Planners Reading

Planner Talk, School Start & Reading Update

August 15, 2019

1- Planner talk! It’s almost Hobonichi sale time! As usual, they have an elaborately choreographed sequence of release dates for various pieces of information. And an extremely cute website! Check it out here.

There is a new Hobonichi planner option available for those who want more of a bullet journal experience: the “Day Free”, which is basically a monthly calendar followed by blank pages. This would be great for someone who keeps their entire ‘hard’ calendar landscape digitally.

Personally, I like having my hard landscape on paper too, so I will be sticking with the regular Techo Cousin. But I was tempted for a moment! I’m also thinking about the 5 year diary. Which might be slightly insane. But kind of fun at the same time. I purposely didn’t buy it last year because starting with a non-round-number-year didn’t seem right.

Last year I reviewed a whole slew of planners (see details here). I don’t think I am going to do that this year, in part because many of these planners stay reasonably consistent from year to year. Personally, I continue to find peace in my Hobonichi. I will probably use an Inkwell Press product for year-end planning (I love the company and their designs!).

2- BACK TO SCHOOL. Well, we made it through re-entry! Annabel started 2nd grade and Cameron kindergarten. He was surprisingly easygoing — no tear or clinginess whatsoever! We had quite a different experience 2 years ago. Just goes to show: kids are different. You certainly can influence them, but they are going to be who they are.

We didn’t do anything school-related over the summer and I did notice that both kids had forgotten a lot. I realized it was the first time in months Cameron wrote his name (drawing/writing is not his go-to leisure activity). Maybe next year some workbooks . . . or maybe it’s fine and they will catch up quickly.

Also once again struggling with how involved to be in A’s homework. I love the idea of just letting it be her responsibility, which means spelling/punctuation mistakes would just stay and her answers might not be complete. Yet that doesn’t exactly seem to be what the expectation is. I wish teachers would emphasize with the kids that homework is really for THEM to do, and if it’s not perfect that’s ok! Logistically, if Josh isn’t home (and often he isn’t), I can’t stand over her anyway due to the other 2 so we’ll just see how things go.

His smile says “I got this!”
team A&C
lucky #3 got to partake in celebratory ice cream even though she didn’t start school yet!

3- I did order an Erin Condren home management whiteboard! Disclosure: I had referral points from you all (thank you!) due to last year’s planner review, and I don’t necessarily know that I would have invested otherwise, because they are expensive! I also agree with the commenter who recommended getting my own & customizing over time. BUT – we’ll see how it goes! If nothing else, it will be good to review for you all. I got the weekly calendar layout and the task list but only one frame (for now) to see which is more useful.

4- I liked Ana’s review of Digital Minimalism. I went back and looked at my own reviews and was disappointed that I didn’t call Cal Newport out on the “spending 3 hours fixing the bathroom while his wife had the kids” issue.

But I’m glad she did. That said, I still feel the book had many worthwhile ideas (as did Ana). I have NOT completely ditched social media (instagram in particular) the way I said I would after reading it. But I think I have improved my focus lately, mostly by just trying to fill my time with other things. Cleaning out my insta feed (removing influencers and sticking to people I feel personally connected to) helped a lot! I can actually get to that “you’re all caught up” icon in a relatively short time and feel done.

I would still like to try following a time-limited scheduling of ‘checking’. I still hate that it’s THAT addictive! But I am enjoying all of the recent back to school pix, and I find the feed on my planner account particularly calming. So, there’s that.

5- Summer Reading. My “Q3” is over, but I’m giving myself until Labor Day before I call it on my summer reading list! I’m honestly quite proud of how my reading life went this summer.

I’m currently almost finished with Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and have Gravity is the Thing, The River, and The Island of Sea Women on my library hold list. I may actually get through the whole thing, which definitely satisfies my completist instincts. Shout-out to Modern Ms Darcy (95% of the list is from her Summer Reading Guide) and the Broward County Library!

The list in its current form


  • Reply Brooke August 15, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Our teacher last year wanted the kids to do homework themselves so she could see their mistakes and adjust her teaching accordingly. We occasionally helped when he was really struggling but otherwise let it be. So much easier for us!

  • Reply Emily August 15, 2019 at 9:07 am

    The River is fabulous; I think it was my favorite MMD pick and I never would have picked it up otherwise (not the kind of plot description I would usually see and decide to pick up). Like MMD, I then ordered Celine, another of his books, and am reading it now. I just finished Gravity is the Thing and wasn’t a big fan although at least it is readable and goes fast. Island of Sea Women is next on my list and I’m looking forward to it. Also really enjoyed the Last Romantics and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone from the MMD picks.

  • Reply Liz B. August 15, 2019 at 9:08 am

    1 – I was hoping the Day-Free was going to be a daily supplement for the Weeks, since I love the size of the Weeks so much, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I bought a Cousin Avec from Amazon, but didn’t actually write in it. I copied pages to try it out for a week and while I loved how it looked aesthetically, because of the space, I just didn’t want to lug it around. I’ve solved my own problem of not having daily pages in the Weeks by purchasing a printable daily insert from Etsy. I’m also using the Weeks in a partially vertical fashion, which I am loving…however…I have a B6 Jibun Techo on the way. I like how it has monthly calendars and vertical weekly pages in a B6 size. I’ll still print a B6 supplement from Etsy, because I MUST have my daily pages! No matter what – I am purchasing SOMETHING from the Hobonichi site once the store opens, simply for the experience. Two questions: 1) Have you ever planned in a Jibun Techo? 2) Do you have any idea what version of the Hobonichi Techo with 4 vertical daily sections on a 2-page spread featured in the special movie is??

    2 – I LOVE seeing everyone’s beginning-of-the-school-year pics!!!! I try not to hover when my son does homework since he should be graded on his own work, but it is so hard! This is a habit I need to work on this school year. He starts next Wednesday – can’t wait to post his pics!

    3 – I looked at the EC wall calendars, because I am on the EC email list, but once I saw the price, I was out!

    4 – I really need to read this book!

    5 – My summer reading list consisted of productivity-ish books only. I am such a bore! I need to start up my “Outlander” series book-reading marathon again, since Season 5 on Starz will be here before I know it! I love this series so much, that I try to re-read as many of the books as I can before the next TV season starts. It’s the only TV series to which I remain loyal! I usually read another book at the same time, so I need to head over to Modern Mrs Darcy’s page for fall suggestions.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 15, 2019 at 9:20 am

      I would love to try a Jibun product – I have yet to explore that brand!

      Not sure about the layout you saw (I need to find this video!) – but the first few pages of the spring (I think) version are 2 days to a page divided vertically …

      Excited for the rest of the releases!!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 15, 2019 at 9:21 am

      I absolutely wish the teachers would tell us not to be involved in homework. It seems the expectation is that we are supposed to help (grammar , spelling, punctuation, completeness) but I am going to clarify this year.

      • Reply Ana August 15, 2019 at 11:14 am

        You should definitely clarify. I only remind my kids to do their homework & help (if they ask) them understand directions, but let them make any grammar, spelling, completeness mistakes, per our teachers’ recommendations. Honestly, even if they want you to, I would push back. What is the point of YOU correcting all their homework for them? What are they learning? And how stressful a process for both you and A, which is not going to foster her love of self-directed learning!

      • Reply Amy August 17, 2019 at 1:01 pm

        Speaking as the parent of a 13yo and almost 16yo: at this age, don’t worry about what your kids teachers might or might not expect with regard to your assistance. You’re doing your kiddos a huge favor by giving them room to stretch and struggle on their own. As they get older they will have struggles that you can’t help with (and may not even know about!!). Those experiences of stretching and struggling are a huge boost by the time kids get to middle school (“I had this hard experience before and got through that. I can get through this one, too.”)

        I will add that I always made a point to mention at parent/teacher conferences that DH/my parenting goals are to raise self-sufficient adults. The point being that I’m more concerned with the long range goal than the short term report card.

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 17, 2019 at 2:49 pm

          Love this philosophy and perspective. I’m such a rule follower / upholder that it wouldn’t have occurred to me to tell the teachers my own goal for my child.

  • Reply Tas August 15, 2019 at 10:44 am

    I don’t have kids, but I’m told by friends that there is an evolving no-homework trend (I live in Oregon.) I get it at elementary age, I seem to recall that the rite of passage going into middle school was we would now have homework. But I’ve heard this trend includes high school. Meaning some schools don’t believe in homework at all. As someone that educates at the upper university level, I don’t look forward to having students in the future who have never done homework, but I think for younger kids their brains are already furiously learning, so perhaps traditional homework is not needed?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 15, 2019 at 11:40 am

      Oh i wish that trend would hit Florida… I don’t have high hopes, though.

      • Reply Laura August 15, 2019 at 1:29 pm

        Book recommendation for you – The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger. Would even be a great fiction choice for you parenting book club. The story revolves around four friends who are all trying to get their children into a new gifted school – highly entertaining and relevant to the discourse on helicopter parents,

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 15, 2019 at 2:51 pm

          Oh I am reserving this NOW!

  • Reply Ana August 15, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Oh man, I am so tempted with all this fancy planner talk but I have very specific requirements and am afraid to spend $$$ on something that doesn’t work out, when I can usually find something in the $25-30 range that works just fine.

  • Reply Lee August 15, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    We were lucky in that our kids’ Kindergarten teachers specifically said NOT to correct spelling and grammar, particularly in their journals, because they wanted kids to find writing fun and not be worried about consequences. So I would ask, for sure.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 15, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      That was true for us in K, too! But not 1st. Am going to clarify for this year – maybe this teacher has a different philosophy!

  • Reply Omdg August 17, 2019 at 7:34 am

    I cant believe Cameron and Annabel have started back at school already!! Such great pictures!

    The homework thing is so hard. Dylan doesn’t have real homework yet (I think it starts next year) but does have a reading log she is supposed to fill out, which a little annoying for us because Dylan would read a whole book in a day if we’d let her. We ask our au pair to fill that out for us and to make sure she does 15 min per day. I’d definitely talk to the teacher about whether you should be correcting the homework each day. Doing so seems like it could have the potential to suck the joy out of learning, and also is pain for you!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 17, 2019 at 2:47 pm

      PS I am so happy your blog is back! I tried to comment but not sure they are going through!

      • Reply Omdg August 18, 2019 at 8:38 am

        Try using chrome and not safari.

  • Reply Omdg August 17, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Not going through, but blogger is a pain and doesn’t seem to accept phone comments. I can only comment on other blogger blogs using my pc.

  • Reply Sarah August 17, 2019 at 10:32 pm

    I want to add a recommendation for the five year diary. It’s not crazy! I started one this year and absolutely love it. I could never keep up a diary as a kid, but have always loved paper planners. I liked the idea of a 5 year diary mostly for recording snippets of life with my kids. I bought one expecting to skip days and have trouble keeping it up.

    Instead of skipping days, I’ve written every day this year. It’s the perfect activity for right after I put the kids to bed and need to listen for a few minutes to see if they’re really down. Some days are just a cute quote from one kid, others are a brief rundown of the day. It’s a great start to my evening routine, much more pleasant than rushing right into kitchen clean up and with less than a year completed, I already love flipping back through it.

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly August 19, 2019 at 11:28 am

    The homework thing is tough! I have a 2nd grader and a new kinder, but no toddler! I was initially pretty opposed to homework, but my particular kid definitely benefits from doing the work. I tend to get her started on it and then step away for 5-10 minutes to do something else. She has a homework corner in the formal dining room, away from the dog/sister/chores/etc. Then I check in to see if she has questions/needs help/etc. If she’s stuck on something I’ll talk her through it. She has weekly homework and usually spend 20 minutes twice a week rather than 10 minutes Mon-Thu. Works better for our schedule and her style. I ask her to check her work (because I was notorious for making typos/math errors as a kid) but otherwise I don’t ask her to correct things. Overall I look at it more as extra practice time for her with support from me than something she is evaluated on. I’m not sure if my approach would be different if I had three though!

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