It’s 7:30pm.  You’ve been scrambling to make dinner since you brought your child home from soccer practice at 6:15.   You finally sit down to eat and quickly learn that he missed the play in the game because he was concerned about his math test grade, that he still has hours of homework ahead, and that even though he has his music lesson tomorrow he still hasn’t practiced because he just couldn’t find the time. Your child is overwhelmed.  You are frustrated.  It is not a pretty situation.

Sound familiar?

There is no question that between school and sports and other extracurricular activities, schedules are tight. Kids have a lot going on. So how can you keep your child busy, happy and fulfilled, but not overwhelmed?

By teaching them the incredibly important skill of Time Management.

According to Wikipedia, Time Management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.  

Teaching your child how to manage their time efficiently and effectively may be the most important tool you can give them.

To get you started, here are some simple time management tips you can work on together:

LOSE THE DISTRACTIONS: Nothing kills time more than “taking a break” to check a text message, Instagram alert or Facebook feed.  Your child may not be happy if you take away their cell phone until after the work is done, but they will definitely be more focused and efficient.  They will get it back in no time!

PRIORITIZE:  Too many tasks can be overwhelming.  Help your child figure out how to organize what needs to get done so that they can complete the most important things first. They will feel good about getting one thing done, and be motivated to finish up the rest.

CREATE BREATHING TIME:   Encourage your child to study for that test a few days in advance or start getting ready for practice 30 minutes earlier.  The more lead time they allow themselves, the calmer and more satisfying the entire experience will be.

SLEEP:  Nobody focuses well if they are tired. Make sure your child gets a good night’s rest.

FREE TIME:  Try to build in time for relaxation and fun. It’s like a reset button.  Afterwards, your child will be able to move on to new tasks with a much clearer mind.

And in the end, if things still seem too tight, too stressful or too unmanageable for your child, you might want to consider this final option:

REDUCE: Step in and take one thing off of your child’s plate.  Some kids can handle a busy schedule, and even thrive on it.  Others suffer.  It is really important to pay attention to this and figure out what works best for your kid.

Managing time isn’t about squeezing as many tasks into a day as possible. It’s about simplifying the things that need to be done, doing them in a more focused and efficient manner, and relieving stress. Once you and your child figure this out, you both are going to be much more settled, satisfied and happy.

Cathy Hildenbrand worked as a television producer, writer, and director before starting her company, Laylabelle Productions, a company with a focus on telling story through marketing, non profit, and events pieces. Check out Laylabelle Productions at http://www.laylabelleproductions.com/