Building a Family Calendar System- My Favorite Tool- ICAL


Using a Family Calendar- My Favorite Tool- iCal

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!

Sharons Signture Building a Family Calendar System  My Favorite Tool  ICAL

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lynn September 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm

My dear Sharon, there is one flaw in your new series of amazements…for the rest of us mere mortals, time and family management and organization IS our problem. So in order to be able to read your new blog and watch your videos, I first have to find out what a blog is, research and get up to date on current womans issues and then find the time to sit down log on watch and read. Unlike you, clearly, Its all I can do to wake up and go to bed at night. That is accomplished only by eating junk food, having 3 inch grey roots, having cracked ugly heels and never reading a newspaper or watching the news. Forget cooking healthy for the kids or servicing my husband. And that is with the full time nanny and 30,000$ in summer camps.
When I do have 10 minutes at night before I pass out, face unwashed, teeth not brushed…all I can manage is to drink a couple of glasses of wine and take a zanax and enjoy the cottony warmth of substance abuse. But I promise, when I get my shit together I will read your blog and watch your videos, right after I finish essential mom and my beautyberry! Good luck and shall we all marry a woman like you in our next life!


2 Anonymous August 18, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I love this!! I think so many moms can relate to this. If more of us were honest with each other instead of trying to put on the front that we have all got it going on…. I would bet MOST of us feel the same way.


3 Mom September 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Sharon, if Apple doesn’t send you everything they have available they haven’t seen your endorsement! Makes me want to change systems immediately. Loved the comment from Lynn. Sounds to me like she could do a blog of her own. What a great sense of humor! She sounds like the rest of us. I know that you’re not super human but you sure do sound like you are. You are showing Moms that there is more to this life than just WORK…but also to enjoy the journey and have a goal in mind. This is amazing. Wish the technology has been available when I was in your shoes. Our son has to be one of the luckiest guys around. Of course, I have thought that from the day you arrived in our lives. We love you!!


4 Elaine March 17, 2011 at 10:11 pm

I just discovered your blog tonight. I have five kids- 10,9,7,5,and 3. I do a paper calendar that hangs in the kitchen and I also use yahoo calendar. My problem is that I don’t always get both “synced” so to speak. I am very visual, so I need the big calendar in the kitchen for all to see. What I want is a calendar that I update on my computer, that syncs to a hanging electronic/digital calendar in my kitchen. Or, if I add on my mobile (non smartphone at the moment) both calendars are updated. I thought of a dry erase board, but fear my kids erasing it. Kids will be kids. Also, that won’t work when appts are months in advance.

Lynn completely hit very close to home! I have many nights where my night time is identical to Lynn’s!! I feel very non tech savy. Facebook is as far as I’ve been really; and I don’t think I use it to the full potential.

So glad I stumbled upon this! I hope I have subscribed correctly. I am very tempted to go the Apple route, just a hesitant.


5 Michael April 20, 2011 at 3:21 pm

We use a online calendar called Bievo to organize our kids busy schedules. This allows our local sports teams and the school to push events directly to a central family view without any effort from us.

Right on our iPhones (which my wife would agree with you is the perfect gadget) we can see each other’s calendars as well as where each kid has to be in the next 15 minutes. Check out for a little more information.


6 Elaine April 23, 2011 at 9:40 am

Thanks Michael. I will check it out.


7 Sharon January 12, 2012 at 9:21 am

Until Apple comes up with a device with a full QWERTY tactile keyboard, I will never go there :-(


8 Kitara Wilson September 10, 2012 at 1:20 am

Hi Sharon,

I just came across your blog last night in my search for a well rounded calendar system.

I have spent far more time than I care to admit trying to find the perfect solution for ME, including a decent iPhone app that will play nicely with iCal without duplicating entries…which is the case I’m running into so far with having to use Google Calendar as the go-between. Wondering what you do/what app you use if any to have iCal sync to your phone without duplicate entries or other hassles? And if you’re out and need to schedule an appointment while on the go, are you able to sync in both directions so that you don’t have to re-enter the appointment into iCal once you get home?

Thanks so much…I will definitely be following your blog as I am always inspired by moms who can manage a large crew when many times I can’t seem to figure out to manage my family of four.

Continued Success to you!



9 Sharon
Twitter: sharonmomof6
September 10, 2012 at 10:58 am

Hi Kitara!

On my iPhone I use the calendar app that comes with the iphone… that is the one that syncs with iCal on my laptop, as long as you are set up in both places to sync to iCloud (which is free). So since the two are always up to date and in sync- yes, I can enter an appt in either place and it immediately appears in both.

Now- here’s “the thing”. If you Mac computer is old and you aren’t up to date with the latest operating system, you can’t use iCloud. And depending what OS you are running and how old your computer is, loading the latest OS might be too much of a burden to your older computer. This is what happened to me on my 4+ year old laptop. I ended up finally deciding to buy a new one because it was so sluggish. I am not saying this was only due the new operating system, the laptop itself was out of space and was starting to have issues anyway….. but just be cautious before blinding upgrading the OS on your Mac computer!

I would love to hear how it goes….


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