If you’re single, or it’s just you and your spouse that live together, then maybe this post isn’t for you. But, if you have kids, (or lead a busy life) I encourage you to follow along. Life moves quickly. People are busy. Especially during the school year. Don’t forget another important commitment, special event, or deadline. Be smart and use a family calendar!
Does Anyone Know what Day it Is?
My son (the high school senior-to-be) decided to enroll in summer school this year. He needs to take part two of his Physical Education class requirements in order to graduate next May. Nate took session one last summer and it worked out well. This summer he decided to sweat it out again. In fact, we all sweat it out this morning when my wife received a phone call from the school, telling her that class began TODAY; not tomorrow as we read on the school system’s website. Nate was 2-1/2 hours late!
The Mad Dash Begins
After several shouts of, “Nate, wake up! The school just called. Summer school started today! You need to get up and take a shower. We have to leave in just a few minutes! Come on, let’s go!!, my wife was able to get Mr. Sleepyhead Teenager into the car and headed across town to the high school.
Arriving at school, Nate took off for his classroom so as not to miss another minute of today’s class time. My wife apologized to the woman in the principal’s office, telling her that, according to the school system’s website, the start of Summer School – Session Two was listed as ‘7.6’. There was no year (like 2012) listed, so we assumed it was the current information. Had we clicked through to just one more screen, we would have learned that ‘7.6’ was the start date for LAST YEAR’S second session.
The school had not bothered to update their site.
As a side note: In a world of lightning-fast technology, bad information is still bad information.
Back to the Subject of Family Calendars
The real moral of this story is that families need to keep track of all the appointments, events, band concerts, swim meets, birthdays, anniversaries and due dates (Certificates of Deposit , credit card bills, cell phone bills, etc., etc.).
A shared, family calendar is what we normally use to stay on top of stuff. I use ‘normally’ in the loosest term, because for the summer school incident we failed – big time. But when we do things right here’s what happens.
We use a large wall calendar to enter all the kids’ activities for school, band and sporting events. We also plot out doctor, dentist and orthodontist appointments on our family calendar. The calendar hangs on our kitchen wall, right next to the built-in desk. It’s easy to see and easy to update as we learn of more upcoming events that need to be remembered.
Every time a handout comes home from school for some event of project deadline, the calendar gets updated. Every time we schedule a doctor’s appointment, it gets recorded on the calendar. Every sports practice time is written on the appropriate day. Family-related events are maintained on the family calendar.
Prefer a more Electronic Reminder System?
There are other options available. If you prefer a more high-tech calendar you could use your “work” calendar (like Outlook or Lotus Notes). You could also use your personal (or shared) Google calendar. You can also go to the next level and subscribe to a service like Cozi. Cozi is a (free) shared, hosted calendar service. Another option is Find and Remind (also free). Each member of your family can log into the system and review, add or delete appointments or special events. Of course, you can find lots (about 517 million at last count) of other web-based calendars by using your favorite search engine.
Whatever form of calendar you choose to use, please — USE it! You must be diligent in keeping it updated. As soon as you learn of an important date or event, ENTER IT onto the calendar. Check the calendar frequently. I recommend a DAILY review of your calendar. Once the calendar becomes stale and cannot be trusted, it’s of no use. Don’t go there.
Use only as many calendars as you have to. The best practice is to use a single calendar where everything is captured. That may not be practical. If you need to use multiple calendars, just be disciplined enough to keep them in synch.
If you’re using Google or Outlook or another electronic version, take advantage of the alarm feature so you are warned of the impending commitment.
Because you don’t want to be late for school. Really. You don’t.
Your turn: How do you manage all the commitments, events and deadlines for your family? You can leave a comment here.