10 Tips for Juggling Multiple Schedules/Managing Family Life
As a mother of 4 biological children and a stepdaughter, with a range of cultures, ages, abilities and needs, juggling everything for our family used to be overwhelming.
My youngest child is 1 and my eldest is 16. We have 5 cultures, a mixture of languages, ADHD, autism, PTSD, family in different countries plus the regular school, sports, work, business etc.
On top of that, I do it on my own most of the time, which is something I am sure many can relate to.
Fitting everything in and ensuring everyone’s needs are met, we are all where we need to be and doing what we need to do can be tricky but there are things you can do to make it easier.
Here are a few we implemented and by we, I mean my teenagers and me since I include them in all decisions like this to teach the life skills and give them autonomy.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products and services I use.
1. Use A Digital Shared Calendar
A shared Google calendar made it easy to keep track of everyone’s schedules.
My teenagers are old enough to manage some of their appointments and commitments themselves.
With the shared calendar they can see what else is on and know whether it is worth asking if they can go to a friend’s or something based on what else is happening.
This greatly reduced the number of questions and discussions about schedules between us and reduced the number of things I had to organise or felt obligated to.
Now, everyone can see what is happening, and add things such as doctors’ appointments, school events and similar.
We do communicate these things still and check as necessary but for the most part, this eliminated a lot of work and my mental load.
Often we don’t realise how much energy is used answering all the questions such as can I go to so and so’s house or can I do this?
Being able to reduce the number of questions we are asked and therefore the number of decisions we have to make frees up significant headspace.
2. Prioritise Important Events
Every family has events and matters that are important to them and need to be prioritised.
They might be smaller such as doctor’s appointments or bigger such as school events, and business meetings.
Discuss everything with the family so you all know what is important to each other then plan accordingly.
No one can do it all and sometimes sacrifices have to be made about what can be done.
Knowing what is most important and having open discussions about it all makes it easier.
If everyone is on the same page it also enables us to make other arrangements if two important events clash.
I aim to be at all important events for my kids and they appreciate it. Kids look for you in the crowd and while it might not matter to you, it matters to them.
My kids also understand that sometimes I can’t be there but they know that is rare.
I make every effort to do it and usually do but occasionally, we might have to juggle it a little.
My family is my main priority so attending their events, and ensuring everyone has their checkups and we are all healthy is important to me.
My mental and physical health matters too so events and appointments around them are a priority as well.
As an example, I had some specific goals that kept getting postponed.
I finally put my foot down, had a discussion with everyone, outlined a new schedule and we all made a few sacrifices so everyone could attend everything important to them.
Doing that benefited us all and I wish I had put in place stronger boundaries around my own needs and goals sooner.
3. Plan Ahead
Plan as much as possible, and try to schedule events and appointments with plenty of notice.
Planning also enables you to make travel arrangements if necessary, arrange a sitter or anything else that might need to be organised.
For example, one of my children does wrestling which requires championship events in other cities at times.
Another child loves cosplay and likes to go to those events, as well as robotics which they do at an international level.
Both of those require accommodation, travel, planning clothing, food etc. If we didn’t plan for them, they wouldn’t happen.
Doing this also enables us to plan our holidays and family fun around important events in our lives.
Life will throw curveballs but if you can plan as much as possible, things tend to go smoother.
4. Communicate Regularly
Communication is key to an easier, more efficient and fun life.
Communicate regularly with everyone involved to make sure everyone is on the same page and aware of any changes.
A lot of frustration around how much we have to juggle can be reduced or eliminated through good communication.
If an event is cancelled, changed or comes up unexpectedly, let everyone know.
Discuss and implement any changes that might be required and check again later to ensure everyone is on the same page.
When the family doesn’t communicate their needs, I can’t do what is necessary to make it happen.
Sometimes last-minute emergencies happen or something changes that requires me to juggle it all.
For the most part, having the calendar, communicating and prioritising makes our life run smoother.
With communication, we also have a quick meeting on a Sunday to check in about what’s on for the week, anything coming up this month or other things we need to plan for.
This only takes a few minutes but it eliminates a lot of frustration and miscommunication later.
Often, it is because someone assumed something or expectations weren’t outlined and therefore not met that causes frustration around these things too.
Be clear on your needs and expectations, have a backup plan and make sure you are always communicating.
5. Set boundaries
We all need clear boundaries around our time and we need to make sure everyone is aware of them.
Your needs matter so they need to be included in any plans as well.
By setting clear boundaries, everyone’s needs can be met and life can be less stressful.
Without boundaries, you can say yes to everything which results in being overcommitted and burning yourself out.
Boundaries help everyone. When your family knows what your boundaries are they know not to push it on certain things and they know your limits.
Having boundaries and making sure my kids know them made life much easier when it came to school and other events.
It also helped my kids get out of things they felt uncomfortable about because they could say mum will say no.
However, they’d need to communicate that to me to ensure I back them up on it.
One boundary we had was Friday Family Fun Night, we aimed not to book things on a Friday night as that night was for us to do something fun together.
If for whatever rare reason we couldn’t do it, we made sure something happened over the weekend instead.
Setting that clear boundary of family time every week made it easy to arrange other parts of our lives and for us to stay connected.
6. Be Flexible
Be open to changing plans if needed, and be willing to adjust your schedule to accommodate others.
While we want everything to run smoothly, life happens and we need to know how to work around it.
Sometimes it is overwhelming and difficult. Check out the tips on how to stop feeling overwhelmed to help with that.
The more flexible we can be, the easier it is.
And provided the family understands the boundaries for everyone it generally works out ok.
Sometimes there has to be a difficult conversation or you have to skip an event, miss an appointment or something.
Reschedule and change what you can with the understanding things happen and it is how we handle it that matters.
The more frustrated and upset we get over these changes, the more reluctant everyone will be to communicate and the harder it will be for all of us.
Work as a team to find a solution to whatever has happened and try to remain connected, happy and progressing towards the life you want instead of getting frustrated, divided and upset.
7. Use Technology
There is so much technology available now to help you manage everyone’s schedules.
Google Calendar, WhatsApp, Asana and Toggl are a few we use frequently.
All events and important reminders are put into Google Calendar with reminders and as much information as possible added.
We have a family WhatsApp group to easily communicate changes to everyone.
Asana is great for projects, to-do lists, a running shopping list etc.
Toggl is used to track time so we know clearly how long we spend on different tasks and where we could save time.
In fact, this app helped us all change how we did some things to save me hours a week.
I tracked everything I did for a few days and the family were horrified by how much of my time was spent doing everything for everyone else and nothing for myself.
We also used Fair Play to see how it was panning out in our household and make some changes.
Use technology to help you stay organized and on top of your schedule.
8. Delegate Responsibilities
If there are multiple people and events you need to juggle, chances are you can delegate some of this.
Where possible, make others responsible for booking their own appointments, making travel arrangements and taking control of their life.
My teenagers use public transport and their bikes to get where they need to be most of the time.
They quickly learned the routes, how long things take and time schedules. This means, most of their plans can be arranged by them with me only needing to know where they are going and the times.
The rest is organised by them and on the odd occasion it hasn’t worked out, we make other arrangements quickly.
These are important life skills so I have included my kids in planning travel and activities since they were in primary school.
By the time they were in high school, they were comfortable making plans on their own but knew to always communicate with me.
Delegate responsibilities to others when possible, so you have more time for yourself.
9. Take Breaks
Don’t overload your schedule to the point where you never have a break.
Last year I was juggling too much with a baby, a toddler, two teens, their commitments such as robotics, sports, work and things that took a lot of time.
Some days I spent 5 hours in the car driving them all around. My younger two weren’t in care and I was still trying to run my business.
It was too much and I was constantly stressed, and exhausted and my needs were getting neglected.
Take breaks and make time for self-care, so you can recharge and avoid burnout.
Now, I schedule my appointments in properly, have a regular session at the beauty salon and take care of my needs.
My exercise routine, time to work and anything else I need to do are all included and the family is aware and supportive.
If it’s on the calendar and my family knows to respect the time I allocate for myself. Well, my teens do. Toddlers do not care what your plans are!
10. Seek Support
Seek support from friends, family members, or a professional if you need help managing multiple schedules or feeling overwhelmed.
Sometimes we take on too much or we can’t see a way to reduce what we are doing because everyone in the family has so many commitments or needs.
A friend or family member might be able to help you reduce your load and see things you’re missing.
If it’s truly overwhelming, a therapist or other professional can help in this area too.
Don’t be afraid to get help when you need it.
When going through the process of streamlining our life and all the commitments there were resources I found useful.
Life Admin Hacks: This is a great book that steps you through all the mental load tasks we have, how to simplify them and reduce the work you’re doing while being more effective too.
Google Calendar, WhatsApp, Asana and Toggl are apps I mentioned in the article.
Also, check out these 13 things we streamlined to make life easier.