Any busy working parent knows the challenges that come with preparing yourself for your work day and helping your children get ready for school. Getting everyone out the door in the morning can feel like a hectic fire drill – homework, lunch, snacks, water bottles, briefcase, laptop… there are so many things to remember, gather and pack for the day.
Employing effective time management strategies at home can also positively affect your work productivity by helping ensure that you get to work on time with less stress and greater ability to focus. Including your kids in setting up organized routines and time management techniques also helps them learn strategies that will help them be successful and enjoy less stress.
Being a busy working mom of three young children has given me a fresh perspective on the importance of having an organized home and having a daily routine in place. My oldest started Kindergarten this year and with the start of this new season, we have found a few simple things to be extremely helpful in getting and staying organized.
Here are 7 of my favorite organizing tips for busy moms with young kids:
1) Take time to prepare for the upcoming week. On Sunday, I check schedules to see what nights we are all home for dinner and then make my grocery list for the week. If time allows, I run to the store in the evening once my kids are in bed (it is amazing how much quicker the shopping is when I get to go all by myself!). If this doesn’t happen, I do our shopping on Monday morning. Be sure to take an inventory of items in your pantry and fridge/freezer before you go to the grocery store so you don’t buy duplicates of things you already have. Also, be sure to bring your list and stick to it so you don’t buy things you don’t need (like double stuff oreos).
2) Set a daily routine. I wake up my daughter at the same time every morning. We lay out her clothes the night before so getting dressed is quick and easy. After getting dressed, we finish packing items into her lunch/snack and eat breakfast. We leave the home at the same time every morning so we aren’t late for school.
3) After we get home from school pick-up we unload the entire car. I have found it to be very helpful to bring in all snacks, backpacks, waters, toys, books, jackets, etc from the car EVERY time we come home from somewhere. This way the task isn’t so overwhelming! I also make sure to put all of these items away right away so things don’t pile up. This also includes cleaning out backpacks and lunch bags, putting homework in the appropriate cubby, etc.
4) Have a regular routine in place for homework. Since I have two other little ones, the best time for us to help our daughter with homework is in the evening right after I get our two younger ones to bed. This way we can focus on her and there aren’t as many distractions. Find a time that works best for you and your kids and stick to it!
5) Prepare for the next school day the evening before. If your child has homework to hand in or library books to return, we put these items into the backpack before bed. This way our mornings aren’t so hectic.
6) Create an “in box” for each child. I find it helpful to have a cubby for each child to place important papers or items. I found a cute metal hanging wall organizer at Home Goods that I love! It goes with my home décor and makes putting things in it fun! I purchased colorful file folders at Target in the $1.00 section so each child has their own folder to put papers into so things stay and look tidy. I also found cute little chalkboard label clips and had my daughter write each child’s name so everyone knows which cubby belongs to which family member. I encourage you to purchase organizing tools that you love and that bring you joy so that you will actually use them. Also, before buying organizing containers, make sure you have a defined purpose for each one or they may just end up adding to clutter. Figure out which type of organizer works best for you as this is not one size fits all.
7) Lastly, talk with your children about why we establish routines and why we keep things organized as organizing is a life long process not a one-time event. Enlist the help of your kids when they are old enough to help. Some ideas are: ask each child to help carry inside their personal items from the car, have them help unload their backpacks and clean out their lunch boxes. Make organizing a fun part of your daily routine and include everyone in the process!
These are just a few things that I have found extremely helpful for our family. What are your favorite tips for staying organized throughout the week?