How to Keep the Family Organized: Scheduling Hacks for Busy Parents


managing the family's schedule

I came across an article last month in our local Chronicle about how San Francisco residents seem to use calendar invites for dates in their personal life. It made me chuckle because I’ve been using calendar invites ever since we had our daughter Ilse. Our family’s growth coincided with our respective career growths. As a result, my family of three is busier than ever. And we only have one child! I bow down to families with more than one child, like my sisters and my own parents, who have had multiple schedules and appointments to manage. To keep our lives on track and on time, we rely on a few tried and true scheduling hacks—hacks that can work for you too.

Use calendar invites for major activities

Trust me, it works. My husband and I have Gmail accounts, and we built a Gmail account for our daughter Ilse so we could create calendar invites for her annual checkups and dental appointments. When Ilse entered preschool, we turned all the school events (and school closures) into calendar invites. Having calendar invites ensures we don’t double-book ourselves, schedule overlapping work commitments, or miss school activities, like International Day or the school’s summer break. We do calendar invites for everything from our respective work travel to children’s birthday parties. If the event is not on the calendar, it does not exist.

Pro-Tip #1: Calendar invitations should include any applicable locations and notes.

Use a To-Do List App

I’ve been a list maker all my life. I used to carry around a tiny Five Star notebook with me to make lists on the fly, but a list-making app on my phone is much more convenient and shareable with my husband. Whether you are an Android or Apple user, there is a list-making app for you. We love Evernote, because it syncs across both of our phones, can store photos and videos, and has a significant amount of storage space. We have used it for everything from planning our wedding seven years ago (I can still tell you EXACTLY what we spent on our vendors) to currently planning our daughter’s upcoming 4th birthday party. Just because we’re extremely organized, we’ve even created notebooks for our notes, like groceries, our daughter, etc. Find an app you like that’s compatible with your mobile device and get list happy.

Pro-tip #2 and Major Time Saver: For our groceries notebook, we created a grocery list template categorized by the grocery aisle.  Doing so saves us time from shopping all the aisles.

Communicate often and frequently

Seems kind of obvious, but work things, school things, and other life events (like a leak in your apartment roof) can occur during the week and shake up the best-laid plans. To address any pop-up events, my husband and I keep the communication lines open during the day. We keep an open chat box open online or give each other a ring. When we are at home, we talk about the upcoming weekends, school activities, family holidays we want to take, and schedule deadlines for those events.

Pro-tip # 3: Be mindful of overscheduling. My general rule of thumb for the weekends is to allow for one day of running around (parties, visiting friends, or out of the city activities) and one day of keeping local (staying in our neighborhood). Everyone needs a down day.

Managing multiple schedules can be stressful and time-consuming, but for our family, it is a skill worth mastering, as it helps us manage our priorities and not over-schedule our precious weekend time. The key to successful scheduling is ease of use and, of course, developing a system that works for your family. You and your partner or the whole family (if the kids are old enough) need to participate. Try out one of my family’s scheduling hacks, and tell us what you think!


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Jeanne is a married, full-time working mom with an MBA in Marketing from Golden Gate University and BA in Communications from San Francisco State University. She is an Associate Director of Sales for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and loves that her career enables her to promote the city she loves. Jeanne and her husband Daniel live in San Francisco with their two daughters, Ilse and Alice. When Jeanne is not working, writing, or volunteering at Ilse's school, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and cooking from her collection of cookbooks (70 and growing) while sipping Hudson Bay Bourbon. Follow her adventures on Instagram.


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