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On Parenting
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 08/14/2012

The organized parent: Your helpful hints (Google Calendar, anyone?)

I asked, and you advised. Oh, did you advise. Almost 50 comments, not to mention a few personal e-mails — including an incredibly helpful one from a high school pal I haven’t seen in, well, a decade.

So, as promised, here are some of the helpful tips you offered. I’m seriously considering all of them and already using some of them as I ready my older guy for kindergarten — that magical time that should seem freeing.

But with homework and a day that ends at 3:15 even though his parents work, there is very little that is freeing about that.

And so with that deadline looming, I knew it was time to get organized. I, the preternaturally disorganized woman, am going to take a chance at really getting a system going.

So first, your tips (lightly edited for clarity). An organizer’s advice on how to find the right system will follow in a separate post.

— “Whatever system you choose, take five minutes at the end of the day to update and review what is coming up on the agenda for tomorrow and the week.”

— “Organized people are sometimes hyper-organized in a way that not naturally organized people should not attempt.” [Note from Amy: This one made me feel better.]

— “Having an extra 10 minutes to goof off on the Internet or snuggle with a kid is so much better than 10 minutes of frantically looking for that other shoe or the homework and then realizing halfway downstairs that your kid’s hair looks like a bird has been nesting in it and that you haven’t brushed your teeth.” [And that pretty much sums up why I want to get organized. I want the “extras” to be just that. Organized, but done in my extra time.]

— “For my family, everything has to go on the Google Calendar — my appointments and theirs — otherwise it doesn’t exist.”

— “I send my husband Outlook appointments for everything from our daughter’s softball games to my travel days to our date nights; I send my mom Outlook appointments for the days she is picking up or dropping off the kids. ... Is it annoying? Yes. Does it feel overwhelmingly yuppie (or whatever the current disparaging term is)? Yep. But the alternative is multiple daily e-mails dealing with logistics.”

— One woman said her husband’s “ ‘solution’ for the school paperwork ... was to buy a bunch of boxes, dump each kid’s output for the year into a separate box, label it by kid and year, and put it in the basement for the kids to take care of later.”

Overwhelmingly, people who wrote in turned to Google Calendars, Outlook and various apps to keep themselves organized. Lots of them used a shared app or calendar that their spouse also checked.

Oh, folks. I tried that. It worked for approximately two days. My husband does not use a calendar. He doesn’t use a planner. He doesn’t use anything. And he remembers absolutely everything.

I have a paper planner that I use every day. I have a Google Calendar and have started to use the iPhone calendar that reminds me in advance of things I need to do. I write reminders on my hands!

And yet, I still sometimes have to call my husband before I agree to dinner out with a friend to make sure we don’t have something going on. Recently, for instance, I told him I’d be getting a drink with friends the following Thursday. He sort of looked at me oddly. I didn’t think I was asking too much. Was I?

Well. It is our nine-year-anniversary. My three calendars and I didn’t have a clue.

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 08/14/2012

 
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