If you’re a busy mom like me, juggling parenting, school, the house, working and a thousand other things, you’ve probably said this to yourself a thousand times.
I wish there were more hours in the day so I can get more done.
Obviously there is no way to make that happen. However, you might be pleasantly surprised at what happens by reframing the statement.
Is there a way to find and create more time in the day?
But before giving you the magic solution, let’s back up so I can tell you how I found the answer.
When I was making big changes in my life (BIG as in moving to the burbs after 17 years in NYC while simultaneously transitioning from my corporate career to developing GAALS), I needed to make money and decided to do something that comes naturally to me – organizing.
While the business I started, M.O.M. (Most Organized Mom) was short-lived, I enjoyed every minute of it. But as my children got older and their list of activities, hobbies, wants, and needs kept growing, I found it more challenging to stay organized. I kept asking myself,
What can I do to make my life easier? How can I get more done in a day?
I wish I could tell you that the light-bulb went off and that I heard the angels singing and got the answer, but that would be a lie. Instead, I asked myself what I would do if one of my clients had asked this of me when they hired me to help them organize.
By creating / finding effective and efficient systems, it makes life less overwhelming and opens up time to get other stuff done (or dare I say, relax)!
There’s no denying that when we are happy and less stressed, we are better moms (I kick myself every time I yell at my daughters and seconds later realize that it was something else entirely that caused me to respond in that way).
I’ve decided to share my organizing tips and tricks now because getting back into the swing of things at the start of the school year can be challenging. And in my type-A opinion, all of the organizing articles I see are basic. No specific methods. So instead of more fluff, I figured I’d share my own systems; with hopes that you’ll find them as useful as I do.
In the hub of your home (for me – the kitchen) have a bulletin board or binder with the following info sheets. Note: Also take pics of each sheet with your phone so you can access the info anywhere anytime!
1) Important Names and Numbers
Having one sheet with your home address, phone numbers for your family, neighbors, school and emergency numbers is super helpful. I also include my children’s dosage of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, so I have it at my fingertips. Also consider including home service providers.
Your contact list might look something like this:
- Your home number and address
- Emergency numbers: 911, police, poison control, alarm
- Family & Important phone numbers: Mom, dad, siblings, Grandparents, aunts and uncles, Baby sitters, Neighbors, Close friends
- Address and phone numbers for Schools, Doctors, Pharmacy
- House Service Contacts:
- Vet, Dog Walker, Groomer, Boarder
- Gas & Electric Company
- Landscaping & Sprinklers
- Plumber & Electrician
- Insurance comp (car & home)
- Auto repair / maintenance
- Cable, Internet & Phone
- Roof, gutters, chimney, hvac, cesspool
2) Numbers, Emails, & Addresses for Friends of Your Child
Make an excel spreadsheet with one tab for each child. Write their friends’ names, their mom/dad’s name, email, phone number, and address. I email the list to myself, and print out copies for my purse, house, and car. This way, when I have to pick up one of my daughters, I know exactly where I’m going (so does my hubby and babysitter).
I also include what days their friends are free for when I need someone to watch my child or pick them up from school. This was also useful when my children became old enough to call and make their own playdates. They were able to see who is free and when, and could call to make plans instead of relying on me to do it.
Note: I recommend putting this contact information in your phone contacts. You can make one contact (ie: Jen’s friends), then copy and paste your list into the notes section.
- Mom’s emails & phone number and home addresses
- Friends’ phone numbers (if they have phones)
- Days/Times each friend is available / unavailable to have a playdate
3) School Schedules
Knowing which days your elementary school kids have to wear sneakers for gym and which day they have to bring their library book or instrument to school can alleviate extra trips you might need to make to bring what they’ve forgotten-I’ve learned that the hard way. Make a list and post it on the door or hang it with their backpack. And get your children in the habit of checking it before they leave the house. I’m a huge proponent of teaching responsibility from an early age.
When you have children in middle or high school, when schedules and teachers change several times in any given day, knowing which class he/she is in at a certain time can be useful. Especially when scheduling appointments that can’t be made after school, like getting braces off. It can also assist you if you have to get in touch with your child and/or drop off something at school that they need – like their sports bag that they need for their big game that night.
4) After School Activities and Sports Game Schedules
Make a list of activities for each day of the week. Include the address and specifics about pickup, like whether you need to go into the building to get them and/or where to go. You may want to include friends in your child’s class, and their parents’ phone numbers, in case you (or anybody who might be doing the deed for you that day) are running late and/or need a ride for your child.
- Name of Class
- Time of Class
- Specific info about pickup (ie: you must go in, which door to wait at, etc)
- If applicable: carpool schedule
Regarding schedules, it’s also helpful to have a wipe-off calendar somewhere that everyone can easily see. I’ve tried monthly and weekly cals, but find the weekly ones work best since they provide more space. And we need it!
Here’s one of the absolute greatest tips: Become best friends with the calendar app on your phone!
- Create various color-coded calendars: one for personal and one for work (you can sort by calendar, which is pretty handy) and for family.
- Share the family calendars with everyone in your home and input all of the activities and commitments! If everyone doesn’t already have an account, you’ll first need to set that up. Oh, and if your child doesn’t even have a phone yet, it might be possible to access a calendar app elsewhere. (My daughter got it on her iPad).
- Get your children into the habit of checking the calendar before they make plans. Now they can see if you have anything scheduled. So no excuses for missing the dinner with grandma because they wanted to schedule going for a run with their friend.
- If your children are older and more independent, ask them to add their plans to the calendar so they can also plan around them. ie: when they get a party invitation, they input the time and location.
- Consider having a shared calendar with your partner (without your kids seeing it). You can use it for when you have something at night and the other person needs to be home for the children. The deal I made with my hubby…if you want to do something and see the other person has a commitment, you’re responsible for figuring out how to make it work.
5) Lunch, Dinner & Snacks
If your child buys school lunch, print the monthly menu and have your child circle the lunches that they want, so you can plan when lunch needs to be made. To make that dreaded task easier, make a list by category (ie: proteins, carbs, fruits, veggies, snacks) and provide all of the options (foods they like) under each. Then have your child circle one from each category each time he/she brings lunch. Or even better, have them use it as a checklist as they prepare lunch for themselves!
After school, kids often grab what’s quick. Having a healthy snack list is great because when children look at it they’re reminded of simple nutritious choices, like carrots with hummus or banana with peanut butter.
When it comes to dinner, with everything we moms have on our minds, and the fact that what our kids like to eat go in and out of the mix, it’s easy forget about some of their faves. By making a list of proteins, vegetables, and carbs that everyone eats, makes it easier to pick and go!
It’s a lot of work to keep a family and home running. Having a chore/job chart (just like they have at school and camp) is a good way to go. It can be daily, weekly, monthly or all of them! When creating it, keep in mind their after school schedules (ie: if one child has a long commitment on Monday, their chore is a quickie). If you give allowance, this is a good way to hold your child accountable and keep tabs on things. Personally, I’m not a fan of allowance as I don’t believe my daughters should get paid to do things that help out themselves and the family (after all, no one pays me!)
What I think is one of the most helpful chores – dropping down everyone’s laundry. Each daughter does it once a week on a designated night. I remind my girls when they need to include the sheets. Next is asking them to sort!
Just do It. You’ll thank yourself later.
This all might sound like a bit much, especially to those of you who aren’t quite as OCD as I am. But getting organized seems to be more time consuming-and sometimes even daunting-than it is. I promise, putting in a little bit of work on the front end to get all these elements up and running, will not only ease your mind, it will give you back time! And that’s WELL worth it.
Making these things a habit and daily part of life has made my family’s life run so much smoother, and I am confident that it can do the same for you!
–>Shoot me an email and let me know how these strategies worked for you, or if you have your own tips that I can share with the community!