I always vowed that I would never be the mom shuttling her kids from activity to activity and running our family into the ground with an overbooked schedule. As an admitted homebody, I couldn’t imagine putting myself through the stress of never having downtime together as a family.
For the most part, we have tried to keep things low-key and not overschedule ourselves. But even with a modest amount of extracurricular activities, it can get to be too much. Because it’s not just those activities. It’s those activities plus church and homework and social obligations and school events. I often feel overscheduled and stressed. I am the hamster running, running, running on the wheel.
And I keep track all of these activities with a paper calendar.
Yep, a PAPER calendar.
And guess how much I forget?
So I decided to take to Facebook and ask other moms how they manage their family calendars. I’ve vowed to start getting smarter about my calendar, so I can stop looking like such a space cadet. Here are 5 things other moms just couldn’t live without:
1. Google Calendar App
About 95% of the moms who responded were over the moon for their Google calendars. They don’t just use it to manage a single calendar, either. They’re managing multiple calendars for different aspects of their lives. From Boy Scouts to meal planning to their private family schedule, they had multiple shared calendars so the entire family could access the schedule and know what was going on.
2. Calendars 5 App
Even if you’re already on the Google calendar train, you may still want to sync it with other apps. Calendars 5 from Readdle was highly recommended by one mom as a great option for viewing your calendar, because it syncs to your Google calendar, your iOS calendar AND your Reminders. Much like my LONG DISCUSSIONS with Siri (the most underpaid person in our family), this takes your simple human language (pick up box of wine to survive my kid’s homework at 2) and turns it into real calendar appointments that make your wine run sound, well, official.
3. FamilyWall App
If privacy is really important to you, FamilyWall is worth considering. You can invite your family into your family circle (via email or text) to share calendars, photos and messages. Plus you can create tasks for the family, which means your kids can no longer claim they didn’t see the chore chart. Nice try, but mom knows you’re always looking at your phone. No more excuses!
I like that you can share FamilyWall with the grandparents too. Everyone can be kept in the loop without you having to blast all your business on Facebook. Best of all, it offers location services so you can make sure your kids are exactly where they said they were going to be.
As soon as I heard about this one, I downloaded it for our family. As a Facebook junkie, I’m hoping it helps keep our entire family in the loop, not just the ones on Facebook.
4. Cozi App
Cozi was my original online calendar (before I reverted back to paper), and this app is still trucking along today. My best friend still uses the app to manage thousands of activities (not an understatement) and really loves the color-coded calendar for keeping track of everything. It also helps you with your grocery list and offers text message alerts for appointment reminders … all from one central location.
My favorite feature is the reminders. When I would input our family’s appointments, I would always set it to send a reminder text. The reminders can come any time you want – one hour ahead, one day ahead, one week ahead, etc.
Does your child have jean day at school? Super silly hair day? Little things like that are easy to schedule in this handy calendar.
5. The Friends & Family App
Okay, okay … not an app, but may I suggest asking for help when you’re overscheduled? Carpools can be a wonderful thing for managing your schedule, and asking for help when you’re in the middle of a particularly tough mom-juggle is SO worth your sanity. Just keep in mind that this is real life, not an app. It’s a two-way street. The person you ask for help may need your help later. Return the favor … even if you secretly wish you didn’t have to.
I hope one (if not more!) of these options can work for your family. Now if you need me, I’ll be the one syncing the family calendar while binging on Netflix in my jammies. Who said you can’t indulge in a little fun while you’re getting organized?