I used to be a pretty organized and together person. Before my kids came along, I remembered everything. I knew where my husband left his keys; I was able recall dates on the calendar from memory; I knew how many meetings I had scheduled on a particular day; and even friends’ birthdays and wedding anniversaries.
Now, thanks to motherhood, I have some mild version of amnesia that causes me to get dates wrong, forget appointments and lose my keys (forget about keeping track of someone else’s stuff!).
Add in a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or an OCONUS (Outside the Continental U.S.) move, my kids’ activities, doctor appointments, plus my “regular” life stuff, and I start to feel a little overwhelmed. That’s typically when I head to Target or the internet and start looking for a planner that will make my life magically come together.
I think I’ve used just about every type of planner out there – the weekly/monthly planner, the life planner, as well as a digital calendar. So, if you’re in the market for a new planner, here are 5 planners for busy moms:
The Rosie Planner ($36.00)
Created by two military spouses, the Rosie Planner (named after “Rosie the Riveter”) is a lifestyle planner specifically designed for military spouses and my personal choice for 2018. It includes both monthly and weekly pages, plus information and resources for military families (PCS and deployment checklists, military holidays, etc.).
In addition, there are two pages at the beginning of each month for goal-setting. I like that I’m able to keep track of my family’s schedules and obligations without losing myself in the process.
The spiral binding and water resistant hard cover make “The Rosie” durable enough to withstand the beating I know it’s going to take. It’s bigger and bulkier in size and not as easy to carry around. However, the upside is that you’ll have your whole life organized and everything will be in one place.
With a PCS on the horizon for our family in early 2018, this seemed like the perfect planner for me, and I’m so excited to use it! There are three cute designs to choose from, but I couldn’t resist this cover!
And the best part? A portion of Rosie’s net sales are donated to a selected military charity on a quarterly basis.
Erin Condren LifePlanner (starting at $55.00)
Featured in the MilMB Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide, Erin Condren is “the name” in life planners. I swear every time I see someone ask for a planner recommendation on Facebook, Erin Condren is always at the top everyone’s list – and with good reason!
The Erin Condren LifePlanner is completely customizable. You can select the layout, color scheme of the pages and whether you want a 12 or 18 month calendar. Not to mention, you can choose your own cover design from a wide variety of adorable styles and personalize it.
Hello?? Who doesn’t love that? [Confession: I’m a firm believer in Reese Witherspoon’s motto, “If it’s not moving, monogram it” so this feature completely sucks me in].
For an additional cost, you can add all sorts of accessories (stickers, pens, additional pockets). A friend of mine (she’s actually “Super Mom”) uses color-coded stickers/pens to keep track of her four children and their activities. Each child is assigned his/her own color – genius!
This planner is a bit more expensive (especially if you add on accessories) and larger in size, but the benefit is that it is designed by you to fit your life. It is the perfect planner for busy moms, especially those who have older kids with multiple activities. Because there’s nothing worse than showing up for the guitar lesson when you should actually be at the soccer field … or so I’ve heard.
Blue Sky ($19.99 – $24.99)
If you’re looking for something thinner, but still very functional and at a lower price point, the Weekly/Monthly planner from Blue Sky is a great option. It is an 18 month planner (July – Dec) that includes both weekly and monthly calendars.
There are lots of great covers to choose from – either hardcover or CYO (Create Your Own), which has a clear overlay with pockets on the inside for storing notes or photos.
The best feature of this planner is that it’s large enough to track all of your important dates and appointments, but still thin enough to fit into your purse, tote or diaper bag. It’s really the best of both worlds – a cute planner where you can keep track of all your important dates and appointments without the bulk of a larger planner.
At-a-Glance Weekly Appointment Book ($15.00 – $25.00)
If you are looking for a weekly planner and are willing to forgo the cute covers, personalization, and accessories, the At-a-Glance Weekly Appointment Book is for you. This is a weekly planner, so you’re not able to see a full month at a time. However, it is the perfect planner for time management, keeping track of your appointments and meetings, and tackling your weekly to-do list. Not only is it durable, but it’s also a bargain (you can find some great deals online). And if you read the reviews on Amazon, it has a loyal customer following.
Digital ($10.00 or less)
If you’ve tried a paper planner, but can never remember to bring it with you or think it’s too bulky to carry around, then digital is definitely the way to go. When I was working full-time, Outlook was my best friend. I was at my desk and in front of a computer most of the day, so it was easy to see my calendar in full view. All of my work-related meetings and travel were scheduled using Outlook and because my husband used the same software at work, we could send each other “appointments” if one of us had a work trip, a late meeting or other obligations after work. I even scheduled date nights this way. I know, how romantic … but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
If you’re an Apple user, iCal allows you to color-code your various activities and appointments (kids, travel, work, etc.) and share with your family so you can see each other’s plans and conflicts. Another great feature is that you can easily switch between daily/weekly/monthly views instantly to see the day-to-day activities as well as the big picture. That’s hard to get on paper!
A downside (if you’re a visual person) is that it’s not right in front of you all of the time, so you have to be deliberate about looking at it each day. However, if you need a visual, you can print it and post it on the refrigerator so you (and the whole family) will know what is on the agenda for the week/month ahead.
Because it’s an Apple product, the more Apple devices you have, the more useful iCal will be for you. And if you have an Apple Watch, you’ll have the next “thing” buzzing on your wrist to keep you on track and organized.
In addition, there are some great calendar apps out there too for a very minimal cost (or even for free).