THE BLOG

The 2014 Checklist: Setting the Tone for the Year Now

02/06/2014 02:01 pm ET | Updated Apr 08, 2014

1. Make a family calendar and plan for the rest of the year. Plan for the next eight months, the rest of the school year and the summer through Labor Day.

2. Mark the dates the whole family needs to know. On your master calendar, fill in the dates that are important: holidays, vacations, school conferences, business trips and other family needs and events. Be sure you check all sources.

3. Once your calendar is complete, start planning.

4. Book now for trips and special days. If trips or certain family events are a priority, be sure you think ahead. Certain events and places fill up quickly, specifically if there is a special play, musical event, circus, etc. coming to town. There are often coupons available so do your research.

5. Schedule age appropriate activities for the rest of the school year. For each child, plan the activities for now and into the spring. Depending upon the age of the child, find activities that stimulate muscles and the brain. Ask friends and read resource guides about the different activities available. Over programming with a daily activity is not necessary.

6. Think about summer. Summer comes quick, so start scheduling now. What is your typical summer like? The good programs fill up immediately, so be sure to start researching now.

7. And call for those appointments now. Summer means forms and appointments. Schools and camps need certain health forms by a specific date. Be sure you make check-up appointments with the pediatrician for the kids early enough in the summer not to conflict with other events.

8. Don't forget yourself. Be sure you have scheduled any specific doctor's appointments, dentist, and eye doctor, mole check... for the yearly check up for you or anyone in the family.

9. Take the time now to prepare for emergencies. Once a year, prepare an emergency list of numbers and addresses for your family which may include doctors, dentists, nearest relative, nearest friends, even adding the water company, gas company, heating and air conditioning contacts and more. Post this comprehensive list in a convenient location. You should also have an emergency plan on this sheet or on your calendar.

Side note: Remember, emergencies often occur at home, so plan accordingly. 911 is the closest call but which hospital is the nearest and the best for children? Be sure you know the route ahead of an emergency. If your child ingests or breathes in a substance or chemical, again 911 is a good place to start but in most states there is a Poison Control number to help. Be sure to add this number to your comprehensive list.

10. Finally, think about all your caregivers for the rest of the year. Update babysitter lists or look for new sitters by asking friends, checking on sources through religious institutions, sitter services and retirement centers. References are important.

SUMMARY: Prepare by making lists, posting numbers, creating the calendar and planning ahead.

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