One of the best ways we have to keep our family organized and on schedule is to have a family calendar posted in a central location in the house. T and I created one over a year ago and it has been serving our family ever since. Ours is made of chalkboard stickers and it is posted on our dining room wall. Each month we update it with all of our various schedules. Each person has a different colored chalk to represent their activities. For my husband, since his work schedule changes every week, we write what his work hours are. For me, I work a 9-5, so i just write in when I'm off. We also write in our extra-curricular activities, like when each of us have rehearsals or events. T has his own color for his activities like dance class or doctors appointments.
Everyone posts their activities, so that everyone else knows what is going on. That way things can be more easily planned and scheduled. If we want to plan a night out, we just look at the calendar. If we want to invite people over, we can easily see when everyone is free.
A calendar however, is only as good as how accurately it is maintained. Its's easy to start the month and put in your work schedule or days off, and the already planned events. Where the difficulty comes in is when things come up during the month, especially when you schedule things when you are not home. Here are 2 things I do:
- Use a family calendar app like Cozi, this way when one person adds something to the calendar, everyone can see it. It really helps prevent overlaps when everyone has a busy schedule or at least lets you know when both parents have plans and you are going to need a sitter. Whats great about Cozi is that if you are used to just adding events to your phone calendar, Cozi can automatically import those events to the shared calendar so you are not doing double work.
- When you add something to your phone calendar while you are out of the house, set a separate reminder for yourself to add that event to the calendar when you get home. Often times we start the month organized but as we get busy, we forget to add things to the family calendar. Then when the day of an event arrives we are totally flustered. If you set up a future lunch date with a friend while you are out, add it to your calendar and also set a reminder on your phone for a time when you know you will be home to add it to the wall calendar. This ensures that your calendar is always accurate.
Now back to the wall calendar, I think a big bold calendar is best; especially one that is easily editable. While the paper calendars you buy at the store are great for knowing the date and having nice pictures, they are not so great for this purpose. As plans change, these calendars can get pretty messy. I recommend either a chalk board or a dry erase board calendar. These are not too expensive and they wipe clean, i.e. you can use the same calendar for years and years!
Here is a ready made chalk board calendar which you can get for about $20:Chalk Board Calendar
No matter which option you choose, the calendar is only as good as how well it is maintained.