I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about starting the new year is breaking out a brand new planner and planning away! With everyone around me in a KonMari method frenzy – myself included – I thought it was a good time to bring up another topic related to organization: products or methods busy families use to keep track of scheduling and all that other “stuff.” We’re talking doctor’s appointments, meal prep, birthday parties, swim lessons, etc. Two years ago, I wrote a post on this and what better time than the start of a new year to revisit it. If you’re feeling disorganized or are just interested in a better way to keep track of your family’s comings and goings, read on!
When you add a kid or two to the mix, scheduling is just one of the things in life that becomes much more complicated. As the kids get older, start school and get involved in a million activities, having a reliable way to keep your family organized can help you stay sane. There are a lot of great calendar options out there – from scheduling apps to tried and true paper/whiteboard calendars – it’s just a matter of finding what works best for you and your family. Things you’ll want to think about before deciding on a method: Do you want your kids to be able to add to it on their own? Do you prefer something portable that you can hold in your hands? Are you really visual and prefer something you can print out?
Here are a few of the things that work best for some of the FCMB contributors who are among some of the busiest mamas I know!
Shared electronic calendars
The most popular among FCMB contributors are Google Calendar (free with a Gmail account) and iCal (for Apple users). You can set up multiple shared calendars, grant other people access and/or notify them of events, set recurring events and so much more. Many FCMB mamas go the extra step to print out their electronic calendars and hang them in a central area in their home to serve as a visual reminder and for quick reference.
Family calendar apps
There are endless possibilities here:
- Cozi – I’ve used it on and off for years and love that I can also use the app for list management (hello, shared grocery list!). It’s also print-friendly for those days when I just need to have something in hand.
- Hub is also a popular app that many families use and people rave about the group to-do lists, the ability to assign tasks to others, and how collaborative it is, especially for families with older, tech savvy children.
- Family Wall takes it one step further and offers the ability to privately and securely share photos and videos with other users/family members. Bonus: syncs with Google Calendar.
Even for those of us who lead pretty digital lives, sometimes there’s just something about paper. I’m very visual, so writing things down helps me organize my thoughts and commit things to memory. There are hundreds of paper planners out there so choosing the one for you is a matter of having clarity on its purpose. Do you want a planner that helps with goal setting? Appointment tracking? Inspiration? Recording memories? Does the bullet journal style appeal to you? This year, I’m using a Day Designer for tracking daily to-do’s, birthdays, and important events, along with the new Start Today journal from Rachel Hollis for longer term goal setting. Some other favorites among the FCMB contributors include companies like Emily Ley, Plum Paper, and Erin Condren.
Old school whiteboards
Even the most tech savvy mamas rely on tried and true dry erase whiteboards and/or paper calendars. We’re talking color coding by family member, weekly dinner menus, chore charts, homework checklists and more. This can be great for the kids to follow along when they are old enough (no more asking “What’s for dinner?” 500 times – check the calendar!) Also it’s helpful for other caretakers and helpers to stay in the loop.