I’ve just had an extremely busy holiday season and birthday month—and I barely even left home. In the midst of a pandemic, I still had to make my baby’s first Christmas extra special, and then I had to plan our trip to Boracay for her first birthday (along with mine), so I definitely had my work cut out for me—and not much time to blog.
But as we start the second month of the year, I’m able to breathe a little better and squeeze in some time to write about the journals and planners that have earned a spot on my bedside table—and diaper bag—with 2021 off to a running start. I see in Facebook groups that a lot of people still haven’t decided on a planner or journal to use for the year—in part because supposedly banks and companies who usually give out planners, journals, and calendars didn’t bother to do that this year, haha—so I thought of helping those who have yet to get one find what’s best for them, especially if they’re busy moms like I am.
Why use a planner and journal
Maybe you’ve already decided you want to start a planner/journaling habit in 2021 but just haven’t found the right one to use, or maybe you’re not convinced yet that you need one (or two or three). If it’s the latter, let me try to convince you why it’s so useful—and essential for your sanity, whether or not you’re a mom.
I’m a stay-at-home mom of one who works only part-time and I’m having such a hard time, especially since we don’t have help. I can’t even imagine how difficult it is for working moms with babies or very young kids, especially if they also don’t have help. It’s difficult, but we need to make it all happen, and we get all the help we can—even if it’s only to get more organized or centered using a journal or a planner.
Moms get flak for forgetting things because of our many responsibilities and the many things we need to think of and remember to do for everybody else in the household, hence the term “mom brain.” I dislike that, but it does happen to me all the time. So keeping a planner of my daily to-dos helps me remember things better.
Besides my planners for different to-dos and appointments, I also have separate journals: one for my baby’s milestones and all the amazing things I observe about her; another for my personal thoughts and day-to-day experiences. I have one for travel, but I rarely get to update that these days, obviously. But just the act of writing, sitting down to write, already relaxes me and consoles me, and reminds me that I need these me-time moments to remind me of who I am. And, it helps me process my thoughts and feelings, especially when being on lockdown with a baby gets to me. Since I very rarely get to talk to anyone, I just try to “talk” to my journal by writing.
Medical experts and psychologists have reminded us that keeping a journal may actually help us boost our mental health by helping us gain control of our emotions and plans. Keeping all these journals have helped me maintain my sanity despite everything going on, and in spite of everything I need to do on a daily basis. When we are forced to strip down to the barest of essentials, we journey deeper within, and with the help of pen and paper, we begin to acknowledge our emotions, start to power through anxiety, again remember our dreams, then recommit to our goals, and in the process, rediscover the strength and power of our innermost selves.
Quest Journal in travel, medium, and mini sizes
Planners and journals for different purposes
I started off with my Starbucks planner and organizer (which I blogged about here), but it turned out I needed more than two, LOL. I’m very particular about how I list my tasks, and there are just so many other things I need to take note of as a mom to a brand-new toddler, so I decided I needed to add more to my arsenal.
1. For my daily to-dos: 2021 Belle de Jour Power Planner. I chose this for jotting down my daily tasks and schedules because it provides more space (a full spread) to do just that per week, complete with the times of the day to fill them in. I also like its monthly narratives and worksheets to help me stay focused and connected to myself. The classic cover is so pretty, and I even use it to teach my daughter “eyes, nose, mouth, and eyebrows”—besides pointing them out on my face, haha. I like that it’s black so it’s not so high maintenance (in other words, hindi dumihin), and it even comes with a booklet of discount coupons for my online shopping, yay.
2. For travel plans—or just travel dreams: 2021 Navi Planner. As the pandemic rages on, we never really know when we can travel as much as we want to again, but just last month, my husband and I decided to bring our baby to Boracay for the first time to celebrate her first birthday. Planning a trip with a baby is already challenging as it is, but throw in the pandemic and it’s just a whole new level of difficult altogether. I appreciate that destinations like Boracay have a lot of safety requirements in place to protect travelers (and put worried mommas like me at ease), but it doesn’t make it any easier to comply with them. I used this planner for all the travel-related things I needed to do, especially because it has checklists and writing prompts related to traveling. To satisfy our wanderlust for now, it has a virtual “around the world” edition page and features lighthouses from 12 different countries and the stories behind them. Hopefully, we can have more family trips this year to fill it with when things get better.
3. My planner on the go: 2021 Petit Planner. As much as I like it, the downside to the BDJ Power Planner is how thick and heavy it is, with all the pages it’s packed with. So when I’m on the go—like when we traveled to Boracay or when I’m taking my baby to the pedia—I just bring the 2021 Petit Planner. Portable and handy, this planner allows one to give a quick overview of one’s plans and schedules.
4. My all-around journal: Quest Journal. Even if you’re already committed to a planner and you just want a blank canvas for all your random thoughts and to-dos, the Quest Journal can keep up with you. This year, I have it in three sizes, all in the Moss color (see below) from the Earth Collection: medium (13.7 x 19.5cm), which I use for my reflective journaling and gratitude lists; travel size (12.5 x 22cm), which I use to track my baby’s daily activities (including food intake and soiled diapers) and milestones, so I can easily take it with me anywhere; and mini size (10.5 x 13.5cm), for my baby’s doctor’s appointment notes (plus for listing questions for each visit). Each one has a PVC pocket locked with a zipper inside in case you need to take your cards, safety cash, and other essentials with you.
Whatever you decide to use your Quest Journal for, it’s a more reasonable journal to have while we remain on lockdown, as it can be part of our daily lives through writing down new recipes learned, daily tracking of new exercise, making a bucket list of series/movies to watch, and for drawing and sketching. All come in soft PU leather that will remind you of the diary you once kept as a child, safely tucked in the horizontal elastic that protects the journal. The fillers inside the Quest Journal can be interchangeable, with different fillers to choose from: Dotted, Lined, Blank, Grid, and Undated Calendar.
Another thing I like about all four planners listed here is how they’re all Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified, which means that products are made with sustainably sourced paper that were produced with responsible forestry in mind.