One word: organization.
It was crucial to be organized when the triplets were babies; I had to write out their feeding, sleeping and pooping schedule on a graph just to make sure that everyone’s needs were met and nobody would starve to death.
These days, my organizational needs have changed. Perfectionism is not the goal here; what is is functionality. I cannot understate the sense of peace that comes with knowing that everything has a place, and everything is in its place.
- Wake Up 30 Minutes Before the Kids
This mom is not a morning person. I would prefer to sleep until 8:00 every morning, but my children insist I wake up at 6:30 am. However, when I wake up a half an hour before my children, I am able to take a shower and make my coffee before the kids march down the stairs like a herd of elephants. This technique just starts the day off on the right foot.
- Do Laundry with More Frequency
Then the behemoth loads–that could be mistaken for a ski resort–are more manageable, both psychologically and physically. Californians and other water-parched citizens might take a rain check on this. But seriously, those dirty clothes do accumulate and then you end up with five loads of laundry on the weekend, which you end up letting wrinkle and look worse than they did when they were dirty. It’s just not right.
- Lay Out Kids Clothing Before Bed
Time saver. Why argue over the purple dress that has a hole in it on Monday morning? It is extremely helpful to have each child lay out an outfit each night. Then ask them to put the outfit on before they come downstairs for breakfast.
- Meal Planning
Meal planning, that nasty little chore that falls right between a visit to the dentist and constipation in my book. Meal planning takes time, preparation and organization. What it lacks is everything that comes so naturally in life like laziness and spontaneity. Yet, when I meal plan, I feel like supermom. Meal planning not only saves time during the week, but it saves money because you buy only the ingredients you need instead of the ingredients you think you may need.
Here are my pre-planned meals for this week:
Monday: Beef Stew
Tuesday: Baked Ziti and Chicken
Wednesday: Calico Bean Pot
Friday: Homemade Pizzas and a side of veggies
Saturday: Chicken Nuggets and Baked Beans
(since mommy is going out)
Sunday: Spaghetti Bolognese, fruit for dessert
My kids help me prepare a part of the meal some nights. They love to put together salads and it saves me a lot of time. Sundays are cook with mommy days and I trade off letting one of my children find a recipe, plan it out and then help me make it.
- Have Kids Pick up Toys Before Bed
By the end of the day, the playroom and bedrooms are both disasters. Sometime before bed I have the kids clean up their own mess so we can start the next day off neat. Having kids pick up their own toys teaches them responsibility and organization early on. Make it fun by letting them listen to the Frozen soundtrack as loud as they want (while you cower in a corner, covering your ears).
- Goal Chart
Morning or afternoon take your pick, goal charts are gold.
I put together a chart so my kids would have some boundaries, guidance and direction when they get home from school. We all have heard by now that kids need boundaries and direction to be happy and successful individuals. If the children complete their after school responsibilities without complaining each day of the week, they earn money or tickets towards a new toy. The more compelling the reward, the more motivated the kid.
Here is what an after school chart looks like:
For solos who have trouble getting their kids out of the house in the morning, a morning jobs chart can be life changing. Literally. No more arguing, no more tantrums. Kids are totally motivated to get ready and out the door. Here’s a morning chart for a younger child created by graphic designer, Sam Panzier. (If you are interested in this ticket chart and instructions about how to use it, email inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org )
- Divide and conquer after dinner responsibilities
Recently, I have divided up all the dinner dishes tasks for the children to do each night. The 10-year-old rinses dishes and puts them in the dishwasher. The seven-year old triplets clear the table, wipe the table down and vacuum. Finally at the end of a hard day I get to sit in the family room with a glass of wine and relish in my newfound freedom.
- Move Coats and Shoes to the Garage
It only took me eight years to figure this out, but now that I have discovered this little organizational delight, our lives are changing for the better. For years I struggled to figure out where everyone would house their shoes and coats. Kids shoes were shoved in a cubby system that crowded my laundry room. Coats were hung haphazardly on a coat rack by the front door that invariably would tip over on a small child. For someone who enjoys organization and tidiness, the shoes and coats were a disaster.
I picked up a fairly inexpensive shoe shelf and coat hanging system that was simple to put together on my own. Everything has been built on a small person’s level so there is no excuse not to utilize this gem.
- Duct Tape Parking Spaces
Creating parking spaces for the four bikes and five scooters was inspired by the fact that the bikes were always strewn haphazardly around the garage. I allowed each child to pick out duct tape in the style that matched their personality. Together the kids and I created parking spots using their special duct tape so there is never be a question of where to put bikes away.
- Sort Snail Mail
As soon as the mail comes in, I immediately sort through it and recycle what we don’t need. I have a place for my bills, a place for my catalogues and a place for my coupons. If you don’t sort through mail each day, by the end of the week you will end up with a gigantic pile of paper on your dining room or kitchen counter. In addition, use PaperKarma, an app that stops junk mail. Take a picture of a piece of junk mail with the app, press “send,” and it’s done.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
The most important part about being organized is having a proper place for everything in your home. Everything from toys and school backpacks to homework and outerwear all need a place to live. If you don’t have a place for something, find one. If you can’t find a place for something in your house, then it isn’t that important and you should probably donate it.
Gain control of your space, and you’ll have more peace of mind. Plus you’ll be teaching your kids valuable lessons along the way.