If Teen Schedules Drive You Crazy, Then Try This Tool

I remember when my kids were young and family life seemed busy. Maybe you’re in the trenches right now. If you have an infant along with a two-, four-, and/or six-year-old, then you are in the thick of early-childhood parenting. This is when all your kids need help getting dressed, making their meals, and cleaning up their messes. At this age my kids were as cute as could be, and I loved the precious moments when we would play, cuddle, or read together. I didn’t want time to pass too quickly, but I did look forward to the day when they would become a little more independent.

Well, we’re there now. My oldest two are in their twenties, my youngest is eleven, and I have four teenagers. You heard me right. Four teenagers! They’re all much more independent than when they were younger, which at first glance is a good thing. They can dress themselves, feed themselves, and clean up their own messes (with some prodding, as needed).

But oh, how the volume of activity has increased! Even if the child can drive, there are only so many cars to go around. And the kids really need to remember that Rachael and I have a few tasks, errands, and pursuits of our own that we need to accomplish too.

What kind of activities do teens typically want or need to do? There are jobs, birthday parties, service projects with the church, movies, pizza with friends, and much more. Also, Rachael and I encourage our kids to invite their friends to our house on occasion for a game night or other social gathering. These are all good and wholesome ways for them to spend their time.

The issue I’ve run into as a parent of teens is when they inform us of the activity. Often I hear about an event a mere twenty-four hours (or less) in advance.

So how should I react? I certainly don’t want to blow a gasket. Yes, I have responsibilities and a full schedule as a work-at-home dad. And I know the saying that your emergency does not constitute an emergency on my part. But I don’t want to be selfish to the point that my calendar dominates all others. I need to consider my children’s plans as well. As you can imagine, such short notice can create some emergencies that don’t have to happen with a little more advance warning.

But it isn’t just the matter of having a date and time to mark on the calendar. There are other details to work out such as:

  • What is the activity?
  • Is there a monetary cost?
  • What is the address?
  • Who else will be there?
  • Are any siblings allowed to tag along?
  • Do you have to take anything (e.g., food or a gift)?

So a few years ago—when I had just two teenagers—I set out to save the day: I created an Activity Request Form that you can download and use yourself if you think it might help your family.

The key is to get the kids to actually fill it out and turn it in any time from a few days to a week (or more) before the event. I hope that someday you find yourself saying, “I wish I had a nickel for every activity my kids participate in. But thank goodness for this Activity Request Form that my teen fills out to help us all plan better.” (I won’t charge a commission for all those elusive nickels you’re hoping to collect.)

In my April article, “Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan, Meet Resistance,” I could have mentioned that resistance often comes in the form of last-minute requests by your teen to do something tomorrow night when you’ve already made big plans yourself. Of course you want to consider the wants and needs of your young adult; they’ve been working hard too, and the activity in question might be good for their growth and character building. I’ve found that this Activity Request Form can significantly reduce the amount of tension when it comes to coordinating everyone’s plans.

I recommend that you be light-hearted about this form. In other words, don’t turn into a drill sergeant and become overly demanding with your teens. Laugh a little and use the form to help you better plan together as family. And drop the whole idea if it becomes burdensome to the relationships that are so precious in your home. This is only one option. It worked for us, and I believe it has the potential to help your family, whether or not you’re homeschooling.

Let me know if you try this tool and how it works for you on a practical level.

Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!


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© 2015 Davis Carman


One Response to “If Teen Schedules Drive You Crazy, Then Try This Tool”

  1. Janet says:

    Love, love, love this idea. Asking an hour before something is to happen drives me crazy, especially if they knew about it a week or so in advance…printing out a bunch of these and putting them in a binder in one place available to everyone will keep the request forms in one place and with less chance of getting lost. Great idea, thanks for sharing.

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