Getting organized is almost always on my list of New Year's resolutions, but I've learned since becoming a mom that it's especially important to have a realistic plan of attack. As Circle of Moms member Mary points out, "As moms we are so limited on time that trying to do a giant overhaul is next to impossible."
Whether, like me, you're working on household clutter, or your goal is a better plan for managing family schedules and your own time, here are some smartly pragmatic suggestions for getting it done, as shared by Circle of Moms members.
How to De-clutter and Organize
The holiday explosion of food, guests, parties, and new toys is bound to leave your house looking like a bomb went off! If you're surveying the damage right now and wondering, Where do I start?, take a deep breath and keep reading. Not only is it possible to organize your space and keep it that way through 2012, but you can break it down into manageable steps.
1. Plan for a Yard Sale
As a working mom, Mary C. is no stranger to the battle of keeping things clean and clutter free. She advises getting rid of the clutter first, because that will make it "easier to get and stay organized." Her advice is to plan for a huge yard sale, getting your kids to help you go through the house to gather up cast-offs.
2. De-clutter One Room at a Time
As Mary explains, shooting for an early spring yard sale will give you plenty of time to go through one room each week and section off or mark items you plan to sell. By March or April you'll be ready for the yard sale and on your way to a clutter-free house.
3. Create a "Hot Spot"
Once you get rid of the clutter, create a spot for everything that's left, so that daily clean-up is easy. As for all the new items that constantly creep into the homes of busy families, Circle of Moms member Kelly shares a brilliant mess-taming technique: the "Hot Spot." As she explains it, "We have a Hot Spot (table and hooks) by the garage door to sort and drop stuff we bring into the house, and I take about five minutes in the evening to go through it all and put it in the proper places."
How to Organize Your Family's Schedules
There are only 24 hours in a day and you can't do much to change that. What you can do is make the most of it with an efficient schedule that works for the whole family, and to-do lists that help you get everything done.
1. Family Calendars
Whether you have two people in your household or ten, scheduling is a must. There are many ways to create a schedule for your family — monthly, weekly, or even daily. It can be as simple as a wall calendar or dry erase calendar, or a more complex online schedule that family members can share.
Here's what Circle of Moms member Holly does: "I actually make time sheets on my computer that schedule in my hubby's work, our oldest daughter's school, the little kids' naps and lunch time (plus park time in the summer), and everything going on that takes time (like Girl Scouts, visiting grandparents, school courses if I'm taking any, etc.). I then hang it up on my wall next to the computer. That way I KNOW when I have some time for myself and how long it will be."
Getting started and finding the right format to fit your family's schedule can be the hardest part. Here are some options for finding a calendar for free on the Internet:
- Calendar Labs has many templates for both online and printable calendars. You can also create your own custom calendar, and all are free.
- If you're already using Microsoft Office or individual Microsoft programs, Microsoft Templates provides free templates for all kinds of calendars, including an academic calendar.
- Keep and Share allows you to create your own custom calendar for free. You choose the day of the week to start, which holidays to include, even moon phases. The free account allows you one completely customized calendar and it saves everything for you.
2. To-Do Lists
To keep yourself and everyone else in your house on track, you might need one or more to-do lists in addition to the calendar. I know I have a tendency to go a little crazy making lists, so I went in search of suggestions from moms who are more organized.
Beth C created a very detailed "Mommy To Do List" of household chores that is organized by day, and she keeps it hanging in the kitchen. (A sample day reads: Monday - Make Beds, 2 Loads-Darks-Whites, Dishes, Vacuum, Sweep, Mop.) Another member (she goes by the name of "Good Day!") suggests a weekly to-do list broken up into daily recurring tasks. She says that method is working so far for her: "more stuff is getting done than normal, and I'm not running around like a crazy person, because I feel like I have a goal."
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