Ep #155: How to manage multiple schedules

by | Sep 29, 2021 | ADHD, ADHD Podcasts, Podcasts

We all want what’s best for our children, and often we feel that means giving our children various opportunities to grow and cultivate talents. Yet, for many parents, managing numerous activities and schedules in addition to everything they need to do can feel overwhelming.

It is okay for parents to take stock of what is happening and make adjustments, including reducing their child’s activities, if needed. No one in the family benefits if mom or dad has nothing left to give.

Parents should evaluate all extracurricular activities on whether they are essential and what the family can do. If you’re trying to figure out what is the best for your child and your family, we recommend using the SODAS Method to help you determine the best course of action.

The SODAS Method allows you to see the pros and cons, which will enable you to make the best-informed decision for you, your child, and your family. 

You can find more information about the SODAS Method on the Smarter Parenting website.

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Podcast Transcript

The transcript text is below. You can also download the PDF file of the transcript here.

Hosted by Siope Kinikini

This is episode 155.

We welcome you to the ADHD Smarter Parenting Podcast. Here to heal and elevate lives is your Parenting Coach, Siope Kinikini.

Hello, everyone. How are you? Thank you for joining me wherever you may be. It’s me, Siope, your host here at the ADHD Smarter Parenting Podcast. Actually, I’m just one of the hosts. So Kimber is here as well. However, during this podcast, I will be addressing this very difficult topic for many parents. So, wherever you’re joining me, thank you for being here, thank you for spending some time.

I feel like today’s podcast is going to be extremely helpful for every parent, whether or not your child has ADHD or not. It really has to do more with how parents can manage the different schedules that their children have and also the home schedule.

So, how do you balance work, home, family, life? All of those things require a lot of parents to make decisions. How can you manage this and get the most out of your day? So, during this podcast, we are going to address these issues.

Now, this podcast came by way of a discussion with Jason. So, Jason is a single dad, and he has two children under the age of five. As he is raising these two young, precious souls, he is realizing quickly, “Wow, I don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done that we need to. I feel like we’re always behind on our schedules. I feel like it’s been very difficult to figure out what we’re doing. I’m often making hasty decisions, and then I feel guilty, or I regret what I chose.”

So, this podcast is dedicated to all the parents out there who are balancing the schedules and really are struggling trying to figure out exactly, “Okay, I’m burned out. And yet the demands of the different schedules and trying to be sure everybody’s where they need to be and where I need to be, it’s too much. It’s like a tidal wave. It’s just too much.”

So, during this podcast, I’m going to teach you the questions that you need to be asking yourself, and we’ll be using the skill of Decision Making. So, by the end of this podcast, you should know what questions you are asking yourself in regards to schedules. How to manage different schedules? As well as what you can do in order to resolve this issue, so you can make the best decision for you and for your family and so you’re not spending a lot of your bandwidth trying to figure out daily how to make everything work. So, that’s what we are going to cover.

Now, we’re going to start off with three questions you should be asking yourself. And I’ll go through the questions first, and then let’s jump into it. Let’s talk about it.

Number one, what is essential? That’s the very first question. Parents need to sit down and ask themselves about schedules and about everything going on around them, “What is essential?” So, what activities are essential for your child? You would be surprised at what people feel are essential, when in fact, they’re not essential. They are add-ons or things that they wished for, or they hoped for, or that they desire, but they’re not essential.

Now, the second question is, what is the reality for me? I have said this over and over and over again on this podcast. But the reason people struggle is when their expectations and the reality of their situation don’t match. So, when we adjust our expectations to reality, there tends to be more peace, and we’re able to move forward and grow in a lot more forgiving and accepting way. So, the second question is, what is the reality for me and my family?

Then, the third question to ask is, “What can I do about it?” So, now we’re taking a proactive approach in asking a question of, “Now that I have this information of what is essential, what is reality, now what can I do about it?” And this is where we are going to use the skill of Decision Making.

Jason is a single dad raising these two young children. He calls me up frustrated, trying to figure out exactly how he could get his son off to soccer, his daughter off to dance. He’s working full-time, with school on top of that. Being sure they have a good dinner. Having time for his studies. Putting them to bed.

So, what I had Jason do is write down everything that happens during the day, the schedule. What is a schedule? And because he has a daughter and a son, I had him write those on separate pieces of paper. Then, I had him write down his duties and what things he needs to do throughout the day, on a separate piece of paper. So, now Jason has three pieces of paper, each one outlining what is going on during their daily routine.

Now, the reason I have Jason write it out is because it is important to get a visual on what is happening. You can start to see patterns in there that will help you, as a parent, determine what is essential and what is not essential. It also helps answer the question of what is the reality of my situation. All right.

So, take some time. It doesn’t take more than five minutes to write this down. If you have five kids, write down the schedule for the five kids, put them side-by-side, include your own schedule on there, and be sure that you can see it at a glance. So, you want to be able to look at it. You’re going to learn so much by doing this exercise, I promise.

Now, after you do this, you have to look at it and say, “Okay, what is essential on this list?” You’ll go through and highlight the essential items that should be done every day. So, for example, brushing your teeth, that is essential. Having a meal, that is essential. These things sustain life, and they keep us healthy. Going to sleep, that is essential. So, all these things are essential items.

What you will find is that you may actually highlight something that is not essential and that’s okay. Write down your first impression, highlight your first impression of what is essential. After you do that, then ask your next question, which is, “What is the reality of my situation?”

Now, every parent out there has the same amount of time during the day. We all have only 24 hours in a day. Eight of those hours should be spent sleeping, so eight to 10 hours of sleep, which leaves us with even more limited time. So, the reality is we only have a certain amount of time during the day to get all of these tasks done, or to get my child from point A to point B, before the day is finished. So, accepting, “Okay, I have only have so much time after work to take my son to whatever activity he wants to do or to take my daughter to dance. I only have 10 minutes in between to do that. And yet it takes me about 15 on a good day to do it.”

As much as you want your child to participate in wonderful activities, and all parents do, they want to expand their children, give them opportunities they never had, you need to check the reality of the situation and then ask yourself, “What is essential?” You’re going back to the very first question.

So, for Jason, we did this activity where he wrote these down and that was the exact situation. The reality was he did not have enough time in between work and other duties to take his son to participate in his activity, because it would take 15 minutes where he only really had only 10 minutes. So, that was the reality. And now you had to ask yourself, “Okay, is this activity essential?”

Now, if it’s not essential, what can we replace that activity with? Or what needs to be done to put something in that spot that is essential and that fits? This is where we get into the third question, which is, “What can I do about it?”

Now, Jason and I had a long discussion about this. I’m grateful for Jason’s insight into his children’s lives and into his own life. As we were going through this process, he was getting frustrated, because he’s like, “Oh, it just seems like everything is essential.” The reality is, is not everything is essential. So, we had to go back to the core of things that are essential for his family.

First off, he needed to work and he needed to do well in order to provide for his family. So, work is absolutely essential for Jason in order to provide for his family. What is the reality? His work was taking up time that he wanted to use in other areas, so it was causing him frustration. And as I mentioned before, when our expectations don’t equal reality, that’s where we have friction.

We had to do a double take on that and say, “Okay, essential must rule over everything else.” So, in your list of essential items, make your list. You have to go to work. You have to do well at work. We had to make some adjustments based on the reality of the situation and on what was essential for Jason to function as an effective father.

Now, did this cause some turmoil for Jason? Yes, it absolutely did. The reason that it caused his turmoil is because he loves his children so much, he wants to give them every opportunity he never had. He does. I found a lot of parents nowadays are like that. They want their children to participate in a million different things, so they can gain experience, and it’s all well-intentioned. However, even your child only has a certain amount of time during the day. And you have to teach them what is essential in their lives. So, not everything is essential.

I had another mother contact me about this. She had enrolled her child in so many activities, and because of this, she felt like everything was essential and important and didn’t want to let her mother down. So, whenever she was an able to do one activity, it led to a tantrum, or a crying fit, because she felt everything was equal. Only because the parents were making everything essential and not weighing the pros and cons of, “Is this really essential or is this not?”

There are things we would love to provide our children, but are they essential? Those are some deep questions you really need to ask yourself. If you’re raising your child with a partner, you need to ask that with your partner, because they may feel something’s essential and you may feel that is not essential. But coming to a consensus of what is essential for my child’s overall wellbeing needs to be something you think about in every decision that you make and not everything is essential.

Now, what is reality? So, based off of your life, “What can you do? What can’t you do?” Evaluate those, and don’t do it based off of, “This is my desire and I’m going to just make it fit.” Because, again, what you’re doing is establishing an expectation where reality may contradict it and then friction in your own wellbeing is going to happen.

So, we made these lists, Jason and I, with his children’s schedules and with his schedules. We were able to outline the essential items, which included dinner time, that was essential. Study time was essential for him, as well as brushing their teeth and getting ready for bed. As we started to weed these out, he started to notice that there were a lot of things he had placed in the schedule of the children that were nice, and that would be helpful, but which were not necessarily essential.

So, we started to look at those items and revisit those items as whether or not he should continue doing those. Then, we went through and looked at what is the reality of his ability to participate. Now, one of the key issues here was, “Okay, well, I’m enrolling my child in dance or I’m enrolling my child in sports.” Taking them to a practice is one thing, but there are additional time requirements. A lot of time, parents are involved in fundraising or they’re asked to do additional tasks to support the program, or the games, or the recitals. You have to take into consideration all of those things as part of your decision on, “What I can provide for my child.”

So, he went through and he’s like, “Okay, this is the reality. This is what’s essential for me in order to provide for my family and for my overall wellbeing. To be there 100% emotionally for my child.” A lot of parents will want to skirt the issue and say, “Oh, nothing’s essential. Everything’s for my child.” I would say that is a huge mistake. You need to be able to determine what are the essential things in your own life to support and sustain your family, as well as to be there both physically and emotionally, and that will look different for different parents and different family.

So, once we made these lists, I went with Jason through the skill of Decision Making. And this will answer the third question, “What can I do about it?” So, if you’re unfamiliar with the skill of Decision Making, I’m going to walk you through it, because this is a powerful skill. Not only can you use this with children, but you can also use it yourself when you’re trying to determine a consequence or a reward for a child, or you’re stuck and you’re not exactly sure what to do, you can do this.

Now, SODAS, that’s what we call it, and it’s a process, is an acronym. So, each of the letters stands for a different word, S-O-D-A-S.

The first S stands for situation. So, you want to define the situation. In this case, with Jason, is it was, “Okay. I have a schedule, my children have a schedule. In what ways can we determine a good schedule for all of us that will help our family get all their needs met and move forward?” So, he’s describing a situation.

Then, you are going to list the second letter, which is O, options. So, options. I’m going to talk to my children about what they feel is essential. I’m going to talk to them about what is reality. So, he’s actually teaching his children what he’s learning. The benefit of doing this is it helps the children differentiate between your expectations as a parent, as far as, this is really important. These other things are great, but not as essential. So, not everything is essential. So, talk to my children about it. Second option, figure it out and sacrifice everything for my child. Third option, and you always want to list three options, third option is get another job, so I can meet the needs of my children. So, three options.

After you list the three options you go on the next letter, which is a D, so SODAS- S-O-D. You’re going to list disadvantages to each of those options, and you want to list as many disadvantages as you possibly can. So, talking about it with your children, about what is essential and reality, maybe they won’t understand, that’s a disadvantage. Maybe they will struggle with not wanting to do something that is essential, but is essential. And then, I’ll have a tantrum to deal with. So, you’re going to go through each of those options, listing the disadvantages to each one.

What was interesting about Jason’s SODAS exercise, as we were doing this together, was when he got to the third option, which was get another job, so I can do everything that I want my children to do. He realized he could change his job in order to meet everything that his children expected, or everything that his children wanted him to attend and do activities, however, he would receive way less income.

This discussion then ensued between the two of us. “Okay, so you can sacrifice how much you’re making in order to meet what all the other activities that your children have, but that also limits what activities they can do. And it limits your ability to provide with your family.”

And then we started talking about, “Will you be happy if you were to move?” And he said, “No, but I would do it for my kids.” And I’m like, “Okay, so you can do these things then.” These are difficult topics for parents to really explore, because they want to sacrifice everything for their child, but I want you to think very cautiously and carefully about your needs as well, as a parent. Too many times, parents show up and they are so exhausted, they’re not doing any good for other people or themselves.

The analogy that everybody loves to use is imagine you’re on the airplane. There’s a reason when they’re giving the safety dialogue at the beginning of a flight, that if you’re traveling with children, put your life vest on first. There’s a reason that they say that. And that’s because you are no good to your child if you are incapacitated, and there is absolute truth to that.

So, Jason and I were walking through this process and that’s where we got, we got to this point where we were talking about, “Okay, you are willing to sacrifice your own wellbeing for your children, which is noble and which is absolutely appropriate. All parents would do that. They would die for their children.” But then I asked him, “But would you live for your child? Will you live, make choices that allow you to be 100% there?’ All parents are willing to die for their kids, not all parents are living for their kids.

So, we went through this process-S-O-D. We had a situation, we listed the options, we went through disadvantages and there was a long list of disadvantages in regards to changing his job. Then we got to the A of SODAS, which is advantages. So, we want to list advantages to each of those options. And in Jason’s case, he felt that the first option was the best. Sit down with the children, talk to them about what is essential and what is reality. And the thing that did it for him was, “I want my children to do activities because they want to do the activities, not because they feel pressure from me to do them or because I feel like they need them.”

So, sitting down with them was the best. And he felt like, “Okay, that’s the option I like the most.” So, the final S in SODAS is solution. The solution was, “Sit down with my children, talk about what’s essential, what is not essential, what is reality, what is not reality.” And with Jason, we Role-played this, we talked about it.

Now, Jason did this with his children. He sat down. He put down the list. His children, his daughter couldn’t read, his son could, slightly, but they were just talking about it. And he used pictures. So, he would draw like a football, and then he would draw like ballet slippers to help his children understand the concept.

What was fascinating during their interaction, according to Jason, was that his children were doing activities that he recommended, but that they did not necessarily enjoy. He was shocked at that. He assumed his children would enjoy these things and he’s sacrificing all this money and time for his son to do sports. His son didn’t really care about sports. Didn’t really care. His daughter liked dance, but really, his daughter liked interacting with other kids her age. So, was dance, were sports, an important, essential item in the children’s schedule? According to the children, no.

And parents will find that there are some things they list as essential that their children will be like, “Not essential. That’s not essential to me.” So, once he realized this, he had to re-look at, “What is the reality then? I’m providing them with these experiences, but they really are not interested. So, the reality is I can meet their needs in other ways. If my daughter needs to join a girl/mommy play date group, maybe that will meet her needs to just want to have friends and play in the dirt and do whatever she wants. If my son doesn’t want to participate in sports after school, maybe there’s something else he can do. The school has some activities afterwards, or maybe he can learn how to play chess or learn something else that he’s more interested in.”

What this did was open up communication between them. And it also allowed the children to really communicate where they’re at and what they’re feeling. This alleviated Jason quite a bit as a father, because he was able to determine that what he felt was essential wasn’t necessarily essential to his children. But he could still outline, “These are the things that absolutely need to be done. And this is what I can do by asking the question of, ‘What is reality?'” And by doing that and talking to his children about it, and really understanding where they’re coming from, he noticed that there were large swaths of time during the day that were open, it freed up time in their schedule to focus on things that were more essential. It’s very powerful.

So, in talking to Jason about how to manage all these multiple schedules, there’s some inner parenting work that needs to happen. That is apparent in making decisions for all of these people and they need to be asking the right questions about schedules and about activities and about what is happening. And this is a discussion that you continually want to have often with your children. For me, I do it every six months. We evaluate, “Okay, this is what’s happening.” Or we do it when there’s a life-changing event and schedule is changing.


So, for my daughter, we do it every summer. We do it also at the beginning of school. We’ll do it midway through school. Just so she can understand how to weigh the pros and cons of what needs to be done. I do want to state that when you do place a lot of that pressure on performance and on certain activities for your children, and they are important to you, your children may adopt them and believe that they’re important to you. So they want to do it because you want them to do it, but not necessarily because they want to do it. So do some question asking. Do some Effective Communication. Really explore this topic.

Fortunately, for Jason, he intervened while his children were still very young. So, by doing this, children are more honest, they’re willing to say things that maybe a teenager is not willing to say. Now, if at all, you are curious, and they’re not saying anything about it, pay attention to the behavior, because behavior speaks. Behavior speaks louder than words if you pay attention to patterns of behavior.

So, for example, with Jason, if his son did not enjoy sports, but was telling his dad, “I enjoy sports,” and his dad came to practice and Jason was just sitting there and he looked tired and he was just talking to everybody, and when it came time to go out on the field, he would just walk. That behavior is telling you something. So, be very cautious about what you believe with the words, but behaviors don’t lie. So, behaviors, pay attention to the behaviors and you’ll see patterns in there.

So, this is how I helped Jason work through managing the different schedules. It’s a lot of inner parenting work. It’s about evaluating. It’s about Decision Making. It’s about accepting what is real, what is not real, and really doing the work to be able to do this. Every parent and every family have schedules. As the children get older, the schedules get more complex, and that’s why it’s important to revisit these topics.

So, the skills for today that I want you to focus on are Decision Making, which is the SODAS Method, as outlined with what I did with Jason, but also Effective Communication. You can find all this information on the Smarter Parenting website.

I highly suggest you up over there to get a copy or a transcript of this podcast to go through it. You want to have these discussions with your children, but you also want to have it with your spouse. If you are working with your spouse or your partner, do that first before you talk to your children about it, and work through this whole process of figuring out what is essential, what is reality, and what can you do about it to alleviate some of the stress.

Jason reported later feeling less pressure about providing experiences for his children and rather allowing his children to experience the world they want to experience, and letting them grow in the ways that they wanted to grow. That was really beautiful to me. I mean, hearing him say that made me feel so happy. So, so happy for him, because his children now have the autonomy to figure out what are essential to them. They’re able to experience the world in their own nuanced way and they’re happy. They’re happy. Really, in the end, everything we do for our children is for them to be happy.

So, I want to give a shout out to Jason, thank you for letting me share your story. And that’s it for me for this week. So, a lot of things to think about as far as parenting, I want you to take these, internalize them and use them, because they will change your life. That’s it for me. And I will see you again next time. Bye.

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Specific DiagnosisADHDEp #155: How to manage multiple schedules