Teaching our children to schedule their time with various commitments can help them to become productive adults. Making so many commitments that they have a difficult time juggling all of them can eventually create so much anxiety for your child that it becomes counterproductive to your initial intentions for them.

Parents can help their children learn healthy limits and boundary-setting, and how to process and self-regulate their emotions. This is what will help them to be resilient adults. 

Parents also need to use boundary and limit-setting around extracurricular activities during the school year. While your children might say that they want to play three competitive sports and take on five extracurricular activities, it doesn’t mean that they should, especially with academic demands. Overcommitted kids can develop high rates of anxiety from having too many obligations. A little tension around performing activities is fine and can contribute to learning, but too much can create feelings of overload and obligation that can play havoc with a child’s mental health. Extracurricular activities are meant to support learning and growth, not to get in the way of it.

The social learning that happens while children interact with their peers is one of the most important pieces of learning your child will do during their high school years. Parents often think that hanging out with friends should be last on their child’s list of ‘must-do’ activities, but it’s actually a highly important part of your child’s growth.

Youth learn a lot from discussions with their friends about how they should look, act, and feel in a teenage world that is brand-new to them. While they are still learning a lot from parents about life and the direction they want to take in it, they are also learning this from friends. It’s as important to help your child build time with friends into their schedule as it is to help them build in time for their schoolwork and extracurricular activities.

Tips to help with scheduling

Having regular ‘Family Meetings’ and creating a family calendar can be great ways to keep each other in the loop about upcoming activities. They can also save a lot of last-minute scrambling to try and fit in something you weren’t aware had to be done.

It doesn’t matter what size your family is. Family meetings can happen with two or with ten family members. The important thing is the feeling of togetherness that regular connections can bring to your family.

  • Schedule the meeting before a favourite meal or snack, and at a time that works for your family. A breakfast, lunch, dinner, or afternoon or evening snack can work well. This way everyone has something they can look forward to enjoying.
  • Everyone gets a chance to chair the meeting. This can help your kids to feel they are an important part of what goes on. Know that they won’t be perfect at it, and that they will be learning as they go along.
  • Set some important ground rules, such as: Everyone gets a chance to speak without being interrupted; no name-calling or put-downs; everyone’s ideas are worthwhile, etc.
  • Set a realistic time limit for the meeting that works for everyone. If you do this at the beginning of each meeting, it takes everyone’s time into consideration and illustrates good democratic modeling for your children.
  • Keep it simple. Organize the meeting around scheduling everyone’s activities for the next week. Use a large calendar that you hang in a visible place so your family can refer to it.