Feature Article: Best Practices of the Resident Social, Child, and Family Coordinators
I’d love to hear from the men on this one, but at least in my circle, why does it seem that the woman is the social coordinator in the family? I’m not kidding when I say my husband wouldn’t have any friends if it weren’t for me. We wouldn’t have any couple friends, either.
I’ve tried to sit back and see if John would reach out to our couple friends to schedule a get-together. But even when he and the man in the couple are close, no dice. He’s perfectly willing to be told, “We have a dinner date tonight” and go with the flow. Kind of makes me crazy, but I do get to see who I want, when I want, so I’m not exactly complaining. BUT being social coordinator does put an extra responsibility onto my already-full plate.
Here are a few ways I handle these responsibilities that might be helpful to you:
Scheduling time with friends. I make sure I connect with good friends in a meaningful way about four times a year. I’m not suggesting rigid scheduling (“Ooops, you’ve had your designated visit this quarter”). To the contrary, scheduling actually helps you make sure a year doesn’t go by without a visit. If you’re not careful, good friends can accidentally slip away. Each time a visit ends, look ahead on your calendar and schedule the next visit. My friends have honestly told me they appreciate my being proactive in nurturing our friendships. They even ask jokingly, “Hi! Are you calling to schedule our next play date?” If I don’t call, they wonder why, and call me. Be careful that you’re not doing all the work, however; if your friends really want to hang out with you, they should take the initiative once in a while.
Planning family gatherings. Similarly, I often wonder if I didn’t make the calls and coordinate holidays and family activities, would we ever see each other? About a month before a big day, I look at the upcoming holidays, if any, and email the entire family (done easily with a distribution list in Outlook or a group in ACT). I suggest a date and time that would work best with my schedule and get input from my family. By now, they’re used to keeping holidays open until Laura dutifully sends out her family communication. If something comes up early for one of them, I actually get a call requesting a particular day. It’s pretty funny at this point. And honestly, I don’t mind doing the planning. For all I joke about it with them, I always get to schedule it the way that it’s most convenient for me. My family members are pretty good about saying, “It’s my turn to host,” but if you’ve had them over too many times, don’t hesitate to suggest a get-together at another house.
Coordinating school activities, sports, and social plans. Children lead busy lives, don’t they? I’ve heard the phrase “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet until you have teenagers,” so I know future years will become even more complicated. Even though John and I share activity-coordination duties, I’ve found it’s easier if one person takes responsibility for divvying up the jobs. Each Sunday night, we bring our calendars to the family pow-wow and review the upcoming week: who has a birthday party and who is driving to and from; who has a Bible study class and will need the other to watch the kids; when do I have a speaking engagement and won’t be able to pick up the children from daycare; what work is due at school; who needs a permission slip and money for a field trip; when is show-and-tell and who will cover getting the item in the backpack; where do we have dinner plans and when will we ask Grandma to come over and put the kids to bed. You get the idea. We review and plan anything and everything that’s likely to happen and cover our bases. We also do some advance planning at this point and discuss what’s come up since last week: vacation plans, airline tickets to purchase, etc. The kids only need to be involved for the first part of the pow-wow. John and I connect for another 30 minutes or so over a glass of wine (which always makes it fun).
Getting ready for guests. The holidays usually bring with them family members and friends from out-of-town. They usually want to bunk with you and have you play tour guide. For many, hosting guests can be stressful because it changes your routine and personality, and can put a strain on your time. In part, however, stress gets created because you rush around at the last minute pulling things together, making beds, cleaning the house, and shopping for food. If you’re proactive, you’ll start getting ready for a visit weeks before they roll into town. Buy extra supplies, make plans for entertainment, and set up the guest room. My favorite idea comes from my own Daddykins and his wife Naamah who, when my children are visiting for a sleepover, pretend their home is a “Bed and Breakfast.” The children are greeted at the door, sign the register, receive their keys and guest amenities (usually small water bottles, snacks, bars of soap and toiletries), and check into their rooms that are labeled with the corresponding room number received at check-in. Imagining your home as a B&B in this way will help you think through what would make your guests most comfortable. If your in-laws tend to be flaky and not decide until the last-minute whether they are coming, simply explain that you will be excitedly preparing for their visit and will need to know by (x) date whether they are coming or not. If you don’t have a firm answer by then, your family will be making other plans. Take a deep breath, follow through on this a few times, and they will be more cooperative in the future, once they discover you are really serious.
Make it a productive day! ™
(C) Copyright 2006 Laura Stack. All rights reserved.
This article may be reprinted provided the following credit line is present: “© 2006 Laura Stack. Laura is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc. and the bestselling author of Leave the Office Earlier and Find More Time. She presents keynotes and seminars on time management, information overload, and personal productivity. Contact her at 303-471-7401 or www.TheProductivityPro.com.” The link to Laura’s website must be active.