Fall has kicked into high gear. The kids are back in school, and are signed up for swimming/dance/piano/boys' club/girls' club/gymnastics/etc. Parents have their regular work, be it at home or at an office, plus their own extra-cirricular activities on top of shuttling kids to all of their activities. Here are some tips to take a bit of the pressure off.
1. Create a family calendar. A big one on paper in a visible spot helps everyone stay in the loop, or if you are an iGadget family, create a family Google calendar so that everyone gets notifications.
2. Meal plan. People think that meal planning is a lot of work. If you compare the sixty or so minutes that it takes to sit down, map out your grocery list, and shop, versus many trips to the grocery store during the week, you come out ahead. Plus, it's proven to be much cheaper and less stressful overall. No more "What's for dinner tonight?"
3. Make school lunches the night before. It may seem like the last thing that you want to do at the end of the day when the kids are in bed, but it's a far better alternative to making them in the morning in between making breakfast and making sure everyone is dressed.
4. Cut down on activities. Limit your kids to one sport and one art. They may want to do it all, but tell them that they can always switch activities next year.
5. Create a carpool. If you have friends with kids in similar after-school activities, take turns shuttling each others' kids around. Those days that it's not your turn will more than make up for the days when your car is filled with rambunctious kids.
6. Treat your family. With the money that you save by meal planning and saving gas by carpooling, grab some takeout on a Friday night to reward your family for making it through the week.