Quick Exit

Skill Building:


Things to consider…
  • Prioritizing communication and planning.
  • Developing a back-up plan if the PSP family member is called into work or will be late.
  • Talking to children about PSP work schedules and how the family makes adjustments.
  • Going ahead with plans without the PSP (they might be able to join later).
  • Finding ways to include the absent PSP (text or video chat, videos, pictures, etc.).
  • Using problem-solving skills to help develop flexible plans.
Do you want to know more about this?

It is not uncommon to feel a sense of helplessness when plans are always changing and family routines are disrupted. Identifying potential opportunities associated with shiftwork and long hours is a way to reframe the experience and reduce stress. There are workarounds that families can adopt that make the changes and PSP absences less disruptive.

Think about your own flexibility when making plans.

Out of ideas? See below:


  • Are there any perks to shiftwork for you and your family?
  • Think about the advantages of rotating shifts.
  • Which shifts are favourites and why?
  • Which shifts are more challenging?
  • What can you do to make them easier?


  • PSP couples and families often become better at adapting their plans over time.
  • Think about times when your plans changed unexpectedly, and you and your family handled the change well. How did you manage this?
  • It can be helpful to consider not only what has gone wrong but what you are getting right.
Skill building:
Family Calendar Check Up

Family calendars are a key tool for coordinating family plans and activities. Take time together to consider the calendars that everyone in your household uses. Answering the following questions will get you thinking about how useful (or not) these calendars are and how to make them better.

  • What type of calendars does your family use (e.g., wall calendar, notebook/planner, digital/online calendar)?
  • How many calendars do you have altogether?
  • Where are they?
  • Are the calendars shared or does everyone keep their own?
  • What’s included on your calendar (e.g., work and school activities, extra-curricular activities, holidays and birthdays, other information)?
  • Is there a central family calendar (e.g., on the fridge) or synchronized family calendar (online) that everyone in the household has access to?
    • If so, who is responsible for keeping the calendar up to date?
    • What information is recorded on this calendar?
    • Are symbols, stickers, or highlighting used to abbreviate or allow for quick glances?

Sometimes you can make order out of chaos. Keeping a central calendar for everyone in the household is a starting point. When unexpected changes occur, adjustments will be needed. Last minute changes can be challenging but are usually temporary and the family calendar can help everyone get back on track. You may even want to add back-up plans to your calendar, so these changes are less disruptive.

Let’s see how a PSP couple, Alejandro and Sofia, manage their busy schedule.

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Need Something More?

Check out our self-directed Spouse or Significant Other Wellbeing Course.

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References for this page (click to expand)

Neustaedter, C., Brush, A., & Greenberg, S. (2009). The calendar is crucial: Coordination and awareness through the family calendar. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 16(1), 1–48. https://doi.org/10.1145/1502800.1502806