Mister Jupiter and I are both heavy email users. We check our Gmail accounts several times a day, and try to respond quickly. We are also big fans of using Google Drive, Google Sheets, and I like Google Forms & Slides.
Since we’re both Google super users -and avid communicators- it became obvious that the next step in our marriage was creating a joint Gmail account.
I don’t think I know anybody else with a household email account, so we had a blank slate of expectations and now use it seamlessly and love it. If you’re curious to see if it would work with your family -give it a try! In the meanwhile, read on to see how the Jupiter House uses and manages our family Gmail account.
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This idea for a family Gmail account came when Mister Jupiter was deployed. As usual, hell broke loose when he was away. I was sick, one dog needed emergency care, several deadlines were looming and I needed to clean a rental house. Normal.
Mister Jupiter couldn’t do much; he was busy working the third shift in Qatar. If something household-related came up, the best he could do was forward emails or change passwords for me so that I could make changes. While this was doable (see above; email superusers), I knew it could be easier. It had to be easier.
I suggested a family Gmail account, and we decided to make one when he came back home. Now we use it everyday and I can’t imagine daily life without it.
Email – We use our household email address to
- set up paperless billing with our utilities
- make all travel reservations
- talk with our realtors
- talk with any contractors
- communicate with property managers
- keep our pet records for vets and services like Home Again
The unifying factor is that we use the joint account for joint concerns. We see the same emails and have access to the same information. When we email a single person (like a realtor) we clarify that it’s a joint account and that either one of us will be replying, and we specify who it is in the opening. We still have separate email accounts though. Mister Jupiter doesn’t care about J. Crew Factory sales, so those go to my personal email account. His personal email is likely full of product alerts from Newegg.com, but I don’t know because it’s his personal email.
iCal – I am a calendar superuser also. We maintain a wall calendar (it’s a desk calendar that I place on the wall) for quick glances and menu planning – I do take the time to make sure our wall calendar and iCal match. Yes, this takes time. Yes, it’s worth it to manually sync calendars.
The advantage to both of us using a joint iCal account is that we can easily notify each other of long work days, barbecue invitations, and dog grooming appointments. This way Mister can add events as they come up, because he doesn’t always remember to tell me about invitations that he has agreed to. But as long as he updates our joint Google Calendar I can see everything and plan to attend.
Drive – Google Drive is another handy free product that is perfect for joint ownership. The biggest advantage to a joint Google Drive is that we can easily access things online, or save things for offline viewing – that depends on your needs.
I haven’t done it yet, but I need to make photo folders of each of our properties. Nothing too crazy – but it would be a perfect way to show others our purple house on demand without storing those files in my phone.
Google Drive as a sharable photo deposit is ideal for frequent movers too. Art inventory? Easy. Tool inventory? Done. Write up a document to record household serial numbers. Sure it’ll take a little time up front, but well worth it if anything gets stolen. You’ll at least have serial numbers for the police report.
☞ Related: Planning a Smooth HHG Pack Out
The only downside that I can see is that an account is made but not used by one or both partners. So if you think that your family can benefit from sharing information like this try to make it a weekly habit to look at the contents. Google product use directly relates to familiarity – so if you never use it…it’ll always feel foreign. Don’t let it accumulate digital dust.
Again, make it a point to become familiar with the free products available to you. It doesn’t have to be serious, you can easily poke around while drinking coffee on the weekend.
A family joint account is easy to make and use. Plus, I think it’s fun choosing a family email handle (we like alliteration in this house, so our family account reflects that). What do you have to lose? Give disorganization the boot and use the free tools available.
(PS – Comment below if you’re having a difficult time naming your family account. My naming skills are unparalleled. I’ll name your shared family account, your house, your unborn child, your plants, and your neighbor’s dog.)