Effective Co-parenting can really suck. There is so much planning and coordination that has to take place. Who will take Billy to soccer practice? Who is going to take off of work for Lily’s dance recital? How will holiday activities be divided? The best advice for effective co-parenting is to plan and document everything in a calendar. Enter Google Calendar for important parental communication, an easy way to cut down on conflict!
Both Parents Can Work From the Same Calendar
You obviously cannot use the physical calendar that used to hang so beautifully in your home’s kitchen anymore, so an electronic method is the way to go. Google offers a totally amazing and FREE calendar that both parents can access and share. It allows updating, gives notifications, sets reminders and so much more.
Less Is More When It Comes To the Other Parent
Life after divorce is tricky, especially if children are involved. Effective co-parenting means that your ex will forever be a part of your life. You can’t close the door on that chapter because the pages open back up every time the kids switch hands. Luckily, technology has been evolving and growing like a wildfire, and can drastically reduce the amount of face-to-face interaction you have with your previous partner. Effective co-parenting can be done online!
No matter how you approach it, communication is the key to any co-parenting relationship. But, there is no reason we can’t be strategic in the way we communicate. Let Google Calendar help minimize time spent coordinating with your ex!
Creating the Shared Google Calendar
Creating a Google calendar is easy. You don’t need to be tech savvy at all. It’s very straight forward. Both parents need to create an account on Google. Google accounts are free! You will create an email address with each account, but you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to (although G-mail is awesome).
One parent creates a calendar exclusively for the children and shares it with the other parent. If you already use a Google calendar (they rock for personal use too!), you can add a separate calendar layer that can be seen by the other parent. Your personal calendar pages will not be available to your ex without an invitation from you!
Tips For Creating Your Co-parenting Calendar
If you need step by step instructions, use this tutorial from the G Suite Learning Center to help you get started with Google Calendar.
Make sure to set your preferences to notify you by email anytime anything is added or updated in the calendar. This is crucial so you can stay up to date on all events.
If you add an event and need your ex’s involvement, add them to the invitation. She will get notified and be able to accept or decline the invite. If the event is being calendared for information only, there is no need to add her as an invitee.
Download the Google Calendar mobile app on your smart phone. You will get pop-up reminders, and directions in google maps. Your phone will even alert you when you need to leave to make an event on time, by evaluating current traffic. How awesome is that? The mobile app has much of the same functionality as the desktop version, so you can create and edit events on the go.
Your Life Will Be Easier With a Calendar
Google Calendar is an extremely useful tool. It can really make your co-parenting less stressful for both parents. Both parties will know exactly what is going on with the children and who has responsibilities when. No more excuses or fights because you or your ex-wife forgot about Cody’s dentist appointment. Google will remind you. No more unnecessary and uncomfortable conversations asking if she can take the kids this weekend. Just add it to the calendar and wait to see if she accepts the invitation or edits it.
Keep It About the Kids!
The key to successful co-parenting is to keep the focus on the kids. Only add information applying to the kids on the shared calendar. Don’t add personal events to the shared calendar in hopes of making the other jealous. One of the major selling points of this calendar is to cut down on the amount of interaction between the two of you. Keep the focus on the kids, and the tool will be much more successful.
Adding Milestones and History
Your Google calendar can be so much more than just a communication tool to coordinate child care responsibilities between parents. As a parent who is away from their child part of the time, wouldn’t you want to know about the important things you miss? Wouldn’t it be great to see at a glance the score of the high school football game last Friday night, or what Sally wore to her first school dance?
Google Calendar allows you to add notes to each event. Make sure you and your ex add all important information to the calendar event in the notes section. Leave an asterisk in the event so that you and your ex can tell there are notes attached to read.
Effective Co-parenting Will Always Be About the Kids
Agree with your ex to always document important news in the calendar. Don’t hide milestones or achievements from her. Try to remember that you aren’t only serving the other parent, but building a history for your child.
For example, add notes to Lisa’s spelling bee detailing which place she won, impressive words she knew how to spell and any words she misspelled. Did little Sam say his first word? Important news for the day can be entered at the top of that calendar day. Add in significant events such as “Timmy lost his tooth” or “Jennifer got an A on her history test.”
Both Parents Will Have the Most Current Medical Information
If you take your child to the doctor unexpectedly, add it into the calendar along with a note saying what the diagnosis was and the medication given. Think of it this way – you won’t have to call your ex to let her know. If you both signed up for notifications, the calendar will notify her that you added an event to the shared calendar. Instead of calling, she can just get on the calendar and read it.
Your ex will have the medical history available to her in case the child is still ill when he or she goes back with mom. The more information you enter on the calendar, the less you will have to communicate with your ex. It’s a win-win. Also, you will quickly be able to search and find out when Joe had his last tetanus shot, or when Michael was last treated for an ear infection, without having to make the dreaded phone call.
An Online Scrapbook
If you take advantage of all the features, your Google Calendar will be a searchable record of key events and medical information about your kids. It could become a really neat memento for you and your children when they get older.
Google Calendar will even allow you to add attachments to events. You will be able to add photos of the children, pictures of medicine bottles, important records, contact information and more. Not only this information will be neat to look back on in the future, but could be critically important during a medical emergency.
Once your children are old enough, set them up with a Google account and share the calendar. They will be able to contribute, set up events, and add notes as well. After all, they are the reason the calendar exists.
There are many different ways to communicate when you are co-parenting your children with your ex-wife. You can still call or email (and sometimes you’ll have to), but those communication channels could easily lead to drama and hurt feelings.
Co-parenting is more effective when you use Google Calendar as your main communication tool. It allows you to communicate everything you need to, while keeping the focus on the kids instead of the emotion. Use technology to your advantage! No longer do we live in a world where it is always necessary to pick up the phone or meet face to face.
How do you and your ex work out appointments and special events? Are you considering giving Google Calendar, or some other shared application a try? Tell us your co-parenting strategy for calendaring in the comments below!
Need some ideas for communicating with your ex about the kids? See how Brian Weiss tackles the problem in Healthy Parenting With Your Ex
Maybe the commitment to share a calendar for your kids should be in writing! Sara Gabriella tells you why Co-Parenting Agreements Put Your Kids’ Best Interest First
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