with the chaos busy schedules create for us, they also come at a cost to other things like eating together as a family because you’re always on the go. Busy children also find it difficult to just be with themselves and so don’t develop the skill of enjoying their own company and the benefits of solitude – potentially impacting on their mental health and wellbeing as they grow up.
Needing to reassess your priorities usually happens when you realise something has to give, and although there are aspects of our lives that are negotiable, like the activities, housework (to a certain extent) and when you do the food shopping, there are non-negotiables like work, school or other commitments that aren’t flexible that we need to work around. So, whilst you’re reassessing, consider these following points that will help guide you through the process:
- Have a plan. After a hectic week, our brains tend to switch off come Friday tea time and the feeling of not having to stick to a schedule can be a relief. However, having a basic plan for the weekend can help to reduce the chaos of running round or not knowing what to do, and will help you use your time more efficiently. Make a plan (don’t forget to share it with other members of the family who need to know too) around what needs doing, who does what and where for Saturday and Sunday. You will then be able to see which times of the day you have free to focus on the things you enjoy with the family, or indeed earmark it to have time for yourself (see point 5).
- Reduce the activities. Take a step back and identify what are the motivations for your child/children to be doing all these activities. Is it because you missed out in your childhood or is it because you feel pressured to keep up with the Jones’? If it’s because your child loves them all then there may need to be some compromise here for either you or your child so weigh up what is best for your family.
- Side-step the overwhelm. You can’t do everything and does everything actually need doing all at once? Getting your thoughts down on paper (aka a list or maybe you prefer a mind map?) helps to clear your mind and refocus on what is a priority and what isn’t. Number each task in order of importance and re-organise when the not-so-important tasks can be done, leaving you feeling less stressed and with some more free time for the weekend.
- Be realistic. Family time doesn’t mean you have to organise a whole day out to Peel (it’s nice when you can). Especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Kids ultimately love being with their parents and 30 quality minutes focusing on them and enjoying an activity together is as equally beneficial to you both, if that’s the only time you can spare that day.
- Reclaim time for yourself. So many parents struggle with this and more often laugh at the idea. But really, it’s ESSENTIAL for your own wellbeing to recharge your batteries and clear your mind as it helps us to be more patient, willing to face our parenting challenges and enjoy family life.
Please let me know if you have any thoughts on these issues or would like any support in helping you regain some order in your family life. Get in touch either through Facebook, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or get in touch via my website contact form.