There are so many family calendar apps, but how do you find one that will actually work for your family -- not just take up your phone's memory?
Family calendars and organizers are important to help you keep track of important appointments, birthdays and activities, but you're sick of lugging that heavy planner around. A family calendar app is a convenient way to replace that old book, but with so many choices, how do you find one that will actually work for your family?
"The most common calendar mistake is not using one," says Darla DeMorrow, a certified professional organizer and owner of HeartWork Organizing. "The second mistake is using your email as a to-do system. It doesn't matter what calendar app you use, it's much better to put all of your commitments into your calendar than expect your overworked brain to remember."
Lara Galloway, a business coach to moms and co-author of "Moms Mean Business," has a personal mantra. "'If it's not on the calendar, it doesn't exist.' Train yourself to add special events and deadlines to the calendar the minute you learn of them. As your children get older, teach them it is their responsibility to get their events and deadlines on the family calendar as well. Doing so reduces lots of stress for everyone in the family, helps avoid forgetting things and eliminates stressful last-minute scrambles to make things happen."
So how do you find the right family calendar app for you? When looking for the right fit, make sure that it is available across all platforms, bonus points if you can access it on your desktop as well as mobile. Also, keep in mind that while free is always nice, sometimes a paid app that you'll be using every day is well worth the few bucks it costs. Lastly, everyone in your family will be using it, so make sure it's user friendly.
Here are a few popular family calendar apps, each with their own unique features.
- Google Calendar
Simple, easy and free, Google Calendar's app is a great option for busy families. From desktop to mobile, you will always have your calendar with you since you can use this across platforms. You can have multiple calendars for each member of your family and color code them so you can quickly see who needs to be where and when.
Barb Hoyer, a mom of five and the blogger behind A Life in Balance, knows a lot about keeping her family organized with this app. "I keep my blogging schedules, the kids' sport schedules, appointments and school-related activities in my Google calendar."
- Hub Family Organizer
To keep both your home and family organized, try Hub Family Organizer. With Hub, you can share calendars, to-do lists, chores, photos and more to keep everyone in sync and organized. Your entire family will be working together to get things done and you will always know whats going on.
- Cozi App
"Many people like the easy-to-use Cozi app," says DeMorrow. "It not only lets you keep track of recurring appointments and other people's schedules, but also helps with things like meal planning and to-do lists." The Cozi app makes your computer, mobile phone and tablet the ultimate family organizing tool. Best of all, it is a free app that will help you manage the family schedule, organize shopping lists and even capture memories -- all in one place.
For a great collaborative family calendar app that lets you and your family members share chores, projects and due dates, download Wunderlist. You can even assign tasks to your family members, set reminders or print your lists to keep a hard copy handy. There is a free version available, as well as paid features.
No matter what family calendar app you decide to use, you have to keep up with it! Hoyer suggests doing a weekly review. "For about 30 minutes every week, I go through my calendars, tickler files, email and task list for the upcoming weeks to ensure I don't forget a permission slip for a field trip or a doctor's appointment."
For more on organizing, check out How to Make a Family Calendar.
Stephanie Glover is a freelance writer from Philadelphia.