[Note: My printable organization/planning checklists are at the bottom of the post..]
I was hesitant to use the word “organization” in the title because this is one of my weakest areas. I get emails from readers asking how I make time for family, homeschooling, cloth diapering, projects and blogging, so I wanted to share the tips and tricks I’ve found.
I am by no means an organizing/cleaning guru… and my husband would be the first to attest that I have room for improvement in this area. Currently, there are toys on my floor and dishes in my sink, but my kids are playing happily and dinner is in the oven.
During an average week, I do 5-8 loads of laundry, cook three meals from scratch each day, attempt to keep the house clean, homeschool the kids, nurse the baby 8-10 times a day and try to keep up with this blog. (and try to go to bed before 10pm.. yeah right)
Besides the obvious fact that I’m probably crazy, I’ve found that I have to focus on organization and routine to be able to keep up with it all and that I also have to accept less than perfection (*ahem* my house right now) in different areas while focusing on the more important ones.
What Started It All…
When I only had one child, I was able to keep our 1 bedroom apartment clean and cook a hot dinner before my husband got home and even managed to brush my hair and do make-up most days.
Once one child turned into two, then three, then four, it seemed like there was such a volume of work to do that I couldn’t make time to do it all.
I felt like I was constantly mentally overwhelmed with the idea of everything that needed to be done.
A friend suggested that I read a book that had helped her, A Mother’s Rule of Life, and it literally changed how I ran the household and reduced my stress load almost instantly. (Note: It is written from a Catholic perspective but is universally helpful to all moms!)
The basic idea was just that you have a routine and plan for when every job needed to get done and how it would be done. This relieved the mental energy of worrying about when you would vacuum the floor or change the air filter.
Also, rather than scheduling everyone in the family to always be doing the same activities (which I was doing) it had scheduled activities for each child (school, play, chores, etc) so the children could get used to doing these things and knowing when they needed to do things. It eliminated the “I’m bored” because they knew when I would play with them, when school would happen, when they were responsible for picking up and cleaning, etc.
What I do…
I created a rough daily outline of our day, so at any given time, I know what we should be focused on. Since my responsibilities change so much day to day, I outlined the activities I had to get done each day and scheduled time for the things that would come up each day (online orders, vet visits, playdates, etc).
I also assigned major “chores” to each day of the week so that laundry was two days a week, cleaning bathrooms was one day a week, full mopping of the house was one day a week, etc. This let me not stress about the clothes in the laundry basket or the spot on the floor because I knew it would be cleaned soon.
I have scheduled times for meal planning, catching up on emails, reading to the kids and even relaxing (yes, I schedule time to relax…)
I also created checklists of all the things necessary to thoroughly clean each room and put them on paper (sweeping, dusting, picking things up, folding, etc) . This way, when I tell one of the kids to clean a room, they can reference all the things they need to do and not just pick up the floor and call it done. (I drew pictures for each item for the little kids).
We do school in the mornings after breakfast and I work and do blog related stuff during their nap/quiet time. After dinner as a family, we clean up, bathe the kids, read books, say prayers and the kids are in bed by 8.
After the kids are in bed, I finish up work stuff and spend time with my husband.
For everything that is on the schedule, we aren’t at the age of sports and extracurriculars yet, which helps open up the schedule, and while we have a TV, we can’t even get cable in our area, so we don’t watch it.
I’m a long way from perfect at managing it all, but I’ve found that the system at least helps me keep up with it without being stressed all the time.
To keep all the schedule, planning, meal plans, etc organized, I have a 2-inch binder that is my “football.” Just like the President supposedly has a case with all the top security information (the football) with him at all times, this binder has all of my important information and is basically my home management encyclopedia.
In it, I have:
- My daily outline of the rough times that I’ve scheduled for everything to happen that day. This is in a plastic sheet as it is pretty static.
- My daily “Most important tasks” of my top three things that must get done that day, what I’m cooking for dinner, what my workout is, how much water I’ve drank etc. This changes daily.
- Weekly Routine: The jobs that I do each day and when they are doing during the day. Laundry, mopping, deep cleaning rooms, cleaning windows, etc.
- Monthly Jobs: This lists has jobs that happen each month repeatedly, along with jobs that only happen during a certain month (changing of the kids wardrobes, planning the garden, outdoor work, etc)
- Meal Plan: Changes weekly but is planned ahead of time so I can shop for the week all at once and pre-prepare some items.
- Room Cleaning Checklists for each room in the house
- Daily Chores Sheet for each person in the house so that when it says “Morning Chores” on my daily outline, everyone knows what he/she should be doing.
I highly recommend the book as she walks you through the planning and organization much better than I have. If i would be helpful to you, I’ve attached my printables that I use for organization. Included are: Daily Outline Sheet, Daily Chores Sheet, Weekly Routine Sheet, Monthly Routine Sheet, Meal Plan Sheet, and Room Cleaning Sheet, along with my daily “To-Do list” Sheet.
If these are helpful to you, please share via facebook, twitter or pinterest so that others can use them too!
How do you do it all? What are your best planning and organization tips and tricks? Please share, I need all the help I can get!