Back to School -- Managing the Family Calendar

Getting Them Involved
Rather than physically dragging your husband and kids to look at the family calendar before making commitments, some moms find using colors helpful in getting their families more involved in scheduling. Assign each person a color. Let them know that their only job is to look at appointments marked in that color. Mark important events in red. Pictures also work with smaller children who don't understand the Monday-through-Friday concept. Pleiter, for example, drew small icons on a dry-erase calendar when her children were small, symbolizing daily activities, including a shopping bag for the grocery store and a mixing bowl for baking. "When you have kids," she laughs, "baking is an event."

Sunday-Night Recap
The only maintenance your family calendar probably needs is a once-a-week review so you can plan dinners, make babysitting arrangements and remind everybody of upcoming events. If you're a working mom with a full-time sitter, this step is even more crucial. "Every week I create a specific road map in a handheld calendar for my child care provider," says Garry. "I'll include play dates, appointments or whether I'm going to be away overnight."

Planners and PDAs
Planners such as the popular DayRunner or Filofax can also work as the family calendar because they keep to-do lists and address books in one place. Personalize your planner so that you can treat phone calls like appointments or even mark down due dates for bills and deposits.

Taking it a step further, PDAs (personal digital assistants like Palms and Ipaqs) set off alarms for birthdays and anniversaries and keep track of appointments, to-do lists, recipes and weekly routines. "On the first of every month," says Pleiter, "my PDA is completely loaded with everything I need to know -- including what day my dog needs her heartworm pill." Once she plugs new dates and appointments into her PDA, Pleiter sends the information to her home computer to share the data with her family calendar.

And once you've finally got everyone's schedule organized, maybe you can find that hour to slip away for the massage you've been promising yourself.

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