This post was sponsored by Mama Bear Designs, but the opinions are all our own!

Mama Bear

Let’s be honest here for just a moment about 2020.

We all watched Bird Box in 2018 and saw how that panned out. If you didn’t, or have forgotten, the basic plotline is as follows: Mom has to move blindly, fighting a deadly monster that she can’t see, while also trying to protect and save her children. I never imagined I would be using it as a metaphor to describe my life in 2020, but here we are.  

Unfortunately, there are a lot of elements of this year that were, and still are, completely out of my control. Sigh. 

Refocusing though, I recently started to do my year-end review. Each year, I actively reflect back on what things worked for me, what things didn’t, and how I can change my behavior to make the next year better. 

Turns out, where things really went awry this year was with my organization — meal planning, calendaring, appointment tracking, general mom admin, etc. Truthfully, I wasn’t really sure how to tackle that one. My traditional organization methods just weren’t working while we were spending all our time at home and participating in virtual school. It was time to start over. 

I identified my problem areas. 

  • I needed something I could easily erase. No stickers, no fancy stuff, just something to make my life less chaotic. Bonus points awarded if it didn’t bend easily.
  • I couldn’t have everything in one book. I needed something separate for grocery lists and meal planning. If my husband had to physically open the book to see what was happening, that was an automatic disqualification. 
  • My husband needed to be able to see what was happening every day since he is working from home. 
  • No dry erase markers. 

So I researched, and although there are plenty of great options on the market, I couldn’t get the options from Mama Bear Designs out of my head. I kept going back to them because they checked all my boxes. They had separate systems for meal planning, “home planning,” and even a large easy-to-read calendar I could share with my husband. 

I braced myself and looked at the pricing… then realized it was also the cheapest system I was looking at by… well… a lot. Nervously (shoutout to all my fellow type A moms who know how big of a commitment this really is), I committed to the product. 

When I started using it, though, I fell in love. 

I started with the meal planning system. Even though I love my cookbooks, these days I’m more of a Pinterest gal. Unfortunately, this means I often don’t end up using the same recipe twice, which was a big problem until I got a binder to organize them in! The meal planning/shopping list book is probably my favorite feature of the whole set — it’s small, organized, and can easily come with me to the store so I have a big picture of what I’m cooking for the week, what I need for the meals, and what other items the family needs. 

Generously, the meal system also comes with a recipe binder.

I organize most of the divider tabs by type of food, but I also have one tab at the front to store the recipes I’m using for the week. That way, I don’t lose them. Making big problems easier, one step at a time.

The next “big” problem I tackled was my life and home planning.

Because I needed a “big picture” planner for myself and also a “small picture” snapshot for my husband, the home planner and the big calendar complement each other nicely. 

My favorite thing about the planner is definitely the layout — one page is set up for the week, and the opposite page is a “to do” section for week as a whole. It allows me to track the most important activities of my week in an easy way while not feeling overwhelmed by trying to pack it all into one day. It works for me! 

The calendar is probably the most important part of our organization system.

What good is organizing anything if your partner has totally different plans? We put the calendar in an easily accessible place to look at and change, and so far it’s worked like a charm. 

Personally, I give this system 5 stars.

It meets all my needs, doesn’t immediately make me feel overwhelmed, doesn’t require fancy accessories that I don’t have time for, and is very cost-effective. Here’s to an organized 2021!

Chelsey is a "central Mass" girl who married her 7th-grade sweetheart. She attended both undergraduate and graduate school in Boston, then taught high school on the North Shore for seven years. After living in Winchester and Melrose for several years (and moving too many times), she and her husband finally settled in Groveland in 2015. She loves the North Shore and everything it has to offer, and she enjoys raising her daughter there. Chelsey is the community engagement coordinator for Boston Moms and is mostly a stay-at-home mom. She spends lots of time advocating for children with disabilities, arguing with insurance companies, and looking for disabled influencers, inclusive companies, and materials that celebrate neurodiversity. She avidly listens to audiobooks, hates everything about coffee, and, most importantly, loves being a mom.