Home > Life, Parenting > Organizing Chaos: Pick Your Calendar Poison

Organizing Chaos: Pick Your Calendar Poison


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Faithfully, every December, I have received a calendar from a real estate agent in Whistler. I once I queried how far $30 would go in that market. Naturally, he replied you couldn’t buy anything big enough for your toe for the sum I was suggesting, and I never spoke with him again. But he has kindly been sending me beautiful calendars, with gorgeous mountain vistas and inspirational sayings, like “You can never conquer the mountain. You can only conquer yourself.”

Not only have these been a handy organizing tool, they have given me moments of serenity in my chaotic life.

I use these calendars to scrawl reminders on each delineated day in an attempt to be organized. I can never find the same pen to do this, so the result might be a mixture of red Sharpie and green crayon and at least half the time blue pen that is running out of ink, so I can only read half of what I scrawled, like “Bday Pty!”, but have no idea which child was to attend and where it was supposed to be held. People like me rely heavily on Evite reminders for these useful tidbits of information, so keep them coming.

But my calendar never came this year. The agent either gave up on me as a potential buyer (and I need to borrow from Pretty Woman here when I say BIG mistake, HUGE! I now have almost $100 put aside for this purchase…), or figured paper calendars were going the way of the Betamax machine. Whatever the reason, this aberration has caused January to be a gong show for me.

And for those who know me personally, I mean even more so than usual.

I’ve been writing things on scraps of paper when I’m out that never land anywhere useful. I’ve been getting emails for dinner invitations, but unless it’s for tomorrow I have no idea if we’re free. Mothers have been trying to schedule playdates and I am stymied, never knowing if my child is available or not. Friends try to plan things with me, and after looking at them blankly, I gaze up above their heads to see if I can produce a mental picture of what my January would have looked like if I had that darn calendar.

Of course, it was on my mental to-do list to go and buy a calendar, but I kept forgetting.

I finally hit rock bottom when I barely got my children’s hot lunch order in with 2 minutes to spare, and kept them home for the first hour of school to do it. Missing a hot lunch order would be the equivalent of missing a free trip to paradise, since it gives me two blissful evenings of not wondering what the hell to put in their lunches the next day; you do NOT want to miss this deadline.

This near catastrophe forced me to take a good hard look at my inability to organize. Sure, I was missing a piece of paper, but was something deeper and more profound happening? Was there a fear I was afraid of addressing?

Yes, of course there was. Subliminally, I realize there is a much better way of organizing one’s life that I ignore every day on my computer. It’s called iCal. This is another reason why I haven’t broken down and done the walk of shame to buy a paper calendar. I have been holding out for the same reason I print my digital photographs: what if your computer dies when you desperately wanted to brag to your dinner guests about your last family vacation? What if my computer doesn’t wake up one day, and I have no idea what is on my iCal?

What then, smartypants?

Having committed my life to the Apple dominion, I was holding out on this one last sacred part: my time.

But flying by the seat of my pants for this entire month with no visual calendar besides the one in my head has emboldened me. Sure, I almost missed a few things and forgot to pick up my daughter once, but otherwise my family survived, unscathed. Maybe I could deal with a computerized calendar after all. If it died, I might yet live.

My friend showed me her nifty iCal, all color-coded for different children, with little boxes to check off on your to-do list as they are accomplished. I really love ticking off boxes, so I threw myself into the Apple ring even more so, and plugged in every activity I could think of. More are coming to me as I write. It’s very therapeutic, lifting these medial tasks off of my brain.

The payback was immediate. As luck would have it, I’m going away for a couple of days and my in-laws are babysitting. Instead of illegibly and hastily writing down my children’s schedule as my cab is waiting, I printed off each day’s events so they know when and where each over-scheduled child needs to be after school. Dare I say, I look like the ultimate organized SAHM. I can hear them singing my praises now:

Maybe our son did know what he was doing marrying this broad!

  1. January 27, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I relate to your dilemma, Deanne…my kitchen calendar is essential to our existence! I haven’t gone electronic yet, which is rather ironic, since I live with computer geeks…

    I wrote this post last spring about my schedule: http://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/04/11/the-schedule-in-my-head/

    One thing I learned last year was not to use a calendar that the pages pull off of at the end of the month…I usually write the birthdays on at the beginning of the year (for the whole year). All of last year’s birthdays were gone!!! I am relying on my memory this year…


  2. January 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Thanks Wendy – do you also save your calendars for years going forward? I have a drawer full, in case I’m wrongfully accused of a crime I can provide an alibi. Yeah, that might be neurotic.

    • January 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      Ask my family about my packrat tendencies…up until a couple of years ago, I still had power bills from when I lived in Newfoundland in 1983/84! That might have been carrying things a little too far…


  3. January 27, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I have one baby, too young to go to school/have activities/ play sports and I STILL can’t manage to keep the few things I have on my plate organized. My friends just call me MOM Brain but I am inspired to get my calendar tidy and in order. Love the “gong show” mention, too. I feel that way almost every day 🙂

  4. January 28, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Great post, Deanna! I am so behind the times. Didn’t even know about iCal. Then again, that could be what’s wrong with me. Yikes!

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