Every busy family has a family organiser calendar somewhere in the kitchen – pinned to a wall or secured to the fridge with magnets. In theory it’s a great idea, highlighting everyone’s work, study, hobbies and socialising commitments and ensuring nothing clashes or is left undone. In reality this vital piece of paper is often dog-eared and stained, with tiny cramped writing causing almost more problems than it solves.
Unless you’re standing in front of it you can’t access it and with work diaries left in the office and immediate decisions to be made, there has to be a better way to keep the family ticking over smoothly.
The answer lies in a digital calendar, which lists all the family commitments with ease. There’s limitless space, and everyone can access work schedules, school events, doctors’ appointments, social events and even shopping and to-do lists.
There are a range of different calendars available so some careful planning is a good start – do you want one where reminders can be delivered by text and email and other people can be notified of events that might be of interest to them? The beauty of this system is that you can sync and access online and through iPhone, Android and Blackberry apps and, once started, it’s surprising simple. Each family member can be assigned a colour so it’s easy to see who’s busy and who’s free at a glance and everyone can make appointments for anyone in their family.
Know the extras
Some people prefer to keep it straightforward and simple, while others will enjoy the extras such as shared shopping lists, to-do reminders that keep everyone on their toes or the chance to create a family journal, which makes keeping a traditional diary seem passe.
You can also create different calendars, such as work and family ones, and connect these so appointments added to the work calendar will automatically be transferred to the family one. A daily alert email is also an option, listing all the planned events for that day in advance and notifying everyone involved.
It’s hard enough keeping track of one child’s schedule so the minute your family adds a second, third or fourth child its also adding considerable potential chaos. When school starts, sit down with all the timetables and homework diaries, adding all regular events to the family digital calendar. Add sporting commitments and any school clubs, parents’ nights, exams, shared runs and all the fun stuff, such as school concerts. Study time and extra tuition can be organised and added well in advance and since all your family stays connected, there’s no reasonable excuse for not following the timetable.
Keep it clear
Any busy parent will admit that one of the horrors of keeping a family organised is the constant nagging to remember everything, from getting up on time to making sure homework is done. Digital calendars do much more than help juggle busy lives. They also give every member of the family a certain amount of responsibility and the expectation that they will live up to that. Having the information constantly in front of them should ensure that there is no excuse for not fulfilling their commitments and if they don’t, there is always the ultimate threat to help them concentrate – if they can’t use their device as they should, then perhaps they don’t need it at all...
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