As a mom who has been focusing on making my self-care a priority since 2016 (and ramping it up after the pandemic began), I knew that once I discovered the planning community in early 2021 that I wanted to get my hands on some planners that were specifically designed to help me focus on this.
A few months ago, I discovered Simple Self, a small women-owned business, when I watched this review video on YouTube from planner reviewer Amanda from Amanda’s Favorites. Right away, I knew that I had to get a copy of this planner.
As of the date of this blog post, I’ve been using The Self-Care Planner daily edition for 30 days (beginning Sept 27, 2021) and today, I’m giving you my honest review. My hope is that by sharing how I’ve been using this planner the last few weeks that you’ll be able to make a better decision if this planner can work for you.
Keep in mind that while this planner isn’t specifically created for moms, I’m a mom of four and so my thoughts and opinions of this planner will be from that point of view. As with all my blog posts, I like sharing tips for helping moms master stress and so at the end of this review, I’ll share if I feel this planner is something I’d recommend to you.
BUT, before I dive in, let me be clear: this is NOT a sponsored post. I repeat: nobody paid me anything to write this review. I bought for and paid for this planner with my OWN money and I wasn’t asked to write this review post by anyone at Simple Self. I’m not an affiliate with this brand and links in this post are not affiliate links. All my opinions are my own.
The Planner Features & Specs
The Self-Care Planner from Simple Self comes in several versions, but the one I picked up is their six-month undated daily edition in the sand gray color.
According to their website, the wellness features of this planner include:
- A six-step Personal Self-Care Plan
- Meals, Mood, Glasses of Water, Hours of Sleep & Exercise trackers
- Daily Gratitude
- Start & End Self-Assessments
- Health Symptom Tracker
- Monthly Self-Care Challenges
The planning features include:
- Monthly & Weekly Goal Setting
- Daily, Weekly & Monthly Planning Pages
- Monthly Reflection & Road Map
- Year at a Glace Page
- 27 Additional Notes Pages
- Quotes by Inspiring Women
The planner I picked is a six-month, undated planner featuring 70 lb premium paper. The page size measures 6.5″ x 9″ (a little bigger than A5) and Simple Self products are sustainably made in the USA.
Simple Self founder, Marylyn Davis explained the purpose of this planner in the “A Note from the Creator” page. Here’s a brief excerpt from that note:
“The Self-Care Planner provides a new, holistic approach to planning, incorporating more than just to-do lists and goals into your daily plan. It is designed to help you plan your life while prioritizing the activities that make you feel amazing from the inside out.”Marylyn Davis, founder of Simple self
What’s Inside the Simple Self-Care Planner?
In this IGTV video I posted on Instagram last month, I shared a flip through of the inside of The Self-Care Planner Daily Edition that I have. You can watch that here, even if you don’t have an Instagram account, for a quick, complete look inside this planner.
But if you don’t want to watch, here is the rundown:
- Title page with lines to write your name, email and phone number
- A Spotify code to a mellow playlist
- A note from the creator, Marylyn Davis
- Instruction page
- The Self-Care Plan pages (2-pg Self-care Assessment, 2-pg Self-Care Map, A Self-Care Cheat Sheet, Set Self-Care Recurring Acts pg, 2-pg Create Your Vision of Balance, 2-pg Set Your Goals, 2-pg Design Your Ideal Routine)
- Year at a Glance page
- Monthly Intentions page
- 2-pg Monthly Calendar page (Sunday start) with Self-Care Challenge (sections for personal & work goals, notes, positive self-talk, treat yourself, act of kindness, don’t forget)
- Monthly Review page
- 5 more months worth of Monthly Intentions, Monthly Calendar, and Monthly Review pages (total of 6 months, undated)
- Dot Grid Notes Page
- Week of Page with weekly quote (sections for personal & work to do, hours of sleep, overall mood, habit tracker (up to 7 habits))
- Daily Pages (sections for gratitude, weather, top goal, schedule (6a-7p), to do list, self-care, exercise, water tracking, meals)
- Total of 26 Weeks worth of Notes, Week Pages & Daily Pages
- 2-pg End Assessment
- 2-pg Health Tracker (sections for date/time, symptom, factors)
- 2-pg Dot Grid Notes
My 30-Day Experience Using The Self-Care Planner
Filling out the beginning pages
Overall, my experience with using The Self-Care Planner from Simple Self has been very positive. This is the first planner that I’ve tried that is specifically geared towards helping prioritize self-care and I found the assessment and planning pages in the beginning of it to be helpful, specifically the “create your vision of balance” pages.
Even though I didn’t return to the beginning pages after completing them (except the goals page), I found the process of reflecting on my values to help me focus and get a clearer picture of how I want my life to look and feel. This helped me to create goals that aligned with that vision.
Based on what I can tell from the website, all versions of their planners come with these beginning pages. The difference between the planners beyond that is whether you pick a weekly (12 months) or daily (6 months).
Using the monthly pages
For the monthly intentions page for October, I referred back to my goals page. I found that helpful because I didn’t have to think too deeply about my intentions for the month since I’d already done the deep thinking ahead of time when I filled out my goals. Because of that, I can see the value in filling out the pages in the beginning of the planner when you get it.
Even if you don’t consider yourself someone who wants to focus on any goals (I don’t), doing that pre-work using the beginning pages can help you set your intentions for the duration of the time you spend using this planner, which hopefully is the full six months. And taking the assessment before working on my vision of balance and goals was helpful to see which areas of my life needed more focus.
How I used the weekly pages
First of all, most daily planners don’t have any sort of weekly page. They typically have a monthly calendar and daily pages. That’s it. While the weekly pages in this planner don’t specifically outline space for each day of the week, it is formatted in a unique way that allows you space to track your sleep, mood, and habits alongside your weekly personal and work to-do lists.
The first week I used this planner, I really loved the weekly page. I was using another daily planner before this one that didn’t have such a page so having a place to list out tasks for the week felt amazing. That week was specifically busy with lots of tasks I needed to complete so having it came at the perfect time.
I didn’t use the priority column as intended. Instead of ranking by order of priority, I used that line to delegate a task to a day of the week. I wrote in the abbreviated day of the week (ie Mon) and that helped me to remember that I have to do it on that particular day.
As a stay-at-home mom, the work to-do list wasn’t something I needed, but I used it primarily for blog-related tasks and for my daily yoga schedule. You can see that in the priority column I listed the date rather than the day, which was when I realized that it resulted in less brain power if I actually put the day instead.
Before each weekly page is a dot grid page which could work really well for someone who likes to do weekly brain dumps. From the brain dump page, you could then decide which tasks should be added to your list of things to do this week. I plan on using that page this way when I return to using this planner. (I’m going to take a break and use another self-care planner for November so I can review it, but I do plan on eventually returning to the Simple Self one.)
Using the sleep, mood and habit trackers
While I used the weekly page a lot that first week, as the weeks went on, my days weren’t as task heavy and I found myself using the weekly page less frequently, especially once I stopped filing in the sleep, mood and habit tracker.
Before beginning this planner, I wasn’t tracking any habits. Not because I don’t see the value in it – I absolutely do. I just wasn’t currently doing any tracking. But when I began the month of October, I also started a new supplement program and I knew using the tracker would be a helpful reminder to take them.
And although the sleep and mood tracker features are neat, I don’t have an issue with prioritizing sleep and I wasn’t in the mood to track my moods. (Mood tracking is something I did early in the year for about two months. After feeling satisfied that my moods were stable, I stopped feeling the need to track it.) I also wear my Fitbit Inspire 2 all the time so my Fitbit app has been tracking my sleep automatically since I got it for Christmas last year, so it felt like a waste of time to fill it out on paper.
Using the daily planning pages
The meat of this planner are the daily planning pages, which I’ve used pretty much every single day. Prior to using this daily planner, I was using an A5 Plum Paper daily planner so the page size is very similar to what I was used to. The main difference with this planner was that the scheduled section takes up more space than it did in my last planner and it’s already time stamped 6 am until 7 pm with three additional lines for Evening.
Although I appreciate that this self-care planner has space each day for gratitude, exercise, water tracking and meals, those were the parts I used the least. Even though I practice yoga daily, I don’t consider that “exercise” so I used the self-care box on this page for that.
I think what I most appreciated about the daily pages (and really all the pages of this planner) is the clean look. There isn’t any color in this planner anywhere except the cover. Most of the time, I kept it simple and just used pen, but sometimes I brought in a pop of color with a sticker or mildliner.
Other things I used while using this planner
All that being said, this planner wasn’t the only planner I used in October. In conjunction, I was using my half-letter discbound planner with weekly inserts, which is where I kept most of the weekly to-dos. I also have a section in that planner with a master list of things to do (my Inbox pages) so I didn’t really need the weekly page in this planner.
Additionally, my half-letter planner has a monthly calendar section where I keep all my family’s schedules. So I didn’t really utilize the monthly page in this planner either, although I did fill it out with my own personal appointments as well as labeling when each of my menstrual cycle phases would start. I figured since this planner focused on self-care that having my personal appointments related to my health and self-care would be a great record to look back on.
I also have another A5 bookbound planner that I’ve been using to track my health symptoms and so I never needed to use the health log in this planner. I actually tried to list out my symptoms using a log format in my half-letter but I didn’t like it and prefer to have it in a structured planner/calendar layout.
Is The Self-Care Planner a Good Planner for Moms?
So, after using the Simple Self Self-Care Planner for several weeks, I can honestly say that I do feel like this planner is a great planner option for moms. But before I get into my feelings about it, lets get some other things about this planner out of the way for those of you who might be curious:
Other things about this planner
- The page texture isn’t toothy or gritty, but it also isn’t buttery smooth. I didn’t run into any issues with smearing, bleedthrough or ghosting. I mostly used gel pens, ballpoint, and mildliners.
- The monthly calendar has a Sunday start and the boxes are about an inch tall by an inch and a quarter wide. They are also blank, not lined, boxes. (If you need a Monday start, you could use sticker headers or correction tape to cover up and change the day.)
- Even though the pages are undated, the weekly page was designed for a Monday start. The sleep and mood tracker start with Monday. (However, you could ignore that if you aren’t using the trackers or simply use correction tape to change it to Sunday start if that’s your preference.)
- Half the width of the daily pages is dedicated to your schedule section, divided into 1 hr incriments begining at 6 am and ending at 7 pm. Having it already dated this way might not work well for people who might work nights or start their day earlier.
- It’s on a wire-o metal coil. Sometimes the metal smell transfered to my hands, which made me try to avoid touching the coil all together (probably only an issue for someone else who’s also highly sensitive). Not sure if that was just this planner, but this one is the first I’ve gotten with this type of binding so it could just be the nature of all wire-o metal coils.
- There isn’t a notes section on the daily pages themselves, which I found that I missed from my last daily planner. Technically, since I never used the Exercise portion, I could have just used that for notes, but the perfectionist in me never did.
- There are no yearly calendar pages. This is truely a 100% undated planner, which in this planner also meant not including any pages with lists of holidays for 2021, 2022, or anything. You’d need to reference a dated calendar somewhere else. (You could purchase calendar stickers from a third party shop and stick them to one of the dot grid pages in the back of the planner if you absolutely need a yearly calendar(s).)
- There aren’t any pages or sections for reflecting back on your week, if that’s something you want to do as part of your self-care. However, you technically could use the dot grid page next to the weekly page for this purpose.
- There aren’t any tabs so you would need to use a bookmark, paperclip, page flag or sticky note to mark the pages you need to frequently reference.
- This planner doesn’t have a pocket folder. A pocket would be very handy if this were going to be someones one and only planner. (This issue could easily be resolved by adding a sticky pocket to the inside cover from a third party shop.)
- The pages are numbered on the bottom, which I didn’t even notice until just now, but that detail might annoy someone or it might be helpful if you like to index.
- The to-do sections are either personal or work. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you could replace the work section for tasks around the house instead. Or tasks related to the kids.
Of course, none of these are deal breakers in my opinion. Nor do these change my opinion on the planner over all. I just wanted to point out the things I noticed during my time using this planner to help you better know what to expect.
Why I’d recommend this planner for moms
Moms do everything for everyone else and selflessly put our needs aside. But we are arguably the most deserving group of people on the planet of practicing self-care.
And because this planner does a great job of outlining what it means to practice self-care and has the framework in place to help moms prioritize it, I recommend this planner for moms who want to be better about practicing self-care.
Plus, I’m the type of person who needs something out and in my face to help remind me to do it and this planner checks off that box of putting self-care front and center. Not only am I being reminding of it on the daily pages, but in every other page of this planner.
So, if you fall into that category of someone who is already using a planner, and are currently wanting to focus on prioritizing self-care, this planner could work great for you, especially if you take the time to think through and fill out the beginning pages.
However, if you aren’t currently using a planner, and don’t feel the need to start using a planner, I don’t recommend this for you. Instead, you might consider some sort of self-care journal (see the post script for a possible recommendation).
Planner moms: If you’re very new to practicing and prioritizing self-care, the self-care cheat sheet in the front of the planner makes a great daily reference tool to help you fill out that daily self-care box. It helps reframe your mind around what is considered self-care.
The level of thought and detail that has gone into the assessment and self-care plan pages of this book shows and that’s what makes this planner worth the cost.
After taking your assessment, you’ll have a better idea of what areas of your life are important to you and what areas need attention.
Remember: self-care is personal. It’s about what you want to focus on right now. It isn’t about doing something that someone else is telling you that you “should do.”
This means you don’t have to fill out the parts of the planner that aren’t important to you right now. If a certain category isn’t something you want to work on for your intentions, skip it (I skipped finances and relationships in October). It doesn’t mean you don’t care about those things. It just means you have another area of your life that you want to improve upon right now.
Just because it’s a section (sleep, mood, water, gratitude, etc.) doesn’t mean you have to fill it out all the time (or at all). You can make the planner work for you and what you are prioritizing right now.
You’re self-care journey is uniquely yours and you might not feel the need to utilize all the parts of this planner in the first month. That’s okay.
With this planner, I would encourage you to start slow because if you have never tracked anything that this planner has space to track, it can feel overwhelming to suddenly track all the things. Instead, pick just one or two things and track that for a month before adding another thing to track the next month. Once you’ve developed that habit, then you can add a new one to track.
Remember, this planner review is based only on my opinion of using the daily edition of The Self-Care Planner from Simple Self and they have a few other versions that you can check out on their website to see if any of those versions might better suit your needs (especially if you’re not a daily planner person).
I hope that this review helps you decide if you want to use this planner in 2022 to help you prioritize self-care. If you did find this post helpful, be sure to let me know and feel free to share it with your friends. You never know who else might be on the hunt for a good planner right now.
P.S. If a planner isn’t for you, but a self-care journal might, be on the look out for my review in early next year of the JMB Living Journal. I just ordered a quarterly subscription beginning with their Winter 2022 journal. While you wait for that review post (coming in February), you can check them out here. Also, be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you can get an email when all new posts are published, including the JMB Living Journal review (use the form below).
P.P.S. Don’t tell anyone, but I may or may not be featured in a small way in the Spring 2022 issue of JMB Living! You heard it here first! The creator reached out to me a few weeks ago and I was over the moon excited! I will definitely share once it’s out, so be sure you’re following me on Instagram because that’s likely where I’ll share it once I get my copy.