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Back to school means back to busy schedules. Between sports, school functions, after school activities, play dates with friends and your schedule, it can be difficult to keep schedules straight! I have the fear of showing up to the wrong activity on the wrong day or at the wrong time. Preparing for karate in a soccer uniform heading to the basketball game! Well, maybe not quite that bad, but you get the picture!
By nature, I like to be organized and our family schedule is no different. I have tried many approaches to organizing our schedule; some have been great, while others have been epic fails. This article will run through only those scheduling systems that have been successful for me over the years.
There are so many calendar apps available. I tried many of them years ago, and the first one that I actually like is Cozi. I love that Cozi allows users to color-code members of the family so it’s easy to know which activities are for which member of the family. In addition, each member of the family can download the Cozi app and access the calendar at any time. This is a great feature because my husband can no longer say, ‘I didn’t know’ or ‘It wasn’t on my calendar’!
Updates to the app in the years since I’ve used the app include a section for recipes, and a grocery list, which is convenient if someone is running by the store. There are also tasks and ‘to-do’ lists to keep everyone on track.
What Didn’t Work
While the Cozi app is great, not being able to integrate my work calendar in Outlook with the family calendar was an issue. Many times work hours overlap with activities that the kids are doing and we have to be able to account for that overlap. Having the great fortune to work from home, means I have to be extra careful about scheduling conference calls and web meetings based on where my kids will be. With the Cozi app, I found myself having to check two calendars every time I scheduled a doctors appointment or play date. This became more difficult the busier the kids got. Schedules started to get crossed and appointments missed. I knew I needed to find something more efficient for me.
Google Calendar and Outlook Integration
The versatility of having calendar schedules on the phone is important. Being able to check all calendars at any time, from anywhere, is convenient. While integrated my Google mail (Gmail) on my phone was done, I had not integrated the Google Calendar. I use my phone calendar for my work schedule. Then I realized that I could sync more than one calendar on the app! By integrating both my work Outlook Calendar and the Google Calendar, I am able to see both schedules at the same time!
Each calendar is color-coded to see at a quick glance which appointments are business and which are personal. In the example below, purple is personal and yellow is business. The calendar colors are customization, allowing users to change the colors to anything you like. I do this often, just to shake things up!
In addition, if others need to view the family calendar, such as your husband or kids, just add your google calendar to their devices. Don’t worry, they won’t get your email, just access to the calendar with the family schedule. It’s also nice for my husband who also has his own work calendar on his phone. In the same manner that I see my work schedule and the family schedule on my phone, he can also see his work schedule and the family schedule on his phone.
Additional Calendars Integrate Too!
Another great feature of using your phone calendar is being able to integrate ‘other’ calendars. For instance, many of the kids sports team use Shutterfly Share Sites for scheduling practices and games. These calendars will integrate with your phone calendar too! Using the Setting App on your phone is a common way to integrate calendars (see link below for instructions). Others, such as Shutterfly, are added from the Shutterfly app itself with a click of a button!
Color-Coded Wall Calendar
Adults and older children have a tendency to check the phone calendar a little more often; at least that’s the case my house. For younger children, I suggest a more easily visible option. In addition to the phone calendars, we also have a wall calendar posted next to the garage door so that it’s visible to everyone on their way out.
As you can see, it’s a monthly white-board calendar however, I only use it for one week at a time. Our family is so busy that those little daily boxes would be overloaded with information if I used it monthly! In this format, it’s easy for each family member to look at their line, with color-coded sticky notes specifically for them. In addition, putting this calendar together each Sunday gives me an opportunity to review the schedule, coordinate car pooling if needed, etc. It also makes me feel more prepared for the week to come. Using the sticky notes allows you to move things around when necessary. I also set some sticky notes to the side if I don’t need them in the current week. This way, I don’t have to rewrite them the following week!
When I am feeling particularly organized, I will also plan meals for the week and note that information at the bottom of the calendar. This way, whoever is home first can start dinner and not have to worry about what to cook. That includes my 13-year-old son!
When schedules get busy, families HAVE to organize. Children should also be responsible for ensuring they know the schedule and make their own preparations for the day.
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