A treat from Calif Mom! Knowing that I’d be away from the blog (for a little longer than I’d planned) Calif Mom sent us a present: a guest post on calendars! Here’s her advice, with the usual blend of wisdom and wit! cv
Dorsi mentioned Google Calendar in a comment advising a host mom who is managing both a recalcitrant AP and a complicated schedule. Which got me thinking about the whole calendar bugaboo.
The simple calendar has more often than not been my nemesis, instead of helpful tool.
They would sit optimistically in the kitchen, stuck on the fridge and scribbled on in a riot of colored pens, blissfully unaware that they were missing half of the “no school” dates. Or, trying diligently to follow The Organizers’ Rule about only having one calendar, I would put personal items in my work calendar on blackberry, and forget to hide certain items. I don’t necessarily want my boss or colleagues knowing I need to leave early for a urologist appointment or which morning the preschool play is being held. Through the years many playdates have slipped away simply because I couldn’t confidently pick a date/time and so didn’t take action, or the kids got double booked. I’ve even been surprised to learn of a morning that HD was traveling that day for three nights that he thought he told me about. These things have a big impact on parents, kids, and APs.
These days, I am all about simplifying the things I personally need to try to remember/worry about, and clearly, calendaring is a huge challenge for us. And try as I might, no one else would take it over as their job. When I read about google calendar in the comments here on aupairmom, I pounced.
So, at the risk of sounding like an ad, here’s why I am a new convert (and proselytizer, apparently) of Google calendar. Its whole premise is that many people can sign into a single calendar any time of the day through their web browser, and post both schedule items and tasks. “Change orthodontist appt”, “big car’s oil light came on,” etc. It even lets you add appointments from your blackberry so you can pop them in whenever you think of it, then go back and add details later. Very handy.
HD may not like it as much as I do, because now he “has to” enter his stuff onto our calendar all by himself, rather than emailing it to me, happily dumping them off his list and squarely onto mine.
Google calendar is an emotionally neutral way to stop the “Mom’s in charge of the calendar” madness!
Gone are the crumpled sticky notes in the crevices of my handbag. Plus HD can feel like an early adopter of a spiffy new electronic app. Perfect!
I want our AP making playdates (I confess, I hate that job!) but I figured out she wouldn’t do it if she didn’t feel confident that the schedule is really free. Nor is she willing to bug me at work (and often can’t reach me), bless her, so that’s another hurdle put behind us as we run this relay race of modern family life. Now AP can see what days and times are available. She adds the playdates she sets up, the day the library books are due, and the days she *really* needs me to get home on time because she’s going to volleyball or conversation class.
One caveat–if you truly enjoy, need, or want to be the sole person in total control of your family’s calendar, you probably won’t love this as much as I do. Though it would still work for you, because you could set permissions so that only you can add or change items. Plus, if you like to be in charge of the calendar “all by myself” you undoubtedly already have systems figured out that work for you. You probably always know exactly what you’re doing a week ahead of time so you can share it with AP, and you remember to do so. This app really helps cover for me in those regards.
I love that my au pair, DH and I can all add things to the calendar when we think of it or when it’s convenient. (And access is unlikely to get blocked by the hyper-vigilant IT folks because, well, it’s google and I can’t imagine they will ever block that.) Unlike my old paper calendar on the fridge, this one is never only partially up-to-date because there is other stuff in my head or stale emails in my inbox waiting to be written down. (Hmm. Come to think of it, my fridge still says it’s June.)
We have been using “The Goog” for several weeks now, and it seems to work well for us.
Problems arise only when we forget to use it — GIGO, as the programmers used to say. :-)
[note: When I grow up I want to be CalifMom’s au pair! cv]