Reader Mailbag: Traveling, Calendars, and Childcare

Apr 11, 2018

As I head into another heavy stretch of Together Travel, this reader question arrived via email. Now is as good a time as any to tackle!

 So many good questions here.  And every household handles work travel differently.

My reply:

Great question. . . Context: Mr. Together (my husband) never goes anywhere. That said, he leaves for work at 6:30 every day and has zero flexibility. #teacher

The Answer:

For a family structure like yours, I think a shared family Google Calendar is the answer. Because both you and your husband travel a lot, I think entry into Google will be easier than sending each other invites, and you won’t be near a paper calendar enough.

Some Pro Tips:

  1. Synchronize your work and personal calendars in some way. Personally, I have my family Google calendar imported into my work Outlook calendar. VERY HELPFUL.
  2. Align with the other adult and big kid members of your household about what goes on your calendar, and why. Now that our kids are 5 and almost 8 (ack!), we include:
    • My work trips (including arrival time home because it impacts meals, etc.)
    • Our babysitter’s work hours
    • All playdates, birthday parties, and sports activities. This includes relevant addresses and notes.
    • Personal commitments. If I have a work dinner, or Jack is coaching a game, all of that goes in too.
    • When I’m at my best. . .Meals for the week. This is just so all parties can see what’s up!

It can be a huge pain when I have to make a double-entry. For example, I lead our daughter’s Girl Scout troop. I have to enter this into the family Google Calendar so Jack knows he is with our son that evening, but I ALSO need to put it in my own Outlook calendar because of travel time and prep. It also happens with my travel—Jack needs to know I’m gone, but I need the actual confirmation numbers in my own calendar. I’ve found no way around this, but I’m open to suggestions!

The Process:

We sit down together on Monday nights (that seems to work best for us!) and walk through the next Friday – Friday. This lets us build our babysitter hours, plan meals, figure out who gets free time when, fill childcare gaps, and brainstorm weekend activities.

Here’s what the overlay looks like:

The stuff in light pink is from our family Google calendar, Katharina is our babysitter, and I had my Girl Scout troop this week!

Last but not least, I create this white board schedule each week so my kids can see where I am, who gets picked up when, and what we’re doing.

PS More about household huddles here! And for when the stuff really hits the fan, here.