A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Your Family Planner

A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Your Family Planner

As parents of two beautiful children, we've navigated the labyrinth of managing our family's schedule. Balancing school, work, extracurricular activities, and precious family time can feel like a high-wire act. Over the years, we've discovered that effective family planning and time management can transform this tightrope walk into a harmonious dance. In this article, we'll share our insights and tips on this crucial topic.

The Importance of Family Planning

Family planning transcends merely keeping track of everyone's schedules. It's about orchestrating our lives to help us achieve our individual and collective goals. It's about ensuring everyone's needs are met, conflicts are minimized, and family time is cherished.

One of the most effective tools for family planning is a family planner. Whether it's a printable calendar, a mobile app, or an online organizer, a family planner can help manage multiple schedules, avoid conflicts, set goals, and create routines.

Understanding Family Planners

Family planners come in various forms and offer different features. Some are simple calendars that you can print out and stick on your fridge. Others are sophisticated online organizers that sync with your digital devices and send you reminders of upcoming events.

Regardless of their form, all family planners serve the same basic purpose: to help you manage your family's time more effectively. They provide a visual representation of your family's schedule, making it easier to see where conflicts might arise and where you have free time. They also allow you to set goals and create routines, which can help your family lead a more organized and productive life.

The Importance of Family Involvement in Planning

Family planning shouldn't be a one-person job. It's important to involve all family members in the planning process, including those with disabilities. This not only ensures that everyone's needs are considered, but it also fosters better communication, understanding, and cooperation within the family.

In our family, we use an emotional tracker as part of our planning process. This tool helps us ensure that everyone feels heard and good. It fosters a deeper connection among us and makes our family planning smoother.

Essential Features of Family Planner Tools

When choosing a family planner tool, there are several essential features to look for. These include:

Shared family calendar: This allows all family members to see and contribute to the family's schedule. It helps avoid scheduling conflicts and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Household Chores: One of the basic functions of a Family Planner tool is to ensure that everyone participates in managing the household by doing age appropriate household chores.

Planning Work, Activities and Family Time: Apart from managing household chores, a Family Planner should help you organise your work, school assignments and homework, travel plans as well as help you make the time for fun family outings, trips and vacations.

Grocery lists and meal planning: These can help you plan your meals in advance and make sure you have all the ingredients you need.

Customizable categories and labels: These allow you to organize your tasks and events in a way that makes sense to you.

Integration with other tools: If you're using other tools for tasks like budgeting or project management, it can be helpful to have a planner that integrates with these tools.

At Merlinstruction we have tried to include as many of these features as possible in our tools, as well as some other functions related to education and raising children. 

Pros and Cons of Using Family Planner Tools

Like any tool, family planners have their pros and cons. On the plus side, they can significantly improve your family's organization and productivity. They can help you keep track of everyone's schedules, tasks, and goals, making it easier to manage your time and avoid conflicts. They can also foster better communication among family members, as everyone can see what others are doing and plan accordingly.

On the downside, there can be a learning curve when you first start using a family planner. It can take some time to get used to the tool and figure out how to use it effectively. There can also be technology glitches, especially with digital planners. And while many family planners are free, some come with a cost, which can be a drawback for some families.

Put Away the Phone

In our digital age, it's easy to rely on our phones for everything, including family planning. We believe it's important to use tools that are accessible to the whole family, including children who are not yet old enough to have a phone.

As parents, we have a responsibility to protect our children from over-dependence on screen technology. Numerous studies have shown that excessive screen time can have negative effects on children's cognition. That's why we've chosen to develop a non-digital family planner for our own family.


Types of Family Planner Tools

Family planner tools come in a variety of forms, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few types you might consider:

Online family organizer apps: These digital tools allow you to manage your family's schedule from any device with internet access. They often include features like shared calendars, task lists, reminders, and more. However, they may not be accessible to younger children or those without a smartphone or computer.

Printable family planning templates: These are simple, low-tech options that you can print out and hang on your fridge or wall. They're accessible to everyone in the family, but they lack some of the advanced features of digital tools. The lack of advaned features can be remedied in a printed tool such as the "Family Time", but then it is no longer easy to print and use.

Mobile apps for family planning: These apps allow you to manage your family's schedule from your smartphone. They're convenient and often include a variety of features, but they may not be accessible to those without a smartphone.

Family scheduling software: These are more advanced digital tools that you can install on your computer. They often include robust features like shared calendars, task management, and project planning. However, they can be more complex and harder to use than other options.

Notebooks and bullet journaling: These are hands-on, customizable options that allow you to create a planner that fits your family's unique needs. They're accessible to everyone and can be a fun, creative activity. However, they require more effort to set up and maintain than other options. We use the Bullet Journal method to complement our "Family Time" box for a feature rich and adaptable solution with no-screens.

Best Family Planner Tools in the Market

There are many family planner tools available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few you might consider:

Panda Planner: This hybrid planner combines the benefits of a traditional paper planner with the convenience of a digital tool. It's reusable and comes with app connectivity, allowing you to add each page to an app and search for it easily, even if you erase it.

MomPlanner and Tools4Wisdom planners: These planners are designed specifically for moms and include built-in meal planners. However, they focus on personal planning and don't include the whole family, which can limit their effectiveness in teaching planning and responsibility to children.

Dry Erase Board Calendar for Fridge, Global Printed Products Weekly Family Planner, Bliss Collection Family Planner, Amy Knapp’s Big Grid Family Organizer, and Hivillexun Magnetic Fridge Calendar Planner: These non-digital family planners are easy to use and accessible to everyone in the family. They allow you to see your family's schedule at a glance and make changes easily. However they are very bare bones in their funcitonality and do not allow longer term plans.

Tips for Effective Family Planning

Effective family planning involves more than just using the right tools. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your family planner:

Set priorities and goals: Decide what's most important to your family and make sure those things get scheduled first.

Delegate tasks and responsibilities: Make sure everyone in the family has a role in maintaining the schedule and completing tasks.

Create a routine: Having a regular routine can make your days run more smoothly and reduce stress. The Habit Tracker can help you develop the routines you want.

Have regular family meetings: Use these meetings to review the schedule, discuss any issues, and make plans for the future.

Use positive reinforcement: Celebrate when your family achieves its goals and completes tasks on time. This can motivate everyone to continue using the planner and working together.

Introducing the "Family Time": A Fresh Take on Time Management

the "Family Time" set is a comprehensive system designed to simplify family life by consolidating all aspects of time into one unified system. It includes a visual calendar, shared scheduling, and habit formation, making it a powerful tool for managing your family's time.

The Power of Habit Formation

Habit formation is a key component of effective time management. By establishing regular routines and habits, you can make your days run more smoothly and ensure that important tasks get done. The "Family Time" set promotes habit formation by making it easy to track your habits and see your progress over time.
You can also read our extensive overview over Habit Formation on our blog.

Planning for the Long Term: The Yearly Calendar

Long-term planning is another important aspect of effective family planning. By looking ahead and planning for the future, you can ensure that your family is prepared for whatever comes your way. Tools like the yearly calendar can facilitate long-term planning by giving you a big-picture view of your year. For even longer time-frames we provide the Life journey planner.


Family planning is an essential skill for maintaining a harmonious and productive family life. By choosing the right family planner tool, involving all family members in the planning process, and following effective planning strategies, you can manage your family's time more effectively and enjoy more quality time together. Whether you choose a digital tool, a printable template, or a hands-on notebook, the most important thing is to find a system that works for your unique family. Happy planning!

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