How To Plan Your Week With Your Partner

9 min read

Executive Summary

My partner and I have honed an ideal way to plan our week to minimize stress and maximize our time in parenthood. Below are my tips so you can do the same. Click each bullet point to skip to that section for more details.

Investment Cost: $80/week*
Time Reclaimed: ~2 hours/week (20+ min of planning/mishaps each day)
Worth it? Yes, if your household makes more than $83,200 ($40/hr) 
*secure the alone time by booking a weekend nanny for 2 hours (based on a $40/hour California rate)

A healthy family-work-life balance is what most parents aspire to. But to achieve our desired balance, we must plan for it. I’ve found that if my partner and I don’t define what we will do with our time, someone else will decide for us. 

To ensure we’re in control of our time and on the same page about running the household, my partner and I plan our week every Sunday morning. We sit down with coffee and our calendars and use the time to coordinate everything from dinner menus to trips over holiday breaks.  

These planning sessions lead to so much appreciation for each other and a clearer headspace for the week ahead. I think if I had to choose between a date night or planning the week, I would probably opt for the planning session!

Dr. Sara Nasserzadeh, a couples counselor and relationship expert, thinks couples tend to overlook the importance of setting aside time to discuss the daily operations of running a household. 

“I’ve found that it’s usually these daily tasks, and each partner’s perception of fairness, that ultimately causes a lot of conflict,” she writes. She says she encourages couples to have a weekly “operations check-in.”

“If you only have time for one check-in each week, make it this one,” she says. “I would even go so far as to say that it’s non-negotiable.”

If you’re not in the habit of planning your week, it can be intimidating to know how to start. Here are my tips for how to plan your week with your partner…

How To Plan Your Week: Schedule Time to Plan

Yes, you do have to plan to plan otherwise it won’t happen. I recommend setting a weekly recurring calendar invite with your partner for these team meetings. This also requires setting up childcare so you have the space to plan without distractions, whether that’s asking the grandparents to take the kids for a couple of hours or hiring a babysitter for the occasion. 

We chose Sunday as our planning day because we have our nanny scheduled during this time. We’ve also tried doing our planning meetings during the kids’ naps or quiet time, but this wasn’t ideal because we ended up feeling rushed.

If you’re separated from your co-parent, but still on good terms, I suggest setting up a recurring phone call to review the week and expectations together, and using a shared calendar for events related to your kids. It could be useful to invite a third party like the nanny or family assistant that you both share to keep consistency between homes. If a weekly call is too much, co-parenting coach Jan Yuhas recommends a monthly meeting in a neutral location. 

How To Plan Your Week: Set a Time Limit

These meetings shouldn’t be long! We set a timer for 50 minutes and try to be very intentional with this time, by staying focused on scheduling and what we both want from the week. Keeping it short means we don’t end up dreading the task. 

Even if you and your partner are busy with work, I’ve found that taking 45 minutes to 1 hour to sit down together is doable because it saves so much time and stress in the end.

How To Plan Your Week: Focus on the Big Picture

A key to keeping this meeting short is to stay focused on scheduling without getting bogged down by the details of each activity.  We stick to updating the calendar with the event times, meals, and drop-offs, and tackle the details later. 

For example, if we’ve decided that we want to have crockpot chicken noodle soup for dinner on Wednesday night, we just input that meal into the calendar, and then move on. Even though it can be so tempting to flip into “doing mode” and start instantly adding the ingredients for the meal to our Instacart. 

How To Plan Your Week: Have Set Topics

Every week, we review the same essential topics to make sure there are no conflicts: 

  • The kids’ schedules (school drop-offs, activities, time with grandparents)
  • Unavailable time (ie: when one of us has a work meeting that can’t be interrupted or the nanny has time off and won’t be around)
  • Alone time for each of us separately (“me time” and self care is imperative!) 
  • Date nights 
  • Meal planning
  • Social engagements 

We purposefully review social engagements last because it’s easy to get stuck reactively planning our life based on social invites, instead of choosing how we want to spend our time in parenthood. We typically get invites throughout the week to birthday parties, work dinners, and school functions. In theory, these all sound like priorities, but they don’t have to be.

By reviewing our availability first — between coverage for the kids, events we’ve already committed to, the necessary alone time we each need, etc — we sometimes find that there is only a window for one or two of those invitations. 

CNN anchor and mama Laura Coates says she is also very intentional about scheduling her time as a parent, especially when it comes to self-care. 

“I schedule [me time]. I will actually block off my calendar,” she tells Essence. “I have to be very unapologetic about that, because people will deplete you. They will deplete you to plan their schedule, and I just can’t have that happen.”

For tips on creating more time in parenting, see my post on Self Care For Parents: 6 Ways to Create More “Me Time” in Parenting.

How To Plan Your Week: Automate Recurring Appointments

We create recurring calendar events on our shared digital calendar for every repeating appointment. Automating certain tasks helps make the whole process more efficient because we only need to discuss them if there’s a change or conflict.  Our household calendar has the following recurring events set up so we can easily view if there are conflicts and edit quickly: 

  • School drop off + pick up 
  • Nanny schedule 

We also have a recurring calendar event for “dinner” every night at 7 pm. Each week we go through and update the menu for each night or adjust it if there’s a special event that involves eating out or eating at a different time. 

How To Plan Your Week: Look Ahead Two Weeks

We spend about 90% of our time discussing the upcoming week. But we also look out one extra week for a high-level overview — for example, if there’s an upcoming social event that requires extra coverage for the kids, or a birthday party that we need to order a gift for. If there’s an upcoming costume or themed event for the kids we’ll make a note of that too, and then assign the task of shopping for the costume to our nanny.

Time management expert Laura Vanderkam agrees that looking ahead for big picture planning is an important part of weekly planning. “I take a quick glance forward in my calendar and see if there’s anything big coming up that I should add to the priority list,” she writes in a recent Substack article on how she plans her week. “I also check if there’s anything big happening the Monday or Tuesday of the following week that would require more than a day or two of preparation (since I wouldn’t automatically see this until the following week’s planning time).”

How To Plan Your Week: Eat Beforehand

tips for planning your week with your partner

It’s imperative to eat before looking at a calendar with your partner. It’s too easy to take a schedule conflict personally when you are hangry. Trust me, this lesson was learned the hard way.

How To Plan Your Week: Kiss!

We always start and end each planning meeting with a 6-second kiss, even if we don’t feel like it. It reminds our bodies and minds that we are a team and we are in this together. 

Why 6 seconds? It comes from therapist Dr. John Gottman, who says kissing for 6 seconds or hugging for 20 seconds is enough time to release oxytocin in the brain, which helps couples bond and trust each other.

For more tips on taking control of your time in parenthood, check out my free guide on how to outsource any menial tasks you don’t personally need to be doing: 99 Ways to Do it All (Without Doing it All) And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive our latest articles in your inbox.

Want to Buy More Time? Subscribe!