Keeping a Busy Family Organized

Photographer: renjith krishnan, www.freedigitalphotos.net

We live in a technology -driven society and with that, things are supposed to be easier. Our entire lives are driven by high-tech devices that we “need” and must have to make our lives run more efficiently. Ironically, the things that were created to simplify our lives have only led to us filling every minute of every day with more things to do. In my family, there are six of us who have work (multiple jobs for each of us), school, sports, homework, extra-curricular activities,  doctor appointments, meetings..the list goes on and on. Keeping all of our schedules organized can be quite a challenge.

We all think “I will remember that date” or “I will not forget to bring the snack” but really when your own life is incredibly busy and then you need to remember everything that goes along with having four children and a husband (or whatever your family dynamic is), the likelihood of remembering everything is highly unlikely.

Knowing that there was a high percentage rate that I would forget or miss something, I knew I had to find a way to keep all of our schedules straight. Although I kept my own personal schedule on my phone, I needed to find something that was accessible to my family as well as user-friendly for the kids.

When the kids first got to an age where they had multiple activities, future homework assignments and important dates to remember, I came home with a “Mom’s Calendar” thinking that would make for a simple solution. At first it worked–the kids had fun putting stickers on important dates and I made notes for all of their activities. Then after a while it began to fill up, each calendar day started to have multiple events and you could barely read it. Not to mention the fact that every time I turned around the kids were pulling it off of the wall and then putting it back up but instead of putting the tack back in the same hole they would create a new hole in the wall. Let’s just say my wall was starting to look like they had played several games of darts in my kitchen.

When the year came to an end, I was happy to rid our lives of the “Mom’s Calendar” but I desperately needed a replacement. Taking in account that we needed more space to write, I did not want to have holes in my wall and I prefer something a little more neat and tidy, I found what I thought was a great solution–a reusable one month calendar that had magnets and stuck to the refrigerator. Every month we would write in the days for the new month and fill in all of our schedules. Sadly I still found issues that made this calendar less than perfect. For starters it was only one month so anything that was scheduled in the future had to be noted on the bottom and many times we had more future items than room for. Next you can only use a dry-erase marker which often dries out quickly and then you are stuck remembering dates once again. Then there was the fact that the kids, as most kids do, slam the refrigerator door rather than close it gently. So the calendar would often go flying off the door. Eventually magnets began falling off and it ended up being propped up on the counter which only annoyed me.

Sick and tired of large bulking calendars that seemed to be failing me anyway, I began to search for an electronic calendar that both my husband and I could access on our phones as well as on our computers. After a fair amount of research, we decided on Google Calendar. Not only did we both have access to it through our email accounts but we could share calendars with each other and easily sync them with our phones. Anything I did on my computer or my phone would immediately sync with his phone and computer. We thought this was the perfect answer and in many ways it was and is, however, while my husband and I are able to manage our calendars and we can add in things for the kids, it is a little too complex for the kids to use.

As the kids are getting older we are wanting them to take a little more responsibility for their own schedules and also be responsible for keeping track of when they have projects due at school. In order for that to happen we must a system that is child-friendly. They do have their school agendas which they use but again I want a calendar that we all have access to whenever and wherever we need.

Today I was looking around for the perfect family calendar and I think I may have found it. It is called Cozi-family life simplified. This online calendar appears to have it all–free online calendar, family-friendly, color-coded, iPhone/Android app, to-do lists, shopping lists and a family journal. I have not spent much time on it but from what I can tell, it was easy to sign up, adding family members was extremely simple (each family member does need to have an email address) and adding appointments to the calendar is simple. You can view a daily calendar, weekly calendar or monthly calendar, all of which display the appointments which is color-coded to match the person needing to attend the appointment.

I am not sure whether this will end up being the solution I have been looking for over the past couple of years but so far it looks promising. In the meantime, please share with me any great ideas you have on keeping your busy family organized.

 

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