Kids & Parenting

Family calendars work for group organization

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If it's not on the calendar, it's not happening
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Calendars that work organizing your family schedule make life easier

Calendars that work are a key tool for managing your familyís schedule. Appointments, practices and meetings are all important, but why store dates and details in your head? While you may already have a system that works, if the days feel too hectic that system may have room for improvement. An organized family calendar will keep the whole family on track and nip that nagging worry that youíre forgetting something.

Types of Family Calendars

Most families keep either a digital or a paper calendar. When used consistently, either method will help you coordinate schedules and transportation, recognize conflicts in advance and quickly show you what the upcoming day or week involves. Choose the method that your family is most likely to actually use.

Digital Calendars that Work

Digital family calendars offer more features and storage options than paper calendars, but the bells and whistles can also over-complicate things. A simple way to use digital calendars is to update the calendar once a week, but only print out the current week or month. Include all sports practices, play dates, appointments and events. When car pooling, store parentsí phone numbers in the digital calendar for quick reference. Appoint one person to be in charge of updating the family calendar; everyone else can view the digital version for reference.

*Google Calendar:

Google calendars are a basic solution for families with recurring commitments. You can open dates to view details, but itís difficult to tell if a last minute note is added.

*PDAs (personal digital assistant):

Calendars on personal digital devices like an iPhone, Android or Blackberry are convenient for professional parents. PDAs sync with Outlook or Google calendars and send reminders of important occasions. As invites and opportunities occur, these devices allow you to conveniently pull up the family calendar to check availability, which also makes it a little too easy to over schedule yourself.

Paper Calendars

For many families, the old fashioned monthly paper calendar still works. The major advantage of one paper calendar is that thereís no chance of information getting lost in the digital shuffle. As a rule of thumb, if itís not on the paper calendar, it doesnít exist. This forces everyone to take responsibility for informing the family of commitments and concerns.
Paper calendars that work are large enough to record only the essential information. Visually, paper calendars tend to be more powerful reminders - it's hard to overlook big circles an red stars.

Systems and Tips for an Effective Family Calendar That Works

Families have their own way of doing things, but a few simple guidelines helps everyone stay on the same page; involving the whole family is a great way for kids to stay grounded and considerate of your time.

* Keep a physical copy of the calendar in one central place. The kitchen or a bulletin board near the family computer are high-traffic, easy-to-glance-at locations. A themed calendar will add a fun, decorative touch.

* Once a week, review the week ahead with the whole family. This is the time for your kids to let you know when something is canceled or to confirm times. If you carpool, write down the driver's contact number and star the dates when itís your turn to drive.

* Color code the family calendar by person. This is an easy way to avoid conflicts and keep track of multiple childrenís sports and club meetings, as well as your own.

* Assign one place for all invites and schedules to go Ė a basic inbox or basket works great. Before your weekly review, go through the box and check mark every paper as you transfer new commitments to the calendar. Update future events with a pencil.

* If you use a paper calendar, only make doctor and dentist appointments by phone, when the calendar is in front of you.

*Write down funny things your kids say each day. This will keep the calendar from always feeling like a chore.

When a family calendar works, everyone is enabled to take care of their responsibilities and stay aware and involved with one each others activities. Best of all, an organized calendar, however busy it may be, allows you to pinpoint those precious moments of FREE TIME!

How Stuff Works: Managing Family Schedules
Keep and Share: Group Online Calendars

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