Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Dear Family Calendar
Dear Family Calendar,
Since you came into our lives from the suggestion of a friend (thanks, Laura, for your awesome comment) from my shameless post on not-having-it-all-together, Order is found among Chaos, household gears are well-oiled, and this mama is With-It once again!
We had often talked about getting a large dry erase board to keep notes on household things, such as a grocery list and upcoming events. However, we don't have a wall in the kitchen where we can nail in a board and/or still preserve the seemingly nice appearance of a family dining area. But when the suggestion arrived in my blog post comment area, I looked into a dry erase calendar board, yet again.
I looked around our kitchen, and it suddenly dawned on me that there is an entire blank surface on the side of the kitchen island facing the dining table--a highly visible area that is low enough for kiddos to access--perfect for such a family calendar. However, we were still opposed to nailing something in it. From my search, I found a few stick-on/removable dry erase calendars, which seemed to be perfect for my needs. However, they were small. I wanted big. I also went to our local Michaels to see how I'd like the size, but the store did not carry any, and the salesperson looked at me as if I was asking about Martian calendars. So in my desperation, I scrounged up materials to make my own calendar.
Because I don't know the meanings of "patience" and "virtue." I wanted a working calendar and I wanted it now.
I grabbed a poster board, a roll of contact paper, and a pack of colorful dry erase pens. I was freakin' gonna make my own calendar light enough to tape onto the side of the island. I measured rows and columns and drew boxes with a Sharpie pen. I left space on top for Month and side for Notes. I then spent a longer-than-appropriate amount of time adhering the contact paper to the poster board. (I had sudden flashbacks of screen-protector placement nightmares because I am the Screen-Protector Placer of all touchscreen devices in our family--oh the woes of stickiness.) I later realized that I had forgotten to write the days of the week at the top, but I guess I can always make a better one down the line. When the Sticky Fairy pays me a visit and bestows The Gift of Perfect Sticky Placement on me.
And voila. I have a Family Calendar. With color-coded events filled in for the month. Blue for Events, orange for Due Dates/things to turn in to school, magenta for my Sub Jobs, green for After School Activities, and purple for Others. In the mornings, we look at the calendar and we know immediately what is due at school that day or important events for the week. We haven't missed turning anything in since. Hallelujah.
We then also began a Chores List on the right side of the calendar. Up until now, I didn't have set chores for the kiddos. I would ask them to help me out as needed at appropriate times, because 1) I needed help, 2) I want to teach them the value of helping out around the house because they live in it, but 3) I didn't want them to feel burdened with chores the way I felt when I was growing up. My memories of helping around the house ranged from full-time babysitting to being the Beckon-Call Daughter. Things to do were never-ending for me--from having to make coffee for someone else to having to slice ginger while I was in the middle of doing my homework. But when I suggested a Chore List to the kiddos, they were very excited about it.
We wrote down a few simple chores that both kiddos had been doing already, and gave them each a symbol to be included on the calendar. They happily decided on the days of the week for each chore. Granted, we are not following the Chores List as obediently as we are the Due Dates List, but it gives them a sense of responsibility, ownership, and time management. There are days when Dear Son asks if he can swiffer the floor "tomorrow" and Dear Daughter asks if she can put away the clean dishes "later," and I'm okay with that since I know all too well the stress of having to clean the house on a schedule. So we are also learning benefits of being flexible as well. Because really, anything they do accomplish is one less thing I have to do, and I am grateful. It is definitely a win-win for all of us.
There are a few tiny caveats I need to mention, however. The markers don't erase very well on contact paper, but since we have a bottle of dry erase white board cleaner, it's not been a problem at all. Also, a calendar only works if everything, and I mean everything, gets put on it. So I have made it a point to write on the calendar as soon as a paper comes home with a date on it. Cannot. Be. Lazy.
Sure, I still have my alarms on my phone to remind me of Due Dates and Events. But having a large piece of paper reflecting the same information for everyone to see has been so incredibly helpful. I have been able to let go of the old-school thought that Martyr Mama holds sole responsibility to running a household, and is somehow "graded" on how well it's done (and I was barely passing on my own merit). I knew this calendar was the way to go when a few days ago DS came to me and told me that it was the last day of his 10-day antibiotics course. They pay attention to that calendar way more than I give them credit for.
So, Dear Family Calendar, you are the most welcomed addition to our household this year, even more so than any gifts or want-items. Now that March is almost over, I am ready to make you anew for April. And there are lots of things to put on you already. Thank you for your kind service--we now simply cannot do without you.
(Do you have a family calendar, and does it work well for you?)