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 an organized mom — part 2

8 More more tips to help you become an organized mom

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 the first 8 tips on becoming an organized mom as well!

9. Ask for help without feeling guilty.

A couple of months ago, my oldest daughter put in a load of clothes to wash for her and her brother. She saw they were piled up. I meant to do laundry for them the day before and got busy. I felt a nudge of guilt that my daughter was doing laundry and I was slacking. Then I squashed that guilt right down. First, my 12-year-old is capable of doing laundry. She saw it needed done and did it. I should be celebrating that! Second, she’s learning responsibility. Third, I truly can’t do everything all the time.

Being an organized mom doesn’t mean that we do it all ourselves all the time. It’s OK to let go and ask for help. You can be organized and delegate. In fact, I’d daresay delegating allows you to be even more organized because multiple people accomplish more tasks quicker. So, ask for help. Kids can help with so many chores from packing part or all of their lunches, folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, helping a younger sibling with homework, putting away laundry and so much more. Use their help to teach them responsibility, finish quicker and enjoy more fun time together!

And don’t forget your spouse. I’ve learned in 22 years of marriage, that my husband doesn’t always know what needs to be done. Instead of getting irritated with him, I tell him what I need him to do. Ask for help and ditch the guilt!

10. Get yourself ready first or last, whichever works best for your family.

I don’t like being late or doing things in a rush. It stresses me out! Getting our family ready and out the door smoothly requires some planning and organizing. Figure out if you do better getting ready first or last. If we are all going somewhere at the same time, I often do best to get ready first. Then I can easier help with whatever tasks come up. Even now with kids who are 9 and 12, they invariably need help or have questions while getting ready. When they were younger and needed more (or complete) help with getting ready, having myself ready first just made life easier.

When we don’t have to be somewhere all at the same time, I usually get ready last. For instance, on school mornings, my husband drives the kids to school. I get up and do all the organizing tasks like make sure everyone has breakfast, stays on track getting ready, finalize lunchboxes, fill backpacks and whatever else needs done. Then after the kids leave, I eat my cereal and get myself ready. I could get up earlier and get ready first (and I’ve done so), but this way works best right now.

If you feel like you are always rushing to get yourself put together to get out the door, try getting ready first. Or if you are able to get everyone organized and on their way before you have to get ready, do that. Figure out what works best for you and your family and go with it. It may even change based on the day, and that’s OK!

11. Stick to daily routines and schedules.

Another way I’m an organized mom is by using routines and schedules to my advantage. We have some tasks so much part of our routine that we just do them without thinking any more and it really does make life easier. Like keeping backpacks by our shoes or doing homework right after school. On and on the list goes. Our routines and schedules keep us on top of things and ends up with less nagging and chaos in the end.

I don’t find myself scrambling around to make sure everyone has their homework in their backpacks if I know they put it in there the evening before. Being an organized mom definitely leads to less chaos. Routines and schedules help with that so much.

12. Sort school papers and mail immediately to save or toss.

I’ve totally lost track of paperwork that got lost in the shuffle. With schoolwork coming home plus mail and random other things, it’s easy for paperwork to pile up. I have learned the best way to avoid that is to immediately deal with said paperwork as soon as my hand touches it.

When we bring in the mail, I look at it right away and toss any junk mail. I put things I need to deal with on my desk to file or deal with accordingly from there. When my kids bring home papers and/or art projects from school, I immediately look through them. I sign forms and put them back in backpacks right away. I look over assignments, ask any questions I have and then toss or keep them. For school assignments or projects I want to keep, I use an easy filing system to organize them per school year. I have a file folder for each child for each school year to keep things.

13. Prioritize.

I mentioned in part one of how to be an organized mom that I love lists. I highly recommend lists. One way I use lists is to prioritize what I need to do. While my daily planner and calendar are great for writing down items, I found that using a list with daily top priorities and weekly must-do tasks helps most. So now I do that to easily see what I need to focus on first each day. It makes such a difference!

(Check out The Christian Woman Life Planner to download and print your own lists that will help you prioritize your daily, weekly and monthly tasks!)

All of that said, don’t forget what your overall priorities in life are. While I have lists of tasks to be done, my faith and family are my biggest priorities. If I need to leave tasks undone in order to be there for a loved one, then so be it. Never have I heard of anyone regretting on their death bed that they didn’t complete all their to-do lists each day.

14. Make a daily to-do list.

More about lists! They really do help me be an organized mom. A daily to-do list is a must, I think, when it comes to organization. I love having a list that lets me prioritize for the day as well as a general to-do list of things I just need to do when I can. Even within that, my to-do list has sections for “top priorities,” “random,” “ideas/plans” and “tasks.”

Seeing your to-do items in writing helps you focus. Whether you write them down on paper or make the list digitally, give a daily to-do list a try. It keeps you from forgetting what you need to do.

15. Pick a time to organize yourself for the week.

At the beginning of each week, I look over the upcoming schedule and note what needs done. For me, Sunday evenings or Monday mornings work best. Find the time that works best for you to take a few minutes and prepare yourself mentally for the week. Look at appointments coming up. Figure out any logistics you need to deal with. Add items to your daily and/or weekly to-do lists. Even just five minutes of thinking and planning ahead can make a big difference to your organization.

I mix both work and personal tasks in this weekly prep time, but you might need separate times for each. Figure out what works best for you and go with it. Set reminders if certain laundry needs done before your kids’ next game. Or put a big meeting at work on your calendar with prep time scheduled beforehand. Organize yourself, including some downtime. We all need it!

16. Give yourself some grace.

Be kind to yourself. Not every day is going to be great. You’re not a perfect mom or a perfectly organized mom. Do your best, but don’t beat yourself up when you fall short. Just learn from it and move on. I’ll never forget the time in PreK when I missed my son’s show-and-tell day. We were scheduled to bring in the snack and he could bring in something to show off. I totally forgot it because of some other things going on. I felt awful.

However, he doesn’t even remember that happening. So many things I beat myself up for at the time are not that big of a deal in the long run. What is a big deal is doing my best and making good memories with my family. If I can accomplish both of those things, I call that success!

Don’t miss part one of this series:

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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