How to Organize Your Family Life

ByABC News
December 30, 2003, 5:02 PM

Jan. 5 -- The New Year can dawn over a wasteland of torn wrapping paper, dried-out Christmas trees, unwritten thank-you notes and a sinking feeling that you're even farther behind on your to-do list than you were before the holidays.

The temptation is often to keep slogging along, no matter how tired or slow you feel, until you get it all done. But for most people, that's not a solution that works. You'll ultimately just be reacting to problems as they present themselves, with little control over your schedule.

Instead, take control of your family's schedule by setting goals and priorities. To help meet those goals, you'll need a calendar, a to-do list and some reminding system to keep yourself and other family members up to date on upcoming events or responsibilities.

The experts recommend you start with the big picture first.

The beginning of a new year is a good time to assess your family's schedule, says Molly Gold, a one-time meeting planner and president of Go Mom !nc., which specializes in planning products for mothers. The South Riding, Va., mother of three suggests families make a dream calendar of activities that are important to each member of the family, decide which are realistic and spread them throughout the year and use that as the foundation for building a family calendar.

Goals will vary from one family member to another and they'll require some decision making. Ice cream for breakfast, for instance, is not a goal to incorporate into the family calendar, but a weekly outing that the whole family can take together to a favorite ice cream shop is. Goals can be as modest as having dinner together as a family three times a week or as ambitious as finding a vacation that the whole family can take together and enjoy. Then, decide on your family's rhythm.

"You need a big overview for the month or the week," Gold says. She breaks her week up into Monday through Thursday and then Friday through Sunday. She suggests families decide what kind of structure they want for their week get all work done during the week, leaving weekends for leisure?