Happy New Year! Is one of your new year’s resolutions to get organized? Many of us have that same resolution year after year… I know I do! One of the problems is that, especially when you have kids, nothing is constant. Clothes are outgrown, the kids’ activities change season to season, carpool arrangements change each year, and you may be juggling changing work and school schedules of you own! Plus, of course, you have the same organizational issues that plague everyone: You need to manage grocery shopping and menu plans, the paperwork keeps coming into the house, and you can never quite get on top of your to-do list. What’s a mom to do? Over the next several weeks, we’ll be tackling some of the most pressing organizational issues. If you can take control of one thing at a time, you just might be able to start this year with the resolution to stay organized, as opposed to getting organized!
First up is your schedule. I don’t know about you, but I tend to swing from extreme to extreme: One week, I might simply fly by the seat of my pants, and the next, I try to stick to a very strict time schedule. Unfortunately, neither of these works very well for me; the former leads to nothing at all getting done, and the latter turns into me turning into a crazy mom, yelling at the kids to get back on schedule. Neither scenario is pretty. What works best for me is a general routine, but without time limits, except for when they’re really necessary, such as when we have to be somewhere at a certain time. Here are some tips that have worked for me; your mileage may vary. The trick is to find what works for you!
- I have a wall calendar on the fridge that I’ve attached with magnets. Appointments and regularly occurring activities go on that calendar. So for January, I have down a dentist appointment, our weekly Friday get-together, Tae Kwon Do practice, weekly youth group, and picking my brother up at the airport when he flies in for a visit. If I call somewhere to make an appointment, I make sure to do so while looking at my calendar! If I’m at the dentist’s office and need to make the next appointment, I take the card home and call if there’s a conflict. I personally don’t like carrying a monthly calendar in my purse; it’s too much hassle to record everything twice. Again, you might do better with both or a purse calendar instead of a wall one. Do what works for you.
- Each day, I make a daily to-do list. I do this in a composition book, dedicating a different page to each day. I try to write my daily list in approximately chronological order. So, each weekday starts off with my daily walk (I meet a friend bright and early every morning), followed by carpooling on the days that I drive the kids to school, followed by the things I need to get done around the house, errands, and so on. I have to meet my friend, drive a carpool, and be home in order to let the kids in at certain times, but everything else is flexible. If something doesn’t get done and I can’t do it in the evening, then I write it on the next day’s list, immediately after my walk.
- Every Sunday, I make a general plan of what the week will look like. Many weeks, it’s the same, but sometimes, such as the week when my brother and his wife will be here, it changes. This includes a menu plan for the week (I will write more about this later!). If I know that I have to do something out of the ordinary, I will add it to my to-do list right then and there. For example, if I’m planning to have friends over for dinner on Wednesday, then I will schedule a few extra house-cleaning tasks on Monday and Tuesday so I’m not running around like a headless chicken on Wednesday, trying to make things company-presentable.
The key for me is writing things down in different places – both an overview calendar and detailed daily lists. It provides accountability and reminders so I can stay on top of our schedule.
What works for you in keeping your schedule under control? Share some of your best tips!