As a child, I think my organisational skills kicked in when I was about 14. Gone was the mess and the clutter from my bedroom, instead everything found a place and no one was allowed to move anything. I probably did border on being a bit OCD, but it worked for me. I continued living in my tidy organised little bubble right up until my first child was born. I am convinced that a greater power decided to have a sense of humour and sent me my 5 boys/men to live with while chuckling to himself “now see how organised you can be!!”
The first thing I had to learn was that the state of my house would never be perfect again, well at least not while I had my four sons sharing my space with me. As each child grew and another one got added to the clan, more and more things had to change to accommodate them and their lives.
Because I had a big gap between my first two kids and my last two, there was a point in my life where I had one in pre-primary, another in primary school, one in high school and one at college – all were at different institutions and in different areas. That meant 4 sets of teachers, committees, meetings, friends, extra murals, transport arrangements, lunches, and so on.
Besides my boys, I was also running a business, managing the home, shopping, cooking and still trying to fit in time for my own exercise – yes, I did still need that, it was my time and my stress reliever.
I was constantly striving to find new and better ways of staying on top of being organised. Being a solution driven person, I worked out a system that could help me manage all of this. At the time, I used to buy a standard diary and draw lines to make compartments that would fit in with my life. As much as this worked for me, doing it this way was tedious and time consuming, and also had things missing and not enough pages to accommodate all the things that I needed.
This was the start of the creation of the MOM (Most Organised Mother) and WOW (Wonderfully Organised Women) Diaries. I literally took the system that I had developed and put it into a book that could help other women manage every aspect of their lives in the same way that I was doing.
Making your diary the hub from where everything gets managed has many advantages, if used correctly. You always know where to find information and don’t waste time searching around for it. If you have a system, you will find that you do things in such a way that is more time efficient. The best way that I can explain this is by telling you what some of the time saving and helpful features of the diary are as well as some tips on how to make certain tasks easier:
- At the beginning of each year, spend a few hours setting up your diary for the coming year. This involves transferring information, from your previous diary as well as entering new information. Make sure you have all the birthdays, term dates and any other information that you already have access to. You can also use this time to set your goals for the new year and look over your goals from the previous year (you will be amazed at how much you achieve when you have written goals).
The MOM Diary has a section on setting goals, with a monthly goal list and daily tracking or journaling anything to do with those goals.
- Each month, take an hour or two to write a to-do list for that month, and to go back over the previous month to see if there is anything you need to carry forward. Work out dates that you can fit in various chores or tasks.
I have included a monthly to-do-list and a month planner in the diary, as both are useful when planning your month.
- You can do the same with weekly or daily planning – if you get into the habit of spending a small amount of time structuring your life, you will find that things flow much better.
The pages of the diary are setup in a way that each part of your life has its own place. The right side of the page is for your appointments and to-do-list and the left hand side of the page is for anything to do with your family, goals AND there is a little place to fill in something for which you are grateful each day.
Meal times can be a real nightmare for moms, but there are things that you can do to make them more manageable as well as turning it into a productive time of the day.
- Spend a few hours once off planning and finding meals that suit your family. 8 meals works for me. These are your Monday to Thursday meals and you rotate them, therefore having each meal twice in a month. They should be simple, quick and healthy. By doing this, you take the “think” out of what to cook during the week. It also helps with shopping as you always know the ingredients that you need to buy weekly.
The MOM Diary has 12 recipes which are suitable for families and are there to help give you some inspiration and ideas.
- Keep a running shopping list – each time you run out of something, write it down immediately. Shop weekly, rather than daily and if possible, shop online. You can setup standard shopping lists and are able to untick what you don’t need that week.
There are 20 serrated tear out pages in the back of the diary for things like shopping lists or notes. You could also keep your running list in the “Family and Social” block – to be transferred to a shopping list later.
- Use cooking time as a bonding time with your kids or partner. Get the kids to help, even if they are small, they can do basic things, or let them sit in the kitchen and just chat – it can be a time of learning – colours, shapes, counting. If your kids are older and more independent, ask your hubby to join you in the kitchen and chat about your day. Having an extra set of hands and good conversation makes cooking far more pleasurable.
- This time of the day can also be used to help your kids with homework; it is easy to do things like reading or spelling while preparing your meals.
Other Useful Features and Tips
- Monthly Budget – being in control of your finances is empowering. A budget is not meant to limit you but is there to prioritise your spending. Look after your money and it will look after you!
- Birthdays and gifts – there is a page to write down the names of people who you would regularly buy gifts for each year. As you see or think of something that is suitable for that person, write it down, it will save you loads of time when it comes to that birthday AND you will end up giving people the perfect gift.
Not to be forgotten, your own wish list – there is also a page to write down things that you want for yourself. This is great when you are being asked what you want for your birthday AND it is a form of goal-setting.
- Important numbers, dates and reminders – this is the top left hand block on each page. By having a specific place in your diary that you keep this information, you are very unlikely to forget things and it is also easier, when looking back to find a number that you have written down, to only have to look in one place on the page. If you highlight a number after writing it down, it will be even easier to find again in the future.
- Getting the important stuff done – we so often put off things that we really need to do, it’s called procrastinating and is mainly caused by fear (fear of not being able to do that task or fear of failure) A good practice is to write that “one thing” in the top left hand block and to make sure that you do that before you do anything else that day. It is the most amazing, liberating feeling when you do something that you have been putting off.
- Kids Info – have you ever found yourself looking for another parents phone number for sport, homework or playdate, or your kids ID number, or the school clothing shop info, teachers email address, movie card number, wondering what childhood illnesses your child had a few years ago (4 kids later this is easy to forget!). The MOM Diary has a place for all of this – it is just a matter of turning to that page.
- Handy Information that you need at some point – filling out a form, wanting to cancel bank cards, need your car registration – again just turn to the page in your diary and it should be there!
- Phone numbers – although we all have cell phones, there are just certain numbers that are easier and quicker to access and if you lose your phone, you still have them. I am talking about the doctor, hairdresser, insurance broker, the school as well as some business related numbers – key customers or suppliers.
- Emergency info & basic first aid tips – there is nothing worse than being in a life threatening situation and you panic and you don’t know where to look for a number or advice. Familiarise yourself with what info and where this info is in your diary so that you know exactly where to look in an emergency. You can even fill in additional information of your own. A few years ago one of my kids set fire to my house and I went completely blank, I took out the phone book and first phoned the electricity department, not helpful at all! I then got through to the flying squad, who, even though I told them it was a fire, sent a bunch of machine gun wielding guys rushing to my house. Eventually I got through to the fire brigade who arrived but were not allowed in until the gun wielding guys had confirmed that it was actually a fire! Don’t let this happen to you.
- Keeping up with the kids – most schools send out a list of dates and fixtures at the beginning of each term. Transfer these onto the correct page in your diary along with any upcoming exams and tests. At the back of the diary is a page to write in their extra murals, and past in their class lists.
I hope that you have found some of these tips helpful. It doesn’t matter which system you use, as long as it works for you and your family. If you are interested in finding out more about the MOM Diaries, or if you want to order one for yourself please go to www.momdiary.co.za