10 Tips To Organize Your Family’s Schedule

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Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of parents who are overwhelmed thinking about balancing scheduling and activities for their children during the school year, while still getting the rest of their lives done. With six children and their various activities, I am the poster girl for scheduling anxiety, however, I do have a little bit of insight into the balancing act that back-to-school time intensifies. So, I thought I’d compile a few quick tips that can help us navigate scheduling issues.

​1. ALWAYS USE YOUR CALENDAR

One major thing that I suggest when planning the kids schedule is that you always put any appointments, practices, or activities in your calendar as soon as you know about them. Either use your phone or a mini calendar that you carry with you. At the doctor, at the dentist, when you get papers home with field trips etc., the moment the notice touches your hand, eyes, or ears, ADD IT TO YOUR CALENDAR! Otherwise, there’s a chance it might slip through the cracks. This saves you from last minute schedule changes, scrambling to find transportation or care, making arrangements at work, etc.

2. SET REMINDERS

If you use your phone as your calendar, which I suggest, because we always have our phones, you will also want to set a reminder alert. I always set two alerts, one for a week before the event or two days before the event (depending on how long prior to the event I’m adding the note) and then I set one for the day of the event. In addition, if it’s a re-occurring event — for example every year you go on vacation at a certain time or every year your sister has a birthday dinner the same weekend — you want to go ahead and add the yearly reminder on your calendar. This tip came in handy when my husband got a new position at a new company and they allowed him to purchase vacation time at onboarding. Having annual events at a glance, allowed us to add that vacation time into our budget, as well as let HR know in advance what days he would be absent in the following year.

3. UTILIZE YOUR VILLAGE

The next thing I recommend for effectively managing back to school schedules is to utilize your village! For example, when your kids start new activities, if you have the chance, go ahead and meet the other moms. Get to know one another when the opportunity presents itself, so that if there’s any chance of pick-up and drop-off swamping not only will you feel comfortable with making arrangements, but you will also have a better idea of who is actually a reasonable option to attempt to make arrangements with. You never know who lives right around the corner unless you communicate. That way you can possibly coordinate schedules so that you do drop-offs and she can do pick-ups, or you can handle both one week and she can handle it the next, or even in a situation where you’re going to be late, you have someone you can call in a bind.

4. BARTER YOUR TIME

Also, as it relates to your village, barter your time. Maybe you are off on Wednesdays and your sister works on Wednesdays so you can agree to take her kids to their activities on Wednesdays, so that when you work on Saturday but she’s off on Saturday, she can take your kids on Saturdays.

5. MAKE EFFECTIVE SCHEDULING CHOICES

The first year my oldest daughter played travel volleyball was pretty rough on our schedule, she also played volleyball at school and for a period of time she had practices every day of the week, which also meant back-to-back practices most days. My younger daughter also wanted to take dance during the week, the class she wanted, was only available at times that overlapped with her sister’s volleyball, and was in the complete opposite direction of volleyball practices. I did not want my daughter to miss out on her gymnastics and dance classes, so I put her in a class that her cousin was in. Her aunt agreed that if I could drop her off at practice, she could pick the girls up together. I could not be in two places at one time, but I was able to utilize the people that were willing to help.

In addition, when you’re looking at before and after school care you always want to check to see if the facilities or providers you’re interviewing with have pick-up and drop off. If scheduling conflicts are a major pain-point for you when it comes to your children’s activities, then choosing a provider that can help with transportation is important. Furthermore, look for providers that have built in activities, or that are the activity. For example, my daughters’ old gymnastics location, provided after school care, meaning they picked children up after school and brought them to class, and parents simply had to pick them up from gymnastics. Places like the YMCA may have sports that are at the same location as after school care, and some daycare facilities have things like foreign language instruction, art, or music classes that you can enroll in.

Also, if transportation, or tight schedules are an issue, it may be convenient if there’s an instructor that can come to your home or to the child’s daycare and offer the lesson versus having to get your child to the lesson offsite.

6. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS

The first year my oldest child was is in middle school, we were told that the activity bus did not come to our neighborhood. However, after talking to the driver assigned to the bus nearest our neighborhood, she said that she did not turn down the road to our neighborhood simply because there were never any children using the activity bus that lived near us, so she took the turn off her route. However, she said that it would be perfectly fine to bring my daughter to our neighborhood on evenings that she needed to ride the activity bus. She told me to just have my daughter let her know when she got on the bus and she would take the alternate street that meant my daughter could get off in our neighborhood. The lesson here is to make sure that you’re communicating with the people that can help you and asking the right questions. There may be help where you least expect it.

7. INCORPORATE QUALITY TIME INTO YOUR SCHEDULE

For example, hitting the gym is an important part of my schedule. When I was trying hard to lose the baby weight from my 5th child, I got my daughters involved in the classes I took at the gym. It was a wonderful way for me to fit quality time into my schedule, while also crossing off a major item on my to-do list. The girls became very invested in my fitness journey and also picked up wellness habits that will follow them into adulthood. I quickly discovered staying fit was something meaningful we could actually do as a family. However, this tip is not just for gym time, when working out scheduling for your family, seek out ways that you can incorporate your children, spouse, or significant other into the things that are a part of your routine. This can help alleviate some of the stress of schedule conflicts.

8. CHILDCARE WHERE YOU NEED IT

Also, this brings me to my next tip, which is to seek out facilities for your personal activities that provide childcare. One thing I love about the YMCA is that they have childcare. At one point, my middle boys were too young to participate in fitness classes with me, and were mostly uninterested anyway, so having a membership that provided childcare was essential to me planning time to fit working out into my schedule. The YMCA of course, is not the only gym that provides childcare. Previously when living in another state, there was not a YMCA close to my home, but I was able to find and join another large gym that also had a childcare service.

9. USE YOUR COMMUNITY RESOURCES

If you attend a church, are a part of a lodge, or participate in a professional organization, ask the people there about resources. These are most likely the people you can trust, and know the most about you, so it makes sense to ask them about activities in your area that may work for you, or to ask for references for childcare, or facilities that fit your personality and lifestyle. Also, they may be able to help you manage activities. I cannot emphasize enough utilization of your village when it comes to childcare and planning activities.

10. INCORPORATE YOUR CHILDREN

Lastly, make sure that you are involving your children and giving them an active role in planning. There are so many things that I may have forgotten had it not been for reminders from my children. I have one child who is just responsible by nature, and she’s extremely helpful with reminding her siblings to take an active role in giving me information regarding school events, field trips, practices and the like. It helps to have a family planning meeting or have some planned way to disseminate information so that they are learning to be an active part of their own schedule. At a young age they may not take a huge role, but as they get older, the more they see what goes into managing your family’s schedule, the more they will understand how to take a more active role. And remember, your children have insight into their surroundings, they know if they have a friend from the neighborhood that goes to the same practice as them, or will be able to give you a heads up if a teacher mentions an upcoming event that has not yet been added to the school calendar or sent home yet. If they see that you value their input they will begin to seek ways to give input on a regular basis.

Scheduling for families can be a pain point, however it does not have to be. Releasing anxiety around planning your schedule and embracing and utilizing your resources can be extremely helpful. As always, and with everything, please remember to give yourself grace. Sit down and review your schedule regularly and assess where you can make changes or improve your calendar as needed. Also, make sure that you’re sitting down with your spouse or significant other on a regular basis and going over both of your calendars so that there are less chance of mishaps or issues when it comes to scheduling.

Raquel Phillips is a writer, digital creator, CPT, certified group fitness instructor, and entrepreneur. She is a wife and mother of 6 amazing children. She resides in Virginia Beach, VA.

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Need a jumpstart organizing your home life? You can download free resources like free meal planning calendars, a sample cleaning schedule, sample meal calendars, and fillable grocery lists at www.raquelphillips.com/downloads

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Raquel Phillips is a writer, digital creator, CPT, and group fitness instructor. She is a wife, and mother of 6 children. She resides in Virginia Beach, VA.

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Raquel Phillips

Raquel Phillips

Raquel Phillips is a writer, digital creator, CPT, and group fitness instructor. She is a wife, and mother of 6 children. She resides in Virginia Beach, VA.

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