I was the person who never wrote down anything. I kept my calendar in my head. I was also the person who never forgot anything.
Then I married my service member and my mental calendar was no longer filled with my vacations, my bill payment reminders and my hair appointments. Now my mental calendar was jumbled with his schedule and his responsibilities.
Then we had a child.
Then we had a second child.
Then I started working from home as a freelance writer.
Then I decided to be the co-chair for In Gear Career for Military Spouses at our military base.
Then I decided to attend 2 yoga classes a week.
Then I enrolled my 2 daughters in ballet classes. On 2 different nights. At 2 different times.
Suddenly my mental calendar was overloaded. My mental calendar officially died when I rushed my daughter to ballet class one evening, only to realize that we were exactly 1 hour late for it. (I honestly thought the class started at 5:30 p.m., not 4:30 p.m.)
I needed a new non-mental system and I needed it fast. We needed to find a family calendar and start using it, since obviously my brain couldn’t juggle 4 people’s schedules.
Week 34 Challenge: Pick a Family Calendar System
Challenge Details: It doesn’t matter if your family calendar is a paper planner or a smartphone app. Find a system that makes sense to you and that you will use daily. Spend time writing or typing appointments, classes and deadlines in this family calendar.
Your Deadline: August 29
Bonus points if you post a photo of your favorite family calendar on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #2016IsMyBitch.
Ready to fall in love with your family calendar? Ready to feel the calm that goes with being organized and arriving on-time to social events? Here are 4 steps to finding and using a family calendar effectively.
Browse the Family Calendar Options
Start by asking yourself this question: paper or app? Or both? The majority of us use an app on our smartphones for our family calendars. It makes sense.
You can color code events and activities for every member of your family. With an app, you and your spouse can both see the calendar, even if you are in 2 different locations. You can make events recurring with a simple tap instead of writing it every week in a weekly planner.
And you can set reminders on your family calendar app, so it tells you to go to the dentist, pick up milk on the way home from work or pack your child’s lunch for her field trip.
Here are our favorite family calendar apps:
Cozi. This free app has a “color-coded calendar that lets you view an individual’s schedule or the whole family at once. Add or edit appointments that everyone in the family can see, set reminders so no one misses an important event, and get an agenda for the upcoming week emailed to any family member,” according to its website. The shared to-do lists and shopping lists are my favorite features of Cozi.
Google Calendar. Over and over again, we hear that many military spouses use this simple and free app. I like how I have the same calendar at my desktop as on my iPhone with Google Calendar. Plus since I use Gmail for my email, it will suggest items to add to my calendar. It also syncs with Facebook events so you’ll never miss the paint and sip social again.
If you’re calendar crazy like me, you will use both a paper and family calendar app.
Seek Input, Then Pick Your Family Calendar
Once you’ve reviewed and narrowed down your calendar options to your favorites, talk with your spouse. What family calendar would work best for you as a couple? Is it an app that you both have on your phones? Or is a color-coded monthly calendar hanging in your kitchen?
Whatever you decide, ask for your spouse’s input. Maybe she likes to see the week mapped out on the fridge. Maybe he knows how to sync his work calendar with your Google Calendar. The goal is to work as a team on your family calendar.
Schedule Time to Organize Your Family Calendar
Now that you have a family calendar, it’s time to start using it. If you have kids, put the school calendar dates (random early dismissal days) in your family calendar.
I’m a big believer in the color-code system. Pick a color for every family member and stick to it. I also take it a step further. Here’s how.
My color is red. My husband’s color is blue. I use the color green for events that the whole family will attend. I use the color purple for appointments that are only for my husband and I will attend.
I told you I like a color system.
Schedule Time to Review Your Family Calendar as a Couple
In an ideal world, my husband and I sit down for 20 minutes every Sunday night (after the kids are in bed) and we review the family calendar. Then he knows I’m working late on Wednesday night and need him to pick up the girls from daycare. I know that he wants to go golfing with his buddies on Saturday morning.
We also review the week’s meal plan and see if we need to revise it based on our schedules that week.
Does this family calendar planning discussion happen every Sunday night?
No. And that’s OK.
But when this discussion does happen, I feel like I’m ready to tackle the week’s agenda and won’t have to explain to the ballet instructor why my daughters are late for class. Again.