You’ve probably said “put on your shoes” hundreds of times more than you expected to before becoming a parent. Now, you’re deep in the season of constantly hustling your family out the door. It seems like you’re the only one keeping an eye on the time, and you may be right. But what if you could teach your kids time management?
The great news is, you can teach kids as young as toddlers basic time management skills. With intentional effort, consistency, and a few helpful approaches, your kid just may be keeping you on time. Here are five tips you can use to teach your kids how to manage their time.
Make It a Game
Gamification works for kids and adults, especially on tasks that aren’t very fun. Keeping up the momentum so you can get to school on time can be a challenge, especially for children. After you’ve plotted out how long you need to allow yourself to get out the door, create a daily challenge. Set your child up with a kids smartwatch to help them stay on task. When you entrust them with a cool piece of tech, they may be more engaged with time management.
Use certain times as benchmarks for completing tasks like eating breakfast, brushing teeth, and dressing. For each day your kids finish their jobs, note their success on the calendar and celebrate with a treat. Identify a reward that signifies their accomplishment without creating too much of an expectation. A Friday night movie, Saturday baking session, or picking the weekend pizza order could be great rewards to consider.
Organize the Family Calendar Together
Your weekly date with the family calendar doesn’t have to be done solo. Invite the whole family to collaborate on the week ahead. Together you’ll discuss events, evening commitments, and errands that help your household stay afloat. Bring children in on the discussion about travel time, items needed, and accounting for preparation. Encourage them to participate in the conversation and add things they want or need to do.
Including the kids may lead to adding new items to the calendar like playdates or cleaning their room. While these things may not be typical calendar additions, be open to your children’s contributions. Use their additions as an opportunity to teach them about preparing for an outing and tapping into your gamification techniques.
Use Timers and Tools to Stay on Track
Timers can be a lifesaver when it comes to limiting screen time. They can also help your kid develop an internal clock. Use a timer as your family gets ready for the school day, setting a warning timer for wrapping up morning routines. Let your child select the alarm sound to have some input. Including them in the process of time management can keep them engaged, even when doing so can be a drag.
Clocks with light features for kids can help them at the end of the day, too. Light timer clocks can be set to display a designated color when it’s time to wind down for bed. When the clock strikes bedtime, it shifts to the color you chose for sleep. This color will maintain until your child’s designated wake-up time, which can help encourage a good night’s sleep. Managing time for both waking and sleeping hours is critical for kids at any age.
Parents want to give their kids plenty of opportunities, but doing so can put the whole family in a time crunch. If you’re always running from one camp, club, or commitment to another, everyone in the household suffers. Self-induced fatigue will wear even the most proficient taskmasters down, so be mindful of how much you commit to. Instead, prioritize what’s most interesting or beneficial for your family, and say no to the rest.
Include your kids in the discussion of what extracurriculars they’d like to try. Discuss their school commitments, parents’ work schedules, and free time. Have age-appropriate conversations about what’s feasible and the trade-offs required to participate in an activity. Consider setting a rule that your child can do one extracurricular at a time to help you manage your schedule and budget. Enroll in month-to-month activities to allow flexibility as interests shift over time.
Make Free Time Part of Your Time Management Plan
The hustle and bustle of modern life can weigh the whole family down. And if you’ve been managing the delicate balance of a busy family schedule throughout the week, you’re due a break. Incorporate free time as part of your time management plan to protect your schedule and your family’s stamina. Without free time, parents and kids can feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, and could become resentful of the daily grind.
Protect your free time and make sure everyone in the household has some in their schedules. Leave open space on your family calendar where everyone chooses what they do. The kids are free to play, relax on the couch, or pick up a hobby. Parents can work on a passion project, take a walk, or enjoy catching up with one another. After all, one of the perks of time management is freeing up time to do what you enjoy.