How to Start Co-Planning With Your Partner
Most of the content I create and planning tips I share fall into what I call singular planning (aka planning you do on your own), but I also want to share with you the value of co-planning and how to make it work for you.
Now, I will be the first to admit that this hasn’t always been the easiest for me to implement in my own life. And I’m hoping that the tips and strategies that I’ve learned and honed through co-planning with my husband will help create a smooth experience for you.
What is co-planning?
Co-planning is more or less what it sounds like.
It’s the act of planning with another person or people, and in most cases, it is done with your spouse, significant other, or another important person whose life is intricately woven into yours.
And in this blog, I’m sharing five planning tips and strategies that I use in my own home to help you co-plan effectively.
#1 Know When to Stop Being the Ring Leader
We joke very openly in our family that I am the COO or the head of operations in terms of coordinating schedules with everyone.
I’m the one doing the weekly planning, monthly planning, etc. And I’m usually doing all of this planning on my own in the privacy of my own office — which makes it very easy for me to stay on top of things.
However, I will sometimes fall into the trap of getting really frustrated because other people aren't on board with the plans I’ve quietly been making. But I haven’t necessarily involved and communicated with everybody what’s going on in my head or why I'm making decisions that I'm making.
When I feel frustration setting in with people not being on board with my plans, I have to remind myself to stop being the ringleader of the circus.
And if you find that you're getting a lot of pushback and resistance to your plans, it may be a sign that you are in that ringleader mode — meaning that you're creating all of the plans and then forcing them on everybody without getting buy-in or communicating.
Don’t feel bad! I did this for years, but when I finally stepped off of the ringleader box in the middle of the circus arena, and instead leaned into these next four tips around co-planning, it really made a huge impact.
#2 Establish a Weekly Review
Every Sunday evening as we are wrapping up our family dinner, we do what I call our weekly review.
A weekly review is where we together go over things on the calendar for the week ahead that involve more than one of us or that are important for everybody to know.
We go over appointments, travel plans, or just anything that is out of the ordinary that would be good for everyone to know.
I don’t try to break things down into two many details, because that’s when you lose people’s attention. But when you do a quick, high-level weekly review with your family, it’s incredibly helpful for everyone.
#3 Create a Communication Center
Something I teach inside my TOP program is the importance of setting up a communication center for everybody who lives somewhere in your house.
Similar to the weekly review, this is a place for high-level plans and reminders that pertain to the whole family that’s easy for everyone to access and see regularly.
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Our communication center is simply a weekly sticky note that I ordered from Amazon with a spot for each day of the week that we keep next to the coffee and snacks.
You could also use something like a Week at a Glance whiteboard that’s magnetic and stays on the fridge. Whatever makes the most sense for your family!
Again, this just needs to share the right level of information. Things on our communication center included changes in drop off or pick, evening activities, travel plans, etc.
#4 Do a Monthly Review
This is similar to the weekly review, except that it’s co-planning done once a month to get everyone on the same page.
Now, the monthly review in our home is currently just for my husband and me because I’ve found it’s too overwhelming for my daughter to be thinking weeks ahead of time.
So, every month, my husband and I will sit down and look at the month ahead. And it's really just a chance for us at the start of the month to touch base on the things that we both need to be in sync on.
We go over any schedule changes that are out of the ordinary, travel plans coming up, and look at our weekends together to make sure that we understand what our plan is. This helps us account for chores that need to be done, family time, one-on-one time with our daughter, etc.
#5 Co-Plan for the Year
The highest level of co-planning that my husband and I do is what I call annual planning, but it’s actually something we do twice a year.
This annual co-planning is where you and your partner sync for family trips, vacations, holidays, etc.
My husband and I also use this time to make sure that the school calendar is in sync for both of us, and it gives us an opportunity to discuss goals for our family and ourselves.
We typically do these twice-a-year annual planning sessions in the spring and fall for the season that’s ahead. (Meaning, we are talking about the upcoming fall in our spring planning and the upcoming spring in our fall planning.)
This doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment! Our monthly review takes about 10 minutes, and our annual planning takes around 30 minutes.
You don't need to carve out hours of your life to implement these co-planning tips and strategies, but I will tell you that if you use them, it will save you so much heartache, arguing, and miscommunication.