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If you’re like most moms I know, family organization falls squarely on your shoulders. It doesn’t matter if you’re working or stay-at-home, sharing parenting duties or doing most of the child-rearing and car-pooling yourself: You are the only person who knows where everyone is supposed to be, what time, what day, and for how long.
Read on for a three part strategy for getting everyone where they’re supposed to be on the right day, at the right time.
If you have a large or growing family with changing schedules, you have to be on top of your game. That means keeping track of everyone and communicating that information so the whole family is on the same page.
I’ll be honest, this took me some time (and frustration) to figure out. Communication is particularly challenging. My husband works varying shifts. Some weeks I might only see him for 20 minutes in the morning and not again until 10 at night. I don’t want to spend that time running down a list of his to-do’s. I know that’s not how he wants to spend it, either!
But beyond that – I am sick of being a total nag. Telling everyone where to go and what to do, when, for how long. There’s only so many ways I can say Gymnastics is at 3:30 on Wednesday. Eighty-seven Wednesdays later = mommy meltdown. I needed to figure out a system that could do some of the work for me.
After months of troubleshooting, I finally figured out a strategy for keeping everyone organized and things running (mostly) smoothly. I broke my system down into three simple parts. (1) A master family calendar for your personal planner or desk, (2) a massive wall calendar for everyone to see, and (3) customized digital alerts for adults and older children in your family. I hope these ideas will save you some time and frustration!
PART 1: MASTER FAMILY CALENDAR
The first step in getting the whole family organized is to write everything down for yourself. The best way to do this is with a color-coded monthly calendar. This will give you a visual of the whole month with everyone’s schedules laid out.
Why this Works
You are in charge, girlfriend. You’re making the appointments, tracking the schedules, and doling out reminders every day. This is your home base. With a glance at your calendar, you can see when activities overlap, what days are best for that doctor’s appointment, who you have to haul to the next event, and what you have to bring.
Pro Tip: Highlight before you write to avoid smearing.
Note: If you prefer digital planning, this works the same way! Customize your calendar with a color code to coordinate your family’s schedule on one master account.
PART 2: MASSIVE WALL CALENDAR
Step two is creating an accessible calendar for the whole family. This calendar will be BIG, in a central location, and continually updated throughout the month.
Why this Works
Have trouble keeping multiple schedules in your head? So does everyone else in your family. Give them a place to touch base. It will give you a break from some of the remembering and reminding we all do. Even the littlest family members will take an interest in reading the calendar, and it gives everyone an idea of what is going on with the most important people in their life.
Choose a central location that everyone can easily access – think kitchen, front hallway, mud room.
Pick your poison: Dry erase, chalkboard markers, or highlighters.
Draw or tape off a monthly calendar frame.
Create a key with a color for each family member.
Write down everything.
Pro Tip: Use the same color code as your personal planner.
PART 3: DIGITAL ALERTS
The final step in your new master plan is to set digital alerts for adults and older children in your family. Set alerts for important tasks and appointments to remind everyone what’s going on without having to repeat yourself again and again… and again.
The purpose of digital alerts is not to add a third master calendar to your routine.
Consider this: Have you ever had to quickly shoot a text message to your child or significant other to remind them to do something? You won’t need to do that anymore – or at least not as frequently. Use this step to automate the process. Digital alerts for you and your family are great for small or repeating items that don’t make it on your personal calendar.
Why this Works
The only thing worse than being nagged about something is being the person who must constantly remind. Let’s be real, here – it’s not a good feeling to have to repeat instructions and schedules day after day and week after week, but it feels unavoidable. It isn’t. Automate your daily task of reminding.
Download Google Calendar for each of your family members.
Sync each person’s calendar with your own, master calendar.
Assign each person a color (use the same colors).
Schedule alarms to alert individuals or everyone at once.
Rotating or repeating chore assignments for your children
Weekly reminder for garbage and recycling day
Alerts for unusual changes in schedules and routines
Reminder that a standing appointment or class is cancelled
Reminder to your spouse about who to pick up and when
An alert to remind you to order a birthday gift for an upcoming party
Annual or periodic reminders for household upkeep – “Schedule A/C checkup,” “Change the air filter,” “Oil change this month”
Read more on using alarms and timers to stay organized here.
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Don’t forget to download your free printable family planner before you go. I hope this helps you manage your family calendar and time a little more efficiently while taking some of the weight off your shoulders!