A Host Mom was prompted by an earlier conversation on coordinating family schedules to offer her thoughts on keeping it all together. What I call a family notebook or family log she calls a diary– but regardless of the name, it is the same thing: One, single, solitary, concrete place where every appointment goes.
Here’s how one organized host mom and her family use their Diary … Many thanks for sharing your system!
To Diary or not to Diary? – An answer to one HM’s question!
Do you hate coming in from work only to face more decisions at home?
“Can I have a weekend off?”
“Can my friends come over on….?”
“Do I have to baby-sit on….. ?”
“What’s for dinner?”
Sound familiar to any other HM’s?
What about this scenario…. when your AP requests weekend off. You agree, completely forgetting that you have concert tickets/dinner date etc planned for the same weekend.
Now you have two choices: (a) cancel your plans or (b) ask AP to cancel hers. It’s a no-win situation & either way (a) you’re the looser, (b) it’s your fault and (c) you get to deal with the fallout..
Well I found an answer – it’s become my answer to most requests these days:
“Check the Diary”.
It may look like a normal diary but in my house, this Diary rules.
How does the Diary work?
It holds everything. Initially, I put in any/all events that I can think off: birthdays (including APs!)/ vacations/ national & public holidays.. I follow these with monthly/ weekly/ daily events – everything from library visits to what’s for dinner!.
What are the benefits of the Diary, you ask?
- For our Au Pair, the simple benefit of the Diary is planning.
Our au pair can see her evenings/weekends off, her vacation time & national holidays. She can book cheap flights, have friends for overnight stays (while babysitting if I’m lucky!).
The information in the Diary also gives her a sense of security – she knows what is going to happen daily and feels included in our family lives.
- For our Au Pair – Host Parent relationship, the simple benefit of the Diary is keeping track of what we do for each other
Mama always says, “Eaten bread is soon forgotten.” I find this especially true of the au pair programme.
The Diary shows us how our Au Pair bends over backwards to accommodate us.
The Diary allows for appreciation.
The Diary tracks the perks AP enjoys (the outings, the dinners) which over time become expected/ unnoticed and/or forgotten.
The Diary shows in real time the hours both HD and I take from our daily lives to accommodate her requests.
Our AP recently noted that she had friends stay overnight with us every weekend for a whole month!
The Diary allows for acknowledgment.
But the best benefits of all, for me personally?
- I don’t have to make every decision and I don’t have to say ‘no’.
(I hate saying no). I feel I become the “bad one”.
Now I say “Check the diary”.
If the time is free, then AP can fill in her event (sometimes events get penciled in – to be confirmed later). If, however, the time is not free then it is not free. No ifs/ands/or buts – the Diary rules.
If AP is disappointed, that is too bad. But it helps that the negative energies are no longer directed solely at me.
When I first introduced the Diary everyone laughed, and they still do but – and here’s the biggie: they use the Diary.
In fact HD has just marked a weekend in September for AP to baby-sit all weekend as we will be away. Now there’s advance notice for you!
It’s not a perfect system but it is a system and one that does not revolve around me constantly making decisions on the spot and as it is kept in the kitchen we all use it so everyone feels involved.
The House Diary works for me and I really hope that it may help some of you out there too.
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