“No you did NOT just throw your trash on the ground five feet from that garbage can!” I said to myself, walking toward the door of an establishment and watching a teen in front of me. After seeing someone do something so blatantly disrespectful and apathetic, I couldn’t help but wonder why some people just don’t feel that they have a responsibility or need to play a part in keeping an orderly cohesiveness in our world.
When I really began to think about it, one thing came to mind. As a whole, most of us don’t necessarily feel connected to the people around us – at all. I’m not even sure most of us really know our own neighbors.
Community (the way it once existed) is foreign to us these days. Think about it – we don’t hold barn raisings when a couple gets married.We’re lucky if we clear our schedules to make it to the ceremony. Okay, so maybe we’ll hop on a meal train when someone has a baby and cook a lasagna (maybe), but how many of us go clean that new momma’s house and weed her landscaping and do her laundry so she can bond with her newborn or perhaps get some sleep? How many of us really “do life” with other families — eat together regularly, bear each other’s burdens, celebrate the milestones and endure the daily grind?
It makes me feel sad.
You are probably asking, “What challenge NOW?”
Well, with so many time stealers out there in the big bad world, our job as parents is to be purposeful in how we spend our family’s time. And make no mistake, there are a lot of options.
One of the best ways to spend your time (and probably one of the most important things you can do while you still have your little blessings under your wing) is to help them discover their purpose here on our planet. Now, we realize that they have a lifetime to fulfill their calling, and most don’t have it all figured out by the time they’re 18, but you can have a general idea as to what lane they’ll be running in during their stint as a big person. What we DON’T want is for them to waste precious time as an adult trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up (oops, I think that’s our story). Let’s save them from that great tragedy.
So, what are we doing to figure it out this big conundrum? (Wait! Don’t panic. We’re about to give you the answer.)
With all we do, time seems to fly by. It’s hard to believe it, but the holidays are almost here (where did the year go?), and that means trying to fit a massive holiday to do list into our already packed schedules.
But we’ve got a little tip that can make a big difference. Let’s call it “Start Your Day the Night Before.”
If you already do this, stick with us. We might have an idea or two to supercharge your nighttime routine. But if you’re not already doing this, we’re totally excited to share it with you because it is hands down, the very best tip for getting more done. And isn’t that what we’re always after?
Give yourself (and your kids) a gift everyday — the gift of a clean slate! It stinks to have to wake up and still deal with yesterday. You know what we mean — you wake up to a sink full of yesterday’s dishes. Sitting on your dresser are the folded clothes from yesterday’s laundry. The dining room table is mounded with a heap of varied things from many yesterdays past.
No more of that. From now on, start your day the night before.
Start with a blank schedule with spaces for each hour from morning until bedtime. Have your student block off time spent in classes and in extra curricular activities and in other regular commitments. Block out time for chores and homework.
Without actually doing the exercise, you might be tempted to think that there’s nothing left, but in most cases, you’d be wrong.
It’s those white spaces — the left over blocks — that I want to talk about today.
Everything we do requires a choice. We make choices when we wake up, eat food, get dressed, answer the phone — it’s all a choice. Although our choices are not always contemplated or obvious, they are choices nonetheless. And if we don’t choose our tasks and time deliberately, we can unknowingly allow important things to slip through the cracks.
We often hear people say they wish they had more hours in a day. Well, the experts say that for every one minute you spend planning, you will gain ten in execution. WOW! Over time, those minutes add up. You can do the math. So now the question is – Are we going to take the time to plan, and if so, how do we plan?
Start With the End Result in Mind
Time management is about starting with the end result in mind, and then working backward to achieve our goals. That’s really what this is about — setting goals and then figuring out our priorities. If we don’t do this, life just seems to happen to us, and years slip past us without any real significant achievements to speak of.
The corporate and the academic worlds are moving toward a more project-based environment. So as our kids grow up, they’re going to need strong project management skills, and we can begin teaching them some of the basics by showing them how to look at their to do list to find mini projects: papers for school, putting together a vendor booth for their small business, planning a birthday party.
What Has to Be Done?
- Teach kids to ask, “What exactly needs to be done?”
- They should be clear and concise because being vague clouds vision.
- Then they should define any related goals and be specific.
My fifteen year old has a successful henna tattoo business, and she gets a good amount of business from booths at various fairs and events around town. For these booths, she has to have a table with good signage. She needs pictures of her work, brochures, business cards and pricing information. Her goal is obviously to do tattoos at the event and make money, but it’s also to network for future business. That means she has to provide information on weddings, pregnancy belly tattoos and home parties (which tend to bring in good money). Her goal is to leave an event with at least three bookings — one to replace that day’s event and two to grow her business.
When our kids are defining their goals and tasks, they need to think about what they want the end result to look like.
Most parents love the idea of their kids making their own money, and who wouldn’t want their kids to gain the life skills that come from running a business? But the first obstacle that most families face is coming up with a business idea.
This Saturday we’re kicking off a radio series on this very topic. Our guest is Certified Public Accountant Carol Topp who wrote a curriculum for families called Micro Business For Teens. We launched this series with a newspaper column about preparing kids for the real world. Speaking of which, if you haven’t already joined the group by the same name, head over there now and jump in on the conversation.
Start With What They Love
The first step in helping kids find a business is figuring out what they enjoy and what they’re good at. Our kids knit and spin their own yarn. So for a season, they made some money selling knitted items. In fact, one summer my daughter raised $300 making and selling knitted owls.
Isn’t art just something fun that we let our kids do to keep themselves busy and ward off the dreaded boredom?
Not so much.
Life Lesson: It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
In my own life I have struggled with allowing myself to make mistakes. Often times, I was afraid to begin a DIY project for fear I would mess it up. I could feel the struggle inside. “Just go ahead and try your idea – Oh, you’d better not, you’ll mess the whole thing up and waste all your time and materials.”
But my daughter, on the other hand, has no problem trying something new, mainly because of her art training. During high school she attended a local visual and performing arts program. One day, she came home and told me how her beautiful 3D creation had plummeted to the floor. Her instructor demanded that she, “make it work.” He told her that mistakes and accidents happened to make art more interesting and it could very well be the best 3D art she’d ever create. Well, as it ended up, her project turned out amazing. He was right!
That experience taught her that it’s okay to step out and make mistakes (and not just in art). She also learned that there’s more than one answer to every problem. And to be honest, I learned through her lesson too.
The starving artist is starving by choice. Art does not have to be synonymous with poverty. Even Vincent Van Gogh, perhaps the poster boy for the starving artist archetype, wasn’t exactly starving. He worked in a prestigious gallery for six years, and he received a generous monthly stipend from his wealthy brother.
Bedroom in Arles, courtesy of Wikipedia
Maybe it was the Bedroom in Arles painting that perpetuated the myth, or maybe it was his sad demise before seeing any recognition for his work. Whatever the case, Van Gogh wasn’t the starving artist that he’s remembered as, and artists today don’t have to be either.
Back to school also means back to extra curricular, and with these come new relationships, tighter schedules and more commitments. Knowing that your little chicklette is going to be spending a ton of time with a new adult, have you ever considered interviewing them? You know, checking them out to see if they’re a good fit.
Would you hand off your precious offspring to a complete stranger for hours on end? Sometimes we do. They’re called coaches, role models and mentors.