Using Outlook to Keep a Split Family Working Together

It’s hard enough for a typical family to keep track of everything between school holidays, career deadlines, soccer games and business trips.  How does a split family do it?

I’m divorced and I’ve found that sharing a calendar is the key to successful communication and coordination.  To be blunt, I really don’t like needing to talk to my ex. 🙂  Before we got our calendar together, I felt like I was talking to him more than when we lived together.  Sharing a calendar has solved that.

We split custody 50/50.  We both want to be involved.  I’m already keeping a calendar so why no share it with him?  I put all of the dates in the calendar like:

  • Kids at Dad’s
  • Kids at Mom’s
  • School Holidays
  • Parent Teacher Conferences
  • Track Meets
  • Stuff Like That

I’ve set up this calendar in Outlook.com.  I use Outlook to see both my work calendar (with Office365) AND this Outlook.com calendar which I’ve named “Family Calendar”.  For the events I listed above, I “invite” my ex and those events are sent to his work calendar.  He only keeps one calendar, that work calendar, so this was the best way to get this stuff in there.  When we first got organized, the number of “invitations” was a lot.  But now that it’s set up, it’s easy.

Both of us are pretty busy with work so we try to be very flexible with each other in terms of scheduling.  By using Outlook, we can run changes by each other over the phone or even via text message and then I make the updates in Outlook.  When an update is made, the updated appointment is sent to him.  It may feel formal, but it’s a great way to confirm the conversation we had and make sure things are straight – BEFORE we hit a conflict or have a miscommunication.

I also share this calendar with my husband and babysitter.  We just use basic calendar sharing.  My husband accesses the calendar when he’s trying to plan things and wants to see if we have the kids or not.  My babysitter uses this calendar to manage each day.  I add additional items that I don’t invite my ex to like Guitar Lesson, Piano Lesson, Reading Tutors and things like that so the babysitter has that schedule.  But I don’t add my ex to those items so they won’t fill up his calendar over the top of his busy afternoons at work.

Each Sunday night, I email this calendar to my ex (along with my son’s Autism specialists who work with him in my home).  It serves as a reminder for all of us to look at the week ahead and update anything that was forgotten.  This is especially handy in terms of support work schedules.  As conferences and business trips come up, they can be managed ahead of time.

Even though we’re divorced, we both need to support each other in our careers – as we do this, we’re helping each other do the best we can for our kids.  And by having all of the kids school commitments in one place, we can also coordinate so that we can BOTH attend or make sure at least one of us is attending.  Again, it’s the right thing to do for the kids.

So if you’re pulling your hair out trying to coordinate your custody schedule with your ex, AND stay on the same page with your shared babysitter, give this a try.  You’ll be amazed by the amount of harmony it will bring.

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