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  • Megan Johanson

Surprising Ways I've Used Excel: Part 2

I use Excel not only for work but also to manage my home life. In my last post, I shared the first 10 ways I use Excel related to work and household management.

Today I'm sharing 10 ways to use Excel related to family and children. I still have 15 more ways to use Excel to share in upcoming posts, so stay tuned.


1. Baby To-Dos by Trimester

To no one’s surprise, when I found out I was pregnant, I immediately started searching for lists of what I needed to get done and when. After reading many articles online, I compiled the relevant tasks into a list organized by trimester. This was helpful when sitting down with my husband every few weeks to assign responsibilities. It enabled us to make sure we were making progress to have everything ready before my due date.

Table where tasks to prepare for having a baby are organized by the trimester in which it should be done.

2. Baby Clothes

I was incredibly fortunate to be able to borrow the majority of the baby clothes I needed. I also received quite a few items as gifts from family and friends. It was a bit overwhelming to look at the piles of clothes and still not be sure that I had everything I needed. I suspected I had more of some items than our baby could possibly wear before growing out of and some gaps in the necessities. I created this table to get a big-picture view of our baby’s wardrobe and quickly identify areas I needed to add to.

Table where baby clothing items are organized by size and show a count of how many of each item I have.

3. Baby Items Needed

I also searched online to learn about what non-clothing baby items we would need. Again, I knew that I could borrow many items, and I didn’t want to go overboard with my registry. I talked with friends and family members to find out what I could borrow and made a note to register for everything else. This was also helpful when returning items as they became unnecessary (like the bassinet I borrowed) because I recorded who I borrowed each item from in this table.

Table of baby necessities and where I will borrow or buy each item.

In my third trimester, I learned that you should feel the baby kicking at least 10 times during a workday, but I wasn’t sure that was happening. So naturally, I decided to track that data. For a full workday, I recorded every kick and the strength of the kick on a 1-3 scale (i.e., small, medium, big). In just 8 short hours, the data assuaged my fears. Apparently, it is easy not to notice kicks when you aren't focusing on them.

Part of a table and bar chart recording the time and strength of baby kicks.

This was a fun data challenge that I had wanted to try for a while. I asked my family, friends, and coworkers to predict when my baby would be born. My due date was May 1st. I created a heat map calendar where the darker blue rectangles represent more predictions for that day. Interestingly, most first-time mothers give birth after their due date. This was reflected in the predictions, with the most popular guess being May 5th. And actually, my daughter was born even later than that.

Calendar in Excel with a parallel color-coded heat map table.

6. Baby Food Reactions

Ah, the terrifying process of teaching your baby to eat real food. In addition to the very real fear of choking, parents generally introduce food one at a time to isolate any allergic reaction that might occur. Maybe some parents can remember everything they’ve tried, but have you ever really thought about the sheer number of individual ingredients in a meal you cook or order? Like, what is pasta made of? Ketchup? I had no idea. I also tried to document how much our daughter liked each food, but my rating scale was not well-defined and I quickly gave up. Regardless, it was helpful to be able to look back and see what we had already introduced.

List of foods my daughter tried, a rating of how much she liked it, and a record of any reactions she had.

7. Baby Sleep Tracking

I’ve been very lucky that my daughter is overall a great sleeper, but I wanted to understand better what was happening during a sleep regression. As soon as I noticed she was waking up during the nights, I started tracking her sleep periods. Purple represents nighttime sleep, and blue represents day-time sleep. Some of these time chunks were borderline day/night, but a nap range pattern did emerge.

Color-coded blocks of time indicating when my daughter was sleeping for six days in a row.

Family Information

8. Birthdays

I love thinking of myself as the kind of person who will always try to make someone’s birthday special. However, it took me an embarrassingly long time to get the information together in one place. Before I made this matrix, I would often forget about birthdays until they were a day or two away. Not enough time to send a card through snail mail, as I like to do. I find this table a concise way to track this important family information, and as a bonus, you can see patterns emerge. My family is heavy on February, May, November, and December birthdays.

A matrix where family members' names are in the left column and months of the year are separated into columns on the right. Birthdates are placed in cell where the name and month intersect.

9. Addresses

This is super self-explanatory and boring, but it took me a long time to make it happen. The instigating factor was sending out wedding invitations. I saved those addresses and have been updating them in the years since. I used to love the idea of storing addresses in one of those little pocket-size address books, but let’s be realistic- it’s much more convenient to save this in a Google Sheet that you share with your family members so you can access it from anywhere.

Simple table with a column for names and a column for addresses.

10. Family Medical Contacts

This was a pretty recent addition to the shared family Google Sheet I mentioned above. A couple of years ago, I fell at home, resulting in an ER visit. I realized that we needed all of our important medical contacts in one place that my husband and I could always access, so I created this table. I highly recommend it- I feel secure knowing my husband could contact my doctor if I'm unable to.

Table recording contact information for all family member's medical professionals.

I hope you found something interesting or useful in Part 2 of Surprising Ways I’ve Used Excel.

Let me know if you think any of these tables would be useful for you!


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