As a former stay-at-home father as well as a husband to a busy female executive, I quickly learned the importance of the homemaker in the family unit. From organizing the family schedule to meeting deadlines and balancing the family budget, the business of running a household proved to be more challenging than I’d expected.
One of the biggest challenges I faced was learning to manage our family resources. As with any business, poor planning on my part would generally have a negative impact on our finances as well as our most precious family resource, “time”. I have discovered the following are tools to be invaluable in running a well-oiled, happy household.
Sync the Calendars
In managing our household, I operate several separate online calendars; one for me, one for each of our two children, one for the dogs, one for household chores and yet another for our travels. Although there are other choices, I found the best family scheduling app to be Google Calendar. Its functionality allows us to sync our calendars and have a clear view of what each of us has on our plate.
Although my wife Mirka has her own calendar, I don’t sync hers with the rest of our schedules. It is filled with highly detailed information not everyone needs to see. Instead, I merely reference her calendar for her travel dates, flight times, etc., so that I can better plan shared family activities. Meanwhile, Mirka has access to our calendars and can click them open to see what the family plans are for today, next week, next month and beyond. She can also see where our children will be in their activities and choose the best time to text or call us.
Anyone who has been involved in project management and also tried to run a household effectively understands the similarity between the two. Fortune 500 companies and startups alike have found that an app called Trello can be quite helpful for organizing and prioritizing information and tasks. I have found that this project management tool also works well for managing family activities.
For example, as many families have experienced, the holidays can be quite stressful. So, to make things run as smoothly as possible, we set up Christmas as a project on the Trello app.
For one of the categories, my wife and I list the gifts that we anticipate purchasing for our children. Once a purchase has been made, the person who bought the gift checks it off the list. The app then sends a notification to the other notifying them that it has been purchased.
We use this tool for a variety of functions, whether they are elaborate family projects or simply booking all the hotel rooms for vacation. In fact, we can pull up a list of things to pack by simply calling up a list that we prepared for a similar vacation in a previous year. The Trello app keeps it all organized and just a click or two away for later reference. In short, we love it.
Trello was a free app for many years with unlimited boards to share. Unfortunately, the free version is now limiting the number of boards that can be shared. We are currently experimenting with Dropbox Pages and other free apps to see if they work as well as or better than Trello. I will follow up on this in a future blog post.
Staying on Track With Your Goals
When you think of staying organized, you may not think about goal setting. Yet, goals are important milestones that must be carefully set to keep your family on the right course.
In my coaching business, I have learned it makes a big difference if a couple or family has aligned their goals and ambitions. I see so often that couples make assumptions about each other’s goals without really talking about them. If their visions and purpose are not in alignment, the results can have severe consequences; marriages fall apart, families unravel, dreams recede and then vanish. The children, of course, are part of this equation. In our family, as with many families, planning and goal setting revolve around them, with the prime consideration being their welfare and growth into productive, happy, global citizens.
There are many templates and books out there that can help you set and prioritize goals. For ours, Mirka and I use the Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt. For our children, we use the Big Life Journal planner. Both tools have proven useful in helping our family stay on track.
Although all useful tools, there are many ways families can stay organized and on track. In my book, Lean On, I explore the challenges of running a busy, non-traditional household and the pillars of support needed to make it all run smoothly.