As my kids are getting older, I am finding it harder to keep up with the constant stream of information that comes into our house. It seems like every time the postman visits or I pick the kids up from school there is something else I need to do. I realised a few years ago that I could no longer hold it all in my head, so I started using a calendar to keep track of events. After the children came along, I realised that the one line slim calendars I had been using were completely inadequate for a family lifestyle, so I began looking for alternatives. The first year I discovered Mum's Family Calendar by Sandra Boynton, I never looked back. I am now on my 3rd or 4th year of this one, and I think it is highly valuable to me.
At a cost of between £5-10 there are certainly cheaper calendars around, and some of these might be similarly effective, but I have never seen one that has persuaded me to move away from this brand.
Firstly, This is quite a large calendar, and takes up quite a lot of space on the wall. I hang it up in my kitchen where it is fully visible to us all, and it is near the sink that we all use so my husband has no excuse for forgetting anything. When hung up it is a whopping 27 inches long, and 12 inches wide. This year's version covers from August 2012 to December 2013. Each month is shown on one side when open, with a large table. The left hand column is the days of that month, and the tabs across the top of the table have not been filled in, apart from the first one, which says Mum. There are a further 4 blank columns for you to label as you will. In our house, we have a columm for my husband, one for each of my sons, and then the fifth column records things like pet appointments, when the rubbish and recycling are collected, when the window cleaners are due, and so on. For each person on any day, there is a box that is about the size of my finger from middle knuckle to finger tip - approximately 1.5 inches wide by 0.75 inches height.
As well as having all this space to record your events, each month is beautifully illustrated by the artist Sandra Boynton with cartoon style pictures. While some of these are a bit American in theme, these are eye catching and attractive. This months features reflective looking penguins looking up at a star n the top of the page. February features a cat holding a bunch of heart shaped balloons, with some of the balloons floating away along the page. The pictures for August to December are identical to the end of last years calendar, which is great when you buy the new calendar and you are copying dates across. The overlap is great in making sure you are never without a calendar.
The calendar has a special little feature of a pouch at the bottom which is very useful for storing a pen and any loose bits of paper we want to keep but not on display. Here I also store the sheets of stickers that come with the calendar. These are quite small stickers that say things like: dentist, practice, camp, 1/2 day, no school. The stickers are not really that relevant for me, and I have never used up all the ones that come with any calendar as I find some of them far too american for my needs, but they are still a nice little feature for having certain events like birthdays stand out that bit more against the more general appointments and things to remember. This pouch also has printed onto it a small calendar showing all the dates from 2012-2014 to help when planning things in the future.
Another added extra is a contacts sheet. This is a re-inforced card with magnets on the back. You can write on this important numbers that you might need to use a lot such as the doctors surgery, the school phone numbers, work numbers and so on. I do really like this sheet, and ours has a central place on our fridge and I do refer to it at least a few times a month rather than getting out the phone book, so pretty useful.
I love this calendar. It does get a bit samey with having the same look every year, but it has proved so useful to me in keeping me up to date that I would not risk changing it at this moment. I like how it covers up to 3 children. I think it would be tougher with a larger family, but then you might choose to give half a column to each child, or do one for primary school aged kids and one for secondary school. I think it is pretty perfect for our family. It is rare that I need more space to write in than I am given. Usually, one large event like that effects more than one of us anyway, like a teacher training day. It is easy for us all to see at a glance when events are happening, and hopefully my children will be learning some organisational skills from me as they are growing so they can learn time management themselves from an early age.
I can't recommend this highly enough.