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I am looking for a better way to be efficient. A better way to keep things from falling behind or falling apart. I was offered the chance to check out the Plum Cheeky Solutions Home Life Planner and Student Planner, so I took it.
Every year I try to be more organized. It feels like if I could just get school planned, meals planned, work planned, housework planned…. I could get on top of things. I have tried frequently, without success. I have this disastrous collection of sticky-notes, notebooks, and calendars all over my desk. It’s not a very good system. In fact, it probably makes things worse. I’ve always wanted to get everything in one place – without success. (I even spent days putting together a family organizational binder before… which I then never used. Sigh.)
I didn’t really fully know what to expect when I opened the box from Plum Cheeky Solutions. Inside there were three books: The Home Life Planner, The Bold Student Planner, and a little booklet for keeping my addresses and passwords, etc.
I wasn’t really sure how I would use the student planner, so I flipped through it to see what it looked like and then set it aside for now until I could figure out how it would work in our family.
The Home Life Planner
a) it’s beautiful!
b) it’s huge!
c) it’s got everything!! (I’ll explain below).
This planner is a full-sized, full-colour, thick, spiral bound book. With the insides just as colourful as the front cover, it’s almost too pretty to write in! Created by Grace, a homeschooling mom from BC, as a way to help herself be more organized and on top of things – these planners include most of the things I’ve been needing together in one package.
The first main section is a full year’s worth of double-paged month-at-a-glance calendars with space for your monthly “to-do”s or other notes. The squares aren’t huge, but they are big enough to write down events you need to go to, appointments, birthdays, etc. It starts in August and runs until July of the following year (so school year.) I’ve started adding all the free local activities – like the home depot workshops and free art weekends. My only wish was that these were scattered throughout the book at the start of each month’s weekly pages as I am used to planners like that.
Following these is the bulk of the book – weekly layouts. These have the usual columns for each day of the week, with space to write down whatever you need to for each day, but they also have some unique extras which will really help (if used to their advantage).
- a section for you to write down and check off 9 weekly goals each week. I love places I can check things off as complete – it’s encouraging and makes it easier for success. Limiting that number to 9 seems brilliant too. I’m the kind of person who tends to set too many things in play at once, thereby overwhelming myself. Having a realistic number is useful.
- a daily tasks list of chores with checkboxes for each day of the week. It includes make bed, dishes, laundry, cleaning the counter & table, etc. When you’ve done that chore for the day, you just check it off. There’s a blank spot too – so you can add something personalized to your home. By having the checklists there, you can easily see where you are weak on, and be reminded constantly to do your tasks.
- a meal plan. Every day has a box with space for your meal ideas – a breakfast, a lunch, and a dinner. I love that you can see the whole plan for the whole week all together. (Plus this ties into another section of the book which we will get to in a minute!)
The back section, referred to as “The Extras,” is where you find all the planning resources. I was kind of blown away by having this all together in a single planner. First, Grace explains the why behind including each part of this section, and well as how it works in her family. She has some fantastic tips and insights to making life easier.
Back here you will find the following:
- Financial: a bill payment checklist, a monthly budget worksheet, and an expense tracker. I love the bill payment idea. I need to start writing down when bills are due/come automatically out of the account because I tend to forget a few when looking at money for the month. I’m not sure the 2 pages of expense tracking will be useful for me unless I copied them and attached them to that month’s calendar. There just simply isn’t enough room but I do like the idea of being accountable for spending though.
- Cleaning: a whole section devoted to mastering housework. This includes a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual checklist of things to do. From there, it even breaks down tasks by day. LOVE THIS. I struggle very much with housework and need some guidance to make it more manageable. I think copying this and posting it where I’ll see it regularly could help me with that.
- Meal Planning: so much here. It includes a master shopping list, 32 weeks for seasonal meal plans, and 2 options of weekly meal plan pages you can put up on the fridge to see what is going on that week (you’d have to tear out of the book and put in a page protector to use as an editable option). Plus, there’s a section for you to write down meal ideas you find so you can remember where you found them. I’ve been wanting to make a full year meal plan for a long time and now I can basically do that – right in the place where I check every day. And I can simply make the plan and write the meals in the weekly spaces to make life even easier. I like that!
- After that, there is lots of space for notes.
I’m really impressed and have started using my planner every day. I think it could really help me get on top of things. I’m going to use this for my daily to-do lists, the family’s appointments and activities, and everything else other than work. It will be so helpful.
Price wise, these planners are more on the costly side. I spoke to Grace about why.
I know the price can be an issue for some people, but my prices reflect the cost of printing locally, the quality of materials and the pretty, colourful design throughout the entire book. My desire has been to keep the whole process of the planners within Canada.
After having a chance to check out the planners up close, see the work and effort Grace has put into creating them, as well what everything that it includes, and admiring the fact that she’s determined to stay Canadian – I’d say the price is well worth it. Considering I’ll be using this book every day for a whole year, it’s about $1 / week.
The Student Planner
These planners come in two design choices: Bold & Beauty. I chose the “bold” edition because my school aged kids are all boys and that was more their speed.
As I mentioned, at first, I didn’t really know how I could use the student book. I was having a hard time seeing how this could be used in a homeschool setting (although Grace made this book for her kids in their homeschooling days so it must be!) I sat down and looked at the pages inside while I tried to figure it out. Included are:
- a student schedule where you can write down what you do when each day of the week. This would be a good place to put in all your regular extra activities – like music lessons, kids’ clubs, etc. so you can see where you are busy and when you have free time.
- an attendance checklist, where you can cross out the days you did school. This would be handy if you had to be accountable for how many days of school you completed in a year.
- long-term planning space for projects
- a book/reading list space
- a resource shopping list space
- monthly at-a-glance calendars
- a subject by subject grade tracker, divided up into 4 terms with 3 parts to each and a way to total them up
- weekly goals calendar. This is the main section of the book – with each week broken down into days with squares for instructions to be written for up to 8 subjects. On the right edge of the page are spaces to write down information needed about projects, reading, phys.ed accountability, extra curricular activities and other notes.
For us, not everything included is necessary, but I have decided how I can use it in our day-to-day life. Until now, I’ve planned out different chunks of school plans (10 weeks at a time) and then take my plans and give the boys a daily checklist each day with what they have to do. This allowed me to be flexible with our days if we fell behind in an area, etc. but it also meant I had to keep on top of it every day – which I often would forget.
This year, for my oldest who would be in grade 6 in a traditional school, I’m going to make the school plans and write everything into this planner for him all at once. All he has to do is open the planner to the day that we’re on and work through his to-do list.
This will allow him to be more independent (not having to ask me what he has to do today), more accountable (since he knows what he has to do and can complete it), and keep track of his work better. It’s time for me to give him some more responsibility in terms of his own school work and we are both excited by this idea.
Overall, I am really impressed with these both of planners. They are going to help make life run more smoothly around here and will be helpful for us to accomplish our goals and schoolwork. Now… I just need to finish planning our units!
In 2017, Grace had to stop offering printed planners because of the cost. Instead, she now has an etsy store where you can buy her planners and other resources: Plum Cheeky Solutions Etsy Shop.