Sync, Plan, Thrive: Family Calendar Systems


A woman adding events to her family calendar system.Whether you have one or multiple children, keeping track of all the things is overwhelming. Especially at this time of year with all of the classroom, school, group holiday celebrations, school spirit days (pajamas, ugly sweaters, hat days, etc.), not to mention work and volunteer holiday gatherings, on top of the typical commitments of evening practices, extracurricular activities, games, and meetings. When my son decided to play two sports during the spring season a few years ago, I needed a new calendar system to keep it all straight.

I am grateful for my community of moms who shared their strategies for family calendar systems while standing on the sidelines, waiting to pick up from an activity, and at birthday parties.

Strategy #1: The Wall Calendar

Most families likely have a wall calendar, at least if you’re an “Elder Millennial” or “Gen Xer” like me. I live between the electronic and hard copy worlds for everything in life. I learned an upgraded color coding system from a fellow mom that has worked out very well for managing five different schedules.

Each family member has an assigned color dry-erase marker. I abbreviate sports as follows P=practice, G=game, L= lacrosse, B=basketball, and F=football.

For example, my son, R, has basketball practice Tuesdays from 7-9 p.m. The calendar reads R*B*P 7-9. This ensures I have room for everyone’s activities in the small square provided for each date, and the color coding makes it easier for the kids and husband to follow.

Wipe off wall calendar.

Strategy #2: The Google Calendar

As much as I’d love to say that my husband looks at the wall calendar, he doesn’t. I’ve learned that inviting him to every family activity, including my late meetings for work on our Google Calendar, is the best way to ensure he’s aware of the day and week’s schedule.

Another perk of the Google Calendar is that it sends reminders you can customize for each event, if needed, or leave as a default. I also use Google Calendar to remind myself of events or special items the kids need for school on a particular day. 

We tried the Cozi calendar app; however, it became one more thing to remember to enter information into and wasn’t as intuitive for us as Google Calendar is.

Strategy #3: The Individual Planner

I’ve tried multiple planner companies, layouts, and options ranging from daily to-do pads to the Erin Condren “Life Planner.” Last school year, I built a custom “life planner” from, and while it contained everything I needed because I customized it, I found it too bulky. The price tag was also at the higher end of planners, so I have been finding success with a Bloom academic year planner this year.

Bloom academic planner – month view.

Some families hold “family meetings” on Sunday nights to review the schedule for the week. At this stage of life, we’re in with three young children, and this adds something more to my plate, so it doesn’t work for us. As they get older, this is something to consider adding to our routine so everyone is on the same page.

As we prepare for the New Year, you may seek a new organizational system or planner for yourself, your family, or both. I am happy to share that no matter how many calendars, schedules, and reminders I utilize, I forget one thing each week!

What family calendar system do you find most effective for your family? 

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Born and raised in a suburb of Buffalo, NY, Vanessa moved to the Bronx, NY after college, where she met her husband and gradually migrated north together. Now they reside in Newtown, CT with their three children; two sons (2013 & 2019), a daughter (2016), two dogs - Gracie (2022 lab mix) and Penny (2022 pitbull mix), and three cats - Bella (a 14-year-old Persian cat), and Ozzy & Luna (2023 tabbies). By day she's a school administrator; by morning/night, she's a taxi for her kids' activities. In her "free time," she enjoys being in her pool or hiking with her family, listening to 80s/90s hip-hop, watching the Bills game, and sharing sarcastic mom memes with friends. You can follow @resiliencethrougheducation for more!


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