In the first two parts of this discussion on using family calendars, we talked about choosing a system for your calendar- paper or electronic, and how to set up your family calendar and conduct a “weekly planning ritual”. Today I would like to share with you the tool that I use for our family calendar- Apple's iCal system.
But first… some background…
Let me just say here, right off the bat, that in the past few years, I have become a huge fan of Apple, over the Windows PC. Yes, a Mac computer is more expensive than a Windows PC- but in my opinion, it is worth every penny. (And let me mention here, that I did head up an IT department back in the day when I was still employed outside of the home- and our platform of choice then was Windows). So please allow me a moment to gush about my experience with Apple products (and no, they are not a sponsor and have not ever provided me anything free of charge… unless of course you count that battery replacement that was covered under my AppleCare warranty!).
My husband kept trying to talk me into the idea of purchasing a MacBook Pro about four years ago, when my PC laptop was on it's last leg. And truthfully I didn't want any part of having to learn something new- I had four kids, life was crazy- who had the time? And then he presented me with what I now consider to be the greatest piece of technology since the computer was invented…… an IPhone. Ah, back in the day of my corporate life- I was a Blackberry addict, and I really missed not having instant access to email and the web after I left my working (away from home, I mean) days behind. And like a vision (hear the angels singing?)… there it was…. the mommy version of a Blackberry. And it was mine, all mine.
And boom- I was hooked! Enter the MacBook Pro- which worked beautifully, every day, right out of the box. No system crashes, no conflicts with software, no viruses….. just sweetly available each and every time I needed it. And when the day came two years ago that I decided that I was fed up with all of the problems I had been having with my network router- I trashed it and purchased an Apple Airport Express…. and just like my MacBook Pro, it worked beautifully and easily right out of the box.
As my husband likes to say…. you just need the right tool for the job!
The right tool for our family calendar is iCal
If you are lucky enough to own a Mac, or if you are considering purchasing one, all of the email, address book, and calendar software already comes with it- and it all is designed to work together right from the get-go. And it all syncs up to your IPhone too- so it is easy to take all of the information with you on the go (unless you are like me, and prefer your nice big printed copies!) The calendar software is called iCal- and it is just such a powerful calendar tool- I think it is truly the best one available.
It does all of the things that I listed as important features of an electronic calendar:
- I can set multiple calendars- for our Family Calendar, Weekly Tasks, Menu Plan, and even for my Blog Calendar!
- I can get a great monthly print out to keep in a binder, and print my weekly view as a list
- I can set up recurring events easily
- I can notify people of any events that I wish to coordinate with them
- And it syncs to my smartphone
If you don't know how to get started… there's Help!
What? So you say that you have a Mac, but never used ICAL because you didn't know how to begin? That's simple…. open up the program by clicking on the calendar icon, and once it has launched, then click Help and select ICAL Help. And ta-da- right there it gives you a whole run down on how to get started. Really- you can learn any new piece of software just by clicking on the Help Menu and reading… (but I am sure you knew that already, didn't you?)
So do I have any fellow iCal fans out there who would like to weigh in on what they love best about iCal? If so, I would love to hear it!