Erin Condren Product Review

Today I am super stoked to share with you my absolute favorite organizing products. Back in 2011 I came across a blog {I wish I could remember which one}  that did a review on the Erin Condren Life Planner. I have always loved a paper planner. I just like to have something tangible in front of me. I’m weird like that I know. But I’m not alone because Erin Condren has a cult following! People cannot wait for the moment they can order their new yearly planner. In fact I just ordered mine and cannot wait to get it! This is the only way for me to keep everything I have going organized. What I love most about this planner over everything else I have ever tried is the morning, afternoon and night sections. It could not be more perfect for my life. Morning is where most of my reminders for work go. Afternoon is where my house chores normally go. And Evening is where my blog notes go. The 2013-2014 Life Planner even has a section for me to put our meal plan! HUGE addition in my opinion. If you want a full on tour of the Life Planner visit here.

I also have an Erin Condren Notebook. This thing I TRULY LOVE! I make a to do list for work every week. I have since the day I started and I have always been very particular about the notebook I keep. It needs to have the right sized lines, it needs to be the right thickness in paper, it needs to be crazy sturdy to stand up to little fingers, warehouses, and wine spills. This notebook is ALL of that and then some. I adore the pouch in the back to throw my receipts in when I’m traveling and the size is perfect to fit into my bag.

The Functional Family Planner is a new product that Erin Condren introduced just a few months ago. When I first received the email I just filed it away thinking, “I already have a planner, I don’t need this, too.” Then my office got a bit of an overhaul and the DIY dry-erase calendar I had was replaced by my Martha Stewart Wall Unit. I lived without a “family calendar” up for a while. Then it dawned on me… as the boys grow older and we start doing more and more activities I wanted a place where everyone could see what was going on. And of course it had to be stylish. Ding ding ding, Functional Family Planner please!

Lucky for me this also was right around my birthday so my awesome mom purchased it for me! EVEN BETTER! This is the product I never knew how bad I needed until I had it. It is just the perfect spot to put all the craziness that is going on in our life down onto paper. You can either purchase the chore chart or the schedule pad. I opted for the schedule pad. And to make it last even longer I split the page in half and fit two weeks onto one page. I love that I don’t have to remind my hubby what is going on in a week. It is just all right there in front of him every time he walks in the house. I foresee this being a huge help as each year passes with the boys. I also really love the dry erase portion that has a spot to fill out all the important numbers, etc. for whenever we are out.

So enough talking about all these great products! Check out the pics below:

I have to also mention that I did purchase their pens last year and hated them. This year I purchased the new marker type pens with my Functional Family Planner. I LOVE them! They are the perfect addition!

What do you do to keep your busy schedule organized? Is it important for your significant others and children to know what is on the calendar?

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Featured Post: Quiet Time Activities for your Preschooler

Graphic for Quiet Time ActivitiesThere are so many rescources out there for the WAHM now; websites, blogs, groups, retreats where you can go and work while someone watches your kids! One of the sites I’m loving these days is It’s a WAHM Thing. I’m so proud to announce that I was featured on It’s a WAHM Thing this week with an article all about some quiet things T$ loves to do!

I hope you all enjoy the article and I can’t wait to hear what you thought of the activities!

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Photojournal: A Day in the Life of a WAHM

With all the lengthy blogs I’ve been posting I thought it would be nice today to share some photos with you about what a typical day looks like around here. I’m a pretty visual person so I think it is so nice to see what someone’s day looks live vs. just reading or hearing about it. This was one day last week while Buggy was still battling the chickenpox which had to be why he slept in so long!  Click on any of the circles to open the gallery and scroll through.

So does a day in our life look anything like a day in your life? 

WAHM Series: Part 3 Zones

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Welcome back everyone to Part 3 of my WAHM Series. In Parts 1 and 2 we focused on the schedule of our work days. Today I want to go a little bit more in depth on one of the things that makes that schedule possible, activities zones. Now I have mentioned that we rotate toys during the day and play with only one thing at a time but that is not exactly the same as the zones I’m talking about.

We moved into this house about 2 years ago. The loft has always been my office but it has been rearranged 3 times so that I could achieve not only the most visually appealing look up there but the most functional for me and the boys to work.

What I have now is an *almost* perfect space that works for all 3 of us. Our upstairs consists of the loft that you walk into right away and then there are 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a small laundry room. The room closest to the loft served as Buggy’s darling nursery for about the first year of his life. Then we decided to move both boys into T$’s (much larger) room. The boys actually sleep better together, weird I know! Now the old nursery serves as our upstairs playroom. This works so great because the office does not get as cluttered with all the kid gear. I cannot stand visual clutter.  It makes it very difficult for me to focus. Now to the actual zones we have set up:

Overview

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1. My Desk/Work area:

Work Area

I use to have the desk on the opposite wall actually facing the wall. That made so I was constantly turning around to keep an eye on what the boys were doing. Then I faced the desk out still on that wall but it still wasn’t working perfect. Finally I got the brainy idea to just switch sides! DUH! This is what I call my corner to the boys. They are not allowed to come into my corner while I’m working. They never listen but it’s a great idea in theory. The wall organizer is a fairly recent purchase from Staples’ Martha Stewart line. I needed something to store my often accessed papers and to pin receipts to be turned in and various other things, that Buggy could not reach! This was the perfect solution! And it is all interchangeable so I can move things around as my needs change AKA he gets taller and smarter 🙂

2. The Pillow Pet:

Pillow Pet

Oh this one is a funny story I tell ya! My bestie thought it would be a great idea to send the boys a “small” present right after Buggy was born. I opened the front door one day to this massive box that literally fell on top of me. I didn’t know for almost a week who it was from because there was no label or anything on it! I have to say though it’s the perfect spot for the boys to lounge on and read books or watch toons or take a nap. T$ has fallen asleep here more times than I can count. I put it right by my desk because I am trying to keep the immediate area right around my desk a quiet zone.

3. The TV:

TV

No explanation needed here, right?

4. The Office in a Hutch:

HUTCH

As with any home storage, space is at a premium. I don’t have room to be storing all my various office supplies in the linen closet or someplace else. It also happens that we have this gorgeous hutch that I adore from my in-laws (a wedding gift) that I cannot put anywhere downstairs because our formal dinning room is being used for a playroom. I thought a great way to use it would be to store my supplies. Its out of the way, too, so I don’t have to worry about anyone getting hurt or worse yet ruining the hutch. (You’re thinking I have that backwards but I don’t 😉 .) Don’t worry, lots more details on how I organize this thing coming later.

5. The Playroom:

Playroom

So the playroom has its very own command center for the boys complete with message boards for when they receive cards or special things they want to display. T$ has his rewards chart up and then they have their book case. We are a book-obsessed family. It’s insane really. This is just one of the many places I have books stashed. Their train table has provided HOURS of entertainment! I also have an art easel in here that is super light and normally is moved out into the middle of the office for craft time. The toy chest contains a fraction of the dress up outfits. The rest of the toys are stashed in the closet. I’ll be doing an entire post just on that closet and how we sort toys into bins so the one-toy-at-a-time rule can be effective. I have lots of ideas for this room as the boys grow older. The main function now is to control the clutter, provide a place to put everything away, and wrangle the madness. It is also the place I ask the boys to go to if they want to play loudly. It’s far enough away from my desk that I can tune them out a bit but close enough that I can keep an ear on them.

That sums up how I have laid out our workspace and tried to create different zones for work, lounging, crafting, and playing. Do you set up your home decor differently now that you have kiddos? It really changes things, right?

WAHM Series: The Schedule Part 2

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Last week we talked all about our morning schedule. I was thrilled to read your Facebook questions and your comments here on the blog! I LOVE that some of this info is actually helping people and I’m super stoked to connect. Today I want to delve into our afternoon schedule and how I cope with “The Witching Hour”.

Now you may remember that term from when you had a wee newborn and think it only applies to that time in a babies life. I have news for you! It applies to the hours of 4pm to 6pm everyday for years! I don’t know what happens when the clock strikes 4 but I swear all craziness ensues.

Let me back up to where we left off last time though…

After Buggy wakes from his nap we throw in a load of laundry and then head downstairs for lunch. Hubby is an incredible guy. He gets T$’s lunch ready every day and puts it in his Bynto Box. I make Buggy and I lunch (normally the same thing) then we all eat. I try to reserve at least 20-30 minutes each lunch (which I normally take about 60-70 minutes) to really play with the boys. We play rough or go outside or build a structure with blocks. The important part here is that they get devoted one on one time with me. I do not answer calls during lunch, I try not to check my personal email or Facebook. I just hang with the boys.

Normally at this time its about 1pm. Buggy is not quite ready for a nap yet but both boys are getting there. Once again we all head upstairs and I insist on no tv and that they play in their playroom quietly. Again BFF Suri sets a timer and they are off. Once in a while they will come out to talk to me but because they are both getting sleepy this is normally a good hour or so where they are off quietly playing.I try to fold a load of laundry at this time or wipe down the upstairs bathroom or dust upstairs. This is part of how I keep the house up. A little each day.

Then Buggy goes down for nap and T$ goes downstairs for “rest time”. I had a hard time with this for a while but T$ really would not rest unless him and I were separated. He doesn’t normally nap anymore but he SO needs that quiet time. My office is the loft so I can hear every.single.noise downstairs so I’m not too worried about him. Plus our house is totally kid proof. He gets to pick a movie and grab a blankie and hang on the couch. It works great.

This is a dedicated two hours where I can work straight. If I have to make any calls this is normally when I try and do it. It flies by but I find I can get more done in these two hours at home then I would in 4 at the office. Part of being a good WAHM is learning how to power through things and when you know you have a block of time you just have to jam!

Now it hits…. the witching hour.

I’m technically off work at 4pm. I’m almost never done with what I need to get done by then. SO when the movie is over and Buggy wakes up both boys are DYING for my attention. They are also totally done upstairs. So I do what any amazing mom would do… I bribe and stall. Repeat it with me, bribe and stall.

I normally bribe with the idea that if they give me just 5 more minutes we will go downstairs and eat a delicious snack. This normally works. When T$ stars asking why Suri hasn’t talked to him yet I tell him, “OH she must have fallen asleep.” Whatever I need to say to get things done. This is the time of day where things get messy. A piece of paper gets stollen off my desk and ripped up, somehow a highlighter ends up in little hands and now baby brother has a hot pink tattoo. To be honest with you I just roll with it. It gets my work done and no one gets hurt, usually.

We don’t normally clean up before going downstairs. The boys are just so done and to be honest so am I. So we go downstairs and they are perfectly content to play in their playroom for about 10 minutes. 10 minutes is totally enough time to do a chore, cook dinner, have all the dishes done from the day, etc.
NOT!

This is reality people, not some fantasy. So in the 10 minutes they are quiet I can normally devise a plan for what is most important to get done. Normally I try and get all the days dishes done ( I don’t do sippie cups and kids plates, etc. during the day. I let them pile up in a sink of hot soapy water and then do them all at once. We hand wash our sippies so it would take too much valuable time during working hours). Then if we know when hubby will be home (his schedule is different from day to day) we start dinner. T$ has this awesome tower, similar to this,that allows him to safely be at the counter with me helping. And I just pull Buggy’s high chair right up to the counter too. I give them stuff to do while I cook. Mostly they just play with food, whatever it works!

Hubby gets home and then all hell really breaks loose but that is an entirely different story for a different day.

The basic idea during the witching hour for me is really just to survive. I let a lot of rules go, I let them be messier than normal and I just try to get every one laughing. I try to be as empathetic as possible. I’m totally exhausted and done working so I can only imagine how they feel.

I’m interested to hear from you all, what are some of your best bribe and stall techniques? Does the witching hour hit at your house? Please please tell me I’m not alone!