When you have multiple kids with multiple activities on multiple days, it can be a real challenge to manage everyone’s schedule – including your own. As you juggle so much, something is bound to slip through the cracks every once in a while. So when that does happen, here are a few tips to help you out:
1. Divide and Conquer
You don’t need to do it on your own. Even kids can be involved. Have a weekly meeting where you plan out the week, and hold the kids responsible for knowing their own activities. You can be their failsafe, but they’ll get the idea eventually. Keep the babysitter, nanny or grandparents in the loop as well, when necessary.
2. Merge it
In addition to your own personal calendar, consider keeping a family calendar where everyone’s activities collide. There are plenty of apps for your smartphone or tablet – even some free ones – which can help coordinate everyone’s schedule. They can be color-coded, buzz your phone with alerts and provide many other useful features. Most can schedule recurring events as well, from daily soccer practice to semiannual dental exams. There’s also the tried-and-true whiteboard.
3. Be Prepared
When running errands and coordinating schedules, the fewer stops you have to make, the better. Fill your car up when you know you won’t be in a rush – even if you’ve still got half a tank. Keep some snacks, water and Puffs tissues on hand in your car for all those little everyday needs.
4. Review Daily
Every morning, review the day’s agenda before you head out the door. Remind your gang of the plan for pickups and drop-offs and note anything that isn’t a regular occurrence. Don’t assume everyone will remember! If you’d like, print out a monthly version to put in a prominent place to highlight those more out-of-the-ordinary events.
5. Schedule Downtime
Try to be conscious of blocking off time daily, weekly or monthly (or all three) for yourself, and so that together you can all have family time (in addition to the bonding time you have on the drive to school). Have an idea of what you’ll do in your spare time – like lounging in front of the TV or reading that long-awaited book – so you can have those meaningful experiences.
6. Don’t Fret When Something Goes Wrong
And something will go wrong. A child will be forgotten at dance practice and have to wait an extra 20 minutes. You will occasionally be late to one thing or another. There will be frustrating, exasperated phone calls where you’ll say, “I thought you were picking him up!” Staying organized will keep that to a minimum, but when things go wrong, take a deep breath, take care of it and, when emotions have settled, figure out what you (and your family) can do to hopefully prevent it from happening again.