How to be an organized mom — part 1

8 Tips to help you become an organized mom

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Through my years as a mama, I’ve learned a few things about how to be an organized mom. I thought I was good at being organized before I had babies. But after my first child was born in 2009, I learned how real mom brain is. Keeping track of what needs to be done and deadlines when you’re constantly interrupted and sleep deprived is difficult!

I’m less sleep deprived nowadays; however, I still need strategies to keep organized and on top of everything in our lives. From work to chores to school assignments to daily tasks and beyond, being an organized mom helps me not drop the ball too often. It still happens sometimes (I’m far from perfect!), but these tips help keep me sane and organized.

When I started out with putting together this list, my plan was for one blog post about being an organized mom. Then once I got on a roll, I realized it was too much information for just one post. Don’t miss 8 more tips on becoming an organized mom in two weeks!

1. Set and label alarms on your phone.

I have joked with my family that I live my life by alarms. It’s 100% the truth! Right now, for example, I’m working on this post until my next alarm goes off and I stop to pick up my kids from school. Earlier today, I kept myself on track with doing laundry by setting timers for switching from the washer to the dryer.

I use alarms liberally. (Interestingly enough, I don’t use my phone alarm for waking up in the morning. I prefer an alarm clock for that!) If we have somewhere to be, I have an alarm set for it. I set the alarm for five minutes before I need to leave if I’m just getting myself ready and out the door. If I’m getting everyone out the door, I usually go for about 10 minutes before we need to leave.

Labeling alarms is a great plan as well. I have labeled them as things like “Leave for the doctor,” “School pick up,” “L. appointment” and so on. Nothing fancy, but there’s no doubt in my mind what the alarm is for. They keep me organized and from scrambling around, missing things or being late.

Another bonus is setting alarms lets me relax and not stress about checking the time. I don’t need to worry that I’ll miss picking up my kids from school on time, because I have an alarm for that!

2. Use your phone’s calendar for reminders and to-do items.

Since I pretty much always have my phone with or near me, I utilize it to my advantage. You can totally get apps for to-do lists, but I use my calendar. Everything is in one place. I have some things recurring. Like every Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m., I have an “event” pop up to remind me that we need to take out the trash. Daily at 7 p.m., I have an event reminder set to take my medicine.

While I use my digital calendar (which is synced with my email account) for actual appointments, I also use it for a variety of reminders. It makes me a more organized mom. For example, if I’m getting ready for bed and remember I need to email my son’s teacher about bringing in cupcakes for his upcoming birthday, I set a reminder on my phone’s calendar for the next morning at 9 a.m. when I know I’ll be sitting at my desk. And I’m able to not keep worrying about it in fear of forgetting.

I even use calendar items to remind me of more personal things. In the last few months, I have set appointments on my calendar to remind me to pray for a church member in a ministry meeting, reach out to a friend to check in and send a thank you card for a gift.

I also create calendar events to follow up with people for work and personal reasons. Often when I contact people for work, I don’t hear from them and need to follow up. I set calendar events to remind me to do so. Other times I may need to follow up with someone at my children’s school about something they need.

3. Don’t dismiss old school tools.

I love my notebook and planner. A lot of what I put in my phone’s calendar goes into my paper planner as well. Having the visual list of things to do helps me stay on task. I am a fan of lists and use them all the time. All. The. Time. Because I can beat myself up for things being left undone on my daily list, I try to plan by the week and break it down from there.

I’ve found that having a to-do list for the week to prioritize all the big tasks what I must do and what I need to do helps. Then I have a daily to-do list with all the minute tasks I need to do. Like most moms, I wear a variety of hats. Having my own business and working for multiple clients and publications means I can often have a lot to juggle. My lists keep me sane.

Check out The Christian Woman Life Planner. I put it together with a variety of options to help you and me both stay organized! Each page has a Bible verse to encourage and uplift you as you go. Honestly, this mini-planner has helped me stay organized and focused on my tasks for each day. I can sometimes get distracted when I think of another task that needs to be done while I’m in the middle of a first task. Now I have everything prioritized for the day at a glance and just write down the other task to be done while finishing what needs to be done!

4. Post a family calendar.

I keep a calendar on the side of our fridge that lists main activities for our family. It’s an easy way for any of us to get an overview of what’s going on. If my kids have activities, doctor’s appointments or meetings, I write them on the fridge calendar. Days out of school are also marked. Each morning as I mark an “X” on the day before, I can easily see what the day has in store.

(The Christian Woman Life Planner includes a post-able monthly calendar for you to use. Or you can also get the post-able calendar only!)

I like just a normal, paper planner for our family. I’ve seen the Pinterest images of giant white boards that are color-coded. Honestly, I find that overwhelming. (If you don’t, go for it!) So using either a calendar that I print out, like from The Christian Woman Life Planner, or one professionally printed, works best for us. When a new month starts, I fill in the calendar with appointments and such for the month in less than five minutes. I can always add to it if something gets scheduled as the month goes on as well.

5. Don’t put off tasks that don’t take long to do.

One of my best cleaning tips comes in handy in all areas of my life. My philosophy is that if a task takes less than two minutes to do it, then I complete it right away rather than let it stew. If I need to make a phone call to schedule a teeth cleaning for my kids, I do it instead of adding it to my to-do list. When my kids get home from school, we immediately take care of their lunchboxes and containers.

Being an organized mom is being on top of things. Doing small tasks in the moment can save so much time and stress in the long run. Sometimes I ask myself if future me would thank me for the choice I made. Along with how long a task takes, it’s a great way to assess whether I need to get to work!

6. Find a meal planning solution that works for you.

You can find lots of meal planning solutions. Figure out what works best for you and your family and go with it. Whether you’re planning a meal for every single day, a theme for certain nights of the week, a list of foods on-hand or a delivered weekly meal kit, use it!

I’ve tried scheduling meals for each day of the week and found that I’d get off track when our plans changed. Then I’d get frustrated and stop following the meal calendar. I do better with a list. It makes for easy meal planning. (You can read more details about how I easily meal plan in this post.)

Another way I’ve recently been meal planning is through using meal kit delivery services. I usually do only two or three meals from them per week, but that helps me figure out the plan more easily for the rest of the week. We are actually eating at home even more as a result. Win-win!

7. Prepare ahead of time.

I’m not a natural-born procrastinator. I think it’s my anxiety talking, but I don’t generally like to put off tasks until the last minute. Preparing for even regular things ahead of time can help you be more organized. For example, I pack lunches for my kids the night before. (And, yes, they often help!) I usually plan one hot lunch day per week and heat up the hot food in the morning, but I pack sides the night before. It keeps me sane and makes for easier mornings. It also reduces my risk to forget something — like sending an applesauce cup without a spoon.

Before my kids could pick out their own clothes, I laid out their clothes each evening so they were ready to go in the morning. When I’m planning a birthday party for my kids, I figure out what we’ll need a few weeks ahead of time and start purchasing things. It gives me time to find the items I want, but also I don’t have to worry if something keeps me busy just before the party.

8. Have designated spots for daily use to-go items — and use them!

Losing track of things adds stress and chaos — the opposite of organization! Having designated spots for daily-use items is a must. I’m all about simple. We don’t have a complex system in place for things. I love the photos of organized mudrooms with lockers or cubbies for each child to hang backpacks and coats. But that’s not practical for us. (If it is for you, go for it!)

Instead, we have a bench with a coat rack attached and a shoe holder underneath. The kids know that’s where their coats and shoes go when they get home from school. Their backpacks go on the floor next to it. We also have cords set up on the countertop just beside this area where they charge their school iPads. So when morning comes and we’re rushing out the door, everything everyone needs is in one spot.

It makes all of our lives easier! This year, with wearing masks, I also have masks stored in the cabinet right beside where their tablets charge so they’re easy to grab. When the kiddos finish homework, I require them to put it back in their backpack immediately so it doesn’t get forgotten.

We also have designated spots for car keys, my purse, hats, sunglasses and even chewing gum! But, we are still human. Sometimes things end up in the wrong areas or forgotten. At least 97% of the time, though, things are where they belong and we are more organized as a result.

Don’t miss part two of this series:

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