[ EN l FR l US ]
Employee and Family Assistance Programs
For Employees and Families: Your EFAP

Parenting Challenges: Conflicting Schedules
October 2011

With workweeks that are a far cry from Monday-to-Friday, nine-to- five, to visitation and blended families, more and more parents are raising their kids within the confines of conflicting schedules.

The inconsistency and inevitable pain of missing dance recitals, family dinners, the big game or first steps may leave you wondering how your lifestyle is affecting your children. You may worry about the lack of spontaneous family time together, “overscheduled” kids or feelings of abandonment. With a little more organization and a lot of conscious effort, however, you can raise your kids into healthy, happy and well-adjusted adults, despite an unconventional schedule.

Make it All Work

Regardless of extended absences or conflicting schedules, you can be an involved and active parent and a big part of your child’s life. To help you and your family survive and thrive amongst these challenges, be sure to:

Plan ahead. Invest in a big family calendar to help everyone manage their complicated timelines. Display it in a common area of the house and so that work demands, meal plans, designated family time, custody schedules and any of your child’s’ commitments are clearly laid out. If your spouse is gone on business you can count down the days until their return and even map out the travel route with your kids. Keep a master schedule for the year to help you plan birthdays, holidays and extracurricular activities. It’s not going to be easy but organization is key!

Celebrate now. Shared custody or work commitments will inevitably get in the way of some significant events. If you weren’t able to make an important milestone, re-celebrate it as soon as you can. Make sure you even stop to acknowledge the little events that may have been lost in the shuffle like a lost tooth or an A+ on an assignment. You may not have been there but you can and should be able to celebrate with your child.

Make time count. When it comes to difficult family schedules, you need to focus on quality versus quantity. While the amount of time is important, make the best use of the moments you do have together. If your family can’t be in the same place for dinner, have a big Sunday lunch instead. Or bring your kids to the park rather than hitting the gym. If you’re finally in the same place on a weekend but there’s lots of housework to do, try to make it a family affair. Get everyone to contribute and after the chores are finished unwind together over a movie or an outing to a museum, mall or amusement park.

Aim for consistency. Although it’s good for kids to learn to be flexible, consistency is still the golden rule of good parenting. Make sure you have similar expectations for bedtime, discipline, household duties and schoolwork regardless of who’s is looking after your children. If your kids lost TV privileges while under the care of someone else, make sure you follow through with it and do the same thing when you’re rewarding good behaviour. If you don’t get the kids as often as you’d like or are busy with work commitments, resist the urge to drop routine and spoil your kids when you finally get your time together.

Be resourceful. You’re going to have to get a little creative to maximize your time together and to reinforce consistency in your child’s life. If you’re leaving home for business, give your child a copy of a book and bring one with you on your travels. While away, call home before bedtime so you can read the story together over the phone. Also consider communicating to your family via video conferencing while on the road. Cell phones are a great way to keep in regular contact (if your kids are old enough). In the twenty-first century, being away doesn’t mean you have to be absent.

Keep it manageable. As a busy family with a hectic schedule, try to pick extracurricular activities that will work within your lifestyle. Despite wanting to offer your children every opportunity, recognize that taking on too much will only cause further stress and that leaving no room for down time can negatively impact your kids.

Find alone time. Amidst all your daily demands, it can become nearly impossible to get some time to yourself. Try waking up earlier in the morning so you have a few quiet moments before the kids get up. Consider adding a bit of extra time at daycare, or use an after school program so you can run important errands after work. An evening out every once in a while is a must, so find your family a babysitter you trust. If you’re still with your partner, but parent through conflicting schedules, plan regular dates for just the two of you. Ban any talk of finances or parenting and save these details for later.

Successful Co-Parenting

Co-parenting after a separation or divorce can add an additional element of tension to the mix. In times of conflict, scheduling can become a frequent bone of contention. Keep schedules running smoothly and frazzled nerves at bay by:

Not using children as a go-between. Don’t use your kids as messengers. Although it can be tempting to send bills, notes and messages through your children it can be very hard on them—regardless of the situation. If possible, keep the lines of communication open with the other parent and try to co-ordinate as a team.

Dealing with schedule changes in advance. Whether you need your ex to take a day off while you’re away on business, or want to bring the kids to a family reunion, be considerate: ensure you give plenty of notice and arrange for time to be made up elsewhere. Giving advance notice shows respect and helps avoid “surprises” that can cause tempers to flare.

Asking instead of telling. When you need to make a schedule change, try phrasing your needs to your ex as a question. E.g., “Would you mind it if I picked Josh up at six instead of five?” versus, “I need to pick Josh up at five.” Though the idea is the same framing it as a question seems less confrontational and demanding.

Sticking to the schedule. Whenever possible, ensure that you follow up with your end of the deal. Remember, ignoring the schedule isn’t just hard on your ex-partner, it can put unnecessary stress on your kids too—especially if it becomes a point of conflict. Respect each other’s time and stick to the agreement.

With changing lifestyles and increasing financial pressures families today are often far from traditional. Despite the challenges your schedule and lifestyle can create, if handled properly, your children may actually enjoy many added benefits. Spending time alone with each parent separately can create extremely strong relationships. A little irregularity can produce well-adjusted and flexible kids and busy schedules may teach your children to be the mightiest of multi-taskers. Recognize that you aren’t alone and that amongst the chaos, you can and will be a great parent.

Healthy Living Archives
 
October 2011
Parenting Challenges: Conflicting Schedules
read more / view pdf
 
July 2011
Grappling with Fertility Challenges
read more / view pdf
 
April 2011
Coping with the News of a Cancer Diagnosis
read more / view pdf
 
January 2011
Financially Strapped Sandwichers: Juggling the Costs
read more / view pdf
 
October 2010
Pausing for Menopause: Taking time out to understand midlife changes
read more / view pdf
 
July 2010
Managing Grief: Understanding Emotions around Trying Situations
read more / view pdf
 
April 2010
Overcoming Drug Dependency: A Prescription for Recovery
read more / view pdf
 
January 2010
Relationship Repair: Recognizing and Managing an Unhealthy Relationship
read more / view pdf
 
November 2009
Life after Divorce
read more / view pdf
 
August 2009
Relationship Revival: Keeping a Mature Relationship in Full Bloom
read more / view pdf
 
May 2009
Living with Chronic Pain
read more / view pdf
 
February 2009
Handling The News: Coping successfully with the news that your teenager is gay or bi-sexual
read more / view pdf
 
November 2008
Type 2 Diabetes 101
read more / view pdf
 
August 2008
Guiding Your Child to Social Success
read more / view pdf
 
May 2008
Understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)
read more / view pdf
 
February 2008
Body Image Basics
read more / view pdf
 
November 2007
Actively Aging
read more / view pdf
 
August 2007
Healthy Living. The Big Talk-Communicating with Teens and Tweens about Serious Issues
read more / view pdf
 
May 2007
New Healthy Living: Refreshing Your Role
read more / view pdf
 
February 2007
When Alcoholism Hits Close to Home
read more / view pdf
 
October 2006
Getting a Handle On Your Work Schedule
read more / view pdf
 
Suicide Signs and Prevention
read more / view pdf
 
Facing Your Fear: Overcoming a Phobia
read more
 
Eating Disorders, Body Image and Self-Esteem
read more / view pdf
 
Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder
read more / view pdf
 
The Caregivers Journey
read more / view pdf
 
Coping with Trauma
read more / view pdf
 
Working on Workplace Stress
read more / view pdf
 
The New Addictions
read more / view pdf
 
It's About Time
read more / view pdf
 
Workplace Communication
read more / view pdf
 
Coping With a Chronic Illness
read more / view pdf
 
A Little Respect Goes a Long Way
read more / view pdf
 
Happy Trails Planning a Family Friendly Vacation
read more / view pdf
 
Playing it Safe
read more / view pdf
 
At Last An Article on Procrastination
read more / view pdf
 
Changing Course Managing Lifes Transitions
read more / view pdf
 
Bullying The Silent Struggle
read more / view pdf
 
Work Life Balance For the Good of Your Health
read more / view pdf
 
Make your New Years Resolutions Work for You
read more / view pdf
 
A Little Levity Balancing Humour With Work
read more / view pdf
 
Sleepless Again How to Get Some ZZZZs
read more / view pdf
 
A Changing World How Are You Managing
read more / view pdf
 
A Positive Attitude Its Contagious
read more / view pdf
 
Beat The Blahs…Bouncing Into Work After A Day
read more / view pdf
 
Behaviour Contracting A Win Win Approach To Parenting
read more / view pdf
 
Building Healthy Relationships
read more / view pdf
 
Caring For Aging Parents
read more / view pdf
 
Change is Inevitable Growth is Optional
read more / view pdf
 
Changing Gears Making A Smooth Transition From Work To Home
read more / view pdf
 
Cleopatra didnt Smoke
read more
 
Coping With Difficult People
read more / view pdf
 
Coping with Life in the Stress Lane
read more / view pdf
 
Dealing With Loneliness
read more / view pdf
 
Delving into and out of Depression
read more / view pdf
 
Domestic Dilemmas
read more / view pdf
 
Energy Management A New Answer To Doing More With Less
read more / view pdf
 
Fitness Turn Back A Few Years And Feel More Alive
read more / view pdf
 
Getting Others Involved In Physical Activities
read more / view pdf
 
Inside EAP
read more / view pdf
 
Is This Going To Be Your Best Holiday Season Ever
read more / view pdf
 
Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Winter
read more / view pdf
 
Keeping Your Financial House In Order
read more / view pdf
 
Learning Your Living
read more / view pdf
 
Leisure For Pleasure How To Take Charge Of Your Leisure Time
read more / view pdf
 
Lighten Up Humour In The Workplace
read more / view pdf
 
Listen Up Enhancing Our Listening Skills
read more / view pdf
 
Making Nutrition Work For You
read more / view pdf
 
Opening Doors With 5 Keys To High Level Wellness
read more / view pdf
 
Parents Place Firm Fair Discipline Strategies For Young Children
read more / view pdf
 
Personal Security A Practical Approach
read more / view pdf
 
Putting Anger in its Place
read more / view pdf
 
Relationships Friends Keep You Healthy
read more / view pdf
 
Saying Good Bye Dealing With Loss
read more / view pdf
 
Strategies For Simplifying Life
read more / view pdf
 
Take Control Of Your Life
read more / view pdf
 
Talking One Way To Enhance A Relationship
read more / view pdf
 
Tapping into Learning Opportunities
read more / view pdf
 
Temper Temper There Are Better Ways To Handle Anger
read more / view pdf
 
The Balancing Act Home Life And Work Life
read more / view pdf
 
The Power Of Praise
read more / view pdf
 
The Sandwich Generation
read more / view pdf
 
The Year Of The Family
read more / view pdf
 
Traumatic Events Dealing With the Emotional Aftermath
read more / view pdf
 
Understanding Alcohol And Drug Misuse
read more / view pdf
 
Weathering Turbulent Times
read more / view pdf
 
When Gambling Becomes More Than A Game
read more / view pdf
 
When Someone Close Has An Addiction
read more / view pdf
 
When the Blues Become Depression
read more / view pdf
 
Workplace Trauma The Day After
read more / view pdf
 
You're Getting Older But you're Getting Better
read more / view pdf
 
You dont Have To Win The Lottery To Enjoy Life
read more / view pdf
 
The Colour of Money
view pdf
 
Retirement: Planning Ahead
view pdf
 
Depression: The Enemy Within
view pdf
 
Don't Let Stress Take Over Your Life
view pdf
 
When Relationships Start to Unravel
view pdf
 
Build Flexibility and Manage Change!
view pdf
 
Build Resiliency by Building Optimism
view pdf
 
The Keys to Personal Resiliency
view pdf
 
Making Healthy Eating a Lifetime Habit
view pdf
 
Helping Your Teens Stay Safe At Work
view pdf
 
Guidelines for Fast Career Growth
view pdf
 
Managing Stress on the Job
view pdf
 
 
© 2014 Shepell·fgi