7 Tips for Keeping Your Family Calendar Organized

Family calendar
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Soccer practice. Dentist Appointments. The monthly PTA meeting. Piano lessons. Tutoring. Field trips. Work conferences. Vacations. Oh, and don’t forget date night! The list of things that we modern parents have to keep track of and schedule could go on and on and on. Forever.

Whether you have a large family, or even a smaller one, keeping on top of your schedule—adding in events and appointments, coordinating childcare and transportation, and making sure everyone involved is on the same page—can be extremely overwhelming.

We all know that staying organized is the only way to make it all go off without a hitch, but what’s the best way to do this? How can you make sure that every family member is on board and attentive to the schedule? And maybe most importantly, how can you ensure that you don’t overschedule, or take on more than you can handle to begin with?

Here are some simple tips to keep everyone in your family on task and happy.

1. Put Everything on the Calendar and Synch Your Calendars Up

Whether you use a digital calendar or an old-fashioned wall calendar, you’ve got to make sure everyone in your family adds in their events and appointments. This might seem obvious to some, but you’d be surprised how often family members forget to keep their calendars updated and synched—and all the scheduling nightmares that can happen as a result.

It’s not just scheduling two events at the same time that’s the risk here. It’s making sure all your kids have childcare and transportation when needed. It’s ensuring that all the other aspects of your life—work, chores, homework—are seamlessly coordinated together.

Basically, every scheduled event and appointment outside your daily work or school schedule must go on the calendar, including your own after-hours work events or other social obligations. And everyone must know the details of each other’s schedules, so that nothing gets double-booked.

2. Go Digital!

There is probably no better way to keep on top of schedules than using a digital calendar or app on your tablet or phone. In most cases, using a digital calendar means that events will be synched up automatically, and you can access your calendar wherever you are, which is a major benefit.

What To Look for in a Digital Calendar

  • Consider using a calendar or app specifically designed for families. There are several on the market. These calendars are designed to be user-friendly for both parents and kids.
  • Digital calendars that include reminders—either as a pop-up on your tablet or phone, or as email reminder—are a must.
  • Make sure the app or calendar can be accessed from all the devices your family uses: tablets, phones, computers, etc.
  • Pick a calendar that is appealing to you, and that uses visual cues, like color coding, to keep things organized.
  • If you have a large family, look for apps that are designed specifically for larger families, and that allow as many users as needed to join.
  • Calendars that allow you to create to-do lists can be helpful as well.

3. Keep Your Wall Calendar in a Central Location

Many of us would rather go old-school and use a call calendar to keep our schedule on track. Some of us combine both a wall calendar and a digital one. This is fine, as long as both calendars stay up-to-date and synched.

In terms of type of wall calendars, you want one that is large enough to fit in all your family’s events and appointments. Some people prefer a large dry erase calendar for this, and find it helpful that events can be erased and moved around.

Whatever wall calendar you use, you must keep it in a central location, somewhere all family member frequent daily. This can be your fridge, your kitchen, your dining room, your family room, or the living room. Make sure the calendar is at eye level and that the words written on it are clear and legible. Remember, this calendar is for all family members to access.

4. Make Your Calendar User-Friendly

You want to make sure that when you glance at your calendar, it doesn’t look like a bunch of gobbledygook! You want everyone in your family to be able to see the calendar and know exactly what it says and what each entry means.

Color-Coding

Digital calendars are great for this, because they will often automatically color code each event in terms of type and/or family member. But you can color code your wall or dry erase calendar too.

Using highlighters for your wall calendar or different colored markers for your dry erase board works well. Designate each family member with a color and highlight accordingly. You can also highlight according to type of activity or which grown-up is responsible for transportation or attendance. Whatever works for you.

Setting Reminders

It’s one thing to keep track of everyone on your calendar, but it’s another thing to remember when each event or appointment is coming up. Here’s where reminders can come in and save the day.

Digital calendars or apps almost always include reminders. You can have each event on the calendar come as a pop-up reminder on a phone or table, or you can have an auto email sent. You can choose particular events to be sent to certain family members. Oh, the wonders of the digital age!

If you are using a wall or dry erase board calendar, you can still set up reminders on your phone for upcoming events. Just make sure they are sent to everyone who needs to see them.

5. Get Everyone Involved…Even the Little Ones

Pre-readers may not be able to get very involved in the family calendar, but you can still show your little one what the calendar looks like and why it’s used. They can also be in on the discussion, especially when you talk about fun upcoming events they will want to attend.

Children who are old enough to read and think about schedules and events can most definitely benefit from being exposed to your family calendar—a large wall calendar that your child can see on their way out to school can be very helpful as they contemplate the flow of their day.

By the end of elementary school or the beginning of middle school, most children can start to take a more active role in the family calendar and day-to-day planning. They can add their own events to your wall or dry erase calendar, and they should be reviewing the day’s events regularly.

Once your child has a tablet or phone, you should definitely add them to your family’s online calendar. Getting reminders can help them stay on track, and it’s a great way for them to start taking a more active and involved role in your family.

6. Real-Life Check-Ins Are a Must

Calendars are a necessity when you have a busy family, and especially if your family is large. But calendars and even auto-reminders are no substitute for in-person communication.

Weekly Schedule Check-Ins

It can be helpful to have weekly family meetings, where you discuss the week’s upcoming events, and add in any forgotten events or appointments to your calendar.

This is also a time to check in with your family members to see how they are feeling about their schedules. Are they enjoying their extracurricular activities? How is the tutoring going? When do you need to make your next doctor check-up?

Taking time to check in with your family is so important for morale and to ensure that everyone’s schedule is working for them.

Nighttime Check-Ins

As you tuck your kids into bed, briefly go over their schedule for the next day. This will help keep them on track and ensure that they are in for no surprises the following day. Also check in with your spouse about the next day’s events each evening. This can help you work out any transportation or childcare SNAFUs, or any last-minute scheduling changes.

7. Make Sure to Pencil in Downtime and Family Time

While having a packed family calendar can be enriching, lead to strong socialization skills, and offer your kids memorable experiences, overscheduling your family can take its toll.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, kids whose schedules are too tightly packed can have issues with depression and anxiety. They may not sleep well, eat well, and their decision making skills may be poor.

The antidote to all of this?

Choose which activities your child will participate in carefully. Make sure they are activities that your child genuinely feels passionate about, not something you think they “should” do for the sake of their social status or future college acceptance.

Take time whenever possible to reevaluate your schedule. Are constant activities taking an emotional toll on your family? Is there anything that you can cross off the list? It can be hard to let go of commitments, but your family’s well being is vital.

Most importantly, make a point to schedule in downtime. Yes, actually write it into your calendar! Same goes for family time and date night. Sometimes you need to make a calendar commitment to make these things happen. But they should be a priority just as much as your child’s Little League games or orthodontist appointments.

A Word from Verywell

Every family will be different in how they keep track of and organize their schedule. For smaller families with fewer regular appointments or events, a simple wall calendar will suffice. For larger or busier families, using an easily accessible, neatly organized, shareable calendar can be abundantly helpful. It’s important to figure out what works for you, and then fine-tune your system along the way.

For some, the idea of revamping their family calendar, or implementing a shared digital calendar for the first time, will sound like a daunting task. But remember that getting started is usually fairly simple, and the pay-off in terms of calm and organization will be ten-fold.

Ultimately, having all your family’s events and appointments organized, in one place, and shared among family members can give you peace of mind as you move through your busy life—and that is worth its weight in gold.

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Article Sources

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  • Is Your Child Overscheduled? Kids Need ‘Down Time.' Cleveland Clinic website. Updated July 16, 2018.