My word of the year is “organized.” Last year, I realized that most of the stress in my life was the result of poor organization – rushing around the house at the last minute trying to find a form, pair of shoes, or the car keys, missing an appointment because I forgot to write it on the calendar, being busy all day but uncertain what I’d accomplished at the end of it. I knew that every aspect of my life would be better if I could make it orderly, which can be a tall order when you have kids, and life in general, that will constantly introduce chaos into the system. I’m still in the process of getting my entire life organized and I’ll be sharing my tips and lessons learned along the way. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite organizing life hacks for moms.
Home is the hub of our lives. It’s where we connect with our loved ones and it’s our safe haven. That’s why, as moms, it’s the first thing we tackle when we want to get our lives organized. Of course, it’s also the place our family spends a lot of their time which can mean lots of opportunities for others to undo your work. These are tips to help you organize in a way that is relatively easy to maintain.
Everything Has a Home – As you set up your home, put things in logical places that make sense. For example, coffee mugs should be stored near your coffee maker, as should the sugar and creamer. Most importantly, make sure everyone in the family understands where items belong. I’m a big fan of labeling things to make it easier for everyone to remember where things go (and to eliminate any excuses).
Use Baskets and Cubbies – The cubby/basket system is my favorite. As long as you’re good about establishing a “right” place for the items in your home, this system makes it easier for everyone to follow. The number one reason our organization systems start to unravel is that over time, we don’t like to give up the extra time it takes to put something back where it belongs. The easier it is to do it (and the less time it takes), the more likely we are to follow through. I use basket and bin organizing throughout my house in every room from the bathroom to the kitchen.
Clean as You Go – Whenever you do anything, clean as you go instead of leaving things out. Clutter is the number one reason a home looks dirty; not actual dirt. And, when your house is decluttered, you tend to notice more quickly the few breadcrumbs on the counter or the dusty baseboard, which only take a few seconds to clean.
Make Your Bed Right Away – Believe it or not, getting up and making your bed will start your day off right. Not only will you get in a bit of stretching but you’ll immediately transform your room. Plus, it puts you in a decluttered state of mind that will carry over into the rest of your day.
Keep a Running List – Put a pad of paper on your fridge. When you run out of anything, or are just low on it, write it down. Pull off the list each time you go to the store so you won’t forget things. We actually use a whiteboard that we have mounted on the inside of our pantry door. I snap a photo of it before I head to the store.
Organized Events and Appointments
As moms, we’re usually in charge of making sure everyone in the family gets to where they are supposed to be on time whether it be school, practice, or a party. That means we not only have to keep track of our own busy schedules but, depending on the size of our family, the schedules of several other people as well. It is essential to have a good system for tracking these details.
Sync Calendars – Everyone in the family should have an online calendar such as Google Calendar to keep track of dates. These calendars should all be synced so that anyone in the family can easily see what anyone in the family is doing today. This works for the older members of my family, but wasn’t as effective for the younger members who don’t have cell phones or tablets (presumably because I’m the meanest mom in the world). So, in addition to using a consolidated online calendar, I also keep a master calendar in my family command center along with a bulletin board where family members can post important reminders (e.g. birthday party invitations, school project guidelines).
Use a Planner – In addition to keeping a master calendar, it’s essential to have a place where you keep track of all the other things that occur to/get thrown at you during the day (e.g. bake cookies for the school bake sale, arrange pet sitter for the family vacation). Unless I have a designated planner to track all of this, I end up with notes all over the place. If you’re looking for a planner, I wrote a post on what I consider the best personal planners. I’m a pen and paper type of person, but there are also several online versions if you prefer a digital version. My favorites are Cozi (this is a great one for the whole family to use together), Evernote, and Trello.
Schedule Fun and Work – We have a tendency to only schedule “work” or doctor’s appointments. But, it’s also important to schedule fun time, date night, one-on-one time with your children and so forth. This will ensure that it happens.
I don’t know about you, but there are some days when I feel like I live in my car. Commuters might have invented the carpool, but we moms mastered it. As our home away from home, it’s important to make sure our cars are organized too.
Get a Trash Bucket – Keep trash in its place with a special bucket made for your vehicle. On trash day for your home, empty it as you pull your trash can out to the curb. You can repurpose an empty container and use plastic bags as liners.
Use a Glove Box-Sized Document Holder – Some things you must keep inside your car, but you want to keep it organized so find a folder that fits in the glove box for these papers. I got a free one from my insurance company.
Get a Dash Mount for Electronics – A mount for your phone and/or GPS will help keep everything well organized. You’ll always know right where your phone is, and you’ll be able to see your GPS easier.
Last week I shared my home office organization ideas. Since I work at home, it was one of the first rooms I tackled on my “get organized” initiative this year. Here are some additional tips that are essential for maintaining an organized home.
Create a Filing System – Deal with paper only once. When you get mail, put it in the “in box”. When you touch it, make sure you open it and process it immediately, throwing away what you don’t need and filing the rest away.
Keep Bills Organized – Get a numbered, slotted organizer; put the bills in there in the order you need to pay them. If you prefer a binder, there are plenty to choose from (I’ve chosen a couple of the most popular below). I prefer to pay as many bills as I can online. I set up electronic statements and schedule the payments as soon as the bill arrives in my inbox.
Getting and staying organized IS a chore, but as a mom, it’s a vital one. You’ll be able to get more done because you’re not spending your time finding missing paperwork, or cleaning up messes before you can get down to work. Also, you’ll be less stressed so that you can enjoy life more (and your family can enjoy YOU more).