Tools for the Parent, Organized and Otherwise, from $0-$200

[ 7 ] January 13, 2009 |

By Katy Killilea

A fresh, new year often brings a smidge or more of motivation to get a grip on the mayhem of family life. What works for one parent certainly won’t work for all, but here’s what’s working for me.


Scrap paper & Sharpies
We use the backs of school papers and mail for notes and lists. Any 8″ x 11″ sheet gets cut into quarters, and a stack of these is kept near the pen jar. This may be ecologically sound, but I do it more out of admiration for all of the pretty paper the kindergarten teacher uses. Add a variety of Sharpies into the mix and you’ve got a high-impact note-writing system. ($0, scrap paper; $1, Sharpie)Magnetic Clip

Magnetic clamps
These clamps are powerful magnets with powerful jaws. Perfect for holding a grocery list, the stack of envelopes you need to mail, and sometimes a stray Webkinz. Their simple shape and plain, uncolored metal make them visually unobtrusive. ($3 for two)

Metal strips
We keep a running grocery list clamped (see above) to a metal strip smartly installed—not my idea—on the inside of a cabinet door. This means the list is handy, but private, allowing for a veil of mystery regarding one’s plan to buy penne instead of farfalle. ($4)
Iphone Calendar
iPhone (
I had been using mine solely as a phone, a calculator, for e-mail and for Pacman. But this year I’ve begun to use my iPhone’s calendar. This resulted mostly from peer pressure. But it’s fairly divine to know with certainty, when the receptionist asks, that Thursday at 10:15 will be a wonderful time to return for that root canal. ($200)

Datebook made from actual paper
A paper datebook is essential: for back-up, as a security blanket, for doodling during PTO meetings, and because there are so many irresistible ones. The best is the Personal & Family Organizer by Busy Body Book. A week in BBB land is minimally but ingeniously divided into a grid that corrals a family’s goings-on. But it does more. It helps you think. And it has all of the features you could wish for: internal pockets, water-resistant covers, and each week has dedicated empty space to use at your whim. Heaven. ($17.95)

Busy Body BookIf I were shopping for a datebook and feeling more pink faux crocodile than minimalist, I’d head for MomAgenda. These have well-thought-out organizing features, with a little bit of frill and quite a bit of girliness, some polka dots, and some toile. ($40)

Motivational Tools
Sometimes the best intentions need a little oomph. 2009 offers lots of specialized stationery options.

Buttoned Up’s line of products is insane—things I’d never have imagined needing, but that make sense: a book just for recording passwords, a binder to hold gift cards and keep track of the balance on each, a pad of forms for delegating chores to family members, and a notebook for recording your fitness routine and eating patterns in minute detail. Any of these will give a boost to an even slightly motivated person in need of a change. ($4 and up.)

Buttoned Up FitnessMateo Ilasco ClipsI Will Do One Thing Today

Piles of papers are easily tamed with binder clips, but are more fun to tame with Mateo Ilasco’s Action Organizing Clips, These clips come with numerals (pictured) or with lovely-looking but forceful demands like, “Pay” and “File.” ($13/set)

At first this pad seemed like a joke to me, but now I see it as the most useful tool of all: Prettybitter’s “I Will Do One Thing Today” sticky-notes. You now have permission to: Pick one thing. Do it. Check it off of your list. Take the rest of the day off.

What are you doing to stay organized? Please share your ideas with the Kidoinfo community by posting your comments.

Category: organization, shop

Katy Killilea

about the author ()

Katy Killilea lives in Barrington with her husband, their sons (2001 + 2003), and a dog named Grover. Katy loves reading, cooking, loud pants, the Beehive in Bristol, and learning everything she can about Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. She says more about that at Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes.

Comments (7)

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  1. calendar katharine says:

    And the free App for iPhone called “lose it” is a great fitness/diet tracker too.

  2. We have a six-year-old and a three-year-old, and we have to keep the Sharpies on the top shelf with the matches and chocolate chips.

  3. Alex T says:

    More organization tips can be found at 43 Folders that range from the extremely low-tech and inexpensive “Hipster PDA” to very nerdy things you can do with a Mac. That said, you can easily squander your hard won time reading about all the clever things people do to save it.

  4. joe says:

    hook up with or marry someone who is organized. it helps a great deal.

  5. calendar kate says:

    Alex T–thanks for turning me on to 43 Folders! Itunes has a (free) 43 Folders podcast–listen to the guru while you work out–that’s fun for the truly obsessed.

  6. calendar katy says:

    Busy Body Books are all on sale (it being February…) and they have an offer for an additional 15% off with the coupon code “vday”

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