Planning The Chaos

Let me tell you a little bit about my family. I am text book definition Type A.  I like plans made in advance, calendars, and physical pen & paper to-do lists. JHub is more Type B. He is spontaneous, can function without his calendar, and keeps his to-dos in his head. We both are busy folks. We are do-ers. We are not homebodys. We are constantly on the go. We have a healthy social life. Jimmy’s job keeps him traveling more often than not. QMonster has a slew of medical appointments, school functions, and extracurriculars. I am a mom that has an occasional girl’s night but really needs to remember what dress up day it is at Q’s school. Like most families these days, we have a lot going on!

With all that going on, it was only a matter of time before Jimmy scheduled a work trip on the day of QMonster’s important doctor appointment. The moment that happened, I decided we needed a family calendar so that we could all be on the same page. Jimmy could check dates before scheduling trips. I could schedule medical appointments for Q without interfering with school functions. We would be able to be on the same page without any communication issues. No more “I told you” or “I forgot”.

I tried 3 different family calendar options. It should be noted that I am using an iPhone and Amazon Echo. I have not tested these using Google Home or an Android phone.  Here are my reviews:

  1. Google Calendar(s)Price: FREE This option worked ok for us. It required a little Cal1“setup” on my part since neither JHub nor Q had a google account. I created them both a Google account and linked all of our calendars together. JHub and I were able to find apps that integrated with Google calendars to display our calendars to our liking. Everyone had a different color for their events so it was easy to look at a calendar and see who was doing what. Google calendars has a to-do list feature that I couldn’t fall in love with and ended up getting a second app for to-dos. I still had to remind Jimmy of things I needed him to do. For things that involved all of us at once, I had to create another color called “Altsman Family” and assign that one for those events. I also had to create a “Meal Plan” calendar and give that a color. I also created a color for birthdays. You can add other calendars (and assign it a color) such as Alabama football, US Holidays, or other areas of interest.  I was able to have a “private” calendar which I used to keep up with blog “stuff” that I knew JHub could care less about. Again, that was another color. It was difficult to remember what the colors were for in the beginning. I used Google docs to keep our passwords and address book in one spot. I had to share these with JHub and viewing them on my phone was cumbersome. I also had to have multiple apps to edit the documents depending on their type. Google Calendars work flawlessly with Amazon Echo (Alexa). Depending on what app you use to integrate with Google Calendars depends on your view on your iPhone “quick view” screen. The fact that Google integrates with a lot of apps and gives you flexibility as to which calendar app you use is nice. The generic Google Calendar app was a little lack luster for me but JHub used it and found it to work well for him. The web interface was decent, though Google is always changing and it seemed to get a “fresh look” every so often.  Overall, this option was a great starter tool and was a very simplistic family calendar.
  2. Cozi- Price: FREE basic account or $39.95 Yearly Gold Account Cozi seemed like a no Cal2brainer for us. Its an app and a website. I did upgrade to the “Gold” account so that we could access the birthday lists and the contacts and avoid the ads in the app. You have one login for the family and when you setup the app you tell the app who you are. Similar to Google, everyone gets a color. It does require some initial setup but you can import your Google Calendar (though you cannot sync the two, just a one time import or you can share a “read only” view back to Google). You will have to key in all of your important dates and contacts. The birthday view doesn’t allow you differentiate between an anniversary or birthday, everything is considered a birthday. There are built in to-do lists and shopping lists that anyone in the family can access so I was able to put things on JHubs to-do list. If I added something to J’s to-do list, I would have to either tell him or hope he went into the app and checked his list which means a lot of his to-dos were never actually communicated to him. Cozi offers a meal planning area with built in recipes but I found it hard to navigate and didn’t use it. My biggest gripe was that the to-dos didn’t show on my calendar easily as some of my to-dos are date specific while others are just rainy day tasks. Everything is in its own tab so I couldn’t be on the calendar screen and add a to-do, I would have to go to the to-do tab then back to my calendar.  I joined their Facebook group and it appeared they were not really active with their community or looking to enhance the app. Cozi worked ok with Amazon Echo when using the shopping and to-do list though it took a little work to get Alexa to tell me what was on my schedule but I was unable to add events to my Cozi calendar via Alexa. Cozi displayed my calendar but not my to-dos on my iPhone “quick view” screen. I ultimately decided this tool was good but not great. I went in and cancelled our Gold status and found that you do not get a refund, you just get to access the Gold features until your renewal date so keep that in mind when upgrading. Cozi’s app was pretty basic but functional. The web interface is lack luster but functional. You can find Cozi in the app store or at www.Cozi.com
  3. PicniicPrice: Free basic account or premium subscription $49.95/year I stumbled Cal4upon Picniic when I was looking for new Alexa skills. I did a little research and found that it was comparable to Cozi but better? Picniic uses one login per family. You assign a photo to everyone rather than a color. You tell the app and website who you are so the lists and calendars default to your view and the reminders only notify your phone. You do have to do some setup such as keying in your calendar events, contacts, special dates, etc. It took me about 2 hours to get all of our data into the website. Their Facebook community is active and their customer service responds to emails pretty quick. Similar to Cozi, upgrading is a must if you want the full experience such as special events, meal planner,  info locker, & customizations within the app. Picniic offers a pretty straight forward meal planning tool that displays on the calendar. You can enter your own recipe or look up a recipe within the app. You can add the ingredients to your shopping list. There is an info locker feature which is where you can store contacts, website login info, household info, and medical info. I really like this feature so that JHub has easy access to those things esp the website login information. I liked that, in regards to dates, I could differentiate between an anniversary or a birthday. There is a shopping list that everyone can contribute to. There are to-dos and lists for each family member that everyone can access and add to. There is a family locator app that we haven’t really had to use but I think would be very beneficial to households with teens. Reminders work great and are easily added via the calendar. Lists can be added to a calendar event (ie a packing list for a trip) Picniic works with Alexa. She can tell you whats on your Picniic calendar or lists and add events or items to your calendars and lists. Cal3Picniic displays exactly how I envisioned on my iPhone “Quick view” widget screen using different icons to indicate an event, reminder, or task.  The app itsself is fun and fresh with tiles that can be moved around. The web interface uses the same fun color scheme and is inviting. The best part is Picniic understands the value of word of mouth and rewards you for sharing your Picniic love!  www.Picniic.com

While all 3 of these calendar options had the same basic concept: get us all on the same page, they all brought different features. Any of the above options are worth checking out and depending on your needs and budget, would be a great option for you. Overall, Picniic was the clear winner for our family. It is easy to use which is great for JHub (because let’s be real, his Type B self could care less about lists and calendars and he is only using it to make me happy so the simpler the better). Picniic is PERFECT for my Type A tendencies with lists galore and homes for all of our information.  As the mom of the household, I am the brain of the family, meaning that I am the keeper of the knowledge. Picniic has given me a piece of mind that if something were to happen to me, JHub would be able to easily access our contacts (to keep up the tradition of sending Christmas cards, I’m sure), website login information (to pay bills), and all of Qs medical information

Do you use a family calendar? If so, what is your family’s method? Traditional calendar hanging on the wall? An App? A shared calendar? Or maybe you’ll be using one of the methods listed above? Comment below and let me know!

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3 thoughts on “Planning The Chaos

  1. Hi Sweetie, My calendar is a lot simpler than yours Every year I get these calendars in the mail, you know, the ones with one month to a page and those boxes for each day.
    I just keep this calendar out all the time and write all my appointments down. Drs., etc. Also everyone’s birthday’s, and holidays. Just about everything I need. Of course I’m only one person.

    Liked by 1 person

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