Keeping Up With the Family

Anoth­er his­tor­i­cal arti­cle, writ­ten some­time before 2005. This is so much eas­i­er now with smart­phones and shared calendars!

Keep­ing up with where every­one in our fam­i­ly was at any giv­en time, much less when things need to hap­pen, was not a triv­ial task. All of us had PDAs, thank­ful­ly, and we made exten­sive use of them and an online cal­en­dar that could be accessed from any com­put­er with inter­net access. Every­thing that’s sched­uled for the fam­i­ly had to be entered into the cal­en­dar or we won’t remem­ber it. Dance lessons, fam­i­ly gath­er­ings, appoint­ments, games, Girl Scout meet­ings, teacher con­fer­ences, the day the trash was picked up—absolutely everything.

The catch is that I had to remem­ber to look at the cal­en­dar and my to-do list, though, whether online or on my PDA. I also had to remem­ber to syn­chro­nize the PDA. I was pret­ty good on that part but had to nag the rest of the fam­i­ly to do it. I nev­er came up with a solu­tion to get­ting every­one else to sync their PDAs regularly.

Beyond the tech­ni­cal solu­tions, we have a white­board in the kitchen. Imme­di­ate reminders, like “take the out­go­ing mail with you when you leave,” or “the gar­den must be watered today!” went there. All of us got pret­ty good about look­ing at the white­board. Katie had her own small board on her bed­room door, where we not­ed things like, “Do not dis­turb: MIGRAINE!” Sam had his own white­board next to his desk where he put reminders for him­self. When I had a desk, I had one of my own.

There was a gro­cery list on the refrig­er­a­tor where we were all sup­posed to list things as we used them up or as the need for them arose. That was for non-urgent items, as we only grabbed it when we were mak­ing a “real” gro­cery run. Any­thing urgent had to be ver­bal­ly request­ed from who­ev­er was out and about (thank $deity for cell phones).

Still, I longed for fam­i­ly group­ware. Yes, I’m serious—groupware designed for fam­i­ly, instead of busi­ness, use. So I wrote about it over here.

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