One of the biggest struggles of modern family life is coordinating schedules. As my children get older and we’ve started adding activities into our already packed weeks of work, family, and social obligations I feel like I never quite know where I am supposed to be. Or where everyone else is. And the consequences of a disorganized family calendar are real. Knowing whose turn it is to pick up the kids or who has a late meeting at work is a vital part of keeping a family going. Being the parent whose kid is left waiting after school or at the baseball field after practice because I drove to the wrong place or we forgot who was supposed to pick them up is not something I want to have happen. The answer for my family has been sharing a digital calendar. Here’s what you need to know to make it work for you!
Sharing Digital Calendars with Family
5 Features to Look For
There are many great apps to choose from when you’re looking for a digital calendar. A few are free or free with paid upgrades available. And of course, there is a large selection of apps you pay for. Although most are fairly inexpensive. Consider the features of each app and what will work best for your family.
1. Real Time Updates
If your family schedule changes frequently or has a lot of variation make sure you choose a digital calendar that automatically updates in real time. Husband working late? Daughter’s soccer practice canceled? Having a shared calendar won’t do you any good if plans change and you’re not made aware of it.
Alerts are an essential feature of my family’s digital calendar. I like to set two alerts, one for the night before an event or an appointment is happening and a second for when it’s almost time to leave. There has been more than one occasion I had something on my calendar but forgot to look at it and missed an appointment back in my paper calendar days. I love digital calendars for their ability to send a noisy alert when I need to be somewhere. Make sure your digital calendar has one!
3. Organization by Family Member
A useful feature of many digital calendars designed for family sharing is the ability to color code events by family member. Assigning a color to each family member lets you know at a glance which of you has something coming up during the day. This is especially useful when it comes to kids’ activities. When you know the blue soccer practice is one kid and the pink is another you know exactly who needs a clean uniform or who should be putting on cleats.
4. Multiple Users
If you plan on sharing your digital calendar with your family it’s important to choose one that allows multiple users. And to make sure it allows more than one person to add or update events on the calendar, not just multiple viewers. Allowing your spouse and older kids to add their own events to the calendar is a great way to make sure there is not just one person, too often it’s mom, who has to be responsible for managing everyone’s schedule. This is also a great way to teach older kids and teens to manage their own calendar as part of the family.
5. Access for All Your Devices
A digital calendar will be most useful when you can access it on all your devices. And I don’t just mean everyone can access it on their phone. I want to be able to access the calendar on my work computer, my iPad, our smartphones, my husband’s laptop, etc. Make sure when you choose a digital calendar you can access it across all of your family’s devices.
Which Digital Calendar is Right For Your Family?
There are so many digital calendars available for family sharing, it is well worth it to do your research. The digital family calendar that is probably the most well known is Cozi. This is the one I personally use for my family. It’s so easy to use that even my tech-phobic husband has gotten on board with it. I love the features and the fact that it’s free. Some other digital calendars with great features for family sharing include Hub, Family Wall, and Famjama. There are even specialty apps like Kidganizer for helping parents living in separate households and sharing custody to coordinate their child’s schedule and events.
Set Your Family Up for Shared Digital Calendar Success
Sharing digital calendars as a family makes the challenge of organizing your family life much simpler. In order to set your family up for success with the shared digital calendar, follow these tips!
- Get everyone on board!
Set up a family meeting. Add your new digital calendar to all the family devices. And have a brief tutorial about how it works. Make sure to listen to everyone’s input and make it is user-friendly for the whole family.
- Commit to trying it for at least two weeks.
If you’re used to depending on a paper planner or your family is used to relying on mom to tell them what’s on the schedule for the day, it may take time to get everyone used to using the shared digital calendar. Keep reminding everyone, keep using the calendar, and commit to making this work for at least a couple of weeks without reverting to your previous system. Once it becomes a habit to use the calendar you’ll be glad you stuck it out.
- Learn the App
Make sure the whole family, or at least those old enough to use it, get familiar with the app. How often do we download an app and then never learn enough to use it properly? To really get the most out of sharing your digital calendar as a family, watch the how-to videos online, read the FAQs, or play around with the app until you figure it out. Make sure you are taking advantage of the app you’ve chosen for maximum family organization and usefulness.
Better Family Organization
Finding a better way to organize my family’s schedule was a big stress reliever for me. It helped so much to share information and not feel solely responsible for keeping track of everything for everyone all by myself. Sharing digital calendars with the family helped us be more organized and in sync with each other’s schedules. Give a shared digital calendar a try and see what it can do for your family.