This post was done in collaboration with Erin Condren. They sent me a free Oh Joy! LifePlanner in return for my honest opinion. Every opinion stated is 100% mine. I have personally used these LifePlanners for the past five years.
Why Busy Moms Need a Planner!
“Honey, there are two weeks left of the kids’ summer break, do you realize that?! Did you sign Jonah up for soccer, Jordan up for basketball and when does Jacob’s soccer start? Were we suppose to pick up Jansen’s soccer uniform this weekend or last?” The rapid-fire questions come barreling towards me as it just dawned on my husband that our leisurely summer break is coming to a screeching halt. “Back to reality” is about to hit us upside the head… and hit us hard it will!
Back to school means back to routine, packing lunch boxes, filling out school forms, signing up for after school clubs and sports. Back to school also means acute cases of carpal tunnel (from filling out countless repetitive school forms), stress and insomnia for most moms – at least until the daily routine has been tried and tested for a few weeks.
This summer we moved diagonally across the country, from Florida to Washington State. Our four kids are starting new schools, one of them being middle school (yikes) as my husband and I are settling into our own new daily routines.
SO MUCH newness and so many moving parts! It’s VERY easy to get overwhelmed, but thankfully I have implemented YEARS of planning experience and the best planning tools to keep our family of six organized, scheduled and on time!
Here’s the low-down of our family, so you can get an impression of our craziness!
Our busy family:
- Four boys: 6th grade (middle school), 4th grade and 1st grade (elementary school) and preschool, so three different schools.
- Three of the kids play soccer – for three different soccer clubs (don’t ask me how that poor planning happened) and the 4th kid plays basketball.
- We will have three kids playing different sports on the same night across town from each other, at almost the same time once a week for a few months.
- Since we are new to the area, all of our medical and dental specialists need to see us, so we can become “established patients” as soon as possible. There are a lot of appointments on our calendar for these “well-visits” between the four kids and me – all before school starts.
Let me share with you my super-easy-to-implement ways to keep a large busy family on track!
(The secret: it’s all in how you organize your LifePlanner!)
How to organize your busy mom planner:
- Start “the season” with a new Erin Condren LifePlanner and a coiled notebook.
- It’s OK, go ahead and treat yourself, you deserve it – and it’s life changing! Trust me. Besides, here’s $10 off your first purchase!
- As busy moms know, the start of the school year means new routines and can easily be more confusing and stressful than New Year’s, so it only makes sense to start a new calendar in the fall instead of in January.
- My personal favorite Erin Condren LifePlanner design and layout is:
- Design: The LifePlanner collaboration with Oh Joy!
- The colors are bright, whimsical and suitable for a professional or casual environment.
- I have the Gold Floral Festival coiled planner. It’s perfect for my personality and need for fun colors.
- (You can also get the Oh Joy! interchangeable covers to keep your LifePlanner fresh.)
- Layout: Vertical.
- I have used this particular layout for years and find that it fills my need to separate daily obligations by “family appointments”, “business deadlines” and “personal to-dos”.
- It gives me a quick overview of my day and week.
- Color theme: Colorful,
- Let’s admit it, adding a little color to your life can only brighten your day.
- Calendar options: I recently started getting my Erin Condren LifePlanner from July to June.
- A parent’s year changes the most after back-to-school, so for me it makes the most sense to celebrate “a new year” and a new LifePlanner during “back to school.”
- Design: The LifePlanner collaboration with Oh Joy!
- How to start a new LifePlanner, or as I call it “moving into a LifePlanner”:
- Before you do ANYTHING else, go through your old calendar and copy over any and all appointments scheduled for July and going forward.
- Remember to also write important notes in the back of your new calendar.
- I have a few pages with personal information that I copy into my new planner every year.
- Write all school holidays and early release days in your calendar. Keep a copy of the school calendar in the back of your planner.
- Having the school holidays already in your calendar helps when you are making doctor’s appointments and planning family vacations.
- Write down ALL your children’s commitments (school activities and extra-curricular activities) in your planner.
- Do NOT rely on your memory, even the weekly soccer practices and baseball games. Write them all down, for the entire season.
- Designate an area for “appointments for family members”, “business”, “personal” – whichever categories fit your lifestyle.
- (This is especially easy to do if you get the “vertical” layout.)
- Personally, I keep the top third of the daily calendar for our family’s commitments.
- The middle portion is for my business deadlines.
- The bottom third is for reminders and events that are important to my relatives and friends.
- Pro tip: write all appointments and reminders in pencil!
- We all know how fluid a mom’s calendar is.
- Between cancelled practices and sick kids, being able to erase and correct entries is an easy way to keep your LifePlanner looking nice.
Don’t miss your chance to take $10 off your first Erin Condren order!
Organizing your new Erin Condren Coiled Notebook:
- Leave the first few pages blank and use them as an “index”.
- Use the stickers in the back, fold in half over the edge of the page, so you can easily tag and later find important pages.
- Write an updated to-do list every evening for the following day.
- Cross off the completed tasks and carry any undone tasks over to the next day.
- Keep your daily to-do list lean, add only tasks you absolutely need to do.
- Write a longer list of projects and tasks that don’t have an immediate deadline.
- Continue to keep two separate lists: daily to-do and long-term to-do.
- Carry the journal in your purse and use it for taking notes while you are on the phone, in meetings or to keep track of random thoughts.
- Once I have completed a page, I write a big check-mark across the page.
- I can still read the content of the page, but at a quick glance, it’s clear that I don’t need to pay further attention to this particular page.
- I start most of my blog posts in my coiled notebook and transfer my thoughts to the computer when I am ready to finish the post.
After you have set-up your awesome busy-mom planning tools from Erin Condren, don’t miss this little extra tip…
Back-to-school is all about NEW routines, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and get stressed when you try to remember every step of every day.
- Use the alarms on your phone and change them daily according to your schedule.
- Set alarms on your phone for your morning and afternoon routines.
- Examples of my daily alarms:
- Wake up
- Take medicine and give the kids medication.
- 10 minutes before we HAVE to leave so no one is tardy.
- Conference calls/ meetings throughout the day.
- Leave to pick up kids at school and/ or bus.
- Start dinner.
- Kids to soccer.
- These alarms may seem excessive, but TRUST me, when you have kids in new and different schools, it can be hard to keep track of your new routine.
- There’s no shame in setting multiple alarms, but it would probably not look so good if you forgot one of your kids at school!
What is your best getting back to school organization tip for busy moms? How do you keep track of your kids’ many schedules and commitments?
If you liked these tips, then you don’t want to miss this post, TRUST ME: How to be a More Organized and Less Overwhelmed Mom