I´ve never been the most organized of people, something that has driven both my mother and my husband crazy for many years. After having a daughter and starting a business I´ve had to acquire organizational skills, and the lesson has come with some difficulty. Yes, I do still sometimes find business receipts in my purse when they should be in my filing cabinet. Yet overall I´ve gotten much better about work since having a toddler; when you only have nap and bedtime to punch out deadlines, you have to be organized or you´ll never get the work done.
The one area I want to be more organized in, though, is around the house, and particularly with family time. It seems that each Saturday morning my husband and I wake, look at each other, and say, "What do you want to do today?" Someone ultimately answers, "What´s going on around town?" and the other person responds, "I don´t know," with a shrug. By the time we figure out what to do, half of the morning, and our time together, is gone.
So early one evening after my daughter had gone to bed I sat down and spent an hour scouring a local parenting magazine, one of those freebies you can get in a drop off box around town, along with the Friday paper, which always lists the weekend activities. With my personal planner in one hand, a pen in the other, and the magazine on my lap, I went through and listed every single activity I thought we might like to do, from local carnivals to various plays for young children. I marked the weekends up to the end of the year, when our new daughter will be here.
This Saturday, I opened my planner and told the family, "We have three choices." Then I listed the three activities that were going on around town for the day and we chose one. An hour later, we were headed down to a small elementary school carnival and then out to lunch. In no time at all, we knew what we were going to do and we did it, and the day was a success.
Below are some tips for making a family time activity planner work for you:
1. Use different colored ink if you are using your work planner or calendar. For instance, black for work deadlines, blue for doctor´s visits, and red for family activities. This way, you´ll find each item easily.
2. If you don´t carry a planner, use a calendar. Hang it in an easy to see location somewhere around the house.
3. Update the activity list each month by using the newspaper and free magazines that are distributed throughout your city. Or check online. Many cities offer local web pages that list activities around town.
4. Make it a family event. Ask the family what they would like to do on the weekend. Check the planner together and discuss the options over a nice big breakfast beforehand.
5. Let the kids help. If they are old enough, they can scour the ads, pick out the venues, and list them on your planner or calendar. You can also start asking them a few days in advance what they would like to do. If you have more than one child, let each have a turn choosing the weekend´s activity.
6. Choose different types of activities each weekend. For instance, take the kids to a play one week, a local town event the next, and out to breakfast and for a hike the following week.
It´s important in our hectic lives that we focus on our family, and sometimes this means penciling everyone in just as if they were an appointment. But the great thing about this appointment is that it brings everyone closer together, and who can resist that?