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It is that time of year again–Back to School time!! It always feels bittersweet for me, going from a noisy, crazy house to a quieter, emptier one while the big kids are at school. One thing I love about this time of year though is the chance for a clean, fresh start in terms of getting things organized for the kids. With the start of a new school year always comes a new schedule for extracurricular activities. If you have more than one child in more than one activity, things can quickly get overwhelming and difficult to keep straight.
One thing I did a few years back that has been life-changing for me was to create a family activity wall calendar. (I know “life-changing” sounds dramatic, but it really has been so much more helpful than I ever imagined it would be.) This calendar is a huge chalkboard that mirrors what I have on my Google calendar. By making it in a big version on our mudroom wall, everyone is always on the same page as far as who has what activity and when. It especially helps the younger kids feel more in control and “in the loop” of what is happening in our daily schedule. But I love it, too, because it is pretty and color-coded and it makes me feel like I am on top of things (even when I am not).
Setting Up Your Monthly Wall Calendar
First, you will need a large chalkboard. For a clear and easy-to-follow how-to, check out this tutorial from Shanty2Chic. I used their project as a starting point, but I did not have a Kreg jig to make pocket holes for the frame. Also, instead of painting the chalkboard paint directly on the wall, I used a piece of hardboard from Home Depot as the backing for the chalkboard so that I can move my calendar to a different place in the house if I ever want to.
To make the chalkboard into a calendar, each month I draw in my grid using chalk and a yardstick. You could make this part of the calendar permanent with paint markers or Washi tape to avoid repeating this step each month. You, of course, need to put all your month, day, and date labels on. This is all a fun chance to bring out your inner artist! (I’m still working on mine 😉)
Next, just below the calendar, I make a key that is color-coded by activity. Orange for basketball, green for soccer, blue for swimming, etc. This way, you don’t have to write the activity name each time it occurs.
Using my Google calendar as a guide, I fill in the big chalkboard one. If “A” has soccer at 5:00, I will write in “5:00 A” in green. In our family, everyone’s name starts with a different letter, so we use first initial only to say who’s who. I also add family birthdays, doctor’s appointments, early releases from school, and special days like “First Day of School!” or “Thanksgiving!” so my kids can count down to big events. And that’s it!
It’s not rocket science to be sure, but something as simple as a big family calendar can have a HUGE impact on helping to keep the chaos under control.
How do you keep track of your kids’ schedules?