Decades ago, hectic lives were the trademark of business people. Today, that condition applies to almost every family in America where your family is your business, according to LSU AgCenter Certified Family Life Educator Dr. Diane D. Sasser.
“Parents are spending their days at the workplace but their early mornings, late afternoons and evenings are spent working with the family, with duties like carpooling, chauffeuring, meal purchasing/preparation, financial management and a list of extras that goes to infinity,” Sasser says.
The family expert advises taking tips from the business world to help calm the back-to-school chaos. “Take time out to plan and organize,” the family expert advises. “This can save everyone a lot of time in the future.”
Step 1 is to establish a household planner just like any business planner. Choose whatever works best for you – a paper notebook or an electronic device.
“What seems to work best for most families is something visual using color coding for each family member and large at-a-glance lettering,” Sasser says. This may mean a calendar with a task list, which can double as a chore list for activities like soccer practice or football games.
These calendars are available in magnetic and dry-erase forms as well as paper. Some even have pockets for papers like school or club announcements. Others are available to print from online sources like http://notebook.organizedhome.com/printable.
Sasser also says to keep some type of notebook or other filing system with contact information for carpool, school, student and parent organizations, parents’ office information, emergency and medical information on the family, etc.
Use dividers or file folders for each topic. That way everything is in one place so no one has to scramble through a stack of papers to find the right information.
Step 2 is to find a “landing zone” specifically for the organizer. A landing zone is where everyone will know to find the organizer. Maybe it’s a table in an entryway or a kitchen wall.
“If your children spend time with parents who live in two separate households, be sure to make duplicates to share with the other parent,” Sasser recommends, adding, “Both households should have a landing zone.”
Step 3 is to keep everyone updated. “As 1950s as it may sound, family meetings are important in not only keeping everyone informed and involved but in strengthening family relations,” Sasser says.
“Sometimes family maintenance is the hardest part, but it is one of the most important parts,” Sasser notes, adding, “Viewing your family as a business may sound cold and unfeeling, but as a parent you are managing your family ‘business.’”
She says staying organized and helping everyone else do so sets a tone of calm and develops a lifestyle your children can carry with them into their school and social lives and on to adulthood.
“Simple steps can save time, cut stress and build communication in your family business,” Sasser notes.
Editor: Mark Claesgens