Let’s face it. Moms are BUSY. So, so busy. Between kids’ homework, sports, music & other activities, taking care of the home, church responsibilities and perhaps working on top of it, there is just so much to juggle and keep track of. And that’s only the basics! Boy, do I get it. In order to keep myself on track, and make the days a little easier and less hectic, I’ve implemented 11 different things into my day that while simple, make a HUGE difference, and help me organize for success!
I won’t say they’ll make things perfect, because life is life, and things happen. But they give me a leg up, and a fighting chance to do the things I need to do, and the things I want to do! I’ve discovered that keeping my life organized gives me so many more options, and just makes our home run so much more smoothly.
So, here we go—11 Tips for Busy Moms!
Making lists is definitely number one for me. I love lists so much that when I accomplish something that’s not on my list, I add it so I can cross it off! Yes, I might be a little crazy, but they really work. With so many things to do, it’s nearly impossible to remember what they are, plus the details. Writing them down gives me a visual reminder every day and each week, so I don’t forget anything important. It also makes it so much easier to prioritize what I need to do, plus the sense of accomplishment I get when you cross items off your list isn’t bad either!
I make lists both weekly and daily lists. If I can’t complete something on my daily list for whatever reason, I either move it to the next day, or to the weekly list. My daily list is prioritized–just with a simple 1, 2, 3, etc.–so I know what I need to tackle first, and what absolutely needs to be done.
I include everything that needs to be done for the day–cleaning, laundry, kids’ stuff, blogging, church, etc. I also like to put it in order from morning to evening, but I think it’s really just finding what works best for you.
When do I make lists? I do my weekly list on Sundays, looking to the week ahead, and the daily list I do each night before bed.
Calendaring is also key to my success! I keep three different calendars, and while that sounds like a lot, they all serve different purposes while working together.
Calendar 1: I have a large monthly calendar (affiliate link) that holds our entire family’s schedule for the month. My husband adds any business trips he’s going on, plus the dates of any appointments or activities he has that fall before or after his work day and on the weekend. I add all of the kids’ activities, important school dates, appointments, etc. It’s in a place where everyone can see it, and it’s pretty much the brain of our family!
Calendar 2: Right next to the back door is a large weekly calendar that shows just what’s going on for the week. (It’s actually made from an old window with six panes, and I use a Sharpie marker to write on it!) I love it, and because I can fit so much on it, I also add my menu for each day, my workouts, and pretty much everything!
Calendar 3: The last calendar is my personal planner, (affiliate link) and my own brain! This is where I keep all my lists, personal calendaring, and anything else I want or need to keep track of.
This is my system, and I love it, but the details aren’t as important as finding something that works for YOU and your family is. Experiment until you find what you love…it’s worth it!
Establishing a routine at the most important and busiest parts of the day helps me and my kids. For us, mornings before school, right after school, and at bedtime are the key hours where chaos has the most tendency to happen. When we have a regular routine and stick to it as best we can, then everyone knows what needs to happen, and we avoid some of the craziness.
Since I’m home during the day, I have my own routine that helps me stay on top of things. Cleaning (my cleaning method), getting dinner started, laundry, to-do items, errands–all of those things I fit in around my work, which I also do from home. Does this mean I’ve never flexible or spontaneous? Of course not! But a general routine is definitely a major player when it comes to organizing my day.
I’m not just responsible for my schedule, I’m the coordinator of the whole family’s schedule! Weekly family planning sessions are a really great way to tackle everything that’s coming up for the week, and avoiding as many last minute issues as possible.
Going through everyone’s schedule, putting them on the calendar, making coordinating lists (i.e. birthday party presents to buy, special days at school, menu based on how busy days are), and making assignments between my husband and I for transportation–it’s all part of the planning. Sometime’s we’ll realize we need to call in reinforcements–perhaps I need to get a babysitter to cover a certain time frame, or work out a carpool situation.
For us, Sunday afternoons or evenings are the perfect time to do it. We’re usually all home, and it’s right before the start of a new week. It can be done anytime that works best for your family!
It’s also a good time to talk about other family issues–if there’s something that you want to speak with your children about, something that your family needs to work on (for us…chores, listening right away, etc.), and especially to tell them that they’re doing a great job! It’s coming together as a family and working together to make it run as smoothly as possible. Kids like having a voice too, and this can give them one.
We are big believers in every family member being involved in maintaining our home. We all live here, we all make messes, and we’re all responsible for ourselves plus contribute to the overall care of the house. I am just one person, and I couldn’t and shouldn’t do it alone. Our household runs SO much more smoothly when we’re all pitching in!
At our house, kids are responsible for making their beds each morning, keeping their room clean, picking up after themselves, and a few additional chores like dishes, trash, laundry, bathrooms, and more, depending on age. You can find my post on Why My Kids Have Chores, plus an age-appropriate chores guideline HERE.
They also get to help with dinner once a week, which they actually love. They run down to the basement and get ingredients I need from our storage, help with the stirring and cooking, plus they’re in charge of setting the table and calling everyone to dinner (which they get super excited about). It’s a huge help to me, and it also gives me some extra one-on-one time with each child. Yes, I usually have other kids up at the counter doing their homework, and someone at the piano or on the violin practicing, but it really does add to the overall running of the home. Plus, they’re learning new skills. It’s a win-win!
This one is SO important for me! There’s is such a huge difference in how my day goes when I prepare the night before…and when I don’t. My goal is to eliminate as many things as possible from my morning lineup. It’s totally worth the time it takes to do it, even if I’m tired.
What do I do?
-Lay out clothes for everyone (or if they’re old enough, have them do it)
-Pack all bags/diaper bags with any necessary items
-Make sure kids backpacks are ready to go (they are responsible for this)
-Make lunches, except sandwiches–we do those in the morning
-Set out shoes by the door, and if it’s winter, boots, gloves, and hats
I also set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier than I have to be up. It’s time for my head to wrap around the fact that it’s morning, and to just be mentally prepared for the day. Sometimes I do hit the snooze button, because I feel those 15 minutes are best used for sleep, but I do notice a difference when I don’t have to hurriedly jump about of bed and get going.
Can I just admit to you right now that making dinner is my BIGGEST nemesis? It’s honestly my least favorite thing to do. I would rather clean 50 bathrooms! Seriously. I don’t know if it’s just that that time of day is so crazy, or what, but it’s always been something I’ve tried to make easier and better.
It also needs to be done everyday, so planning my meals ahead of time is one of my biggest timesavers. How often you shop is totally a personal preference, and for me it’s weekly (with bulk shopping once a month). I make a weekly menu, then shop for those items also once a week.
I make sure to plan some really quick dinners for extra busy nights, but I don’t assign a meal to each day. I look at the calendar the night before, then decide what to make, and which meat I need to set out. I like the flexibility of being able to change things up depending on what comes up during the week, but I know exactly what meals I have and how long they take. And can I just say…my crockpot (affiliate link) is my best friend! (One of our favorite recipes…Easy Crockpot Salsa Chicken Tacos)
Planning ahead for meals on the go is also a huge help and timesaver. With sports and music and dance and all the other stuff that’s packed into our nights, sometimes meals have to happen on the road. Making or planning for meals I can grab quickly on my way out the door is a great way to help make those crazy afternoons and evenings less chaotic and crazy.
Waking up to a straightened house makes my day go SO much better. When I don’t have to start out the day doing dishes or cleaning up a mess from the day before, it gives me a fresh start to the day. I just function so much better and am a lot more productive with a clean and orderly home.
One of the things that’s really helped AND gets the kids involved is our family quick clean-up each night right before dinner. We use the buddy system (one older, one younger), and divide the main part of the house into sections. For five minutes, we go around the house picking up and straightening, and when we work together, we can get a lot done! I also require my kids to pick up after themselves after school (no backpacks, shoes, belongings strewn about), so that cuts down on what we have to pick up. Doing it before dinner gives the kids an incentive to move quickly!
It really doesn’t take long, and my goodness, it’s so helpful!
Who else thinks right after school is the craziest part of the day? All of my kids come in the door, so excited to tell me about their day. They also hand me 25 papers about 25 different things happening at school that week, and they’re all talking about them all at the same time.
To keep the chaos at bay, to keep on top of all the papers coming through my door each day, and to make sure each child feels they get my attention, I implemented a strategy that has really helped. Every day after school, each child gets five minutes with me, one-on-one. We go through their backpack, they can give me any papers I need to see (I file them right then), sign anything that needs to be signed, and see what homework they have. I also get to hear about their day, and they give me the highlights and lowlights. I’m able to connect with each child, keep up on my calendaring (I can write things down right away), I can stay on top of what’s happening at school, and keep paper clutter at a minimum. It’s the best five minutes ever!
A place for everything, and everything in its place.
This is my motto in life. I live by it, and it does right by me! It’s so much easier to stay on top of things when things are organized, and you know where they are. It reduces the amount of time you have to search for something you need, and gives you a better sense of what you have.
For example–I have a school lunch packing station in my pantry, and I can’t even tell you how much this has helped me! I’ve tried to create things like this throughout my house and in my drawers and closets, and truly make a place for everything. I teach my kids that when you take something out, you put it back as soon as you’re finished with it. That is still a work in progress!
This is often the hardest one of all. Moms tend to put everyone else first, and while that might need to be case a lot of the time, it can’t be the case all of the time. You can only give what you have, and if you’re so drained you are barely hanging on, you just can’t do what you need to do well. It’s also much easier to get overwhelmed and burned out when you don’t take any time for yourself.
No, it’s not selfish! Even a few minutes during the day can make a difference. Carve out time for what’s important to you, and what will help most. I’m a better mom and person when I exercise, so I schedule in time to go running or get a workout in. It’s a priority, and I make it work. Reading a book, taking a bubble bath, meeting a friend for lunch or dinner, exercise, yoga, getting a pedicure, watching a favorite tv show…whatever it is you love, find the time to do it. Write it on the calendar if you have to, and DO IT.
I’d love to hear your tips & ideas for keeping your life and schedule organized! What works for you?