Plan and Organize: Family Life
Early on in our marriage, there wasn’t much of a need to merge our planning systems as we always had multiple chances to talk about what we were doing for the week or month in a conversation. We usually chatted over dinner and connected throughout the week regarding our plans.
Fast forward to three children later and that system was not working for us anymore. Now our dinner conversations were focused on our children. We also found if we were talking about plans in front of our oldest child they were getting excited about plans that weren’t set in stone. Our time to talk about plans decreased dramatically. We were over-scheduling our lives, missing appointments, and getting caught off guard by plans.
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Here are some questions to ask each other on how to organize lists and schedules:
- Is one of you the planner for the household already? For that person, what is working with your current system and what needs to be improved?
- Are both of you digital planners or physical planners? Do you both make lists through apps on your phone? Utilize a calendar on your phone? Do you make lists on notepads? Do you both prefer a physical calendar you can see?
- What have been frustrations/trends with how you are planning currently? Is it the lack of meal planning and stress over what to eat for dinner? Is it overscheduling weekend plans and feeling run down every Monday? Is it too many of one person’s plans and not enough consideration of both of you wants for plans? Is it missing important work or home appointments?
Once you have narrowed down some of the items you talked about from the questions about you both can start to strategize what works best for you both to keep work life and home life running smoothly. A big key we were missing is that it isn’t enough for the planner in the family to know the plans everyone in the family has to know the plans.
BOTH OF YOU ARE DIGITAL PLANNERS
- Utilize the same app to keep calendars and lists, meal planning organized so that you can share them with each other
- Keep apps up to date so that when the other person looks at the calendar or list it is as up to date as possible
- Make sure you talk about plans and not just place them on calendars especially if it has to do with the other person attending
- Color code, label, or categorize (when possible) within the app so everyone knows what is a work plan, kid activity, family plan, or a spouse plan to stay as organized as possible
- Tool suggestions: Google Calendar, Evernote, Todoist, Wunderlist (all have free versions and can be shared with others)
BOTH OF YOU ARE PHYSICAL PLANNERS
- Have your physical planner for the family in a size that can be transported in a purse to keep your plans as up to date as possible
- If you make a plan and put it down on your phone or piece of paper be diligent to put it in a physical planner
- Keep planner open to the month that is occurring in a place both individuals would look within the house to stay up to date (ours in open on our small island to take a glance)
- Have space where lists can be made so both of you can add to it. Some lists you could have are for things to buy, grocery list, to-dos for the weekend/week.
- Think creatively beyond a planner what could help your family stay organized (that is not digital). We have a calendar white board and a blank white board for lists and notes.
- Tool suggestions: Target planner, Erin Condren planner, inkWell Press planners, Refridgerator Notepad, Martha Stewart whiteboard, Pottery Barn wall organizers
1 DIGITAL + 1 PHYSICAL PLANNER
- Lean towards the planning method of the person who is the least planner oriented in your family. As an example, I am the planner in the house and so although I lean towards being more digital in my planning and organizing my husband (the non-planner) would prefer staying organized with a physical planner. I tried to shift him to digital planning and failed miserably so I adapted to his style. Huge difference and it keeps us all using the tools to keep us organized with our plans
- Don’t have too many tools that you are utilizing for a calendar as a family because it will be hard to keep them all up to date so I would pick one or the other. Either digital or physical, but not both for your family planning system (for your personal planning system feel free to use both!)
- Be creative with trying to combine both needs for digital and physical when it comes to list making. For example, a refrigerator electronic list system that you can talk or type your list (digital win!) that prints out the list to go to the store (physical win!). Or making a grocery list, but utilizing an online grocery system (Amazon Fresh or Peapod for example). Creating personalized lists online, but then having them printed in a binder for all to use
- Tool suggestion: Grocery List Organizer If you find that you are stumbling with planning and organizing your home life you are not alone. Even with the best of intentions to be organized, it does take trial and error to find the right fit of how to organize and plan for your growing family commitments. Having a conversation about what needs to be improved in order for your family life to stay organized is a first great step and the tools or apps that you end up using are secondary as those can be switched out at any time. Only in the past couple years have now settled into using all physical planning tools for our family. It works for us, but this will not work for everyone. Now that we have a working system our work and home commitments run seamlessly together and we make sure we don’t unnecessarily stress each other out with ourThe benefits of putting in the work to find a system that works for your family are endless. Our communication is better, our stress of plans and planning are reduced, help prioritize our goals and plans as a family, my husband (the non-planner) is more engaged, which in turn has allowed him to be more involved in what we plan as a family, and overall our family and marriage is better because of our system. pull me back on plans when it is getting close to overscheduling our month. What is your strategy to keeping your family and work plans organized? Any tools you would recommend to keep home life organized?