Giving your athlete the gift of wisdom, in the form of time management, can arguably be the greatest gift that you can bestow upon them. The benefits of good time management are many. A few include; better performance with their studies and at work, a more restful night’s sleep and more time to play. Learning good time management skills as a youth will also assist your student in becoming an effective lifelong decision maker.
However, the benefits of time management extend beyond the individual child to the whole family. A family that is making wise choices with their time can expect to see reduced anxiety, a calmer house, and more time for building relationships.
Trying to establish and implement a new schedule for your student, let alone the whole family, can appear to be extremely daunting, but it’s doable. Here's how to give your student athlete the gift of time management.
Step 1: Take a look at the big picture.
Before contemplating a schedule, you need to first determine whether or not this particular sport would be a good fit for your family. By asking these ‘big picture’ questions you and your athlete will be able to make an informed decision with regards to their schedule. What season is the sport being played? How will the temperature or possible weather conditions affect practices and games? What is the length of the season? Don’t forget to consider pre-season practice and possible play off dates. What holidays, birthdays or vacations will be taking place during the season? Would you be missing out on these special events or be required to take time away from your sport? Are you willing to give up either?
Step 2: Make a weekly schedule that involves the whole family.
If, after looking at the big picture, you and your athlete decide to progress forward with the sport, you need to break down your calendar and ‘to do’ list into smaller more manageable pieces. Begin by picking a day of the week when all family members can attend a ‘scheduling meeting’. Sundays, generally, make a good day for this meeting. For your scheduling meeting have everyone bring their daily and weekly planner with them and the dates and times of any important events that are coming up that week.
Take time to first place each major event on both your calendar and your student’s calendar so that no one can say ‘I didn’t know…’. During your scheduling meeting begin to help your child determine what is coming up that week and how much time each task will take. For example, when are games and practices? Are there any tests, projects or homework coming up? Remind your student that big projects can be accomplished with less stress when they are broken into many smaller projects to be completed over time. Also, consider time for chores, family activities/commitments, work, and free time. Don’t forget to allow time for eating, driving from location to location, and sleeping.
Step 3: It's okay to say no.
No has become a four-letter word for many adults. Stephen Convey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, has been quoted as saying, “you have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside.
Help your family to determine their bigger yes by pondering and discussing the following questions. What needs to be done now and what can we say no to? What does this activity mean to our lives? Is this activity a now or never opportunity? Will we have another chance to do it at a later time? Are we doing this activity for ourselves or for someone else? Will this activity push us closer to our goals or distract us from them?
Step 4: Don't nag!
Put on your shoes! Get your backpack! Did you pack your lunch? Finish your homework! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!
We have all been guilty of being a parent nag. However, nagging actually has the opposite result that we are looking for. Instead of tasks being done quickly and efficiently, nagging tends to cause strife and stress in our homes. Also, by nagging we aren’t creating a habit that our children can replicate without us.
The beauty of a well-developed schedule is that it comes with natural consequences. Either tasks are going to be accomplished in a timely and peaceful manner or they won’t be. Sometimes a missed assignment or a missed practice can be just what the doctor ordered for a better next week.
Step 5: Embrace change.
After a bad week, it can be very tempting to throw in the towel but DON’T GIVE UP! You now have an opportunity to teach your athlete how to evaluate the week and make changes as needed. Work as a family to evaluate the week. Discuss the successes and stumbling blocks. Then, next week, stick with what works and make changes as needed. Remember, no matter how perfect your plan is, there will always be unexpected changes. Keep the main thing the main thing and move forward. Embrace the change.
Jesus speaks about the wisdom of a well-thought out strategy in Luke 14:28-29. “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him”.
Time management allows our children to make informed and wise choices about their priorities. And, thus, allows them to enjoy all the responsibilities and privileges that come with being a student athlete.
How does your family balance school, sports and family? Do you have time management advice for families of student athletes?
Please share in the comments!