I know I’ve said that Schedules are for Losers ( <—– you can read that post here) but I have to admit my deep dark secret… are you ready for it?
I LOVE to plan.
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In fact, it’s almost an obsession. I get my planner and fill in all of the amazing activities and events and classes and birthdays and holidays and field trips and… FUN that we are going to have for the year. Then, I spend hours planning and re-planning the work we are going to do for the month before I ever write it down into my pristine and perfect planner.
Actually, I think I’m pretty normal. I think planning the homeschool year out is actually a favorite part of homeschooling for a lot of homeschool moms. It’s like all of the potential is right there waiting for us to grab it right up!
But in order to effectively plan, you need just the right planner. And just the right planner differs for everyone. So, how do you find what’s best for you? Well, you have to know what you want from a planner. I’ll explain what I look for and maybe that will help you.
What I Look For in a Planner
First, I like something tangible. There are a lot of great online programs and apps out there that you can use to plan your life, but I really like holding my calendar in my hands, physically writing down my plans, and being able to flip ahead or back. I’ve used Google calendar, and it’s convenient since it can link to my phone which I always have with me, but I find that its convenience really lends itself only to appointments or events. And I need more from my planner. I’m homeschooling 3 kiddos so I have lesson plans to make, social and academic lives to manage, and a pretty active social life of my own to keep up with.
Another thing I look for in a planner is: what does it plan? The Well Planned Day homeschool planner allows you to plan every aspect of your life from your lessons, classes, and activities to your money/budget, meals, and health. That’s incredible! My friend Paula picked one of these planners up and it was a hoss. She loved it. But it’s just too much for me. You know I’m kinda loosey goosey here, so I really don’t need (or want) that kind of planner. I’ve also tried those cute little pocket calendar things, and while super convenient to carry around, there’s just not enough room to write everything.
That kind of brings me to the next thing I look for. I really want something with enough space to write things out. I can get kind of wordy (you didn’t notice that did you?) Something that allows me room to write lessons, but also maybe explain parts of the lessons to myself is really most useful for me.
The last thing I look for is how the planner is laid out. I really prefer to have a month-at-a-glance spread and then also a weekly spread. The month spread is best for the bigger events/classes, birthdays, field trips, etc. Things that don’t happen on the regular. The weekly spread is where all of the real planning goes. Since we homeschool any day of the week, I really hate those planners who make Saturday and Sunday smaller or leave them off altogether like a lot of teacher planners do.
So which planner do I use?
I’ve used a lot of different planners over the years, but I have found that the Happy Planner is the best planner for me. I like the Big happy planner with 8.5″ x 11″ pages. I’m sure that the smaller size would be more portable, but as I get older I find that I need written things to be larger. Plus, ya know… all of those words I have.
What do I like about the Big Happy Planner?
As I’ve already said, I like the size. It’s the perfect size for me to have plenty of room to write all of the information I want in it. I can easily plan lessons for all 3 kids, and also have room to write down any combo lessons I want. Plus, some weeks or months I feel more determined to stick to a little more regimen in my life so I also have room for meal planning, exercise planning, etc.
I really love that the Big Happy Planner is expandable. The planner is a ring binder. You can buy a hole punch that can put holes into any paper to fit the rings. I keep our school attendance records in the front of my planner. My friend Kristie keeps blank paper in the back of hers for notes and thoughts. Another friend of mine, Kay, uses just the punch and rings and creates on-the-go school work packets. (I’ll save that genius idea for another post.) If you’re like me, you don’t want to have to find another planner every 12-18 months. Don’t worry! The Happy Planner company has 12 and 18 month extender packs so you really only ever have to buy the one planner. (Just be sure to check the extender page sizes if you’re shopping online. Twice now I’ve purchased the wrong size and had to return them.)
As if that’s not cool enough, the Big Happy Planner is also completely customizable. The company has a huge variety of printed additions you can get for your planner including a diet and exercise plan, to do lists, grocery lists, more detailed daily planning pages, budget plans, etc. If you can’t find what you want in the pre-printed materials, you can just print your own and hole punch away. I keep some blog planning pages that I printed in my planner so I remember to write, post, and share all of this fabulous content. I also have some project planning pages I printed to help me keep up with web design projects I’m working on.
The first Big Happy Planner I bought was a kit with blank calendar and weekly pages (find it here). The kit came with stickers for the months for the tabs, months for the month-at-a-glance pages, and dates, plus a lot of extra decorative stickers. A lot of people would despise having to put all of those stickers on, but it took me back to my (ahem) 80’s childhood and one of my favorite things- sticker books!!! I think the husband and kids lost me for a full day while I was stickering that book up.
My first planner also came with a pocket folder which is absolutely an ingenious thing to add to a planner. You can buy a pack of folders (check here), but so far, I’ve only needed the one. I keep my laminated homeschool registration card, our Junior Naturalist cards, a library card, and a pen in the folder. That way, I always have those things with me.
Some other cool things you can get for your Big Happy Planner are:
I have recently switched from my first planner to a new already printed planner. I guess I’ll have to buy some stickers to put in it for fun, plus I’m really eyeing that cover. My new planner is the “Happiness Blooms from Within” planner. Isn’t that such a beautiful quote? All of their products are filled with empowering, positive quotes. And can’t we all use a lot more positivity in our lives? I can’t say I’m not open to another planner if I find one I like better, but so far (for 2 years now) The Happy Planner has been exactly the right planner for me. It truly makes me happy to see my life all planned, however loosey goosey.