The children have only been back to school for a week and already the notes have started. There are notifications of upcoming events, forms to fill in, money to be paid. I have written about this before but am sure we could all do with a reminder after 6 weeks of a school and note-free existence. I know I could.
Before I got organised, what I did with the notes was a bit haphazard to be honest. Reply by date is a week ahead – I might as well leave completing that reply slip for a few days. Cheque needed – the cheque book is upstairs, I’ll do it later. And then once you’ve filled in the form, you usually need to keep the note as you will need the information in it but what do you do with it?
First of all, and I can’t emphasise this enough – process the note NOW, on the day you get it. It really does keep you organised and your efficient Mum halo bright and shiny. So find a pen, complete the form. Go upstairs and get the cheque book and an envelope and do it all from start to finish. And check younger children’s book bags regularly as notes for Harvest Festival and the suchlike can linger for days forgotten by the children until they come home in tears as they were the only ones who didn’t bring in a tin of baked beans. Secondary school children don’t like parents going through their bags but asking whether they have any notes occasionally won’t hurt. If your school emails the majority of the notes, print them out so that you don’t have to plough through your emails looking for the information. I have tried going paperless but it just doesn’t work for me.
The second step is to transfer relevant details into your diary. This is not just putting a note on the actual day of the event but also notes to get you ready for whatever the event is. So, taking the Harvest Festival example, you would put a reminder in your diary to buy a contribution and then another note near the top of the Festival Day (or the day before if you like to have everything by the front door in the evening) to remind you that your child needs to take in that contribution. For a school trip, you might add a note to your shopping day to remind you to buy stuff for a packed lunch. See my previous post on keeping a diary
Thirdly, you need to store the note somewhere so that you can refer to it as needed. I used to fold notes up and put them in the house diary which was ok but they often fell out. I also tried a calendar with a notes envelope at the back but getting notes in and out was a pain. But I finally found a good solution – enter the notes folder – ta daa. A brilliant invention by my sister, Jane. Grab any kind of folder. I use a transparent plastic one. For each note, write the date of the event at the top and then place in your file in reverse order, so that the next event note is on top and the one furthest away is on the bottom. Discard once the event has passed. Keep you notes folder near your diary. Sooooo simple and works soooo well.
So there you have it, the Love2Declutter 3 step guide to dealing with school notes!
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!
My house diary
- 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!
Diary entries layout
- 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.
Amazingly my husband, who holds on to everything, recently said that I could dispose of all his music CDs as he never uses them, having gone completely digital. I was eager to free up some shelves in the family room but had to decide how to get them out of the house in the greenest way possible. I did consider Ebay but, having put a Watch on similar CDs, I could see that they weren’t selling. I do still use Ebay from time to time but mainly for collectables (like Pokémon cards or Gogos). I find that by the time you have paid the various fees and paid for postage and packing, you make very little. I therefore decided to try another online selling company. (see my previous two posts on Recycling PC Games). This time I went for ‘WeBuyBooks’ – www.webuybooks.co.uk – who also take CDs, DVDs and Games. I checked for reviews online and they seemed generally good. Also, they will pay you through Paypal whereas for Momox I had to give my bank account details which I am not keen on.
How does it work?
The process is exactly the same as for Momox in my previous article. You enter the barcode for your item and you get a price. You can then decide whether to accept their ‘offer’ or not. As well as 34 CDs (about half our collection) I also added 2 books on technical subjects that I am never going to use again. The lowest price I got was 5p and the highest was £3.00 for a boxed set of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Altogether the offer was for £23.54 for 36 items. I could not have physically included any more items in the box I had, not only because of space but also weight.
How do you send the parcel?
Again, as with Momox, you print off your postage label and take your parcel to a Hermes collection point. There are quite a few around, often at newsagents. I sent my parcel on 30th June and got an email from WeBuyBooks on 6th July to say they had received it. So it was a lot quicker than getting to Momox in Leipzig!
I am pleased to say that all my items were accepted and I received the full £23.54 from my offer. I left the money in my Paypal account as I will use it for buying other stuff online. Transferring to my bank account would incur a small charge which I was happy to avoid. As with Momox, selling online was quite a lot of work for not that much money and would not have been worth it if I had had to buy the box to pack the items in. However, overall it was a good experience using WeBuyBooks and I would definitely use them again.