Juanita Lee
Line a picture frame with striped paper and write on the glass with a dry erase marker for an attractive, DIY family planner. (Juanita Lee)

Google calendar (above) and Cozi (below) help families access and share calendars on the go.



There is a good possibility that the schedules of those near and dear will be the death of me. Perhaps it's the stage of life that I am in, but from where I'm standing, I can't see a light at the end of the tunnel. However, I do know that I am not alone in this battle. I'm not sure whether or not I take comfort in that, but the struggle is real for many.

In my household, I am in charge of juggling five schedules -- two adults and three students from different schools. To be honest, some days I consider it victorious just to get the right student to the right school. On most days, that's the bare minimum.

Digital agendas

We have recently entered the age in our house where everyone has an electronic device that they can use to access a family schedule. And while my youngest still doesn't contribute by adding to his calendar, he can access it and is learning how this process works at an early age. (His future wife can thank me.)

A Google calendar is a great option for families that need to access their calendar on the go. A Google calendar allows each family member to have their own color-coded schedule that can be shared and seen by all other members. The nice thing about a Google calendar is that it doesn't just limit us to the people in our house. Even Grandma and Grandpa can be sent a calendar invite to a family event, and it can automatically be added to their own Google calendar.

A Google calendar can be accessed on a computer,phone or tablet,and it's easy to set up and navigate. You can also set alerts so you receive a text or email when an event is approaching.

There are a number of other apps to help families schedule their chaos. Cozi is a calendar app similar to a Google calendar, but with added features (to-do lists, shopping lists, meal planning, and more).

'Gamify' chores

Family schedules aren't always about places to be -- they're also about things that need to get done. ChoreMonster is a fun little app that does away with the chore chart on the fridge, replacing it with a digital scheduling and reward redemption system for kids' chores. Parents assign chores to their kids; kids log that they did them and are rewarded with points and "monsters" for completing them. Sometimes we have to get creative in getting kids to do their chores without a fight, so why not "gamify" them?

Jottin' it old school

In today's world of high-tech tools there are many ways to keep a family on track -- some more successful than others. But sometimes, it's just the good, old-fashioned pen to paper that makes the most sense.

For many, the act of writing something down helps commit it to memory. Isn't that what our college professors told us while we scrambled to scribble their every word in our notebooks?

Another plus to a handwritten planner is that it can serve as a journal for years to come. When was the last time you scrolled through the calendar on your phone or computer just to reminisce? The hand-written notes, scribbles, quotes and memories that are often jotted alongside our schedules are precious reminders of our crazy lives. Priceless.

Taking it one week at a time

While it is important to have the capability to schedule out months in advance, for the younger members in the household, the seven days of this week are all they really care about. A fun and creative dry erase calendar can easily be made by lining the back of a picture frame with horizontal strips of scrapbook paper, one for each day of the week, and then writing the week's schedule on the glass with a dry erase marker.

Once you figure out what works for you, just stick with it. Whether you choose fancy, schmancy technology or scribbling schedules down old school, commitment is key to making any creative calendaring work.

Juanita Lee and her husband, Jon, have three children in what they fondly refer to as their FamLee. She's a lover of sauerkraut and '80s hair band ballads, a tamer of chaos and a recovering shoe addict. Her day job is communications manager at Bismarck State College.