Use a Family Calendar


*updated 2012*

As a parent of a child with exceptional needs you are constantly juggling many balls at once. There are school meetings, your other children’s schedules, your work and home-life commitments and if you are lucky, a social life. Use a family calendar to get and stay organized.
1. Keep One Master Family Calendar
You’ll need one large family calendar where you can keep everyone’s schedule. Look for something that gives you a lot of space for writing appointments and details, and place the calendar in an area where you will see it regularly. Many calendars are based on an academic year, September to September, so this is the perfect time to get your new and improved calendar.  I keep my calendar on the counter right by my phone and I check it daily to be sure there’s not an upcoming event that I’ve forgotten.

2. Use a personal planner
Choose something that’s small enough to carry with you, but not so small that it’s a chore to read your own writing. Alternatively, you could use a smart phone or another  portable electronic organizer for this purpose.

3. Regularly Add Important Dates to Each Calendar
As soon as you receive the annual school calendar, add the pro-D days to your family calendar and your personal day planner. Don’t forget to add all those special days like birthdays and event invitations. Getting into the habit of adding items to your calendars regularly will help you gain control of your life.

4. Use Your Day Planner to Maintain Details
Your day planner is a perfect place to record directions, addresses, and phone numbers. Any detail you might need later can be kept in your day planner. For example, when you’re adding the date for your IEP review, you can include the location and a contact phone number in your day planner so you are prepared even if you lose the note from school.  Alternatively, buy a family calendar with large enough spaces to include these details.  Just do whatever works best for you!

5. Use Pencil
This is a simple recommendation, but it allows you to easily make changes to your calendar. The ability to keep it current and readable increases the chance that you’ll really use your family calendar regularly to keep your life’s activities organized.  I also have a pot of white-out nearby in case of a big boo-boo.

6. Check Your Calendar Daily
Get into the habit of checking your calendar regularly. For example, plan to check it every evening so you can plan your day.

7. Teach the Kids to Check the Family Calendar
As your children get older, you’ll want them to be in the habit of checking the family calendar, too. This will help prevent scheduling conflicts and help the entire family participate in the task of planning your schedules.  This is not just Mom’s job!

8. If You Can’t Find a Calendar That Works for You, Print Your Own
In addition to saving money, you can add important details to the template before the calendar is printed, such as monthly home projects, holidays, and birthdays. These actually make great family gifts, as well.

I have found DotXls good for free and simple excel templates:

or free craft calendars:

Office also has lots of free templates:

Or just Google "free calendar template" and pick and choose!


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