If your family is anything like mine, every day is aflutter with activities — Cub Scouts, Football Practice, Soccer Practice, Parkour Class, etc. And as our eldest enters Junior High next year, the number of goings-on is only likely to increase.
With all this hubbub, we’ve experienced mornings when we’ve started hustling the kids out the door to get to school, only to realize that today is School Picture Day or Field Trip Day or Crazy Socks Day or whatever the school has cooked up. And, of course, we simultaneously realize that our child is woefully unprepared for the occasion — dressed all wrong for picture day, failing to have the correct accouterments for field day, and with socks that are unmatched, but not exactly “crazy”.
After one memorable morning like this, I vowed to get better organized (something I vow pretty much every week). What I did was put up a giant two-month dry-erase calendar on the wall of our kitchen — no little expense, that — and began to put all of the family activities up for everyone to see.
This lasted a few months. Of course, I was the only one actually updating it (there seems to be one “organizer” per family, and the other spouse seems to let him/her handle it), and, meanwhile, I was also keeping a digital version of the calendar up to date. So, eventually, it devolved to something like the above — blank, or completely out of date. Not very useful, even for those of us who actually looked at it occasionally. But, hey, it was nice having something magnetic to stick art work on.
Anyway, somewhere along the line I came across the idea of a digital display that would show our shared Google Calendar, so I could just update a single calendar and yet have it accessible to the whole family. I considered buying a tablet and displaying it on the wall, but eventually I decided to go with a simpler (and much cheaper) solution — an older monitor that would serve as a display only — no touch screen. And I came across a tutorial that was based upon this original.
I used a spare Raspberry Pi 2 I had sitting around that I’d experimented with for a couple of projects, and, voila! It all came to life — after a bit of trial and error. The Pi is set up to boot right into a full-screen browser that loads the Dakboard display, which it has done really faithfully even when the power or internet access are occasionally knocked out. The background pictures are lovely, and I’m always pleased to see them when I check out my calendar. It also incorporates a clock and weather forecast, which have come in quite handy.
The tangle of wires in the back isn’t as pretty, but that’s easily concealed by the screen itself. We considered mounting it on the wall, but decided it looks just fine, as is, and the current set up likely helps with the wire hiding.
Now all I have to do is make sure my digital calendar is up to date — I created one especially for the family and shared with everyone who has an account — and actually check our schedule now and then, and we’ll be good. Ah, it’s a constant struggle for ADHD-ers like myself. Good luck with your own organizational projects!