The Family Calendar: How do you keep it all straight?
One Saturday morning last summer, I hurried the family to get ready for a birthday party. The celebrant was a friend / classmate of one of my girls. My daughter was so excited: there would be a clown! It was a 10am start time, I do recall. So, I was diligent about getting my Saturday morning chores out of the way in quick order so she could be at the party on time. We knocked on the door - my husband, my two daughters, and I - and waited. It was a protracted pause.
The celebrant - along with her mother and her father - opened up the door. They were in their pajamas. The house smelled of pancakes. The girl had those big stuffed animal slippers on.
"Oh no!" said the mother. "The party is next week!"
They offered niceties and even welcomed us in. The welcomed us into their home, into their Saturday morning private time in pajamas! I mumbled apology after apology. In the steps leaving the house, I fought to hold back tears. I felt so dejected, so inept, so disorganized, and so discombobulated. My husband and my girls couldn't understand how I could have messed up the day.
Well, they probably couldn't understand because they actually have little to do with keeping our family calendar up-to-date and accounted for. In our two working-parent household with two children who have varied social needs, not to mention varied academic needs, it is so hard to keep it all straight. When are lunch order forms due? When are books due at the library? When are parent-teacher conferences? When are NO SCHOOL days and where will the kids be? And HOW much will it cost? And, why are kid 1's NO SCHOOL days never the same as kid 2's NO SCHOOL days? And, when do we have time for the doctor or dentist? And, who will be taking time off work to take him/her to the doctor/dentist? And, which kid has a birthday party when? And when/what/where will we get for a gift? And who has a late meeting on what day? And - wait a minute - we BOTH have a late meeting on THAT day? Then, what happens to the kids?
For certain, our family schedule is complicated by the fact that each parent works outside the home, late hours, and has some element of travel. However, I just heard from another mama friend - a stay at home mama - who lamented that her daughter missed two birthday parties recently because she botched up the calendar and completely forgot about them due to other activites. I do believe that calendaring complications can straddle mamas in different situations.
We have a paper calendar on the fridge, we have a dry-erase calendar where we write in all the highlights of the week, and we (my husband and I) have our respective outlook calendars that include our work schedules. Still, it is ever so complicated and there are things that slip through the cracks.
How do you keep it all straight? What is your no-fail method? How do you keep the scheduling organized and everyone appraised of what is happening when?