Organise your family with Online, Shareable Google Calendars

Oct 31, 2014 Categories: Tech-Know @ Home

Do you have older kids with active social lives? More active than yours maybe? Even with all the technology they have, our kids tend can be a little….lax…. at letting us know what is going on! When they need to be picked up, what day that early-departure excursion is or when they agreed to go to a friends house to study… A shared online calendar can help get organised and avoid the last minute rush.

I know many of us will have the traditional paper calendar. They work great. Up until your child begins setting their own activities – around Grade 6 in my experience.

Then they have to be physically in front of the paper calendar if they want to mark in an event. If they aren’t, well, they just forget to tell us. Usually, until about 30 minutes before they need to be somewhere.

Great. Thanks for the warning. There goes my evening…..!

So for the past 5 years we’ve used Google Calendar with the four of us (me, my husband and my 2 step-sons). Although they do still need reminders to put some things in the calendar, life is much easier now. If it’s not in the calendar – with 24 hours notice – then, sorry we can’t get you there.

A bit of accountability is a good thing – especially as we prepare to become productive, independent adults (hopefully!) :0)

So here’s how it works.

  1. Get a gmail account – if you don’t have one.
  2. Go to Google Calendar  –
  3. Sign in.

You get free access to shared, online calendars with your gmail account. This is one of many reasons I usually suggest Google for email and online tools. Good, secure free stuff!

  • First you should see this screen:

Set up Google Calendar for family use


See that list on the left hand side? That’s all the different calendars you can create. You can see one I’ve created for our family called “Roberts Family”. (And you can see the things we often forget like the rubbish bins collection and when I’m working at my uni desk or heading off to a rehearsal for our community theatre group!!)

So that’s what it looks like but you need to create yours first. You get one automatically created that just belongs to you but my suggestion is to make a calendar specifically for your family – just to make things nice and clear.

  • Where it says “MY CALENDARS”, click the drop down box and choose “CREATE NEW CALENDAR”

Set up Google Calendar for family use



So far, so easy, right?

  • Now we need to add in the details of our calendar, in these 4 spots:


Google Cal Setup 3


Number 1 – Give it a recognisable name that lets the family know this is their calendar

Number 2 – Choose your time zone so you’re all on the same time…or, ‘synchronise watches, Mr Bond’.

Number 3 – Here’s where you add in your partner’s and kid’s gmail addresses, yes they need a gmail address to have personalised access (***read more about this below)

Number 4 – Choose the kind of access people should have. If your kids are old enough, give them permission to MAKE CHANGES TO EVENTS. (They don’t need to be able to share the calendar though…) ‘Making changes’ means they can move events around as timings change – v. useful. Then click SAVE CHANGES at the bottom of the page. An email gets sent automatically to the people you shared the calendar with. It has instructions on how they can use the calendar – really straight-forward :0)

Shared google calendar for the family


*** So, kids and email accounts. This one fires up some parents. But I have to say that if they are 12 years or older and you deny your child an email address, they will be communicating online somewhere with SnapChat, MSN Messenger, Facebook messaging, Twitter, Skype… Or they will create their own, without you knowing and may expose themselves to all manner of nasties by giving out too much personal info.  There are a ton of ways that kids communicate without email – and some recent research is suggesting that our kids prefer not to use email anyway – too ‘old-fashioned’ apparently. Crap, we are getting old if emails “out-of-date”!!! ***

My suggestion if you really, really want to avoid email addresses with kids is to sign them in to the Family Calendar with your own gmail account. This means you see what they see. But – only use that gmail account for your calendar – get another one for email.

  • The only thing left to do now is to get your kids on to the Calendar with whatever device they have. So using the Internet browser on their laptop or the Calendar App on their mobile device. On the Internet – get them to set the calendar as their homepage or a Favourite that’s easy to get to.

Setting up calendars on Apple devices is easy – just set up the email address in Settings-Email,Contacts,Calendars and select “CALENDARS” when prompted. It can take a few minutes to load the calendar data.



A couple of last tips –

  1. Put extra info in the ‘notes’ box when you are adding in Events – just to make it really clear what the event is and who it involves!
  2. If necessary – and your kids are old enough – use the INVITATIONS feature to see if the family wants to come to an event – good for making quick decisions!
  3. Make sure you show your kids how to use the calendar and what you expect. It will take some practice for them to use it. But once they missed out on something that wasn’t in the calendar they don’t often forget! 

Give the online calendar a try and see how you go – has made our lives sooooo much easier! The Calendar syncs in the background. If you make a change it goes to everyone who has access straight away. No more waiting to get home to check the wall calendar to see if you can book in that appointment :0)

Do you have similar problems with your kids’ social lives being busier than yours??? Price of having kids or lack-of-planning-ahead in our children? Let us know what you think :0)


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