Families With Grace

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

30 Toddler activities at home

Low-key toddler activities for when you need a break

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I wrote this post about toddler activities at home back in 2012 when I was pregnant with my second child, feeling miserable and figuring out how to best entertain my toddler. Some of these activities we still enjoy and use even now! These low-key toddler activities will help you stay sane and maybe even allow you a bit of downtime.

My kiddo has lots of energy. She has a lot more energy than I do. This is especially true when I’m not feeling well or didn’t get enough sleep or whatever. I totally admit there are times when letting her watch an extra episode of Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Jake and the Neverland Pirates is easier because I’m tired or have things to do.

I’m not a fan of that. I don’t have a problem with her watching some age-appropriate television. She’s learned many things, in fact, but I certainly don’t want to just park her in front of the television on days I’m not feeling well. 

Combining that thought with my love for lists and I decided to make a list for myself of low-key activities that don’t require much energy from me, would be fun for her, would maybe be educational for her and would be a great way to spend time together. I had a few ideas. Then I turned to some mom friends online and got some even better ideas. These ladies are seriously creative and smart. 

These low-key toddler activities at home are perfect for times when you’re exhausted or sick or you can’t go outside and play. The best part is most are cheap or free and none of them require much more from mom than to sit or lie down. (I’ve included links for products to show you some of our favorites, but you can easily work with what you have!)

Low-key toddler activities at home

1. Coloring with crayons and coloring book pages. Check out this 13-piece set from Crayola that has crayons and 12 toddler coloring books. Or you can print free coloring pages from a variety of web sites.

2. Coloring with Color Wonder markers. I love these because your kiddos get to use markers without possibly making a mess. The markers only mark on the special Color Wonder paper. Clearly this was invented by the parent of a toddler! This Nursery Rhyme Color Wonder set is a great starting place.

3. Blowing bubbles. We do bubbles outside together with a bubble machine, but I also blow bubbles inside for her.

4. Playing dollhouse. If you don’t have a dollhouse, then find another kind of pretend play with toys like Fisher-Price Little People, stuffed animals or whatever you have around.

5. Playing with busy bags. If you aren’t familiar with busy bags and you have a toddler, you need to be! These are awesome and portable ideas to keeps toddlers entertained and learning. I’ve done two exchanges of busy bags with other moms and they are some of my kiddo’s favorite things to play with. Go to Pinterest and search for “toddler busy bags” for all sorts of great ideas. Even as a non-crafty mom, I found quite a few that would work!

6. Doing puzzles. We’ve found our favorite puzzles at the Dollar Tree. Right now 24-piece puzzles work best for my kiddo.

7. Having a pretend picnic. Spread out a blanket, invite stuffed animals and chow down on pretend food (plastic or imaginary).

8. Playing with a baking sheet and magnets. Before vacation, I read that a baking sheet with magnets is good car entertainment. My kiddo loved playing with it more once we got there. I have magnets saved back specifically for the baking sheet. An added bonus of using alphabet and number magnets is it’s teaching her as well. Animal magnets are also fun for her. (Look for magnets with a full magnetic backing instead of small magnetics attached to avoid a potential choking hazard.)

9. Reading books. We love reading books together. Not only is reading to my daughter good for her brain and language development, it’s also great snuggle time! (Don’t miss this list of more than 100 children’s books worth reading!)

10. Playing with Princess Dominoes. Any dominoes work. We happen to have the Disney Princess ones. Sometimes we match up the princesses in a row like a domino game and every so often, we use them like building blocks.

Available in wildlife (shown), dinosaur, outer space and unicorn

11. Playing with Play-Doh. Play-Doh can be a bit messy, but if you are sitting with your kiddo and playing that helps keep the mess down. I also use Glad Press-n-Seal on the table (tape it down if it doesn’t stick well) for my kiddo to play on. It makes for easier clean up. Whether you use a Play-Doh set or just dough, it’s a fun activity that lets you sit down.

12. Building things with Legos or other building blocks. Right now this means making towers or rudimentary shapes; we’re not building fancy Lego models of any sort.

13. Drawing on her magnetic drawing board. Surprisingly, my daughter is impressed with my stick figures when she asks me to draw things like our family. I also use the magnetic drawing board to show her what her name looks like. She’ll often ask me to write other names. She now knows the first two letters of her name as a result. Of course, she also draws on it herself.

14. Cutting paper with safety scissors. I just bought some safety scissors for the kiddo along with a pad of construction paper. She’s not super great at cutting just yet, but she loved the idea of it. We laid on the living room floor for a good 45 minutes alternating between cutting the construction paper and drawing on it.

15. Playing under a blanket. Sometimes I sit on the floor and put a blanket over our heads. This tickles my toddler. It’s like we have our own clubhouse. Sometimes it turns into peek-a-boo, and sometimes we just play under there. She loves it. It tickles her even more when the dog joins us under the blanket.

Even more low-key toddler activities at home

16. Fill a dishpan with dry beans and give the kiddo cupcake pans, spoons, measuring cups, plastic Easter eggs, etc., to move the beans around. It’s not totally clean (you will have some beans on the floor), but it’s not bad and will keep the kiddo entertained for a while.

17. Playing with stickers. Buy some stickers, peel off the sticky part that surrounds the stickers (to make them easier for little fingers to remove) and give the kiddo a sheet of paper. Just keep an eye on your toddler to make sure the stickers go on the paper and not themselves, their baby brother or all over your house!

18. Playing with baby dolls. Pretend play is always a good thing. If you don’t have baby dolls or if you have a boy, then find something else similar to play with that you can take care of together. Playing house/real life is a great toddler activity!

19. Having a tea party. You don’t even have to serve real beverages or snacks (though you totally can). Just sit together and pretend to have a tea party or snack time.

20. Brushing the dog. The kiddo does like to help with this. The dog isn’t quite as sure, but he loves the treat she gives him afterward!

21. Painting finger or toenails. My kiddo isn’t allowed to have paint on her fingernails until she totally stops putting her thumb in her mouth (feel free to judge me), but I’m thinking of trying her toenails this summer.

22. Playing “beauty parlor.” Let the kiddo brush your hair, put clips in it, etc. You can do funny hairstyles for her, put makeup on her, etc. (My curly hair is a bit nervous about the potential tangles on this one, but I already do this a bit.)

23. Make sun prints. Use sunscreen to paint on a piece of dark colored construction paper, then put in the sun to dry for a few hours. The sunscreen will keep the paper from fading, but the areas without sunscreen will fade.

24. Playing nap for mommy. The kiddo came up with this game on her own a month or so ago. Now a couple of times a week she will pretend to tuck me in, give me a doll or stuffed animal to sleep with and want me to be quiet. She tells me to let her know if I need anything, so I have to pretend to need drinks of water every so often. It’s a pretty nice gig that she actually enjoys!

25. Playing doctor with a doctor’s kit. This happens all the time around here. If your toddler isn’t into doctor’s kits, you might let him/her watch an episode or two of Doc McStuffins. Sitting for a checkup is pretty easy, even when you’re not feeling well. My daughter also loves for us to hold her toys while she examines them.

26. Playing with tools. A friend lets her kids bring in a ride-on toy then they turn it upside down and sit on the floor with their play tools pretending to fix it. Pretty much any relatively large toy could use some sort of repair with a play toolkit! Plus many toddler toolkits come with things to work on as well.

27. Playing with paper or magnet dress-up dolls. Paper dolls can be a bit more fragile, so use your best judgment for them. We love magnetic dress-up dolls!

28. Playing with Mr. Potato Head. Sometimes a classic is a classic for a reason. Mr. and/or Mrs. Potato Head are fun toddler activities!

29. Playing with puppets. Whether you have hand puppets or finger puppets, you can have fun with them. We don’t get fancy or carried away with puppets. We just sit together and have our puppets interact with each other. Easy and fun!

30. Playing with a reusable sticker pad. The great thing about reusable sticker pads is that sticker fun continues for more than a few minutes. And you don’t have to worry about stickers getting put other places that are hard to remove.

Bonus tips for playing at home with toddlers

Consider heading to a local teacher supply store or learning tools store for great ideas. For example, a friend of mine found some awesome wipe-off boards and books with dry-erase crayons

And, finally, just change the scenery and play in different rooms in the house. One of my kiddo’s favorite places to play is our long bedroom hallway. Sometimes we go there to play and shake up our routine so we aren’t always playing in the living room.

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:

Easy Super Bowl foods recipe round-up

17 Super Bowl foods that are easy and delicious!

Whether you’re into football or not, you probably know the Super Bowl is coming up. I’m not at all a sports fan. I never know who is playing in the Super Bowl. But we do like watching the commercials sometimes. And we really like the excuse to have Super Bowl foods. You can’t go wrong with snacks — at least not at my house.

I love pulling together easy snacks that are also so yummy. And I really love easy snacks that are delicious as well. I want to do more than open a bag of chips and a container of dip, but I also don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen.

Your family and friends will love these Super Bowl foods. You’ll love how easy they are to make and clean up from!

Savory snacks

It doesn’t get much easier than this 2-ingredient meatball pocket recipe. Of course you could make your own meatballs from scratch, but the frozen ones work great for this recipe. Even my guys, who aren’t big on eating meat, like these meatball pockets!

If you’ve never tried this bacon ranch cheese bread recipe, you must! It’s one of those perfect Super Bowl foods because it is handheld and so incredibly delicious. You guys, I’m married to a very particular eater and this is hands-down his favorite food that I make. Since it uses a frozen bread dough for the base, it’s also easy. You just need to plan a bit of time for it to rise.

Another great warm Super Bowl food is crispy baked quesadillas. You can even customize this easy baked quesadilla recipe based on what the folks you’re serving like most. My daughter and I go for chicken, bacon and ranch. My husband and son love bacon and onion.

And if you’re serving up the baked quesadillas, you need chips and salsa to go along with them. Of course, you don’t need quesadillas for an excuse to have chips and salsa. They’re a party staple! To kick things up a notch, try out this easy pantry salsa recipe. You can make the salsa from scratch in just a few minutes.

You can’t go wrong with a cheeseball either. This 3-ingredient Parmesan ranch cheeseball comes together in minutes and is super tasty. While you can cover it in pecans for added crunch, we eat it plain with crackers and pretzel sticks!


Pizza is one of the perfect Super Bowl foods. It’s delicious, easy to eat on the couch and everyone loves it. But why not get creative this year and make some non-traditional pizzas that are even easier than making traditional pizza?! You can make this BLT pizza recipe a bit ahead of time. You don’t have to worry about it getting too cold since it’s topped with cool ingredients. Made with a crescent roll crust, this BLT pizza comes together in no time!

Another great option is this pizza sub recipe. Pizza subs made on store-bought sub bread are easy to do and can be customized for whatever you like most. I usually have my pizza subs loaded with cheese. My husband loves his loaded with pepperoni!

I love recipes that are easy to make and please my whole family; this pizza sub recipe does just that. You'll want to add it into your regular rotation! #Pizza #PizzaSubs #Recipe #EasyRecipe #KidFriendlyFood #PickyEaters

And don’t overlook this pepperoni pizza pinwheels recipe. Made with a refrigerated pizza dough, these pepperoni pizza pinwheels are easy to make and eat. You can dip them in pizza sauce or ranch dressing or enjoy them plain.

The sweets

You can’t forget sweet treats when it comes to Super Bowl foods. Sweets are my favorite part of any gathering or event. I have a giant sweet tooth for sure! And these recipes are sure to satisfy your sweet cravings while still being easy to make and eat while watching the big game.

To kick off (see what I did there?!), you don’t get easier than this 2-ingredient butterscotch haystacks recipe. This is literally one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made. It comes together quickly, easily and isn’t messy. You can gobble up these treats with one hand!

These peanut butter honey nut cereal clusters are another great no-bake option for sweet treats that will be a hit. Whenever I make these, I make a double-batch because my family loves them. And I love that with just three ingredients of cereal, peanut butter and honey, they don’t have lots of added sugar.

As we start adding the number of ingredients, I’ve got two four-ingredient recipes that will satisfy your sweet tooth without making you spend all day in the kitchen. First up is this four-ingredient whipped pudding pie recipe. You can make this in minutes (no baking required!) and stick it in the fridge. In fact, make it the day before! You can make it pretty much any flavor you can find a pudding mix in and you can make it sugar free as well. It doesn’t get much better than that!

The other awesome four-ingredient recipe is lemon squares. While this recipe does require baking, you can whip it up using a lemon cake mix, eggs and vegetable oil in just a few minutes. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar when it is baked and slice it up. This is another great recipe you can easily make ahead of time.

If you’re not inclined to use your oven, don’t miss out on this recipe for microwave fudge made five ways. My daughter started making these recipes when she was 11. Anybody can make them with flavors like chocolate, mint chocolate, brownie batter, cherry cordial and toffee bar!

For a light, airy sweet treat, try this mint chocolate mousse recipe. It also doesn’t require any cooking. In fact, it doesn’t even need the microwave. You simply mix together ingredients and have a tasty treat! If you like mint chocolate chip ice cream, you have got to try this easy-to-make alternative!

I can’t end a round up of Super Bowl foods without including some cookies. Cookies are the ultimate handheld dessert that are perfect for noshing. First up is my peanut butter cookie recipe. My husband, kiddos and dad claim this as one of their favorite cookies I make. You probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen right now. These cookies come together quickly and are so incredibly good with a bit of a crisp to the outside and a soft inside of peanut buttery goodness!

And then you’ve got to try this toffee cookie recipe. Of all the cookies I make, these are my most requested across the board. They are different from other cookies in flavor and are somehow both chewy and crunchy. They are the very best made with butter and not margarine, but either works.

Finally, if you just can’t decide what flavor of chocolate you want for your Super Bowl party, this white and milk chocolate chip cookie recipe is perfect for you. It has an optional ingredient of Cadbury eggs, which tend to show up in groceries stores around Super Bowl time. But they are scrumptious without the Cadbury eggs as well!

How to be an organized mom — part 1

8 Tips to help you become an organized mom

Affiliate links are used in this post, if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

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: