4 Tips For Staying Organized Using A Paper Planner

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: I love paper planners!  I received my first one in 7th grade and I’ve been hooked ever since.  But it wasn’t until I got into high school and college that I started buying planners that were both pretty and practical.  I mean, it’s so much more fun to stay organized if you love what you’re using to keep yourself organized, right?

About the same time as I got my first paper planner, the fancy schmancy PalmPilot was becoming popular for kids my age.  Do you remember those?  Everyone wanted one and you were counted lucky if your parents bought you one for your birthday or Christmas.  But as for me, I was never interested in one.  I loved being able to look at my whole day or whole week or even my whole month and see exactly what I had going on.  It just made sense to me to put it on paper, plus it was a whole lot prettier.  You can’t doodle your crush’s name using Gelly Roll pens on a PalmPilot! *wink*

Even now, 17 years later, I’ve had people (like my husband) ask me why I don’t just do everything digitally.  Dump the planner and use the apps on my phone.  I’ve actually tried different apps and systems, but nothing compares to my good old fashioned paper planner and pens.  Call me a creature of habit, but nothing else helps me stay organized the way a paper planner does.

If you feel the same way and are part of the paper planner fan club, head on over to Time Saving Mom to see how I personally use my planner to keep my life organized. (see note below)  Plus, I’m sharing 5 of my favorite brands for pretty planners to get you excited to stay organized in the coming year!

**UPDATE 12/17/16**

Amanda has decided she is no longer going to be running the Time Saving Mom blog so that she can focus her efforts in other areas.  She offered to let me move my content from there to here so that nothing would be lost.  Below is the post that originally appeared on Time Saving Mom on December 12, 2016.

17 years ago, I received my first paper planner.  I was in 7th grade, still learning how to navigate the halls, find the right classroom and remember my locker combination.  I was in a new school and feeling a little nervous about all the new changes and experiences I was having.  My mom had just gotten remarried and we were living in a new house.  It might sound silly, but having a planner really helped me feel a sense of control in  my life when I didn’t feel like I had a lot of control in so many other areas.  Being able to organize my time and obligations in this way helped me stay grounded and created a calm space in my otherwise crazy life.
I am, by nature, a planner and organizer.  (If you read my interview post on TSM, I talk about it there.)  It comes easily to me and I often have people ask me how I’m able to keep things organized in a way that sems beyond their reach or understanding.  I tell them that I don’t do anything fancy–I just have a planner and I use it.  Granted, I’ve had a lot of practice over the years perfecting a system that works for me, but I truly think that anyone can use a planner successfully if they put their mind to it.  I think one key to this is finding a planner that you like and makes sense to you.
Today I’ll be sharing 4 tips on how I personally organize my planner to give you some ideas and a jumping off point for your own planning.  Plus, I’ve picked out 5 brands of pretty planners that will (hopefully) help motivate you to stay organize in the coming year.
Keep Your Planner Visible  If you want to remember something, one of the best ways to do it is to make it visible.  Put it in a place where you know you’ll see it.  This is why we’re told to put our goals, positive affirmations, quotes or anything else important some place like the bathroom mirror.  We know we have to go into the bathroom at some point during the day and we’ll see it.  Same thing goes for a planner.  I keep my planner in my kitchen next to my computer and pens.  A lot of my time is spent in that area of our house, so it makes sense to keep it there.  If something comes up that I need to write down, I know exactly where my planner is and I have pens readily available to make note of it.
Use Color Coding  When I first started using a planner, I just wrote everything down one right after the other.  It took me a little time to figure out that using different colors for different things helped me stay more organized because I was able to see exactly what I needed at a glance.  I’ve used both highlighters and colorful pens to keep things fun and help me stay organized: one color for appointments and things that are static (example: preschool for my daughter), another color for my to-do list and another color for anything that doesn’t fall into one of those two categories.  I recently changed to a new planner, so I don’t use color coding in terms of different pens, but I use stickers to help bring important things to my attention.
Plan Out Your Week Before It Starts  Each Sunday night, I pull out my planner and pen and plan out my week.  I’m able to view my entire week at a glance which gives me a starting point for what the week looks like.  I start with the non-negotiable items, such as appointments, meetings, preschool, and fill those in first.  Then I look at what needs to be accomplished that week and determine what has to be done on a certain day but maybe not a certain time.  Lastly, I add in flexible items that can be done at any time, trying to space out my time throughout the week so I have flexibility if anything else comes up.  When I start my week off this way, I feel more prepared and ready to face whatever is ahead.
Make It Fun  The last tip I have is to make it fun!  Gone are the days of boring planners with a solid colored cover and no pretty designs or colors inside.  I honestly believe that paper planners are here to stay because they are so much fun to use!  When I mentioned color coding above, I said that I use pens.  These are just pens you accidentally steal from the bank.  They are cute, fun, bright colors and a little higher quality.  I personally love these felt tip pens.  I even like to use double sided scrapbooking markers.  Just using something that is a little nicer makes me happy and more likely to use it.  I also love these and these stickers, which I use in my Happy Planner right now.
As promised, I’m including my 5 favorite brands of paper planners below.  Check them out and see which one you like best and order it!  Make a new goal for the new year to get organized and start with a pretty planner.
The Happy Planner  This is the planner I am currently using.  I got it when I went to Pinners Conference at the beginning of November and it is so much fun!  It’s like a cross between scrapbooking and planning and definitely falls into the pretty and practical category.  I use stickers to help me color coordinate and draw my attention to certain items.  I love the week at a glance, the motivational words scattered throughout and how easy it is to personalize.

Sugar Paper  This is the planner I just finished using.  I love the cute and simple covers they have to choose from and they are also thick and super durable.  The smaller 5×8 size is perfect for throwing in your purse or bag.  The inside is pretty basic but there are lots of lines for each day which I really like.
Blue Sky  I’ve used this brand of planner many times and love it.  The covers are fun and the inside has color and pattern as well.  It is also pretty basic in terms of how it’s set up but very easy to use and see what you have going for the current week.
Orange Circle  I’ve never used this brand, but just look how pretty it is!  I love the colors and designs they have available, plus they have inspiring quotes throughout to help motivate and uplift you.  We all need that!
Bloom Daily  This is another planner I’ve never personally used, but I just love the designs they have available.  Included in their planners are places for you to write down your monthly goals, as well as end of the month reflection questions.  A fun and unique planner for sure.
I hope you found my tips helpful and that you found a planner or two that you are interested in.  Paper planners are so fun and I love how you can use them to create a system that works for you and keeps you organized.  
What planner was your favorite?  What helps you stay organized?

You Know You’re A Mom When…

20 answers to this question will leave you laughing!

Last week, I was making dinner, talking to my husband on the phone and trying to prevent my daughter from dragging a stool over to the stove so she could “help” when my 2.5 year old son came up and told me his tummy hurt.  I assumed he was hungry since it was close to dinner time, but almost as soon as the words “It’s almost dinnertime” were out of my mouth, the poor kid emptied his stomach all over the floor.  After a hasty good-bye to my husband, I walked my little boy quickly and carefully to the bathroom where he got a bath and told me he felt much better.

I was thinking back on this moment later that night and realized that it hardly even phased me.  I’ve been a parent for almost 5 years and dealt with plenty of instances that were less than pleasant.  My kids have dumped entire boxes of cereal all over the floor.  I’ve showered with an audience peering through the glass door.  I could go on and on.  But I’ve found that the times I try to deal with these things using humor, I’m much happier.

As I thought about this, I decided to post an open ended question on Facebook to see what kind of responses I would get.  The question?

“You know you’re a mom when…”

I got some pretty funny and completely relateable answers and I was laughing as I read them to myself.  Even today I can’t help but smile.  To read the responses I got, click over to Time Saving Mom for the full post! (see update below)

I’ve also linked up over at Simply Every’s Mom Life Monday Link-Up Party.  Check out the post there and read other posts on motherhood!

**UPDATE 12/17/16**

Amanda has decided she is no longer going to be running the Time Saving Mom blog so that she can focus her efforts in other areas.  She offered to let me move my content from there to here so that nothing would be lost.  Below is the post that originally appeared on Time Saving Mom on November 14, 2016.

As a parent, and especially as a stay-at-home mom, I’m around my kids a lot.  I’m the one that takes care of most of their needs.  Often, I’m the one they run to when they get hurt or feel sick.  I get them ready in the morning, drop them off at school, pick them up, feed them breakfast, lunch and dinner, help with projects, clean up their messes and read them books.  Lots of books.  And it’s good and fun and hard and crazy.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
But let’s be honest.  Sometimes being a mom is super un-glamorous.  And messy.  You have to deal with a lot of bodily fluids and funny quirks and a lack of privacy.  So to all you moms out there:  I totally get it.  And you’re not alone.  I asked some of my friends to finish the sentence: “You know you’re a mom when…” and got some pretty awesome and completely relateable answers.
So kick back, read what these moms said and have a good laugh at life, because heaven knows that you have to have a sense of humor to make it through parenting.
You know you’re a mom when…
1. You eat your kids leftover food off their plate because you forgot to make yourself food. (Shani)
2. You can’t remember the last time you took a shower. (Alexis)
3. You run to catch their vomit in your hands to spare the carpet. (Julie)
4. Shopping at Target and Hobby Lobby is your weekly outlet and getting baby food all over you ain’t no thang. (Stephanie)
5. You can recognize your child’s real cry from their fake cry in .746 seconds. (Shani)
6. Going to the DMV is fun…if you don’t have your kids with you. (Lindsay)
7. You try to bribe your child to eat the food you made them. (Erica)
8. You have an audience while using the bathroom (Luz Marie)
9. You count going to Costco with your husband a date. (Shani)
10. You are so excited your child that is potty training poops in the toilet. (Christie)

11. You tell people you need to go “potty” instead of saying you need to use the bathroom. (Caroline)
12. Working out is the most relaxing part of your day. (Christy)
13. You can clean your whole house with baby wipes. (Shani)
14. All your shirts have stains or food on them and none of it is yours. (Rebecca)
15. You are a pro at negotiating and a trip to WalMart by yourself is a break. (Jacqueline)
16. You drive a minivan.  Also…your diaper bag becomes your purse. (Jessica)
17. Bodily fluids no longer gross you out–they are just standard fare. (Natalia)
18. You do shower, but you always have a little “guest”. (Melissa)
19. You have to tell someone they aren’t an animal and not to pee outside. (Megan)
20. You feel relieved when you figure out it’s barf on your clothes instead of poop. (Jacinda)

Share how you would end the sentence: “You know you’re a mom when…”.  I’d love to hear it and share a laugh with you!

Time Saving Hairstyles for Girls

Super simple time-saving tips for fixing hairstyles that stay in so you don't have to keep redo-ing it.

When I got pregnant with my first child, I knew it was going to be a girl.  The same thing happened with my second child, except I knew it was a boy.  Isn’t it funny how we can feel these things sometimes?  When I got the confirmation from the radiologist that she was indeed a girl, my mind started going wild imagining all the cute clothes I would put her in, fixing her hair, painting her fingernails and toenails, mommy/daughter dates…  I was pretty darn excited!

Fast forward to mid-January 2012 when I went in for a scheduled c-section.  (The little stinker turned breach at 37 weeks.)  They pulled her out and the first thing the doctor said was: “She’s beautiful!”  The second thing he said was: “Look at all that hair!”  And it was true.  She was born with a full head of beautiful, soft, dark hair.  For the first few months I just styled her hair in a sweet little baby faux-hawk.

Super simple time-saving tips for fixing hairstyles that stay in so you don't have to keep redo-ing it.

But within about 4 months, her hair had grown long enough that I had to keep it back with headbands or small flower clips (nothing she could swallow, of course).  Let me tell you what, that girl had some awesome bedhead!

Super simple time-saving tips for fixing hairstyles that stay in so you don't have to keep redo-ing it.
11 months

My daughter is now 4.5 years old and getting her hair fixed is just part of the routine.  But being 4.5 years old also means that she is a busy, active girl who loves to run outside, wrestle with her brother on the ground and put blankets on her head as she pretends to be a hatching baby chick.  The hair that she had as a baby has continued to grow and she now has as much hair as I do!  We even use the same hair elastics because nothing else can stand up to her thick hair and active lifestyle.

Super simple time-saving tips for fixing hairstyles that stay in so you don't have to keep redo-ing it.
Look at this cute little sassy pants!

In order to keep her hair tamed, I’ve come up with a few simple, time-saving tips for keeping your girl’s hair out of her face and ready to keep up with her.  To learn more about these great tips, go visit my first official post as a contributor on Time Saving Mom.  Head on over to TSM to read the full post and be sure to leave some comments!  (Feel free to leave comments here or there.)

And if you missed my interview on TSM about how I save time and balance life, you can read that HERE.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

**UPDATE 12/17/16**

Amanda has decided she is no longer going to be running the Time Saving Mom blog so that she can focus her efforts in other areas.  She offered to let me move my content from there to here so that nothing would be lost.  Below is the post that originally appeared on Time Saving Mom on October 24, 2016.

This post contains affiliate links which if you click on and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

As a little girl growing up, I was always asking to fix my mom’s hair.  Of course, it looked fabulous with all the ponytails and headbands and bows.  *wink*  But I actually got fairly good at it.  My mom went to beauty school at the same time she was in high school so she learned all the necessary skills to do almost anything with hair.  This is why I never went to a salon for anything until I was a senior in high school and wanted my hair done for Prom.  This is also why my mom never when to a salon–she just had me do her hair.  I can’t count the number of times I gave my mom a perm or highlighted her hair.  When she wanted a braid, she asked me to do it.

Fast forward to the 20 week ultrasound of my first child five years ago.  It was a GIRL!  I immediately started dreaming of putting her in cute outfits and fixing her hair.  When she was born, she come out with a full head of dark hair.  I had to start pulling it back with clips when she was 5 months old because it grew so fast!  Because she has so much hair, I’ve had to fix it for a long time, otherwise she’d just end up with a mop.  Talk about bedhead!

My daughter is now 4.5 years old and she has as much hair as I do.  We even use the same elastics because her hair is so thick.  It’s crazy!  But because she is still a little girl, she is always running around outside or rolling around on the ground with her brother and her hair can get a little…wild…to say the least.  So I’ve had to be creative in the way that I keep her hair tamed.

Here are a few tips:

  • Shampoo and Conditioner:  Gone are the days of using baby shampoo to wash my daughter’s hair.  To keep the tangles to a minimum, we use both shampoo and conditioner on her hair.  The combination shampoo/conditioner doesn’t do much for her so we have a bottle of each for her, plus some spray-in conditioner for any remaining tangles.
  • Wet Brush:  I learned about these about a year ago and they have changed my life!  And by default, my daughter’s life.  I always brush my daughter’s hair out withing about 10 minutes of her getting out of the bath because it hasn’t started to dry yet.  Using the wet brush get tangles out easier and that means less tear for her and less frustration for me.  You can find them at beauty supply stores or online.
  • Fixing Hair While It’s Still Wet:  When hair is try, or even half-dry, it starts getting hard to manage.  Think about when your hands are slightly damp and you run them down a dry surface.  They stick or catch, right?  Same goes for hair.  It’s easier to manipulate when it’s wet.  My daughter has a couple of annoying awesome cowlicks and I don’t have to fight with them as much when her hair is wet.
  • Use the Right Elastics: I know many little girls who don’t have a lot of hair or their hair is super fine.  Other girls are like my daughter with thick hair.  And then of course there’s the whole spectrum in between.  For my daughter, I have two different kinds of elastics that I use: plastic and rubber.
    • The plastic are thinner and stretch out more easily so they can generally only be used once or twice at most.  I use these for smaller ponytails, but will often double them up.
    • The rubber are thicker and can be used more than once.  They also hold the hair more securely.  I use these for larger sections of hair and have never needed to double them up.

The final tip I have which makes our lives easier is that I generally fix her hair at night right after her bath.  My daughter is in preschool this year and the mornings she goes are busy.  I’m sure you can relate if you have school-age kids.  The last thing you want to worry about is doing hair.

Today I’m sharing 7 different hairstyles you can do for your little girl (or big girl) that will stay in even with and active lifestyle.  When it comes to doing little girls hair, it’s really just a combination of braids, ponytails and twists.  If you know how to braid, that is just another tool to add to your skill set.  If you don’t, you can always learn by having something teach you or watching a YouTube video.  As you get more comfortable, you can try more complicated hairstyles.  (I really like the ones from Cute Girls Hairstyles.)

Ponytails are the most basic way to fix hair.  But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.  By using multiple smaller ponytails, the hair will stay in better because it’s held in more than one place.  I’ve included an example of how I use multiple ponytails to create a fun look that stays in.

Braids can feel intimidating if you’ve never done them, but there are so many great YouTube videos that you can watch to learn how to do different kids of braids.  I generally stick to French braids and Inverted/Dutch braids.  In my daughter’s case, the Dutch braids stay in better overnight because they are easier to pull tight, but I love using French braids as well.  Below are a few examples of hairstyles I do on my daughter regularly.

Twists.  Topsy-turvys.  Flips.  Whatever you call these, they are awesome because they help keep the hair in place, plus they add a little visual interest.  These are perfect for most hair types because the elastic stays close to the head and they are easy to tighten up.  To do a twist, you make a ponytail but don’t tighten it up to the scalp.  Use a rat tail comb to separate the hair above the elastic/ponytail into two, creating a space.  Then flip the ponytail up and through the hole.  Pull the elastic tight by splitting the ponytail into two and pulling outward.  Below are a couple of my favorite ways to style twists.

Most of the hairstyles I do on my daughter are a combination of at least two of the styles above.  For example, today she has a twist and a braid.  You can often make a hairstyle last a couple of days by leaving the hair partially down one day and then pulling it all up the next day.

And there you have it!  I hope you learned some new tips that will save you some time!  Thanks for stopping by and please comment with any questions you have.  I’d also love to hear if you want more posts like this one.