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Home organization is not my strong suit. To say the least. It is something I’ve had to work on daily to get good at, and something I’m still working on. I’d say that cleaning and organization don’t come naturally to me and they are things I will probably work on improving my whole life.
How Do You “Get It All Done”?
I chuckle whenever I get questions from readers asking how I “do it all.” They ask how I make time for family, homeschooling, DIY projects, and blogging. Since it doesn’t come naturally to me, I’ve had to develop systems that help me manage it all without getting stressed.
The good news is that I can share these with you and hopefully they’ll help your life be a little more organized too. Even if it doesn’t come naturally to you either. 🙂
Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good
Like I said, I am no Marie Kondo naturally! My husband would be the first to attest that I still have room for
a lot of! 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, and try to keep up with writing. (And attempt to go to bed before 10 PM … yeah right)
I’ve found that I have to focus on home organization and routine in order 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 most important ones.
What Started My Home Organization System
When I only had one child, I was able to keep our one bedroom apartment clean, cook a hot dinner before my husband got home, and even managed to brush my hair and do make-up on most days.
Once one child turned into two, then three, then four, (and now six!) it seemed like there was such a volume of work that I couldn’t make time to do it all.
I felt like I was on constant mental overwhelm with the idea of everything that needed to get done throughout the day.
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 our household and reduced my stress load almost instantly. (Note: It is written from a Catholic perspective but is universally helpful to all moms!)
My Rule of Life
The basic concept is that you have a routine and plan for when every job that needs to be completed and systematize to get it all done. This relieves the mental energy of worrying about when you would vacuum the floor or change the air filter or meal plan for the week.
Also, rather than scheduling everyone in the family to always do the same activities (which I was doing) this new plan had scheduled activities for each child (school, play, chores, etc.) so the children could get used to doing these things and will know when they need to complete each item. It eliminated the “I’m bored” excuse because they knew when I would play with them, when school would happen, when they were responsible for picking up and cleaning, etc.
My Home Organization Checklist (In My Phone)
Love it or hate it, technology is here to stay. Thanks to working online, I’m always tethered to my phone, so a few years ago, I adapted my home organization system to use on my iPhone. Previously, it lived in a three ring binder and was paper. The phone version is more eco-friendly and always with me and has worked great.
Here’s what I did:
Step 1: Create a Daily Outline
To start, I created a rough daily outline of our day. This way, I knew at any given time what to focus 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 daily (online orders, vet visits, playdates, etc.).
Step 2: Assign the Regular Activities
Then, I assigned major chores and activities to each day of the week. This way, laundry happened two days a week, cleaning bathrooms one day a week, mopping of the house one day a week, etc. This helped to keep the stress down about the clothes in the laundry basket or the spot on the floor because I knew it would be cleaned soon.
I scheduled times for meal planning, catching up on emails, reading to the kids and even relaxing (yes, I schedule time to relax. I might be a little Type A!)
All of the kids also have regular schedules so they know when to do chores, do school, etc. This greatly helps with home organization and reduces stress!
Step 3: Create Room by Room Checklists
Next, I created an organization checklist 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.)
Step 4: Create Checklists for Each Family Member
As a mom, we can easily fall into the trap of trying to do it all ourselves. Sometimes it is just easier to do it than to help a child learn how. But we don’t live alone and we aren’t the only ones creating messes! Research shows that kids are happier and more responsible when they contribute to the family in some way. If you don’t already, get the kids involved in chores!
I made a list of all the chores that could be done by someone besides me. I still cook (most of the time) and do some of the tougher cleaning, but the kids can do a lot. Then, I sorted the chores by difficulty and assigned them based on age level and ability to do them. Each of the kids now has their own checklist for their daily routine. This takes the stress off them too and they know exactly what they have to do before they can go play each day.
What Our Daily Routine Looks Like
There’s more detail in my morning routine post but here are some of the basics:
We do school in the mornings after breakfast and I work on 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 (usually).
After the kids are in bed, I finish up work stuff and spend time with my husband (often in our sauna).
I’m a long way from perfect at managing it all, but I’ve found that this system at least helps me keep up with it without getting stressed out all the time.
To keep all the schedule, planning, meal plans, to-do lists, etc. organized, I use a note-taking app in my phone as a “football.” Just like the President supposedly has a case with all the top security information (the football) with him at all times, this app has all of my important information and is basically my home management encyclopedia.
In it, I have:
- Daily Routine: My daily outline of the rough times that I’ve scheduled for everything to happen that day.
- Most Important: The “most important tasks” of my top three things that must get done that day. This includes what I’m cooking for dinner, what my workout is, how much water I’ve had to drink, etc. This changes daily.
- Weekly Routine: The jobs that I do each day and when they getting done during the day. Laundry, mopping, deep cleaning rooms, cleaning windows, etc.
- Monthly Jobs: This list has jobs that happen each month repeatedly. It also includes jobs that only happen during a certain month. (Things like changing of the kids’ wardrobes, planning and planting 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 prep some items. I manage this through Real Plans on my phone.
- Room Cleaning Checklists: A detailed list of how to clean 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.
Want My Home Organization System?
I highly recommend the book A Mother’s Rule of Life to help you figure out your own system. She walks you through the planning and organization much better than I have. If it would be helpful to you, I’ve attached my organization checklist printable 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.
My Smart Phone System:
In my phone, I have the same outline as the printables above, but in digital form. I have one note for daily outline, another for chores for me and each child, and a weekly routine of the big projects. I use Real Plans (and their mobile app) to plan our meals for the week in my phone. I did print out the checklists for each room so the kids can reference them without my phone. Another note is called “To-do” and it hosts my neverending and ever-growing list.
One of the best apps I’ve found to manage this system is Evernote. There is both a desktop app and mobile app version and they sync together, so my lists are always updated and accessible no matter where I am or what I’m doing.
Another great option that I’ve recently found and interviewed an expert on is called Notion.
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 home organization tips and tricks? Please share, I need all the help I can get!