Yesterday we talked about choosing a system for your family calendar- either paper or electronic. Today we are going to talk about what you need to put into that system to help you run your household- and your life– more efficiently. There are four main categories of information that you want to enter into your family calendar:
- Birthdays and Holidays
- Appointments and Activities- both for you and all of the members of your family
- Weekly Tasks- these are the household chores or an exercise schedule that you want to accomplish each week
- Menu Plan- a list of choices for each night of the week
If you are doing this on a paper calendar- you really are only going to record #1 and #2 on your monthly calendar. You'll save #3 and #4 for the weekly planner. If you are doing this in an electronic format, you'll want to set up different calendars, and I would suggest that you make each calendar appear onscreen as a different color (ooo-so pretty!).
Birthdays and Holidays
When I enter these into my family calendar, I set them up as “all day” activities (they are not assigned to a particular time of day such as 8am). This way, they appear as a banner at the top of the day's list- making them easier for me to scan and spot quickly when I am looking ahead for upcoming birthdays, etc.
Appointments and Activities
One of the keys to making this system work, is to record all family appointments and activities here. This means entering all of your sports schedules and after school activities, special events for school, doctor and dentist appointments, and so forth. If you are responsible for getting yourself or one of your offspring somewhere at a specific time- enter it here. Even if little Joey has his piano lesson at the same time every week, and has for the last three years- set it up in your calendar anyway (Trust me- you'll thank me later when you've grown to become dependent on this system and you allow yourself the luxury of not keeping it all in your head!)
These are your list of household chores that you want to appear on specific days of the week, and you can also include your plan to exercise, or anything else that you would like to see as a reminder, assigned to a particular day. Here is an example of what my weekly task list looks like:
- Mondays- grocery shop, finish clothes laundry (which was started on Sunday night), change and wash all of the bed sheets, wash towels, water the houseplants, pay bills. Walk the dog for 30 minutes, free weights.
- Tuesdays- dust, vacuum, and mop the 2nd floor of the house. Elliptical for 30 minutes, yoga.
- Wednesdays- clean the bathrooms. Walk the dog for 30 minutes, free weights.
- Thursdays- dust, vacuum, and mop the first floor, except for the kitchen. Elliptical for 30 minutes, yoga. In the evening- sort and start clothes laundry.
- Fridays- finish the clothes laundry, dust, vacuum, and mop the kitchen. Walk the dog for 30 minutes, free weights.
- Saturdays- no tasks scheduled!
- Sunday- weekly planning ritual, clip coupons, plan grocery shopping, start clothes laundry
In my electronic calendar, I enter my weekly tasks as all-day activities so they are not assigned to a specific time, and will not cause conflicts with any real appointments that I have.
In my calendar, I have assigned each night of the week a “theme”… such as:
- Mondays: chicken
- Tuesdays: steak or beef
- Wednesdays: pasta
- Thursday: crock-pot or order in pizza
- Friday: chicken
And for each of these nights- I list five different choices of a meal that I can make in less than 30 minutes, and that the kids will actually eat! So in my calendar, Mondays look like this:
Dinner: chicken- marsala francaise cheddar onion-crusted in brown sauce with rice
I will choose one of these dishes to make each Monday (and theoretically I can then go five weeks without making the same thing twice!)
Print out your family calendar, if needed
Once your calendar is all set up- and you've entered all of the information I've described above, you can print out the monthly views (and be sure not to include your weekly tasks and your menu plans on your monthly print out), and put them into a notebook. (aww- doesn't that look nice!)
The “Weekly Planning Ritual”
Now every Sunday evening, it will be time for The Weekly Planning Ritual (aahhhhh- it sounds so soothing, doesn't it? Like we should be doing this while soaking in a warm bubble bath, with lit candles all around- but don't do that- you'll get your planner all wet and it will be too dark to see!)
The beauty of this weekly planning ritual is that you are only focusing on just the week ahead, and you are allowed to forget about everything else going on in your busy life that isn't scheduled for the next week. And just the act of reviewing each item will get you focused and ready for the week ahead. So here are the steps:
1. Print out the weekly view of your calendar and attach it to a clipboard.
Hand write in any appointments or activities that weren't entered into your electronic calendar. A note here on keeping it all up to date on the computer (if you've chose the electronic calendar format, I mean). Because I do keep a printed copy of my monthly calendar in a binder, and carry it with me most of the time- I tend to write in additional appointments on my printed copy, and I don't always take the time to go back and enter them into my electronic calendar. If you are doing this on paper- all of it will need to be copied onto the weekly list.
2. Review your weekly tasks
If you are using an electronic calendar they will already print for you, and since they are the same items each week, you really do not need to do much in the way of reviewing them (you'll just work on getting them done on the day in which they appear). If you are keeping a paper calendar, you will need to make a list of your tasks for each day of the week.
3. Do your menu planning
If you are using the electronic calendar, the list of menu options for each day will print for you. Just go through each day and circle the item that you are planning on preparing. If you are keeping a paper calendar, write in the name of the dish you are planning to prepare. I can't say enough about how great it is to plan all of your meals for the week at one time. As you plan the menu for each night, you can write down any needed ingredients on your grocery list. And this completely eliminates that 5pm panic when you are staring into your refrigerator and can't think of a single thing to make for dinner to feed your hungry family!
4. Consult your on-going to do list
I am sure that you keep some kind of long to-do list somewhere that covers all of the things that you need to accomplish. As you are working on your weekly planner, take a look at this list, and see if there are two or three things that you can schedule into a specific day to get them done. And then- put that list away, and forget about it. (This is something that I struggle with- but I know personally that I feel very stressed when I look around at everything that I wish I could get done around the house. I really should live with the principal, that if it is on the list, I will get to it eventually- as long as I move two or three things from the to-do list and onto the planner each week.)
5. Add in any crafts, projects, or recipes from your idea box
I will cover this in a future post- but I keep a notebook of projects I want to do with the kids, places to visit, recipes to try- and I attempt to put some of this into my weekly planner as well.
6. Do a quick look ahead
Are there birthdays or holidays approaching in the next few weeks that you need to purchase a gift or card for? Be sure to add that to your planner and to your shopping list.
And then this clipboard with my weekly planner becomes my lifeline out of the chaos! I will consult it first thing in the morning to review the day, again after lunch to get ready for the afternoon’s activities, and then again after dinner to prepare for the next day.
Are you currently a believer in the family calendar system? Do you use it each week to prepare for the days ahead? I would love to hear about your “relationship” with your family calendar- what works for you and what doesn't?