I have a large family and while it is not easy there are a few tips I have learned along the way to help manage our daily schedule. My children range from 21 to 8 years old. Our schedule is filled with dance, soccer, lacrosse, swim team, cross-country, volleyball, baseball and football. There are seasons for every sport and not every child is in every activity, except for swim, however, we are a family on the go. Having 5 kids 4 and under was incredibly hard but I am very grateful for the experience because it helped with my time management skills exponentially.
My children and I are tactile learners. We need to see and touch our daily calendar. We have a large calendar in the kitchen called “The Brain”. Everyone in the family can add or delete appointments, birthday parties, baby showers, lunch dates, dance classes, sports practices and more on “The Brain”. I tell the kids if it is not on “The Brain” it will not get done. For example, V dance 5-5:45 is written every Monday on our calendar. We also have family meetings every Sunday night after dinner to discuss any important items on the schedule like a soccer try out or birthday party.
When we are trying to get to the aforementioned commitments I like to be early because to me, on time is late. It is so important to put out school clothes the night before. Everything from socks to hair bows are laid out. This helps my daughter with anxiety in the morning so she does not have to spend any extra time searching for a certain sock or her favorite shoes when we are crunched for time. When it comes to sports or athletic commitments my child or I will put the gear in the same bag in the same place every week after practice or as soon as the item is cleaned. The bag goes back in the front coat closet until the next week. For weekly commitments like church the kids put all of their fancy church shoes in one organized shoe bin in the front hall closet because shoes can easily be the demise of any organized house. Our front coat closet will house a lot of sports bags and shoes but I transition the bags out based on sports season.
Some of my kids like to be on time and others have no understanding of the importance of punctuality. For this reason, I plan to be somewhere 15-20 minutes early. For example, if we have to be at football at 5pm I try to be there between 4:40-4:45. This is imperative when you have a large family. Someone will forget something like a football cleat. Someone always has to go to the bathroom. Someone will procrastinate and not get ready until you are in the car with the keys turning the ignition. This scenario happens daily in my house. I plan accordingly.
Dinnertime is not a set time at my house. Sometimes, we have swim team practice from 5-8:00 PM. During this season of our lives I will feed the kids dinner after school around 3 PM. I make eating dinner together a priority because it is important to me. I like the family interaction and sending my kids to practice knowing they have been fed. When we get home late I do not have to rush around scrambling for food. The kids can unwind while eating a snack instead of a large meal.
The most essential part of my day happens early in the morning before anyone wakes up. I go for a run. I run for my mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. I understand running is not for everyone, however, take time out of the day to do something for you. When my family was younger, I would drop my kids off at the gym daycare so I could take a shower by myself. If you have family nearby ask for help weekly, biweekly or monthly so you can read, meditate or be alone for an uninterrupted amount of time.
I try really hard to keep the guys on a good schedule with minimal surprises. We prioritize what is important to us. Sometimes we eat salami and cheese on the way to practice. Sometimes we are late. Sometimes my kids forget to put on underwear to church. Ultimately, we try really hard to make it work. This is my organized chaos and I would not have it any other way.
About the Author
Meredith Maitland lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Brady, and seven kids including 3 sets of twins. Follow Meredith and her family at @maitlandmultiplemultiples on Instagram