Organising The Family Finances

Yesterday I posted some pictures of the Cash Envelope system I have used in the past, to help keep on top of the Family Finance Budget.  This is just one small part of what we do to manage our finances and stay on budget.  It’s actually one of the very last parts! For those new to the blog or need a refresher here is where and how we started……..

1.DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Doing your homework. Getting your head around the finances. The aim here is to work out

How much you spend
What you spend it on
When you spend it (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, Yearly)
STEP 1. Make a list of ALL of the household expenses. At this stage this could just be off the top of the head. Every family has different expenses but some possibilities are;

  • Mortgage/Rent
  • Rates
  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Home Telephone
  • Mobile phones
  • Pay Tv
  • Home Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Car registration
  • Car Maintenance
  • Petrol
  • School/Childcare Fees
  • School Expenses (uniforms, books, excursions, levies)
  • Extra Curicular Activities (sporting teams, clubs, hobbies)
  • Other Loans/Regular Credit Card payments
  • Groceries
  • Entertainment/Going Out
  • Holidays

If possible write them directly into a budget spreadsheet. You can create your own using Excel or Even a table in Word. Or browse the web their are so many to choose from.

STEP 2. Gather or PRINT OFF YOUR BANK STATEMENTS. At least 6 Months worth.

STEP 3. HIGHLIGHT – You will need at least 4 different colour highlighters. Use a different colour to highlight each of the expenses on your bank statement accordingly, as per the list below.

I am going to use colour examples just to help make the example clearer.

GREEN – Set Payments Mortage/Rent/Phone/Rates/Insurances/Registration/School Fees – These are the amounts that do not regularly change or if they do it is by a few dollars. These items are classed as essential and are not negotiable. When you come accross these items write the AMOUNT and FREQUENCY of the bill onto your template.
ORANGE – Regular Payments – Electricity, Gas – These payments are due regularly, are essential. but can fluctuate in their amount. Write these AMOUNTS and FREQUENCY onto your budget template in pencil only as you will have a lot of amounts!
PINK – Unavoidable Expenses – Groceries, Petrol, Gifts – These payments can fluctuate in how often they occur and how much they cost. They are essential but negotiable and open to finding some big savings. DO NOT WRITE THESE IN YOUR BUDGET JUST YET.
YELLOW Avoidable Expenses – This is the other category – These are one off non essential items – like entertainment (hiring dvd’s,parties, clothes, hair cuts, eating out, holidays, days out, buying coffee etc) This is the category with the most chance of savings. DO NOT WRITE THESE IN YOUR BUDGET JUST YET
These 3 easy steps will now have your head around what is being spent!
For me this was the hardest part of all. It was hard to be honest about how much we were spending or should I say wasting! You are now off to a great financial start and ready to FINALISE A FAMILY BUDGET!

2. START A SYSTEM

So here is our Family Finance System…

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1. Mail In. This can be either the paper variety or most often electronically. As soon as the bill comes in it is opened. NO MAIL REMAINS UNOPENED FOR MORE THAN 24 HOURS. Yes sometimes you dread opening bills. But delayed bill paying adds to paper clutter, increases the chance you will misplace it, pay it late and have to pay more in late payment fees. Collecting and opening the mail is a shared task and part of our everyday routine. As we enter the house, after the school pick up, Master O collects the mail. He loves this job! Whilst the kids are having afternoon tea, I go through the mail (and all the notes in the school bag!)

  • Junk mail straight to recycling bin
  • School notes to School File it Folder
  • Invitations and Notices onto The Family Noticeboard
  • Art Work into Art work folders
  • and of course THE BILLS!!!

What about the bills???

2. Bills Board. The bills go straight onto the Bills Board. This is simply a clipboard where we keep all bills until they are paid. By having them in one location, we both know what needs to be paid. I briefly check:

  • When is the bill due? This is recorded in iCal (a software calendar program for Macs) This allows me to get electronic reminders for when bills are due.
  • Is it how much I had budgeted for? We rarely get surprises! In general we have calculated how much each bill should be and put that money aside each fortnight. My HOT TIP IS. When creating a family budget slightly over calculate each bills. That way you are never left short! Even if the bill is less than you had expected, PAY WHAT YOU HAD BUDGETED FOR! It will mean you are always a little ahead and give you a cushion, should you find yourself struggling one month.
  • Is it accurate? I always check our bills for inaccuracies. Especially if it doesn’t seem to match previous bills or is more than I expected. This way I can judge wether it is time to change suppliers or switch to a better plan or deal.

3. Family Finance Folder. Once the bill is paid it is stored in the relevant section of the Family Finance Folder. I ALWAYS record the receipt number and the date paid, on the bill, before storing it away. At the end of the financial year all of these records will be used for tax purposes.

3. ORGANISED AND STORED

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As mentioned above I store all of our financial paper work in a “Family Finance Folder” I have chosen this style of filing system after the great success of our

School File It Folder

To create this “Family Finance Folder” you will need;

1. An A4 Ring Binder Folder with a clear insert on the front.

2. A packet of A4 Plastic pockets

3. A packet (or two!) of EXTRA WIDE tabbed folder dividers! They must be EXTRA WIDE if you want to be able to see the tabs when the folder is closed.

4. OPTIONAL – A clear plastic envelope made for ring binders.

5. OPTIONAL – Scrapbook Paper for the Front and labelmaker for the tabs.

To really make the system work you will also need a clipboard! I have two kinds a plain one that I decorated with scrapbook paper and a groovy one found in the office section of Big W!

This folder is customised for your families needs so sit down with your paper work, sort it into piles and figure out which categories you will need in your folder. Grab your supplies (all can be found at BIG W or Officeworks!) and get ready to conquer the paper clutter!

Why a system and a folder.  This ensures that important paper work, notices, bills are not discarded with the junk mail or lost under a pile of school work.  Having the bills on the one clipboard ensures that when they are due you know where they are and how much needs to be paid.

 

Later this week I will share how we budget bills and set up bills accounts.  This may seem like a lot of work but as you can see from some of the pictures I set up this system 4 years ago and have not had to touch it since!!!  It works that well!!!! When it comes to living stress free their is oohing more important then being on top of and managing your finances!!

 

Reader’s Organised Nest – The Wardrobe

After almost 5 years of blogging about Organised Spaces, I am still constantly searching for inspiration on how to maintain an organised home.  It is easy to get caught up in the Pinterest and Instagram homes and their meticulously organised spaces. But there is still nothing better than seeing a “real” space, to motivate you to get organised and provide you with fresh ideas that have a realistic price tag and practicality in their perfection.

So without further adieu I would love to share an Organised Space of one of our readers.  Alicia’s Master Wardrobe caught my eye with its uniformity, dual purpose (dressing area as well as wardrobe) great storage options and it simple yet beautifully styled practicality.  She recently shared her space with me and how she made it happen.

 

Who uses this space?
As the main wardrobe for both myself and my husband I had always dreamed of something classy yet that still appeased my long suffering husband and his fears of when I go on an organisation bender. Cue disgruntled remarks, “Where are my undies now!” On that note I knew keeping it as simple as possible and yet still stylish was the key when organising this space.

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Why did you choose this space to organise?
I’m a firm believer of ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’. Being a space that I visit frequently each day I knew that I wanted my wardrobe to be a place that made me feel good about myself every time I got dressed. So when I found myself having to wade through a sea of floor clothes to get dressed each morning I knew that it time to make some changes.

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How did you tackle it?
To tackle the problem head on the first thing I did was purge, purge, purge! I sorted through all of our clothes, keeping those we actually used and either donating or binning the rest (some rather holey ‘lucky’ shorts may have been smuggled out in the wheelie bin).

What products did you use? 
The bones of the closet were created using the Bunning’s Clever Closet system. This was originally purchased as a cheap alternative with dreams of custom cabinetry for the long term however I have fallen in love with the simple elegance of the system (and also the price tag – the whole set up cost only approximately $200). I created specific zones for both mine and my husband’s clothes to make it as functional as possible. The system is completely customisable enabling me to take full use of just one wall of hanging space.

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The white chest of drawers were a previously owned item but I kept with the crisp white colour pattern to make the space feel bright and clean. The white baskets were an awesome find from Woolworths – I seriously have about twenty of these babies all over my house. They come in white or black and two sizes. I used these to store all of our less commonly used clothes like jumpers and my husband’s insanely large football hat collection out of sight.

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The dark stain timber coat hangers were my splurge item, however to ease the cost I slowly built up a supply over several months. They were from Howards Storage at $32.95 for a pack of 18. But any matching hanger will create the same effect and make the space feel more put together.

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Any tips or tricks?
I love how by just making everything uniform a space can really feel finished and together. By just having the same repeating white basket and matching hangers it creates a feel of harmony.
How is the end product working for you now?
I absolutely love this wardrobe now! My hearts sings a happy little organised song every time I glance it! And no more cries of lost undies from the hubby to date!

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Thanks so much to Alicia for sharing her space with us.

 and check out her Pantry!

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Have you got an organised space you would love to share?  We would love to see it!  Email theorganisednest@gmail.com

The Home First Aid Kit

First Aid Kits

These school holidays have been chaotic to say the least.  We have had two kids down with stomach bugs, multiple head clashes and a few cuts, scrapes and ant bites to round it out.

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When googling first aid kits I actually came across this old pic of our first aid Drawer!

We have a first aid “drawer” in house stocked full of bandaids, creams, dettol etc but with 3 kids in the house that have progressed past the baby years and onto more serious injuries it needs some serious updating.

  • I want everything in one place.
  • Labelled for easy reference.
  • In a place accessible enough for the two older kids to grab (aged 8 and 5) in an emergency but out of reach of the baby.
  • Portable – so we can take it on holidays with us.

OPTION 1 – A FIRST AID BAG

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This one is from Masters and retails for $83 which considering how expensive first aid supplies are , I thought was a reasonable price.  I love that you can also buy the small container to mount onto the wall.  Absolute favourite thing about this kit is that each section is labelled! This kit was fairly basic but they had a few more extensive ones (intended for the workplace) at the $100 mark. The zippered bag would make it compact enough to take away with us. BUT….Where does the dettol go? Calamine lotion? Fisiocreme? Burn Cream?  and all the other bits and pieces we already have and use.  This option is great for emergencies but doesn’t cover our everyday first aid use.

OPTION 2.  A FIRST AID TOOL BOX

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This one is from the awesome bowl full of lemons and Lori is a Nurse so she knows her first aid! I loved that everything is stored together yet separate in labelled containers.  This would be great as you can create it yourself using a tackle box and personalise it for your family.  BUT, What about the larger bottles and creams?  How do they fit in here?

OPTION 3. STORAGE CONTAINERS

From Our Fall Walls And A Roof

From Our Fall Walls And A Roof

These containers are readily available, labelled and are tall enough that there is room for medicine and other large bottles.  This way I could use what I already have and everything would still have a designated space.

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Oh how I love me an organised space full of containers.  The negative here is this system is not portable AND it takes up quite a lot of space.  BUT I do have a kind of spare cupboard (it is full but I really could declutter it and get rid of half of it!)

OPTION 4.  THE COMBO

This would be combining Option 1 (the kit in a bag) and Option 3 (the containers).  OPtion 1 is more your “Incident and Emergency Supplies”  To be honest these are the things we rarely use but must have on hand, like a first aid “insurance policy”.  Option 3 is for all the things we use on a regular basis, medicines, thermometer, band aids.

So what would you recommend?  How do you organise your First Aid Supplies? 

 

 

Winter Health Tips for Mums and Bubs

This morning we woke to temperatures of 1 degree! This cold weather fills me with fear, as it signals not only the start of winter, but of “flu season.”  With three little kids and two parents that need to go to work, we are desperate to stay as well as possible this winter.  Over the years of coping with a million germs brought to me lovingly by a class full of children, I have learnt a few tips and tricks to survive winter.

“The Flu Shot:” A few years ago both of our workplaces introduced on site flu shots. I was pregnant with Little Miss A at the time and was a little hesitant to get it.  After consulting my GP I was pleasantly surprised to not only find was it completely safe for pregnant women but recommended! A perfect way to not only protect myself but my little ones.  Many workplaces now offer the flu shot with a visiting nurse or you can ask your GP.

Healthy Hands: As a family, we spend a lot of our time out and about at playgrounds, shopping centres and theme parks.  I always keep some hand sanitiser handy to help keep those germs away.  We keep a pump pack in the house for the kids to use after they have blown their noses and I encourage the kids to wash their hands with soap and water after they cough and sneeze.  This is to help stop spreading the germs to the baby and I always keep a small hand sanitizer in my bag.

Tissues and wipes: Speaking of runny noses…….you can never have too many tissues!  I keep a little pack in the kid’s bags, a few in the car, a few in my handbag and a whole heap of boxes in the house.  But when little noses have been blown too many times and are red raw I find a baby wipe is a little harsh whilst still doing the job.

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You are what you eat! During winter in particular I keep a close eye on what we are eating.  I try to boost veggies and fruits wherever I can by adding them to smoothies, making up a big veggie mash, sneaking them into lasagna or bolognese sauce, and even into the chocolate muffins (zucchini is a great match!)

H20 to go: I am a horrible water drinker!  Especially in winter when I am sweating less, I often get to the end of the day and realise I have not had any water at all!  I keep a drink bottle with me and try to refill it, at least once, but eight glasses a day will keep you in tip top shape for winter

Sunny Days: This cold weather has me seeking some warmth in the sun and I find I spend more time outdoors as I can actually enjoy the weather (and not sweat off half my body weight!)  We love to get out a picnic rug, enjoy lunch outside in the sun and fill up on some Vitamin D, which is great for boosting immunity. (But don’t forget to still slip, slop, slap)

Exercise: When I am feeling lousy there is nothing like a walk in the fresh air to get me out of a slump.  I throw the baby in the pram and we head down to the lake to run around the playground.  Keeping active in small everyday ways is hopefully burning off some of those winter hot chocolates and keeping your body in fighting condition if any winter nasties come your way.

 

I find the easiest way to keep up with these habits is to stay organised and create a little “Winter station” on the kitchen bench with tissues, water, hand sanitizer and some fresh fruit and veggie snacks, ready for the kids when they are hungry.

By implementing these simple but effective habits our household feels prepared to face our healthiest winter yet.

The NSW Health website also offers great flu prevention advice HERE

Brought to you by Nuffnang and NSW Government

Kids Bedroom Planning and Inspiration

 

We seem to be a family of bedroom swappers. Without a doubt every year we reassess the kids current bedroom situations and do a swap and reorganize. From shared rooms, to creating a nursery, to sharing a guest room, to everyone having their own room, the swapping never ends in a growing family!

A few years ago we made the decision for Master O and Little Miss A to share a room.  Although some thought this was a sure clue that baby #3 was coming along it was simply because they were begging us to share!  It was one of the best decisions we ever made and resulted in an amazing nights sleep for everyone!  Little Miss A would now wake up her big brother if she was scared instead of us.  It also meant they would wake each other up in the morning and sneak down to watch tv instead of coming into us to declare that they were awake!

But earlier this year Master O expressed a desire for his own space and we made the move to separate them.  We had one problem. This would mean that we would “lose” our guest bedroom.

We NEED a guest bedroom. Both of our families live far away so when they come to visit (which is often) they stay for an extended period of time and we need to have a dedicated room for them. So beds, beds, beds!  How would we make this work?  We decided to

  1. move Master O into the “Guest Bedroom”
  2. leave the Queen size bed in there and
  3. when guests come, he can move out into the lounge room on the sofa bed.

Simple. Except that’s as far as we got. We literally just moved his clothes into the cupboard and only in the last month got him a new queen size quilt.  With all our bedrooms now full, thanks to baby number 3, we really need a more permanent solution, so I am  looking at affordable furniture options that will be both suitable for the needs of a growing boy and for guests.

 

Bed Size and Style

 

Ordinarily in a kids room, especially when short on space I would look at a loft bed or trundle bed. I love that this maximizes floor space and creates little niches for desks, play areas or just extra storage.

 

LOFT BED

Manhattan Loft Bed

Manhattan Loft Bed

 

 

TRUBDLE BED OPTIONS

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Barn Bedroom Suite

 

Unfortunately for me, I don’t think the grandparents would be quite as excited climbing up a ladder in to bed as Master O would be. BUT, it is the absolutely perfect option for Little Miss A’s room!!!!  It wont take up too much room and when guests arrive her brother can camp out on the trundle!!! and just to add, the styling of this room is perfection.  This is EXACTLY the look I would love to achieve.  Masculine but not too dark or boyish.  PERFECTION.

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Quebec Bedroom Suite

For Master O’s Room we will eventually need to update his bed  (which is from before we were married 11 years ago!) or at the very least a new mattress.  A Queen Size bed that is of a classic style will fit in with the decor of his room, suit both kids and adults and be the perfect size for his average sized room.

 

Bed Side Tables

With two kids in one room there was previously no room for bedside tables. Add to this that anything with a flat surface, was used by curious toddlers to climb on to, they just didn’t suit the kids bedroom. However, times have changed and Master O has been using a little stool next to his bed for a lamp and his books. For guests a table either side of the bed is a must, with room for glasses, phones and a glass of water.

Quebec Bedside Table

Quebec Bedside Table

Desks.

This has been a tricky one for us. To desk or not to desk. We have decided to add a desk to his room not as a place to study but more as a place to escape to draw, build and read away form the hurricane baby and curious little sister. It will also serve as a place to store treasures away from little hands and above it we can place a noticeboard to display his memorabilia and certificates.

 

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Ollie Storage Unit

Storage.

We are lucky enough to have a designated playroom in our house but some toys are just not designed for babies! I would like to incorporate some kind of toy storage and display just for special/dangerous toys like the one million lego creations and remote control cars.  At last our oldest child will be able to put some of his things away just for him to play with.

 

These storage boxes will be perfect and even better they will fit inside his wardrobe, making the most of limited floor space and hiding them away form guests.

So that is where we are at.  Planning, dreaming, measuring, window shopping and weghing up all the options.  So what say you?  Desk or no desk?  Fan of a trundle bed? How gorgeous is that bedroom!

All images and stock can be found at Super Amart.

This is a sponsored post in conjunction with Super Amart.

A Peek At Our Week – Weekly Schedule for Kids

Between the activities that happen each day at school (music, sport, library) and the extra curricular activities that our children participate in during the year, our schedule is CRAZY! 

Last year I had Master O constantly asking me Is today Library? Do I have swimming tomorrow? I had my own schedule planned in my diary but never got around to making one that he could follow himself.  Now with two cherubs at school it has become a necessity.

Our Schedule Must Have’s

  • FLEXIBLE. Be able to be changed around – We have winter and summer sports, term timetables that change and I am not going to be printing out a new timetable every time I need to change it!
  • MULTIPLE. A timetable each.  I though about creating one big family planner, but with the number of activities it would get too confusing. Which brings me to my next point
  • EASY. Ease of use.  I need it to be read and understood by a 3 year old! Hence it will require images as well as text.
  • BUSY. Must be able to track multiple activities on each day.

 How we did it!

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1.  Flexibility.  Instead of just creating a printed schedule that can’t be changed, I looked for a more flexible option.  Enter the photo frame.  I would create a blank timetable to go behind the frame and use velcro dots on the glass, so that I could change the activities as often as needed!  You will need a frame big enough to fit an almost a4 size of paper.  This frame was an 8×10 from Kmart for $5.  Velcro dots can be found at Spotlight, Riot (art and Craft) and most dollar stores.

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2. A weekly timetable.  I then created a weekly timetable template in word.  I included Monday to Saturday as we generally don’t have activities on a Sunday.  I can easily add a Sunday activity to the bottom of a staurday box and use a whiteboard marker to add the word Sunday!  Yet another beauty of using glass, you can write on it and it’s not permanent. Of course when Little Miss A saw me doing this she insisted I make one for her in pink! Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 7.17.32 AM

3. Print and Frame.  Simply print the template, cut it to fit your frame and put it in! Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 7.20.42 AM

4.  The activity cards!  We don’t do all of these activities but after a lengthy Facebook discussion I have added some popular activities for YOU! I have also left one blank that you can add in as need be.   Simply Print, Cut (inside the lines), Laminate, Cut.  Attach a velcro dot to the back and you have a flexible and easy to read activity card!

Attach a velcro dot to the outside of your frame as needed and simply attach and reattach an activity as needed!

I must say I just know this is going to SIMPLIFY our life!  It will keep us on track and maybe, just maybe stop some of the million questions about what is happening this week!!!

I have love creating this for us and FOR YOU TOO!  I have bought the images from DigiWebStudio and due to your request I have added a “DONATE” button to my sidebar >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

These PRINTABLES are free for you to use to help organise your home, but if you LOVE them, feel free to make a donation to help cover costs.

Get ready to get ORGANISED!

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Peek-at-Our- Week – Activity Cards

 

Creating a Family Launch Pad ~ What we used

Boy has this been a long time coming!  Over the years we have had various versions of school stations, organisation stations, launch pads but none have quite been as HUGE as this one. 

Introducing our Family Launch Pad.

Ou

Our Family Launch Pad ~ The Organised Nest

So what is a “Launch Pad?’ It is a place for us as a family to “Launch” into our day, whatever it holds. Whether it’s off to school, grocery shopping, out on a family trip, basically anything that involves leaving the house!

Before I go into how this works for us, the most common question I get is how we created it.  You need to start at IKEA.

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IKEA – KALLAX – 1×4 Shelving Unit

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IKEA – KALLAX – Insert with 2 Drawers

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IKEA – KALLAX – 2 x4 Shelving Unit

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IKEA – TROFAST – Storage box

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THE COST

 When assembling the Kallax 1 x 4 shelving unit, we simply left one shelf out so that we would have an extra high space to fit a school bag.

You could alter this setup to include more or less family members or tailor it to your own individual budget.  We already had the Trofast boxes and the 2 x4 shelving unit in Master O’s room where it sat disorganised and created a toy dumping ground.  The most expensive part of this was the drawers.  To cut costs you could use  shelves (also sold as part of the Kallax range) or just use the Kallax as is.  We have a really open plan lower level of the house so I wanted this unit to be as disguised as possible so for me the drawers were the answer.  Be warned the drawers sit inside the unit so you loose a bit of space but we still comfortably fit a pair of shoes (or two kindy size) or a library bag and book, or homework folder in one.

In the next post I will detail how we use it!!!! Can somebody say LOVE!  This is already up there with the best Organising feature of our home!!!

 

 

My Planner – The Daily Pages

I am a thinker.  A middle of the night list maker.  A mind full of chaos and that stops me from sleeping.  A goal setting, idea dreaming, busy bee.

But I am afraid I am also a procrastinator. A starter but not a finisher. An over analyser, that is so busy thinking that she often forgets to DO.

 I want to be a doer.  An accomplisher. So I searched for change and discovered this…..

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and even better this

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oh and of course this

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Sound familiar.  This is me.  My brain is so busy storing every “to do” list that it has no space for anything else, including sleep.

This is the “Getting Things Done” theory by David Allen.  This theory deserves its own blog post (or three!) and I will write more about it in detail. Lets just say its so freaking amazing, I instantly decided to put his ideas into action.

To do this I needed a planner.  Somewhere to brain dump. To write out all of my actionable thoughts, goals and dreams.  Somewhere to create order out of my chaotic mind.  My current planner wasn’t cutting it.  So I took the leap to the self made planner system and the DIY Fish inserts and Discbound System.

But the most appealing and effective part of the planner for me is the DAILY PAGES.  This is something I have never done before.  Used a 2 page spread specifically for that day.  I had always been kind of a weekly overview gal.  But I needed more detail!

So here is a look at what I did!  A peek inside how I use my Daily Pages.

The Daily Pages

 There is just so much to write about this system and about 100 more blog posts in the making, but this is a start.  I was so desperate to share this  video that I want to DO IT NOW so you can get started too!

I will be back to share some pics and more detail of my daily pages and how I use them, so stay tuned and check back soon!

The Sip and Snack Station – Revisited

Their is a thief amongst us.
Lately things have been going missing.
Biscuits, chips, red frogs, chocolates.
At first I blamed “Domesticated Dad” thinking he was overindulging on midnight snacks.
But it was not……
It was “My Pigeon Pair”
The constant crumbs appearing in the strangest corners of the house should have been a clue!
They have been conspiring against me to “steal” whole packets! 
 
I wrote that 3 years ago!!!  The beauty of having a blog is being able to go back in time and revisit little snapshots of your life!  These organising ideas start with the best of intentions but I must admit occasionally the habits formed start to slip.  Life gets hectic and you are just trying to survive each day with a new baby, let alone put organising ideas into place.
 
But this week the same problem resurfaced.  I find the kids constantly asking for food and drink. I am usually stuck on the couch feeding the endlessly hungry baby, so they end up helping themselves.  This can be great, but I am the first to admit I often look back at the day (and in the pantry) and wonder how many snacks they have consumed! Also when Master O is not home to lend a hand it is harder for Little Miss A to help herself to a drink. Cue whinging and whining and draging chairs around the house to reach the tap or a mother breastfeeding a baby with one hand and unscrewing a lid and filling a drink bottle with the other.  Poor baby nearly ends up in the sink!
So…….
 
A quick check of the blog and I remembered that we used to have an effective solution….. 
 
 
The Sip and Snack Station
 
 
 
I must admit I got a bit sad looking at the picture.  It was taken 3 years ago.  Little Miss A would have been about 14 months and master O 4!!!
Check out Little Miss A’s sippy cup and how small Master O’s drink bottle was!
 
Over the years we have had many versions of this idea but we truly are in need of upgrading it and getting the habit working again!!!!
 
How it used to work…
 
I  placed all snacks out of their reach.
They receive a snack “ration” each day.
I place the amount of snacks I want them to eat in a day, in a small plastic container each morning.
It is their choice if they eat them all at once or gradually over a morning.
I may need to refill it at lunch time with some new fresh snacks.
I  placed them in a container similar to my Winter station but this time within their reach. 
It also holds their drink bottles.
 
Why it works…..
 
Emergencies:
Oh I had forgotten about this situation!
“Yesterday, Little Miss A had a vomitting episode and I had to rush off to the doctor.
It was so good to be able to simply grab the contents of this station and throw it in my bag knowing they would have water and snacks regardless of how long I would be out for.”
 
I am afraid this situation will always exist regardless of how old your children are! 
 
 Food Intake:
It allows me to monitor how much and what they eat.
 
Convenience:  
Little Miss A knows where a drink or snack is and I don’t have to juggle feeding a baby and filling a drink at the same time!
 
So today I will be updating and creating a new Sip and Snack station for our growing family, stay tuned to Instagram for pictures!
 
Do you have a snack thief at your place?

Creating a Morning Routine

Our mornings are BUSY!  Thank goodness we are early risers as we have so much to get done before we leave for school in the morning!  Add to that, the fact that we will have two children, at two different locations in opposite directions!  Thankfully we are easing into the routine with Little Miss A only attending Kindy on a 5 day fortnight roster. 

WE have always had a before school routine, but whilst Master O was little, I still had to assist him with each task so i didnt think there was a need for any charts or printed reminders.  Last year however, his uniform became simpler for him to do and he became more independent so i found myself sending him upstairs to get ready by himself. 

Let me tell you, distraction is the art of 6 year old boys.  I found myself constantly reminding him of what he had to next, what had he done already, and generally being a yelling, nagging mother.  Not pretty.  So this year I am determined to change things.  Little Miss A is less distracted and a real busy bee who loves to be in the midst of everything.   She is extremely independent, determined and self sufficient and always has been!  She even toilet trained herself!  This also means she knows what she likes and what she doesn’t which will be very interesting when this year, with a uniform, there will be less flexibility in what she wears or how she does her hair.  Tantrums they are a coming.  Be afraid, be very afraid.

This year, I don’t have time for chaos!  With a new baby arriving there will be many morning when I am stuck feeding, changing, dressing, settling a baby and My Pigeon Pair will need to get themselves organised the best they can!  We need a routine and a CHART!!!! 

We need an illustrated, MORNING ROUTINE CHART and it needs to be;

  • Visual (especially for little Miss A as she is a pre-reader)
  • Timed (for Master O as he needs very specific timeframes)
  • Can track progress (what have you done already?)
  • Easy to reach and read.
  • Simple

I have made a MILLION routine charts in time but always for Preppies in a classroom!  Visual routines are of particular benefit to any child that likes routine and structure (which quite frankly is all children) but particularly children with ASD. 

How to create your own routine chart.

  1. MAKE A LIST. Firstly I wrote out what order I needed each thing done in the morning.  This may be different for each family depending on circumstances.  We have a two story house, with living areas downstairs and bedrooms upstairs. So we tend to group activities together depending on wether they are performed upstairs or downstairs.
  2. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?  I then gave each activity a time reference (how long it should take to complete) 
  3. DON’T BE LATE. Then I worked backwards from the time we need to leave the house.  This varies each day as it depends on whether we need to do two drop offs or if their are before school activities.  The earliest we need to leave is 7.30 so I worked from their.  If on other mornings we have extra time, BONUS! 

I then made a simple 3 column table in Word.  One column for Master O (with clock faces) a middle column for the activity in written form and the last column for visual reminders for Little Miss A.

Add your routine and print!

SIMPLE!!!!!

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 6.53.09 AM

I then printed out the routine and attached it to a clipboard. 

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Whats a hook without a little washi!

Using a 3M hook (that of course I had to washi tape) I attached it to the wall just inside their bedroom.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 6.54.56 AM

Easily accessible right inside their bedroom door.

 I used a coloured peg for each child attached to the outside of the clipboard.  As they complete each activity, they move the peg to the next one, to help remind them of what they have already done and what they need to do next!

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 6.57.22 AM

A closer look at our routine!  The arrows are to symbolise, go upstairs or go downstairs.

This is a very simple routine and we only just started using it yesterday, as we wean ourselves out of holiday mode and into back to school mode! 

Would this routine work for you?  Would you like me to make it available to you?

DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND! It’s yours to print for free!

[download id=”13″]

This a free printable and I am more than happy for you to share the love with a friend!

This printable is not to be sold in any way.