Family Balance: You Can Do It!

Q: Since my husband frequently travels, it's up to me to juggle the schedules of our seven children. I am exhausted in trying to be fair to each in their individual day-to-day activities. What has worked for other parents who are in similar situations?

I've found that limiting the activities of our six kids is necessary and taking every advantage possible in a carpool system is imperative. While we want our kids to have a fair shot in school, various activities, and life overall, sometimes it seems impossible. I try to divide certain activities, school functions, including all of the various clubs, into who can participate in what and when by rotating an activity annually. For example, in the beginning of a year, the older kids get first choice of one activity that is school related and one extracurricular per semester. Then, it's just rotated beginning with the next oldest child for the next semester and so on. - Darby in NY

Don't constantly become stressed when trying to present the world in a fair way to children. It's not worth it. I came from a similar family situation and to tell you the truth, for years we gave our mom grief over who got what and when and constantly complained about it being unfair. Not only was she resentful toward our daily whining but she also beat herself up over never being able to be "fair." The older we got the worse our behavior became and the harder we tried to manipulate her. It left her exhausted and bitter. Today, each of us feels totally horrible for playing on her emotions and try our very best to make it up in every way possible. The best advice is to make up family rules and stick with them. Tune out the whining, complaining and arguing and don't let the kids' manipulate you in any situation. As they get older, they will respect your authority and someday appreciate your backbone. - V. in FL

Muster up the strength to set up family guidelines and stick with them. Everything in life is not fair and depending on their ages, you might want to explain the idea of an adult's view of being fair as opposed to their point of view. By doing so, they can probably understand important, and not so important but necessary, family guidelines. - E. in WA

From Jodie: When people have children, they often imitate the parenting style of their own parents. Presenting a balanced and fair environment to children was probably one of the traits passed to you. However, between having a large family, in combination with your husband's frequent traveling schedule, it's important to cut your children's extracurricular activities to the bare minimum. Even when doing so, you will still have your hands full. Stay organized by using a calendar with large spaces and write who does what, when and where. If there are relatives around, ask for a little help. Nevertheless, don't forget to take a break for yourself. When dad is in town, have him take the kids out, even if it's only to a park. This will provide a little personal time for you to refuel your soul and spirit.

Can you help?

Our 11-year-old daughter seems to be obsessed with stealing. While the items she has stolen so far are small, who is to say that they will not become larger? We have taken her into counseling sessions where she easily convinces the therapist that she will no longer steal. Within only a few weeks, she goes right back into doing the same thing. Is there anything that other parents have done or used that has worked in a similar situation for a 11-year-old?

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