Staying organised: the calm before the storm, or is it the calm that weathers all storms? Even the most spontaneous parents will agree that our lives require some sort of organisation and time management- and to keep afloat we have to teach our kids to manage their time too.
We live in a world of instantaneous communication – and instant demands. The report you were told to write today was due yesterday, your boss has scheduled seven meetings for the same hour, and you still have to find time to pick up the kids from school, help them with their homework and make a dinner everyone will eat and which is still nutritious.
Pause for a moment. Have I made your heart race? Yes, your life is, probably, fuller than that of your kids, but believe me when I say that kids are just as panic-stricken about their lives.
There’s school, sport, homework, test preparation, the school play, extra-curricular activities and nagging mums, shouting dads and difficult teachers to placate. And, on top of all this, there are friends to fight and make up with, parties to go to and the right outfit to find.
In order to get around to everything, without allowing anything to fall by the wayside, children, and definitely teenagers, have to learn organisation. Learning to manage their time is a very necessary skill – one that they will need throughout their lives. So why not prepare your child to be organised now?
How to prepare your child to be organised and manage their time
- Let your children organise themselves
I firmly believe that we learn by doing. Buy them a homework diary. Insist they write in it. Check that they’re doing so, if necessary. Ultimately, however, if you’re running your child’s life for them, what reason do they have to learn how to do it themselves?
- Assist them in learning how to plan.
If working on a large project, they can break it up into manageable bits, and complete each task they’ve assigned themselves. Don’t make them use it purely for homework – let them write down what events they have when, so that they can see that leaving studying until the Thursday before a Friday Maths test is probably not a good idea if they have rehearsals for Hamlet until late on Thursday evening.
- See the bigger picture – invest in a desk calendar
If they are inclined to forget about what’s over the page, a desk calendar can be a good idea – with a monthly planner they can see what’s due when at a glance. Remind them to fill in everything. This includes Suzi’s party on Saturday.
- Be realistic about the time it takes to complete a task
Don’t fall for the “planning fallacy”. People have a tendency to underestimate the amount of time it will take them to complete a task. Encourage them to allow for triple the time they think a project will take them. If they finish with time to spare, that extra time should be theirs – this way, good planning is rewarded.
- Flexibility should be promoted
Starting early on any given task will allow for Eskom to cut the power – or give them the time to counsel their best friend through a crisis.
- Being organised also means being actionable
Lastly, warn them not to spend so much time organising their lives that no time is left in which to do the actual work. What good is a beautiful schedule that can’t be followed due to time constraints?
How to teach kids to manage their time over weekends
As wonderful as it may seem to catch a movie, play playstation or party all weekend, this only makes the Monday more blue, and the week ahead more difficult. Here is a practical way of actually making the weekend meaningful, with enough recreational time as well as time to be productive.
Divide the weekend into parts – in our home, we divide it into eight; i.e:
- Friday – Afternoon (1), Evening (2)
- Saturday – Morning (3), Afternoon (4), Evening (5)
- Sunday – Morning (6), Afternoon (7), Evening (8)
Now sit with your kids during the week and decide how they would like to spend each part of the weekend, remembering to keep at least 2-3 parts for getting some work done, or preparing for tests etc.
Of course, this will change almost every weekend, as sports schedules, socials and even exams dictate (in which case you would need more time for work and less time for play). Try to keep a routine, if possible.
This has proven effective not only to keep the family organised and helping the kids to manage their time but also in being grateful for the weekend. No more, ahh “but I dont get to play”, or “all the other kids are going, why cant I?” or Mum nagging “what about NS this week?” – everybody knows whats coming up and whats happening when!
Call for help!
For more help on keeping your kids stay organised, you may contact the following services:
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