I often get asked by people that see our life from the outside “How do you keep up with life? You are always so busy”. I think these questions puzzle me at times because I just do it. Busy people, that are not stressed out, are usually really great at managing many things at once. Now don’t get me wrong there is a balance that needs to be kept for things to remain healthy in your life, but that looks different for everyone .
As I have pondered what things have been helpful to our family in not feeling overwhelmed a few manageable and workable systems stuck out.
I am sure I will write blogs in the future that will detail out how I have set up and use these systems collectively, but here is an overview of each.
This is not only an app available for different digital platforms, but with the cost effective subscription it is available straight from the web. This has become a lifesaver for me not only at the church in managing my responsibilities, but also with the management of our home. When everyone arrives home from work and school do you wonder what needs to be gathered up and packed up for practice or the game that begins in less than an hour? What did your spouse say was ready and what still needed to be done? That was always a struggle in our home and when we found this app it made life so much simpler! Now when one of the boys has a game we go to the “baseball game prep” list hand them our device and they are sure to not forget any of the essentials, nor are we! If you check it out do not let the way it is set up deter you. Delete everything that is default and build what fits your life!
Menu and Activities Boards
I have found that our boys do better when they know what is going on. Although they need to be flexible to changes that come their way, if it is possible to communicate what is going on up front the more at ease they are after a long day at school. With this in mind I browsed Pinterest to come up with an effective way to communicate each week what’s up. It resulted in our menu and activities boards. I don’t write down every single thing, but the highlights for after school and I mostly stay away from school activities on this board. I will share later how we keep a handle on all of that. The menu board is a broad overview of what they can normally expect for dinner each night and meals for the weekend.
The Boys Slips
I was exhausted every morning asking all three boys over and over while trying to get ready “Have you ____? Is this ready _____? Do you have your library books, agenda, etc….?” To solve the constant questioning in the morning and the stress for everyone that came with it we instituted what we call “slips”. They have them for morning, after school and bedtime. In the summer they are different than during the school year. When we first started using this method they were actually slips of laminated paper they would put into a container as they completed them, but now they have evolved to being on the side of the refrigerator with magnets. In the beginning they were so young Enzo wasn’t reading yet so his slips had pictures on them. Now Brian and I can walk by and see if they have done what is needed for each phase of the day.
A Shared Digital Calendar
This is imperative to keep up with jobs, school, ministry, appointments, commitments and even childcare. If you are still in a written planner I encourage you to STOP IT! (By the way, I love this video on the topic of “stop it” feel free to click here and check it out!) I love paper, journals and writing with good ole fashioned pens, but how can the essential people in your life keep up with a shared life when you have it in your possession? Not only that but it doesn’t travel as well as a digital calendar on a device. I have calendars that are shared with coworkers, family, sitters and each one of my calendars is shared with Brian.
This app comes in so handy at communicating things that need to be done with facial expression and/or hearing the tone of a voice. Some things shouldn’t be communicated by text or are difficult to, but at the same time a phone call isn’t always possible. Our boys also use Marco Polo to keep in touch with their grandparents and cousins they don’t get to see very often due to distance.
I hope this brief list can help you to get a handle on some of the management areas that need attention in your life. These are what currently is working for us and I know in the future I will be expounding on each one of these areas.
Written by Gretchen Cannon