five tips for organizing a busy family

Ok.  I understand it now.  Those moms that are freakishly organized and always on top of every activity, party, fundraiser, or volunteering opportunity – I understand why.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those.  Not that I wouldn’t like to be, but I am not.  I am frazzled, over-tired, and always in a rush – and that seems to work just fine for us.

It all started quite some time ago when I realized that I was being swallowed up in schedules.  Really.  My daughter brought home her school calendar and her out-of-school care calendar, my son brought home his daycare calendar, and I went to tape them up to the inside of my pantry as usual.  This is the wall of calendars that I consult each morning, while zipping around the house – making lunches, picking out clothes, changing diapers, attempting to put on makeup, and – of course – let the dog out.  Then I laughed.  I thought, “This is crazy! I need to come up with something better than this!”  Meet – the gigantic “Mom” calendar.  You know what I’m talking about.  Those calendars that are at least twice the size of normal ones, with special stickers, babysitter information, and all the other bells and whistles that are designed to help me feel in control of my life.

Anyways, getting to my point – organization.  While I have not discovered the secret to being in three places at once and getting my kids to clean the house for me, I do have a couple of tips that just might help.

1.       Skip the Guilt – Remember, this is not admitting defeat.  Quite the opposite.  In fact, I’ve learned that once I accept the fact that I will not be able to chauffeur my daughter to every, single birthday party she is invited to, attend every play group, show up to every family event in town, or manage to volunteer at every school activity, I will actually enjoy (and so will my kids) the precious time I do have, making me a little more calm, cool, and collected.  Frazzled mom is much less efficient anyways.

2.       Get one of those “Mom” calendars.   They really are amazing.

3.       Make and Freeze all the food you can.  If you work out of the home and don’t roll in the door til dinnertime, when you’re children are begging you for something to eat, and the last thing you want to do is whip up a culinary masterpiece or endure the guilt of throwing something less than nutritious on a plate, being able to pop dinner in the over is a lifesaver.

4.       Leave five minutes early.  This is a great rule, since kids really are masters at throwing a curve ball.  Whether that means smiling that little smile – which in toddler terms means, “Ha-ha, even though you just changed my diaper, you’re in for a treat!” or leaving their precious – insert random item here – in their cubby, in the car, in their room, etc.  And heck, if they don’t manage to slow you down and you’re five minutes early, you might actually get a chance to check your makeup and relax for a minute.

5.       Thank your kids.  When they help clean up, want to help you make dinner, or offer to carry your purse – even when you know that in five seconds, they will realize its too heavy – let them.   I know it seems like it’s often more work than if you did it yourself, but even as a five year old, my daughter can now help me with little things around the house – freeing me up to get the big things done.  In addition, it really helps her to feel great about herself and allows her to contribute in a positive way.

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