The day begins with a lazy hand turning the alarm off. Then comes a snooze that you thought would last 15 minutes, but ended up being 30 minutes long. Now begins the frantic rush: jumping out of bed, knocking on all doors of the house, waking everybody who needs to be out the door in (check watch) an hour! There are baths to be taken, lunches to be made, toddlers to be fed, breakfast table battles to be resolved, kids to be driven to school, and THEN a full-time job that requires you to reach in an hour and a half. Want to avoid a repetition of this frenzy every single day? All you need are some sensible organizing tips for busy moms like you. You can easily assimilate them into your scheme of things, so just have a look.
Make a Master Plan
As you may have well expected, the first step towards getting your home or anything organized is planning everything appropriately, right down to the last detail. If you don't have a plan, you're very likely to have some semblance of a nervous breakdown, fretting over all that you need to get done. So, follow these simple organization tips and get to them.
- First thing, go out and get yourself a day planner. You can even use a simple notebook if you wish.
- Now, begin from the day that you buy the planner (or start using it), and divide it into as many sections as the activities you need to get done on a regular basis.
- Make a special section for unforeseen events, accidents, or emergencies.
- In these sections, make as many subsections as you require, based on the type of things you have to do. For instance, if you have a section for meals, you can divide it into breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- The point of the planner is to make sure everything runs smoothly and is planned well in advance. So jot down all the things that will occupy your time for the entire week and divide them accordingly (read reasonably) among the next 7 days.
Supervise the Cleaning
Household chores take up maximum time in any home. You being a working mom, may not have the luxury of spending hours everyday scrubbing your house spic and span. Don't worry. There are a lot of simple things that you can do to make sure that your house is always clean, without you having to spend an entire weekend doing it.
- Involve the entire family in an everyday cleaning regime. Make charts denoting who needs to do what. Delegate simple things like doing the dishes, dusting the furniture, taking the garbage out, wiping the counter after a meal, putting away the washed utensils to your kids.
- Time these chores for your kids and give them rewards for doing them.
- Have special days assigned for the bigger, yet regular, chores like watering the garden, vacuuming the carpets, washing the car, etc.. Make sure you follow the schedule, else you'll have chores piling up.
- Laundry is one of the most annoying household chores that needs to be taken care of quite frequently. Simplify it by doing a little of it everyday or every two days rather than doing the entire lot on a weekend. If your kids are old enough to operate the washing machine, teach them how to do it and assign them the duty of turning it on once everyone is done bathing. After they get back from school, they can take out their own clothes, even fold them up, and keep them in their rooms. You can do yours when you get back from work. Do this about thrice a week and you'll see the pile reducing very quickly. Plus, the kids won't crib because they'll be doing only their own clothes.
Maintain the Paperwork
Another thing that can drive anyone insane is bunches after bunches of paper lying unattended here and there, or simply stashed into drawers, with endless folds and creases. When paperwork is kept so haphazardly, you'll find that the one bill or receipt you need on a particular day will elude you until you finally relent and sit down to sift through everything, only to see that it's the last one in the pile. Plus, these are important documents and there's a reason you haven't chucked them. There are very simple ways in which you can organize your pile of paperwork at home.
- First, segregate how many sections or types of papers you might have filled in your drawers. Now, go out to the stationery store and buy folders for each category that you have enlisted. Buy a few extra ones, just in case.
- Get all your papers out, sift through them, and just make different piles for bills, important receipts, kids' medical documents, your medical documents, bank statements and other papers, your house papers, car papers, insurance papers, kids' school records, your employment records, and other important ones.
- Discard any old and unnecessary papers and keep the latest and updated ones.
- Once you've made these piles, simply label each folder and file with the corresponding papers in them.
- Keep these folders in a cupboard or drawer, and remember that it contains only important documents. Don't put anything else in this space.
Catalog the Essentials
Have you ever had this happen to you? You need something from your kitchen, and you don't remember where you kept it, so you end up opening and shutting all the cabinets and drawers, to see that the last one has it. To avoid such a situation, and to keep your home super-organized and make everything accessible, you can use the following tips. They'll also save you a whole lot of time!
- Pantry: In the pantry, label all bottles, jars, and boxes with the names of their contents. This includes: spices, cereals, pulses, lentils, jams, sauces, confectionery, oils, flour, and other similar items in your kitchen. In the refrigerator, label the meats, vegetables, juices, etc. This will not only make it more organized, but will also help other people who enter your kitchen to find things easily.
- First Aid Box: Another essential item that you need to categorically label is a first aid box. Your kids are going to be prone to a lot of small accidents and injuries as they grow up. By keeping a first aid box within their reach, you can ensure that they not only know where it is kept but also find whatever they need from it. Make sure it is always filled with the necessary items like antiseptic cream, adhesive bandages like Band-Aid, a disinfectant salve, gauze, medical tape, glucose powder, and other such items. Check for expiry dates and replenish the contents of the box as and when required. Also, keep all emergency numbers at hand and in plain view of the kids, in case they have to use them.
- Tools: Tools are another group of items that you cannot leave just lying around. They'll not only clutter the place, they could end up injuring someone seriously. So, have a big box for your tools. Make it two if you have electric as well as manual tools. Clean them, put them in plastic bags, and then in their respective boxes, after labeling both, the bag and the box.
- Utensils: If you have drawers for utensils, it's better to denote where what is kept with tiny labels or have your kids draw small pictures of cutlery, pans, pots, and ladles, and stick them (with scotch tape on top) on the respective drawers. This will not only keep the kitchen well-organized, it will also prevent an early morning rush.
Plan the Meals
Meals can take up a lot of time, first to be decided upon, and then on frantically preparing them in record time to avoid getting late. So, you can...
- Make a list of food items that everyone enjoys, including healthy food items and divide them a week in advance.
- Keep easy recipes for these dishes at hand. Maintain a weekly book with daily meals and their recipes for quick reference. Don't forget to keep an extra copy of the ingredients with your shopping list.
Record the Shopping
Shopping for daily commodities is best done on a day off. This will give you time to figure out what you need and decide when to go out and get them.
- Make lists for everything that you need. Fix a day to check your reserves at home, for everything from grocery to toiletry to fertilizer to pet food.
- When the lists are done, decide one day in the week to get all the shopping done.
- Divide the shopping among yourself and your husband, or alternate the errand.
- Keep the lists after you get back, you might need the same ones next time.
Prep the Kids
A working mom needs all the help she can get, from her husband as well as her kids. So, inculcate in them the importance of working together by doing the following.
- Have the kids pack their bags for the next day and keep them ready the previous evening. Make this a routine thing to be done religiously every evening.
- To avoid an early morning brawl over the breakfast table, have them pick out their own lunch boxes, cups, plates, and bowls. This will avoid unnecessary fuss and fights.
Co-ordinate the Extra Curricular Activities
Managing all the extra-curricular activities for your kids can be quite hectic. But here are some tips that will make the organizing much simpler.
- Make a schedule for all extra-curricular activities by carefully checking fixed appointments and flexible ones.
- Once this is done, you need to include it in your day planner and check that itineraries don't clash.
- Alternate days for dropping off and picking up the kids from their respective classes, courses, play dates, study groups, and others, between yourself and your husband, depending on the availability of time.
- Also, fix a day to get your car tank filled with fuel, whether you need it or not. Keeping the tank full at all times can help save time in case of emergencies.
Juggling work, home, kids, and a marriage is not an easy task. But it is not very difficult either. And you certainly can't manage to do all of them justice if you're on the brink of a physical and/or mental meltdown. Pay heed to the following tips to make sure that you yourself are well-cared for. How else will you take care of the rest?
- In your planner, make a provision for spending some time on and with yourself.
- Have special days or dates (whatever is more convenient for you) marked out for things like salon appointments, doctor's appointments, meeting friends and neighbors, visiting your parents, and the like.
- Make arrangements for the kids to be taken care of for this duration.
- Abide by this schedule strictly, for your sake and for your family's.
Well, that's all we could dish out on how you, as a working mom, can organize your home and your life a bit better. Remember, the key to a harmonious and smooth flow of activities is a calm and focused mind. So stay calm, stay focused, and you'll have everything under control. Good luck!