Using OPTIMAL is easy, but there are some basic things that are important to understand before you begin to use it.
- The two main parts of OPTIMAL are the Calendar and the Tracker.
| The Calendar
The Calendar is where you enter your parenting plan to show your Scheduled parenting time. If you want, you can make the Calendar visible to other people (such as the other parent, your attorney, evaluators, etc). OPTIMAL uses the schedule in the Calendar to compare against the time you enter in the Tracker.
Sample Calendar screen
The Tracker is used by you to record the details of your Actual parenting time, including any notes you want to make. Normally this is done after each visit. Entries in the Tracker are compared with the Calendar and then used to generate the OPTIMAL statistics and graphs. Just like the Calendar, you control access to the Tracker screens.
Sample Tracker screen
You'll use the Calendar screens to display what your parenting time should be, and you'll use the Tracker to incrementally record what actually happened.
Generally speaking, you'll update the Tracker records after (or during) your visitation or parenting time. As you do this you'll accumulate a running record of your parenting time and the other parent's compliance with the custody schedule. The statistics for the charts and graphs that OPTIMAL produces are created by comparing the Scheduled Time (the parenting plan) in the Calendar against the Actual Time entered Tracker records.
Think of the Calendar as a kind of display board where you can post your parenting plan schedule and (optionally) some notes for each day and/or event. You can also choose to let others view your calendar, if you like. You do this by either setting the calendar to "Public" mode and then giving them your specially-coded link or by creating a Guest account for a particular person and then setting the Calendar permission to allow them to view it.
Your Calendar has features that make it easy to set up a year's parenting plan in advance. Flexible scheduling options allow you to easily set a variety of repeating events (like every-other-week visitation or "1st/3rd/5th" weekend schedules). You can also set events to occur on the "third Thursday of each month" (for example) or events that are offset by any number of days. Repeating "once-a-year" events such as birthdays and anniversaries are also supported.
We suggest using the Quick Help buttons located on the calendar pages the first few times you set up events.
You can also leave notes for any days in your calendar that you want. This is where you can leave scheduling information for others; for example, you can leave a note that you'll be picking Mike up from soccer on Wednesday, or that Jennifer has swim practice that day. The calendar is a great place to coordinate parenting time with your child's other parent- it's a common point of reference that both of you can access 24 hours a day to keep track of what's happening.