How A Busy Mom Plans Ahead to Keep it Together
I don’t claim to be the most organized person. In fact, if you walked into my house right now, you’d wonder if a bomb went off in my living room. Nope, no bomb, just a 3 year old, a 7 year old, a mom with a chronic illness and a rockstar dad who can’t possibly do it all.
I joke that my husband is the brawn and I’m the brains. I don’t mean I’m smarter than he is, far from it, I just mean that because I have some physical limitations that result from my autoimmune disease and secondary fibromyalgia, I can’t always do the heavy lifting when it comes to cleaning up. However, what I can do is keep our family organized so that things don’t fall through the cracks.
We lead a pretty busy life. My husband and I both work, our oldest son is in karate, chess and is currently playing on basketball for the next eight weeks. My youngest is a handful all on his own, but eventually, he’ll have his own activities and birthday parties to attend.
All that is to say that in order for us to keep all of the balls in the air, I set aside a bit of time on Sunday morning to get our busy lives organized for the week. I choose Sunday morning because I do the bulk of my planning and organizing while hiding in my room. My kids don’t know I’m awake yet, so they ask their dad for their milk, or yogurt, or cheese, or bananas, instead of me.
I bring everything I need to my room on Saturday night so that no one knows I’m up. It would be nice to do my planning with a cup of coffee, but my 3 year old is currently attached to my hip, so I can’t risk having him know I’m awake and interrupt me. I do give props to my husband for being the morning parent on the weekends so that I can rest and recover. He keeps the kids at bay until I’m ready to join the living.
How Busy Moms Can Plan Ahead For A More Organized Week
If Sunday isn’t a good day for you, choose a day that works. For example, my son gets a folder full of flyers on Fridays, so Friday night could be a good planning time, or even Saturday morning. I prefer to do my planning without interruptions and we live in a small space so there are few places for me to hide.
To get ready for my morning planning, I gather everything I need before bed on Saturday. If I was really organized, I’d keep a folder or basket and put everything in it throughout the week. Instead, every week, I gather up the mail, flyers and my pile of papers. Someday, I aspire to be truly organized and put them all in one place throughout the week.
Here’s what I do, but obviously, tailor this to your family’s needs.
Easy Ways for Busy Moms To Get Organized
I keep a paper planner, a Martha Stewart Dry Erase Wall Calendar and a dry erase week in view decal on our refrigerator. I also keep an electronic calendar on my phone. The first thing I do is check my phone and planner to make sure I am not missing any appointments or deadlines.
Once I see all of the must-do activities already on my plate, I can decide if there is room for additional activities or appointments. Do the kids need a haircut or flu shot? Is there space in the week or weekend to squeeze them in (our pediatrician has a weekend clinic, which is amazing)? Are there days that I need my husband to drop off or pick up both kids? We usually divide and conquer, but if I have an early appointment or late appointment, or if he is travelling, we need to adjust.
It sounds silly, but we send each other emails with scheduling changes so that we can each add it to our schedule. We tried a family Google calendar, but my husband never checked it and I got tired of having to remind him about everything. Now I send him an email and he adds it to his own schedule. It is also the reason we have a weekly calendar decal on the refrigerator – he can’t miss it!
If I do have appointments to book or extracurricular activities to sign the kids up for, I immediately put the phone number or website address in my planner on the day I need to do it. That way I’m not searching for the information when I need it. It allows me to power through several family tasks during one lunch break. If I have a lot of calls to make, I create a separate to do list with all of the details and paper clip any backup info to your list. Doing this now saves me loads of time during the week!
Sort And File:
Next, I go through the mail pile, reminders and flyers. If it is a bill, I set up the online payment on my bank website or write the check now with a post it on the outside with the mail date. If there are flyers for events I want to attend, I add them to my calendar now and paperclip it to the calendar date. You can also take a picture with your phone, but truth be told, I never remember to check my photos for information.
Once I’ve gotten set up for the week with my appointments, deadlines and to dos, I move on the next stages of getting organized for the week.
Easy Meal Planning
Our meal plan is very simple and completely dependent on the week. I either pick a few simple meals to make for the week or decide which days we are getting take out or hitting the drive through. To be honest, I really don’t like cooking. I think it’s genetic. My mom hating cooking, too. To me, dinner time is a necessary evil. The kids need to eat, therefore I cook. Pre-kids, I usually ate a bowl of cereal or scrambled eggs for dinner. At best, I would have canned soup. I look forward to when the kids are out of the house and I can retire from cooking.
On the other hand, my husband loves cooking. Unfortunately, he gets home late most days so he either helps make casseroles for the week on Sunday or he makes a tasty weekend dinner.
Here are some of my other meal-planning tips.
- You don’t need to get crazy, creating an elaborate spreadsheet to plan out your meals. Review your calendar again and determine if there are days when dinners are covered or when you will be short on time to get a healthy meal on the table.
- Once you know how many meals you need to prepare and which days there is no chance that you’ll have time to cook, decide whether you’ll pre-cook meals for those days or decide on what take out you will order. The less you have to think during the week, the better.
- Write out the meals for the week and check your refrigerator and pantry for ingredients to create your shopping list. I personally like to do a pasta dish and a chicken and vegetable casserole on super busy weeks since those two meals taste great reheated and provide several servings. You can also make double batches of these types of meals easily to put in your freezer for the next time you have a crazy week. Cooking ahead has made a huge impact on my family’s health and our wallet, since we’re not constantly buying dinner on the road or eating out.
- Cook and prep. Once you’ve done your grocery shopping, cook up whatever advanced meals you’re making and chop and prep anything else that can be done in advance. You can peel and chop veggies in advance or pre-make breakfast for the week. I usually eat one of my speedy breakfasts, so I don’t need to pre-make anything, but occasionally, I’ll make pancake muffins or hard boil a few eggs for the week. My oldest eats either pancakes or waffles every morning. If we are doing pancakes, my husband makes a large batch on Sunday so that we just heat and serve during the week.
Clear Some Chaos:
Take a bit of time to get yourself ready for the week by doing these simple things.
- Clean out your purse and wallet. I am guilty of not following my own advice here, but when I actually do, I feel so much more organized. It’s amazing how something so small makes such a big difference. Starting the week with a clean purse and wallet makes me feel so much more pulled together. It seems silly, but it’s true.
- Do a quick clean. Take 10 – 15 minutes to power through decluttering. Grab a trash bag and get rid of any trash or clutter around the house or in your car. If you have young kids, I guarantee you have some broken toys or wrappers lying around. If you are a super organized mom who doesn’t have these issues, I envy you. If not, quickly run through the main rooms of your house and get rid of the junk. Do the same in your car. You probably have crumbs, wrappers, papers, used wipes or napkins on the floor of your car. Like your purse, you’ll feel so much more organized when you toss unnecessary clutter and have a clean car.
- Quick clean your refrigerator in the same way. Toss old, expired or rotted food, preferably before you go grocery shopping. Clear out the junk to make room for the casseroles and pre-chopped produce.
I sometimes prefer to do my Sunday prep on Saturday, especially if I know the next week is busy. That way I have more time to get organized and still have a lot of family and rest time. If we have sports or activities on Saturday, which we usually do, Sunday works best for us. Do what works for your family.
What are some of your favorite organizing tips?
My favorite organizing tools:
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