There are many ways for families to schedule and coordinate activities. Especially in very large families, getting everyone out the door and where they need to go can be a real challenge. Solving the scheduling dilemma may be easier than you think.
One method that works well for many families is The Family Calendar.
The idea behind the family calendar is that every member of the family uses the same calendar. The logic behind this is that when everyone uses the same calendar, it is easy to see if activities fit well together. With everything in one place, coordinating activities becomes much easier and scheduling conflicts are obvious with just one quick glance.
So, how do you do it?
You’ll need a family-sized calendar – either a physical one or an electronic one. When choosing, remember that in order for this method to work, the calendar must be accessible to everyone, all the time. If you all belong to the same cyber world or phone network, and your children are old enough to handle it, electronic planning may work for you. However, if you spend most of your days at home or have little ones that cannot yet plan on their own, a paper-based system is probably the best solution.
Using the paper-based system as an example, consider using a giant, hanging wall calendar. Purchase the largest calendar you can find – the kind with the fewest images and the most room to write on.
Hang the calendar in a prominent spot in the home where everyone can see it (think: the kitchen, by the phone, in the mud room or any place that everyone uses daily). Even if it doesn’t match your decor or becomes tattered and unsightly as the year moves along, you’ll learn to love it once you start experiencing its benefits.
Hold a family meeting and get everyone to buy in to the idea. Instruct family members to write their scheduled activities on the family calendar as soon as they know about them, even weeks and months in advance if they can. Anything can be added to the calendar (establish ground rules for this) but at minimum include all activities that require transportation and/or leaving the house.
The system may take some getting used to, but you’ll eventually get the hang of it. Set a kitchen timer or an alarm clock for a few days if you seem to be forgetting to write things on the calendar. Older children may need to be reminded daily to write on the calendar. Younger children will naturally need mom or dad to write their activities in for them.
If everyone does their part, with a few short weeks of practice, everyone will immediately be able to see what has already been planned, who needs to be where, and which activities will need to be rescheduled because there is simply too much going on that day.
The family calendar works great if used properly. Consider starting one while the children are still very young, and teaching them to plan and schedule when they are little. By the time they get older, scheduling will come naturally, and family coordination will be a breeze.
Other ideas for The Family Calendar include:
Using different colored pens or markers for every member of the family
Using a pocket calendar instead, to make it more portable
Using a giant dry-erase board instead of a paper calendar
Having a quick morning meeting every day to be sure that everyone is caught up on what is going on each day
Remember, if something isn’t written on the calendar, there is a pretty good chance that it may never happen. See if a family calendar can help solve this problem in your home.