In my household I am the primary “organizer.” I do many things, probably too many things. I am She-woman, hear me roar! I keep everyone organized, from homework to preparing and getting everyone to where they need to be. I take this role seriously, part of me thinks that without my outstanding organizational skills my family would be in total chaos and completely lost without me.
As my kids grow up, I am slowly realizing that by doing this, I have become a bit of a martyr. I do, do, do and expect gratitude AND everyone expects me to do it. I’ve come to accept that I may actually be doing a disservice to my family. Small tasks that should be second nature to my kids (and husband) seem to continuously fall on me. Have I created a cycle of dependency?
All is not lost! Time management and organizational skills can be taught and need to be practised. Start slowly, then build on them. It’s also reassuring to know that some things I did with my kids in the early stages, like letting them help with grocery shopping, helped to build a foundation for their organization skills. Grocery shopping involves pre-planning, making lists, breaking down small tasks and following a series of steps. Phew, we aren’t starting from scratch!
Our plan will include:
- Everyone. We will fill out our own responsibilities, events & activities.
- We will colour-code and include pictures. (Our kids are great with computers, so we will use online calendars with programmable reminders.)
- Homework dates. Our kids will also record half way points for projects and tests.
To help with the last point, we will use a “Think Forward and Plan Backward” strategy. This is a great way to help your kids learn how to plan. Ask them:
- When is it due?
- How much time do you need?
- When should you start?
- What do you want done at the half-way point?
Afterwards, you can also help your kids to reflect in a supportive way how accurate their guesses were.
I believe the hardest part of this new organizational plan will be to really let go and allow others to take responsibility. In the end I may feel a little less needed, but I think I’ll be okay. I know that in the long run this will decrease my stress levels and help my kids learn much needed skills and confidence.
I’d like to send a shout-out to Josie Szatmari, Occupational Therapist with the North Halton Child and Youth Psychiatry Program for sharing her great ideas. Do you have any to share with us?
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.