Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Best Mom Tip #162: Write that down

This is my kitchen calendar. It is 3'x3' of dry-erase, magnetic, color-coded, organizational fun. I made it myself. I'm sure you have myriad questions regarding my calendar, so let me illuminate you.

First, why is it 3 FEET by 3 FEET instead of a normal sized calendar? Well, because I have a ridiculous amount of stuff to write on it and I need all members of my family to know when they have to be places.

I have a calendar I keep in my purse--that's where I write down the doctor's appointments while I'm in the office or right after I sign up for a kid's school conference. And although this works when I'm away from home, it has it's limitations; the squares are small, I have to remember my own short-hand. But the biggest problem is that Jay cannot (or will not) look at it. If he needs to take a kid to soccer or know that I will not be home for dinner because I am abandoning my family for girls' night out, he needs to know this ahead of time. He does not like surprises that involve me leaving the home suddenly.

The giant calendar hangs right next to our kitchen table so every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I can remind myself what's happening this week. Which is good because any given week is like one of those memory tests they give you to see if you have alzheimer's.

Last week Charlotte had to take between 20 and 100 individually wrapped pieces of candy that had to fit into a special "estimation" jar (which Jay kept referring to as the elimination jar--that seems like pretty intense 1st grade if there are eliminations) and 5 of her favorite photographs of herself. These were due on Monday. I don't have any photos of her that aren't hanging on the wall. They are all in the computer. I had to print out 5 pictures at Walgreens and send Jay to get them with Charlotte. They came back with the pictures and 200 dum dums. I now have 156 extra dum dums. Every day after that she had to remember to take a special item for show and tell.

Griffin had to wear blue on Monday, a silly hat on Wednesday, and a crazy hair style on Friday. Also on Wednesday he had to take 14 individually wrapped snack food items that were peanut-free and not cake or cupcakes. We needed to provide small cups and napkins as well.

Then there were soccer practices, soccer games, the guys fixing my flooded/rotted/mushy kitchen floor, and a well baby visit to the doctor. Thus the need for a really big calendar.

So, you ask, how did I make my amazing calendar? I bought two magnetic dry erase boards for $10 a piece at Michael's and tore the cheap frame off of them. I used a ruler and a sharpie to draw the grid and I left a column to the left for grocery items and to store the magnets we collect for some odd reason when we go on vacation. This keeps my refrigerator clear, which makes me inordinately happy.

I used the green and white strip tape that I used as a teacher to affix posters to cement block walls to mount the thing on my wall--it will totally tear the wall when I take it off so I am never going to move.

So what else is so great about a giant wall-hogging sheet of dates and activities? Well, the squares are so big that if we get invited to something, I can just post the invitation on the date of the event so I know the details when the day arrives. There is room to post baby announcements and Christmas cards until I 1) send a gift or 2) get tired of looking at that family. Sometimes 1 and 2 happen simultaneously. I bought colored dry-erase markers so each member of our family has a color. Griffin, who can't read, still knows when something involves him because of the color. Finally, my calendar runs Monday to Sunday so that I can see my whole weekend right next to each other.

My family actually looks forward to when I change over the calendar--wiping off the name of the month and the dates and adding the new month's events. Charlotte can't wait to see what she has to do for the week or month or how far that makes it until her birthday.

I know that it may be too big or too crowded or too much like a teacher made it (it's hard to let that go), but I really benefit from it. And I remember to bring a brown paper grocery bag, two dozen non-choke-able beads, and a bottle of finger paint to make a Native American for Thanksgiving. Or whatever it is that they're doing with that stuff.

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