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Today's modern family often needs a traffic coordinator and appointment secretary to keep up with all the events and activities that crowd an average week. Can the tangle of school plays, soccer practices, scouts, church activities, music lessons, recitals and doctor appointments be organized in a way to reduce frustration and conflict?

Getting a handle on your family's time is possible but requires some organization and planning to be a success. If every day is taken up with after school or work obligations that conflict with one another some serious choices must be made. Gather your family together in the middle of the month for a conference. Let each member make a list of what they are doing now and would like to do. Remind them to include how much of a time commitment each activity takes. For example, music lessons require daily practice time as well as lessons and recitals. Sports require practices and games. School clubs require meeting times and activities. And don't forget homework! Adults have volunteer activiites such as PTA as well as bowling leagues and social clubs.

When your family shares their list they may decide there's not enough time to do it all. Remind them that as a family they also need time to support each other in activities and just spend time together. Also point out that every member needs a chance to do something special and one person cannot take up all the extra time.

Once you've come to an agreement on your activities, get a calendar with large spaces for each day. Provide a pen of a different color for each family member. First fill in times for doctor and dentist appointments. Add any special dates such as graduation, school concerts, recitals, and games in the color assigned each person. Then fill in daily and weekly activities such as practices and lessons.

Step back and have your family look at the calendar- if one color predominates or too much is scheduled for one day have the people involved brainstorm a solution. Consider limiting your children to one sport and one enrichment activity such as music lessons or scouts. Make sure events which need prior preparation such as bake sales or sleepovers are written in well in advance. Remind your children as well as yourself that you don't have to say yes to everything! Once your schedule is complete make it a rule that nothing can be added without checking the calendar first.

Try to leave at least one weekend day and one evening per month blank. This can be a family day and each member can have a turn deciding what everyone will do together. Pizza and videos? A trip to the zoo? Board games and popcorn? Time spent together keeps everyone in touch and creates the memories that last long after the trophies are gathering dust.