Stock photo.

An expert’s advice on managing a family full of schedules

With the fall season picking up, calendars can get chaotic.

Janie Hooper, LMSW. Photo courtesy of Refinery Counseling Center.

As parents know, it can be difficult keeping up with your kids’ practices, games, play dates on top of your appointments, meetings and events.

“Life is a balancing act, and incorporating tools like schedules and planners can help make it more manageable,” Janie Hooper at Refinery Counseling Center says. “You know that ‘I’m ready to be back at school’ or ‘I’m ready for my kids to be back at school’ feeling some may identify with at the end of the summer? Our bodies crave routine. Sticking to a schedule gives you a sense of control, improves your focus by having clear and defined tasks, and leads to overall better mental health. Schedules help us to optimize our time and workload, and we are often less productive and more stressed without one.”

Hooper calls herself “old school” when it comes to staying organized. “When I write down important dates and times in a planner, it is more likely that I will remember them,” Hooper says.

While some parents have multiple schedules/planners, Hooper recommends parents maintain a personal planner for work/their personal needs and a separate, family schedule. “I’m picturing a cute dry erase board in the kitchen—possibly color-coded with each family member’s name and events, appointments and extracurricular activities written on it,” she explains. “This ensures the entire family is aware of the schedule, instilling a sense of predictability, and there is no overlap or double-booking.”

Tips for parents creating schedules with multiple kids:

  1. Let the children help. They can do more than you think, and it will increase their self-esteem and make them self-aware of their own schedule
  2. Color code. Making the schedule fun, happy and colorful will make it more exciting and engaging for the entire family.
  3. Tweak as you go. Life is unpredictable, so don’t beat yourself up about having to make adjustments as the weeks and months progress.
  4. Keep it simple. Get multiple planners/calendars if one becomes too crowded.