Tuesday 13 October 2009

Wipe-Clean Food Diary & Medicine Diary

If you're a working-mum, or even a stay-at-home mum with several children to look after, there are times when trying to stay on top of everybody's timetables and remember who needs what and when can get very complicated. Your brain goes into overload and unless you're really organised and have permanent access to a diary/calendar/personal organiser, you're bound to forget something. If it's just a forgotten PE kit or birthday card, it's not too serious, but if you have to remember vital things like medication, it can be of the utmost importance.

These Medicine and Food Diaries are a handy tool for all mums and dads, allowing you to keep a convenient record of what has been given to your child or children throughout the day. If you have a child who has food allergies or intolerances, this would be a really useful way of keeping track of what kicks off a reaction. Similarly, for children with illnesses that need rigorous medication, such as diabetics, it would be a very reassuring day-by-day guide to keep things in control. Older children could even be given the task of filling it in by themselves, so that they gradually take on the responsibility of keeping themselves healthy in a controlled way.

Even in our house, where luckily (touch wood ! ) nobody has any dietary or health issues, they are a great way of making sure everybody gets a balanced diet and remembering who liked which dishes. It's a great tool for busy mums who want to plan menus ahead and remember which recipes got the thumbs up and which foods were fed to the dog ! We also customised our Food Diary with reusable stickers, and the girls loved keeping track of their five-a-day fruit and vegetable portions, sticking stars on each healthy portion and proudly adding a reward sticker to the bottom of the page if they hit their target. It could therefore be a really motivational tool for fussy eaters. Or even for mums on a diet who want to keep a journal of what they've been eating !

The books are sturdy and wipe-clean. They come with a special wipe-clean pencil ("for films, plastics, china and glass"), but they can be used with any high quality wipe-clean pen or pencil. The pencil is delivered slotted in the ring-binder end of the book, which is a pain because it keeps falling out. We got round this by replacing the pencil with a pen and using sellotape to stick the lid of the pen to the front cover, but it would have been nice - especially at this price - to have had a more convenient pen or pencil supplied. It was also slightly irritating that we had to go looking for a pencil sharpener before we could use the pencil that came with the book ! Each page is laid out as a list with, for the food diary, places for date - time - food type - notes and, for the medicine diary, date - time - temperature - medicine type - amount - notes.

I'm definitely going to be using this when Pierre goes to the childminder's, so that we can keep track of who has given him what and avoiding doubling up on medication or repeating the same foods during weaning. It will be reassuring and interesting to see which new foods he has tasted and how he reacted to them - it's a lovely way for working parents to find out what they've missed while they've been at work. I think these books would also be ideal for elderly people who tend to be forgetful, so that they can remember what medication and meals they have had.

It's a great idea and it can be adapted to fit your needs. We found the plain white pages a little boring, so the girls jazzed them up with little pictures drawn around the edges with the special pencil and colourful reusable stickers. There are 62 pages in each book, which seemed too much, so we combined the two, using some pages for food and some pages for medicine. We also added a "messages" section at the back (handy for childminder-parent communication that otherwise invariably ends up involving easily-lost scraps of paper or quickly delivered (and forgotten !) messages at hometime !) and a shopping list page. It would actually be handy to have a smaller pocket-sized version combining all of these, that could be slipped in the changing bag for day care or into mum's handbag for when you're out and about.

Price : £15 (or £10 on the website)

star rating : 4/5

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