Do you ever feel like you are just barely keeping the house and kids together? Do you ever wonder how other women (with more kids or longer hours at work) are somehow able to have clutter-free kitchens, home-cooked meals, and calm mornings and afternoons with the kids?
The truth is that you never know what’s going on in a house until you live in it. But, if you want to steal a few tips from those women, chances are that some of their organizing principles include the following:
Discipline saves time. As a parent, if you say something, you need to follow through. This doesn’t just help your child understand the rules of the house, but it also saves time in the long run. If you say you are going to take the toys away if they are not cleaned up, then you have to take them away. If you say everyone needs to clear off his or her plate or there is no dessert, then you can’t serve dessert. Not only will your children be involved in the organization, but there will be less nagging and coaxing on your part.
A place for everything. This one is hard, but if you and your children know where everything goes, then putting it away happens immediately and effortlessly. Get different containers and if possible label them with pictures, so that your kids can also be involved in the organization.
Meal planning. Plan your menus at the beginning of the week, so you can create a shopping list and cook in advance. This way, you won’t be scrambling to get to the supermarket and shop all on the same day.
Frequently, the most stressful time in a family’s day is the morning with breakfasts, packed lunches, backpacks, boots, gloves, and buses. Below, I have included some specific tips to help you get through those demanding mornings:
Backpacks. Depending on your children’s ages, either have them pack their knapsacks or you pack their knapsacks with them the night before. Ensure that everything they need for the next day, including library books and signed notes, are safely inside the zippers. Then, leave the backpacks sitting next to the door, ready to be picked up on their way out.
Lunches. Prepare as much of the lunches ahead as you can. Of course, cold parts will wait until the morning, but anything that doesn’t need to be refrigerated can be in the bag. Alternatively, you can package cold and room temperature food together and place them in the refrigerator overnight. By the time lunchtime rolls around, your children’s lunch should be the right temperature. In addition, label the lunchboxes so that each child knows whose is whose.
Breakfast. Keep it simple. Save elaborate breakfasts that include French toast and eggs for Sunday mornings and vacation. However, just because you want to keep it simple does not mean that it has to be boring. You can cut up some fruit the night before and have frozen yogurt sticks in the freezer. This way your children will get the nutrition they need without all the work done at the last moment.
Clothing. If your children do not wear uniforms to school, have them lay out their clothing the night before in order to ensure a speedy turn-around time getting dressed. Often, this will also circumvent battles about what your opinionated child is going to wear that day. The same should go for you – pick out your clothing the night before so that you are not rushing in the morning with seven kids knocking on your door with questions.