Organization is not my natural inclination. As a single person, that worked out most of the time. I probably was not as productive as I could be, but I organized the big stuff – I knew where my extra checkbooks were and could find my socks. Low bar, I know! I vaguely hoped for more organization in my life, but it was not until marriage and children that my quest to “get it all together” began.
Now, with two school-aged kids, a part time job and quite a few activities to manage for our family of four, I have set out in search of ways to make our life a little more predictable and more organized. Organization, cleaning and planning are not my native languages so I have had to study. Hard. I am not organized every day. But, I am organized more days than not, and it has made a lot of things easier for me.
I have come to the conclusion that for this lunch-making, carpooling, homework-supervising phase of life that I am in, a few systems have kept chaos at bay on many days. Here are my top four:
- Setting Goals. This has been a huge help in organizing my life. I have had to learn to take the time to figure out what my priorities are. From getting more sleep to volunteering at my kids school, checking my goals gives me a heads-up regarding where I want to spend my time.
- The Calendar. I now spend about an hour per week looking at my calendar, the school calendar, my work calendar and our activity schedule. I sync up our old fashioned wall calendar with my phone. I use Cozi Calendar, but I know families who use Google or iPhone calendars. I try to get as much on there as I can, putting in the reminders, and sending reminders to my husband. I also collect a pile of things that need to be done – permission slips, sign-up forms, etc. and pin them up by my wall calendar. At the same time, I also create:
- The Weekly Meal Plan. This is a total sanity saver. My people tend to get hangry, if you know what I mean and feeding the hangry people is a priority. I use a simple dry erase board that has a weekly calendar on it. On this, not only do I list the breakfast, lunch and dinner menu for each day, but I also list the activities we have scheduled (Scouts, dentist appointments, parent-teacher conferences, etc.) This gives me a major heads up for things like field trips (hello, sack lunch) or having a day where I will leave at 8 in the morning and won’t walk back in the door until 6:30 pm (crock pot meal to the rescue!) It also allows my whole family to pitch in regarding meals or making lunches, which is awesome. Also, I make my grocery list at the same time. I can look at my pantry and freezer while I make my grocery list to try to use up leftovers or extra cans of tomatoes or whatever I need to get rid of.
- Setting out clothes for the week. This makes me happy. We do our laundry on the weekend, and my kids each have a hanging clothes organizer in their closet that has a shelf for each day of the week. When we put laundry away, I take my calendar to remind us of events (school shirt day, PE, etc.) and the weather forecast on my phone for the upcoming week – in Colorado, it might be 60 degrees on Tuesday and 10 below on Thursday, so it helps us to plan accordingly.
What works for me may not be your cup of tea, but I have learned that there are so many ways of doing things – if you, like me, are looking for ways to keep things a little bit together, keep looking and trying until something fits your life.