In 2007, the Washington Post ran an article on the relatively new phenomenon of "email bankruptcy," citing statistics such as: there were 6 trillion business emails sent in 2006, that workers were increasing their daily workload by up to three hours by having to respond to the endless deluge of emails, and psychological studies showing that people's stress levels are increasing by the feeling that their work is never done as a result of these endless emails. That was five years ago and it hasn't gotten any better.
It's not all about business anymore either. Being a mother that is active in her children's lives, there seems to be no escape from "email overload" for me.
We are back in the swing of the school routine -- well, for the most part but only if we ignore the fact that I've forgotten to send my preschooler's homework twice in one week. As soon as school begins, the emails and the invitations for play-dates, parent parties, teen dances, class trips, reading time, birthday celebrations and the new sign-up lists for swimming and soccer begin to flood in. I actually feel like I might need an ark to handle the schedule for my three children if we commit to all that is in front of us. I love the fact that my three children -- ages 13, 10, and 6 -- are active and popular but I have to admit that I feel that all of these invitations might leave the family swamped for the entire weekend with zero family or quality time in our own home. At some point, I want to model what quality of life looks like for my kids and I'm pretty sure it isn't riding around from place to place in your car. Can you relate?
Each day, I check my emails more than once to make sure that I haven't neglected to respond to a class party or to confirm that I am bringing cookies or to make sure that there isn't a message from a teacher in the spam folder (I hate when that happens). I miss the days when a single note from a teacher with all of the week's activities hanging on the fridge was the norm. Tell me that you used magnets for your school schedules also?
Technology is a great thing but with three children and lots of parents, teachers and friends connected to them, email can be rather difficult to keep up with. Recently, I was thinking that it would be nice if all of these extra-curricular events would roll into your calendar and you could click yes or no if you plan to attend. Then, if you click yes, Voila, it would automatically appear on your calendar. This same technology could advise you if you have another event for a particular day and indicate which child it is for to help you balance the limited 72 hours of the weekend.
I know, I am dreaming.
Too much of a good thing is simply too much. So in my perfect world, I would create this wish list to make my scheduling life easier.
• Invitation App - An application that allows moms to accept or reject an email invite and once accepted, automatically defaults to the main calendar. It could also automatically notify you if two events or commitments overlap.
• No Play-Dates on the Birthday Party Parent Alliance - A parent/community understanding to not schedule play-dates on the same weekends as birthday parties or major events when your child will see the other child they were scheduled to have a play-date with.
• Quality of Life Activity - One extra-curricular activity per child, per semester. Or, we could be open to no extra-curricular activity during that semester if the child wants to spend time at home with their family.
• Bring Back Family Game Night - Bring back family game night and make it an event to remember. It takes a lot less time to organize and doesn't require a commute.
• Electronic Signatures - School notes that require signatures can be signed electronically.
• Smaller Parties - Children's birthday party invites for special friends instead of everyone (Ok, it's not politically correct but I'm sorry, it just makes sense.)
• Telegram for Mom Drivers - 72 hour notification for any event that requires me to drive.
• Class Fan Pages - Facebook class page that lists all of the class events for the school year. This page would provide an automatic reminder and invite for upcoming events in advance.
• Carpool Collective - A rotating carpool parent for each teen dance.
• Reply All Message - Some kind of window that pops up when parents click "reply all" that says something like, "Are you sure you want to send, 'Johnny has a dentist appointment that day' to 52 parents?"
Am I the only mom that has had it with too many emails as the primary method to inform parents? I actually think that the answer to this question probably varies depending on your age and exposure to and use of technology, but we can safely assume that this information society is here to stay and really, it's a relatively new human endeavor. We'd be silly to think there aren't still some bugs to work out. So help me out. What would you add to my list?