Families in sync
Solutions to get everyone on the same schedule
Monday, January 26, 2009
As a family grows, the need to coordinate calendars becomes a big priority. Managing the agendas of parents, kids, caregivers and extended family and friends without collision can be a difficult task. Try incorporating one of these ideas to improve your family’s calendar conundrums:
Team meeting. Companies do it, classrooms do it, even major sports teams do it—and so should your family. A weekly meeting may seem basic, but face-to-face coordination is one of the best ways to lay down a foundation for good communication. Make the first appointment on your calendar a family meeting to review the week’s activities. Provide a favorite breakfast or a great dessert as an incentive for attendance. If someone can’t make it, let them know there is no guarantee they will have the car, have a ride to practice or have their plans accommodated that week.
Visual reminders. If Post-It notes aren’t cutting it, try a chalkboard wall, window markers or a magnetic dry-erase board. Make sure to tie a piece of chalk or a marker nearby so there’s no excuse for not leaving a message. A simple monthly paper calendar might work for your family, and templates are available online at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates. Posting these visual cues in high traffic areas—the kitchen, the foyer or on a wall by the coat rack—will make it easy for kids and parents to double-check as they bop in and out all day.
Schedule the nonscheduled. Make appointments for those things that don’t need to be scheduled such as vacuuming the living room, writing thank you notes and folding laundry. If you plug household chores and regular events into the family schedule, there’s a better chance that everything will get done and a last-minute change won’t upset the apple cart.
Use the technology you have. Most of us don’t use the technology we have to our full advantage. Many cell phones come with built-in calendars and alarms. Computers may have simple calendar programs, pop-up reminder options or simple digital note-pads. Many hand-held phones are also equipped with a message button for leaving a quick message at home.
Try new software. An online calendar can be a great way to keep everyone in the loop. Google Calendar (www.google.com) offers free software for creating an online calendar, with color-coding and multiple calendar options for sports teams or clubs. Family-friendly software is available for families to access calendars, lists and reminders and communicate changes in plans from one Web location.
Or check out free software called www.Cozi.com that allows you to plug in family schedules and send messages via e-mail or text or access your grocery list from your cell phone.