We fill our days and hours with activities, not only for ourselves but also for our family. It can be a challenge to keep all of these commitments straight. A family calendar is just the answer.

If you’re just getting started with using a family calendar — or need to up your game with the one you’re currently using — here are 4 essential tips to manage it.

Paper vs. Electronic

You will find both paper and electronic calendars can fit in well in your household. In fact, I recommend you use both.

An electronic calendar will give you the reminders you need. For example, we generally only go to the dentist twice a year so a reminder that the appointment we scheduled 6 months ago is coming is very handy.

A paper calendar in a central location helps the entire family quickly see what the schedule for tomorrow or the upcoming week is. Those young enough not to have an electronic calendar of their own will start to get used to using the calendar to see upcoming events.

If you use Google for your electronic family calendar, check out these planning tips.

Where to Put Your Calendar

Use a paper calendar with lots of space to write down appointments for the whole family. Place it in a central meeting area. Often the kitchen will be the best location. Choose a spot every family member can easily access — remember not everyone is as tall as you are. It will be easier to manage the family calendar when everyone is an active participant.

Keep a holder for pens and pencils (and even stickers) nearby. Stickers will help keep your kids engaged with the calendar. Have them add stickers for birthdays, days when they don’t have to go to school, and maybe even when they complete a day with especially good behavior.

What Should Go on the Calendar

Add the usual birthdays and anniversaries first; these can be written in pen as they won’t change. Use pencil to then note any appointments. Be sure to note the time and initials of the family member the appointment is for.

Have a lot of details for the appointment? The best way to manage the family calendar and get all the details is to add extra information to the electronic version of the calendar. It is easy to list the who, what, where, when and why on the electronic calendar. Link the appointment to the relevant website for additional information and a contact listing to avoid having to retype the address and phone number for a future appointment.

Keep Your Calendars in Sync

If you have trouble keeping your paper and electronic calendars in sync, create a routine to check them. Make every Sunday night after dinner a time the family reviews the paper calendar to see what is coming up for the week ahead. At this time make sure all of the information is added to the electronic calendar and vice versa. Be sure to ask each member of the family if they have plans or dates that should be added to the calendar as well.

Make this a fun family time by having a special dessert or beverage that is served during this time — and this time only. You should also consider adding other items to your family weekly review.

How can you better manage the family calendar?

(Photo credit: Circling Important Calendar Date via Shutterstock)

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