Weekly planning is easy when it’s just you — when you’re the only person you have to worry about. With the blessing of a family, comes the difficulty of creating a schedule that works for everyone.
I’m in the military, so there are times—such as right now as I write this—when I am deployed for six or seven months at a time, so our family understands the importance of structure. There are things we do when we are all together that make it easier when we’re apart… things like family dinner, nightly prayer, and activities throughout the week.
It’s important for our family to keep that structure… especially for our children. It’s how we keep structure in such an unpredictable life that the military cultivates.
Weekly planning makes it possible to plan and keep structure, and it takes out the stress of disorganization. Let’s get into how we do it, and I hope you’ll get some ideas for your own schedule.
It Starts With Tracking
A family schedule works much like a family budget. You start by tracking your time, and then you start planning. This ensures that you control your time. Otherwise, your time will control you.
For at least a week (a month is best), track your family’s time. Every hour. And write it down somewhere, like a notebook or digital spreadsheet. Since you’re the planner, you’ll track everything from your standpoint.
It will look something like this:
From here, it’s going to be so specific to the individual that I’ll leave it up to you, but you get the idea. On your overall plan, you would put a block of time for work, such as, “9am-5pm: Work.” Keep your work-day planning separate, unless you work from home.
When you have a schedule for the entire family, you can plan each day, the night before. We’ll talk about a family calendar in a moment, but first let’s talk about your schedule.
Planning Your Minutes
Like I said, you’re the planner. Since you’re the one reading this, you’ll probably be the main one keeping the family calendar updated. That means your time is important to you.
When you have a family, your time is often taken up by your spouse or your kids. The only way you’re going to get margin is to plan the entire day. That sounds daunting at first, but that’s because you may be looking at it as a “make or break” plan.
Don’t look at it that way. A planning schedule is designed to be flexible. If you plan your workout from 5:30am-6:30am and it goes until 7:00am, you just have to adjust the times around it. Maybe you cut something out. Maybe you shorten something.
Whatever you do, don’t let your schedule dictate your life. Dictate your schedule. The entire point of creating a schedule is to gauge how long things will take so that you know what you can comfortably fit into your schedule.
I started this by literally timing everything I did. I timed my shower, brushing my teeth, getting ready for work… everything. And I did it leisurely to add a buffer. Now that I know exactly how long everything takes, I can plan around it.
It’s funny how we misjudge time in our minds. We may have always thought we needed 30 minutes to get ready for the day, but when we time it, we only actually need 15. Or it could be the opposite. If you’re often late, it’s probably the opposite. Adding an extra 5 or 10 minutes could prevent you from ever being late again.
Now back to the family schedule…
A Family Calendar
The only way to get everyone on board and stick with a family schedule is by using a family calendar. And while digital is typically my preferred method for planning anything, a physical calendar works best when multiple people need to see it.
I’ve used fancy calendars before, like this magnetic calendar that’s on our fridge:
You don’t need to spend $20 on a calendar, unless you want the fancy markers and design. Here’s one for well under $10 that works just fine:
I like the monthly planners to give the entire family a good overview as to what’s going on for that entire month. If you prefer to plan a week out, here’s a great weekly planner:
You could always get both. A monthly planner for an overview and a weekly planner for the specifics.
Finally, I like the idea of having a yearly calendar so everyone knows where to look for special events, vacation times, birthdays, etc.. Here’s a nice yearly calendar if you have the room for it (the garage maybe?):
All of these calendars are reusable. Just erase and write the month/week/day.
Just by putting a calendar up, you’re going to be more organized as a family. Start slowly by adding a few events, and eventually you’ll get to the point where you have the family’s weekly meal plan listed.
The more you can include on the calendar, the better. But again, don’t get caught up on making sure everything happens. Be flexible with it. The entire point of having this calendar and schedule is to eliminate stress, not create it.
Adjustments & Ideas
If this is your first time planning a schedule for your family, or if it’s been a while since you have, there will need to be adjustments. Go one week with a schedule, and then adjust for the next week. It really is just like a budget.
Once you get your schedule down, you’ll be able to add and take away things that aren’t serving your family well. And you’ll be able to start including everything on the calendar.
Include time for everything. Here are some ideas for things you may want to have on your calendar eventually:
Add or subtract things as you see fit. These are just a few ideas.
Do something today to start planning your family’s weekly schedule. Buy a calendar, write some things down, time activities… do something to get started.
Getting started is always the hardest part. It won’t be perfect in the beginning. You don’t have to get it right, just get it started. That’s why you need to start today.
Last Updated: July 8, 2020