04 May 2016

Working Mom Organization: Practical Tips For Life That Actually Work

One of the most frequent questions I get asked as a working mom is how 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 me to pick up the sick kiddo. I get a flat tire. Starbucks is out of soy milk to make my chai tea latte (the freaking horror!). You get the drift – life happens.

Whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom, we're all working moms and 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 as a working mom outside the home 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 someone who has 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. 


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 as a working mom.

Prep the Night Before
Nothing helps me to get my 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 bar in my kitchen. 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 7:30. Around 7:15, 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. 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 how the day will really unfold. 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 big, bright shiny screen and allow emails 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 thing.

·         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. Do we have meltdowns and tantrums? Yes. Do we have set-backs? Absolutely – but having an established foundation 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 get her Cheerios and turn on her favorite cartoons. 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 get 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 in a planner to physically see is what works best 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 tried 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?

Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tip! Will do my own planner right after this ;)