Single parents are crunched on all sides. The best advice to save time, and a parent’s sanity, is to get organized. To accomplish this, single moms and dads need a large canvas tote bag and a day planner with things to do list. Another fabulous idea is to laminate a checklist to peruse before walking out the front door.

Canvas Tote Bag, Day Planner with To Do List, Laminated Checklist

Large Canvas Tote Bag or “Errand Tote”

Don’t make a pile on the floor or on the table. Instead, use a large canvas tote bag as a catch all for items which need to be taken out of the house. Keep the errand tote by the front door or garage door. The list is different for everyone, but here are some examples of things to put in the errand tote:

  • Outgoing mail
  • DVD rentals
  • Library books
  • Purchases to be returned to stores
  • Boxes / bags to be returned by UPS or USPS to online stores
  • Google or Mapquest printout maps for running errands

Single Parents Need a Day Planner with Things To Do List

Without a good day planner, single parents can’t do the job of being both mother and father. Some people prefer an online day planner or something like a planner or a to-do list app on their smartphone. This type of system allows the schedule to be printed out whenever necessary.


Other single parents prefer to write things on paper. For many people, this helps to etch the message into their memory. However, it’s no good keeping scraps of paper and post-it notes on desks, next to phones, or stuffed into a purses or wallets. It’s just too scattered, and searching for scraps of paper becomes a cause of anxiety.

Check out a Filofax (which can be customized) or similar type of day planner. These books come with different layouts. Some show a day on two pages, a week on two pages, a day per page, and so on. Often, a day on two pages (day at a glance) is the right layout for a parent. The planner should have room for:

  • Things to do list
  • To call list
  • To do at work list
  • Child’s play dates
  • Errand list
  • Parent’s social life

Keep track of joint custody arrangements in the day planner to ease transitions. Good day planners may, also, have a month in two layouts or “month at a glance” layout. This makes it easy to plan for child-free dates, changes in schedules, etc.

Laminate a Checklist and Hang by the Front Door

A single parent should laminate a checklist of everyday items used by the parent and the children. Hang this by the front door. This checklist could include things such as:

  • Diaper bag
  • Formula
  • Cell phone for older child
  • Child’s homework / books for school
  • Cell phone for parent
  • Briefcase for work
  • Umbrella

A Special Checklist for Children in Joint Custody

Children who live in two homes may have one or two special items which they take back and forth. To save frantic phone calls in the night, have another laminated checklist for joint custody exchanges. List the necessary items such as:

  • Favorite teddy bear or blanket
  • Favorite video game
  • Homework assignments
  • Schedule of child’s upcoming activities for sports, school, friend’s birthdays, etc.
  • Favorite pajamas
  • Favorite doll
  • Special jacket
  • Cell phone programmed with parent’s number

All single parents need help with time management because they are doing the job of both mother and father. Try to keep chaos and stress to a minimum by using an “errand tote”, a great Filofax-style day planner with a things to do list, and a laminated checklist (or two) hanging by the front door.