Tips and Tricks for Organizing Your Family’s (Many) Schedules

It’s back to school time, y’all, which also means back to the grind. No more relaxing weekday mornings making pancakes from scratch, or lazy  afternoons laying in the grass. No more road trips to the beach. No more… well, you get the idea.

My toddler (err, preschooler) is starting school part time this fall for the first time. My baby (err, toddler) will be starting both a music class and a gymnastics class soon. My husband just started teaching college courses in addition to his full time job. And I am currently training for a marathon. Life is just slightly busy! It’s a lot to cram in before a 7pm bedtime 😉

It is not in my nature to be organized. I am very type B. I try to force myself into type A-dom, but it just doesn’t happen. I have trouble maintaining. That said, I don’t have a lot of choice right now. If I want our household to function smoothly, I need to get it together and organize our family’s schedules. Below are some tips and tricks that are working well for us.

White Board Calendar

Having a physical calendar on the wall is very helpful to us. I prefer the white board calendar as opposed to a paper calendar because I can erase any changes easily, and because I enjoy the day when I erase it and start a fresh month. The key here is to keep it in a high traffic area in your home, like the kitchen or mudroom. Ours is magnetic (this one) and I keep it on the side of the fridge. I look at it multiple times a day. I also try to color code it, where each family member gets a specific color. It is helpful to see at a glance that my son has a busy week with a school field trip, a dentist appointment, and soccer practice – so I won’t also bog him down with additional play dates or extracurriculars.

Theme Your Days

This one is actually my husband’s suggestion, and it works well in our family. We typically have specific goals to accomplish on specific days, and they stay the same week to week. For example, we go food shopping on Mondays while my son is in school. On Tuesdays, we’ll go somewhere fun like the zoo, children’s museum, aquarium, or playground. Wednesdays are for cleaning the house from top to bottom. And so on. This helps me schedule our week easily and without too much thought.

Google Calendar

My husband and I use Google Calendar exclusively. We love it, for a few different reasons. First, it’s incredibly easy to use. Second, it is seamless across our phones and computers. If I add a doctor’s appointment on my phone, it is immediately visible on my computer browser’s calendar. Third, I am able to have multiple calendars at once (holla, color coding!). This is epecially helpful for my husband, managing two different jobs, hobbies, and social life. It’s also a great way to have all birthdays in one place and color! Fourth, and most importantly, we are able to share our calendars with each other. I am able to see when my husband has that marketing team dinner he keeps forgetting to write on our whiteboard calendar. He is able to see that our daughter has her well visit next Tuesday morning without having to discuss it with me.

Act Quickly

For me at least, I am prone to forget things if I do not make it a point to write them down immediately. It’s really important for me to act quickly, and jot down whatever appointment of commitment I have as soon as I can. Sometimes, I can’t get to my white board calendar right away, so I will put the commitment in my phone’s calendar along with a reminder to add it to the white board calendar that night. Trying to remember it rarely ends well 🙂

Weekly Meetings

My husband and I schedule 30 minutes together on Monday nights after the kids go to bed. During this time, we have a ‘meeting’ with each other to touch base about our week. We make sure we’re on the same page – the baby has a dentist appointment on Wednesday afternoon, I have Barre class at 6pm on Thursday, he needs to be in to work early on Friday for a meeting, he’s going to happy hour with coworkers on Friday, and so on. Having this time each week helps us get on the same page and set expectations.

Wake up Earlier

My husband and I have found that our days start off much better when we wake up at least an hour before the kids do. We are able to have some time to ourselves – I work out and shower, he makes a cup of coffee and works on side projects – and we have an uninterrupted pocket of time that is only ours. Being able to check off just one thing from our daily to-do lists gives us a sense of accomplishment, as silly as that may sound. If nothing else goes well that day, at least I can say that I completed my work out – and I’m clean! 🙂

 

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Tom and Lauren Tate met each other in college and fell in love (there may or may not have been alcohol involved). Years later, they got married, had a baby and now live happily in Southeastern PA with their little boy. Lauren manages the home, while Tom manages projects at a software company. While their interests range from cooking and working out (her) and playing guitar and video games (him), together they manage to maintain a blog, Little Old Home (www.littleoldhome.com).

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