Managing a family is hard work, but as I wrote previously, assigning one parent as the lead parent isn’t the solution for many families.
The first step is having regular parent to parent conversations. Our kids have learned that many things in our family are divided between us. When they have a clothing question, they go to my wife. When they want to know what’s for dinner or what can they snack on, they come to me. It’s not that we always stay in our lane (I really don’t encourage that kind of rigidity), but by dividing things up, we’re on top of things more often.
The era of cell phone had made phone calls about the kids more difficult and more often than not, the wrong parent’s cell phone gets called. While having an order of contact with your kid’s will may help, it’s static and your lives are anything but.
To solve this problem, we use a Google Voice number. This is a shared phone number that we give out that can ring on any designated phone number. It has its own voicemail and can send and receive texts. This service connects to our shared Gmail account, so we get notifications of voicemail and texts through the app and our email.
Let’s face it, most of the communication about our kids comes through email whether it’s notes from the teacher or the PTA newsletter. Keeping track of it can be a full-time job. And with two parents, one of you will invariably be left off of something important.
To make sure that our digital address is simple, we set up a shared email account that we use for anything related to our kids. Ours is a Gmail address and we use filters to help keep track of things. One of these filters is a label marked “Read” and there is one for each of us. If you read the email first, simply put your label on it to signal to your partner that you’ve read it. We also use labels for emails that need to be responded to or have a task associated with them. For another level of coordination, you can also set this account to forward emails from specific email addresses or domains to your personal account and set your personal account to respond like it’s the shared account.
I hate the mad scramble when I get home from work and the kids get home from school and I have to think about what I am making for dinner. Get ahead by setting up your meal plan in advance and prepping in advance, too.
We have a shared Google calendar that holds our cost plans. Each week we plan out the menu for the week and add missing ingredients to the shopping list. We also get the kids involved in this, so that they know what to predict will be for dinner.
The Command Center
Too often, information ends up scattered all over our house and we can’t find a crucial document. We use our refrigerator as our command center with labeled clip magnets holding chore lists, calendars, and items from their backpacks that parents need to see. It works because the kitchen is the central gathering place in our house.
What tips and tricks have you come up with to help keep your house running smoothly?