Planner Forms, Home Organization, and Challenges, Oh My!

Maybe you know how much I LOOOOOOVE organizer forms.  Organization – especially Home Keeping – is something I’ve written about many times in the past, and has been a subject of research and serious study in my life for about 18 months.

I’ve tried the Flylady – more than once – and even though her system is great and really works for so many and she is gentle and encouraging – I was still very overwhelmed by the process and so many steps.

I’ve found other organizer forms from a variety of sources and have used many different products – both free and paid for.  I love the pretty forms Cindy Rushton has to offer in her Organized Mom Super Set. Her products are especially geared toward stay at home moms and homeschooling moms.

I love Donna Young’s variety of forms and the sizes and layouts she offers at her site.  They are efficient and they are free, but they are not girly or fancy…

I’ve found several other forms and styles I liked – at places like D*I*Y Planner, Amy Bayliss and others, but they didn’t offer a complete set of matching forms for my needs.  Cuz yes, I AM the kind of woman who wants coordinating sets…

I stumbled across an organizer site several months ago – checked it out – even had some contact with the owner who answered a few of my questions, and then never thought about it again.  Until last week.

And I found the site again – as well as the owner’s corresponding blog which gave great views of the pages and products:

Grace Works Purpose Planner

His Graceworks (blog)

With whole planner sets (including binder) or individual pages, they are designed to coordinate and work together beautifully.

What I love about them:

  • Price.  Reasonable prices for refills and page sets.  They even have beautiful binders (classic size or petite size) that are very reasonably priced!
  • Beautiful.  In beautifully scripted fonts that are still easy to read and follow, I am inspired just by looking at the pages!
  • Variety.  Seriously – GW has an incredible variety of pages – whether you are a homeschooling mom, stay at home mom, a mom in ministry – there are great pages for personal devotions, personal planning, and grocery / menu planning!
  • Christian.  This is my favorite part – created by two Christian women, the pages are designed with Scripture verses sprinkled throughout each page – reminding me of my value and purpose as a mom, helping me stay on track and keep focused on what really matters.

Check out the Planner site – but also check out the blog.  Tricia is starting a NEW 28-day challenge to help you with Menu Planning!  If you need help in this area – don’t hesitate to follow along.  There are points awarded and prizes to be earned – and if you can’t participate now, you can still get some inspiration and guidance to help you practically plan and prepare your family meals!

Are You Stressed Out, Mom?

I’ve been blessed in the past several weeks by the ministry of Cindy Rushton.  I’ve been able to listen to some of her audio recordings, download some goodies, and am really finding my way!  Her heart for the Lord (and her sweet, southern drawl) just reach out to me.  She reminds me very much of another Cyndi I dearly love.  I wanted to share this with you – and hope it helps you the way it has me!

Quick Tips For the Perpetually Late, Disorganized, Stressed Out Mom!

By Cindy Rushton

Does this SPEAK to you?  Nothing is more frustrating than great intentions but failure with the time management, organization, and gentle spirit thing!  So, what can REALLY help? Need a bit of hope?  Practical ideas? Well, beloved, here are a few tips that have made a world of difference for me:

Read the rest of this entry »

Thought Full Thursday: Settling In… Gearing Up…

Since I began my Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) journey over a year ago, actually BECOMING Keeper at Home has been quite challenging for me.

First, I had to undergo a personal transformation that allowed me to understand more fully the value, the responsibility, the role that “Keeper at Home” entails.    Having worked after the births of both of my girls, I was just a “working mommy” and learned to find satisfaction in what was necessary for us at the time.

I enjoyed the structure of a 9-5 working schedule because it was “normal” – it was routine – it was required. I never realized how spontaneous and free-flowing my nature is until I no longer had someone else telling me what to do with my time.

Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Faves: My Home Keeper’s Notebook

So are you an expert Notebooker?  Are you new to the idea?  Are you still trying to figure out why anybody would take the time to put a “Home Keeper Notebook” together?  Just like any other organizational system, a Home Notebook is great for some and useless for others (although I tend to lean more for the “great” for just about anybody).

The Flexibility of your system is entirely up to you.  If you prefer everything preformatted and coordinated, a  Mom Agenda or The Fly Lady Control Journal would  probably work nicely for you.  If you are spontaneous (like me) and like to keep things fresh, putting together your own Home Notebook can be fun (or challenging) and creative.  And with the TONS of forms & templates available online already, if you don’t have time to create your own, a little research can set you up nicely!

After many (feeble) attempts at settling into one system, I’ve found one that works for me.  What inspired me to get here were the pictures I saw at Homekeeping Heart’s blog.  When I saw her pics, I was like “OOOOHHHHHHHHHHH!  I get it!”  (Visual learner here!)

And I copied her general layout.  I have  pretty covers on my binders.  I use a zippered penkeeper.  I have colored tabbed dividers with pretty divider inserts.  Efficiency is important to me, but so is beauty.  And my content is entirely personalized for efficiency for my Home Keeper duties & responsibilities.

I continue to modify the actual forms I’m using.  It’s fun for me, so I try new ones.  I’m finding that my daily routine changes so often for one reason or another, but that I have a general task list that should be accomplished weekly.  As long as my bathroom, kitchen, & floors are clean – I am easier about the rest on a daily basis.  The trash gets picked up. The dust gets wiped away eventually.

I think that has been where I’d get hung up in all the previous “systems” I’ve tried to use to be organized.  Trying to stay within the box of each system, and not really formatting it to FIT ME and the way my family lives and the limitations of our house, etc.  Since I’m not relying solely on one system or website or resource, I’m finding that the creativity is allowing me some breathing room and I’m settling in nicely.

I’m baking more and spending more time in my kitchen, and that is both creative & messy.  With my new bread starters, and trying new recipes, the kitchen has been my home.  And I’ve loved it.  BUT – I’m doing dishes all the time it seems, and washing dishes is my VERY least favorite chore.  I’m leaning to establishing a system of major baking / cooking once a week to start, and when I get better at it, I’d like to be cooking 2 times a month.  That’s a goal of mine.  Once a month cooking seems impossible at this point, but it’s something I’ll still strive for – only because I can make one large mess and then clean it up.

Wow Wow Wednesday! Baking Bread

Here is a scrumptious banana bread recipe that I have to share with you. I only made half the recipe (2 loaves), and I will play with the ingredients a bit to reduce both the fat and the sugar, and when I create something successfully, I’ll post that version, too.

This sounds like a terrific Friendship Bread starter, so I’ve got a batch “brewing” and found some yummy recipes to play with at allrecipes.com, too.  I’ll make the bread with my first batch, and then move into muffins, cakes, etc.

My next project is to make this Sweet Sourdough Starter.  We all love sourdough bread at our house, and I found some other recipes to use this starter in, too.

Do you like to bake?  Do you enjoy the bread making process?  I enjoy baking bread – the whole process – whether it’s a quick fruit based bread, or a slow, delightfully yummy yeast bread. The fresh ingredients, the smell of bread baking – Mmmmmm – smells like “HOME” doesn’t it?

What keeps you from baking (or cooking) the things you love?  Is it time?  Is it space? Until now I’ve used my lack of counter space as an excuse NOT to do much baking, but since implementing My Home Keeper’s Notebook, I’m finding more time to get dishes done & off the counter (amazing how that works), and am really enjoying my kitchen more than I have in the past.

If you enjoy coffee (hot or cold) with your freshly baked bread – check out these recipes!

Well, I hear the pitter patter of little feet, so it’s time to go get started with our day!

Ta-Da! Tuesday – My Basic Home Notebook Forms

I decided to go ahead and begin to list the Basic forms I’m using daily, and how I’m setting things up in my Home Management Notebook System.  Later I’ll post pictures and explain how I finally got it all set up.

I have five general color-coded sections in my system:

Food & Menu (Green – as in green, leafy vegetables which are good for you).

Schedules/Cleaning (clear/white – an overabundance of clear protector sheets).

Blogging (Blue – coordinate the “Bl…” theme – and it’s my favorite color and my favorite hobby – you get the idea…)

Personal (Red – as in “important” – it’s where I keep the girls chore / potty charts, and other information).

Contacts (Yellow as in “yellow pages”).

They are set up in this order because it is the order of the colored page protector dividers I’m using.  =)  They are also being implemented in two separate 3-ring binders.  One is the Master Binder (“MB” or Control Journal – 3″ rings) which contains important information to keep at home, close to the phone.  The second is My Home Keeper Notebook (“MHKN”) which I keep with me throughout the day and is more portable (1″ rings) and will fit into any of my totebags.

As I researched the vast array of downloadable or printable forms on the internet, it became very clear that three things were very important to me:  FunctionFormFlexibility.  It had to be efficient, and it had to be pretty, and I needed room to work with it according to our lifestyle.  I can make my own Excel forms, but I don’t want to take the time to make all of them.  When I came across a form that was user friendly, AND pretty, I almost always grabbed onto it!  Even if I haven’t used it yet, I still have it saved so I have the option of trying it later.

For this last week – which was my  first week – I used a few Basic, but Beneficial, forms:

SCHEDULE

A ruled weekly planner from Donna Young to manage everything that needed to be accomplished during the week.  I need to have a weekly calendar available so I can prepare for upcoming appointments, keep track of Curly’s school projects, and record Roy’s work schedule.

A daily task list called the Daily Flying (Chores) Form at In Pursuit of Proverbs 31 [hint: the Word document is editable].  Because there are some things that need to be done once or twice a week, every week, the daily task list needs to be pretty well set for me and was the hardest part of getting myself together.  The fact that a Morning and Bedtime routine (ala Flylady) were already incorporated into this chart made it even better.  Borrowing from this chart and personalizing it for our lifestyle and my style in general, saved a lot of time and reduced a great amount of stress.  It was a springboard for me to get myself going.

I am using these forms every day – throughout the day – and felt much more accomplished by the end of last week than I have in quite some time.  How lovely!

FOOD

I also used a Menu Planner and Grocery Lists to plan for dinners.  I have not really ever done this before.  Not purposefully, anyway.  But this past week, even Roy commented on the great dinners we had – and it’s all because I took a few minutes on Sunday afternoon to see what we had, what was on sale that we would use, and went from there.  I listed what meals (including sides) I could make with what we had, and made my grocery list (noting coupons & sales), and shopped accordingly.  I even tried a new recipe, Impossible Ham and Cheddar Pie, which was surprisingly delicious and we plan to include it in our regular repertoire of recipes.

I only require planning for dinners/weekends, but there are other great menu & kitchen planners, and this week I am using the Menu page (with shopping list and separate ruled page for greater flexibility) I purchased (cheap!) at Busy Woman.  Someday when I have mastered my Homekeeper Role, I will have everything in my Classic Dayrunner, and this particular form from Busy Woman was designed to fit perfectly.  You can find a wide variety of menu planners, grocery or shopping lists, inventory charts and more at Donna Young, In Pursuit of Proverbs 31, and many other sites by searching google (free printable menu planner).

CHORE CHARTS

Now, Curly is only 3, but she is growing quickly, and we are teaching her to take care of her things (as opposed to tearing up her books or standing on top of her toys…)  Since she likes to pick out her own clothes, and certainly has her own fashion sense (much to her father’s chagrin!) I thought it would be nice to begin incorporating a sticker chart for her.   After using a simple one recording only 4 tasks, I realized she could easily be challenged by a few more.  So, I created one in Word Document (using a table) personalized for her.  She earns stickers for Making her bed, Dressing, Brushing her hair, Putting toys away, Reading, etc.  Right now she is more excited about the stickers than any prizes or earnings, so we’re keeping it simple. =)

Georgie is potty training, and since she HAS to do everything her big sister does, she has a potty chart for placing stickers on it.  She is being pretty consistent with 3-4 times of TELLING me she has to go, so she’s getting there.  She’s just excited she gets to use stickers like her big sister. =)

These are the basic forms I am using.  It seriously helps.  I feel more focused and more “together” and more PURPOSEFUL in my daily routines.  Although our weekend was difficult, I had accomplished much during the week, and we had more freedom to get out and go when we were able to.  That felt really great.  And Roy’s compliments on our meals – well, that was bonus!


THE KEY TO SUCCESS FOR ME:  I am using a wide selection of planner pages from a variety of sources.  Some are available free of charge, some websites require membership or purchase, and the more I use a variety of formats, the more I find which work
best for me.  It just required me taking my first steps in the right direction.

Tomorrow, I will be sharing other forms I’m using for home organization, tracking personal information and more…

Until Then,

have-a-blessed-day

Friday Favorites – Notebooking

Searching the internet so much over the past year for help in my transition from working full-time in an office to being a full time HomeKeeper, I have read many articles on organization, housekeeping tips, menu planning, tips for frugal living, homeschooling, and more.  I kept reading about Notebooking.  Or having a Control Center, Control Journal, or Home Notebook.

I’m a HUGE fan of organization tools.  I will buy them – set them up – and then not apply them. SIGH… However, that is the main purpose for establishing my new NOTEBOOK – to get over that hump and BE productive, useful, purposeful in my daily routines!

Now, I have technically been “Notebooking” for at least a decade, but didn’t really call it that, or have a specific system.  I’m a collector.  Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a pack rat…  I’ve collected all kinds of things throughout my life – from the time I was young continuing on until now.   Whenever I came across a great recipe in a magazine, a good story that I really liked, or interesting articles about gardening, health, crafts, etc., rather than keeping piles of magazines around for a year ore more (for the sake of only 1 or 2 pages in the magazine), I would tear  out what I loved and put them into page protectors in a large 3 ring binder.

At one time, I had two separate 3″ ring binders stuffed full of things I loved.  As time has passed, I’ve been able to reduce the non-essentials and put everything into one binder.  Most of these things I’ve saved are recipes – full-size page recipes – and a few articles I just couldn’t part with (one on PMS, one on Sweet Pea gardening, and a lovely Christmas story  that is at least 10 years old with recipes that I read every single year, as well as some craft ideas with instructions)…

I also LOVE lists.  Love everything about them.  I love making them.  Writing them.  Reading them.  Editing them.  And at various times in my life, using lists has helped tremendously with keeping my focus on task, maintaining organization, and peace of mind – The ultimate purpose of lists.  I love day planners, file folders, filing binders, filing systems.  I love color coding, alphabetizing, prioritizing – all of it.

Actually putting it into practice in a tangible, PRACTICAL way – well THIS is where I struggle the most

So, I have been locating many websites & networking site that offer printable planner pages, menu pages, housekeeping tips, recipes, and more.  My bookmarked list of websites is quite extensive and divided into many folders to help me keep it all together.  When I have found sites and bookmarked them, but  never looked at them again, I delete them and don’t go back.  I like to join a bunch of stuff, but have been learning to weed out the stuff I don’t really use, that doesn’t really provide any beneficial or relevant info to me, etc., and move on.

Then there are the sites that are just GOLD MINES.  Full of printable forms, genuine housekeeping tips, practical, simple, useful information, and those I have marked for my Bookmarks Toolbar.  Many of these I visit daily; almost all I visit weekly.  These are the ones I have utilized in putting My Home Keeper Notebook together.

So using the information I’ve found, combined with my natural affinity for color coding, I have finally compiled a My Home Keeper Notebook and Control Center, which I have been trying out this week.

Still being a college student, one way I can relate this overall idea is with a course syllabus: Here are the tasks to accomplish, here is the breakdown of assignments with due dates, and here is how to find success in this course.

Using a variety of printables, a 3-ring zippered pen compartment, colored dividers, pretty printed pages for covers / divider inserts, pocket dividers, and page protectors for most of the printed information, I’ve put it all together.

I have My Home Keeper Notebook, which contains the essential information I need to go through my day.  Because it is in a 1″ binder, I can take it everywhere with me and have my lists & tasks all together. It contains my Weekly Overview Calendar, My Daily Task List, Charts for the girls (more below), Menu with grocery store sales list for this week, a page protector for recipes to review, my monthly Blogging Planner, Goal sheets, Note/card tracker, and a pocket folder with articles I want to finish reading this week.

I also have a Control Center which is near our telephone.  It is composed of a 3″ binder which contains master printables & necessary household information; a separate bill organizer, and another binder to keep master charts & “homework” sheets for Curly and Georgie (Curly is practicing her letters & writing, along with some daily responsibilities; Georgie is potty training).

In using this new system for just one week, I have been able to accomplish more with my time, actually remembered specific tasks I wanted to complete (TA-DA!), and have had a fairly productive week.  This is a transition for me, but I can see by my lists what I have (or have NOT) completed, and what MUST be done, what SHOULD be done, and what really isn’t essential every week.  It is my nature to be spontaneous.  To live in the moment.  Setting & sticking to a schedule for myself is not my favorite thing, BUT it is something I am striving to achieve.

For this week – for my effort and ability to accomplish my tasks, I’d probably get a “C.”  But I’m happy with that.  Because I’ve been able to focus and get on task, I feel like I’m starting to manage my home, and my home is not managing me…

SO – starting next week, I will give a more specific breakdown of the forms I used, explain how I set up my binder (with pictures), and how I am successfully incorporating my plan into my daily schedule & routine.  The weekend will be challenging, but with 2 Final Exams to complete, some sense of schedule must be maintained. =)

The most rewarding thing I’ve discovered is that I have a renewed SENSE OF PURPOSE in the work I do every day.  Even if nobody ever noticed a thing I ever did – I feel better about the things I am accomplishing, and that is changing my attitude for the better. The second most rewarding part is discovering new recipes that my family enjoys.  Having a menu for the week has really eliminated a lot of stress & pressure for me, and it has been so nice to fix yummy, satisfying meals – as opposed to ordering pizza because I didn’t have anything else planned, which also saves money!

Here are some of the resources used in putting all of this together:

FlyLady

Donna Young

Mom Agenda

Better Budgeting

Blog Energizer

List Planit (membership required for some lists)

Free Printable Behavioral Charts

When I talk through my notebooks, I’ll specify which forms I use, and where I found them. =)

Be on the lookout for future posts on this topic.  As always, feel free to comment by adding YOUR tips & suggestions and/or lessons learned in establishing (or not establishing) a system for Home Keeping…

As always,

have-a-blessed-day


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