I’ve already written about how Google Docs has helped my family immensely with a Shared To-Do List. Today’s post is about another great Google offering – a shared family calendar via Google calendar. This is a great solution for households where both parents work outside the home, but stay at home moms will find this incredibly useful too!
Setting up a family calendar was an important change for our family.
As anyone with kids knows, keeping track of all of the kids’ activities, days off of school, doctor’s appointments, birthday parties, etc can be a lot of work. Often, the bulk (if not all) of the work to plan, track, and take care of these activities falls to the primary caregiver. Sometimes that’s just how parents have agreed to share parenting duties, which is a totally valid choice! But sometimes, that happens accidentally because one parent has all of this stuff in their head, or on a paper calendar in the kitchen, and that makes it difficult if not impossible for the other parent to help.
My husband and I discovered that sharing the parenting duties was way easier when we could BOTH see the full list of things that all of us had going on.
When we first decided to share our calendar, I felt weird putting the kids’ orthodontist appointments on the calendar my husband would see at work, because I knew it would be me dealing with the after school appointment (he works in an office while I work from home). But it turns out it was a huge help to both of us to have all of this kind of information on a shared, online calendar.
First, the most obvious benefit of storing everything our family does in one place helped us avoid conflicts because we could see everything side by side. With four active people in our household it helped us make sure our kids were available for an event, but also that a parent would be around to drive them there!
Having out shared calendar be electronic is great because it lets all of us access it from anywhere. Having the family calendar readily accessible from our phones makes a big difference. When I’m at the orthodontist, I can easily see what everyone is doing when I make the next appointment, and I enter that appointment directly into the family calendar so everyone else automatically has that information. And if my husband is the one at basketball practice and the parents start organizing an end of season party, he knows right away what dates we are all available instead of having to check with me and get back to the group.
My husband is also able to sync that calendar with his work calendar so he has the info he needs from work, too. When he couldn’t see it, he didn’t know it was happening until he came home for dinner, and often by then it was too late for him to help. Even from work he can remind me about an appointment (this has actually happened when I was off doing something else and the calendar reminder went off), and sometimes when he sees I’m having an especially crazy afternoon carting the kids all over town he’ll leave work a little early to come home and get dinner started (I know, I’m incredibly lucky).
One other surprising thing that got better once we set up a shared online calendar was that we were able to share it with our kids. My oldest especially (he’s a teenager) needs access to our family’s schedule. He is involved in a lot of activities, and loves to make last minute plans with his friends,. H would often get frustrated when he would make plans only to discover that I’d scheduled a haircut for him that day, or that we had some other family commitment. So we added him to the family calendar which he can see from his phone, too, and the tension around keeping him informed of our family’s schedule went way down. He can also pretty easily know if a parent will be able to pick him up from wherever he goes or if everyone else is booked and he’s going to need to find a ride from someone else!
Most importantly, using the shared family calendar gives my husband has the information he needs to be able to help. I find that often things fall on me not because my husband isn’t willing to help, but because he doesn’t have the information he needs to help effectively. A shared to do list and a shared family calendar are both great tools to combat the problem of mom being responsible for everything.