Monday, March 19, 2007

More on conflicts and calendars

About conflicts:

I've been thinking more about our conflict situation lately - especially after our three-year-old had a major meltdown after church yesterday. Fit throwing, disobedient, irritable, you-name-it. And my parents were here to view it, in all its miserable glory.

SO, I edited Thursday's post to include the fact that (besides times when we are in the car or in a hurry), our main times of conflict are when someone in the family is (a) tired or (b) hungry. Amazing how easy it is to overlook the obvious and bring out the big guns unnecessarily. And this does not just apply to little ones. Since our teen and tweens tend to be night owls, I can't tell you how many "discussions" have imploded once the clock strikes ten.

Little One became a new woman, after some lunch and a nap (naps are rare these days). You'd think I'd remember these things, but that poor child is usually so easygoing, it didn't dawn on me until she was practically writhing on the floor.

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About calendars:

Chrystal asked about our family calendar. Chrystal is another "mom in the middle," with kids from tots to teens. I haven't gotten to meet her in person yet, but she knows my sister, so that's the next best thing. I hope it won't be long!

Chrystal wanted to know:

*What my family calendar looks like and where it is - Thanks to Susanne, this year, I converted to the giant desk calendar, but it's hung on my wall. (I would post a picture of it, but it would take me all day to edit it enough to protect my children's identities!). I do love pretty calendars, so this was a big step for me to go to the utilitarian look, since mine hangs next to my wall phone in the kitchen!

But the squares on the pretty ones just got too small for all our family happenings, so a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do.

* Who gets to write in it - Well, that's another reason why we need the big one. I let our kids write on it. Their handwriting isn't quite as small (or as neat) as mine, but I want them to take ownership of their events. I tell them to write things down for themselves, and they do great!

* Whether or not I color code - Yes and no. When I sit down to add an entire schedule's worth (such as birthdays, events from the school calendar, or a sports schedule) I do write those in colors (I started assigning kids' colors here).

However, I know myself too well. If I make things too complicated, I'll get discouraged the first time one of my four girls runs off with the pink pen, and then I won't do it at all.

Also, if I want my kids to participate, I have to keep it simple. So I keep a black Pilot G2 retractable gel pen (Uniball makes nice one, too) next to the calendar (I like retractables because I don't want to be keeping track of pen tops, and gel pens because I don't want the ink to run out when I'm writing at an angle). I hang it from a length of elastic cord from a hook, so no one can run off with it. The elastic is so I can use a shorter length of it (keep out of little hands) than if I just used string.

The little one is just now tall enough to reach it, so even she writes things down ("Mom, hewe'th my birfday!"). Yes, it's messy, but it's a small price to pay for multiplying myself, at least eventually, I guess.

I saw on the Pilot website that the G2 comes in cool colors, so I might have to do a little more color-coding. Would just have to hang more elastic, maybe. Only bad thing about these pens is that they are permanent, and I do have few marks on my wall from my "helpers." Oh, well.

I like to write things down in something of order (morning things at the top of the square, evening things toward the bottom, etc.) and I'm a chronic "boxer" - most things on the calendar are in boxes (I'm sure this has some eerie psychological significance). Now the kids do it, too, so at least their notes are confined to boxes. Except for the preschoolers' scribbles at the bottom of the page...

I keep our family address book and my personal calendar on Microsoft Outlook. Love this program - got my 2003 version on Ebay for cheap. The kids know to look on the computer to look up (or edit) any addresses or phone numbers. And, thanks to a husband who works in the wireless industry, I can upload the address book and calendar to my phone (I used to use an inexpensive Ebay-purchased Palm that did the same thing, minus the phone). It's not always as up-to-date as the kitchen calendar, but it lets me keep from committing to too many overlapping things when I don't have the kitchen calendar in front of me!

I'd love to hear how you keep your family's schedule organized!

3 comments:

UKZoe said...

You should see the size of the squares on our calendar. Home made and covers a whole door!

Susanne said...

I don't know what I ever did without my big square calender. I've tried a few others since then but always to back to this method. It is always the easiest And I love how you're having the kids take ownership of putting up their activities. Now my question is what if they don't put it up? And all of a sudden you find you have an extra thing at the last minute? Do they have to miss?

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Susanne, you always make me think too hard. Hmm.

Actually, that has happened. But I'm usually the guilty party (my punishment is having to run like a crazy woman)! I would suppose it matters how important the event is, how often the forgetfulness is happening, and if further "training" is needed! In general, I think of the calendar as our tool to learn to work together (I want them to use it to help each other remember things, and to pitch in to pull things off - even if last minute) and defer to one another. I'd like to keep it positive if at all possible, but there are times when last-minute events do have to get nixed even if you try, because arrangements can't be made in time.

Life lessons are a bummer!