Why Do You Need a “family Email”

Let me start by saying that I have never shared an email address or (breathlessly) Facebook account with another significant person. I don’t believe couples need to “share everything,” especially on a social media profile full of photos of their mixed toes on the beach.

However, when a few children step on the scene – and all of their 6,732 extracurricular activities, doctor and dentist visits, bills and, out of love for the baby Jesus, their daily school emails – everything changes.

I realized the folly of my actions, and now I cry all the years that I did not use this simple but brilliant method to share all the information. Because there are so many things. Do you want to be the sole custodian of this horrifying piggy bank of long “transport reminder” and “sign up for school lunch” emails until your kids graduate from school? I am the future of you and I am here to tell you: No, damn it, you won’t.

Ideally, the family email address will serve as a vehicle for keeping both parents informed of processes, updates, appointments, school supplies, and so on, equally so that they can handle the accompanying workload evenly. In fact, it might sound more like the person who usually does most of the logistic coordination, still does it, but now he can throw an annoyed, “You have the same information as me” when he needs a break from work. Help Desk / Cruise Director. And that’s okay too.

Family email can still help combat information overload and resentment towards the “lead parent” by helping a partner feel more involved and informed. And this is a particularly useful method for parents who no longer live together to make sure that all important information reaches both sides.

How to make your family email address work for you

First, choose a simple email address that clearly identifies who you are, such as “RachelsParents@gmail.com” or “MorseFamily@gmail.com”. Then, to avoid the hassle of checking an individual email address every day, or the possibility that an important email might be accidentally deleted by a parent, forward those emails to your primary email address so you don’t miss anything.

(You can even set up filters so that only school domain emails are forwarded to your primary email address if they are deemed most important.)

Benefits

You might be thinking, “Can’t we just send two email addresses to school (or somewhere else) and they will enter both of them into the system?” And the answer is: it is possible. Sometimes it works, but it is not a reliable system. Requests are lost, you may need to keep an eye on them, and county-wide software may be old and malfunctioning. Not to mention, do you want to go through the “please include both of these email addresses in your account” process with every organization that requires a parent email address until your child turns 18?

Possible pitfalls

Confusion can arise if one person inadvertently responds, signs up, or starts a conversation with the teacher from their personal email address without sending a copy to the other parent. Another confusing thing is letters that you haven’t read yet. In your personal inbox, all unread emails are in bold – a strong visual cue. In a shared mailbox, if your partner has already opened the letter, it will be more difficult to find something that you have not seen yet. This requires more careful attention in order not to miss anything.

Decent communication and a conscientious attempt to form a constructive habit of always copying your partner or fellow tribesman in responses can help mitigate these potential problems. (And if that doesn’t work, you can turn off forwarding to your personal mailbox and keep all correspondence in your family account.) Happy coordination! (Didn’t tell any parent).

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