Our favorite calendars, planners, and apps we use to keep our life organized...or mostly organized as a family of 7.
How We Organize Family Schedules
It's a new year and now that we are slowly coming out of the newborn daze, it's time to get back to a more organized schedule and life.
I thought it would be fun to share my favorite planners, calendars and apps that our family uses to be as organized as possible. (Because heaven knows we come up short time and time again!)
Google Calendar App
For all of our family appointments, my husband and I use a shared Google family calendar.
Anything we both need to know about goes on this calendar. We put our dentist and doctor appointments, kids activities, family activities, extended family gatherings, holidays, family birthdays, days off school and work, etc. People's health tends to be greatly influenced by schedules. And if you neglect something like an appointment with the Fulham dentist, you could have to endure the agony for a longer period of time. Well! I must say the app has been quite helpful to us with them.
While I'm a huge fan of paper planners (which I'll talk about below), we keep all of our appointments on a digital calendar. That way when either of us is out and about with others and we need to plan something, we have our calendar on our phone that we can quickly look at.
My husband and I each have a personal Google calendar that we'll put our own work schedules/tasks on that don't interfere with the family's.
For example, I don't need to know about every call my husband has scheduled as long as its during normal work hours, so he keeps that on his calendar only.
Similarly, my husband doesn't need to know about all my friend's birthdays or work tasks I have, so I keep those all on my calendar in a different color.
During our Sunday planning together, we review the upcoming week and talk about any specific assignments or help we need that week. Sometimes this takes us 5 minutes and other times we'll add in a short budget meeting, too.
Since our children aren't old enough to have phones (and hence digital calendars), we have an extra large wall calendar in our mudroom.
I update this at the beginning of each month with events our kids need to know about. It has their piano lessons, sports schedules, days off school, early out days, or family activities or parties that involve them.
I don't bother putting my appointments or my husband's appointments on this calendar since we have ours on our phone. But my children really love seeing what is going on and helps them to be responsible.
One of the best tips I heard was to use a wet-erase marker. Even though it's a dry-erase calendar, using a wet-erase marker makes it so I don't smear or rub off writing if as I'm updating our monthly calendar.
Ideally, I would use a different color for each child's events, but for now I just use a black marker for everything.
Our family calendar is kept digitally (since my phone is always with me), but for everything else, I use a paper planner.
I love the weekly vertical spread, a place for meal planning, to-do lists, errands to run for the week, plus monthly calendars.
And I really love the yearly habit tracker at the beginning to keep track of daily goals over the year.
On Sunday evenings, I pull out my phone to check our Google Calendar and jot down any appointments for the week into my weekly spread. I don't put regular standing appointments (like piano practice for the kids, etc). It's just a reminder for me of things that are out of the ordinary that week.
I jot down to-dos I have for the week and errands to run. If I know I won't get to something the upcoming week, but it needs to be done soon, I'll write it in my to-do list for the following week.
One of my biggest goals for this year is to conquer meal planning. I have never been good at it and consequently, I think we waste a lot of food or cave and get take-out.
So this year, my goal is to make a meal plan each week and do grocery shopping only after I have made a plan. I know things will come up, but for the most part, I want to have meals planned and ingredients bought so that we can eat healthier, save money and not be wasteful.
I already mentioned that my planner this year has a place for meal planning each week which is a good reminder for me to actually do it!
I created this one-page meal plan printable that I use to plan out meals. I write the meals on the left side and then any groceries I need for those meals on the right. I fold it in half and use the shopping list to order groceries online.
Once I'm done shopping, I hang the meal plan side on the fridge so that the entire family can seek the weekly dinner menu.
Leave a comment if you'd like a copy of this!
We have been using the Paprika Recipe Manager app for about 5 years now and it's so helpful to keep track of recipes.
I still have a real recipe book with family favorites in it, but I use this app when I'm meal planning or when I want to try out new recipes. In our efforts to own less stuff, I have thrown out all the other recipe books that we never used.
DIGITAL RECIPE BOOK
All of our favorite recipes are in this app, so if I'm out and about and need to know the ingredients for a certain recipe I can quickly pull it up on my phone.
Or if someone wants a recipe I have, I can easily share it with them. The app will email or text them the full recipe.
The app will also create a shopping list for you if you calendar in your meals. Since I WILL be better at meal planning this year, I'm excited to use this feature more.
Finally, the app syncs across all devices, so my husband has it too which makes it easy for him to pull up recipes when he's cooking.
TRYING NEW RECIPES
What I love about this app is that I can browse the web for a new recipe directly from the app. If I want to try it, I can "download" the recipe and it will save to my recipe app. I tag it as 1-star (my way of knowing I haven't tried it yet). Once I try the recipe, I will rate it a 4-star if most of my family likes it or a 5-star if we all love it. If no one deems it as a "make again recipe", I delete the recipe from the app.
I use the mobile app 99% of the time, but if I want to manually type in a new recipe (that's not from the web), I use the desktop app since it's much easier to type on a keyboard than on my phone.
School Lunch Schedule
Our school is giving away free school lunches this year, so we are taking advantage of that! I print off the monthly menus and have my children circle the days they want to eat school lunch.
At the beginning of the week, I look to see which days we need home lunches and we pack them for the week (most of the time). Here's a post about how we plan and pack home lunch! We definitely have days here and there that a child changes their mind about school lunch so we scramble to put together a quick home lunch.
What We Use For Budgeting
Finally, we use the Mvelopes app to keep track of our budget and expenses. It's like a cash envelope system but on our phones. (Because who wants to carry around cash these days?)
It certainly helps with a lot of the extra expenditures we used to incur. It aids in our financial planning for savings, emergencies, and budgets. Not to mention managing a budget, making investments, and saving money are among the most important aspects of anyone's life because, as you get older, you never know what circumstances you may encounter.
Even if many do put a lot of thought into planning for retirement in kansas city or wherever they live in later stages, there's no harm in thinking long-term, right?
Anyway! At the beginning of the month, we allocate all of our income into a certain envelope (i.e. groceries, clothing, eating out, house payment, utilities, home decor (me), technology (hubby), family activities, kids activities, birthday gifts, gifts for others, etc.)
The app then assigns the allocated amount to each envelope. As we spend money throughout the month, each transaction comes into an "inbox" in the app. We assign it to the correct envelope and then we can see exactly how much money we have left for each category.
I spend time a few times a week categorizing each expense. While this takes some time and effort, seeing each transaction and how much we have left for each envelope helps me stay on track.I won't deny I so badly want to spend on a vacation or even a small getaway from the daily chores of home, but only if my budget allowed.
I can't thank this budgeting app enough that is keeping my expenses in control. However, I do want to travel and have fun. Maybe it's time that I start looking for some other sources of income.
I think a passive source of income is what would help me plan my little vacay effectively. I remember one of my friends mentioning the Modern Millionaire program and how we can check the real review of their courses on a website similar to https://serp.co/a-review-of-modern-millionaires-chance-welton-abdul-farood-samed-scam-or-legit/, before enrolling in one.
Probably, it's right about time to get me into one such program, especially if it funds all my pending travel, vacations, and family trips in the long run.
I'm happy to answer any specific questions you have about how we organize life and keep track of our family schedule. Leave a comment below!
I would also love to hear what you use to keep your family organized!