Fall Scheduling: To Do or Not To Do, That is the Question!

Dr. Corinne Masur

In an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times (see link below) Emily Oster suggested that starting now, we can all begin to make more conscious decisions about what we want on our schedules and those of our children.

But can we?

Having our schedules empty out during the quarantine was a revealing experience for many of us – and for our children. What could we do with our time when we didn’t have to go to a million activities? We had to draw on resources we didn’t know we had to figure this out.

Even though most families found the quarantine experience extremely difficult, I heard a lot of comments from parents and partners about the benefits in spending more time together. While family life could get claustrophobic at times, at others, parents found they were getting to know their children and partners better and many people appreciated the slower pace of life.

So now – the question is – do we have the courage to turn down some of the activities that are becoming available again? Are we willing to give thought to whether we want all that busy-ness back?  Can we get ourselves to consciously go through each of our prior activities and decide if we really want that back in our life – or in the life of our children?  

Emily Oster has some ideas about this – and so do I.  The thing that she does not mention explicitly in her article is the importance of communication. Are we able to talk together as a family to make our priorities clear before accepting all the sports and lessons and activities into our lives again? Are we able to have discussions about whether we want to be as busy as we were before?

I have a few suggestions and then you can read what Emily has to say as well:

1. Sit down with your partner, if you have one, before autumn starts and talk about how busy you want to be.  Talk about what your family priorities are. Talk about what you want back in your life and what you do not.  And if you do not have a partner, you can think about this for yourself and perhaps even write down what you do and do not want back in your life.  The purpose of all this is to make these decisions consciously rather than just deciding on the spur of the moment as each activity presents itself.

2. Sit down with each of your children and have this discussion with them. You now know what your priorities are for the family. Within the confines of those, ask your child what his or her or their priorities are and what activities he or she or they want back.

3. Don’t be afraid to set limits.  For example, if you have decided you want one day of the weekend – or even the entire weekend – for family times, stick to that. Try to help your children understand your priorities for the family and to make decisions keeping those in mind.

Life is getting more back to “normal” – but we all have to decide whether we want it to be the old normal or a new normal, informed by our experiences during this past year and a half.

For Emily Oster’s piece: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/31/opinion/sunday/deliberate-parenting.html

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