Family Learning | May 18, 2021

Managing Family Life

By Neetika Prabhakar

Coordinating many different activities and priorities can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help keep family life organized, healthy, and fun!

Families have a lot going on. Juggling school, work commitments, extracurricular activities, and social engagements can feel overwhelming at times. Staying organized, incorporating breaks, and prioritizing health are ways we as parents can take control to ensure the kids and grown-ups alike feel productive and positive.

Busy Schedules and Finding Family Time

These days, everyone is busy. Parents not only have to go to work, but those job responsibilities often follow them home. Children have school, homework, and sometimes longer-term assignments to complete. Kids of all ages also participate in sports, music, and other activities after school and on the weekends. Of course, they love their birthday parties and playdates, too. 

With such busy schedules, finding time for family can get tricky. But there are ways to bring quality time back into the routine. One way is to think about things that need to be done as opportunities to spend time together. Even with busy schedules, household chores wait for no one! For example, it can be a struggle to get my daughter to clean her room. But, when I sit with her and help organize her toys, books, and clothes, we not only get a lot done together, but I also get the “inside scoop” on what is happening at school and with her friend group. Conquering the chore as a team leaves us feeling proud and productive, and we even get to share a few laughs in the process.

Taking Breaks for Exercise, Creativity, and Fun

Including breaks throughout the day can be beneficial to the whole family. When everyone reaches a good stopping point on what they are working on, tell them to grab their shoes and head outside! Sometimes just minutes of walking and exploring can help clear minds, improve moods, and make your family feel ready to tackle the rest of the day. Can’t get outside? Try moving your bodies around indoors – run in place, do some jumping jacks, or stretch! A drawing break or even a quick board game in the middle of the day can be a much-needed distraction. Check out how this family includes fun activities to break up the day: 

Decreasing Stress

With so much going on, sometimes life can feel a little (or a lot!) stressful.There are several strategies parents can employ to help the whole family feel positive and strong.

Setting a routine can be a game changer. Don’t get me wrong—we all have those nights wh

ere it’s getting dark out, yet there still is a sink full of dirty dishes, homework is not done, and no one has had a bath! Try starting with some simple expectations, such as: homework completed before dinner; pajamas on by 8. Children thrive on knowing what to expect, and it brings comfort to grownups, too. If some evenings are busier and more chaotic, let it go. There is always tomorrow.

Breathing techniques and mindfulness exercises are ways that families can relax together. Try taking a deep breath, holding it for three seconds, then releasing. You can encourage your kids to talk about their own concerns by sharing your own feelings and providing examples of how you overcome difficult moments. My son loves when I start a game of “high and low.” It’s really simple: each person describes the high point of their day and the low point of their day. As soon as I start talking about something I experienced, I can see the wheels turning in my son’s brain and he can’t wait to share. Often, kids just think they’re telling you cool stories. In reality, you’re learning so much about how they feel and perceive the world around them.

As parents, we have a lot on our plates. By prioritizing breaks, relaxation, and family time, the kids and grown ups in your house will feel mentally strong and ready to face whatever the week brings!

Neetika Prabhakar, MPP, is a mom of two and freelance writer based in New York. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Duke University and is a certified Vinyasa and Children’s Yoga teacher. She covers parenting and child development, health and wellness, and domestic policy issues.