3 steps to organise your year as a single parent family

So I was reflecting on the second day of the New Year in the shower – as you do as a single parent because in the shower and the loo, you can generally get yourself at least a few minutes before being interrupted! I was asking myself why, on the first day of my schedule, I had already blown it.  My conclusion: trying to do too much. So I went back to the drawing board and followed a process I have used over the last nearly 2 decades that has helped us plan our year as a family. We call it our family planning session – nothing to do with contraception!

As you poke your head into 2017 here’s my 3 steps and lots of tips on how to organise your year as a single parent family.

deer-poking-head-chris-greenhow-unsplash

You can experiment with the ideas and the tips in this blog to find what works for you but DO SOMETHING to create a family schedule or risk setting yourself a year of overload and being overwhelmed as you try to manage everyone’s activities and agendas for the year.

  1. Start with the big vision and map it out
  2. Create a calendar that everyone can see
  3. Prioritise and create a schedule for you (the parent) – this will be covered in the next blog

Step 1 Start with the big vision and map it out

Who will do what activity? As a single parent household this can take some planning. Some tips to help the process are:

  • Begin with a budget. How much income can be spared for activities?
  • Prioritise a wish list (or need list) for each person. This must include you the primary carer – you need something that is yours. It might be a craft, borrowing books from the library with some downtime to read, an exercise class or team sport, a walk on the beach or catching up with friends.
  • Research the options for top priorities that fit the budget.
  • Look for discounts if siblings or a child takes more than one class in the same school to keep the price down.
  • Create a draft activity calendar. Is it workable without stress? Driving in circles to drop and pick up kids in two different directions on the same night is not fun! I tried to cluster activities on the same night of the week and in the same area, so we had activity free nights.
  • Look for ways to connect with other parents to see if carpooling can be arranged.
  • Can you combine activities e.g. when my kids were at a dance class I walked with a friend in a nearby park or negotiated concurrent swimming lessons.
  • Ensure you have time together to relax and have fun as a family.

Step 2 Create a calendar that everyone can see

This helps everyone have an idea what is happening in the family. We still do this even though my kids are young adults. It looks different now that they are proficient readers and can add their own activities. A few hard lessons as teenagers were learned on not having the car available for their use as they hadn’t written an activity on the calendar and this helped create the habit!

In the early primary school days I used colours to differentiate each child, my own and family activities/appointments on the calendar, and we crossed off the days so we knew where the calendar was up to.  Later I’d print up each month through the computer to save writing the same stuff by hand and highlight in different colours each person’s activities. Birthday parties and other events were added by hand as they appeared. I tried to remember to copy it and put in the communication folder (editing out some of my bits) so their dad knew what the schedule was. Was the system perfect? No. But it did help me in particular to have some idea of what we were up to.

Step 3 Prioritise and create a schedule for you

The final step for me was to find a way to manage the many other demands on my life apart from single parenting which is where I had to learn to prioritise and create my own schedule. This will be covered in the next blog.

Good luck in the planning of your families activities for this year. May the structure lessen your stress.

Putting legs on it

Map your family activities for the year (or first semester)

Create a monthly calendar

Resources

Planning with kids: Getting organised at home – has list of relevant blog posts on this topic http://planningwithkids.com/2010/04/08/getting-organised-at-home/

Childhood 101: 10 simple ways to get your family more organised http://childhood101.com/2015/06/family-organisation-tips/

Photo credit Chris Greenhow unsplash.com

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