Hi, my name is Courtney and my life is crazy. Oh, and yes, I DO like to watch the occasional bad reality show. So much so, that I'll schedule the season premiere on my calendar as seen above.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is how, as a working mom, I keep our life organized. How do we get out of the door in the morning in one piece, sane, and on time? How do you juggle work time and family time? How do you keep it all balanced?
Well friends, allow me to be honest. I don’t really have a concrete answer to those questions because on any given day, life happens. The day care calls un-expectantly to ask you to pick up a sick kiddo. You get a flat tire. Starbucks is out of pumpkin spiced lattes (the freaking horror!). You get the drift – life happens.
Whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom, we all have the same amount of hours in the day to work with. Having said that, I think the key for me in helping our lives run smoothly has been establishing and keeping to routines and keeping a well-organized, day-to-day plan aside from looking at the big picture (Months down the road planning) types of things.
Maybe you’re one of those people who have this organization thing down to a science. Your pantry is all neat and organized with Ikea storage containers and you have pretty little Pinterest chalkboard labels for everything. Your clothes are neatly folded and arranged in your closet and everything is sorted and placed according to color and season.
Great. But what about your everyday organization? How do you go about your day with an organized schedule and to-do list? Here are my tips on helping to organize the everyday crazy.
Prep the Night Before
Nothing helps me to get my new day going more than going to bed at night knowing that the details for the following day are handled. I wake up feeling far more refreshed and not so much in a panic.
· Put together and organize kid stuff – handle all of those pesky forms and paperwork and pull together day care and school bags for the next day. Establish a “command center” where all of these items are placed. For me, that’s the end of our dining room table. My purse, Chickie’s school bag and any other items for the next day are placed there so that in the morning, it’s an easy grab and go.
· Do a quick pick-up around the house – bath time for Chickie is at 7:50. Around 7:30, we do a quick clean up around the house. Toys are put away, the kitchen is cleaned up with the dishwasher going, and all stray items are put away. We get Chickie involved by doing the “clean up song” (which is a perfect opportunity to teach helpfulness and responsibility) and I’ve even started letting her pick out her outfit the night before to try and minimize morning meltdowns and tantrums.
· Make a to-do list for the next day – This habit does wonders for my productivity. Instead of waking up in a panic wondering what I have to get done for the day, I simply refer to my list to see what’s on the agenda for the day. I usually break my list down to “Need to do”, “Want to do”, and then list any appointments, events, or special reminders like birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.
When I’m done with my list, I place it on the bar in our kitchen because that’s where I go first thing in the morning for coffee. While I’m waiting for the Keurig to do its magic, I can look over my list and get mentally prepared for the day ahead.
Get the Most Out of Daily Activities
Let’s be honest – no matter how much we plan ahead and organize, there’s no way to predict the perfect day. I do believe however, that we can do our best to try and stay on track to keep things running smoothly. Here are some of my tips:
· When you rise, put that cell phone away! I know that since most of us use our cell phones for our alarm clocks, it’s only natural to want to get on our phones and see what’s going on but DON’T. Get a cup of coffee. Have some quiet time. Read over that amazing to-do list you planned the night before ;-) If you’re a religious person, use those first few minutes of the morning for devotional time. Point being – put the phone down. Allow yourself some time to wake up and shake off the morning fuzzies. Don’t get sucked into the bright screen and allow emails for the day to run over and dictate your life from the get-go.
For me, I usually sip on my coffee, go over my to do list for the day, and read blogs. This usually takes around 15 – 20 minutes. THEN I get my phone. Trust me, you’ll feel far more refreshed and ready to tackle the day if you don’t get sucked into your phone first.
· Keep a good routine that works for you and your family – No one in our family is a morning person, but I’ve come to learn that having a good routine in place helps to minimize the cray-cray. We all wake up knowing what to expect and how the morning will play out so there are no surprises. Now, do we have meltdowns and tantrums? Yes. Do we have set-backs? Absolutely – but, having the bones and structure to the start of our day is half the battle.
This is especially true for small ones. Most toddlers and preschoolers crave routine. For us it’s goes as follows:
1. Chickie wakes up and immediately goes potty
2. I will get her Cheerios and then she lays in our bed eating and watching a movie. This allows me time to get ready.
3. Next up, it’s time to get Chickie ready. Clothes, hair, and teeth are all done.
4. Get shoes on and out the door!
Now don’t get me wrong. We have our struggles all through that little scenario but that’s pretty much the foundation of our mornings Monday thru Friday.
· Take a break – I’m the type of person who can get very bored very quickly working on one thing. It’s hard for me to sit down and work on one project for a long length of time. I try to break up my day into manageable chunks with little breaks in-between. For instance, if I’m working on a project for work, I’ll go hard for about an hour or so and then take a break and call and make appointments for Chickie, schedule things for myself, or follow up on house and life items that need to be taken care of. I’m getting my work done but I’m also able to handle personal things as well.
One Last Suggestion…
Find a planner system that works for you. Finding your perfect fit will be worth its weight in gold. I personally LOVE paper calendars and organizing systems. I’m a writer and love putting pen to paper and being able to write things out and see in a planner what my month, day, etc. looks like. It’s what works for me.
Some people enjoy keeping electronic task lists and that’s great, too. Whatever works for you is what’s important. There was a time when I did try to go electronic and used Wunderlist and Evernote. Both are great products, each with their pros and cons. It’s simply just a process of finding what suits you but do it. It will be worth it.
What tips do you have for keeping the day to day crazies at bay?