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10 Family Calendar Tips for Busy Parents

Use Your Family Calendar to Get Organized Once and for All

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As a single parent, you're constantly juggling many balls at once. There's the kids' schedules to manage, your work schedule, a social life, and even regular home maintenance tasks to manage. Here are some tips for helping you use your main family calendar to get and stay organized.

1. Keep One Master Family Calendar

You'll need one large family calendar where you can keep everyone's schedule. Look for something that gives you a lot of space for writing appointments and details, and place the calendar in an area where you will see it regularly. For example, I keep mine right on my refrigerator, and I check it every morning just to be sure there's not an upcoming event that I've forgotten.

2. In Addition, Keep a Small Day Planner With You at All Times

This is your own personal calendar. Choose something that's small enough to carry with you, but not so small that it's a chore to read your own writing. Alternatively, you could use a PDA or electronic organizer for this purpose.

3. Regularly Add Important Dates to Each Calendar

As soon as you receive the annual school calendar, add the kids' half-days and days off to your master family calendar and your personal day planner. Also, when you receive kids' party invitations, add the dates to your calendars right away. Simply getting into the habit of adding items to your calendars regularly will help you gain control of your family's schedule.

4. Use Your Day Planner to Maintain Details

Your day planner is a perfect place to record directions, addresses, and phone numbers. Basically, any detail you might need at a later day can be kept in your day planner. For example, when you're adding the date for your neighbor's son's birthday party, you can include the location and phone number in your day planner, and toss the invitation.

5. Use Pencil

This is a simple recommendation, but it allows you to easily make changes to your calendar. The ability to keep it current and readable increases the chance that you'll really use your family calendar regularly to keep your life's activities organized.

6. Color Code Your Entries

Using different colors on your family calendar can help you to see at a glance which child has a dentist appointment next week, and whose parent-teacher conference is on Thursday. In addition, if your children regularly spend certain days or evenings with their other parent, choose a specific color to highlight those days. This will make it easy for you to know at a glance which days they have scheduled visitations.

7. Check Your Calendar Every Morning and Every Evening

Get into the habit of checking your calendar regularly. For example, plan to check it every morning when you get up, and again in the evening before you go to bed. This will help you avoid the trap of writing something important on the calendar, but forgetting to refer to it.

8. Teach the Kids to Check the Master Family Calendar

As the kids get older, you'll want them to be in the habit of checking the family calendar, too. This will help prevent scheduling conflicts and help the entire family participate in the task of planning your schedules.

9. If You Can't Find a Calendar That Works for You, Print Your Own

In addition to saving money, you can add important details to the template before the calendar is printed, such as monthly home projects, holidays, and birthdays. These actually make great family gifts, as well.

10. Create Day Planner Pages That Work for You

You can also print your own weekly day planner pages. This can be especially helpful if you have frequently repeating events, like karate or ballet classes that repeat each week. Make sure you print several copies at once, though, so you'll have planner sheets for at least one month.

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