Maintaining Your Family’s Time & Schedule

Have you ever been called out of a meeting to take a phone call from your son, who is upset that soccer practice ended 30 minutes ago and no one has picked him up yet? Or had to make a frantic stop at Target to buy a gift for your daughter’s friend just 15 minutes before the birthday party starts?

There’s no doubt about it—families are busy, and it doesn’t matter if you have toddlers or teenagers, or if you work at home or in an office, it’s difficult to keep up with everyone’s social calendar. Without the right tools to help you communicate, you’ll always be struggling to keep up with everyone’s whereabouts.

While coordinating family calendars might be a challenge, you can use a few simple strategies to ensure that you resolve conflicts early enough to make other plans and avoid misunderstandings.

Establish a Family Calendar
Find a large calendar with lots of space, and then grab a different color pen or marker for each family member. You might like Amy Knapp’s Big Grid Family Organizer, or if you prefer dry erase, try this Monthly Wall Calendar. Now, fill it in! Include sports practices, piano lessons, games, church events, band practice, work meetings, social outings, birthday parties, doctor’s appointments…in other words, EVERYTHING. Hang it in a high traffic area and keep it updated.

Hold a Family Meeting
This may sound too businesslike for your family, but if you’re the CEO of a business, you’d hold meetings all the time, and it can work the same way if you think of yourself as the CEO of your household. Even if you can only grab everyone’s attention for 15 minutes once a week, it’s well worth the time and effort to review schedules, identify conflicts, and ask questions. What time will dad get home from work on Monday? Who is taking your son to ball practice on Thursday? How will your daughter get to dance rehearsal since mom has to go into the office on Saturday morning?

While you’re talking about schedules, make a shopping list, too. If your daughter’s cheerleading squad is holding a bake sale on Saturday, what ingredients do you need from the store, or when and where are you buying the cupcakes? If your son has a chorus concert on Sunday, does he have a complete outfit, including dressy socks and shoes? What gift do you plan to give at your niece’s baby shower? Write all of these things down so you don’t have to make last minute trips to the store, only to realize they’re all out of cupcakes or dress socks!

Pack the Night Before
Get everyone in the habit of packing the night before. If tomorrow is a gym day at school, then your kids should pack their gym bags before going to bed. It might be useful to make a checklist so they don’t forget anything important. Try KidPack.Pad for your students or BabyPack.pad if you have little ones. Dad’s briefcase should contain all of his important papers, and mom’s laptop should be its carrying case, power cord and all. Also, don’t forget to make lunches the night before, too. Once everything is packed, designate a convenient spot to set it all so it’s easy to grab on your way out the door.

Maintaining a family calendar is all about communication and planning. A calendar helps you keep track of everyone’s activities, and family meetings and checklists help you communicate and plan. By incorporating these three simple ideas into your household routine, you won’t have to worry about leaving your son standing alone on the soccer field, waiting for his ride!

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