A PARENT’S GUIDE TO PLANNING
If you always planned things to the millisecond, chances are becoming a parent cured some of that. Even if you’re blessed with a child who himself has a natural passion for planning, his idea of the perfect get-up time or the perfect extracurricular activity won’t necessarily suit your predetermined convenience.
Your job description as a parent includes:
Feeling overwhelmed yet? Read on to learn how to take some “whelm” out of planning.
Accept That You Don’t Rule the Universe
Or even your own little corner of this planet. The most careful scheduling is no guarantee against fender-benders or a three-year-old’s forgetting how to tie her shoes. If your reaction to every glitch is, “How dare anything inconvenience me after I worked so hard preparing for contingencies,” you’ll be too stressed to salvage the situation. You’ll also be cranky with your children, which will make them less cooperative in the present, and teach them bad habits for the future.
Have Basic Routines in Place
Even the most spontaneous people need the security of boundaries. If you habitually cave under “just this once” whining, children start to wonder how much you really care about your values—and about them.
If you don’t already have daily and weekly routines for meals, sleep, chores, exercise, and outside activities, gather the family to contribute input and get some routines in place. Hold a review-and-update session every six to twelve months.
Respect Every Family Member’s Preferences
No question, when highly organized and highly spontaneous people share the same household, there will be clashes. Especially if you have a household of four or five heavy planners with one spontaneous type, or vice versa: the odd one out often winds up wondering what’s wrong with him that he’s not eager to stick to the schedule (or drop everything on a dime) like “normal” people.
If you’ve already purchased the concert tickets or invited the guests, that’s one thing. But in general, skip the guilt trips and give everyone freedom to decide whether he wants to run with the group or create his own schedule.
Do Have Long-Term Goals
You set the example here. Are you simply plodding along, or do you want to keep learning and growing? Whatever isn’t growing is as good as dead.
Make a “bucket list” of what you’d like to achieve in your lifetime, and schedule at least one step toward these goals every week. (If you’re stuck for a next step, write “1-hour planning session” on your calendar and devote that time to describing your perfect result, or living as if you’d already achieved it.) Teach your children to do the same, cheer on their progress, and you’ll all benefit more than from any amount of “getting by” planning. The real secret to effective planning is: have a vision for your passions and purpose, and never let that vision be blurred by daily “duties.”