I've used their Life Book diary several times, and it is great, but now my kids are older and each in activities, and my husband has an erratic travel schedule that's hard to keep track of so this year I went for the weekly grid format so I can see what each individual person is doing each day.
The Family Life Book and Life Book diaries are 16 months, from mid-August (when school starts here in Scotland, THANK YOU OM!!) to the end of the following year. Some people complain about wasted months, but I absolutely need the planner this way and here's why: This time of year as the school year is ending (last day of school is today, hooray!!) I need to be able to plan into the next school year. For example, this week at my daughter's dance class the teacher told us the class will be at a new day and time in the autumn, and gave us the dates of the Christmas shows. With a 16 month planner I can write these dates directly into my diary without having to carry this and next school years' diaries around. Then when the new school year starts, I can transfer the dates over into the new diary and have the entire school year in one book. Brilliant.
I like the design this year, it's pretty and soothing to look at. And the paper is spectacular, white and thick so there's no bleed through with my favorite pens.
Someone commented on Facebook that she doesn't like re-writing everyone's names at the tops of the columns every week. So I butted in (as I do) and commented that you could use the two clear acetate pagemarker sheets that come with the diary on each page of the weekly layout, use a wipe-off marker to write column headings and weekly recurring events, and you don't have to re-write anything, ever! Just move the clear sheets week to week.
The Family Life Book Diary has all the same excellent features as the Life Book Diary, and I won't show every page here but there are tons of features. Here are just some:
There are three weekly routines layouts, so you can write routines for school terms, work, household cleaning and maintenance, rotating meal planning ideas, on and on.
There is a section full of monthly planning including budgeting and tasks for each month (great for monthly reminders like checking smoke alarm batteries or seasonal household maintenance).
There are monthly calendar pages, one page per month for August-December 2014 then the month over a two-page spread for January-December 2015.
I won't show photos but there is an entire section for planning Christmas, holidays and summer.
The Life Book diary has detachable shopping lists on the weekly pages. That doesn't work for the Family Life Book's weekly grid so instead there is an entire section of detachable shopping lists in the back of the book. I use sticky notes for my shopping lists, so I will use these pages (and there are a lot) for planning my children's birthday parties, permanent notes, and far-future planning and reminders.
The Family Life Book also comes with an address booklet that you can use year after year, two pages of stickers (which you can see I have already used some of), and a pocket in the back to put papers, birthday party invitations, directions, tickets, and whatever else so those little bits don't get lost or buried at the bottom of your bag. The stickers are great for reminders of when your car's MOT is due, insurance renewals, doctor and dentist checkups, and to make special days stand out like birthdays and holidays. And they add color and jazz up your diary pages!
I didn't take photos of the inside of the address booklet but it has pages for contacts, quick call lists, services, and birthdays reference to make it easier to add those dates to your diary each year.
This year I treated myself to the crystal-topped pencil and stick-on loop (ordered together with my FLB, click here for link). I stuck it to the inside of the front cover so I can still slip my diary into the Organised Mum purple cover I bought a few years ago.
I had been using the Organised Mum Pick And Mix inserts in my Filofax (click here to see my extensive post on how I've been using) but when this diary starts in August I will transfer to it, and keep it in my kitchen in the Organised Mum stand I bought a few years ago so the entire family can see it and write their own things into it. That way I am not the gateway to planning, everyone can contribute and see what is going on.
Here is the front cover again, with the pencil and elastic strap!
Just looking through the book, it's amazing how much is incorporated. It really is designed to manage your, and your family's, entire lives. Between the book itself, the stickers and the address booklet you can:
- Track your schedules for home and work, and for each member of your family.
- Plan meals and write your shopping lists.
- Stick to your budget, track income and expenditures.
- Remember upcoming bills like insurance, car tax, MOT.
- Plan for Christmas ahead of time, make your budget for gifts and other holiday expenses.
- Plan the summer holidays, travel, camps and activities.
- Remember birthdays and anniversaries each year.
- Have contacts and important numbers easily accessible.
- Have a place to keep everything so nothing is forgotten!
A common question from customers to Organised Mum is which should they choose, the Life Book diary or the Family Life Book diary? The Life Book has a traditional weekly layout (you can see this in my review of it here), and the Family Life Book has a weekly grid, otherwise the features of the books are the same. If your children are small and pretty much go everywhere with you, you probably would be best off with the Life Book. Similarly if your weekly schedule is mostly set and not complicated, the Life Book is probably best for you. The Family Life Book is probably best for you if you have to track different schedules each week, such as when your children are in after-school activities. The Family Life Book is also useful if you or your spouse/ partner travel often or work shifts, or otherwise have varying schedules. The grid makes it easy to see what each person is doing every day.
**Edited because I meant to add: the Family Life Book and Life Book diaries have A5 size pages. They are easy to take out of the binding and punch to fit your A5 Filofax, Classic size Franklin Covey or Desk size Daytimer binder.
I ordered this diary from www.organised-mum.co.uk. I have ordered from them several times over the years and they have excellent customer service. They ship internationally, I have ordered from them shipped to the US several times and have found their shipping prices to be very reasonable. I am not affiliated in any way, just a happy customer!
Edited to add: here is how I have adapted the weekly pages to suit my needs:
I have added Weekend To-Dos, weekly expenses Totals (which I add up each week and put the totals into my monthly Budget pages), a larger area for To-Dos, and Next Week at the top of the right page. I LOVE the stickers! Also you can see how I've added month tabs to the weekly pages (yellow), months (blue), and monthly budget pages (green). I love how these weekly pages are so adaptable!