Friday, August 31, 2012

All Stars Guest Post: Essentials to plan a busy family life

The infamous Judith from "Not another Filofax Blog" has written a fenomenal guest post for me, so get yourself a drink and enjoy! 

Femke asked me to write a guest post on how I use my Filofax to plan my family life. I’m very happy to oblige!

We have four children, three girls aged 11, 9 and 8 and a 6 year old boy. Our oldest has just started Middle School, the other three attent the local Elementary School. I work from our home office, my boyfriend works very irregular times, usually at night and on Saturdays, sometimes for a few days in a row, which means he needs to sleep-over at hotels.

Since my boyfriend has the wide-spread male handicap of not knowing (or wanting to know?) how to use a planner of any kind, this is a task that I have taken on me. Okay, willingly so, I admit to that ;-)

The key is that everybody needs to know where they and the other family members are at any given point. Therefore I have installed a Wall Calendar (the Family Weekly Planner by Organised Mum), that is now in use for the 5th year. A life saver, really!

I hung on a central place in the kitchen, were everybody has easy access to it.

The planner has 6 columns, so everybody had his own column.

The best feature - and time saver! - is a clear flyleaf, where I write everybody’s name and all fixed schedules, like football practice, swimming lessons, on who has to bring Gym gear to school on what days, music lessons, fitness sessions. Anything that is the same for each and every week. This saves a trillion hours per year on rewriting the same stuff over and over again. I The planner is supplied with a small black dry-erase marker that is clipped on the planner itself. After each week, when I have removed the paper with the week, I just clip the flyleaf to the next week.

On the paper pages itself I write (and mark with stickers!): Boyfriend’s Work hours, play dates of the kids (believe me, I would totally loose track of where my kids are, if I wouldn’t write that down! Plus, I can remind the kids in the morning that they are already booked for that day.), and any appointments. The planner pages also have detachable shopping and todo lists on the left, but I don’t usually use those (more about shopping later).

Of course, the biggest disadvantage of a wall calendar is its size. You can’t take it with you, and it always stays in its fixed place. The main control centre of our family life is therefore in my A5 Filofax (big surprise, ey?). I’m currently using the Vintage Pink Malden and still love it immensely! I will disregard all work-related parts of this planner, and hop right on to the family bits and pieces.

I have used the usual Columned Weekly Layout supplied by Filofax for a few months. However, the space always got cluttered with all the notes on the kids (see above). I then had a light-bulb moment and ordered the Family Life Book by Organised Mum. This wire-bound planner (bear with me, people!) is exactly A5 sized and has basically the same layout as my beloved Wall Calendar: COLUMNS! Plus an extra column (still waiting for a proper purpose btw), plus a Meal Ideas column. I dismantled the book, repunched the pages and put the whole school year worth of pages in my A5 Filofax.

Here I can keep track of everything that comes in in terms of appointments. Twice a week I do my meal planning, note it in the appropriate column and writing my shopping list at the same time. Grocery the next day, and I’m set for another 4 days. On Sunday I transfer all new dates from my Malden to the Wall Calendar (unless I did it during the week, then Sunday night serves as a check that nothing got lost). I don’t use the Todo part on the weeklies. Well, I DID use them, until the ever-amazing Ray produced those terrific card-tabs. I use a new one for every week and that’s were all my weekly Todo’s go. I stick them in my daily pages that have my working schedule on them as well, and thus all Todo’s are always in sight. Brilliant!

I also use monthly sheets in my Malden with various Todo sections: Work, Household, Personal, Family. Here I note some projects like “buy new curtains”, “get a wall shelf”, “sort out books” and the like. Or “organize birthday party” (for which Ray has just created the Birthday Planner Pages!).

Now to the shopping part: I use a Pocket Filofax as a wallet (there’s a video detailing how it’s exactly set up). On the very first page is my ongoing shopping list. As soon as I’m out of something, and when I’m making my menu list, I write everything on this shopping list. Since it’s also my wallet, I can’t ever forget my shopping list when I’m in the grocery shop. I also added a list of my regular shops in the Filofax, so that when I hop into one of them I know exactly what I need to buy.

Another important family related feature of my Wallet: a list of the shoe and clothing sizes of my kids, plus an ongoing list of things-to-buy for each family member (including myself and BF). This has saved me many many times. What good is it to stumble upon an amazing bargain, and then hesitating because you don’t know the exact size of your kids, or whether they really needed another longsleeve shirt? Believe me, with 4 kids, you tend to loose track of who owns what ;-) Well folks, this is it! This is how Filofax (plus Organised Mum) help me manage my family.

Thank you Judith for this great post! 


  1. I've seen 'family' calendars but never the flyleaf addition - that's brilliant!

  2. Genius post. I wish I were this organised.

  3. That shopping list/ wallet is absolutely inspired!!!