I thought my schedule was busy, and then I had kids. I went from feeling busy to actually being incredibly busy, all the time. Keeping track of appointments for one child can be overwhelming at times, add in a few more kids and it can feel maddening. Some days I feel like I am running continuously on a treadmill. But I have discovered that there are ways to simplify it and make managing all these schedules easier and more efficient. Parenting can be simplified.
First off, shared electronic calendars. I wish I would have discovered this when our first was just a baby. Outlook allows you to share calendars, but both my husband and I have employers with privacy regulations that don’t allow us to share our work calendars. Google also has a shared calendar feature if you want to download that to your phone. You can do a quick app search and find tons of family calendar or organizer apps. Check ratings before selecting.
Family Shared Electronic Calendar
With some looking and trying a few out, I found the Cozi Family Organizer app. We both love it. It was simple to set up. We both downloaded it. I set up our family and gave him the family password. He signed in and that was it. Each family member gets a color. When I put in an appointment, I select who needs to be there. As soon as one of us updates the calendar, the other gets a notification. It is really efficient. We both always consult the calendar when making any appointments. Now that my older kids are in school, I put in all their school events as well.
Even if you only have one child and it seems easy to keep up now, still start using a shared calendar. As they get older, life picks up. Before you know it you have one kid dancing, one at gymnastics, someone has a doctor appointment, a dentist appointment, soccer practice, day care event, etc. By the time the schedules start to get hectic, you will be a pro at using the calendar. In our household we have two working parents and 3 kids with activity schedules and two school age. It’s crazy busy every week, but we have it down to a science now.
Another great thing about this particular app is that I can add to my grocery list through Alexa. I get all of this on the free version. There are even more features if you choose to do the paid version. I also love that it has a to do list option and the ability to save recipes.
Whiteboard & Calendar
I am a visual person. I need to see it all laid. On my kitchen wall is a dry erase calendar and next to it is a separate white board. I love using color and each family member has a color and that corresponds to their appointments. Before the start of the month, I sit down with all our school calendars, my app, upcoming events we were invited to, etc. I write everything out on our white board calendar. This whole process takes me less than 30 minutes and the visual helps me immensely. A seasoned mom friend of mine suggested the additional white board next to it. This I use for my reminders for the week. I jot notes down on it. Every morning the first thing I do is look at the calendar and the board and the last thing I do before I go to bed is check them. I have come to realize I simply can’t keep it all in my head anymore. I have become forgetful at times. This helps me keep it all straight.
Another way I keep things straight is that I set reminders. Lots of reminders. I look at the white board, realize I need donuts for my students in the morning, diapers for the baby, and the guinea pig is almost out of food. I immediately set a reminder in my phone for a time that I will notice it and be able to meet these tasks. I have learned that I can write myself a paper note but I will likely misplace it or it falls to the bottom of my purse. I am in the habit of checking my phone in the morning, lunchtime and before I leave work. These little reminders make all the difference on hectic days.
These little pointers can be huge in your ability to keep schedules organized. It will feel less overwhelming when you know what each day holds in advance. It allows you to plan and it also allows you to see when you are simply overbooked. It reminds you to schedule in some down time. Make sure that you are putting date nights in there too. It helps you feel like you have it all together even if behind the scenes you are a little disheveled. As the kids get older, they will be able to also participate with the family calendar. You are not only keeping your family organized but you are teaching your kids how to be organized from a young age.
Getting organized can be a process. Give yourself some grace too. Even with all my organization, I sometimes still forget things. We are human. But the more organized you are, the less stress you will feel. We want to be able to enjoy these years with our kids, not just feel like we are managing them.
Teri Sinnott is a busy wife, mother of 3 girls, teacher, blogger, and certified Life Coach. She utilizes her professional experience and passionate heart to encourage others. Teri provides parenting and life hacks to simplify life and allow parents to focus on what really matters. No stranger to using her voice to create positive change, Teri hosts social media platforms that are centered on inspiration and providing a community of fellowship for women. Visit her at www.christianmomonfire.com