While a family calendar will help you make family time a priority, we all know it’s not as easy as just writing “family time” on the calendar.
Our approach to a Family Schedule Reset makes it easy for you to create a system that helps your family sustain regular family time. Finally! If you’re familiar with the Marie Kondo method of dumping every single item of clothing you own onto your bed so you can decide what you really want to keep (and get rid of everything else to regain your closet), then it’s time to start dumping everything in your schedule onto the kitchen table so you can reclaim your family time!
1. Assign each person a sticky note color and have them write each daily or weekly activity or responsibility by day and time. Be sure to write down homework time your children will need and any screen time they’ll be looking forward to. And here’s your chance to remind them of everything Mom does around home, because dishes, laundry, and grocery shopping all get their own sticky notes. You could even create a sticky note for time you’d like to make for goals you want to work on, even if you’re not currently doing them. And have everyone be fully transparent about their amount of social media use and other screen time, because you’ve got to see what you’re really dealing with in order for this method to work best.
This *6-color pack of sticky notes works well for this exercise.
2. Have everyone write a number from 1 to 5 on their sticky notes, with 5 being something they love doing (or know that they need to do even if they don’t want to—homework, anyone?) and 1 being something they don’t love. As a parent, you’ll need to make sure they feel safe writing an honest answer, even if they don’t love baseball or ballet as much as you hope they do. Freeing your schedule from things they don’t 100% love makes room for family time, so it’s okay to let some things go, especially if family members have multiple extracurriculars.
3. Combine the entire family’s sticky notes by day of the week and time. Identify any open spaces that are natural for a family time—fingers crossed that some exist! If there’s not an open spot each day, that’s where step 4 comes in.
4. Counsel together with everyone taking ownership to make time for family togetherness each day. Here comes the hard part, but it’s worth it—not just for the Family Schedule Reset but also because it’s a great chance to teach your children about learning to work with others toward a common goal. It’s also building ownership for creating a designated family time that everyone participates in more often because they have personal buy-in from helping to establish the structure.
These six questions (downloadable here) may help your family decide what can go and what’s most important:
1. Is there something you’re doing every day that you can do just 3–4 days a week?
2. Could you accomplish something in 30 or 45 minutes that currently takes 60 minutes?
3. Is there something you enjoy but that you may enjoy slightly less than family time?
4. What days allow for long activities for family fun time, and what days may need family activities that can take as little as five minutes? It’s okay if your designated family time allotment is different each day—even five minutes of focused family play can make a big difference.
5. Can you turn someone’s activity into a family moment? For instance, can individual exercise time be switched to family outdoor-rec time?
6. Can your family fun time be on the go? For instance, if you’ll be at the soccer field for two different games, can you find 15–30 minutes between games to play as a family while at the field? Or if you have a long drive, can you turn off the radio to play a car game together?
As you ask these questions, it will help you prioritize what family activities are most important, and which could take a back seat to maintain designated family activity time each day. Once you’ve found a time each day that works, it’s time for step 5 in your Family Schedule Reset.
5. Post your decluttered family schedule in your home and put it into phones as needed. These free downloadable schedules below make it easy to remember when family time is each day and how long it will be!
Click on one of these family time schedules to download!
We post easy ideas for family activities on our daily blog. You can also follow along through:
Bonus Tip: Create a “Let’s Still Do This” list. If there are items that family members enjoy but that may not be prioritized above family time, write them on a “let’s still do this” list. Then you can turn to that list anytime family members say they’re bored or if you’re looking for something to do besides watch a movie for another night that week. Or maybe you always pick something from that list on Tuesday nights, for instance.
This list creates a great place to continue exploring interests of family members, just with less time dedicated to them than before. It’s like moving your winter sweaters to a box in the closet—they’re still accessible but they don’t take up the prime real estate in your on your rods.
The setup for activities on the “let’s still do this” list may look different from before—for example, maybe you enjoy ballet through a YouTube video instead of in a dance studio.
After all, the Family Schedule Reset doesn’t mean getting rid of everything that every family member has done in the past; it’s just giving each activity its proper priority in order to create and protect dedicated family time. And if you need ideas for what to do each day during family time, check out our blog that not only provides ideas but also suggests “conversation starters” to help you use fun and games in an object-lesson style to teach important skills and principles to your family members.
Let Us Know How It Goes!
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