Thursday, 26 April 2018

Meet my new control journal (Filofax Notebook review)

I've always been an organised person, at home and at work. I have a work diary, a calendar in the bedroom, a family planner wallchart in the hall, I menu plan and write my shopping list as I go, 99% of our bills are on standing order and I pay those that aren't as soon as they come in, ... However, since Madhouse Daddy died - and in particular since going back to work last week - I feel like my brain has reached its maximum capacity. Part of that is the fact that, seven weeks on, I am still dealing with a mountain of paperwork - a mountain that never gets smaller because as soon as I get close to clearing it, a load more arrives that needs filling in and sending off, accompanied by various photocopies of things that have been filed away for the last couple of decades. Another part is that now, I have to deal with everything and remember everything without a back-up. Madhouse Daddy always did the shopping and, although I gave him a shopping list with everything I needed to get dinner on the table, he was in charge of checking household essentials like toothpaste, toilet roll and dog food. I've forgotten to pick those up on more than one occasion - luckily we have shops very close to the house ! When Filofax got in touch and asked if I'd like to review one of their notebooks, I jumped at the chance. 

There's something very cathartic about starting a new notebook and turning to the first blank page. It's like a literal version of turning the page, wiping the slate clean, finding a new beginning. Very apt for the situation we find ourselves in here at The Madhouse.

The hardest thing is deciding what to write where - there's nothing worse than filling up page 1 then suddenly thinking oh, I wish I'd left a blank page at the start to put that instead. Filofax makes things easier because both the pages and the inserts can be removed and reinserted wherever you want. I keep switching mine around so it's great if you're indecisive or a bit of a perfectionist and want to start certain parts again.

I've decided to make mine into a control journal and it's ideal. As well as having lots of pages to fill, there is a useful pocket that can be used for storing bills to be paid, important notes from school, party invitations or flyers about events you want to visit, all in one place so you know where they are. I also love the ruler that can be pulled off then reattached whenever you need to underline things or make tables to be filled in.

So where to begin? Well, for me, it was time to empty my brain of all the things I need to do, from big stuff like arranging for the headstone and chasing up the remaining paperwork to small, inconsequential things (that are always the ones that risk being forgotten) such as buying a book for Sophie for school or dropping off a cheque at the bank.

Next, a basic shopping list of all the things that are likely to run out regularly - store cupboard basics, cleaning supplies, the aforementioned dog food and toilet roll ! This is my master list, to scan through after menu planning to complete my weekly shopping list and minimise the number of emergency trips to the local shops to pick up what was forgotten.

I'm not someone who stresses over things but I was starting to feel strangely serene and totally in control as I was writing everything down, so I decided to continue "emptying my brain". (I feel like a computer doing a clean up, emptying the recycling bin and deleting old files that aren't needed any more !) Even if they're already jotted down in various places, I made a page of all the upcoming events for me and the kids - meetings, sleepovers, dental appointments, ... The kids invariably tell me about upcoming school events or things they've arranged with their friends while I'm busy cooking dinner or washing up, so this can be the place to jot down anything they don't want me to forget.

It's not allabout serious planning and the boring day-to-day obligations though. I've also started a section that I've called our Fun Times Bucket List - both Big Plans and Small Stuff. Big Plans are mainly days out that will take some organising, like trips to theme parks or towns that are a train ride away, but also include the kids' bucket list of travel destinations. Juliette wants to go to NYC and Canada (sounds good to me !), Sophie wants to discover Antarctica (might be more complicated !) and Pierre wants to visit Paris - well, that one is easy enough ! My work colleagues made a collection after Madhouse Daddy died and gave us a card with a cheque in it, "for us to do something nice as a family when we feel up to it". I promised the kids that we'll go for a day or maybe even a weekend at EuroDisney, maybe for Halloween or Christmas, which they're excited about - I just need to plan it now ! I've also started jotting down things that the kids have asked to do at random moments, so that I can remember during the holidays or weekends. Top of the list was making edible slime - I can tick that one off already ! (Click through if you want to see how we got on.)

 It's a well thought-out notebook, with all sorts of different types of pages that you can buy as refills (blank, lined, squared, ...) and it's already become an integral part of my day-to-day organisation, whether looking for a form that needs to be filled in in the front pocket or checking what I need to buy when I pop to the supermarket.

Filofax Notebook Classics are available in a variety of colours and designs and cost £12.99 each. If you need a reason to treat yourself to a new notebook, did you know it's National Stationery Week this week (23rd–29th April)?

Disclosure : I received the product in order to write to write an honest review.


  1. I think I need me one of these!!!

  2. Sounds like the Filofax and your organisational skills might well be what you find helpful during your time of readjustment.

    I do find lists helpful, as well as calendar. Sharing responsibilities can help. Some families have the children do some specific chore/s. Seems sensible as allows child/ren to grow up, and grow into responsible, capable adult/s.

    Seems like you have some beneficial skills to share with your children. They can learn from observing how you organise a multitude of household and family commitments.

    Rachel Craig

    1. Getting the kids involved in the chores is definitely a win-win situation :)

  3. I definately need this


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