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Time Schedule Tips for Busy Families

Tips to organize your time and reduce stress.

Nashville, Ark. – Back to school means extra activities – ball practice, band practice, club meetings, plus daily family commitments. People like routine and a sense of predictability. When that schedule changes, it can make us feel both energized and uneasy. Now is a good time to re-evaluate family schedules and time management techniques. Here are some tips to help organize your time, reduce stress, and feel more in control.

  • Keep a calendar of your family’s events. One of the easiest ways to keep a calendar of events is to use your smartphone. This works great for families who have older children. An online calendar can be shared with your family so everyone can get alerts at the same time. Another option is the paper calendar. This works great for families with younger children and can be a great backup for any family. Keep it posted in a place where everyone in your family can view it easily. The refrigerator is a great place. Keep a small tablet of post-it notes close by so you or your family can write down their reminders or changes.

  • Plan meals ahead of time. Personal experience has taught me to start by planning one week at a time. Plan which days you will cook, which days can be “encore presentation day” (leftovers) and which days you may need to pick up quick-to-fix meals. Planning meals helps with grocery shopping by having all the ingredients on hand in your pantry or refrigerator. Find recipes that can be prepared within 30 minutes or less and ones your family will like. Some people have great success by meal prepping over the weekend for the upcoming week. It can be as simple as chopping all vegetables needed for meals throughout the week or more in-depth by making freezer meals.

  • Create a to-do list. Write down what needs to be done each day. Tasks such as picking up prescriptions, making doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, taking the dog to the groomer…everything takes time. Try to combine tasks such as picking up the kids or grandkids from soccer practice and stopping for the prescriptions on the way home. Divide chores with other family members, such as mowing the yard, emptying the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, doing laundry. There is a feeling of accomplishment whenever you can mark items off the to-do list!

  • Stick to a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. Try setting an alarm to begin your routine for getting ready for bed just like you do for waking up each day. Creating time to wind down your mind and body can improve your sleep. Taking a bath or shower, reading a book, setting out your clothes for the next day are typical nighttime routines.

  • Stay the course. Creating new habits can take time. If you have the best intentions to use your meal planning chart every night this week, but you are just too tired to cook and resort to drive through, try again the next day. Be patient. You will soon find a routine that works for both you and your family.

  • Take time for fun. When you have the opportunity – planned or unplanned – to have a bit of fun, do it. It may be something as simple as watching the stars or enjoying a meal on the patio. Try to plan a date night with your spouse or family. It can be as simple as ordering pizza and playing board games. Nothing helps connect families as quality time spent together.

Transitions present us with great opportunities to reset our sails, adjust our schedules, or create new routines. Being flexible and open to new ways of doing things keeps us fresh and energized all year long.

For more information on stress, time management, or easy meal preparation, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517. Our office is located on the second floor of the courthouse. You can also check out our Family Consumer Sciences web resources. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Recipe of the Week

Joy Barr, a member of the Twilight EHC Club shared this recipe. Her family has loved it for years. You can save preparation time by using refrigerated pizza or bread dough. Be creative and add additional vegetables and seasonings your family will like.

  • Bread Dough

1 package yeast

1 cup warm water

1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup melted butter

3 to 3 ½ cups flour

  • Meat Filling

1 ½ pounds lean ground beef

¾ cup finely minced onion

8 ounce can tomato sauce

¼ cup chopped mushrooms

1 Tablespoon sweet pepper flakes

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon celery salt

½ teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

¾ cup chopped ripe black olives

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • For Bread Dough:

            Dissolve yeast in warm water in large mixing bowl. Add dry milk, sugar, salt, egg, and butter, mix well. Add flour gradually to form stiff dough, beating well after each addition. Let rise in warm place until light and doubled. (Prepare meat filling while dough is rising.)

Knead on floured surface util smooth and satiny. Roll out dough on greased cookie sheet to a 15x12-inch rectangle. Set aside.

  • For Meat Filling:

Combine in a skillet ground beef, onion, tomato sauce, mushrooms, and pepper flakes. Add seasonings. Cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Stir in olives. Cool to lukewarm.

  • To Assemble:

Place meat filling down center third of dough to within 2-inches of the ends. Sprinkle with cheese. Make diagonal cuts 2 inches apart on each side of rectangle just to the edge of filling. Fold ends over filling then fold strips over filling alternating sides and crossing in the center. Brush with milk, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Let rest in a warm place for 15 minutes. Bake at 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.