How the sanity and security of a schedule can help you move seamlessly from summer madness to school-year structure

The transition from the freedom of summer days to the schedule-heavy school year can be rough on kids and parents alike. The fun of summer camps, lazy days and sleepovers give way to early mornings, late afternoon practices, and homework, meaning a full shift in both schedule and mindset for the entire family. Luckily, there is one concrete step you can take to minimize the chaos not only of the new school year but of every day after that: create a family calendar.

The more diligent you are in keeping track of your family’s time, the easier it is to be prepared for every day as it comes. While you may keep a detailed calendar on your own personal device, having one common space for the entire family provides clarity and order for the whole brood. Kids crave structure and routine, and knowing what their days look like in advance allows them to feel prepared and in control, especially as the summer-to-school transition upends the schedule they’ve gotten used to.

Tips for creating your calendar:

  • Keep everyone in the loop: Make your calendar family-friendly, meaning that every member of your family can easily access, add to and understand it. Whether it’s a chalkboard, a white erase board or simply a good old paper calendar, keep it in a commonplace where everyone is likely to walk by it daily. Bright colors work wonders, especially for youngsters who are more likely to pay attention to something that catches their eye. Make it easy for your kids to take charge of their own schedules by leaving fun markers, chalk, or sticky notes in an accessible place. If you have young kids who can’t add events on their own, have them sit with you while you do so so they can be part of the routine as well. 

  • Schedule in free time: Purposefully carve out pockets of time where you can relax and recharge, and make sure every member of your family does the same. No more pushing “me” time to the side; your family’s mental health is a top priority, so pencil it in and get to relaxing. 

  • Schedule in family time: In the hustle and bustle of school, practices, games, meetings, dinners, sleepovers, etc., it’s easy for quality family time to get overlooked. Schedule in a family movie night or pool day in advance, so time with your loved ones doesn’t get trampled on by less-important obligations.

  • Set boundaries: Writing out your plans for the month is a great way to avoid double-booking or over-extending yourself. If you know what your days hold, you can say yes or no to extra commitments accordingly. Keep your family sane and your guilt over canceling at bay by keeping your schedule in check. 

  • Set Family Goals: In addition to your day-to-day commitments, include short and long-term goals for each member of your family. Sit down and talk through your mutual and personal goals-you may find that your daughter has always dreamed of learning piano, or your husband is dying to take the family to the Grand Canyon. No matter what your goals are, talking them through allows you to start working towards them. 

While carefully scheduling each day can seem uptight and rigid, it actually allows you to be just the opposite; when you provide clarity and order for yourself and your family, you are enabling everyone to relax and breathe a bit easier. Plus, knowing when you’re booked up makes it easier to see when you’re not and gives you the freedom to fill those free hours with fun and family time.