How To Organize Your Family’s “Big Picture” Calendar

family calendar

If you have finished creating your Family Command Center, it’s time to start thinking about the nitty-gritty of getting organized – and it all boils down to scheduling.
Why bother scheduling the year ahead now – at the end of the school year? Because if you wait until August to get started on this, you’re already behind, and that’s not the best way to start an “organized year.” So, bear with me on this. Doing this now will make your next month and your next May better. I promise.

Organizing Your Family Calendar

What you’ll need:
  • Academic year planner (my favorite is Passion Planner)
  • Academic year wall calendar (You technically don’t need this, but the Neuyear calendar design is so cool you’ll probably want it).
  • Your favorite pen
  • Highlighters
  • Your school’s 2016 – 2017 calendar
  • Your family’s important dates (birthdays, anniversaries)
  • Your work calendar with holidays and vacation days listed
Before you start hammering away at your planner, designate different highlighter colors for each family member and/or category of activity. There really aren’t enough highlighter colors in the world for my whole family and activities so my youngest child and my husband and I don’t have colors. Just plain old ink pen for us. The struggle is real.
The first thing you’ll do is literally block out each day, days or week off in your calendar. I use my Sharpie pen to write the day off in and then I use an orange highlighter for all school-related things. Some of your schools or daycares will also have the special events days/nights scheduled so you can go ahead and write those in right now. If PTA meetings are the 2nd Tuesday of every month and attending PTA meetings is a priority for you, write those meetings in on the 2nd Tuesday of every month. The more you can get on the calendar, the better. But don’t go writing in things you have no intention of attending because that’s just setting yourself up for failure.
Once you’ve gone through the school events, go ahead and write all the birthdays and anniversaries in for the year. If your family celebrates extended family birthdays, make sure to add them to your planner. I highlight my birthdays in yellow. If there are special occasions for which you will want to send a gift or card, write a reminder to yourself on the day that is 9 days before that event. I love this “working backwards” method for planning because it takes all of that “I hope I remember” guesswork out of things that shouldn’t be taking up brainspace.
Now that you’ve got important dates all marked in your planner, go ahead and start scheduling your appointments – things like your annual physical, dentist appointments, child well checks, vet appointments and all of your homeowner responsibilities.
The “working backwards” method is key for scheduling these appointments because you can’t just call the pediatrician the week of your child’s birthday and get a well check appointment in a reasonable amount of time. So, count back 6 – 8 weeks from your child’s birthday week and make a note to call the pediatrician that week. Do the same for all of those annual or semi-annual appointments so you’re not scrambling to get a last-minute appointment.
family calendar planning
General Tips:
  • Your family has likely developed rhythms – times of the year you can expect to be busier than others. Typical busy seasons are holidays in December and spring/end-of-school-year. These may not be the best times to schedule dentist appointments or dinner parties.
  • Any week before school lets out for a break is typically mayhem. It’s either filled with parties or curriculum nights – or we’re just running around trying to get everything done that we won’t be able to get done when the kids are home for the break. Keep those weeks empty on your calendar. Try to get the teacher gifts and/or whatever class party prep is on your list done before that week.
  • Use Post-it notes. Avoid scratching out all kinds of thing in your planner by putting appointments/events on Post-it notes. You can always transfer the details when they are confirmed.
  • Keep notes. As you go through the year, take notes of things that will be helpful to look back on. I like to jot down what I gave as gifts so I don’t repeat things or so I have ideas to draw from. And it’s also a great place to keep track of the hilarious things our kids say that we want to remember but will never actually make it to a journal or baby book.
It seems kind of crazy to schedule out an entire year right now, but now that the first day of school and popsicle social are on your calendar already, you’ll see them during your day-to-day planning and dinner won’t have to be a rushed disaster that night. And you may even remember to send a birthday card to Aunt Louise this year. We’ll get to more specific day-to-day scheduling soon, but for now…get to scheduling that year!

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