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?)

Sincerely,
Me


16 comments:

  1. This is a pretty awesome DIY dry erase board calendar! You could try dry erase paint and maybe paint a thick poster board. See if that works. But since the contact paper is working for ya, stick with it! Great job assigning chores and even greater job allowing the kiddos to be flexible. I mean, you're right. We are flexible. So why can't they?? Love the DS reminded you his 10-day antibiotics were done! On that note, I was watching Dr Oz and he said sometimes antibiotics don't need to be taken 5/10 days. It's just that docs really aren't sure how many days are necessarily so they just say 5/10. I know Dr Oz isn't the best medical source, but it got me thinking for next time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, I had no idea there was such a thing as dry erase paint! I knew about chalkboard paint, but not this one. Nice to know! I've heard both ways about those antibiotics... I guess I'm just following our doc's orders. DS was sad to end his meds; he LOVES medicine since they are sweet and taste great. :) Thanks, Lisa!

      Delete
  2. The placement of that dry erase calendar would guarantee accidental erasing in our house with a dog who likes to bump up against things and a toddler who should know better. ha. Another downside would be only being able to see one month at a time. But, that's awesome it's working for you. I just purchased a dry erase 2013 calendar from www.neuyear.net for work. It can hang horizontally or vertically, so it actually might be perfect for your space if you wind up wanting something that displays more time than just a month.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Nilsa! Since we no longer have a furry pet, and the kids are old enough, we don't have a problem with accidental erasing; at least so far so good! And I guess to each his/her own: a twitter friend said she can only handle one week at a time, and I need my whole month! But I think more than one month might very well overwhelm me/us. I saw that nice neuyear.com calendar; it's really nice and big! Perhaps down the line when we need to see farther into the future. Thanks so much!

      Delete
  3. We always have had a big wall calendar on the wall in our eat in area of the kitchen. And we also use Google calendar and share them with each other. It works very well and we are usually up to date with everything. I couldn't live without it!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Susi! I share my Google Calendar with DH (OMG, I LOVE using it because it syncs seamlessly between desktop and phone) and it works so well. The kiddos, however, are still not old enough to function that on their own, so seeing things on the big poster board works really well for now. I used to be all pen-and-paper for calendar, but once I made the switch about 2 years ago, there's just no going back. I cannot live without it either! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

      Delete
  4. I've been using Cozicentral.com - we have everything listed there. I am a disorganized mess. I have never used a calendar. I just tack up the papers with the important dates and sticky notes to my fridge. It was NOT working for us. My husband never tells me when he makes plans, I forget things. So I found cozi. And I'm actually using it. I put everything on there - scheduled events and appointments, important dates, after school activities, etc. It's got a to do list, a shopping list...and that's just the basic free version. it also downloads a little sidebar onto your desktop of your weekly appts. I feel so organized and I now know what's coming up. It's like a whole new life experience for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Cindy! I saw that app when I was searching for a good calendar app. It seems to have really wonderful functions! Having a calendar (especially one that can be shared--we use Google Calendar) is a great tool and keeps everyone up-to-date and organized. I just have to be diligent about putting all the stuff ON it--which was my problem a few weeks ago. Now the kiddos are seeing their version of a calendar in the kitchen, and it's a great way for them to know what's coming up next. And they *help* me keep track of certain things like library book due dates and field trip dates, etc.

      It feels so good to have everything on a calendar, doesn't it? I'm so glad you found something that works for you and your family! It takes out a lot of guess work and missed deadlines. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  5. Our family calendar is on Outlook. Works great for me and my husband, but I still have to remind the kids what they need to do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Asianmommy! I think kids will always need reminders, and that's why a big, visible family calender works well for us. I can't wait until the kiddos are big enough to manage their own Google Calendars and we can all just share that way, but I still have a ways to go... Thanks for stopping by! BTW, your blog stopped sending me email notifications of your replies! :(

      Delete
  6. I'm impressed with your calendar-making skills! We don't have anything quite this fancy - just a monthly calendar where we write appointments, such as doctor, dentist, golf games, lunch with friends, etc. (mainly for my husband and I to look at when we're planning stuff, so we don't double-book...can't leave the kiddos high and dry :)) I constantly have memos and reminders in my phone to keep my stuff straight, or make notes about kids' stuff I have to remember - like packing lunches for field trips, or following up on homework assignments.

    I hope your calendar ends up working out well for your family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Janna! It really has been working out nicely. Before the calendar, the kids would ask all the time when is so-and-so happening, but now they can see it right away. It also reminds them to do their chores, which is nice, too. There are just too many things to keep track of these days. I think it gets worse as kids get older, too. I am relying more and more on these reminder alerts as my brain is slowly on the descent, I think. :)

      Delete
  7. WOW! How wonderfully organized you are, and patient in crafting a calendar too, and putting everything together. :-)

    And by the way, I envy you your shiny floor. It's been my wish to have smooth and shiny floor. Alas - our soft pine wood floor (not to mention the many pairs of feet hereabouts) cannot give that level of clean and shine. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Imelda. It's funny you think I have patience, because the reason I made a calendar is because I was too impatient to wait for one in the mail! Haha! As for my shiny floor, well, it looks good on processed photos. In reality, it is not solid wood (we wrongfully opted for cheaper) so it scratches very easily. Many parts of the kitchen floor is in bad shape because of the works of young children. But thank you for liking it. I do like the color of it! BTW I use Bona floor cleaner and it works really well.

      Delete
  8. Sandra, that is awesome, I am glad I planted that seed! I know I need a big paper calendar (I buy one every January), it helps me visually, and it helps keep track of all the things happening. The phone doesn't quite work, except for the appointments and birthdays.

    You are teaching the kids an amazing lesson, even if it is not perfect. I wish my mom had been more organized, I had to create systems for myself, and now I am trying to teach my kids.

    Brava!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks again, Laura! I love the coloring coding part of it! :) And now, we're counting down the days til summer! I feel so much better seeing everything and am not late turning things into school. DH sometimes gets them ready for school in the AM (when I sub), so he takes a glance and knows what's due without reminders and notes. IT WORKS! I am so glad that I learned this from you!

      Delete