How to Start (and Master) a Family Calendar

When schools are back in session, there’s suddenly a new drive for families to get organized. Yes, even for those homes without kids—we’ve all had a “back to school” season in our lives! That’s why it’s so easy to get into a new routine as we move into August and September.

Learning from past mistakes, missed appointments, and worries about what’s for dinner gets us eager for a change. If you’re ready to graduate into a new home age of prosperity and peace, you’ve got to try a family calendar. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the family—if you’re all living under the same roof, it’s best for everyone to be on the same page.

Ways to Keep a Family Calendar

ASTHMA-mother-think-safety-shutterstock_141438064-940x529Enjoying the comforts of a streamlined schedule starts with finding the family calendar methodology that’s right for you and your home. This typically goes one of two ways. You’ll either share a family calendar app, or go the pen and paper route. Hand-writing your calendar has a couple different variants, and some people even do a combination of old-school and tech. Each method has its pluses and minuses. The point is to find the best style for you.

Personal Bullet Journal

At its essence, the bullet journal is about simplifying your life. It’s just a way to update and track your daily tasks in a single spot. Some like to take their bullet journal a step further and include reading lists, favorite quotes, and other decorations to really make the pages pop. As one article puts it, how you journal is up to you. Keep it plain and neat, or run wild with a scrapbook approach.

Pros: Ideal if you’d like one place to organize everything in your life. The bullet journal can cover both work and personal to-do lists, as well as other private musings.

Cons: Not a true “shared” calendar. You can log every family event and appointment you want in your bullet journal, but other family members may not have a clear idea of what’s going on in your world.

Family Wall Calendar

il_340x270.685821134_kgbwAs the truly classic approach, a wall calendar is a great way to keep tasks on display in any high-use area of your home. Whether you want to hang your wall calendar on the fridge or in your mudroom, it’s sure to get noticed every day.

Pros: It’s kind of hard to miss. Odds are, you’ll be glancing at your wall calendar multiple times a day. They’re super helpful for giving subtle reminders of busy weeks to come.

Cons: It stays in one place. The low-tech approach means you’ll have to log events twice if you need activities to line up with a personal e-calendar.

Shared Family App

There are loads of highly-ranked family calendar apps out there. If you want to go with the best, check out this list for 2016. Nowadays, you even have options for co-parenting apps to track custody schedules and changes in accounts. Families can message, share updates, and see everything at the click of a button. You can also track different family members by color-coding each event.

Pros: Most of these apps are free—you only have to upgrade to a premium subscription if you want it. Plus, instant sharing means everyone stays up-to-date on any changes that happen throughout the day.

Cons: Each user needs their own device. Younger kids may not have their own smart phone and could be left out of “the loop.” Families trying to limit screen-time might also consider new apps to be counterproductive.

What to Include in a Family Calendar

The good news about using a family calendar is that it’s all personal preference. There’s no wrong or right way to do it. If that amount of freedom is daunting, a few general guidelines will help you get started. Take what sounds especially good or helpful and leave the rest. You can always modify after a few months. (New Year’s Resolutions, anyone?)

Appointments

This is the most obvious category for calendar events, but you can always take it a step further. Blocking off time for fun activities is just as important as jotting down doctors’ appointments and next week’s sports practice. Use your family calendar as a place to save dates for a night out as a couple, or for watching a movie as a family. Having it on the calendar gives events importance. If you want it enough, plan it. That way you won’t push it back or reschedule.

Chores

If you find yourself struggling with daily home upkeep, just remember: Many hands make light work! Whether you’re a family of two, have little ones (or big kiddos) in your house, there’s always a way to divvy up the work. Use your family calendar to assign weekly tasks, or throw the ChoreMonster app into the mix for extra motivation.

Meal Plans

grilled-chicken-sandwiches-creamy-jalapeno-sauce-potato-chips-suYou can also add a sidebar on your calendar for grocery lists. Whether you’re tracking your week in an app or on paper, try to schedule dinner ideas like any other daily event. In a food slump? Check out MyRecipes website for weekly meal plan inspiration and then schedule time to swing by the grocery. When you’ve already go the next 7 days of dinners on your calendar, prep work seems a lot simpler.

Homes that rock the family calendar are practicing solid communication and teamwork skills every day of the week. It’s easy to get started, and you really can’t mess it up (as long as you’re actively referring to it). Just set some ground rules in the beginning and adjust as needed for smooth family sailing and organized bliss.