Q&A: Calendars For A Family of Six?

How can we keep up with all of the children's activities? What calendar or system works best for a family of six?

I have a large "at-a-glance" calendar with each month spread across two pages. It lies on the counter by the telephone. Any appointments, deadlines or school events are put on it. First I put the person's name or initials followed by the event. Each person can just look for his name to see what's coming up. If he'd prefer, he can transfer his information to a separate personal calendar. The important thing is to keep up with information as it comes in. I wait until I have a few minutes to look over all the school papers, then I add the dates to the calendar. I have found that if I put the papers down on the counter, they get buried and forgotten. This method also helps the entire family to see what's coming up and helps with planning outings and knowing when Mom is available for chauffeur duty!

N.N., Fenton, Mo.

I have a large calendar on the wall. It has big squares representing the days of the month. I write down everything. If I have to call the dentist or go to the bank tomorrow, I write it down. Also, my children are forever bringing home papers about soccer schedules, conference notices, school programs, etc., and these all get clipped in chronological order on the refrigerator. Once a week I make a schedule of the following weeks' events, organized by day. Each day is organized by time. This schedule is posted on the refrigerator. The family has become used to looking at this piece of paper.

Michelle C., Cloquet, Minn.

Use different color pens on a calendar (not a dry erase one) and place it on the refrigerator. Each member of the family gets a spot. The same color has been used for the same person since it was started. Everyone can glance at the calendar and by color knows what is going on.

Mary Ann Schwarz, Yukon, Ohio

I always keep a diary by the telephone. Each day is a page, and all activities are entered. On the refrigerator, I have a large calendar that can be wiped clean each month. Each family member's activities are written in with a different color marker with the time and event. Each child knows his color and can check the schedule. In the daily diary I also include any details. These diaries are a good record of our life, and I often refer to them if I am looking for a number or who came to a picnic last year. When planning a party, I will list all the guests. Check them off when they respond and also include what they may bring if it is potluck. This makes it easy for the next year because I can check back to see who was invited and what they brought.

Bonnie Hauser, Dunnville, Ontario

FROM JODIE: Whatever you do -- make sure your family is not overscheduled. Please think about becoming the true CEO of your household. This is the whole basis of my new book, "Mommy-CEO," including plenty of tips on how to stay sane, take control of your own life and keep the kids motivated to help in the house and complete their own chores.

For example, as soon as the kids get old enough to write and understand their schedules -- let them help to keep up with their own activities by printing them on a large calendar. Set aside time to help them get their days planned out. It can be a fun time and remember not to rush or nag. Be sure to try and let them do it by themselves the first time and only intervene if they ask for your help. There is also a chart guide that will help you choose the best extra curricula activities for each child. Although the chart is printed in the book, you will need to follow simple directions on how to get started by utilizing a poster board.

Even for children who cannot yet read or write, colored coded activities do make the most sense when adding to the family calendar and/or identifying a child. In a glance, everyone will know where they will be going and what attire to quickly change into.