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.

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!