I am a busy working mom, but even if I was not working I would still be a busy mom because let’s face it the word “Mom” has so many meanings and one of them is busy! We rarely get a moments rest. But I noticed that my life at the office seems to run a whole heck of a lot smoother than it does at home. Why is that? Don’t say it is the lack of children because the behaviors of some of the folks in our work environments are sometimes that of a spoiled toddler. No I think the reason it runs so smooth at the office and chaos at home is because of one key chaos killer and that is organization.
Yes, I said it organization! I cringe at the thought of making lists and schedules and trying to get not only myself but the entire fly by the seat of our pants crew to follow it, but I have to admit there is a good method to the organized madness that works.
I will not plan out our entire life and have to keep referring to lists to guide my entire lifestyle because making all those lists just takes too long and I don’t have that kind of time. But I will give you some of the organization tips that I DO follow and that work. And if you are like me and fear the word organization just try one of these tips at a time and ease your way into it. You will be surprised how quickly you find the time for the little things you have been missing, like a bubble bath.
First off are bedtimes and early mornings. To get your kids and you back into the swing of things start waking up at least one week before the new school year starts. Use that early morning time to get all the back to school supplies set up and ready to go. (Teenagers will hate this, and you may have to adjust for the older teen.) This gets everyone back into the swing of things however and helps ease that early morning chaos.
So what do you need to get ready? Well you can prepackage up all the snack items into baggies to save your money. You can make up a big batch of frozen breakfast burritos, or your own P&J sandwiches that have the crusts cut off. You can organize a drawer for each person in the mud room for seasonal items like hats, gloves, scarves, sunglasses, umbrellas, or back packs. Preschoolers get their spare change of clothes ready and label your items and put in a huge Ziploc bag. This keeps the spare clothes clean while traveling in the back pack.
Put up a dry erase or bulletin board in this area to have daily reminders throughout the month. You can make your own dry erase board with a calendar in a picture frame. I like to have a reminder as I walk out the door for things like Tuesday night soccer practice; because sometimes in the weekly chaos I forget what day is what.
I have my preschooler leave his back pack in the car because it is really only used to transport his change of clothes and I take all work and notes out and put in my bag when go in the house. This saves us one step and we always remember the backpack. Older kids and adults should bring their bags in and take out what is not needed for the next day and then hang up on designated hooks ready for the next day.
In the mudroom or your designated area keep a bag or box designated only for library items that need to be returned and I write the date on our family calendar each time we go and get new items. This saves me from late fees and lost items. So if we read a book at bedtime it has to go back into the library bag in the hall so I am always ready to return.
Keep all of your allergy medications or any other daily medications handy so it is ready to give out. I keep mine by the coffee pot and my son knows to stop by there each morning to get his medication. In the mud room I also keep a pack of baby wipes, a brush, comb and a lint roller. So before we head out the door I can do a quick check of things like, jelly off the face, toothpaste in the corner of mouths, dog hair on the back of my son’s pants, shoes on right feet, or hair combed in front but sticking up in the back! It is also a good idea to keep these items in your car also and a spare allergy medication bottle in case after all of our planning he still forgot to take it.
Save your steps in the morning by doing whatever you can the night before. After dinner is done make the next day lunches. This is easier at this time because you are first of all already in the kitchen! Secondly you will have left overs handy to dole out for lunches. So clean out the bottom shelf of your fridge and ready them for all the lunches you will be making. I like to set out clothes for my kids when I am getting their jammas out at bedtime. Again you are already there in the drawers getting clothes out so why not get out two? This also saves you from big last minute morning surprises like you don’t have any clean underwear.
If you can have everyone including you take their baths in the evening. It really saves time, and also saves you from having to wash the sheets as often, and washes out any scary bugs the kids may have picked up at school that day like the dreaded….LICE! Yuck! The second reason taking baths in the evening is also a big win is that it naturally relaxes you and everyone goes to sleep faster. The kids are asleep! Ahhh quiet! Those moments are cherished in a parent’s world!
The next tip that saves the day and your time is having a chore chart and making everyone do them right away when they get home. If I start a load of laundry while I am getting dinner going every night I really keep up with my laundry. If you have each child do one or two things when they walk in the door they will learn more responsibility and you will have a cleaner home. Preschoolers can get involved too by emptying small waste baskets or picking up one specific item at time off the floor. I gave my kids two items to do each day and each one takes less than 15 minutes to do. If you have two children that are old enough to do dishes then assign each one a day. You will have fewer fights if you make one do on odd days and one on even days. This works better because you don’t get the annoying battles of “I did it last time.” One person will have to do it two days in a role on the 31st of the month and then again on the 1st but that is not that often, maybe that’s the person that needs more practice anyhow or you can do the dishes that extra night for them.
I like to have a chore chart for myself because my house stays cleaner when I follow it. When my kids were little and could not help out with the chores I vacuumed on Tuesdays and Fridays and cleaned the bathrooms on Thursdays and did at least one load two if I can every day. Each person should make their own beds each morning and dishes need to be done right after dinner.
I have a few more hints from posts past HERE and Laundry Time Savers, and Bread Pans and Leftovers, which you should also check out. Each family is different so basically you should take a look at what you can do ahead of time or at least the night before and save your mornings from a very stressful mad house.