Saturday, August 11, 2012

Babysitter Info Sheet

I first thought of making this sheet when I wanted to build my "Love Folder".  After all, if you were to die tomorrow, what important information would you want those left behind to have about your kids??  But then I began to see how my babysitters would probably also love to have the same information.  I've had it up in our kitchen for about 2 years and I get comments all the time about how much my babysitters love it.  Here is my sample document for you to edit and enter your own information:

If you don't already have the dosing charts for the meds you keep at your house, you can print them off here:
Of course you may want to double check with your pediatrician that these doses are correct for your child.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Remember the Milk

I may have just eliminated my need for a paper planner!  I have had a paper planner for as long as I can remember.  All through out middle school up through college my favorite part of August (other than my birthday) was picking out a new planner!!

Now that I am a home manager the need for a planner is even bigger.  So far I have depended on Google Calendar, my iPad, and a paper planner to stay organized.  I've tried to use larger planner systems, but it never quite worked out.  The problem has been I don't always have my iPad and I don't always have my paper planner to write things down in.  Enter the iPhone!  Verizon recently changed their data plan and I was able to finally buy an iPhone with some left over Christmas money that was collecting dust.  Now my Google Calendar is ALWAYS with me :)

Last week my sister was telling me about a list app that she was enjoying and I remembered that Simple Mom had suggested Remember the Milk years ago.  I decided to try it again since it now has an iPhone and iPad app.  It has been wonderful!  I decided to splurge and get a pro account so that my lists would always be synced across my devices, but this is definitely not necessary.

I love this task manager for a couple of reasons:
  • you can organize tasks by lists.  So far I have: Blog posts to write, Evening Routine, Gift Ideas, Home Management, Kids, Money Matters, Morning Routine, School, Study, and Tidy Up Tuesday.  There are also two default lists of "Inbox" for routines you email yourself (or Siri sets up for you) and "Sent" which I think is used for tasks you share with others.
  • you can use shortcuts to set up when a list is due, priority, when it repeats, where it takes place, and to add tags.  Tags help you to sort your task based on subject.  I have a tag for computer tasks that I use to help me get things done while I'm at the computer.  You can also use tags to sort by tasks that you have for different children.  Here is the list of shortcuts:
          If you wanted to use these shortcuts it would type this in the "add a new task" section of the website:  "Call Betsy ^tomorrow !2 *weekly"  Then a new task will be created with all of the parameters you have specified.  You can also email this to your RTM account and it will set up the task for you.
  • you can also set a task to repeat based on when it was last done instead of just when it was last due.  This is helpful for things like taking your vitamins.  You want to take them once a day, but if you forget them today you don't want to take two tomorrow.
  • you can associate notes or a URL with each task.  I do my grocery shopping on Monday, so I have a reminder on Sunday night to do my meal planning.    I use the note feature to keep track of meals that I see during the week that I think would be interesting.   

Even if you don't have a smart phone remember the milk can send you text messages or email reminders when tasks are due.  I choose to do most of my household cleaning on Tuesday hence the list "Tidy up Tuesday" I have a morning and evening routine based on Tsh's book 52 projects to a simpler life.  She encouraged readers to choose 3 to 5 things you do every morning and every evening. this helps bring structure to an otherwise unstructured day.
 Here is a view of my current account:

I have just started using Tsh's suggestion of identifying three things a day that are your most important tasks and marking them priority 1 (orange in color).  I do not mark anything else with that priority so that each day I can choose three new things.

Please ask any other questions you have in the comments section.  I hope I've given a quick overview and have helped you get started with this great website!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Organization - Winning the never ending paper battle

We recently added a huge piece of furniture to our family and it has exacerbated an already losing battle. It is a beautiful post master's desk with a nice flat surface area. I don't know about your house, but at ours where there is flat space there is paper!! We have mail coming in everyday, school papers for Ethan, church papers from all of us, receipts and coupons.
The Post Master's Desk
While reading Tsh's book "One Bite at a Time" I was inspired to rethink how we handle paper in our house. Project 7  in this book was to downsize your book and magazine collection, 8 was managing your mail and 9 was streamlining your receipts. All of these tips made me want to tackle our paper problem. With all of these categories I think the first thing we all should consider is what comes in to our house. Tsh talks about the fact that if we stop the paper before it makes its way in to the house then we don't have to organize it! One of the things I need to get better at is not bringing home receipts. More than half of the receipts I'm handed during the week can be put directly in the trash!  The same thing goes for mail...before you set the mail down in your house sort through it and throw the trash away immediately!

Note - This is not technically a "before" picture since I took the huge amounts of paper out before I took it.

We have a organizing device on our desk, but it never seems to organize anything in a way that is accessible. I've fixed that by coming up with categories of paper that comes in and I've made folders for these categories. Now the folders can be pulled out and papers can be filed and accessed easily!  For me this works better than a "home notebook".  I like everything in one place, but I don't want it all together all the time.

School folder with calendar taped to the outside.
A place to keep all of our school handouts.  I'll bring this folder with me to school meetings and such.
Final organized desk! 
My folders include:
  • River's Edge - a place for school newsletters as well as handouts from meetings and such.
  • Correspondence and bills - a place for all bills or other piece of mail that needs a response from me.
  • Money - we don't get bank statements by mail, but I do get quarterly reports from Philip's retirement plan and occasionally we get other important financial papers.
  • Love folder - this is not done, but having it here helps to remind me to work on it!
Down at the bottom is also my half-size clipboard that holds sermon notes.  To the right of this desk there is a notebook on the bookshelf that contains room for papers dealing with current projects.  Currently it has a folder for coupons and one for the boys birthday party.  Next to it is a small notebook where I can keep receipts that need to be kept for a time (birthday gifts and such).  Also not shown is a magazine holder for all of the magazines I need to look through (save that project for another day).

I know none of this is new, but I hope I inspire you to tackle your paper problem.  We will see how well this works in the upcoming weeks.

Does anyone have tips for school papers??  In the fall Ethan will be in Kindergarten and I know he will be bringing home worksheets everyday.  I know he worked hard on these, but we can't keep them!  Do you have a grace period before you chunk something?


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