Life can get chaotic for families juggling full-time work and the whirlwind of school activities. As a mom of three, personally striking a balance between work commitments, kids' extracurricular engagements, and maintaining an organized home is daunting, but with the right strategies, it's entirely achievable.
Since many of the Decluttered™ team are moms, here are some practical tips we’ve gathered to help busy families stay organized and maintain harmony within your homes amidst the bustling schedules.
Establish a Centralized Family Calendar
Create a centralized calendar that everyone in the family can access. Use it to keep track of important dates, appointments, extracurricular activities, work schedules, and deadlines. Color-coding events based on family members can help everyone quickly identify their commitments. In my house, I keep it digital and we use Google Calendar. We also recommend Cozi as another digital option.
Create Routine and Structure:
Establishing routines can be a game-changer for busy families. While we offer home organizing services, we always try to organize to the routines and habits you have in place, or help you adjust slightly where needed. Developing morning and evening routines that factor in school preparation, meal times, homework sessions, after-school activities and winding down for bedtime. Consistency in these routines can streamline the day-to-day chaos.
Designated Organization Stations
Have designated areas in your home for specific purposes. Create a homework station stocked with supplies, a dedicated space for backpacks and shoes, and a command center with files or baskets for managing incoming mail, papers, bills, and important documents. You can see my system above! I go through these papers every Friday or Sunday night, depending on my schedule. The key for me is to stay on top of it weekly!
Meal Planning and Prepping
Plan meals for the week ahead during the weekend. Prepare and cook in bulk when possible, utilizing slow cookers or batch cooking, and freeze portions for busy nights. Meal prepping can save time and ensure healthier eating habits. Every Saturday morning, I like to make my meal plan for the following week and then go get my groceries needed; sometimes it happens in the afternoon because of the kids activities but the important part is that I always make sure it happens. If you know you are limited on time, on Friday night schedule a pick-up order for Saturday so you can fit it in. Then Sunday is about meal prep and family time! Something as small as cooking your veggies ahead of time can help keep you organized during the week.
Utilize Technology for Organization
Embrace technology to streamline organization. Use apps for shared shopping lists (we love Alexa because we just talk to her when in the kitchen to add an item and even the kids can do it!), meal planning, reminders (I use the Clock app all the time to remind me of things!), and task management to keep everyone on the same page.
Delegate and Share Responsibilities
Assign age-appropriate chores to family members (I like to just google this to find out what works at each age my kids are). Encourage teamwork and responsibility by involving everyone in keeping the home tidy and organized. This not only lightens the load but also teaches valuable life skills. We try to do most chores on the weekends and Friday afternoons, before electronics come out. And this allows us parents to just keep up with it during the week because we have help on the weekends.
Simplify and Clear out Clutter Regularly
Encourage a clutter-free environment by clearing out clutter regularly. Donate items no longer needed and encourage kids to keep their belongings organized. Simplifying possessions can make managing the home less overwhelming. Many parents struggle with letting go of toys but it can make a huge difference in not only you feeling less overwhelmed, but also your children (they just show it in different ways when overwhelmed).
Sync Up and Communicate
Schedule regular family meetings to sync up on upcoming events, discuss any changes to routines, and address any concerns. Open communication helps in managing expectations and staying on top of things.
Set Realistic Expectations
Understand that maintaining a perfect balance between work, school, and home might not always be attainable. Embrace imperfections and be flexible in adapting to unexpected changes. You can stop by my house on any given weekday and it may look like a train wreck, but it typically takes less than 15 minutes to pick-up and the kids help with their own spaces every week when schedules allow.
Just Say No
This is probably the hardest one I see as a Professional Organizer but it is okay for kids, especially the younger ones, to not have so many activities. There is a fine balance between having them try “everything” to see what they like versus letting them have down time to play and create. It is okay to not have your kids so busy.
In the hustle and bustle of today’s busy life, organization becomes the cornerstone of a well-functioning household. For busy families navigating the maze of work commitments and school activities, staying organized isn't just a luxury; it's a necessity. By implementing these practical organizing tips and customizing them to suit your family's unique needs, achieving a peaceful and organized home amid the chaos becomes an achievable goal. Remember, small steps towards organization can yield significant results in simplifying daily life for everyone involved.