I always joke (and by joke I mean say in all seriousness) to my husband that if something does not go onto the calendar app on my phone, then it’s not happening. I have four young kids and two dogs, and I tend to be a “yes” person, so I’m starting a parents’ organization for my daughter’s preschool, building a community activism group, teaching barre, writing for this blog, acting as room mom at the elementary school, and auditioning for theater productions in all of my free time. I know, I know, my life choices can be discussed in another post, but for the time being I just have to find good ways to manage my crazy.
Here are some things that have worked for me and my family in this busy season:
1. Put it in plain sight.
In addition to my basic Google-synced calendar on my phone, I started keeping a written calendar on the fridge so that as the kids get older, they will be able to help manage and keep track of their own activities. It also helps my husband stay clued in to what we have going on during the week, even if he is not directly involved with the nitty gritty of it all. I LOVE this calendar; it is magnetic, comes with tons of stickers to mark doctor appointments, parties, holidays, and school dates, and has a handy pull out tab where you can list family members. (They also make a planner if you’re into that.)
2. Know who is doing what and when with a glance.
Each family member has their own color on our handwritten calendar. It saves me time writing it out, and it makes it clear and concise when any of us need to check the calendar for conflicts or extracurricular schedules.
3. Don’t expect to remember repeating activities.
I made this mistake when my daughter first started multiple after school activities. “If piano is every Tuesday,” said silly past me, “then I don’t need to write it down. I’ll just know it’s always going to be then.” That may be true on most weeks, but when everyone has dentist appointments and the baby gets a stomach bug and my husband is out of town, sometimes I may not even be aware that it is in fact Tuesday. Set up repeating events on your calendar apps so it automatically appears each week at the same time. You could even add in chores you want to do on a consistent basis or meal plans.
4. Have a date night to look at dates.
My husband and I try to have a “working” date night once a month or every other month to sit down with our individual calendars and make sure we are on the same page. Sometimes we go out to dinner and just take a moment to do scheduling, other times we just sit at the kitchen table after the kids are in bed, but we make sure it is a time we can focus on each other. I also do this with my mom occasionally now that she lives in town and is super helpful shuttling kiddos around and babysitting. That keeps us from double-booking and assures that we know what is important to the other person. It also reminds us that setting aside time for ourselves and each other is important.
5. Write down the things you don’t “have to” do.
With all of the appointments and meetings and rehearsals that are mandatory for you and your family, make sure to also schedule the things that are important to you and enhance your quality of life. I make sure to write down community events I’d like to attend, classes I like at the gym, haircuts, and girls’ nights. You may not get to do all of those things all of the time, but writing them down reminds me to leave space for myself even when life is busy.