Staying on Top of Scheduling and Saying NO! & Google Calendar vs. EC Life Planner

Part 1: A former teacher turned parent shares what’s important and how we manage all the school related stuff in our home

Part 2: Paper, paper, more paper, & emails! How I tame the communication beast




Alright so I’ve covered the uniform command center, the throwing away and organizing of papers, and the filing and deleting of emails. Today’s post is all about staying on top of scheduling and saying, “No!” as well as a little review of the Google Calendar vs. the Erin Condren Life Planner. I know it sounds like a lot, but we can do this!

How do I stay on top of scheduling? Well, this is totally a pride thing, but I’ll say it anyway: I don’t wanna be the crazy lady will all the kids who always forgets stuff. Or kids. I also don’t want to my children to experience feeling panicked or sad because I left them somewhere, so maybe it’s not all pride.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have been late to pick up my children from school. One time, I was taking a nap and when Social Butterfly and Bright Eyes were napping. That glorious nap went all the way to 3:45! Poor Dimples and Smarty Pants were sent to extended day. When I walked through the front doors of the school with crease marks across my face from my pillow, our art teacher, a mother of six, took one look at me and said, “How was your nap?!” How very humbling. I felt just awful. Do you know what happened when I picked up those sweet little angels from play time in the gym at extended day? They said, practically in unison, “Oh man, mom! We were having fun!”

Scheduling isn’t just about pick up times and drop off times and helping our kids keep track of when a project is due. For me, as the manager of our home and everyone’s schedules, I have the ability to buffer my family from over scheduling. This is where saying NO! comes in.

When The Hubs and I were new parents of a preschooler, I started receiving invitations to classmates’ birthday parties. We made two conscious decisions together that have really paid off:

  1. The children do not attend birthday parties that are held on Sundays.
  2. I don’t show them a party invitation unless they are going.

The first rule may sound a little harsh, and it was difficult to enforce at first, but now they just know. We spend Sundays together as a family. My prayer is that this will carry into their teenage years. We’ll see! The second rule is just to prevent a struggle. It’s difficult to look into my children’s big beautiful eyes and tell them they aren’t able to attend a laser tag party or go to a painting cafe. But Mom knows best, and sometimes that means that bending over backwards to get a child to and from a birthday party is just going to cause the family overall too much stress.

We also say NO! to too many extra-curricular activities. This is so very difficult, especially when there are so many good things out there to expose our children to and get them involved in. For example, Dimples goes to Irish Dance School two nights a week. Around St. Paddy’s Day, she performs in shows all over Northern Virginia. This year, she is old enough to sing in the school choir. She’ll practice one day a week after school and will sing at school Mass each week. In the winter she will participate in CYO basketball which means one or two practices a week and a game on Saturdays. All of those activities and this is us saying NO!? No, she can’t do Girls on the Run once a week. And NO! she can’t do American Heritage Girls. NO! horse back riding unless you want to give up dance. And what about piano lessons? For now, NO!

It’s difficult to be the bearer of bad news, most especially to your child, but what I’m discovering over time is that it is so very good for them. When we tell our children NO! we’re really teaching them how to take care of themselves. We’re also teaching them about budgeting and temperance. When we say NO! to our kids, they’re not hearing, “Mom and Dad don’t love me.” They may not know it, but deep down, in their heart of hearts, they are hearing, “Mom and Dad care about me and want what’s best for me.” In the end what the whole family gets out of parents who say NO! are children who have more time to be kids at home. When I look back on my childhood, the memories I hold dear are the ones spent with my family.

Off the soap box. On to calendars. This is the fun part!

Google Calendar is the only way to go. At least, that’s what I was preaching until I fell in love with Erin Condren. Let me break it down for you.

Google Calendar

Screenshot 2015-08-28 07.21.07

  • easy to interface with your spouse’s calendar
  • you have the choice to repeat an entry weekly and choose what day i.e. Soccer every Monday from 6-7pm until November 12th, pay day bi-weekly, anniversary annually
  • choose to have an alert sent to your phone the day before and ten minutes before the event starts
  • color coordination to keep children or types of events categorized
  • print out the day’s schedule and put it in a binder so the family can see what’s happening today, or this week, or this month

Erin Condren Life Planner

ec life planner

  • set goals for the week, month, and year
  • divide your day into morning, afternoon, night
  • personalize with stickers and colored pens
  • keep track of spending
  • lots of room for notes, ideas, lists
  • space for meal planning or exercise goals
  • keep a record of things like the baby’s firsts or when you last gave your sick child their medicine, or even how much water you’ve had to drink today

There really is no comparing these two methods of keeping track of your family’s schedule. One is for the person who doesn’t want to write anything down and needs their phone to remind them that it’s time to leave for the orthodontist appointment. The other is for the person who wants it all down on paper. I liked Google Calendar for the alerts, but I love Erin Condren for the pretty. Google Calendar was just that: a calendar. The Erin Condren Life Planner is just that: a planner that helps you organize your life. Oh you should see all the Etsy Shops that sell stickers for your Life Planner! Two of my favorites are Lily Grove Designs and Weft and Olive 2.

Come back tomorrow and hear all about how we manage homework time, play time, dinner time, and snacking in the after school hours!

scheduling and saying NO!


Categories: Parenting


9 Responses to Staying on Top of Scheduling and Saying NO! & Google Calendar vs. EC Life Planner

  1. I use both Google Calendar and a paper planner, The Catholic Daily Planner. I use Google because my husband, daughter and I can share and sync the calendar, plus the alerts are nice. I have it set go off as a notification on my phone one hour before and as an email one day before. I use the paper because it’s pretty and the actual act of writing helps me remember better.

    • I had a Catholic Daily Planner once and really liked it. I have a feeling once the kids are a bit older, I’ll have a paper planner and utilize Google as well. And a bunch of my friends on Facebook have been telling me about the Cozi App. Good stuff!

  2. I am loving this series! I have to say we use public schools and it’s possible to be a faithful Catholic family and keep the faith first even if not going to Catholic schools. So, the uniforms didn’t apply to me but I love the rest (and I really do love those ideas too because one dream of mine is a huge family closet for clothes for all 6 kids)!! We work better with a wall calendar that I personalized at but I was loving the stickers so I ordered some just for fun! 🙂 Also, I was inspired by a file folder system you posted about a long time ago with folders labeled, “To Do” , “To File” and I sort things like that in my kitchen command center. I also have folders for coupons and misc. items. I have a great folder holder that works on my counter because I have just a small space for command center stuff. I use a magnetic paper holder on the fridge (Martha Stewart line from Staples) that holds papers the kids need to access about projects or what not. Thanks for the ideas and the encouragment to get organized for the new school year! 🙂

    • That’s wonderful news, Bridget! I am so happy that you are able to send your children to public school and keep the faith. I have many friends here who do the same and I admire them greatly. So I admire you too! Let me know how you like the stickers once they arrive! I say you’re never too old to have stickers. 🙂 God bless your school year!

  3. Hi, Love my EC planner, and I also use Google Calendar, and the Calenmob app since it syncs my iCal too. Any leads on finding “Catholic” stickers for feasts and such for the EC planner?

    • Chrissy, I bet we could find someone on Etsy who could make something for us. I requested a custom order from Skylar’s Stickers and she did a great job! I’ll reach out to her and see what she says. We could ask for crowns for Marian Feast Days, any other ideas?

      • That would be awesome! I don’t have the EC planner but have still bought some stickers to use for mine. 🙂 I did a quick search on Etsy and found one seller that had a Lent set but that was it.

  4. I am all about the NO! I can’t have a big family and then try to live like a family that has two and has more time and maybe more money. My kids aren’t exposed to as much as other families, but we’re sane. They have lots of creative play time which works for us since they are so close in age. Another majorly helpful thing for me is that my money has to go to allergen-free food, which is so expensive. If I had more money, I would be crazy Mama trying to drive everywhere!

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