Calendars, planners, and online software change each year so for the back-to-school season, I would like to share with you some of the family planning options available to you for the new 2009 school year.
Let’s start with online planners since these are typically a free option for families. Online tools are ideal for clearing the paper clutter from your life and can be easily shared among family members. When using paper calendars, it can be difficult to get your family all on the same page (so to speak) so online tools can be a great option for making sure everyone is aware of those meetings and appointments.
Here is a quick round-up of our favorite online calendar tools:
Qlubb-This is a fantastic tool for getting people and events organized in your mommy life. Qlubb is a web-based group utility that enables real-world groups to easily connect, share and get stuff done. Qlubb brings all aspects of group interaction to one simple and intuitive place. With event calendaring, sign-up sheets, photo sharing, member rosters, file sharing, task reminder service, and bulletin boards, Qlubb provides all the functions needed to easily and actively participate within a group. This online tool is idea for room parents, club organizers, scout troop leaders, PTO, and playgroup activities.
Google Calendar- This seems to be a favorite among families because it syncs so well with everything in a busy mom’s life. Busy families can easily link to one another’s calendars to avoid scheduling conflicts which makes it a very appealing option. You can import events from other calendar programs like Yahoo! Calendar and Microsoft Outlook. You also can set up multiple calendars for different areas of your life, like one for your daughter’s ballet schedule or one for your weekly night’s out with your girlfriends. Party planning and invitations can be done through the calendar as well as setting up reminders for important events in your life. I love that you can share your calendar with your family (or the world, if you so choose) which should help trigger your spouse’s memory for that dinner with your family that he was so not looking forward to.
Cozi- In my opinion, this is one of the best free online tools that there is. I really just love the look and the feel of this calendar. I loved this calendar when it first came out, but they have made a new recent addition and you can now sync to Outlook, which makes adding events a whole lot easier. This software is made with a mom in mind. It is easy to use, color-coded (for each family member), includes pictures of your sweet little ones, helps you with your grocery list, has calendars with alerts letting you know when your appointments are and you can send love notes to your hubby…all from one central location. Left your grocery list at home? Just call Cozi’s toll-free number from any mobile phone and have your list read to you or sent as a text message.
remember the milk- This site is great for our list-writing mommas. You can make as many lists as you like and no one will tell you to put your notepads away. Into tagging items on your blog? Use the task cloud to easily see what you have to do. Want to store notes along with your tasks? You can do that too. Saving gas is always a priority too and you can use the map feature to see where your tasks are located in the real world. See what’s nearby or on your way, and plan the best way to get things done.
Ta-da Lists- Another great site for the list-writing mommas because that is virtually all this program is. It is simple, it takes about ten seconds to sign up for an account and you can make as many lists as you like. You could also be like, “Ta-da!” and have this open on your computer with a giant list of things you need your spouse to do… you know, if you were that kind of spouse!
Online planning has come a long way, but many families still rely on the good old-fashioned paper calendars to get their days organized. Despite using a computer to manage my business, I am still guilty of indulging in paper organizers to manage our hectic lives.
There are many budget-friendly organizers on the market and I wanted to highlight for you a few of my favorites for managing our schedules:
Family Facts On the Go Organizer & Planner- For the past three years, this has been my calendar of choice for my family. This calendar has everything that I need and is the perfect size to still tuck into my purse. My favorite things about this organizer is that it has tear off corners to mark what week you are on, it has a very durable waterproof cover that can withstand the elements, and it has organizing pockets where I can tuck in business cards or bills that need to be taken care of. The calendar starts in September, getting moms kicked off right to school with a brand new organizer. I have converted many friends over to this organizer because it has all of the tools you need right at your fingertips. (Price- $14.95)
BusyBodyBooks Academic Organizer- If you are attracted to a calendar with simplicity and lots of room to write down schedules, then this is the calendar for you. I would compare this organizer to a paper-format of the Cozi online calendar.
These organizers are roomy and have a weekly grid format with a spacious side by side view of your schedule. Each family member can get their own column of activities, making it easy to see who needs to be where. These columns can accommodate up to five family members on each page.
In addition to your standard calendar, the organizer offers extras like a planning calendar for birthdays and anniversaries, another calendar for the next year’s appointments, shopping lists, pockets to store items, a bookmark to mark what week you are on, and plenty of places to leave extra notes. (Price- $17.59)
BusyBodyBooks Wall Calendar- This calendar offers seven columns to arrange multiple and hectic schedules side by side. If you have less than seven family members, like our family, the other columns are helpful for organizing a chore/work schedule and your family’s menu plans for the week.
Other fun elements that make this calendar a winner is the pocket for storage, a place to start tracking appointments for the next year (no more do you have to write in the margins until you buy your calendar) and a place to keep track of birthdays and important emergency information. I also love that this calendar is spiral-bound so that it can lay completely flat when I am filling it out or when being hung on the wall.
Each week is an an entire page in the wall calendar, offering a generous amount of room for recording all of life’s little details. At the bottom of each page is a section for checklists and note taking. (Price- $14.65)
momAgenda- I keep two separate organizers to manage my business and my home life. For the last year, I have been using my momAgenda to organize everything for my website and I absolutely love it.
This calendar is clean and simple, but very elegantly bound. The calendar pages are set up in such a way that they provide ample room to get all of your scheduling needs in it. Each month has two pages devoted towards the month-at-a-glance and then it is divided by week (two pages per week). The weekly pages offer room to categorize which is very useful for a mom who needs to divide her work and home life or just wants to divide schedules. The book has two ribbon bookmarks to bookmark what week you are on and any area other area in your calendar you would like to keep bookmarked. Each page provides a great motivational quote and there are many other sections within the MomAgenda that make it a great tool for moms. For example, a party-planning section, a place to jot down favorite wines, and even a list of favorite websites.
This is higher priced than the other organizers that are highlighted, but I know many moms would get their money’s worth out of this one. The momAgenda website does, however, offer oodles of free printables that can help you get organized this year including a great back-to-school checklist that I plan to use this year. (Price- $45)
Jumbo Dry Erase Wall Calendar- I love dry erase calendars and go to town color coding everyone and making notes on these. I requested this wall calendar as a gift this past year for Christmas, never glancing at the dimensions when ordering it. When I received this calendar, I was shocked to find that it is about the size of an actual wall. After getting over my initial shock, it has been a great addition to our office to organize everyone’s schedules in one spot. If you have the wall space and a big family, I would recommend this calendar for your busy family. (Price- $14.99)
MomAdvice Weekly Planner- What list would be complete without our free printable weekly planner that we offer? I have heard from many families that this is a tool that they use when managing their busy lives. Unlike most planners, our design leaves just as much room for your weekend as the rest of the week. See all of your appointments, reminders and entire To Do list, all on one page. Fits any standard 8½ x 11″ binder. (Price- FREE)
Family Facts School Years Memento Keeper- While this is not a calendar tool, I absolutely have to highlight this as a way to jot down all of those memories and as a way to keep track of all of those endless papers that are coming home from school.
This memento keeper is thoughtfully put together and is built to last with durable pages and a strong hardback cover to keep all of those precious glitter projects safe.
The book starts with pre-kindergarten and ends with your child’s senior year in high school. For each section, there is a section for information about themselves, a spot for their photo, a place for their school information, summer vacation memories, and special memories from the holidays. There are also clever sections that your child can write their signature, draw a picture of themselves, and memories that their siblings and parents can share about them each year. Thoughtfully placed is a pocket in each section for your child’s favorite mementos, report card, photos, or report card. (Price- $22.95)
Do you use any calendar tools for managing your day? What has been the most successful in your family?