My heart raced as I pulled into the parking lot. I was late. Again. I tried to keep my voice level as I told the kids to hurry while frantically fighting to undo my own seat belt. How had this happened? Why was I always running late? When did it become so hard to be on time? Tears stung behind my eyelids as I sighed, feeling like a failure for the 100th time today. “I’m better than this,” I thought to myself. “It’s time to get things under control. This is not going to happen again.”
I’ve learned a lot since that September day nearly a decade ago. First, I learned that being late is not the most tragic thing that can happen to a mom. Second, I learned to stop sweating the small stuff, and to give myself a break. Finally, I accepted responsibility, realizing it’s up to me to maintain the family schedule and that I can’t do it just by keeping everything in my head. So, I determined to find the right tools. I did the research and set up a million systems. Then I cut out what was redundant or unhelpful. Today I utilize just three simple scheduling tools to keep my family’s days running smoothly.
1. The Bullet Journal
The Bullet Journal is the new and improved task list. It’s super flexible, which means you can adjust it to make it work for you. I use mine primarily for my daily to-do list. First thing in the morning, I write down the most important things to do that day, followed by anything else that I’d really like to get done. I also look at my calendar and write down any scheduled appointments for the day. I keep my weekly meal plan and grocery list in my bullet journal too. If I need to remember something but I’m not sure where to write it down, it goes in my bullet journal. This means I have lists, recipes, and writing prompts in there somewhat randomly, but the index at the front helps me keep track of that, so it still stays pretty organized.
2. Google Calendar
For those of you who want to keep your schedule electronically, Google Calendar is amazing! If you aren’t using it yet, you absolutely need to be! I can automatically sync my schedule with my husband’s, which means we’re not being double-booked. This is such a lifesaver! Google will also send me reminders for upcoming events via popup on my phone, email, or text message and at the time I choose. This has helped me avoid being late to an event more times than I can count. Unlike my bullet journal or traditional calendar, my phone is always with me, which means I can update my Google Calendar and schedule new appointments on the go through the mobile app.
3. A Slow-Cooker
Okay, this isn’t what you normally think of when you’re looking for scheduling tools, but it is a huge help in making time for dinner prep around a full schedule. I love my slow cooker. I use it almost daily, especially through the busy holiday season. With a slow cooker I can start making dinner anytime between early morning and late afternoon. Meals take 3-10 hours to make, depending on the meal and the slow cooker setting. When my schedule gets really crazy, I can even prep everything the night before it’s needed and just store the whole thing in the fridge, ready for the next day. Utilizing this tool means I never have to stress about getting dinner on the table after a long, busy day. I know when I get home dinner will be there, ready to dish out to my hungry family.