By Troy Corley
Homework assignments, soccer practices, ballet lessons, doctor visits, dentist appointments, potluck dinners, scout meetings, club fund-raisers, library storytimes, bake sales... Did I mention time to relax? Busy families have a lot to keep track of, especially when school starts. Web-based calendars can help keep you and the kids on track.
Schedule some time to see which of the top two free online calendars might work for you: Google or Yahoo. I personally use Google's Calendar because our family uses Google's other free office services, such as Google docs and spreadsheets. The calendar is easy to use. You can view your personal calendar by day, week, month, the next four days or in agenda view. Share with family members and adjust the settings so everyone can add important dates and times. The calendar can even send a text message reminder to your cell phone.
Yahoo's calendar version is simple too, but you must have a Yahoo account, which is free. Dedicated Yahoo Groups users will enjoy the calendar's intuitive capabilities - it automatically adds group gatherings to your calendar. Like Google, you can share the calendar with other family members and sync it with your PDA or smartphone.
Like every good idea, other free online calendars have hit the Web. Award-winning www.30boxes.com is one of the best. It has a larger format calendar face that's not cluttered by ads in the margins. It comes with a built-in "To Do List" link, a birthday reminder and a weather forecaster. Many of its features are more for plugged-in teens or young adults with buddy lists and Facebook connections.
Calendarhub.com is another good option, with features similar to the other online calendars. Just one click with this one, though, and you can find local events input by other Calendarhub users.
All the online calendars have sharing and privacy options. If you keep a calendar for a support group, you might want to share dates with the public while keeping your scrapbook club calendar private. There are also photo options, which make sharing that special birthday party or first soccer goal easier to do than attaching them to emails.