Being organized parents doesn’t just make your lives easier, it also makes your child’s life easier. Having systems in place both makes for a less-rushed life, saves time, helps your family avoid squabbles, and teaches everyone valuable tools that can be applied elsewhere in life. Here are five ways to be more organized parents across all the many areas of your life.
Have A Command Center
Every family should have a command center: a place where everyone, including parents, figure out what is going on for the day or week, leave important paperwork, get supplies, and write down items for a shopping list. A good command center includes:
- Color-coded calendars of activities.
- A list of chores including who does what and due dates.
- A place to leave paperwork that needs to be filled out (tests that have to be signed, field trips) and to place them once they’re ready to go.
- Shopping lists.
For many parents visions of Pinterest-inspired projects in bright colors and multiple calendars are a turnoff — you work hard to make your home a beautiful, peaceful place. Your command center does not have to destroy the aesthetic of your home. It’s more about having a place where families can check in and focus for the day and week. Our favorite idea? Turn a closet into a command center to keep it out of site. You can add a lamp or stick up lights and use the back of the door for extra room. Get kids into the habit of checking it each morning, day after school, and at a designated time in the evening.
Organized Parents Have Analog Backups
We’re not suggesting you ditch your smartphone. Not at all! But having an analog method of keeping track of things is great for when you lose, drop, or forget to charge your phone. It’s also a quick and easy way to keep track of things when you’re in an area without service. There are two separate ways we recommend. First, a planner like the one that goes with Evernote (why not sticks with what works?) or a simple, beautiful planner like the ones made by Ink + Volt is a lifesaving tool. Not into a planner? Even just a simple notebook where you list your to do’s and other thoughts and then cross them off when finished is a great way to keep track no matter what kind of access you have to your phone.
Get Kids Involved
Children should be a part of your overall organization plan. This teaches them good habits from a young age while taking a tremendous amount off of your plate. Organized parents include children to develop their sense of responsibility, make them better guests and students, and empower them to do for themselves. Here are ways organized parents involve the kids:
- Assign age appropriate organizational tasks like packing lunches, checking the activities calendar and putting items in a good spot to grab them in the morning, placing papers awaiting signatures in the right spot (and picking them up).
- Talk to kids about what they enjoy and how they can help. If you have a child who likes to write, make them in charge of organizing a grocery list. Have a kid who enjoys cooking — they can handle lunches. There’s no reason for everyone to do everything and by delegating organizational tasks based on interest you’ll avoid traffic jams and keep kids engaged.
- Get Into A Routine. Everyone loves a routine — this is why parents who devote time to sleep-training their children end up getting more rest. Organized parents have times of day that they check and do things and kids should be brought into this to develop good habits.
Develop A Network
Humble bragging and competing for “Most Busy” have their place for other people. Smart parents, though, know that there is something to be said for how to having time for oneself, time as a couple, and time as a family. This can only be done by developing a good network of friends, neighbors, and family. When your child has an activity get to know other parents and set up carpools. Talk to friends or family with children of a similar age and schedule date nights where you drop the kids for a few hours (or overnight) and return the favor. Everyone wants a break and the best way to do it is find others who feel the same way and work together to schedule them.
Organizing shouldn’t take over your life and organized parents know that prioritization is the #1 trick to being organized. That means that a huge part of your organizational routine should be determining and focusing on priorities. Here are the best places to start thinking about what’s really important.
- Social Engagements. It’s okay to say no to things if you feel you’re stretched too thin. Instead of being the person who says, “Maybe” (stressing out your host) and then doesn’t show or, worse, saying yes and not showing simply go through all of your invites each week and decide which matter and which you have no desire/time to do. It’s okay to say no!
- What things are the most important? Rank what matters and what you hate doing and you might discover interesting things. We had a client who had a gorgeous garden but when she thought about other interests and took time to rank things she discovered that she really didn’t enjoy it. Delegating or downright eliminating can free up time for other pursuits. It’s okay to give things up; even if it’s just for more play time with your children.
Organized parents find they breathe easier and enjoy life more than their disorganized counterparts. While things will always come up, it’s easier to manage life when you are organized.