I’m struggling to find an effective means of syncing my calendar with my husband’s and my child care providers. Yesterday, the day before I was supposed to leave for a two-day business trip in the Midwest, I realized my husband and my babysitter had absolutely no idea I was planning on being away! There are other instances where my husband has been in a similar situation, or our kids have scheduled events that we find out about at the last minute. I feel like I’ve tried every “interactive” calendar product on the market, and nothing is working. Help! Any ideas?
With agendas overflowing the way they are today in most families, it’s essential that you keep track of everybody’s schedule in one master location. There are two rules (although we hate rules, in this case they seem to work) to follow that will make a family calendar and schedule work. First, a family calendar and schedule must be easily shared. That means it is most likely paper-based, not electronic, and needs to be out where everyone can see it, change it, and add to it. Second, each person in the family over the age of ten should be responsible each week for filling in their own information. If you think it will be hard to get your child to do this, follow the rule, “if it isn’t written down, it doesn’t get done”. The first time Logan didn’t write down his baseball practice and Marci refused to take him was enough incentive for him to do a perfect job with his schedule.
Here are some other tips that might help you wrangle that family schedule more effectively.
• Post both a weekly routine and a monthly calendar to mark variances from the weekly routine. One easy way to keep track of both is to post two dry erase boards next to each other in the kitchen, on the back of the pantry door, or other common area. One dry erase board should be a large (24” x 36”), pre-formatted calendar with a month-at-a-glace, and the other should be a similarly sized dry erase board that also has a bulletin surface. Use the plain white board to keep track of everybody’s regular weekly schedule. Assuming weekly schedules don’t vary from week-to-week, if you write down each person’s regularly scheduled activities once on the “Master Schedule” board you save yourself the time of having to re-write the same thing week after week in a planner.
• Keep paper schedules from classes and extra-curricular activities posted on the bulletin portion of the board so you can see when the schedule will change. Typical items in the weekly routine include: sports practices and games (if at regular set times and days), school, work, lessons (e.g. piano, golf, etc.), daycare, chores, regular appointments, and a regularly scheduled family night.
• Use the month-at-a-glance calendar to mark special events or deviations from the master schedule. This is where you put all of the information that varies from the weekly routine, from birthday parties and dinners to other events. Again, this should be listed by person, and if you’re color-coding, be sure to use the same ink color per person that is used in the schedule. Examples of what may typically go onto the monthly calendar include: travel schedules, specific notes about sports events (e.g. what field, what jersey to wear), car pools, recitals, babysitters, and family vacations