Rachel had just assumed she could manage her family's packed calendar herself. "I'd rush them off in the morning as though they could read my mind about what's happening that day!" she says. But the kids' activities—soccer, hip-hop classes, karate, and Irish step dancing—were too much to remember. One afternoon, Rachel forgot Grant's dentist's appointment.
Stack suggested that both kids keep their own calendars and daily checklists, "in order to spot scheduling conflicts and gather items they'll need in advance." Grant and Andie now have schedules with morning and evening checklists in their rooms, which they update when a task like packing shoes for dance class is completed. "The lists have taken the drama out of the mornings," says Rachel. "We've started sharing more information in general. Last night at dinner we talked about what we had going on this week; it was so nice to have that hour together."
Chaos Trigger #3: Killing Time and Putting Off Exercise
Though Rachel gets up at 5 A.M., she rarely works out before Grant is awake. Instead, she trawls her favorite Web sites or packs snacks for the children. "I've always just chilled," she says. "But I should be exercising."
Workout intentions often get derailed as the day wears on, says Stack. "Easily 75 percent of my clients plan to exercise at lunch or in the evening, but they never do it, so it's important to get active in the morning while you can." Rachel found a way to incorporate the advice. "This morning Grant and I got our sweats on and walked to the park to look for wild bunnies," she reports. The outing inspired her to throw Grant's scooter in the van, and that afternoon, before picking up Andie from school, Rachel took a brisk walk while Grant rode alongside.
Two weeks after Stack's analysis, Rachel has gotten the kids to school on time every morning and is energized by the changes to her family's routine. "By talking about what we need to do, the weight is off me—although it was me who put it there in the first place," she says. She's also realized the importance of empowering her kids to do more for themselves—even Grant's friends have started keeping checklists. "We haven't implemented the rest of the recommendations yet, so I can't wait to see all the improvements ahead!"
Monica Corcoran Harel is the author of The Fashion File (Grand Central Life & Style).
Keep Your Family (and Yourself) On Track