My Favorite Organization Strategies that Work for My Family
Yesterday my son’s school had a performance. His class was supposed to wear a white shirt and dark bottom. All but two kids stuck to the dress code. I felt so bad for the parents of those kids in the bright pink and neon green because I know what it’s like to forget a wardrobe request and have my son upset that he was the ONLY person not wearing X,Y, Z.
These days, it feels like you need to be hyper organized to parent. Between work, school projects, special dress code days at school, sports and other extracurricular activities, it can be hard to keep all of the details straight. The worst is during the summer when my youngest son’s preschool has special weekly theme days and my oldest son goes to a different camp every week. I’m constantly worried that I’ll drop my oldest at the wrong camp or dress my youngest as a super hero on sports day!
As my oldest son gets older, I try to put some of the organization burden on him. That being said, I’m still his back up. He did remember to wear a dark bottom but came out in a white shirt with a large print so I told him to swap it to a plain white shirt. For my 4 year old, the responsibility still lies with me. Luckily, I have some tried and true organization strategies that help me stay on top of parenting and work deadlines.
Organization Strategies for Parents
- Shared Calendars (note the plural): I admit that I’m a bit nuts about calendars. I keep multiple calendars for my family. I have a shared Google calendar (that is also on my phone) with my husband and I use a dry erase wall calendar so that everyone can see upcoming activities. I also use a planner for my to do lists and calendar. Between my medical appointments, early release days, work deadlines and my oldest son’s extracurricular activities, I’d be a disorganized mess without my calendar system. (If you need help finding an organization system, check out some of my favorites here.)
- School Paper System: I feel like there is a constant stream of paperwork coming into our home. With regards to school papers, I try to have a “touch it once” policy. I take the form out of my son’s school bag and either enter the date into my calendar immediately or fill out the form and put it right back in the folder. I also keep the school papers separate from regular household paperwork to stay organized.
- Designated Spaces: We have a mini command center next to the front door where the kids hang their backpacks and jackets and my husband and I keep our car keys. If we have anything that needs to be taken to school/work, we either hang it on a hook or put it in front of the door the night before. This eliminates the morning scramble and we are less likely to forget something if we set it out.
- Simplify Everywhere You Can: Some may call our meals boring, but I call them practical. My kids eat the exact same lunch every day. Fortunately for us, they don’t care because it really makes life so much easier. I don’t have to buy a variety of lunch items and prepping lunches is pretty much rote. The same goes for dinners. It’s no secret that I hate cooking so our dinners are strictly utilitarian. A protein, some vegetables and maybe a starch if I’m up to it, otherwise, a roll stands in as the starch. On really rough nights, I have my Trader Joe’s go tos that I heat and serve and sometimes, the vegetable option is just raw carrots or tomatoes and cucumbers. My kids’ wardrobes are also super simple. Most everything coordinates since boy clothes have very little variety and they have two pairs of shoes to choose from (which are stored next to the door).
- Involve the Kids: This applies to slightly older kids, although I try to include both kids, but I’ve started giving the kids responsibilities and getting them involved in our family organization. We’ve started a sticker chart for my oldest to pass on the responsibility of getting ready to him. He gets a star if he gets himself ready for school without supervision and another for keeping his school papers organized. My youngest now sets aside anything extra that needs to be taken to school. I’m hoping it will teach both of them strong organizational skills.
Being a parent comes with a seemingly never ending list of things to do, particularly when your kids are school age. If you let things slide for a while, life can get chaotic very quickly.
I find that the best organization system when it comes to parenting my kids is to stay on top of things and have a system in place. Of course, this doesn’t mean that my house is a perfectly organized space and I never forget a deadline, but at least my kids are almost always wearing the “themed” attire when required.
Do you have any special organization strategies that keep you on top of parenting?