Communication - the make it or break it in any relationship, in any home. Our organization boards increase your family communication by setting visual expectations on what needs to happen that week, month, or year. But how do you manage scheduling conflicts and communicate in an easy, positive way? As a family of six and with 2 working parents, here are some of my favorite tips on navigating tricky scenarios when it comes to family schedules:
1. Do you feel like you're managing the schedule all on your own and it's overwhelming? Then it's time to let it go and delegate. Pick a specific day or a due date for family members to add their schedule to the board (don't forget to have them pick their own color for easy color coding!). For instance, my husband plays hockey. Rather than him texting me his schedule, after I've filled out the new dates on our calendar, I ask "Hey, can you write in your hockey schedule, dr appts, etc by Friday this week?". Your teenagers can do this too! And then once everyone fills out their events, you're finished! And you can easily make adjustments and talk to them if events conflict or you need to coordinate rides to places.
2. What if a family member keeps forgetting about the board? Talk with them about your frustration and why it's hard on you. Always come from a place of curiosity, rather than accusatory. For instance saying: "You never look at the calendar! You never put your stuff on it! You never tell me about your appointments!" will put your partner, roomie, or child on the defense and won't get you anywhere. Coming from a place of curiosity creates space for them to not feel blamed or shamed. Brains go into emergency mode when they feel blame or shame - it's a safety threat. Their brain literally is incapable of empathy, problem-solving, etc. until that threat is dealt with. So try this: "Hey, I'm sure you don't mean to frustrate me...but I get frustrated when things aren't put on the calendar or when you don't look at it. I would really love to come up with something together on how to make this work for the both of us...do you have some ideas?".
3. What if you disagree with your partner on your family schedule? If you or your partner feels like you have too much or too little going on, then kindly invite them to a discussion on planning. "Hey, I feel like this schedule isn't working - I'd love to figure out what would work best for the both of us...would you be ok with picking a time together to sit down and chat about it?". Make sure to validate their concerns, repeat back what they're saying to you to show them you care about understanding them, and share your expectations and feelings too (but stay within "I'm sure this wasn't your intent...I'm feeling like...and I'd love it if we could...". If things go sideways say, "You and this discussion are really important to me and I want it to go well, but I feel like I'm/We're getting heated...can we take a break for 10 min/until tomorrow and come back to this?"
4. How do you create ownership? When family members have ownership in the creation of anything, they care about it more...which leads to greater success in using the schedule. For kids, it could be something as simple as helping you fill out the new month while you tell them what to write or letting them pick their own color code. For a partner, you can simply pick out a set planning time even just for 10 min - and choose what weekends or evenings work for you to get self-care, outings, or friend activities. If you feel like you don't even have time for that - then switch off who is in charge of filling out the calendar each month.
These are just a few tips that can really help make family communication easier and help you springboard your own family coordinating ideas!