It’s September already! The summer flew by. It seems that each one seems to go faster and faster, and seems to end sooner and sooner! This summer was a good one though, good weather, good times, an overall good break from the stress of the school year.
With the start of each new school year, I try to be reflective on the past year and see if there is any way I can make my life and all of our lives, easier, flow more smoothly, have more balance, and be less chaotic. We spent the last couple of years really streamlining our meal planning and shopping patterns and we have found it to make a huge impact on our stress in that area. We always know what we’re eating for two weeks in a row, and we’re always stocked up on everything we need for those meals. We plan them to be healthy, budget friendly and most importantly, they coincide with nights that are busy when we have quick and easy meals and nights that we have more time to enjoy a meal with more prep time. It also allows us to coordinate our calendars and keep to the rule of always eating dinner together, as often as we possibly can, which ends up being most nights. Everyone has their thing, and the family dinner is one of our big things.
So now that we had that system down pat, I could look to other areas of our life to see what I could do in preparation for this upcoming school year because once it starts, it’s full speed ahead through June. No time to implement changes and upset the apple cart midyear.
Over the summer, our kids had a friend sleep over, and in the morning after they woke up, I invited her to stay a bit longer and accompany us on an errand, after which we’d drop her off at home, rather than her parents running out to pick her up. She grabbed her phone, opened up an app, took a look, and said, “Let me check my Cozi calendar. Yup, that should work, we don’t have any plans, let me call my mom and ask if it’s okay.”
I had a lightbulb moment right then. I suddenly remembered that years ago, before the days of smartphones and apps, I actually used Cozi briefly, housing it on my laptop computer. It had been recommended to me by my brother as an organizational tool, and although I tried it and liked it, not having a portable application for it, left all my organization at home and me on the road most of the week. Also at that time, none of our kids had smartphones, nor did we. So no one else could really utilize the app and after a while, I stopped using it and went back to carrying a paper planner; an 8 1/2 x 11 bound calendar book with long columns for each day, broken up by the hour. I was the keeper of the calendar. Anyone who needed anything had to ask me first or if they were home while I was home, go look it up in the book. That system seemed to work as best it could, for years.
After that lightbulb moment, believe it or not, I totally forgot about the Cozi app again. My memory isn’t what it used to be. We left that day for our errands, and my lightbulb went off. However, just a morning or two later, I was on a social media page and there in front of my eyes, popped up an ad for Cozi! It was like they knew I’d seen it in person just days before. (That’s a scary thought, but that is what it seemed like.) Right then and there, since I had some time, I opted to download the app onto my smartphone and start setting it up. Now that all our kids are out of elementary school, we finally have five phones so everyone could set up the app and access it from their phones.
As I set us up, I was able to give everyone a colored dot, even the dog, since she has semi-monthly groomer appointments and regularly scheduled veterinary appointments. I could make items repeat weekly, monthly or bi-weekly, and set up reminders for my family members days or hours before an appointment so they don’t forget that we have it. I could also make grocery lists for every store we go to, and to do lists for myself, a shared list, and individual lists, as well as lists for upcoming events. I started seeing many less post-it notes all over my desk and dining room table (which serves as my other, bigger desk). I noticed that if I had a few extra minutes to run into a store, I had the list right with me and didn’t have to search my failing memory for what it was I thought we needed.
My favorite thing though, is that all of our immediate family members have access to the calendar and to the lists. No one has to ask me if we have something scheduled on such and such a day or where someone is on any given night of the week. They can look at the calendar before asking permission to go somewhere. The kids actually start their sentences with, “I looked on Cozi, and the date is clear, can I schedule…..” which takes a lot of pressure off of me having to constantly manage everything for everyone. If someone runs out of something, they can add it to the list, and if they pick it up at the store on the way home, they can cross it off. It’s been great so far, and I think it’s going to really help us streamline our organization. We even added our two weeks of meals list to the list options so at any time anyone can see what’s for dinner tonight, if we need anything from the store for it, we can switch meals around on the fly if we need to because we have the whole list in front of us as well as the calendar, and I don’t have to answer that “What’s for dinner tonight,” question four times between 4pm and 6pm each day.
I often struggle with the ever-presence of technology in our lives, and I work very hard to try to keep balance in our family with phones, laptops and the like, as hard as it is. It’s not a perfect situation, but we’re always trying hard to keep at it. However, in this situation, I like the positive aspect of technology. I hope that throughout the year I continue to see the benefits of Cozi and that it will continue to eliminate some of the stress in our lives.