Since we’ve just finished celebrating Mother’s Day I’m here to share a few of the tools I’ve used through the years to keep our home running smoothly. Or at least an attempt at order amidst chaos!
I remember the day we brought our first child, a daughter, home from the hospital. I looked at this perfect, beautiful baby and wondered what in the world I was going to do next! I was totally unprepared for the investment of time and emotions, but I was determined I was going to be the best mother possible. Twenty six years later that same little girl gave me my first grandchild three months ago!
As our family multiplied over the years my ability to juggle it all and stay organized was challenged. Even for the most orderly individual, adding children makes managing multiple schedules a difficult and seemingly impossible task at times.
In these days of the latest and greatest digital devices, there are some wonderful organizational tools to help you make the most of your time with family.
Google Calendar has recently introduced a free mobile app, available for both Android and iOS, that helps families stay organized. It’s designed to be a helpful assistant, so you can spend less time managing your day, and more time enjoying life. The features allow multiple family members to manage appointments and schedules with one account, as well as organize and update shopping and to-do lists. Now you can sync all your important info to desktop, tablet and phone.
Another popular online tool is Cozi. Each family member has his or her own Cozi account, which is connected to each person’s individual email address. (Parents can log calendar events for their younger children.) Each person has access to a shared family password, which controls the family account. Meal planning and recipe storage are features, as well as a family journal. As a scrapbooker and keeper of our family stories, I love the idea that I can keep a journal to help me in recording these stories and activities, and it’s available at a touch!
Since so many of us are connected to the world through our phones I love that digital apps can also help me keep track of grocery lists, medicines and other vital information. I also often use a reminder beep on my phone to alert me of an upcoming event or appointment.
If possible use the time waiting at children’s practices, etc. by running errands nearby or cleaning out your email box and making to do lists.
Along with mobile apps you could also use the tried and true, old fashioned paper organization. Through the busiest of our child rearing years we kept a large desk calendar (like this one) attached with magnets to the refrigerator. With five kids, three dogs and four cats, we were in and out of the kitchen constantly and I needed this visual reminder of the day’s activities. I also saved these calendars to help me record our family story through the activities and appointments of our days.
Each child was assigned a color and I could tell at a glance whether it was a busy day of scheduled activities or one with a little margin in it. My motto was “if it’s not on the calendar it doesn’t exist!” It was a good teaching tool as I tried to prepare my children for real life adult responsibilities. When necessary though, write in pencil!
One way to simplify your life is to be choosy about your family’s activities. You don’t have to do everything! Pick those things that bring the most pleasure and promotes family togetherness.
Another way to improve your life is with the foundation of good time management skills. Keep your family running smoothly by implementing consistent morning and evening routines. Each morning, decide what you’re having for dinner, start a load of laundry and empty the dishwasher. Better yet, assign chores for each child that includes not only responsibility for their own belongings but ones that contribute to family unity as a whole. This is a great teaching tool that promotes working together as a team.
Take time in the evening to tidy up the house, run the dishwasher, and set out everything you’ll need for the kids the next day such as backpacks and lunch boxes. If your kids are old enough have them pack their own lunches and check behind them to make sure all permission slips are signed and homework completed. You can find fun printables and checklists online to help keep your children on task as you teach valuable time management lessons at the same time. Also have a designated place for school papers, permission slips, lunch money, etc.
These ideas may seem like a lot of work but as a veteran mom of many let me encourage you that the time invested in organizing, teaching, and maintaining is far less than doing it all yourself!
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