I joked a few weeks ago about how being a PA in my previous life had prepared me for motherhood thanks to my experience of juggling diaries for numerous directors and Heads of Departments! I was wrong! I am now drowning in diary madness so I had no choice but to come up with a plan to manage my family’s schedule!

I thought I was being so clever having my girls close together, but the reality turned out to be very far removed from that ideal! It’s hard work! It’s chaos! It’s never really knowing who needs to be where for what or when! Don’t get me started on the fighting!

What’s the problem?

I am now faced with the scenario where I am trying to juggle Grade One school requirements with my husband’s work travel plans and charitable endeavors, not forgetting the fact that my four-year old deserves to have her own extra-curricular activities too, oh and not forgetting that I’m a human too (and a blogger!). The reality is that I am literally drowning in diary clashes and the conflicting needs of my family.

I know I am not alone in this so this week I decided it was time to ‘get a grip’ of my family’s diary! Here is how I am attempting to bring order to the chaos! Please note that I said “Attempting”, I’m not necessarily winning, but hopefully time will tell!

Step 1: A Blank Canvas

Get yourself a blank monthly calendar for at least the first three months of the year. You can either find these in some A4 diary planners but I just printed off one from my Office Outlook program!

Step 2: The Schedules

Decide who is most important which diary really impacts your life the most and start filling in their requirements first! Repeat for the remaining family members using different colour pens for each person.

Step 3: Conflict Management

Once your handwritten calendar looks like a spider stepped in ink and ran the length of the Comrades Marathon across your pages, get a highlighter and highlight any major conflicts that you see.

Step 4: Everything Else

Don’t forget to make a note of world events that might impact your neat plan, such as school holidays, public holidays and religious events. Note things that affect normal schedules such as public holidays, or holiday plans

Step 5: Make a call

At some point you might be forced to cut some things out that just become impossible! For instance, swimming lessons would trump art class for me, and my daughter’s birthday would trump a motorbike rally (just saying), but this is the hard part where you need to decide what is best for your family.

Step 6: Do it all again!

No, I’m not joking. Print off a new blank canvas and rewrite everything in a neat chronological order because I can guarantee that at some point the ‘Parent’s Evening at 18.00’ landed up being at the top of the box and the ‘Pack Swimming Costumes For School’ is at the bottom! That’s not ideal!

Step 7. Put It Up!

Pin it to the fridge or family notice board and then forbid everyone from adding to or deleting from the schedule without prior authorization – preferably written as otherwise you won’t have evidence when it all goes tits up! This mostly applies to husbands! Kids wouldn’t dare!

Additional Options:

1. Instead of a hand written diary you could go ‘all out’ and type one up using Excel! This allows you to colour coordinate it all and make it look all neat and orderly. However, I guarantee if you print it off and stick it on the fridge you’re gonna end up scribbling something on it at some point! #justsaying

2. Family Share Calendar function on your smart phone. I really can’t speak for any other phones but the iPhones have a Family Share option which allows a family group to share a calendar! I love it! It’s the easiest and best way for my husband and I to keep track of IMPORTANT events. He doesn’t care when swimming lessons are, and I don’t care what meetings he’s sitting in. He does need to know about Sports Events, Parents Evenings and our anniversary; I need to know what city he’s in and when I should clean the house can expect him home for dinner. I suppose it’s also useful for trying to plan date night or weekends away. It’s been a while though so I’m not really sure I remember how this works!

Obviously this is the way that I do it. It works for me and my family but I’d love to know how you keep track of your family’s commitments? Let me know if the comments below.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, please share it. Hopefully this will help you organise your family’s schedule!