Implementing this single tool is a sure-fire way to save you friction with your spouse or co-parent.
Parents are expert Jugglers. With all the balls to keep in the air - from academics to sports, social events to finding time to sit down together for a meal - its no wonder we get into playing the Blame Game with a spouse or co-parent when something from our schedule *Splats* on the ground.
There IS another way. Effectively implementing one single tool is a sure-fire way to save you friction with your fellow co-parent (current or ex), and have you and your family accomplishing more with less stress.
We’ve all used Google as a search engine, perhaps even email host, but free Google Calendars is quickly becoming the saving grace in many a parent’s life. Whether your child is in kindergarten or college, Google Calendar is a tool you can use to keep track of everybody’s critical engagements leaving you more time to sit down together to reconnect.
Single parents take note: this tool can keep you and your ex on the same page while limiting the amount of personal engagement and nagging required to transition your child/ren from one home to the next!
Google has a nifty Calendar that you can access and share between fellow Gmail account holders. You and your family will each need an active Gmail account (easy to set up here). Once you have an active account simply log in and click on the CALENDAR tab at the top of your browser. Using the calendar is quite intuitive, but should you need help there is a great tutorial here.
Wondering why this outperforms your family’s trusty calendar that hangs at the front door?
Here’s why it works:
- Google Calendar allows you to color code your events. Use these colors to cover ALL the scheduled aspects of your life (e.g. green for school activities, blue for study time, purple for sports, and so on). At a glance you have it ALL there in front of you and can easily spot problematic overlaps between events. You can take it with you too….on your phone, at work or as a printout.
- You can set up Alert Reminders. These not only ring through to either your email or phone (yes, it synchs to your iPhone!), but you can share the reminder alerts with others. This is where you get to stop wearing the nagging hat in the family!
- Time Block. This is an amazing technique for creating more free time in your life. Block out time on your to schedule time for the mundane time-sucker activities that can eat up a whole weekend. Set aside time to respond to email or help your kids with homework, for example. With an alert reminder set, you’ll consistently knock that off your To Do list and go to bed all caught up!
- Create incremental schedules for projects. Have a big kid? Help them keep current on school projects by assisting them in creating an incremental schedule. Breaking down assignments into bite-sized, manageable pieces will keep you all saner as due dates approache. AND if your kids split time with your ex, everyone can contribute to the project during their time with the kids.
- Overlay Family Calendars. Google Calendars allows you to share calendars with other Gmail users. This is a particularly useful feature because at a glance, you can see your entire family’s events (and they yours!). Used well, you’ll say goodbye to schedule conflicts and forgotten about commitments.
This can be a fun and transformational tool for older kids too! Get them involved in creating and managing their own calendar so they can say goodbye to late night study sessions or forgotten assignments. This is a skill they’ll take with them through life and is a proven secret of top performing students.
Once you have this system in place you can truly enjoy your free time. Your mind won’t be tied up in knots worrying about what might be falling through the cracks or left undone. I invite you to try this calmer, more organized way of life. I promise you’ll smile when you share calendars between you and your trusty co-parent. You can let off the worry and nagging gas pedal, knowing that he or she IS on the same page (at least around scheduling!).