Recently my 7-year-old has started voicing concern over our schedule. During his free blocks of time, he has been building complex machines out of Legos, and he wants more time to engineer his creations. He’s worried that on any particular day he won’t have enough time for his own projects.
In order to help him to see how we allocate our time each week, I’ve started making a Family Calendar that I post on the refrigerator. On this calendar are all of our standard commitments that we do each week: a trip to the library for story time and checking out books, brunch with a dear friend, as well as my boys’ weekly gymnastics and art classes. I also write in our commitments that vary from week to week: concerts, gathering with friends, travel, appointments, trips to the gym, and so on.
For my son, this simple act seems to have made an immediate difference. He can look at our schedule for the day, for the rest of the week, and even for the following week (I try to keep a schedule for the week following under our current one). This lets him see which blocks of time are accounted for and which are open for his own projects. It also reminds him of fun things that are coming up (for example, a friend’s birthday party or a soldering class he’s particularly excited about).
Finally, it helps him to be a part of our family decision-making when we decide at which point during the week we’re going to run errands such as heading to the market, the bank, or the post office. He can see our various options and realize that while tacking a stop at the market onto another trip may lessen the free time he has on one particular day, it gives him a larger stretch of uninterrupted time on another day.
I’ve found that it also helps me to be able to see our week at a glance. While I keep a paper calendar that I reference frequently, there’s something about having our entire week’s schedule posted on the refrigerator that helps me to think about our chunks of time in a slightly different way. For us, this has been a great way to simplify our lives by helping us to get a better handle on our week.
Do you keep a family calendar? Do you and your family find it helpful?