Without an organized schedule, the hockey season can pass like a hurricane and leave your family feeling chaotic, stressed and unable to relish the experience of participating in one of North America’s favourite pastimes. However, by following a few simple tips and making use of one or two of the many great organizational tools available today, you’ll not only keep your busy schedule in check this hockey season, but your sanity too!
Tip 1: The first, and by far the most important, step in ensuring a smooth transition from the relaxed summer schedule to the busyness of minor hockey life is selecting the right scheduling tool for your family.
Some families work best with printed wall planners, such as Sandra Boynton’s Mom’s Family Calendar or Amy Knapp’s Big Grid Family Organizer. Each one comes chock-full of reminder stickers and space for important family information and phone numbers. These work best when kept in a common location so that each family member can keep track of commitments and modify calendar entries as needed.
Today, many families — especially those with older children or teens — opt for electronic scheduling devices, such as Apple’s iCal or Google’s free online calendar, which can easily be shared amongst family members and updated in real time. Additional bonus features include the ability to access schedules on the go, to sync the calendar with other desktop applications and to set customizable reminders — a huge plus for busy hockey families.
If you use choose to use more than one calendar (no matter what the format), be sure to reconcile all of them on a weekly basis.
Tip 2: Prioritize. As things come up, identify which items are necessary and which can be delayed. Assign a specific time in your weekly calendar to take care of your to-do lists. A fabulous tool to help you stay on top of day-to-day activities is Remember The Milk, a web-based application (app) that enables you to prioritize multiple tasks with an easy-to-use colour-coded system.
Once your to-do items are in order, don’t forget to make time for life’s most important things: family time, couple time and friends.
Tip 3: Avoid overscheduling and going directly from one activity to another. Create a time buffer.
Tip 4: Keep an open dialogue with your employer. Use your hockey schedule to book your holidays.
Tip 5: Create a team carpooling schedule.
Tip 6: Ensure you schedule in enough sleep time. If your family is not getting enough sleep, the end result will impact your physical and emotional well-being.
Tip 7: Teach children to record their schoolwork and projects in an agenda. This will offer you (and the kids) a clear picture of deadlines and how to work them in around the busy rink schedule.
Grocery and Meal Planning
Tip 8: To save time (and money), grocery shop once a week. Try Grocery iQ, an intuitive shopping-list app that allows you to build lists quickly with features like predictive search and barcode scanning. You can also use it to print coupons and to organize your list by grocery aisle. If you like to have recipes at your fingertips while you shop, OurGroceries is another great app to check out.
Tip 9: Keep healthy, high-energy snacks with you while on the road. Game times and practices can be erratic. No hockey player will perform well when hungry.
Tip 10: Children thrive on routine and structure. Though it may take some planning, scheduling regular sit-down dinners together may be a welcome change to the chaos of hockey life.
Tip 11: Create a weekly meal plan. Use recipes from great sites like kraftcanada.com for easy-to-prep meals, as well as on-the-go snacks. Plan large meals on days when there is no rink time scheduled, and double recipes to allow for leftovers.
Tip 12: Save valuable time by using a slow cooker or having groceries delivered to your home.
Tip 13: Get everyone involved in the dinner-making process: meal preparation, table setting and cleanup. Many hands make light work.
Tip 14: Secure a family commitment to participate in keeping the household ticking throughout the season. Age-appropriate chores allow everyone to contribute. If you’re looking for a clever way to encourage kids to help out, try iRewardChart, a unique app that brings the traditional reward chart to your mobile device.
Tip 15: Create a weekly chore checklist. Identify all the things that need to be done in your house on a weekly and monthly basis. If you have trouble staying on top of it, check out cozi.com or try the handy HomeRoutines app. You’ll never forget garbage day again!
Tip 16: Schedule chores around rink time and try to do a little each day. It will prevent you from being chore-bound on days off or feeling guilty while at the rink.
Tip 17: Give yourself permission to ask for help or to outsource some household tasks. If you try to do it all, you may end up being burnt-out before playoffs.
Personal Time Management
Tip 18: Use the pre-game hour to get caught up — return phone calls, help your other children with their homework, write birthday cards, run errands or get organized for the next day. Using an app like Evernote is a great way to capture and manage to-dos, ideas and more on your phone or other mobile device.
Tip 19: You can only do so much. When you see something that needs to be done and no one steps up, delegate the task.
Tip 20: Learn to say no. Identify what is important to you and your family. If a request comes in outside of those parameters, give yourself permission to say no.
Tip 21: Schedule “me time.” Between the 5:30 a.m. practices and the tournaments, it may feel like this is an impossibility. However, like they say on an airplane: To be able to help those around you, you must first get some air yourself.
By Karyn Beacock — Trained Professional Organizer and Efficiency Expert, Spiral Into Control