There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to using a family calendar. Yet with so many choices available, it can often seem like an overwhelming prospect.
In this article, Sarah Butterfield explains in 3 easy steps how you can create a manageable calendar system that aligns with your family’s needs and vision—and in doing so, walk more fully in the life God has planned for you.
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The new year always seduces me with its promise of a fresh start and new opportunities to make progress on long-held goals. Never is this more true than in my intent to finally get organized. “This is the year!” I declare. “This is the year I am really, actually, for-real-this-time going to get my family organized.” I fantasize about a streamlined approach to our family calendar where everyone is on the same page. No more missed appointments, forgotten due dates, miscommunication, or overbooking.
Years ago, when my arms were full with a toddler and a baby, my husband’s colleagues invited us over for dinner. Both the husband and his wife taught at the same university, but they were juggling four young children instead of two. I appreciated the easy hospitality they showed us with a simple meal in a dining room surrounded by toys. What caught my eye immediately, however, was the family calendar hanging on her kitchen wall. It was a framed chalkboard displaying a month at-a-glance and there was writing on every square. Each family member had their own chalk color and certain items were starred or circled. It was both impressive and intimidating. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom whose only obligation was to attend library storytime on Thursday mornings. Is this what my future looks like? I wondered as I considered her calendar system.
As my boys grew older, family life did indeed get busier and fuller. I thought back to that calendar as I scoured the internet for the magic bullet to help me get my family’s schedule organized.
ALIGNING YOUR FAMILY CALENDAR SYSTEM WITH YOUR NEEDS
There is no shortage of products to buy (or make!) to get your family organized. Going down the Pinterest rabbit hole, I found all kinds of wall calendars and planners: chalkboard, magnetic, dry-erase, acrylic, paper, and corkboard. There are weekly options, monthly options, paper options, digital options.
The choices can feel overwhelming. But here’s the most important thing to consider: Your intention is only as good as your system, and your system works best when it’s aligned with your needs.
If your intention is to get your family’s schedule organized, you’ll need to create and maintain a system. Your system must match your needs otherwise you won’t use it and it will cease to be functional.
I learned this the hard way. I’m a planner-girl myself, and for years I would invest more and more money into fancy planners with special pens and all the stickers. I reasoned that the cuter it was, the more motivated I would be to use it and all of our family organizational problems would be solved. I dutifully recorded the kids’ events and appointments within its pages. Fairly often, we would run into a major schedule conflict because I didn’t realize my husband’s elder meeting at church fell on the same night as my book club. Or I would book a speaking engagement when my husband was at a conference and the kids had no way of getting to school. He was unaware of my schedule and I was unaware of his because we weren’t using the same system to keep track of everything. In our family, we both needed a way to easily add things to the family calendar that was always accessible. When I switched to using Google calendar, the miscommunications stopped.
THREE STEPS TO CREATE A FAMILY CALENDAR THAT WORKS FOR YOU
In order to create and maintain a system to help you organize your family’s schedule, consider these factors:
1. EASE OF ACCESS
Before committing to a family calendar system, think about who needs to see the schedule. If your children are young, it could be just you and your spouse. If your children are old enough to make their own social plans, it might work to everyone’s advantage to have a wall calendar displayed in a prominent location. If your children are old enough to have their own phones, a digital calendar system through Google or Cozi might be the best option. The more family members who have access to the calendar, the less chance there will be for miscommunication.
Once you decide on the system to best fit your needs, it’s time to decide how and when and who will update the calendar. Is each family member responsible for adding their own events? Will you be keeping track of everyone’s schedule? If you have a wall calendar, when will you input the next month’s information? This may involve some trial and error as you figure out habits that are easy to implement. Deciding on a way to maintain your family calendar system will ensure that it will continue to serve your organizational needs.
In John 10:10, Jesus tells us He has come so that we may have life, and have it to the full. But full of what? How can we live a full life without using our full schedules as an outward show of our own importance and worth?
Many of us learned the value of slowing down during the pandemic and want to continue to make room for lazy family days and make time for spontaneous family adventures in the years to come. Many of us have learned to value the white space in our calendars and don’t wish to return to the packed squares of years past. Others of us are ready to embrace all of the activities we have missed, and are energized by upcoming plans and opportunities.
Casting a vision for your family’s time can help you live more intentionally in the fullness God has for you. Before you add events and activities to your family calendar, determine what’s important to your family in this season and let that guide how you fill those calendar squares.
There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to using a family calendar. Instead, every family must evaluate their needs and choose a system that is both easy to access and simple to maintain. In doing so, we can live out our family’s values in an intentional way, living fully in the life God has given us.
How do you organize and manage your family’s schedule? We would love to hear your tips and ideas in the comments!
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