Keeping one’s life in order is so simple these days, that is, if you have learned the powerful word NO. It was the first word most of my children learned, but as we grow up we seem to have a difficult time using it. We all seem to say yes, even though we have so much to do that we hardly have time for the activities we are already doing. I was involved in several committees at the kids’ schools and church, taught Sunday School and Junior League (I loved the League, made great friends and felt like a grownup when I went to meetings, talking to other women).
When the kids started signing up for activities, they all had so many ideas. We made a rule, they could sign up for 1 major activity, and one minor. Major would be Gymnastics, Hockey, Basketball, or Skiing etc; minor would be something that required 1 hour or less a week, piano lessons were a minor activity exception with practice for ½ hour everyday. This rule also left time for family time (a priority in our home: Sundays and Wednesday evenings all year), and chores (addressed in an earlier blog).
To meet the demands of this life style, I had a large calendar, that hung on the side of a cupboard. When you entered or left the house you walked right past it. Everyone had their own color and all activities, some of mine too, were on it. If you didn’t know where you were, you could consult the calendar and you would know. Actually I wish I had that now, there have been several times that I have not known where I am (only for a moment), but these are called senior moments, I think that calendar might help.
At the beginning of every month, I would sit down and fill out the calendars, one was the big calendar on the cupboard and another was an 18 month calendar that I carried with me all the time. I would them transfer between calendars so everything was current. I tried to do this with a nice glass of wine, but my accuracy was not to good, so I nixed the wine. Maggie asked if I had saved one of the calendars, to include in this blog, but I am of the mind if you haven’t used it in 6 months it is gone, so the calendars were tossed years ago. Also Nell asked Maggie if I had kept the ipad-like device I used back then, this would be the 18 month Calendar with the black cover, she is from a different age.
I have recreated the large calendar, and took a picture of what the 18 month calendar would look like. I did not take the time to fill the 18m in but you will get the idea. These were the tools to success getting everyone to everything is a reasonable fashion. If you can read the recreation, you will notice that Molly & Kate had gymnastics Monday thru Thursday and Saturday at the same time and place, EVERY week. One would ask why it had to be listed on each of the days with the times. Well if Jim, my wonderful husband, and their fabulous father was looking at it and it wasn’t written everyday, with time and place he would think they had a free day and no one would get anywhere.
I know this seemed extreme, but the only way to get through family life for me was to be very organized. When Jim and I married, we were both big picture people, you can only have one big picture person in a marriage and so I worked very hard at taking care of the details and after a while I became very good at it and it saved my sanity. In the early years of computers, before smart phones, I would put my calendar on the computer, then print it off and carry those sheets with me to add to as the month went on.
Now the smart phones make easy to keep track of the activities of life. With parents working full time, half time, or in the home, we are still saying yes to often, I don’t know if that will ever change, but with today’s devices it is much easier to keep track of it all.
The only print calendars, are now Christmas Gifts I make for each child/family every year. They have pictures of moments thru out the year. Every person’s is different and special to them. I personalize them with family birthdates, anniversaries and graduations, national holidays and even the dog birthdays are listed. I started this over 20 years ago thinking they would be a one time present. I have been told by one and all that if they were to get one gift each year, their calendar would be the one they would want.
- Every once in a while say NO. It will help ease your time and after a while you won’t feel so guilty using it.
- If you have a family calendar on line, your whole group can access it, then all will be on the same page. The kids will have to be organized to get their info on the calendar. Great life skill to teach them.
- Schedule time for yourself, put it on the calendar and use the time for you. Jim and I put date nights on the calendar. We didn’t always get to use them, but we knew they were there and used more than we would have if they had not been written down.