Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

How to keep your family organized

8 tips for busy parents to stay organized

This blog post about how to keep your family organized comes from Charlotte Walker of HomeSafetyHub.com. Charlotte has some great insights for busy parents who feel overwhelmed. She has been passionate about safety her whole life and enjoys writing about topics related to homes and home life.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 93% of fathers and 71% of mothers have jobs. These working parents must find spare minutes to complete household chores while carving out time for their families. This balancing act isn’t easy, but keeping an organized home may help. If you’re unsure where to start, here are a few tips.

Hire a professional organizer

If you don’t have time to overhaul your home or the project is too overwhelming to do alone, hire a professional organizer to help. These experts can help you with decluttering, consolidating and storing. The assistance of a team also means a quicker, easier process.

Create a routine

Routine is vital for everyone, but children experience the benefits more intensely. Not only does a familiar routine provide a sense of security, but it can also help kids stay organized without prompting. Sticking with a routine can be difficult if you have a large, active family, but small efforts, such as having dinner together at the same time every day, are a great place to start.

(For even more ideas, check out 5 Successful Ways to Create Routines.)

Declutter regularly

Decluttering can vastly improve your home’s organization. When you get rid of everything you don’t need, you discover you have a lot more room and don’t have to clean as often. You don’t have to declutter your entire house if you don’t have time; instead, concentrate on the biggest sources of clutter such as:

  • Bathrooms
  • Junk drawers
  • Closets

Paper is a common clutter culprit, so try moving to a digital filing system. There are many apps and inexpensive scanners you can use to digitize documents that you can’t get electronically. And if you find there are files you have questions about, then you can try using this free editing tool to add questions and notes before forwarding the file onto your partner or even the sending party (like a doctor’s office or utility company). The tool is easy to use and allows you to keep track of comments without adding to your paper clutter.

(For even more ideas, check out How to Organize Your Kids School Papers.)

Try meal planning

Grocery shopping and cooking are time-consuming, but you can minimize inconvenience with meal planning. This approach to cooking reduces kitchen waste and meal preparation time, making it an excellent option for environmentally conscious and busy parents. The following tips can help you get started:

  • Freeze leftovers for future meals.
  • Utilize store-bought frozen vegetables.
  • Plan several meals with the same ingredients.

(For an easy-to-use, editable PDF meal planner, check out the Families with Grace Etsy store.)

Make a family calendar

A family calendar ensures everyone knows what’s going on each day. Ideally, the calendar should be in an accessible space, such as the kitchen or living room. You can use a paper calendar or a whiteboard — the latter may be a better option if you need to make changes frequently.

If your kids are a little older, you can also consider a calendar app. For example, Google allows you to share an online calendar with multiple people. That way, your family can consult their schedules anytime, anywhere.

(For an easy-to-use, editable PDF meal and weekly planner, check out the Families with Grace Etsy store.)

Install storage solutions

One of the best ways to prevent clutter is to have a place for every belonging. Installing storage solutions ensures you have enough space to do so. Examples include:

  • Hooks
  • Cube organizers
  • Baskets
  • Under-the-bed storage
  • Drawer organizers

Prepare the night before

Preparing for school the night before can make mornings less hectic. For example, you can pack your kids’ lunchboxes and keep them in the fridge until it’s time to leave. Kids can also help by laying out their outfits and packing their backpacks.

Create good organizational habits

Once you’ve organized your home, keep it neat with good habits. For example, carefully consider furniture purchases to determine if you have enough room. You can help your kids develop these habits by asking them to think of a designated space for a toy before buying it.

Finding ways to keep your family organized as a parent takes a massive effort, but a few tricks can make the process easier. Once your home is tidy, you can relax and enjoy time with your loved ones.

How to be a calmer parent

8 tried-and-true strategies for being a calm parent

Nobody goes into parenthood thinking how irritated and grumpy they’ll be. We have visions of being a calm parent. But then the baby is born. You add up no sleep, a huge adjustment to taking complete care of another person and the pressure you feel on all sides and all calmness goes flying right out the window. And that’s just the early days! Parenthood is a hard gig. If anyone tells you it isn’t, they either aren’t a parent or they’re flat-out lying!

Being a calm parent is challenging, even for naturally calm folks. I think I’m a pretty naturally calm person. I don’t get angry easily. My husband is the same way. But parenthood definitely puts that to the test. We’ve failed and messed up. However, in the past 12-1/2 years of parenting, I’ve learned a few strategies that help me be a calmer parent.

1. Pray about it.

Everything starts with prayer, right? Well, at least it should. Sometimes we get off track and try to do things on our own first. It never works out so well. Even being a calm parent is something we can ask God to help us with. He blessed us with these children. He knows their hearts and our hearts. Our Father knows our challenges and struggles. He is just waiting to help us!

You can literally pray before you start the day for God to help you be a calm parent that day. I pray that God helps me to be the mom my children need each day. Calmness is included in there!

Praying in the moment is also important. I can’t say that I do this every time my irritation starts forming, but I try to pray in the moment as often as possible. Sometimes it’s just a short, “God help me to deal with this,” prayer. A bonus to that is in the time it takes me to pause for a few seconds to pray, it also breaks the momentum of my irritation.

2. Listen to the right music.

Music is powerful. I’ve shared a few times the difference that music makes in my life. The right music helps me to be a calm parent. That might sound a bit lame, but it’s true! My go-to music is contemporary Christian music. (If that’s your jam, too, check out the free Families with Grace playlist on Spotify.) Or maybe you enjoy hymns. Maybe country gospel music speaks to your heart. (I truly love all three types of music I’ve mentioned!) Whatever it is, listen to something that calms you and helps you focus on God.

In the car after school, I usually have Air1 Radio or The Message on Sirius XM playing. My kids can sing along to almost every song that comes on. When they were younger, I’d leave the kitchen radio turned on almost all the time to Christian radio. It’s really difficult to yell at or lose patience with your children when you are singing or humming along to Christian music.

Even now, I listen to it while I work most of the time. (For articles that require more concentration, I usually switch to classical.) Then even when I’m not listening to music, the songs are still running through my head. It helps me be a calmer parent.

3. Remind yourself how old your kids are.

Have your ever gotten mad at your child for acting their age? I sure have! We definitely have to teach our children how to grow and behave, but we also need to understand what they are truly capable of. For example, I’d love to tell my 9-year-old to go organize his room. But he still needs some guidance. He knows toys can’t be all over the floor and that dirty clothes go to the laundry room. However, he is 9. He also needs specific instructions for where to put some toys or reminders of the organization we helped him create for them.

My 12-year-old is mature for her age and always has been. Sometimes I have moments that I start to get irritated with her for doing something irresponsible and then I remember, she’s 12. It calms me down. I know that she is still learning. Expecting our children to act more responsible than they are able to be is only asking for trouble. We can remain a calm parent when we stop before we snap at them and remember their age.

Remembering their age helps me switch from anger and irritation to teaching mode. That’s what my kids need most anyway. Our kids need us to take time to teach them rather than just get upset with them for not doing something correctly.

4. Set reasonable expectations for your children.

I get frustrated by people who don’t do their jobs well. We’ve all had times when we had to do a task we shouldn’t have had to do because someone slacked off. When someone doesn’t do the job we expect them to do, it is incredibly frustrating.

The same is true with our kids. When we set expectations for what we’ve asked them to do, we get frustrated when they don’t follow through. Sometimes it is completely their fault, and they didn’t do what they are fully capable of doing. Those times, they need to have consequences. Other times, though, we expect them to do a better job than they are able to do. Before we start getting upset we need to be sure we have reasonable expectations for what our children can and should be able to do.

Over the weekend, my kids were working together to clean up after dinner like I had asked them to. My youngest didn’t complete his task completely. My daughter started to just sigh and do it for him. I stopped her and we showed him how to complete the task. It was a win-win, because now he knows how to do the task and we can expect he can do it in the future. And nobody got upset in the process.

5. Take a breather.

It’d be nice to say that if you use these strategies you will always be a calm parent. But that’s not true, because you’re human and so are your children. Some days are hard when you’re exhausted and your children seem to find every button you have and push it over and over and over and over. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is take a breather.

If your children are babies or toddlers, this may mean just putting them in their crib for 5 minutes while you go to another room and just pause. (Been there, done that!) If you have preschoolers, this may mean you sit them down with a 20-minute show and you don’t interact. For older kids, you can send them to their rooms or tell them you need time alone for a few minutes.

I’ve sometimes taken an extra couple of minutes switching out or hanging up laundry just for a breather. Taking a couple of minutes away from the moment can help you calm down. Add in some deep breathing and prayer time and it works even better.

6. Ask for help.

You weren’t made to parent alone. Asking for help is OK. I was fortunate when my children were small that both my parents and in-laws lived within a few minutes of us and loved having time with grandkids. I utilized that help. If you don’t have that, maybe you have a friend you could trade off babysitting with.

Don’t forget to ask your spouse for help as well. Nope. It shouldn’t be the case that one of you is “helping” the other when you’re both in this together. But at the same time, your spouse doesn’t know what you need without you asking. Sometimes my husband has noticed my need for time away before I have. He’ll encourage me to go to our room or leave the house or whatever I need to do to regroup. Other times, I ask him to take over so I can have a minute. The same has been true in reverse.

Sometimes to be a calm parent, you have to ask for help and get away from it all — even just for 20 minutes in the shower alone. Other times to be a calm parent, you need someone to take items off your to-do list and fold the two loads of laundry sitting by the dryer. Just ask!

7. Try to embrace an attitude of gratitude.

Nothing impedes our calmness like getting angry with our family. Sometimes we get angry because of all we have to do for them that they don’t seem to appreciate. I’ve struggled with this before and still do from time to time. Have you ever had a thought starting with “Why does nobody else around here ever….?” Then you know what I’m talking about.

Yes, our families need to pull their weight. We shouldn’t let chores go undone or do them all ourselves. However, shifting our perspective helps alleviate anger and, in turn, makes us a calmer parent. For example, as you’re conquering that ever-growing pile or laundry, take a moment to thank God for the family you have who wear those clothes. Start adding in other things, too, like thanking Him for the clothes themselves and the ability to wash them in a washing machine.

It may be cliché, but once we start counting our blessings, we calm down. Our attitude shifts and we are more at peace.

8. Apologize when you lose your cool.

Chances are really good that you aren’t going to be a calm parent all the time. I’m certainly not. Sometimes our children need us to not be calm to get a point across. Other times, they don’t deserve our wrath. And it’s those times that we need to go back to our children and apologize. It’s a learning moment for our kids and helps us remember the lesson we learned as well.

Our children learn nobody is perfect, how to apologize when we mess up and that love covers it all. We have a memorable moment in feeling bad about acting out of anger so we are more likely to stop ourselves before doing so again. Simply saying “I’m sorry for how I reacted” goes a long way.

Find more resources to help you be a calm parent in these posts as well:

5 Ideas for a great Father’s Day celebration

How to give him a meaningful Father’s Day celebration

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Coming up with ideas for a Father’s Day celebration can be tricky, to say the least. If the men in your life are similar to the ones in mine, they are low-maintenance guys who will tell you they don’t care what they do for Father’s Day. They aren’t rolling in suggestions of what a perfect and meaningful Father’s Day celebration would be.

So, I’ve been doing some thinking and a bit of chatting with my own husband to come up with ideas I think most dads would really love for celebrating Father’s Day. I looked at ideas across the internet and found most of them weren’t actually created with dads in mind. Maybe some dads would love to do a family workout, scavenger hunt or puzzle to celebrate Father’s Day, but I don’t think the guys in my life would.

Instead, I’ve got some low-key and meaningful ideas for a Father’s Day celebration, because more than anything we want the dads in our lives to know how much we appreciate them and love them.

1. Let him rest.

Last Mother’s Day, I shared some no and low-cost gift ideas for moms. At the very top of the list was giving her the gift of a nap. I have to start in the same place with dads. Parenting (and adulthood in general) is exhausting. Especially dads who are living with young kiddos at home could use some rest. While I love a good nap, my husband loves sleeping in.

Whatever rest looks like for your guy, let him enjoy some rest and downtime on Father’s Day. Maybe it doesn’t mean sleeping in or napping. Maybe he wants to watch a show in peace or read a book. Let him have some downtime.

2. Keep it low-key.

So, I will say that maybe not all guys would love low-key Father’s Day celebrations, but the ones I know really would. In the past, I’ve tried asking my husband for ideas of what he wants to do. Honestly, I think it just adds more pressure to him. Of course he wants to be recognized and appreciated for all he does, but he also doesn’t want a big to-do that means he has to act really excited about something he really doesn’t care so much about.

You can ask him if he has anything he wants to do, but keep it low pressure. If he says he doesn’t have anything he wants to do, then let him be. Use some of the ideas on this list. Dads are under so much pressure in taking care of their families and managing work and everything else that the last thing we want to do on a day that’s all about them is add more pressure!

3. Do his favorite activity.

Think about things your husband likes to do and figure out a way to make that happen as a family. For example, if he loves golf, plan a trip to play mini golf or at a driving range. If he loves watching movies, plan an afternoon movie you can all watch together with his favorite snacks. Maybe your guy likes playing games. Pick a game your whole family can play and make memories.

The other thing I know about dads is that it’s often hard for them to find time for their hobbies or things they enjoy in the midst of all they have going on. Taking the time to plan something you know he’ll enjoy will make his Father’s Day celebration all that much better. Getting to do that activity with his family is great, because dads like making good memories and having fun with their kiddos. Father’s Day is a great time to be intentional about making that happen in a way your guy will love.

The bonus we’ve found is that anything my husband or I are into or excited about, our kids are also at least interested in it as well. They want to be involved in things we’re interested in or excited about.

4. Eat his favorite food.

Whether it’s from a restaurant or from your kitchen, your guy’s favorite food should be on the menu for his Father’s Day celebration. My husband loves the bacon ranch cheese bread I make. I don’t make it all that often, so it’s definitely a treat for him. Even if it’s a dish you make all the time, if he loves it then Father’s Day is a great time to make it. Or take him out to eat at a restaurant he loves or a restaurant he chooses.

While my love language is food, my husband’s isn’t so much. But still knowing you’ve made the effort to have food he enjoys will make him happy.

5. Give thoughtful gifts.

You can find all sorts of gift ideas for Father’s Day, but the gifts that mean the most are the ones with the most thought behind them. Just like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is one of those holidays where it really is the thought that counts. Dads want to know they’re appreciated. They want some acknowledgement that their family sees and appreciates their hard work.

When I stop to truly think about what all our husband does for our family, I am overwhelmed and humbled. He makes sacrifices the kids aren’t even aware of. He is a steady, calm presence that makes us all feel secure. My husband can make the kids and me laugh like nobody else. The list goes on and on. Father’s Day is the perfect time to let him know you see what he’s doing and you appreciate it.

Go for a card (homemade or store bought) that you write in. Have the kiddos draw pictures or write what they love about dad. Buy him a gift you know he wouldn’t get for himself. Give him a photo of the kids (or him with the kids!) that he can put on his desk. Heck, you can even give him a cheesy mug or t-shirt proclaiming how great he is along with a nice card. He’ll enjoy being appreciated. We all need that acknowledgement and dads are certainly no different!

We need to stop setting dads up for failure

Joking about the incompetence of fathers is damaging our families

We’ve all seen the classic sitcom bit where the mom goes away for a couple of days and leaves the dad in charge. She comes home to chaos and a frazzled husband. That story line has also been used in commercials and all sorts of other ways.

Stop setting dads up for failure

The subliminal takeaway from those scenarios: dads just aren’t as competent as moms. They don’t cut it. And, eventually, they shouldn’t even try.

Complimenting dads for doing what they’re supposed to

We compliment dads for doing things like taking their children shopping or to school. My husband once got a compliment from a grandfather who had seen him taking our kids to school every morning. Why is it that dads doing what they’re supposed to be doing for their children is seen as so out of the ordinary?

I daresay it’s because of the message we get from media, and it’s time for that message to stop.

What dad should be doing

I grew up in a home where both my parents did household chores, especially once my mom started working outside of the home when my brother and I got older. Now both my parents are retired, and my dad continues to do things like vacuum the house and wash clothes.

I didn’t expect anything different when I got married. Then when our daughter was born in 2009, I didn’t even think to question whether my husband would be hands-on and involved with her. Why wouldn’t he? He’s her dad.

Old school attitudes about dads

But, that attitude isn’t always the case. I also very clearly remember an older relative advising a cousin who had just had a new baby not to leave the baby alone with her husband for a while because he was a man and wouldn’t know what to do.

The reality of modern dads

It’s just not true. My husband figured some things out about our babies before I did. He jumped in and changed diapers right from the beginning. We approached parenting just like we do life: as a team.

Stop setting dads up for failure

When my son was a newborn, my husband was driving 60 miles one-way to work every day. He’d stay up as late as he could to help me manage our unhappy little guy. (Our son didn’t sleep much at all for the first three months.) One night in my exhaustion, I went to change his diaper and found a note my husband had left for me reminding me to wake him up if I needed a break.

That’s far from incompetence. That’s a father. That’s love. And that’s what dads do — or should do. That’s part of a healthy family.

The effect on our families

Yet, we treat them like they don’t know what they’re doing with kids. We expect dads will fail and not do something as good as we do. We overly criticize them for doing things differently. We have to stop because that is only harming dads and our children as a result! We are damaging our families by not trusting dads to parent.

People usually live up to the expectations set for them. So if we are expecting dads to fail, eventually that’s what they’re going to do. Or at the very least, they will stop trying if every time they do something they get ridiculed or criticized.

Embracing the differences

Does my husband do things the same way I do? Nope. I usually pack the kids’ lunches during the school year, but sometimes he does instead. He doesn’t always use the containers I use, he cuts the sandwiches differently and sends more grapes than I do. But he is still making them a nutritious lunch. And it’s completely fine.

My husband plays with our kids differently as well. I’m thankful for that. We have different strengths and weaknesses and work together to raise our kiddos. It’s a team effort through and through. We need to recognize the important role that good fathers play.

Set the right expectations

We need to expect all fathers to step up to the plate and do what they’re supposed to be doing. I look around and see all sorts of good dads in my generation. My husband is awesome, but he’s also not alone. I see dads bringing their kids to birthday parties, playing with their kids on the playground and showing up to every school event.

Dads aren’t incompetent buffoons. We need to stop cracking jokes at their expense. We need to respect their role in child-rearing as much as we do mothers’ roles. We can compliment dads and moms alike for the good job their doing, but not just for the mere sake of showing up like they should be anyway.

My message to all the dads out there in the thick of it with their kids packing lunches, taking them to school and practices, figuring out how to put in ponytails and patiently going over sight words: keep up the good work! We know you’re not incompetent and will stop making jokes to the contrary.

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