Time management is an area we all want to our kids to master. For that matter, most of us moms need improvement in this area as well!
I have a high schooler this year. More than ever, I’m seeing how important time management is for him. I’ve been gradually stepping back so he can develop his own tactics and learn to take responsibility for his use of time. But because he’s under my roof, I feel I have a responsibility to guide him where I can —making suggestions, dropping hints, and subtly reminding.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are two elementary kids in the mix as well. They are obviously not as responsible as my teenager and definitely need more prompting. The bottom line is, with four kids, a blogging business, homeschooling, and everything else that mom-life entails, I don’t have time to micromanage. I need all of my children to carry their own weight not only so they learn time management but also so that I don’t lose my mind.
Here are three key areas where we’ve gained ground in time management. Life doesn’t always run as smoothly as this post might look, but my kids know what’s expected and that makes all the difference as they grow in time management independence.
1. Managing Screen Time
Screen time is always a hot topic in the parenting realm. Some parents let kids have absolute freedom while others have strict controls. We fall somewhere in the middle. Years ago, when we first purchased a gaming system, we realized it was becoming an obsession. School work, chores, playing with friends, going outside, nearly everything was being skipped over or rushed through to make room for video games. It became tiresome to hear their begging for game time.
A few weeks in, I limited gaming to weekends only. It sounds harsh, but it eliminated the constant begging. The answer was always no on the weekend, and always yes on the weekends.
2. Meeting Deadlines
My oldest is taking classes with a co-op this year. The accountability from a teacher other than mom has been great for him. He uses a calendar/planner to keep track of assignments, tests, and projects. Although there have been times when he has forgotten things, those mistakes were learning opportunities, teaching him to check his planner more frequently for due dates.
Elementary kids aren’t conscientious using planners, of course. When we’re working on a project, they need a lot more reminding. One way I factor in these time management reminders without being a nag is to use our morning meeting at the beginning of each school day.
Each morning we talk about the schedule for the week and what projects need to be accomplished that day to keep deadlines. At this age, when they are working on a project, I am helping directly by gathering supplies, offering suggestions, giving guidance, etc., so they are not likely to forget. But that morning meeting teaches them the habit of keeping a to do list, even if it's only a mental one.
3. Staying on Top of Daily Work
My children use assignment notebooks —simple, spiral-bound notebooks, color coded by child to keep things visually straight. Usually the night before the next school day, I’ll sit down and fill in their notebooks according to my Instructor's Guide and what we’ve finished in the school day before. Things that don’t get accomplished get copied over to the next day.
I love these notebooks for so many reasons:
The notebooks eliminated my kids' asking “What’s next?” ten times a day.
My kids love having clear direction for their days.
I can add things that I regularly forget to tell them to do: feed the turtle, practice typing, or wash your uniforms, for example.
The kids can go on to their next item if I’m busy with someone else.
Organizing is such a personalized matter; copying and pasting someone else’s exact tactics will probably never work the same for you. The best way to find a way that works is to try a lot of ideas like these here, tweak them to fit your life, and see how it goes.