16 Practical tips plus free organized mom printables
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 easy tips help keep me sane and organized.
We all have good intentions and plans to be a more organized mom, but it’s easy to get distracted. Using some organized mom printables like the ones you’ll find here, will help you stay on track and have more family time whether you’re a working mom outside or inside of the home!
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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! Alarms are part of my daily routine.
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 loads of 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 life saver 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 doing things at specific times, because I have alarms 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 Thursday morning at 7 a.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 the next day 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 as a busy mom. 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.
One of my favorite organized moms printables is 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. Use the PDF files digitally or in hard copy.
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! With a daily planner, weekly schedule, monthly calendar, yearly planner and more, it helps moms of busy families stay organized!
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.
Hands-down, my all-time favorite family calendar is a weekly calendar that is an editable PDF. It incorporates a weekly meal planner along with family schedules and notes. I use this every single week!
Using calendar printables works best for my family in planning weekly meals and schedules. 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!)
5. Don’t put off tasks that don’t take long to do.
One of my best cleaning tips comes in handy in areas of my life beyond household chores. 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 little things 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 on chaotic days and calm days alike!
For this reason, organized mom printables like this cleaning checklist can help you stay on top of things at home.
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 a variety of meal planners and styles. What has worked best for our family for the past year is sitting down on the weekend and making a weekly meal plan and grocery list for the next week. Then I order groceries for the week from my shopping list and pick them up. I post the meal plan on the weekly calendar on the fridge so any family member can easily check what’s planned for dinner along with what activities are going on.
Another way to meal plan is through using meal kit delivery services. Whenever we do them, I get two or three meals from 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 and a way to more easily justify any extra cost of the meal kit delivery service.
Don’t miss one of the fabulous organized moms printables to help you with meal planning for free!
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 and take less time.
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 at the end of the day. Their backpacks go on a door hanger 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! We’ve also found the perfect time for the kids to do homework is usually right after they have a snack when they get home from school. And when homework is finished, I require the kiddos 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.
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 14-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 24 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.
Start with figuring out whether 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. Invariably someone will need help or have questions while getting ready. When my children 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 breakfast 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.
One of my favorite ways to be 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. Dealing with a little bit at a time is much easier than dealing with a heaping stack!
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.
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.
(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!)
As someone who works from home, I’ve found that organizing my daily plan for work and home into one page works best for me. That might be different for you.
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. One of the new resources I’ve been using is an overall project list for both home and work, a weekly overview with time blocks and then a daily schedule with goals and a space for home tasks as well as work one.
I organize what I’m working on in time blocks for each day. From there, I plan my whole day in increments to stay focused on what needs to be completed. It makes such a difference!
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.
These two different options of organized mom printables will make your life easier. Grab one for free or head to Etsy to get the full set!
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. At the end of the day, what matters most is doing my best and making good memories with my family. If I can accomplish both of those things, I call that success!