So how do people do it? I recently posed this question to my Facebook readers. Here is their advice.
Have One Schedule Keeper
Just as I talked about last week on how to distribute responsibilities in marriage, it is wise to have one person who really organizes the family life. For most couples, the mother will organize the baby's daily schedule, but it might not be so cut and dry when it comes to the schedule for the full family.
Caitlin said: Having me be the "schedule keeper" helps minimize conflicts. I manage the family calendar and any travel dates, guys nights , or work events my husband has he texts me and asks me to add to the calendar. We have found that using only one calendar and having one person in charge of if ( as opposed to both adding to it) helps eliminate conflicts that one of us might be unaware of. Plus I'm type A so it fills my need for control. Lol
We do this in our home. I am the schedule keeper. I keep our schedules on a shared calendar (more on that below). I plan out the kids' activities. I schedule the time each year for piano lessons. I decide which day works best for dance class or gymnastics. Even when my husband is the coach of the soccer team, I tell him which day and time is best to have soccer practice.
Have one person be over all and aware of everything.
This doesn't mean the other person can't have opinions, input, or ideas. It doesn't even have to mean the other person can't add things to the calendar. If you share a calendar, then it is easy to see what is open and what isn't.
In your initial setup at transition points, like the beginning of summer or a new school year, have one person be over making sure it all fits. If that doesn't work for both of you (maybe you are both Type A :) ), then sit and plan it all out together at the same time. There needs to be consistency and full understanding of the big picture when planning a schedule out.
A great way to keep a schedule manageable is to set limits on that schedule. How limits would look at your house will vary from how it looks at someone else's house. We all have different capacities and various levels of help. If you have a great system of carpoolers with other families doing certain activities, you probably can allow more activities than a parent driving to everything solo. If you have a firefighter spouse whose shift changes week to week, you probably won't be able to schedule as much as someone whose husband has a very consistent and predictable schedule from week to week. The family with five kids might need to put more limitations on activities than the family with two.
- Limit number of activities: One way to limit is to limit the number of activities each child can do. Some people say one or two at a time. Some people allow a lot more. Figure out what works for your family.
- Limit ages that activities can be done: Another way to limit is to not allow certain activities until certain ages. If a child has to be 4 before soccer can start, that makes soccer season that much easier for four years.
Angela said: "We only allow one child to do one extra activity at a time. Given that we only have 2 and they are still young and not begging to do all the things, this works for us. If the brother wants basketball, the sister waits till spring to do gymnastics. If the sister is doing ballet, the brother waits till summer swim lessons. I'm sure this will change as they enter jr high and high school, but right now it works for us. Obviously not the answer for all families, but it helps to have minimal activities for the moment."
Use a Synced Calendar
Once you have a schedule set, you need to make sure everyone can see what is going on. There are multiple apps sand programs that can help with this. I find the two most popular to be Cozi and Google Calendar.
If one of you needs to use Google Calendar for work, it makes sense to use that for home, too. Then anything from work that will impact the family can be kept track of.
Our family uses the app Cozi. We use the free version. My husband and I can both access it from our phones or the internet. We can both add or delete things. We can easily see what is going on where an when. Each person is color coded.
Having a calendar that automatically syncs that you can both access is the best way to make your schedules easier and more manageable. It also makes it so the one who is not the schedule keeper can safely add something to the schedule. He can see what is planned and what is free.
Faith said: "We use Google calendar and have multiple color-coded calendars syncing. For instance, my hubby's work is green, my events are pink, events for both of us are red, meals are yellow, church events are blue, etc. I love it because I have access to his schedule but can also hide his calendar so only events that involve me show on the calendar so i don't get overwhelmed. I'm a paper and pencil girl and moving to an electronic calendar was difficult at first, but now I love it!"
These few tips are a great starting point to get things manageable and under control. Organizing the family schedule can be daunting, but if you apply these three ideas to your family, you will find it much easier!