If you've got young kids, you'll probably know the feeling of being on a merry-go-round, whizzing around as notes for special food days, dress-up events, sports and show-and-share topics fly at you. You stuff them in your pocket while you're concentrating on work, remembering to buy milk for breakfast, feed the dog and drag the Otto bin to the kerb on garbage night.
Inevitably, something goes awry, and whoa, you're the only parent who sends their child to school in their uniform on casual day.
When we did just that – packing our oldest child off to his brand new school in his full uniform last month on dress-up day, we decided something had to give.
Somehow we've gotten through six years of parenthood without too many epic organisational fails, but now we've got two in school and we're in that crazy fourth-term pre-Christmas mode, where no matter how much you'd like to jump off the merry-go-round you can't, we had to work out a way of keeping everyone organised.
Although friends swear by certain apps to know what they are all doing, I just don't think last thing in the morning as we're going through the whole put your shoes-brush your teeth-apply your sunscreen routine, I'd remember to look at my phone, even if it did push out an alert at me.
We looked at pre-printed wall planners and whiteboards. None were overly pretty.
We potentially could have given over the fridge front as a whiteboard, but there's always the chance things will get rubbed of it given it's such as high use area. And it's not really big enough for a whole month of nitty gritty.
The solution was to paint an entire section of our wall into a giant 1.8m by 1.8m chalkboard calendar. It's not unique by any means – search through pics of wall calendars online, and there are plenty of examples. Some use hooks to hold the days / dates, making them interchangeable, some use a bunch of removable smaller chalkboard squares.
We made ours with black chalkboard paint from Porters (but there's plenty of other brands – most hardware stores seem to stock at least one. And if you prefer a coloured chalkboard, Porters stock a great range of options) and a white paint pen (from Officeworks) to mark permanent lines and days of the week. The dates we write in each month in chalk.
We kept ours deliberately simple so if we tire of it one day it can easily be painted over without too many holes to patch.
The star find for the whole project was chalkboard pens (also from Officeworks) – they go on moist, dry quickly and can be wiped (well kind of scrubbed) off with a damp cloth – meaning no chalkboard dust. And they have a finer tip so you can write more than you could with conventional chalk.
A cheap wall-mounted storage container from Ikea keeps the pens handy.
The best thing about giving over a whole wall to "getting organised" is that in the mornings you always look at it while having breakfast. So never again will my child go to school in the wrong outfit!
And despite our initial concerns, we like the look. Bring on the next casual clothes day, we'll be ready!
Have you adapted your place to make it better suit your family's needs? If so, what have you done?