Online Parenting Calendars
By Keisha Chandler
Director of Operations
Peace Talks Mediation Services, Inc.
Juggling soccer practice, violin lessons, tutors, and everything else in between can be extremely difficult to manage for any family, but for divorcing parents it’s all the more challenging.
Using programs like these will help give your children a sense of predictability. You can even enlist the help of your children to set up the initial information on the website. It is an opportunity for them to see how you manage time and schedules which is an excellent skill for a child of any age to participate in and observe. Take a look at all of the options and decide which features you will use given your family’s needs.
Several websites offer online parenting calendars with various features and functions to make life easier. Each paid site offers a schedule, database for doctor and medical contact information, keeping track of expenses, school and homework info, and uploading photos to share. Subscription sites tend to be more complete, but the free calendars have benefits as well:
Sharekids.com: This program costs $200 per year for a joint account and $100 per year for an individual account. They also offer a lifetime fee structure which is $1000 for a joint account and $500 for an individual account. If you have young children, you may want to consider this option if you find this program works for you and your family. As an added bonus, they offer a 30 day free trial with absolutely no obligation to you.
Sharekids.com provides different options and permissions for every member of your family. For example, if your children have grandparents that play an active role in your children’s lives, you can create an additional profile for them and give them access to only the sections you choose, like the children’s sports schedules. Since grandparents don’t need access to the accounting portion of the website or your own personal day to day schedule, you can limit their access to just the sections in which they’re interested. This feature is especially useful for stepparents and blended families, nannies, personal assistants, or any other interested adults.
One of the most helpful sections Sharekids.com offers is a House Rules section. You can post house rules about computer use, TV, video game time, sleepovers, and bedtimes on the website. Just don’t expect Grandma and Grandpa to follow them!
Best features: multiple users with different access, nice navigational menu
Our Family Wizard.com: This program costs $99.00 per year or about $8.65 per month. No free trial period.
This is the most comprehensive and organized program. It is also the most sophisticated of the products I reviewed. It allows you to input the basic schedule for up to three years in advance. The program has a basic calendar for scheduling events, but also has a great feature to facilitate pick up and drop off time for each parent using color coding.
The most helpful and advanced feature of this program is the management of scheduling conflicts and trading days between parents. When either situation presents itself, the program automatically posts this information to the Message Board which can be very helpful in avoiding miscommunications about events and appointments.
Best features: 3 year schedule, manages scheduling conflicts
Custody Planner.com: This is a nice, clean, simple and easy to use site. Best of all, it’s free. I particularly love the rules and exceptions section, and the ability to outline joint household rules. I could also see kids getting involved---they can read for themselves that both parents agree that there are no "R" rated movies in either household.
Lacking: No database section of contact info for children's doctors, dentists, other healthcare providers, teachers, school, even friends and names of friends' parents.
Best features: Free, rules and exceptions section
Free Online Calendars (www.yahoo.com, www.aol.com, www.airset.com, www.hotmail.com): These free calendars are simply calendars that you can share with other users. You can see days of the week, but you cannot input any set schedule for years or months in advance.
Since they’re just calendars, these programs also do not allow you to keep track of expenses or keep information in one central place. There are other limitations, too. Neither Yahoo! nor Hotmail have the ability to create calendars in one central location with one user profile.
The best of the free general calendars is probably Airset. The Airset calendar allows you to have multiple calendars under one username. The interface allows you keep up to 1 GB of information. In that case, you can keep Word documents online with all the information pertaining to the kids on the Airset website. The Airset interface also offers a message board, a lists section, and a contacts section with permissions for other users similar to Sharekids.com. www.airset.com
There are a few other websites that I wasn’t able to see a demonstration or free trial but are mentioned here for the sake of being complete:
No matter which program you choose, each will be helpful in organizing your family’s life post divorce, from schedule to doctors to uploading photos to share. Check out each to determine which features best suit your situation and price point.