Designing a Family Schedule That Works


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When it’s just you and your partner, scheduling is generally pretty easy.  Go where you can together, and when you have conflicts, go your separate ways.

Then you have kids.

Making a family schedule can be a frustrating task, but not having one is even more so. Here's how to get organized and design a family schedule that works.

Who knew such tiny people could throw such a large wrench in the works?  And since nowadays we schedule classes and playdates instead of telling kids to go play outside, it’s even more complicated.

When laying out a family schedule, it helps to actually write it down.  Get a posterboard and draw boxes to make a calendar.  I recommend using this month’s to start, or next month if this month is almost over.  Make sure each person’s items are identifiable so it’s clear when there’s a conflict, and for whom.  Color-coded stickers from the Dollar Tree are good for this.

On your calendar, write down everything:

Immovable necessities.  For most, this is a job, or other commitment you’ve made.  Some families would include church on the immovable list, and other regular appointments you deem as “musts.”  It only makes sense that everything else be scheduled around these.

Immovable wants.  Taking a class that only meets once a week?  That goes here.  Choir practice.  The Walking Dead.  Things like being room mom, volunteering at the animal shelter, etc. are things that you don’t have flexibility in scheduling, but they aren’t necessities.  Except Walking Dead.

Movable wants.  These are things that you want to do and you have some flexibility in.  For example, the same dance class is offered 3 days a week, and you can choose which one to go to.  Other things are movable in some ways, like days of the week, but not hours because they’re only available from 6-8 pm.

Some families are so busy that they may run into conflicts at this point.  In that case, you have to make a decision and move on, or find another way (like carpooling with another busy family).

Part of making a family schedule accepting that you can’t be in more than one place at once.

Everything else.  Once you’ve got your regular appointments and obligations down, you can fill in the one-offs and occasional events.  Your once monthly book club or bunko game.  Baby showers, sporting events, doctor’s appointments and whatnot all get filled in.

If you don’t already have one, I highly recommend using an online planner for your family.  I use the free version of Cozi and love it.  It has an app, too, so you all can add to the calendar from anywhere.  It also has to-do lists and shopping lists, which are lifesavers.  You can check it out here.

Making a family schedule can be a frustrating task, but not having one is even more so. Here's how to get organized and design a family schedule that works.

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