Friday, August 17, 2012

Keeping Track of the Family

As we head back into the school year, all the extras start, too.  Back to practices and rehearsals and lessons and games and meetings.  I'm tired just thinking about it.  Nonetheless, I'm back to my regular end-of-August routine of figuring out where everyone is going.  Its much like the same thing I went thru in college, trying to figure out when I was going to take my classes, although, admittedly, it was much simpler when it was just me, trying to figure out how I could sleep late and have Fridays free, but same concept - wouldn't it be great if I could still work in those 2 factors?

I use and prefer a paper datebook (see January post about my search for the perfect datebook) for myself, but I use an electronic one for the family,, by the people who support the BoxTops program for school (be sure to hang a bag or envelope somewhere conveniently in your kitchen to collect those little tops to send to your school).  On this online system, I can put in everyone’s activities and appointments, color-coded by family member.  I can set up reminders to go to our emails and/or phones, everyone can look at it on the computer, we can check it on our phones and iPads, my husband can check it when he needs to schedule something, and I print a weekly or monthly version for the kitchen bulletin board.  Probably one of my favorite features is that I can set-up recurring activities, for instance, basketball practice every week, without having to retype it over and over and over again.  (As much as I use it, there seems to be a bunch of features I haven't taken full advantage of, so if you use cozi and have some suggestions, tell me what I'm missing!)

I also have a generic spreadsheet of our standard, every week type activities – practices, standing meetings.  I sketch out a "rough draft" while collecting all the registration forms to figure out when everything will fit in (this is where that Operations management degree comes in handy).  Activities go on the final copy as we confirm the kids' participation.  This schedule goes on the bulletin board so the kids theoretically don't have to ask "what do I have today?"
Color-coded family schedule

A few things to note on the schedule:
  • These are standard, happen regularly activities.  Doctor's appointments and stuff like that don't go on here.
  • Everyone gets a color, a separate color for the entire family (orange in this case).
  • I put my own activities - book club, meetings, etc. - on the calendar, too, so I won't overlook myself when planning for everyone else.  I'd like there to be a "date night" block for me and D, but we haven't been able to do that consistently, unfortunately.
  • All the overlaps helps me to realize when we need to carpool.  I've only recently really started embracing the wonderfulness of carpools.
  • I also note when kids can make-up any activities for those times when something has to be missed.
  • The "@ school" row lists the specials at school that require some kind of forethought - wear sneakers, bring due library books, wear clothes okay to get paint on, that sort of thing.
  • We also go to church on Sunday, but we're pretty good at remembering that without having to write it down.
Keeping it all handy - I keep the school calendar, the family schedule, each kids’ school schedule, extra-curricular info, and random other need-to-know on a regular basis type papers in a tabbed pocket folder.  Its a plastic folder with one tab/pocket per kid.
I usually keep it in the car in the beginning of the school year, while busy figuring out schedules and going to back to school nights, open houses, or wherever else.  Then I can keep it in an easy-to-grab spot at home for whenever I need to refer to it or take it with me.

With all this prep work, you'd think we're always on time, always return library books on time, and never forget to go to practice, right?  Yeah, right.


chris said...

The family expenses should be taken seriously. You could budget your supplies by listing them. School supplies should be taken seriously to prevent overspending on them.

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