Category Archives: Organization

Ordering the Days :: How This Pen and Paper Gal Runs the Show

Even though there are some fantastic online organizers and mobile apps,sometimes pen and paper is advanced as it needs to get.

For the past 8 years

of our marriage I have been a pen and paper gal. There is something that is just so intuitive for me to scribble out little notes and lists for myself.

And I know I’m not alone.

For if I was, the new daily planners that roll onto the shelves this time of year would cease to be available.

While Cozi, Evernote, and Pinterest are all wonderful and useful in their own rights, during school hours, in our household, we have a strict no technology rule that is fiercely enforced.

For Mom.

I’ve come to know what my time suckers are and have learned to curb their viciousness! Because of this, the home management/homeschool binder is almost always open in plain sight upon the kitchen counter. This is the backbone of how our household is run and how it continues to operate smoothly.

Even with the abundance of planners scattered across store shelves, I have yet to find one that encompasses all of the needs that I as a homeschooling mother and homemaker require.  Since their seams are indistinguishable, I  have always resorted to crafting my own.

The mapping out of our days is vital, and since our family strives to celebrate our faith through our Domestic Church, the use of Romcal‘s free program generator of the General Roman Calendar has been put to good use. Not only can you print out the year’s calendar with notations of the liturgical seasons and feast days, you can also upload it to several other supported formats, (so all of you Outlook and iCal users can sync up). While our family does add it to our shared electronic family calendars, I also choose to print off an 18 month yearly calendar to insert into the binder. The printed Romcal calendar is subjected to appointments, play dates, sports practices, community classes and vacation days being scribbled onto it’s squares–often times it is the first place for such items before they make their way onto Cozi.

With Romacal’s printed calendar inserted in the binder, a simple turn of the page enables me to note upcoming feast days while seated at the table for lessons, and affords me  the ability to jot down plans for our celebrations upon my Domestic Church planning sheet. This handy little sheet, with space for crafts, games, activities, books, devotionals, and recipes, along with other notes saved to Evernote and Pinterest, serves as a landing place for ideas that I stumble across and helps to jog my memory about what items I already have around the house to help honor a particular saint. I generally begin planning for the feast days we will celebrate about a month in advance, which allows time for the purchase of any craft materials and food items and the reservation of any books from our local library.

Since celebrating the Saints in our Domestic Church is not only a part of our family devotions but a component of our homeschool’s religion curriculum, pages for lesson planning are also found in the binder. An 8 columned two page spread, with ample space for notes and agendas for each subject area, along with the availability to note the dates, week of school, and special events, serves me well before adding the information into our family’s saved data storage.

Along with the lesson planning sheets, there is also to be found a page for  attendance records from Donna Young. Our state mandates three hours of instruction for a set number of days to be tabulated for each homeschooled student and this handy little form is a simple way for me to notate that requirement, as well as allows me to see at a glance if our homeschool is on track for the year. It also serves as my form to be turned in at the end of the school year to our county school board, which saves me a little bit of time and sanity come June 30.

In our home, books are abundant and are an integral part of our homeschooling day. To help manage the flux of books from the library, as well as from our own shelves, a book log is a must. For every book read as part of our curriculum, as well as those read for leisure by our daughter, each is recorded along with the date completed on this Donna Young form.

To ensure that comprehension has been maintained, we utilize Sylvan Learning’s Book Adventure quizzes, also noting the score on the book log. This record can be quite impressive by the end of the school year, but it also helps to ensure that she is reading a range of genres and good literature.

Tucked just behind the book log pages is a handy little zippered pencil pouch which holds all of the year’s library receipts. Over the years I have purchased many a book that now resides upon library shelves thanks to my forgetting of due dates! While I have not completely conquered this monster, the retaining of the receipts, as well as noting immediately the due dates on the Romcal calendar, has helped to curve it immensely.

Even though schooling takes up the majority of our day’s hours, I am still the head maid, gourmet chef and personal shopper for our household, and have to ensure that all of the duties in my job description are not overlooked.

I am of the belief that even though we homeschool our children, our home does not have to resemble that of a classroom with scraps of cut paper on the floor and glue smeared across tables. I have found that a breakdown of the housecleaning tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annual and annual duties helps for our entire household to know what needs to be accomplished. The list of chores to be completed also has space to note their completion dates. This has proved to be a tremendous help. Now everyone in the home knows where their attention can be focused, and we are not left to guessing as to when the monthly, semi-annual or annual duties were last crossed off the list.

Aside from keeping orderly living spaces, I am also responsible for serving three daily meals in our home. This can be a daunting task and much preparation is needed so that I am not constantly needing to pop into the store for forgotten items. Each Sunday evening I set aside time to prepare a weekly menu for all three meals, plus snacks and the occasional desert, taking care to note our schedule for the week, as well as proposed feast days to celebrate. Once the menu is set, the needed items are checked off the master grocery list, which is then tracked along onto my grocery shopping venture.

Since I am not only the main grocery shopper but also the main curriculum buyer, there is also space for all of the receipts from school related purchases and paid extra curricular activities. Although our state does not offer any tax breaks for homeschool families as of yet, the receipts help to ensure that our family has stayed within our allocated amount or to know if the budget needs to be adjusted for the following year. It also helps that all of the contact information for each item is in one place should there be a problem or missing piece from a particular purchase.

All of this, and often times more, are gathered together into a 2″ wide three ring binder which is then subdivided with file tabs. Each tab is labeled appropriately allowing for ease of navigation. The Weekly Menu, Master Grocery List, and Master Cleaning Checklist are all laminated allowing for each to be used over and over again from week to week.

Never had a homemaking/homeschool binder before?

Then I encourage you to take advantage of these resources and get organized in this New Year! You can assemble your own binder by selecting the images above and printing the pages that are of use to you.

With their help, along with Organizational Apps for the New Year and The Master Schedule, you, too, can be well on your way to Well Ordered Days.


Rhythm of Our Days: Daily Schedule (Printable)

Things change daily around here, so to have one giant master schedule taped to the side of the fridge doesn’t cut it in these parts. Now, there is a rhythm to our days, but the daily comings and goings change with much frequency. And while the aforementioned master schedule does exist for our household, with so many commitments, it is rather confusing for the little guys to read.

Alternatively, I have found that this has been a great help:

Printed onto card stock and of course, laminated, I had an instant daily schedule grid that suits our family’s daily changing needs. A dry erase marker, (or we have found a good ol’ crayon), easily fills in the times.

Functional. Inexpensive. Easy.

Go on, grab one for yourself!