Bullet Journal for Busy Families with Candace Madera

Bullet Journal for Busy Families with Candace Madera

One thing I love about this “little” community of ours is how diverse we all are. We comprise all ages, genders, and walks of life. While I love sharing my Bullet Journal system with the world, I’ve come to realize that I don’t always have all of the answers for all of you out there. 

On that note, I’ve decided to start inviting guest bloggers to come on and share how they are adapting the Bullet Journal system to meet their needs. 

In this month’s installment of “Boho Berry Guests“, I am SO excited to welcome Candace Madera to the blog. For those of you that have not had the pleasure of meeting Candace, she is my virtual assistant. She keeps things running smoothly for me across social media, helps me brainstorm ideas, and took on the enormous task of being the main Admin over in the Boho Berry Tribe Facebook Group.

In addition to everything she does for me, Candace is also a full-time Mom and wife to a large and busy family.

Please join me in giving her a super warm welcome today. Take it away, Candace!


In my very first conversation with Kara we (of course) talked about Bullet Journals. She wanted to know how I used mine and in which ways I found it the most useful. Most of the reasons I listed centered around my role in our family. I am a stay at home caretaker to 3 kids, 1 dog, and a husband — and my life is busy! The wheels in her head started spinning and she thought Bullet Journaling for Busy Families would be a great guest post topic. I’m so excited to share some of what I do to manage my busy family-centered life.

 

I first learned about the the Bullet Journal system from comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, and it has saved my sanity. No question. Absolutely.

Bullet Journal for Busy Families with Candace Madera

When I was working, I had help with the kids and didn’t have a lot to organize because my kids were so young and my phone was sufficient. Then my husband found a new job and we packed up and moved 800 miles away.  I became a stay-at-home parent (ironic because I’m always driving these kids somewhere!). I had no idea what I was in for!

Life as a stay-at-home parent is extremely rewarding but it is definitely trying. There are so many things to keep track of — doctor’s appointments, birthday parties, playdates, sports practice and events, school events, homework… on and on. I needed a system that would help me keep track of all of these parts.  

What Didn’t Work

Like pretty much everyone else, my first Bullet Journal was a series of trial and error. I tried different things and although it was effective, I didn’t WANT to use it. Around January of this year I started to re-evaluate my system.  

Bullet Journal for Busy Families with Candace Madera
My effective, yet dull Bullet Journal

 

I found Kara’s post – Top 12 Bullet Journal Hacks – and realized that I needed my Bullet Journal to be FUN! That’s what was missing.  

I followed her flip throughs almost frame by frame (you did too right?) to see what collections would work for me. I use a Moleskine dot grid notebook for my Bullet Journal. It’s not my favorite color but it was all they had and I was desperate to get started. The paper quality isn’t fantastic though, so I’ll probably switch to a Rhodia dot grid or Leuchtturm1917 dot grid when this one is full.    

Tracking

I use my Bullet Journal to keep track of things I need to do for myself, my kids, and my family as a whole. I don’t know about your kids but mine have school agendas that need to be signed EVERY night by the parents to show that the work has been seen and completed. So I added a those to my habit tracker.

Once the homework is completed and checked, the agenda is signed, and put back in the backpack for the next day, THEN I mark it as completed. It cut down on missed signature days A TON!

Bullet Journal for Busy Families with Candace Madera
My tracker is set-up from “Do Every Day” at the top, to “See how many times a month” at the bottom.

Another thing I started tracking was my kids’ activities. My kids play tennis and I need to keep on top of how often they play so I know how much I owe the coach. I usually pay ahead at the beginning of the month and then keep track of how many lessons they’ve had and then write in the cost too (that’s what the 12 is). This way I know if we’re getting close to a zero balance and it helps me budget to see how much we are averaging in tennis lessons per month!  (Kids are expensive right?)

Laundry Schedule

Bullet Journal for Busy Families with Candace Madera
DIY laundry balls have saved me from having to buy dryer sheets!

I’m not sure if this is a weird thing but I schedule my laundry. We are a family of five, so that means 9-12 loads of laundry per week.

I have two rules about laundry:

  1. No more than 2 loads a day 
  2. Never On Sunday  

Doing specific loads of laundry on the same day every week means I never have a backlog of laundry to power through, and the load sizes are virtually the same week to week! Yes, occasionally I have an extra load or two in a week but they are easy to fit into my schedule.  

Meal Planning

Bullet Journal for Busy Families with Candace Madera
How cute are these salt and pepper shakers?

 

One of my biggest struggles is meal planning. If I don’t plan meals ahead of time and shop for them, I have no idea what to have for dinner on a given day and we end up wasting money on eating take-out.

Kim over at Tiny Ray of Sunshine suggested a Master List of Meals spread. I completely followed her layout and wrote down some of our favorite meals for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Now I can turn to this page and pick from these “Hits” when planning our meals for the week. If we do try out a “new” meal and everyone enjoys it, I can just add it to the list for the future.     

Weekly Spread

Bullet Journal for Busy Families with Candace Madera
I like to decorate my weekly page, it helps me relax and think about what I need to do for the coming week.

 

I always thought the idea of a weekly spread was redundant. In my mind, anything in a weekly spread would have to be copied into a daily spread and that just seemed silly to me.

Until I realized that I needed a weekly task list. I needed a place to write down all the things that needed to get done that week but didn’t necessarily have a specific due date.  

This one page spread has been a game changer for me. I am MUCH less likely to migrate those items on the weekly task list, because if I don’t get to it on Monday I have until Saturday to cross it off!! So much less unnecessary stress for me. (Yes, untouched tasks stress me out!)  

Monthly Spread

Bullet Journal for Busy Families with Candace Madera

My monthly spread is where I keep track of appointments or important dates. Some months are crazy busy and some are pretty tame. An overview of my month with a list of goals or things I need to think about soon is perfect for me right now.

I really love adding Zentangles and doodles to my Bullet Journal. If I take the time to set-up and decorate my weekly and monthly pages, I’m more likely to look at it and use it because of the effort that went into creating it.  I don’t want to forsake that creative energy.

My Biggest Win

The most important and frankly, unexpected, benefit to using the Bullet Journal system has been the change to our quality of life. My husband started one for work and the two of us sleep so much better.  

All of those thoughts that swim around our heads and keep us up at night, are now all out on paper. Overall, we are less stressed and more in control of the things we can control which makes it easier to deal with unexpected things when they inevitably do pop up.  

All of this adds up to happier, calmer parents which trickles down to our kids. Don’t get me wrong, we still have our rough days but they are fewer and farther between now.  Our goal is a happy, healthy family and the Bullet Journal system helps us achieve that!

Candace Madera
Candace is a full-time mom and part-time assistant. When she’s not running Mom’s Taxi service (complete with drinks and a snack), she can be found practicing her new obsession, brush calligraphy, with her nose in a book, bingeing on Netflix and knitting, or trying to keep her crazy kids in order. You can follow her adventures, Bullet Journal and otherwise on Instagram @cmadera63.
  • Candace is such an isnpiration to me, even if I’m not a busy mom! I love seeing her bullet journal photos on Instagram. I like that weekly layout, I should create one for myself as well :)

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      Thank you Alice! That means so much to me! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  • Susan Gray

    Oh Candace, thank you for writing this! I, too, am a stay-at-home-mom and I am definitely taking some pointers from your post!

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      You are so welcome! I’m glad it helps!

  • Ari

    Thank you for sharing this!! I only have a 3 year old daughter and I’m not a stay-at-home mom but the meal planning spread and the zentangles are speaking to me!! Up until you mentioned it, I thought the weekly spread was redundant as well. Thanks for turning on the light bulb!! Plus I loved your “One Week” quotes, I love that song! :)

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      You’re so welcome! I hope some of my tips are useful to you! BNL is a staple at our house!

  • Candace – Boho Berry

    I’m so grateful to Kim for suggesting it! I hope it works for you!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! I have been struggling with how to get my bullet journal started and I found everything I needed to get mine going. You are my hero!

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      Thank you Vikkie! I’m so glad you found it helpful!

  • Sheena Anderson

    I love seeing inside your bullet journal. I love the idea of the weekly to do list. I can totally relate to you since we are a homeschool family of six!! I am actually working on a separate homeschool bullet journal for us right now!!

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      Thank you Sheena! You probably need a separate bullet journal to keep track of all that information. Good luck!!

  • melanie

    Thank you so much for this! I just started Bullet Journalling in June and it has been great but I am looking for ways to make it better. I’m a stay-at-home Mum to 3 kids too with some pretty serious health issues that have made me forget a lot (chemo-brain). Even your talk about signing the kids agendas resonated with me. My oldest always leaves hers until the last minute in the morning and this fall I will have two agendas to sign so I’m definitely adding that to my tracker list. Plus I want to teach them spelling and penmanship since they don’t do that in school anymore. I’m definitely bookmarking this post so I can come back to it again and again.

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      Thanks Melanie! I’m sorry to hear about your health problems, I hope you get better soon! I’m always on the lookout for the most efficient way to tackle a problem and the agendas were creating stress so this was my solution. I hope it works for you in the fall!

  • Audrone Simkute

    Such a useful post! I love master list of meals idea! I have to cook just for myself but often I find that I’m too lazy or have no idea what to cook. This is going to be on my bullet journal.

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      Thanks so much! I’m so glad you’re going to give it a try!

  • Sabrina Meyn

    Right now I’m waiting for my new journal to arrive so that I can start making lists and this is really helpful. :D
    Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      That’s so exciting! Good luck with your Bullet Journal!

  • Thank you for sharing Candace! i’m definitely going to have to try out that Master Meals list. My husband and I seem to always be asking what we will be eating next. We need an easy way to execute a plan and that seems like the way to do it! Thanks!

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      Thanks Emma, it’s been a huge help to me, I hope it works for you too!

  • I’m stoked that you love the idea and how well it’s been working for you :) It has definitely been a massive time-saver and makes the process much easier and fun!

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      Thanks again SO much for the advice!! It’s simple, straightforward, and easy to implement which means it’s something I come back to often!

  • Love your BuJo! I also have a meal plan in my BuJo but I’m not using it right. I might give the Master List idea a go. I must find a way to get on top the laundry and maybe this is the way to go. Also, what are DIY laundry balls?

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      Let me know how it goes!! DIY laundry balls are what I use instead of dryer sheets! 100% wool wrapped into balls that are washed then dried (use a pair of panty hose and tie and knot between them so they don’t felt together) and then you pop them in the dryer with your clothes. The move around and help circulate the air better to the clothes AND prevent static (most days)!

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  • Whitney – Plannerize

    Thank you for these layout tips. I’m trying to figure out how I want to plan the rest of July and start August in my Leuchtrum 1917. I’m trying bullet journaling as my main planner source. I already partially use it for work in a Moleskine weekly calendar. I’m hoping for more freedom this way.

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      You’re welcome! I’m sure you will find lots of inspiration around here! Good luck!

  • This is such a great post, I’ve just started my first bullet journal and I’m a stay at home mum to three kids, I’m still figuring out what works for me and I love the idea of the master meal planning! So many great ideas, thanks!

  • Candace – Boho Berry

    So exciting!! I hope you’ll be sharing your Bullet Journal in the facebook group or on Instagram!

  • Kate Franklin

    My son is starting Primary School this year, and my daughter is starting Pre-school so this is perfect timing for me to see this post.. I love the idea of using a tracker to keep an eye on school related things.

    • Candace – Boho Berry

      I love it! I hope it works out for you too!

  • Brian Skinner

    I love the swirls and weave backgrounds. I’ll try some quick patterning doodles for my summer spreads and into the fall. maybe a back to school theme or ghosts for Halloween. Thanks for posting! #Awesome