A family's schedule can be a difficult thing to handle, especially if you have a big family. You will need to coordinate with your spouse, children, and even other relatives (if you have upcoming events, like reunions, weddings or birthdays). While it should not be a problem with older children, or more independent younger children, this can be a particularly taxing task when you factor in transportation.
Your family might only have one car. This would mean a lot of juggling around, if mom wants to go to the grocery on Saturday morning, but dad also wants to play golf with his buddies. If you have two or more autos, it might be easier, but it can be a matter of who's going to fetch Junior from soccer practice and who's going to fetch Sophie from ballet lessons.
Here are a few things you can do to coordinate your family calendar.
What you need
- Whiteboard markers (different colors)
- PDAs or Smartphones
- A whole lot of patience and ingenuity
Mount a whiteboard on your kitchen wall. Every month, draw a calendar with big boxes representing each day. If space does not permit you to view the whole month, then at least make space for two weeks.
Use different colored pens for each person. Have each person "pencil in" his appointments or schedules on the calendar. These are considered tentative until the authorities (meaning mom and dad, or whoever the designated driver is), agrees. When an appointment or task has been confirmed, mark it as such. You can use asterisks or other symbols to denote that a task is still tentative.
You can use a different color for events that involve the whole family, like going to religious services, attending a special event, and the like. Tell your kids and spouse not to confirm any meetings without consulting with the calendar first.
Plan routes. Based on the confirmed entries on the calendar, plan your routes for the days when you need to fetch the kids or run errands in town. You can use mom's and dad's color pen to indicate who's driving whom, the meeting point and the times of departure and pick-up.
Keep individual calendars. The advantage of a physical calendar is that it's highly visible when situated at a high-traffic area at home (like the kitchen). However, the moment you leave home, you leave the calendar behind. You can always make a copy regularly on a notebook or journal, which you can carry around. Have your spouse and kids copy their schedules (driving responsibilities and pick-up times, for instance) on their own notebooks or personal calendars.
Go high-tech. If you'd rather not keep a physical calendar, you can always use the computer to coordinate family schedules. Try using Google Calendar google.com/calendar. You can have each family member sign up for an account, and each can share his calendar with the rest of the family. Google Calendar also supports reminders by email and even SMS, so you have less likelihood of missing an appointment. You can even synchronize the family and individual calendars with your PDA, Smartphone or iPhone.
Juggling around a family calendar can be challenging. But with cooperation and ingenuity, you will be able to pull it off with flying colors.