In my corporate life, I’ve been an executive assistant. I managed executives and their schedules for 15 years. There were periods of time where I kept up with the whereabouts of four busy executives at once. Scheduling world-wide travel, getting them to meetings, making sure they had lunch, and pushing them out the door for their kid’s lacrosse game. That makes slightly easier when it comes to managing the schedule of my own family of four who are all now working, schooling, living at home.
Here are my revised tips for managing family needs and keeping everyone on task:
- Put EVERYTHING on the calendar. Whether you use the calendar app on your phone or you keep a physical book, but it all on the calendar. Everything. School picture day and early close days. The birthday party you might not have time for. Grandparents’ vacations. This way, if someone ends up sick, you know who is available for back up for after school pick up, AND you’ve got all the details on the calendar, so it’s easy to add grandparents to the calendar invitation and they have all the details–saves you time and sanity! Add reminders for Teacher Appreciation Week and friends’ birthdays, or reminders to schedule doctor appointments.
For life at home, set reminders for video conference calls on your child’s phone or device, and make sure they know how to access all their apps (including their calendar) on their own.
- Review everyone’s schedule together. It will be helpful for everyone to hear the schedule for calls and meetings at the start of the day. You can identify overlap and if calls need to be taken from a different room. You’ll be able to coordinate if the toddler needs screentime for an hour so you can take your own call too.
- Review tomorrow’s calendar near the end of the day. Not too late, though. You want to leave enough time to take care of last minute items that may have been forgotten: a run to Michael’s curbside pick up for a school project, or a trip to the grocery store for last-minute ingredients.
- Anticipate the day. Review the Meal Plan, get backpacks ready, roll up the nap-mat. Did your hubs forget his workout towel last week? Put it with his stuff. Set reminders to email the school about after school pick up changes. Make sure your wallet gets transferred from one purse to the other.
For life at home, have your older kids review their assignments for the next day. Is there anything they can complete today to make tomorrow easier? Do you or your husband have an early morning meeting scheduled and need breakfast or coffee earlier than normal?
- Start looking ahead. I work in about two week chunks, knowing my husband only works in one week chunks. When he’s ready to start talking about next week, I’ve already got most of the week’s schedule committed to memory and I can walk him through the plan. But this also gives me time to figure out if we need to book a sitter or send the grandparents an email with details for the overnight weekend plan. If things are looking really crazy, you can set side time aside for family time.
- Pay attention to their habits. Where do they usually put their shoes? Where do they sometimes put their shoes? When their shoes are lost, you’re bound to find them there. Watch what they push aside on their plate at dinner. Make a mental note.
Not only do these tips keep me ahead of the game at work, but they help me manage the needs of my family whether we are all at home or actually out of the house!
This post was originally published October 25, 2017.