As seen on Bonbon Break
I am the mother of six-year-old triplets and a very high-energy ten-year-old daughter. Everyone I meet always wants to know, how do you do it?
One word: organization.
When the triplets were babies I had to write out their feeding, sleeping and pooping schedule on a graph just to make sure that everyone’s needs were met and nobody would starve to death.
These days, my organizational needs have changed. With four kids in school, what organization looks like for me is a system of having a place for everything, and everything in its place.
I have created a list of organization tips that have helped in raising our higher order multiples plus one. In sharing these tips, I am not asserting that I have a 100 percent success rate at completing any or all of them each day. But, I can attest to the fact that when I do follow through with these ten organizational tips, my life becomes a lot easier.
1. Wake Up 30 Minutes Before the Kids
My husband has been suggesting I implement this tip for years, but sadly, I am not a morning person. Yet, when I do follow this little gem of wisdom I am able to take a shower and make my coffee before the kids march down the stairs like a herd of elephants. This technique just starts the day off on the right foot.
2. Do one load of laundry every day
You may be thinking, “yeah, but she has a family of six and I only have a family of four and so I don’t need to do laundry everyday.” Wrong. If you do not keep up with a load of laundry a day, those clothes accumulate and then you end up with five loads of laundry on the weekend. That is just not right.
3. Lay kids clothing out before bed
My kids are terrible at picking out their own outfits. I find it extremely helpful to have each child help me lay out an outfit each night and require them to put the outfit on before they come downstairs for breakfast. This is a time saver and hassle reducer.
4. Meal planning
Meal planning, that nasty little chore that falls right between a visit to the dentist and constipation in my book. Meal planning takes time, preparation and organization. What it lacks is everything that comes so naturally in life like laziness and spontaneity. Yet, when I meal plan, I feel like supermom. Meal planning not only saves time during the week, but it saves money because you buy only the ingredients you need for the week instead of the ingredients you think you may need. Here are my pre-planned meals for this week:
Monday: Beef Stew
Tuesday: Baked Ziti and Chicken
Wednesday: Calico Bean Pot
Friday: Homemade Pizzas
Saturday: Chicken Nuggets and Baked Beans
(since mommy and daddy are going out)
Sunday: Spaghetti Bolognese
My kids help me prepare a part of the meal some nights. They love to put together salads and it saves me a lot of time. Sundays are cook with mommy days and I trade off letting one of my children find a recipe, plan it out and then help me make it. (Check out our kitchen for more GREAT ideas!)
5. Have kids pick up toys before bed
By the end of the day, the playroom and bedrooms are both disasters. Sometime before bed we have the kids clean up their own mess so we can start the next day off clean. Having kids pick up their own toys teaches them responsibility and organization early on. Some nights we forget to have the kids pick up the playroom, but bedtime blitz is a good habit to get into.
6. After school goal chart
We put together a chart so our children would have some boundaries, guidance and direction when they get home from school. We all have learned by now that kids NEED boundaries and direction to be happy and successful individuals. If the children complete their after school responsibilities WITHOUT COMPLAINING each day of the week, they earn ten Lego dollars.
Here is what the chart looks like:
7. Divide and conquer after dinner responsibilities
For 10 years, my husband and I have been in charge of dinner dishes. Recently, we have divided up all the dinner dishes tasks for the children to do each night. The 10-year-old rinses dishes and puts them in the dishwasher. The 6-year old triplets clear the table, wipe the table down and vacuum. My husband and I sit in the family room with a glass of wine and remind each other how long we have been waiting for the day when our children would help around the house.
8. Move coats and shoes to the garage
It only took us eight years to figure this out, but now that we have discovered this little organizational delight, our lives are changing for the better. For years we have struggled about where everyone would house their shoes and coats. Kids shoes were shoved in a cubby system that crowded my laundry room. Coats were hung haphazardly on a coat rack by our front door that one of the kids would tip over on themselves from time to time. For someone who enjoys organization and tidiness, the shoes and coats were disaster situations.
My husband stopped by Home Depot and picked up a fairly inexpensive shoe shelf and coat hanging system. Everything has been built on a small person’s level so there will no longer be an excuse when I see coats on the floor and shoes scattered everywhere.
9. Duct Tape Parking Spaces
My husband and I devised a plan to create parking spaces for the four bikes and five scooters we have. We went to Home Depot and picked out a duck tape for each child in the style that matched their personality created parking spots using their special duck tape so there is never be a question of where to put their bike away.
10. Sort snail mail
As soon as I lay eyes on our snail mail I immediately begin to sort through it and recycle what we don’t need. I have a place for my bills, a place for my catalogues and a place for my coupons, etc. This is helpful because if you do not sort through mail each day you will end up with a gigantic pile of paper on your dining room or kitchen counter within days. In addition, a few years ago I painstakingly called each company that was sending me a catalogue I did not want to receive and asked them to remove me from their mailing list. This significantly cut down on my mail and saved a few trees in the process.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
The most important part about being organized is having a proper place for everything in your home. Everything from toys and school backpacks to homework and outerwear all need a place to live. If you don’t have a place for something, find one. If you can’t find a place for something in your house, then it isn’t that important and you should probably donate it.
If you want your life to feel more organized, your home is a great place to start.