Planners for moms?

Years ago, I used to use a Franklin Quest planner with two pages per day. And then I had a baby, stayed home full-time, and found out that babies don't "schedule" very well. Scheduling things by the hour just got, well, depressing, since nothing ever happened when it was scheduled. I switched to FC's Simplicity (two pages per week), but that didn't work quite right, either. My to-do list is usually huge and unwieldy, and it wasn't visible on the week-at-a-glance pages.

After I discovered D*I*Y, I developed my own planner. I find that a classic-sized two-page-per-month works great for all my scheduling (I usually try to plan only one or two things on any given day). The monthly calendar goes Monday thru Sunday, so weekend activities are together.

Then I use a two-page per week format. On the left side is a "To Do" page, where I can record either appointments or things that I need to accomplish. On the right side is a "Done" page, where I can take notes on anything that I did that week that I need to remember. I'm still tweaking this system, but I find that I'm using this a lot more than I was my old planner.

So, what do you use to help you stay on top of child confusion??


P.S. All my forms are designed in MS Word. (The dated calendar and weekly pages are generated from an Excel spreadsheet.) And yes, they're "girly" pages. I have a husband, a son, and two male cats. I am the only estrogen-producing life form in my house!!

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At 2, my kids don't have a whole lot of stuff scheduled yet, and I work FT as well, but from home. So my issues are slightly different from yours.

That said, I track all my stuff on a one-page-per-day, quarter-letter size (half classic, basically, but portrait orientation) rolla notebook.
The left column=schedule, right column=to-do for the day.

I also have some extra 'action list' cards I use to track stuff that doesn't have a definite due date or runs over several days. This is sort of a 'next action' list, but it doesn't have everything--only near-term items, stuff I need to work on now/this week. I make this one so it's got holes on the right and the back is blank. I don't like having a bunch of messy strikethroughs, so when the card starts getting messy I swap the old one for a clean new one.

The daily page has holes on the left, and the back of the page is for planning or taking notes or making a list.

I fold over the notebook so yesterday is underneath, the 'next action' card is open to the left, and today is on the right. Actually, saying that yesterday is underneath isn't quite right. I peel off each day at the end of the day and stick it on a 'done' notebook for later reporting.

The quarter-letter size fits neatly into my purse and suits a mini-G2 pen's length also. I try to keep my to-do list for each day rather short so I can work on the bigger stuff that sits on the action list. My days vary between zero scheduled items and about 5 time-important tasks. Peeling the days off as they're done keeps the book small, but stuffing them on a 'done' book keeps them available for reporting or reference when I'm at my home office desk.

There are some other things in my book--blank slips for jotting appointments or reminders down for later, password hints, contacts, project lists..I also have monthly calendars for future months so I can record that dental appointment 6 months out. But I find with the notebook I'm not using these as much as I used to. So I may scrap these and keep a yearly calendar instead as reference.

I had some recurring events automatically printed on my daily pages--stuff like birthdays, renewing prescriptions, or the date of the big grocery run (once a month) but I will probably rearrange this list a bit--take some off, put others on.

Anyway, except for some minor content tweaks, this system seems to be stabilizing. I've got some more rolla rings coming later this week, so I should be able to trim down the size of my book somewhat. The jumbos are just too big.


Hang on....

Wait, you have twin two-year-olds, and you work from home FT? Forget planners, how do you get 40 hours of work done with little ones?! :)

(I'm in total awe of moms with twins. I have one friend with twin three-year-olds, a two-year-old, and she's due with #4 in April. A brave, brave woman in my book!)

Sounds like you have a good system there. I really like your idea of the 'next action card.' Sounds like a slightly more useful verion of Franklin Covey's pouch pagefinder, which I found too small to be of real use. Now I'm thinking about punching a blank 4x6 card so that it sticks up about 1/8" and using that as my page-finder/extended to do list. (In my current system, larger tasks end up moving across weeks as they are accomplished piece by piece, and I feel like I end up rewriting them a lot.)

I do some consulting work, but for the most part I keep info on those in their own project notebooks at my desk, which I scoop up and take with me.

Part of the reason that I switched over to Circa was because I used to keep all my notes related to writing in one spiral notebook, but then everything was all scrambled in there together-- notes from workshops I'd attended, revision notes for different manuscripts, ideas for future manuscripts, snippets of dialogue, etc. I felt like I spent more time flipping through looking for things than I did using the information I'd written down. With Circa, I can just carry one notebook instead of a planner and a separate notebook, and I can "file" pages by categories when I get home.

I started out with the jumbo rings, too, but I'm also moving down to the smaller size. (And I printed my monthly calendar on cover stock, so the pages would be sturdier, but they ended up thicker and heavier than I expected, so I may re-think them.)

I'd love to see pictures of your planner set-up. (I think I found your page-view template.)

Thanks for the ideas!!



How do I get 40 hours of work done with twins working from home? I put them in daycare during working hours! :)

DH and I both work from home. There would be no working if the twins were at home too during the day. They're only now getting to the point where they'll play alone for a little while without either Mommy or Daddy..

Your friend is a much better woman than I. No more babies for me! Two is enough, especially since my chances of getting another pair in one try are about 1 in 5. 8o

I will get pictures up eventually. I'm very proud of my cover and dividers, since they are made from really beautiful Bengali marbled papers. :) Search the site for Bengali and you'll find the link I posted to the lady who carries the paper..



I was feeling *really* inadequate there for a bit! :) I love my son dearly, but he's a handful. (He's very affectionate and very smart, but he has some language processing issues and possible ADD, which makes for a bit of a parenting challenge!)

Before he was born, I had a demanding FT job (software developer) and still managed to find time to write a book in a little over one year. Then the little guy came along. My second book took me just under five years. Oh, the grand plans I had... At this rate, I should get his baby book finished in time for his graduation. From his doctoral program...

You may find it gets a little easier with two of them as they get older. My friend tells me that hers (they'll be four this summer) play together now and entertain each other. Some days, I feel like a cruise director for a single demanding passenger! :)

But... 1 in 5? I don't think I'd swim in those waters again, either!

I just went out to look at the paper site you posted. Ooooooooooooo. They are gorgeous!! Must... resist... spent... too much... already... :)



Are they shareable? I'm building a planner for my wife, and am always looking for ideas.


-- Coffee and Books, the pleasures of life



The stuff I use is a slightly sized-up version of this:

Basically, I built the index card sized stuff first, then changed the margins and rearranged slightly to make quarter-letter.


In the mid-90's there was a

In the mid-90's there was a system advertised by Emilie Barnes, of More Hours in My Day, called the DayMaster. It was developed by Sandi Lucas and had a video called Capture Your Life. It was for moms and the rest of us. I didn't get it then and now cannot find it anywhere. They also promoted a product called a VIP purse/planner. Now there is a website called The Busy Woman. It was purchased by Susie Glennon, who claimed to have bought the business in 1999. She advertises that the business has been around since 1990 but won't say who she bought it from. However, I do have ads from her featuring the VIP purse/planner. Go to for her stuff. It's really nice and I do not get anything for mentioning it. It's just the best I've found imho. They have lots of forms and nifty accessories.

thebusywoman etc.

Hi, Tildy!

I went out to thebusywoman website. It looks interesting. I couldn't see the individual pages, though. What forms did you find most useful? Why? What was different about them from other planner systems (Franklin Covey, DayRunner, etc.)?

For example, one of my friends had a "Mom's Planner" that was spiral-bound. Now, I prefer being able to add/remove pages, so I probably wouldn't have bought it. But it had two ideas in it that I really liked. The first was a babysitter information page, much like the one I printed myself. But this one suggested that you stick a pad of post-it notes over the "where we'll be" and "special instructions" sections, so you can easily change that information each time without reprinting the whole form.

The other idea that I liked was the menu planner, which was a perforated strip at the right side of the page. The reverse side was a shopping list. So you planned your menu for the week, made up a list of the ingredients you needed, and then ripped it off to take to the store. I'm experimenting now with adding a skinny circa-punched page to my planner with this same information, so I can move it around and take it with me to the store.

I suspect that I'm like a lot of people on this site in that I have yet to find one system that really "does it all" for me. I realized that every system I tried, I ended up with some forms that I never used, others that I scribbled all over because they didn't have enough room, etc. So eventually I just scrapped them all and designed my own instead, which eventually led me here.

What type of planner are you currently using? Why (or why not) does it work for you?


The Busy Woman .com

If you click on planner pages on the main menu for the website, it will direct you to a list of them. Then just click on any one that you want to see and there is an option for a larger view. I have a hybrid mongrel of all brands. I like TBW because it offers spiritual pages (I teach Sunday School) and their general approach. FC is too dominate male/corporate world and not feminine/warm and fuzzy enough for me. I don't have empires to run but a house to clean. I'm just a teacher with simple needs. I also love the articles and newsletters at TBW.

I agree

I agree, Tildy. Most planners are designed for the "male/corporate world" and just don't work if your "day job" is organizing car pools, assisting at your child's school, or dragging your child to various educational specialists. I also don't find that they work well if you are engaged in more artistic/creative fields. It sounds like TBW is a great fit for you. I'm going to go check out their articles next. Thanks!


What works for me (sort-of)

Hi Laura,

I am a part-time elementary school teacher, a mom to a 2 1/2 year old boy, and I also have a small business & website I run from home.

I started out using a 1/4 page size spiral notebook. I would put the date at the top of the page and then list all the things I needed to do that day. I would sometimes organize them in categories, but most of the time, I just made one list in whatever order I thought of things. I would indent a bit to leave room to check them off on the left hand side after I completed each task.

This year, I decided I needed an actual dated calendar rather than a blank notebook so I could plan ahead better. So, I am now using the FC "Her Point of View (P.O.V.)" spiral bound planner. It has a section at the front with monthly pages (2 pages per month), then weekly pages (2 pages per week), and then a couple of year at a glance planning pages for 2008 and 2009, then some typical FC pages titled, "Values," "Mission," etc. After that, there's a list of toll free #'s (mostly to hotels and airlines), weights and measures, and time zones. The rest of the pages are lined notes pages until the very end of the book, which has a few pages for addresses.

I thought I just HAD to have the month in view pages along with the week in veiw pages, but I have found that that just makes me write things down more than once, and I hardly ever turn to the month in view section. So, I'm thinking that the next calendar I get (or make) may not need the monthly pages. Either that, or I would like to have the monthly pages integrated into the calendar with the week in view pages right after it. I would also like the monthly pages to be tabbed. I have also found that I don't have enough space on my week in view pages to write down all of my tasks for each day. So, I am also thinking that my next calendar should have one day per page.

I would also like to be able to easily divide my tasks up into categories, but I'm not sure yet how I would want to do that. I definitely need a housecleaning or chores section. I think maybe the best thing would be to have four sections: appointments, housecleaning chores, other things to do, and people to contact. And maybe a small section for birthdays and anniversaries. I also think having a designated line for what's for dinner would be a good motivator for me to actually plan something to eat for dinner.

Anyway... the FC planner is working OK. I like that it's pre-dated and that it does NOT have the times listed for each day. It's definitely better than the blank notebook, but it's still not perfect. Oh, I do like that the pages are all lined. I hate writing on unlined paper. The lines are a good size - not too tiny and not too big. I'd say they're about half the size of the lines on wide ruled notebook paper. Hope that helps! :)

Oh, do you print your calendar from a home printer? My printer would cut off part of your layout if I tried to print it since it has to have at least a 1/2 inch margin along the bottom.


Talk about some great pages there! I love that they are mostly offerred in PDF, but had trouble downloading some of them. Will try again later, is probably my 'puter. With myself and two kids with significant med histories, I really love those pages, along with the medial treatment releases built in!

I uploaded my templates

Hi, Jason!

I uploaded my templates here. The file contains 2007 month-at-a-glance pages (two pages per month, with space for notes/reminders/etc. on the reverse sides of each page) and week-at-a-glance pages (two pages per week, with space on the left side for scheduling actions or appointments and space on the right side for taking notes, recording actions, etc.

I used a really girly font, but it's in MS Word, so you can change it to whatever you want.

I suspect it's not something that anyone besides me will like, but hopefully you can get an idea or two from it.


My System

My 4yo doesn't have much scheduled yet, either, but here's what I do. (I'm still working on building everything into my system that I need, but this is the part I have working, so far.)

I use a pocket-size Day-Timer. The pages are the size of a checkbook, and the daily pages are wirebound, so it isn't as thick as a ring-bound planner. In many ways, I prefer a larger, ring-bound planner, but I found that no matter how hard I tried, I would simply NOT carry anything larger with me consistently.

What I have has a booklet for the year (and about half of next year) with a month on a 2-page spread. I use this for advance planning, marking birthdays at the beginning of the year, etc. Not a lot of detail goes into the appointments on these pages - pretty much just the event and the start time, so I can see at a glance what's going on. (If I had several older children with various events, I would probably color-code them in some manner. I wouldn't be likely to remember to pull out different colors of ink when jotting things down, so I would probably accomplish this by highlighting them afterward.)

The daily pages are 1-page-per-day. (The only bummer about them is that this particular size doesn't come in anything pretty/interesting. They're just boring, corporate green and white pages.) They are bound in booklets of two months (January-February in one, etc.), and have a 3-section format. There are times down the left side of the page, with a vertical line splitting the page in half, and the bottom quarter or third of the page is separate for a to-do list. This has usually been sufficient. I write in appointments on the left (with arrows above and below marking off prep/travel time associated with the appointment, so I can visually see that the time is already accounted for), my to-do list on the bottom, and any notes on the right. Notes could include information related to an appointment to the left, notes from a phone call, what we had for dinner, etc.

One difficulty I have had is fitting in OTHER information, because it isn't ring-bound for adding additional pages. There are ways around this, though, which I'm slowly learning. There's an extra full page of notes in the wire-bound daily booklet at the end of each week. There are also a couple at the front of the booklet. (I've recently started using the ones at the beginning for jotting down my list of goals for the months covered by the book.) There are also a few "extras" that either come with the package for the year, or which can be purchased separately. There are blank wire-bound notebooks (the same size as the daily page booklets - they're pricey, though). A "work booklet" comes with each yearly set, which is a small staple-bound notebook. I have one of these in my book that contains "permanent" information I might need while I'm out - things like sizes, which batteries our equipment uses, etc. There is an address booklet. (Same thing. It isn't very big, but I only use mine for contact info I might need while out and about; at home I use my Rolodex, which has plenty of space for notes.) There is a small set of various "add-in" pages that comes with the set. I don't use these often, as there isn't room to add but so many, and it only comes with so many of each type, but I have used them from time to time. And there are self-adhesive "to-do" lists. These I use most frequently. I keep my running "to-do" list (things to do eventually, but not necessarily today) on one or two of these sticky notes at the front of the daily booklet. As I schedule them into actual days, I cross them off. When the list gets to be a mess, I can recopy anything that's left and throw the old sticky away.

Be blessed!
~Rachel <><


Hi Laura,

I know it's been a long time since this post, but I was hoping you would be able to tell me how you made your bookmark for your planner in the weekview.jpg file. While researching publishing companies online I googled "planners, moms" and it turned up your posting. I clicked on your file and I really liked how you did your bookmark. I make and sell by word-of-mouth a planner for new moms that lets them keep track of their baby's feedings, diapers and then solid foods. I have been using a ribbon for a bookmark but I don't like the way it looks and it gets kind of crumpled in my packaging.

Thanks a lot!

a piece of paper!

It's just a piece of paper with the word "Today" written on it, and punched for the Circa notebook.... not complicated....

Try paper. It works.


Have you seen this template... ?

Chaos Contained: Large Integrated Planner

It seems to cover all the bases for parenting.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)