I wish there were a magic wand that would organize everything in the house and everybody in the family. There is never enough time to do all that we should/
could/would. So here are some ideas to simplify life. You may just want to keep some of this in mind once the kids’ are out of school for the summer.

Oh, Wow. It's almost that time already?

Put a LITTLE time into planning. You are not the child. Think about stuff: a month, a week, and particularly, the NIGHT BEFORE! If there is something that needs to be done in advance you don’t want to find out ten minutes before getting into the car. Who is going to be blamed? Is there really an excuse?

Don’t try to schedule too many activities for one day or a weekend. How much fun is it when everyone is hustling around just getting ready for the next thing on the schedule? Speaking of schedules: have a single calendar where everyone’s “events” are listed. And not just the kid’s activities. Dad and Mom have to be places too, and who is to blame if a parent allows a kid’s event to be scheduled only to find that an adult’s appointment now preempts the child’s? Your haircut, massage, pedicure (oh who does this, right?), psychiatric consult is more like it; put it all on the calendar. Darts, bowling night, etc., and other repetitive events need to be accounted for…don’t trust it to your own memory…or your spouse's. Again, who is to blame?

Teach the kids to do some of the stuff around the house. Oh, that’s an obvious one, right? There are some things they can, and therefore,SHOULD, do for themselves: sweep, dust, CLEAN THEIR OWN ROOM!,wash dishes (have kids?: have unbreakable dishes), and they should be able to get themselves cleaned up and ready for whatever. You might think that teaching them and “force-feeding” the behavior until it becomes habit is a big hassle for you right now, but think how much more of a hassle it will be if they grow up thinking this type of activity is just for Mom and Dad to take care of.

Kids should always learn to put their “stuff” away for the day before eating dinner. Have a big box or chest just for that purpose. Make sure it is big enough. Tell the kids that when it gets full they will have to get rid of something before they get any new “stuff.” (Have you ever seen a child’s bedroom with over 100 stuffed animal toys? To what purpose?)

Take along the emergency “stuff” in the car. By now you must know what kind of stuff you wish you had with you. Buy one of those zippered nylon tool bags at Sears and put the napkins (both kinds), band-aids, other first aid stuff or even a kit with a knife and scissors. Don’t forget those disposable hand washing cloths. Oh, and how about the spare underwear for emergencies. Bring along a few plastic baggies, snacks, water, etc, depending on the event. I absolutely believe that a port-a-potty in the van or suv will pay for itself a hundred times over. Ever been stuck in traffic? Oh man. Pain.

Schedule quiet time for yourself. This applies to both parents. If you have to, hire a babysitter or invite an adult friend or relative over to watch the kids for two hours(or four)and go get lost. Go to a bookstore or a coffee house and vegetate. As a matter of fact, schedule together time for the parents—away from the kids.

Here’s a favorite of mine: Spend individual time with each sibling in the family. Having a parent’s undivided attention—not competing with another sibling or with another parent for attention—is a wonderful way to discover the child’s unique personality, not to mention building really terrific memories for the child.

And finally, remember that not everything is going to go your way, or the way it was planned. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it. Let it go. Remember, they are kids. Remember, you can’t control the weather. Heck, you really can’t control anything—but how you choose to react when things don’t go “right.” Believe me, your spouse and children will remember how you react. (And the kids will learn from you—for better or for worse.)

None of this is really new. We parents have all probably heard some or all of this before. So—hope you didn’t think it hurt too much to be reminded again.

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I would be very pleased if you leave a comment. I will read every one too!!!
Doug (Gruggers) in Missoula