To Do: Take Care of Yourself

Ever find yourself overwhelmed, tired, barely keeping up?  For myself, it’s easy to just brush it off and blame it on the facts of life that are part of being a working parent.  But it’s important to look a little deeper and make sure it isn’t something else.

About 6 weeks ago, I finally recognized that the way I was feeling just couldn’t be the new normal.  I’m terrible about going to see my doctor.  Why?  Heaven forbid I allow myself to take time away from work.  (I do this to myself.  This has nothing to do with where I work or who my manager is.)  My doctor recently opened a clinic that is open until 10pm so one day after work, I went in.

Well, something was wrong.  Nothing big.  Nothing life threatening but something was definitely wrong.  My issue was causing me to be extremely anemic.  And when you’re anemic, you’re tired.  VERY tired.  The kind of tired that makes it incredibly hard to get up in the morning, give your kids the attention they need and be a star at work.

The root cause of my anemia has been addressed and I’m on a 3 month iron regimen that will eventually get my system back to normal.  As my energy is starting to return, I’m feeling more equipped to give my family what they need, perform at work and enjoy the ride!

So for all those busy parents out there who may be feeling “off”, when was the last time you had a check up with your doctor?  It may be worth the trip.  As we are so busy taking care of our families, we need to remember to take care of ourselves, too.

The Most Important 20 Minutes of the Day

My son had a basketball game today for his middle school team.  He’s on the C team (which comes after the B team which comes after  the A team) so we’re not talking a glamorous, high profile game.  But when I walked into the door, saw his face light up and then proceeded to witness his game and his constant looking over at me, I knew the 20 minutes of play time he got today were the most important 20 minutes of my day.

For working parents, being able to attend these events is hard.  Looking around today, there weren’t that many parents at the game. I’m sure every parent who was NOT in attendance had very good reasons and it had ZERO reflection on how much they love their child.

My son has Autism so communication, verbal communication, is really hard.  He doesn’t like to have conversations.  He’s not capable of sharing his feelings verbally.  When I try to tell him how I feel about him, he doesn’t want to have that conversation either.  As I’m connecting with more and more parents of typical kids, I’ve learned that my teen with Autism isn’t so different than a typical teenage boy.  My ACTIONS need to be the way I tell him how much I care about him.  Today, I was able to tell him I love him by attending his game.  And he was able to tell me that he’s glad I’m his mom.

But making this 20 minutes happen took a lot of planning and preparation.  I’m hoping that sharing how I accomplished this helps another parent get the same 20 minutes I got today.

Block Your Calendar

When I got the basketball schedule, I added the games to my work calendar along with travel time.  This way, when others are trying to schedule time with me, they know that I’m busy during this time so they can find a better time that works for both of us.

Set Expectations

I’ve let my manager and my team know that attending these games is important to me.  I try to structure my work so it’s about what I’m delivering each week rather than how much time I spend at the office.  This helps.  I set goals based on a full workload for the week and then juggle the time as necessary to meet all of my commitments for both work and home.

Carve Out Time

Even when you block your calendar and set expectations, it’s still hard to find the time to do it all.  Sometimes I get up early so I can start on my work day earlier.  Commute time takes up at least 45 minutes each way.  Today, I worked from home and got 90 minutes back.  I got my full workday in AND made it to the game.  I also reduced travel time by staying closer to home for the day.

It Goes Both Ways

Often, spending time at a school event in the afternoon means I need to focus on work in the evening–and miss that time with my family.  I try to use this to teach my kids about trade offs and balance.  I want them to be hard workers when they have jobs.  I want them to see that when I leave work early, that time needs to be made up somewhere.  It’s a good lesson to teach them.

Let’s face it, we’re all very busy.  It’s easy for the pressures of work, meetings, deadlines and commuting to cause us to miss opportunities to really connect with our kids.  But with a little planning and preparation, we’ve got a better chance of catching some of the precious moments before we lose track of where all our time went and our kids grow up faster than we could have ever imagined.

Your Calendar is Your Pre-Vacation Checklist

When you’re about to head out on vacation, your calendar can be a great tool to make sure all of your bases are covered before you leave.  In a recent post, Your Family Calendar is Your Safety Net, I talked about why you should keep recurring appointments in your calendar.  Well, here’s another reason.

We take for granted just how many people we work with every week — the piano teacher, the guitar instructor, the reading tutor, etc.  When you are about to head out on vacation, you need to contact all of these folks to cancel those appointments.

My advice:  If you’ve already got them in your calendar, as you contact each person, instead of deleting the appointment, update it to say “No Piano Lesson Today” or something to that effect.  It will serve as a reminder for you that you DID contact them and cancel for that week.  And if you’re constantly being interrupted and can’t contact everyone all at once, when you go back to that task, you’ll know who you’ve already contacted and who you still need to contact.

Here’s an example of what the week may look like, pulling from Cozi Family Calendar:

Cozi Calendar Cancelled Appointments
Cozi Calendar Week View Showing Cancelled Appointments


Looking at the week of our vacation, not only do my kids know what we’re doing each day but I have confidence that I’ve cancelled all of our appointments and that I’m ready to go.  Because I can literally see it in my calendar!

Enjoy your summer!

Easy, Breezy, Summer Morning Routines

It’s the first official week of summer camp.  Getting the new morning routine established each year is a bit tough but within a few weeks things usually begin to smooth out.  We need to leave earlier.  There’s so much to remember.  If it’s a field trip day that involves swimming, we need the swim suits.  Packing a lunch is just like the school year but without the safety net of just buying lunch if the morning completely goes sideways on us.  And there’s more traffic to battle because we’re not just meeting the school bus.

Believe it or not, what I’m about to share is a true story.

This morning, as I opened the refrigerator to grab some milk, there it was – a perfectly packed lunch.  Where did this come from?  I peaked inside: sandwich, apple, granola bar, cheese stick, juice box, a full lunch.  My 9 year old daughter is NOT a morning person.  Yesterday, as she was grumpily making her lunch, I casually suggested that she make her lunch the night before since she’s such a sleepy head in the morning.  But I figured it would take a couple of weeks and a lot more suggesting to get her there.  But she did it.  And I didn’t even SEE her do it the night before.

While I was still recovering from my shock and dismay, my 13 year old son came in, backpack in hand, heading for the front door to set the backpack by the door.

“What is your field trip today?”

“Swimming.”  I think one word answers are pretty typical for a 13 year old boy, especially one with Autism.

“Do you have everything you need to go swimming?”

“Yes”, as he walked passed me, no eye contact, and headed back into his room.

I couldn’t help myself.  I had to peak inside the backpack to see if he really had everything.  Towel, swim trunks, even a swim shirt, and a packed lunch.  He listened.  He took responsibility.  He was ready.

As working parents, heck, as ANY parent, having the kids take responsibility like this makes getting out the door in the morning SOOOO much smoother!  We’ve been working on this for  while throughout the school year but I was so pleased so see them handing the additional responsibilities that summer camp brings.  Here are my suggestions for how to help the kids chip in to have an easier time getting out the door in the morning.

Set Expectations

The week school ended, one night over dinner I explained to the kids that they’d be going to the same summer camps as last summer but this year, I wanted them to take responsibility for bringing what they needed for their field trip days.  If they forget to bring a swim suit on the hottest day of the summer, they will be sitting it out.  It’s up to them to remember.

Use A Calendar 

My son has an iPhone and we have a family calendar that I share with him.  We get the schedule (from Outdoors For All) in advance via email.  When the calendar for the week arrives, I create an all day appointment for each day of the week.

SUBJECT: OFA: Swimming  [The OFA stands for Outdoors For All and my son understands this.]

LOCATION: Bring swim suit, towel, sunscreen, lunch

He looks at the calendar, knows what he’s doing that day and knows what to bring.  My daughter picks up a flyer on the Monday of each week at camp.   She is then in charge of that information to be prepared for her Wednesday and Friday field trips.

Stock the Fridge and Pantry with Lunch Stuff 

We’ve got a shelf in our refrigerator designated for lunch stuff: Juice boxes, fruit cups, cheese sticks.  it’s just above the fruit drawer that has apples, oranges, grapes, etc.  It’s right at eye level for the kids.  And as I see it get emptied, I know what I need to shop for.  We also have a shelf in the cupboard set up the same way, at kid eye level, filled with granola bars, bread for sandwiches, chips, fruit roll ups, etc.  The kids have 2 places to look for lunch ideas and lots of variety.

Help Your Smart Phone Be Smart

I know approximately what time we need to leave to drop off my daughter on time, then drop off my son on time, and then get myself to work on time.  This year, I added an appointment to my calendar, “Drop off E”, set for 8am WITH the address of where the camp is.  As I’m about to leave, Cortana on my Windows Phone (or Google Now on an Android Phone) pops up telling me I need to leave so I get there on time.  This is the first year I’m trying this.  I’m hoping that if traffic is bad one morning, Cortana will let me know that I need to leave earlier than usual in order to get there on time.

Your Family Calendar is Your Safety Net

Family life has a lot of routine to it.  A lot of us keep the routines in our heads and use our calendars just to manage the exceptions.  But trying to keep track of everything in our heads actually adds to the stress of keeping the family running smoothly.  “Clearing the Mental Clutter” is good advice.

So how can you use your calendar to help you clear the clutter, keep things running smoothly AND be your safety net?  Here are a few simple tips:

#1 Keep the recurring appointments in the calendar and include addresses and contact numbers

If you are sick or your babysitter is sick and someone else like Grandma or a friend are filling in, you can simply forward the calendar item and all the info is there.  Often, a spouse who isn’t as familiar with the routine is trying to fill in.  Set them up for success by having these details in the calendar when you create the appointment in the first place.

#2 Capture cancellations in the calendar

If the piano lesson or the soccer practice gets cancelled, update the calendar to say something like “Piano Lessons Cancelled Today”.  If you just delete it, when you look at that week, your first thought will be, “Did piano get cancelled?”  Turn that question into a statement.  You want to be confident that it’s cancelled and not force yourself to remember why the appointment isn’t in the calendar anymore.  If you’ve got a babysitter managing the schedule, this will also save you from getting an unnecessary text in the middle of your workday asking to confirm whether or not Piano Lessons are actually cancelled.

#3 Put reminders in the calendar

A lot of these routine appointments involve things you need to remember.  If your child needs to remember to wear a white shirt and black pants to her choir assembly on Wednesday at school, add an item to your calendar for the night before to remember to lay out those clothes.  You may even need a second reminder so those items are clean so you’re sure you can set them out the night before.  Google Now and Cortana are great ways to capture these reminders in your calendar and by doing so, you’re getting them out of your head and putting them into your calendar to remind you when you can actually act on those things.

Part of the stress of juggling a family AND a profession is keeping track of all of these details.  By dumping these details into your calendar, you remember things at the right time and your calendar becomes a safety net when you need a friend or family member to fill in for you.

Are you navigating your life with a map or with GPS?

Many of us have been in the situation where we thought we knew where we were going but our GPS got us lost.  Something happened to me this week that made me realize this may be an interesting analogy to life.

My babysitter is out on vacation so my mom was kind enough to come visit us and watch the kids – for a full week and a half!  (Thank you, mom!)  While my sitter was away, I needed my  mom to pick up my son from middle school after track practice and pick up my daughter from her elementary school after her school play rehearsal.

We sat down with a map and showed her where she was, where the schools were and the routes to take.  The next day, she went to the places with the babysitter.  But on her first day solo, she got lost.  As we figured out where she went wrong, it dawned on me that she knew where she was going, but she listened to the GPS instead of herself.  If she had trusted herself, she would have been fine.

The day she got lost, I stayed on the phone line helping her find her way to my son’s school.  The entire time, the GPS kept telling her to go the wrong way.  After she reached her destination, it just struck me how this scenario feels a lot like life does sometimes.

How often do you feel like you know where you’re going, in life, but you listen to the louder voices telling you to take a turn that you feel may be a wrong turn?  And then end up lost?  Or you try to ignore all this advice but it’s so loud and persistent, you finally give in and follow it?  And then end up lost?

At a micro-level, how are you planning your days?  Are you spending your time where you know you need to?   Or are you allowing your calendar to be filled up with meeting requests and just go from meeting to meeting without your goals and priorities, your destination, in mind?  Are you spending your days doing what you need to do to reach your destination, or reacting to the different directions life is pulling you in?

At a macro level, how are you managing your career?  Your family?  We have all sorts of voices telling us which way we should go all the time, just like the GPS that doesn’t have the right destination. As you drive, the GPS is yelling at you,

“Turn right.  Re-calculating.  Turn around.  Turn left. Re-calculating.”

As we drive forward in our careers, we hear direction from all kinds of sources,

“Spend more time with your family.  Re-prioritize. Don’t take that promotion (Turn around). Make a lateral move instead.”

So we re-prioritize which leads to a totally different sent of directions,

“Lean into your career.  Push harder.  Reach higher.  Demand more.”

As we navigate our life, our career, our family, our day, we need to have the destination in mind.  It’s not a literal destination of course but an idea of what we’d like our life, our career and our family to look like “down the road”.  We need to define what success and happiness means for ourselves.  We need to be deliberate about the priorities we set and live them.  We need to know where we want to go.  And then we need to ignore all of the things that are telling us to go the wrong direction.

My mom used the GPS as a safety net.  It was supposed to help her as she reached intersections where she was unsure which way to turn.  But it lead her astray.  In life, it’s appropriate to look for advice when we’re unsure of what direction to take our families or trying to figure out how to navigate our careers.  But we need to take that advice and ask ourselves if it will really help us get to our destination.

So the next time you read an amazing article or book, or get that great piece of advice from someone you look up to, or add another commitment to your calendar, spend some time considering what it means for you and where YOU want to go.   If we blindly follow any guidance or say yes to any commitment, we may get lost.  But if we carefully choose which directions to follow based on where we know we want to go, the route there will have a lot less twists, turns and recalculations.


Behind every strong person is a supportive family

We’ve all read the quote “Behind every strong man is a strong woman” as well as all of the related quotes that mock the whole idea.  While I understand the criticism of this quote, I strongly believe that having a strong support network, whether it’s a spouse or extended family or friends, it’s a critical part of being a successful working parent.

At work, when I see someone that I view as very successful, when I am able to get more “behind the scenes” information, I often learn that they have a spouse at home who doesn’t work.  Their spouse is doing all of the heavy lifting related to keeping a household running, raising the children, volunteering with the PTA, very important and critical work.

For those of us who don’t have this kind of situation, we can still be successful at work.  It just requires a bit more juggling and planning.  This blog focuses on a strategy to help your support network at home help you so you can be more successful at work

Tip #1   Create a Family Calendar and share it with the right people.

In my case, I created a calendar on  From any calendar,, Google, Yahoo, whatever, you can “Share” the calendar by clicking the “Share” button and then providing the email addresses of the people you want to share it with.  My babysitter and my husband have the calendar.  I helped my sitter set up her iPhone so that she sees this calendar.  I only add items that show up in the weekday afternoons so that she only sees stuff related to our family when she’s working.  She literally uses this calendar on her iPhone as a checklist for what needs to be done today and where the kids need to go.  My husband usually has this calendar turned “off” but it shows up in his list of calendar so that he can easily see what’s going on at any time.

By creating a Family Calendar, you’re creating a “Communication Center”.  All appointments go here.  Everyone knows where to look for information.  How does this help you at work?  You cut down on how many times the babysitter is texting you with random questions during the day about the schedule.  In fact, when she DOES send you a text, you know it’s important and related to something that you really need to respond to in the moment.  You no longer have your spouse IM-ing you with questions about whether or not you’re free next Thursday after work so you can get together with his co-worker and their spouse.  You organize your schedule so you can FOCUS.  This is a critical element to being successful at work.  if you’re constantly being distracted by things from home, your efficiency at work drops more than you realize.

Tip #2  Get the right appointments onto your spouse’s work calendar

Many working families share the responsibility of dropping off and picking up the kids to/from school and childcare.  But work responsibilities often mess up that routine.  When an important meeting is scheduled first thing in the morning on a day when I’m usually taking the kids to school, I create a calendar appointment that covers the school drop off time and send it to my husband.  If he has a conflict that he can’t move, he just “Declines” and I know I need to figure something else out.  The same goes for me.  If he can cover it, he “Accepts” and I know I’m covered.

Share Appointment with Spouse
Outlook calendar shows family coordination to determine who is taking the kids to school today.

By doing this, you’re setting things up in the moment.  No need to remember to talk about this when you get home from work (and risk forgetting).  No risk of your spouse forgetting to put this in their calendar, not to mention getting on the right day.  It’s fast, simple, clear.

This same approach can be used for meetings at the end of the day.  Have you ever had one of those “Executive Reviews” scheduled from 3 to 5pm?  They never end on time.  You spend the last half hour of the meeting watching the time.  You’re stressed.  You’re distracted.  You’re not focused on the actual meeting because you’re worried about picking up the kids on time.  Don’t put yourself in this situation.

When that Executive Review is scheduled for the end of the day, send your spouse a calendar invitation for them to pick up the kids or meet the babysitter.  You’re now free to focus on the meeting.  Beyond that, often, the most important conversations happen in the hallway after the meeting.  Put yourself in a position to be there for that conversation.  By taking this simple additional step, you’re lowering your stress, covering the responsibilities at home and creating an environment where you can focus, do your best work and be there for critical conversations.

Tip #3 Planning for the Week

Even with all the right appointments in the calendar, sometimes the family may not be actively looking at their calendars.  Family life is all about routine.  Routines are what help us manage the chaos and the volume of activities going on.  We can keep a lot of that routine in our heads and not rely on a calendar.  But the exceptions are the things that mess us up.  And the exceptions are the most important things to capture in the calendar because they are hard to remember.

On Sunday evening or first thing on Monday morning, email the calendar out to the people who need it.  In my case, this is obviously my husband and babysitter.  But I also include my ex-husband and the behavioral therapist who works with my son who has Autism.  To email the calendar from Outlook, go to the Home tab and select “E-mail Calendar”.  From there, you’ll get options to send the “next 7 days” and an email will be created with the calendar info.  I highlight the exceptions to the routine so my family can scan the email and get those exceptions for the week in their head.  If you use a calendar like Cozi, they have a wonderful feature that automatically sends a weekly calendar to a preset list of people every Sunday evening.


By incorporating these 3 tips into your day to day management of your schedule, you’ll be amazed at how it will smooth out the bumps in the week.  It should also help you go from “surviving the week” to really excelling at work.

The Summer Camp Scramble

For working parents, having a plan for what the kids will do over the summer when they are off from school is important — and stressful.  It’s expensive.  There aren’t always a lot of options.  My school aged daughter doesn’t even want to go to camp, asking me if I could stay home with her instead.  And my son with Autism needs a camp that can accommodate him, which is even more expensive!

As I talk with other parents, we all share the same stress, whether you have a child with special needs or not.  Here’s my advice on how to approach, and conquer, this very daunting task.

Set a Deadline.

My deadline is the end of March.  In the Seattle area, and probably any larger city, there’s a sweet spot between when registration opens up for summer camps  and when registration fills up.  In the case of summer camp, I sign up for emails from the camps I’ve used in the past and I sign up for them on any camp that looks interesting.  As Spring approaches, I look for these emails to help remind me that I need to sign up.

Plan Ahead.

I like to involve my kids in the decision on where they are going to camp.  Do they want to do the same camp as last year?  Do they want to try something new?  Since my daughter continues to beg me to quit my job for the summer and stay home with her, involving her makes it easier to get her into a place where she’s actually looking forward to the summer.

Involving the kids in planning includes figuring out where their friends are going to camp.  Encourage your kids to ask their friends what they are doing.  Reach out to the parents you know.  This is a great way to discover great camps you don’t know about and potentially sign up the kids for a camp they can attend with their friends from school.  And as your kids understand that many of their friends are doing summer camp as well, this helps with their enthusiasm.

Finally, planning ahead involves figuring out any summer vacations you’re going to take.  You don’t want to sign up for a week of camp if you’ll be away on vacation.  This adds to the complexity of planning but once you’ve got that detail figured out, not only do you get child care covered for the summer but you also have your summer vacation to look forward to.

Camps for Kids with Special Needs

This situation is a lot trickier.  Just like with typical camps, doing research and asking friends is important.  In the Seattle Area, I’m lucky to have many options, though they are expensive.  My son has attended summer camp with Outdoors For All for 3 summers now.  It’s a relief to have this option.

If you live in an area that doesn’t have camps for kids with special needs, there are still options.  Before I discovered Outdoors For All, I found a local daycare that had a summer camp program.  I met with the director and explained my situation.  The group of kids was small enough that she felt she could accommodate my son.  I also arranged with her to get the schedule in advance so that I could communicate that to my son.  At the time, having him know ahead of time where he was going and how the daily schedule would break down was half the battle.  I kept a tight communication loop with the daycare provider and the summer worked out really well.

Other Logistics

For a working parent, the other element of summer is focused around logistics.  Drop off times and locations are different than the school year.  To simplify things, we work out a schedule for this in advance.  For example, I’m taking the kids to camp on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and every other Monday.  My ex-husband is taking them on the other days.  The babysitter is picking up in the afternoons.  We add the drop off and pick up times to the calendar, including addresses of pick up and drop off locations, so that the first week, everyone knows where they are going.

As the dates get closer, we also agree on a plan to put details of field trips into the calendar and work with the kids so that THEY remember the things they need to bring.  Swimming stuff for swimming related field trips.  Camp t-shirt for field trip days.  Hiking boots for fields trips that need that item. By putting this responsibility on the kids, they learn to be responsible and it takes some of the burden off of you.  Trust me, it only takes one field trip of them sitting beside the lake rather than swimming in the lake for them to remember to bring their swim suit the next time.

Register and then Relax!

If you’re like me, until I have camps all set up, Spring just brings me anxiety.  Once registration is complete, I can relax, enjoy Spring and look forward to the Summer!


Incorporating Travel Time into Your Calendar

Because I work on Outlook Calendar at Microsoft, I see requests all the time to “automatically add travel time to my calendar”.  Why don’t we see this in Calendar solutions out there today?  It’s a bit tricky.  Before I tackle the question of “Why Not?”, let me give some advice on how to deal with this using the calendar solutions that are available today.

Tip #1 Think about travel time the moment you add a new item to your calendar.

You know where you will be going to and where you’re going to be coming from.  When you create a calendar item, also create additional appointments before and after.  Calendar reminders are getting smarter and smarter.  These smart reminders help you leave for an appointment on time. For example, Google Now will look at the address in an appointment on your calendar and look at your current location and then pop a reminder at the right time so you’ll leave on time.  But what if someone at the office schedules a meeting right on top of the time when you would have been traveling to the appointment?  This is why it’s useful to add that “travel time” appointment.  It helps you communicate to others (at work) both the time you’ll be away at the appointment as well as the time you’ll be away traveling to the appointment.  The same advice holds for traveling BACK from the appointment.

Tip #2 Think about travel time the moment you ACCEPT a new item on your calendar.

Whether you have a job that requires you to travel from client site to client site or you work in an office that is part of a larger campus, you need to think about the amount of time you’ll need to get to an appointment the moment you commit to that appointment by accepting it.  Proposing an alternate time to accommodate travel time right when you set up an appointment will make it easier for the person you’re meeting with to modify the time to allow you to arrive on time.  They will appreciate how proactive you are.  Even more, being this proactive will be perceived as showing respect for THEIR time.

If you work in a corporate campus environment, it’s actually a bit tougher.  You’re not driving across town, but you may need about 10 minutes to get from your building to the building of the person you’re meeting with.  I see people take the approach of leaving a meeting 10 minutes early.  But often, the actual decision making happens in the last 10 minutes of a meeting so by taking this approach, you’re missing critical moments in your work day.  Instead, my advice would be proposing a time with a start time that is 10 minutes later.  Instead of accepting a meeting from 2 to 3pm, propose a 2:10 to 3:00 meeting, assuming this is a smaller meeting where the meeting organizer has some flexibility.  When you propose the time, add a comment like this, “Can we start 10 minutes after the hour so I have time to get from my previous meeting in building X?”  Again, you’ll be helping this meeting start on time by not being in a position where you have not choice but to be late.

The Result: when you take this extra step of accounting for travel time, you’ll reduce stress in your day to day.  Instead of checking your calendar in the morning and being faced with what feels like a horrible obstacle course that will result in you arriving late to everything all day, you’ve created a manageable schedule that you can glide through in order to accomplish everything you need to accomplish that day.

So back to the question of “why don’t calendars today automatically add travel time to your schedule?”  All I have is a theory but here it is:  Your time is as precious or MORE precious than money.  Using money as an analogy, imagine if your bank automatically committed your money to other things every time you spent money.  For example, you spend money on school supplies for your children so your bank decides that you should be saving for college as well so it transfers a chunk of money into your child’s college fund just because you spent money on school supplies!  People SHOULD be saving for college.  But that doesn’t mean that they want someone else making that decision for them.  The analogy applies to time as well.  Just because you’ve committed to something on your calendar doesn’t mean that you want your calendar automatically committing to other things.  Maybe you’ve accepted a meeting that you may or may not end up attending?  If your calendar automatically adds travel time to block your schedule, you may not be very happy about that.  I’d love to hear other theories on why we don’t see features like this in calendar today or if there are calendars out there that do this that I haven’t seen.

A Calendar Saves…the Tooth Fairy?

I should say that a calendar could have saved the Tooth Fairy!

It all started last night.  My 9 year old daughter announced that she had lost a tooth while eating dinner.  It’s been loose for weeks.  Later that evening as my daughter was ready for bed and just coming up to have me tuck her in, she was very excited about that fact that she had put the tooth under her pillow and was wondering how much the Tooth Fairy would give her for this tooth.

This is where I made my critical mistake.  In that moment, I thought,

“I can’t put money under the pillow until after she falls asleep but I’m going to forget.  I should put this in my calendar so I get reminded around 9:30pm.”

But I didn’t.  I somehow convinced myself that I would remember.  I should know better.

This morning, my daughter was a bit groggy.  After breakfast, she went back down stairs to finish getting ready for bed, brush her teeth, make her bed, etc.  Not much time went by before she came back down the stairs, crying,

“I lost my tooth when I was making my bed and the Tooth Fairy didn’t bring me any money!”

“Oh, no!”, I thought.  I forgot!  What am I going to do!  Do I tell her the reality that there is no Tooth Fairy in order to explain what happened?  Is there any way to recover?  Luckily, I think pretty quick on my feet.

I told her to grab her backpack so it’s ready for school and that I’d go look in her room to see what was up.  I needed a distraction so I could look in my purse for a few coins.  She left the room.  I looked in my purse.  ALL PENNIES!  What am I going to do!?  Ah!  A quarter and a nickel.  I can work with that.  The Tooth Fairy has never been very generous in our house anyway.

I went downstairs. Her bed was made perfectly as usual.  I dropped the coins down on the floor between her bed and the wall.  Just then, she came in.

“Hey, I see some coins down here on the floor.  Were they there before?  Or do you think they are from the Tooth Fairy and you accidentally knocked them down there in your sleep?”

“Let me look!  No!  That money is from the Tooth Fairy!  And my tooth is right there, too!

I didn’t see the tooth when I dropped the money.  I’ll call that a gift.  Phew!

So I recovered but the moral of this story is:  when it’s critical to remember something, especially something that needs to be done at a critical time, put it in your calendar!