Need to teach kids about life balance? Start here.
Kids need art…
Kids need exercise…
Kids need academic enrichment…
Kids need medical care, healthy food, water, social outlets, hobbies, sleep, showers, tooth-brushing…
Kids need balance
So, how do we do that?
Start with their calendar.
Calendars are the oldest tool of time management. Think Stonehenge.
Today, calendars are not only a memory aid but also an exercise in prioritization. You cannot be in two places at once. A calendar forces you to make choices.
For adults, achieving “life balance” is as enticing as it is intangible. A calendar provides evidence that you are on the right path. Your calendar is the shield with which you defend your balanced life.
For kids, access to their calendar gives them insight into their world. They learn what’s happening in their lives from someone other than Mom or Dad. Calendars are empowering.
Beginner Calendar Skills for Young Kids
A child’s typical first exposure to a calendar is an annual wall calendar with 12 lovely pictures in it.
In the early 2000’s, I took my daughter to the pop-up calendar store in the mall that was only in existence for a couple of months a year. She spent at least an hour looking at her options before selecting the one that reflected her mood and interests.
For the past couple of years, my son has designed his own wall calendar using family pictures from my computer. Times change.
So, the first step is to have them choose a calendar that appeals to them.
Then, teach them to use it!
Do the following with your child:
- Add all school opening/closing dates. They will love the “No School!” days.
- Add birthdays and anniversaries
- Pencil in family vacations and visits from out-of-town guests
- Have a meeting with your child every Sunday to add details to the week
- Encourage your child to X out every passing day at bedtime
Intermediate Calendar Skills for Tweens
As soon as your kid has a smartphone, it is probably time to move the calendar from the bedroom wall to the internet.
There are multiple ways to manage a family calendar electronically, but one of the most straightforward is Google.
Some schools create Google email accounts for your child in elementary school. But, if they don’t, you can get them their own Gmail address at age 13. Pro tip: Create an email address that won’t embarrass them on college applications.
Here’s the point: with Google Mail comes Google Calendar.
If you connect their Google account to their smartphone, they can access their calendar wherever they are. And…you can start inviting them to the calendar eventsyou create.
If your child is old enough to manipulate those gaming apps, they can accept a calendar invite, right?
Once your child has access to all their activities and events on their phone, the next step is to start playing dumb. You are no longer the calendar oracle.
They will continue to ask, “When is soccer practice?” or “What time are you picking me up from play rehearsal?” You must become a broken record (not that they know what that is, mind you) with the response of “I don’t know…check your calendar!”
Advanced Calendar Skills for Teens
In my opinion, kids who start high school are plenty smart enough to start sending the calendar invitations to their parents. At that time, they are often the first ones to know about their appointments anyway.
As a 14 to 15-year-old, my daughter learned that the parental taxi service only operated for events that were on the family calendar. Yes, there were times where she was frantically adding an event to the calendar two minutes before departure, but she improved her skills greatly over time.
Since she started driving, I typically find out about her appointments and activities via her Google calendar invitations to me.
She goes to college soon. I assume I will stop receiving the invites altogether. Sniff.
Back to Balance
Yes, achieving balance involves more than a calendar, but an accurate calendar is critical to discussions about this topic.
Is it time for you to call a family meeting to discuss balance?
Bring the calendar.