We were always the family that relied on a schedule.
When we first brought our twins home, we knew that the only way we would survive without going gray was to institute a schedule. When one ate, the other ate as well. When one needed a diaper change, they both got one (and this included our older son before he was potty trained). This mentality of needing a schedule for us all has followed us into school now.
I wish I could say that I need a system to keep my kids in check and aware of what they have going on, but I’d be lying. They somehow always seem to know what is going on, where they need to be, and what test they need to study for; I, on the other hand…
When we decided to place the twins with whatever teacher their school thought would be the best fit for them, they didn’t need to stay together; we thought there wouldn’t be much of a change. The schedule we currently had in place would be fine.
We were proven wrong.
We had forgotten the fact that, while they were in the same grade, each teacher taught at a different pace, so homework, tests, and projects may all have different due dates.
We also forgot that our older son was entering the dreaded third grade when school got real.
We thought it was an airtight schedule where nothing could fall through the cracks, which proved to be the exact opposite.
After many last-minute “Mom, you need to sign this” as we were driving in the car and “Mom, don’t forget we have [insert activity here] tonight,” I decided enough was enough. What we thought was working, clearly wasn’t. So, I decided to invest some time into creating a system that worked (and didn’t require me to do a whole ton of stuff to get it to work).
First, I needed to commit. I needed to take 15 minutes every week to ensure that I was on track with everything. Second, I gathered supplies. Lastly, I made it work for me.
It took me a second to determine what I would be willing to do to get my life on track. Was I someone who needed an app with alerts? Was I someone that had to handwrite everything? Did I want to look at it in daily, weekly, or monthly views? How much effort was I willing to put into it.
I decided that I would not be able to use an electronic version. I find notifications on my phone annoying and tend to turn them all off (which is why I tend to text people a day late). I also found that looking at it daily was just too much and stressed me out. I knew me; I would give up and be right back where I started.
I decided to go old school with a weekly and monthly calendar where I hand wrote everything.
I needed to make sure that whatever I ultimately chose to keep track of everything was something that I wouldn’t mind filling out every week (or month).
If you’ve ever searched for a planner or calendar, you know there are a TON of options. Just looking at all those options can be overwhelming, which, in turn, causes you to give up because you can’t wrap your head around the choices.
To make it easier on myself, I chose one of the first options that popped up on Amazon.
It worked out great too because there was a monthly calendar and a weekly calendar included, which fit my plans perfectly. Also, it included a weekly magnetic schedule.
I have them on the refrigerator, in a place that I’m in front of or near every day. It doesn’t help if you make a calendar or schedule, but then never look at it. The calendar is dry erase, so I also bought some dry erase markers to color-code everything. I put up a quick reference too. Now anyone can understand the schedule!
3. I Made It Work
The biggest thing I did was tell myself that it was OK if it wasn’t up to date as often as I’d like.
The last thing I needed to do was give myself something else to stress out about (and then forget about). I needed to take the pressure off, and as with any habit, the more I got used to filling out the weekly calendar, the more instinctual it became.
It didn’t happen overnight.
I had to make a choice and think about it as another version of self-care. I wasn’t filling out the calendar for anyone else; I was filling out the calendar to make myself feel better. It was just part of my routine to take care of myself and my mental health. When I started thinking of it like that, it became less of a chore and something that I wanted to do, because it did help.
Our lives are still all over the place.
My oldest son wants to play every sport imaginable, my youngest son wants to play every sport imaginable, and my daughter somehow has a better social life than me.
Someone usually always has a test or a doctor appointment, and what used to induce panic attacks now doesn’t feel so overwhelming.
It’s amazing what you can do when you have a plan (or at least something the resembles one), and all it took was ordering something from Amazon and deciding to see it as a self-care routine and not a chore.