Product Reviews

Diaries image
Dec 20

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2012 is to be far better at organising my work and family life. Since becoming a Mum, I’ve definitely suffered from a depletion of brain cells, particularly those that help with short-term memory (the pre-frontal lobe I believe!). I used to be the sort of person who never needed a diary as everything was in my head, but nowadays I can forget what I’m meant to be doing in the next hour, let alone next week, unless I write it down!

Little I’s increasingly active social life doesn’t help either. And since my husband and I are both self-employed and work from home, juggling childcare where necessary, our lives can very easily spiral into a chaotic mess.

So 2012 is going to be the year of organisation for me!

A lucky coincidence is my love of stationery. It’s a passion that I’ve never grown out of. While in some cases I am forced to use my Google Calendar for work-based appointments, there’s nothing quite like a lovely new paper diary to begin a new year with.

So in the run-up to Christmas, I decided to review some of the best family planners/ organisers/ diaries on the market, that would meet both my work and family needs (I have tried having two separate diaries for work and for family, but it didn’t really work). Functionality was my number one priority, but also high on the list was style, as it needed to be appropriate for whipping out in an important business meeting, without looking too ‘mummy’.

First up is my favourite, the Organised Mum 2012 Life Book. I had stumbled across this range before through general internet browsing, but I have never seen it stocked anywhere in-store. It retails at £13.49 and contains a range of lovely, very useful features which have clearly been well thought-out…

  • Week-to-view format
  • A separate section for additional month-at-a-glance pages
  • Perforated shopping lists that can be torn out to be taken to the shops
  • Pocket for paperwork
  • At-a-glance weekly schedule pages
  • Monthly and yearly forward planning pages
  • Christmas and holiday planning pages
  • 288 fun stickers to highlight important events
  • Portable address book with birthday list that can be transferred easily to next year’s diary without the need for rewriting
  • Tabbed sections for easy access
  • Space for menu planning
  • Elastic bandeau

As you can see from the above image, the front cover is colourful and attractive, but it doesn’t scream ‘Mum’ at you, which is what I wanted to avoid for meeting scenarios. What I love about it is the great variety of functionality for jotting everything down, from meeting dates to important reminders, as well as lots of space for general note taking and forward monthly planning. It genuinely is a ‘life’ book. The stickers are a lovely touch.

Next up is the Dairy Diary range, which has been going for 30 years. This has the look and feel of a homely, country Mum, and says less about the working Mum – it somehow feels a bit too ‘old’ for me. The main section of the diary offers a week-to-view, and each week features a yummy, fairly healthy, easy-cook recipe. I have tried some of the quick recipes already and they have been very successful, such as Banana Porridge and Florida Coleslaw. Additionally, at the start of the diary there is 62 pages worth of general and lifestyle content, full of useful tips and advice, which are nice to browse through when you have a moment spare. The Dairy Diary also features those all-important memorable date stickers – but there are a lot less of them that would quickly run out. The big downside of the diary is the lack of clever organisation functionality, or space to write anything substantial, for both work and family, which the Organised Mum range offers. Priced at £6.99 it’s a lot more affordable though.

Another brand that I’ve come across is Paperblanks, which come in a range of stunning designs. If style is your number one priority, above and beyond functionality, then their Dayplanner range is really worth looking at. But unfortunately the inside layout seems very standard, and wouldn’t really meet my organisation needs.

Last but not least is the classic, trusty Moleskine diary, which I discovered a few years ago and have used successfully as a business woman, but less successfully as a Mum. It comes in a range of different sizes and layouts, with hard and soft covers, but my personal preference is the large, week-to-view, which shows the week’s appointments at a glance on the left, with a lined page on the right for notes and ideas. I’ve found this to be a nice flexible layout, and I like having a blank, lined page for each week to scribble down notes, tasks and reminders on. This year, Moleskine has added three pages of appointment stickers (so I can’t be the only person who loves them!), and the expandable inner pocket at the back is also really handy for storing those loose bits of paper that you’ll get around to entering in your diary later on!

So that’s my round-up of 2012 diaries for the working mum. I have to say there isn’t as much choice out there as I thought there would be. If you have any other diaries to recommend, which have really helped you to organise your work and family life, then please feel free to do so in the comments section below.

Additionally, I am a new owner of an Android tablet PC, so if you have any Android apps to recommend for this purpose, please also let me know!

About the Author

Wendy McAuliffe

Social media & online PR consultant and trainer, and ex-journalist. Founder and Director of Populate Digital and Mum of two. Living by the sea in Bournemouth. @wendymcauliffe.

  • Briony

    Hi Mummy McAuliffe. Someone bought me this last year and its been fantastic.
    What I loved is A5 week-to-view pages with sections for up to 6 family members so I can fill keep track of what everyone is up to each day. The inside view on Amazon doesn’t show this typical page, which is a shame.
    Not very subtle cover though if you’ll be taking it to meetings!
    Also features:
    * stickers
    * pull out to do lists
    * addresses
    * mum’s contacts
    * kids contacs
    * birthdays etc…

    If I don’t get one for christmas I’ll be ordering my own.

    • wendymcauliffe

      Thanks for commenting Briony, that looks like such a great one to add to the mix. Really appreciate the recommendation.

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