If you’re like most moms, family organization falls squarely on your shoulders. It doesn’t matter if you’re working or stay-at-home, sharing parenting duties or doing most of the child-rearing and car-pooling yourself: You are the one getting everyone where they’re supposed to be on the right day, at the right time.
Having a large or growing family with changing schedule means keeping track of everyone and communicating that information so the whole family is on the same page.
This took me a lot of time (and frustration) to figure out. Communication is particularly challenging. My husband works varying shifts. Some weeks I might only see him for 20 minutes in the morning and not again until 10 at night. I don’t want to spend that time running down a list of his to-do’s. I know that’s not how he wants to spend it, either!
But beyond that – I am sick of being a total nag. There’s only so many ways I can say Gymnastics is at 3:30 on Wednesday. Eighty-seven Wednesdays later = mommy meltdown. I needed to figure out a system that could do some of the work for me. I hope these ideas will save you some time and frustration!
FAMILY ORGANIZATION STRATEGY
(1) Master Family Calendar
(2) Massive Wall Calendar
(3) Customized Digital Alerts
My favorite planner to use for family plans is a Big Happy Planner. It’s letter sized and completely customizable. I use this large, dated printable calendar for our family organization and the monthly layouts for work.
PART 1: MASTER CALENDAR
The first step in getting the whole family organized is to write everything down. The most efficient way to do this is with a color-coded monthly calendar. This will give you a visual of the whole month with everyone’s schedules laid out.
You are in charge, girlfriend. You’re making appointments, tracking schedules, and doling out reminders day after day. This will save your sanity. A glance at your main calendar will tell you when activities overlap, what days are best for that doctor’s appointment, who you have to haul to the next event, and what you have to bring.
Grab your planner and a set of highlighters.
Assign each member of your family a color.
Create a Key.
Write down everything!
Pro Tip: Highlight before you write to avoid smearing. My favorite are the narrow Sharpie Liquid Highlighters. They come in vibrant colors, are affordable, and don’t take up too much room in my pen cup!
Find the free undated calendar at the end of this post. 2020 dated calendar and lesson planner available here.
PART 2: MASSIVE WALL CALENDAR
Step two is creating an accessible calendar for the whole family. This calendar will be BIG, in a central location, and continually updated throughout the month. Check out our chalk board wall calendar below.
Have trouble keeping multiple schedules in your head? So does everyone else in your family. Give them a place to touch base. Even the littlest family members will take an interest in reading the calendar, and it gives everyone an idea of what is going on with the most important people in their life.
Choose a location that everyone can easily access – kitchen, front hallway, mud room.
Pick your poison: Dry erase, chalkboard markers, or highlighters.
Create a key with a color for each family member.
Write down everything.
Pro Tip: Use the same color code as your personal planner.
PART 3: DIGITAL ALERTS
The final step in your new master plan is to set digital alerts for adults and older children in your family so you don’t have to repeat yourself again and again… and again. The purpose of digital alerts is not to add a third master calendar to your routine.
The only thing worse than being nagged about something is being the person who must constantly remind. Use this step to automate the process. Let’s be real, here – it’s not a good feeling to have to repeat instructions and schedules day after day and week after week, but it feels unavoidable. It isn’t.
Download Google Calendar (or another app) for each of your family members. Sync each person’s calendar with your own, master calendar. Assign each person a color (use the same colors). Schedule alarms to alert individuals or everyone at once. Read more about using alarms and timers to stay organized.
- Rotating or repeating chore assignments for your children
- Weekly reminder for garbage and recycling day
- Alerts for unusual changes in schedules and routines
- Reminder that a standing appointment or class is cancelled
- Reminder to your spouse about who to pick up and when
- An alert to remind you to order a birthday gift for an upcoming party
- Annual or periodic reminders for household upkeep – “Schedule A/C checkup,” “Change the air filter,” “Oil change this month”
Family Organization Calendar
UPDATED FOR 2020: Save some time each week with our 2020 calendar and dated lesson planner. I hope this helps you get and stay organized this year! Or download our free, undated family organization calendar below.
More organization ideas from the Resource Room: