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Keys to an organized family

Is your family a smooth-running machine? Have you ever forgotten to pick up a kid after sports practice? Have you ever missed a routine doctor appointment because you simply forgot?

We recently asked our Facebook friends how they juggle the work schedules of two parents, raising kids and all the activities that go with … life … and discovered that there are two keys to an organized family: communication and planning.

“We stay organized by putting everything into our shared calendar,” said Amy Metherell, mother of two. “We use iCal, and it’s shared on both computers as well as our phones. It’s been a huge life saver.”

Shared calendars help families avoid double-booking and is a convenient way to always be on the same page, especially with shifting work schedules.

For many families, a simple wall calendar does the trick. The key is to stay in the loop.

“I stay organized with my dry erase calendar on the kitchen wall,” said Jennifer Turner, mother of two. “Each family member has a different assigned color so we can track our activities, appointments, etc. I also keep a calendar by the phone. It fits in my purse so I can schedule doctor appointments and play dates when I’m on the road.”

Val Lill, mother of a son who is busy with soccer and choir, keeps her calendar by the refrigerator too. Anytime she goes to the fridge for something, she sees it, so things stay fresh in her mind. She color codes by using red for important events.

When families frequently use the calendar, it becomes routine. Michelle Shellenberger said her daughters are “trained” to keep her in the loop.

Some families also use white boards to plan their meals. Kristen Killinger, mother of a toddler, has one board for the calendar and another for the menu. She does her grocery shopping on Friday nights and buys the meals for the following week.

While communication between the parents is key, it also helps to keep the children in the loop too.

Tia McMillen keeps her son in the loop on and says “communication is the crux of organization.” Before Hurricane Sandy, for example, the McMillens met to plan what they would do in the event they lose power. They planned food, activities and more.

“The point behind this conversation was to creatively tell Trenton it would be okay and that we’d make an adventure out of a pseudo-scary situation,” Tia said. “It also gave Trenton an opportunity to tell us what he would like to do, and to get excited staging items in case the power went out … you cannot communicate enough.”

Kurt Bopp is assistant editor/web at Central Penn Parent. Many readers responded and participated in this feature, and to them Kurt would like to say “Thanks!”

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