Choosing a Family Calendar

BlogHer Original Post

Toss out the wrapping paper and let's get to work--it will be 2009 in exactly 6 days. Do you have a calendar yet?

I do. It's a bit of an obsession, actually, one that has befuddled those around me. I'm generally a plugged-in, on-line kind of girl, but when it comes to calendars, I cannot bring myself to go electronic. I have tried PDAs--more than once--but to no avail. I need my paper calendar to manage my life, and I live by it.

People have commented to me before that I must be very organized to keep such a careful calendar. The opposite is true. I am naturally disorganized and forgetful; I write things down because I have to, not because I want to. In fact, when I meet a mom who manages a family without using a written planner, I am awe-struck--I simply am unable to hold that much information in my head.

I've tried several calendar formats over the years and have, over time, developed a list of requirements for the calendar I choose.

1. It must have a lot of space. A little square box simply isn't enough. I have four kids--that's a lot of activities to record.

2. I need space for meal-planning. It's been a time and budget saver over the years to have a specific spot on my calendar to record each day's meal plans, even if the plan is simply "order out".

3. There needs to be space for notes, for jotting down extra info outside of specific dates.

I'm so picky about my planners that for a couple of years I even took the madness to a whole new level--I developed my own planner on an Excel spreadsheet, having the whole document printed and bound at my local copy shop. It worked, but it wasn't as visually pleasing as some of the alternatives. In doing my homework, I've stumbled across several varieties of planners over the years. Here are a few that have caught my eye:

BusyBodyBook This calendar works on a simple grid format that looks very simple, with space for five family members.

BizziMom Planners These spiral-bound planners actually fold out for extra space, and there are three clear pockets for bills, coupons, etc.

The Family Planner provides plenty of space for lists, using a format with vertical columns (which is the format I tend to prefer).

Truly Mom These have so many features they appear to be more of a portable desk than just a planner.

Kate Spade is in the planner game with a tri-fold version that is (of course) fashionable.

MomAgenda This is the one I'm using now, and I love it. Again, it has vertical columns that make it, in my opinion, easier to process with a quick glance. The three-ring binder option is especially handy for keeping up with extra kid-related papers.

For some other great calendar resources, check out these articles and posts:

Birmingham Mom has compiled a list that includes both desk and wall calendars.

Sarah Aguirre of About.com offers a lengthy list of planner features to consider.

All*you reviews an on-line version of the family planner for those who are able to step away from the paper version.

Doodlage offers a top-ten list of calendar, especially taking into consideration their artistic, visual merit.

Which calendar do you love best? Or do you keep one at all? Have you successfully made the leap to the electronic variety?

Shannon Lowe is a BlogHer contributing editor (Mommy/Family). She also blogs at Rocks In My Dryer and The Parenting Post.

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