Back to School -- Managing the Family Calendar

With the incredible technology and countless organizing tools available these days, the family planner has morphed in a big way from the free gas-station calendar you once hung on your wall. Chances are you already have a system that helps you and your family get to scheduled appointments, parties and functions. But is your system working for you? Here are some tips to keep everybody on track:

Fill in Those Squares
While there are many calendars with stickers, pictures and grids flooding the market, most moms agree that the best way to keep track of the family is with big white squares. "Our calendar is a monthly pad large enough to write activities in a single day and with a fair amount of space," says Joan Garry, executive director of a nonprofit organization and mother of three. She also uses the calendar for tax purposes, to track how often she travels for work and to record funny comments the kids make throughout the year.

"The calendar in my house is computer driven," says Allie Pleiter, mother of two and author of Becoming a Chief Home Officer. She uses Microsoft Outlook as her family calendar. "I stick everything in there: birthdays, seasonal events at the library and when the kids have days off from school. I then print out the calendar and put it on a bulletin board in our kitchen."

From Paper to Calendar
Getting dates down is the key to keeping a successful calendar -- no matter what kind you have. Plug in school schedules, youth group events or sports games for the entire season as soon as you get the information, then check-mark or highlight the piece of paper (if it needs to be saved) so you and the kids know it's been logged on to the calendar. Same goes for invites: Don't put it on the calendar unless you've already RSVP'd, then check-mark it so you know it's been taken care of. A bulletin board hung near the calendar or a simple inbox can hold camp lists, directions to parties or anything worth saving, as long as you clear it out on a regular basis.

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