Dreading the start of the school year and how chaotic the days can seem? Or just feel generally overwhelmed by events you have to remember? It may seem more boring than trying to recall everything in your head, but a diary is a really helpful tool for any frazzled parent. Or for anyone trying to keep on top of home and work commitments.
I have tried several options over the years from a calendar with a separate column for each member of the family to a shared electronic diary but the only one that has ever really worked is a hard copy print diary. My favourite is an A5 page to a day but some of my friends use an A4 week to two pages which seems to work as well. Diaries that cover the academic year are available now so no need to put off buying one until Christmas!
What follows is my tried and trusted method for using my diary:
- Layout of each day – I do this by sight so what follows is approximate but I divide up the page roughly as follows:
Top – anything that needs to be remembered for the day ahead – like sports kit or trip money or which bins go out for recycling/rubbish collection
Top half/two thirds of the page, I divide up as am, pm and evening and put in activities/events accordingly
Lower half/ third – what’s for dinner, to do list, reminders for next day such as check sports kit etc
Before continuing, you might want to grab a mug of coffee or a glass of wine!
- School dates – go through the school calendar at the beginning of every term and make a note under the appropriate date of any events relevant to your child from holidays and school trips through to parents’ evenings. Using the approximate layout above, I put the event in for morning/afternoon/evening. I put school holidays right across the top of every relevant pair of pages. It feels really good to be able to KNOW when, for example, parents evenings are rather than double booking yourself. I take the house diary with me anywhere that I am likely to have to book an appointment and write it in there and then.
- Activities – do the same thing with all the after-school activities. Yes, it is a pain writing 4:30pm Swimming lesson 12 times but, again, it really does help with planning. And don’t forget your regular activities as well – write in that gym session!
- To dos & reminders – there are always reminders and to-dos for specific days so, as you go along, add them to the appropriate day. I usually put things I need to remember or do first thing near the top of the page and use the lower half/third for afternoon or evening reminders. You know the type of thing, exciting stuff like ‘Defrost chicken for tomorrow’s dinner’. I add phone calls I need to make near the top of the page. And general reminders go lower down.
- Menu plan – write down the planned dinner (and lunch as well if you take a packed lunch) – it really helps to make sure you have everything ready like defrosted chicken as above. If you need help with menu planning, check out our blog series starting with part 1.
- Check your diary at least twice daily – put your diary somewhere you will notice it first thing in the morning. I usually put ours on the kitchen table as I know I will see it then. In the evening, you could do something similar or add an alarm to your phone. Another option is to write a reminder note and put it in a place where you have to move it like on your pillow.
So, there it is – the Love2Declutter guide to using a diary. Next week, we will be talking about how morning and evening routines can help you stay organised.