It’s hard to keep life simple while trying to juggle dozens of appointments and commitments, especially when your children are involved in activities outside the home—sports, recitals, orthodontics, birthday parties, play dates, and lessons of all kinds. One universal truth about parenting is that if you don’t write it down, you’ll forget it. Fortunately, our phones now days come equipped with their own handy, little calendar and reminders to keep us on track. Along with the basics comes a plethora of calendar apps to choose from for all your smartphone needs. Oh, how we rely on those devices, and how lost we would be without them? Although I think phone apps are a great tool and should be utilized by all families, I can not compromise the importance of the need to ‘Keep A Family Calendar’. I’m talking about a REAL calendar, the old fashion kind, the one you actually write on and hang or place in a centrally located area in your home. I like to call this ‘The Command Center’! At my home, we are an app-loving family and I will share in a future blog post which one we use to keep us all plugged in and synced with each other. But our central command center, the family calendar, is conveniently located on the front door of our fridge. This is great when you have young adults and children …. they always seem to be hungry, so how convenient to have the family communication board right in their sight as they’re going after that cold pizza in the fridge. This leaves little excuse for not using the command center to communicate to your fellow family members.
Just prior to or on the first of each month, take a few minutes to write out the activities or appointments for that month. If there is a scheduled activity that covers a period of weeks or months, write those activities in as soon as you get the schedule. If you keep a work-related appointment book, personal planner, or use an app on your phone, be sure to coordinate activities from the family calendar with your personal schedule or app as needed. Then, as flyers from school arrive, birthday invites, appt. cards, or soccer games get scheduled, immediately make appropriate entries on the calendar and TOSS the notices. Not only will this help you avoid conflicts in scheduling, but if you list the time, address, name and phone number for each event, you won’t have to save the invitation, or go digging through miscellaneous scraps of paper and torn envelopes when you have to cancel or postpone. This is also a good time to use your reminders app on your phone for last minute details you may need.
If you have a large number of people in your household, you may want to consider using a different color pen or highlighter for each person. This is not as impossible as it sounds. Keep the pens in a nearby space, and make it a household rule that no-one can remove a pen except to make an entry on the calendar. Not immediately returning the pen to it’s central location is a capitol offense, punishable by one week of hard labor. I keep a tube of White-out next to our pens, as well. Things get cancelled, and using White-out keeps a nice clean look.
Some other things to consider:
1. At the first of the month, look realistically at the calendar. Don’t schedule anything too tight that will cause you or a family member stress and animosity. As much as we’d like, we can’t be at 2 places at once.
2. Don’t schedule early appointments unless you are extremely detailed and on the ball. You’re probably not, so best to steer clear of the 7 am slot.
3. If at all possible, schedule appointments and activities so you have to drive only one to two days a week. Create a team effort, carpool with other parents. After all it takes a village … they want a stress-free system just as much as you do.
4. Teach your children (and hubby) to check the calendar before they commit themselves to an activity you may not be able to get them to, or during an already scheduled event, and NEVER without consulting with you first. This is their responsibility, no if, ands, or buts! This includes hubby’s golf invites, as well. Check with the BOSS first!
5. Look at the family calendar the night before. I actually like to look at the calendar Sunday afternoon to be able to ‘wrap my head around’ the weeks agenda. Always be mentally prepared. Again, no room for stress.
6. This step may be the most important. USE the Calendar! Enforce consequences for your children if they are not using it properly. But remember, you need to be the role model. The most diligently and decorated calendar in the world won’t do you any good if you are not using it on a day-to-day basis in the way it is intended for.
Utilizing a personal, daily planner is a great resource to have for your own personal agenda. Very few people have the brain capacity to store and remember every day-to-day event, appointments and tasks. Consequently, we forget important to do’s and that is where the daily planner comes in to act as our reminder. Everyone can benefit from having a daily planner.
The Bottom Line
Although I could not live without the organization app on my phone, when it comes to my personal business, I would be lost without my planner. I tried going paperless for a period of time and my organizational abilities suffered. Once I resumed utilizing the combination of: The Family Command Center, the app on my phone, and my personal planner, my organizational abilities fell back into place. I stay one step ahead of the game, complete my tasks and in all honesty it frees up more time because everything is all laid out for you. If you are feeling frazzled, in disarray, and like your losing your mind & MEMORY, you may want to assess the methods you are using. I belive in the concept, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. But I also believe, when something is NOT working, it’s a cry to be fixed.
‘Failing to Plan, is Planning to Fail’