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My eyes spring open with panic. It’s half past seven and I have slept through my alarm … AGAIN. The bell rings to start school in less than an hour and I have three uncooperative kids to get up and dressed and fed…. oh my! My daughter won’t get out of bed. My son is upset because his favourite pants are in the wash … and they stink to high heaven so can’t do a re-wear. My youngest is running around with no clothes on giggling hysterically. And now we are having a battle over the iPad.
Lunches are in a half state of preparation. Despite my best intentions, my second glass of wine last night and resulting fatigue meant I didn’t finish packing them. And I have no idea what we are going to eat for breakfast. Wait, why did I say “we” … everyone knows there is no time for me to eat when I am serving second and third helpings! GAW. Just as we are out the door … someone forgets something, anything… and my blood pressure, well skyrockets… Now I’m in angry mom mode and boy it isn’t pretty.
I was thinking you might be a lot like me. That you might just be experiencing something that sounds a little like the chaos I described above. And that you might appreciate it if I scour the internet for the best organization hacks every parent needs to stay sane, and to stop having a near heart attack from stress every morning before school.
Am I right!? Here’s what I found…. Read on for our 10 organization hacks for parents!
Easy Daysies Organizer
This is a Canadian product made by a busy mom and teacher. Elaine created charts like this for use in her classroom and then parents started to ask for them so they could use them at home! Easy Daysies gives kids a visual chart with words and breaks down what their morning or bedtime routine needs to look like. This visual aid empowers kids to do things for themselves. Parents, this is the best HACK ever for doing less each morning: get your kids to do more!
But How Do I Get My Kids to Do More?
I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about parenting, but I can say we have had great success in our house motivating our kids to do chores. We have a sticker chart and each day that the kids do their chores, and successfully follow the rules of our house, they get a sticker. A full card (20 stickers) means they get their allowance. This is big for my seven year old, who is starting to understand that the things he wants cost money and the value of a dollar. Their chores are designed to make my life a little bit easier, while giving them age appropriate ways to learn that they need to help out too. Our sticker chart and stickers came from a teacher supply store.
Project Organize My Entire Life!
Sometimes getting organized just seems like a MONUMENTAL task. I heart the printables created by Modern Parents Messy Kids. Purchase their quick start guide Project Organize My Entire Life to really get down and dirty in the process, but their printables for weekly to-dos are also helpful.
You Need a Jot Down Book or a Really Awesome Agenda (Ok fine … Or Cool Apps)
I’m a firm believer that even in this world of technological advance, a girl still needs paper and pen to keep track of stuff. I am obsessed with notebooks and planners and plan my day using the ink in my pen. There are some really great planners out there, including this one from Passion Planner, and The Desire Map Planner by Danielle LaPorte. Oh and I like this one that you can personalize with your name, and even the month you start in (in case you are late in ordering a new planner). But I am also an advocate for having a jot down book. Some place where you can write notes to yourself, brainstorm key ideas, and make to-do lists. I really like the idea of putting an envelope at the back of such a notebook (like this from Simple as That), and here you can stuff important notes and papers that come home from school (when is the book fair again?) and other random things.
But ok, some of you insist on organizing your life via your phone (!). So here are my two favourite apps for organizing my life: Evernote, which allows you to create folders and attach photos, notes and files; and Wunderlist, which allows you to create to-do lists and to share them with other people. I share “Wunderlists” with my husband and it was a lifesaver during our move (when we organized and shared our task list).
Tame Clutter – The Basket Short Cut
Ask my husband; I am addicted to baskets. I have purchased a lot of baskets in my life and they are one of my favourite ways to decorate. I use them to hide the million and one toys I have in my living room, I place baskets by the stairs to remind myself to bring things up and down, and I tame clutter (and instantly clean up) with basics in high traffic zones. One of my favourite uses for a basket is to stuff morning time essentials into easy reach; the hairbrush that gets used every day, plus the clothes and jackets my kids need, sunscreen and hats. I have basket fever, but these I particularly love: DIY Orchard Baskets from Martha Stewart.
An Outfit for Every Day of the Week
Ugh, one thing I hate about busy mornings before school is that always, without fail, someone gets unhappy about the clothing options available to them: the blue shirt with the bunny rabbit can’t be found anywhere, there are no socks, there is “nothing to wear” and “those” pants are in the wash. This system, which admittedly I haven’t yet tried, is supposed to alleviate all of that. It asks kids to pick out their outfits for the entire week, and then organizes them in a way that they can easily grab and go. This is one system from iHeartOrganizing.com and there are others (like tupperware drawers, or shoe or sweater racks).
A few years ago Crystal shared her secret to putting healthy meals on the table each night: the menu board. Ingenious use of a little cork board and recipe cards, that with a little bit of planning means you never have to say “what the heck are we going to eat for dinner.” Meal planning not only saves time, it saves money (plan your grocery shopping around what you are planning on making) and homemade food is more nutritious for growing bodies. Have you looked at our Menu Board project. It’s simple and it just might change your life!
An Organized Mud Room or Entry Way Keeps Every Boot in Its Place
Just like I hate searching at the last minute for that pair particular pair of pants, I also hate when we are almost out the door but we can’t find a matching shoe, the hat we need or a coat. One day I hope to have a mud room or at least an organized entry way (it’s on the reno list for sure). In the meantime, I’m gathering inspiration. Drool-worthy mudroom organization ideas… yes please!
Create a Family Calendar
Find a system that makes sense for you and your family, to keep track of important appointments and tasks. For those that like to organize on their phone or computer, I’ve heard good things about this one.
Or for something to hang in your kitchen or high-traffic area, this looks like a perfect solution: a magnetic white board so that you can move around the dates and activities month to month.
And this one is just cool!
Create a School Lunch Station
I love this school lunch packing system devised by Uncommon Designs, and my new kitchen needs this! I imagine painless packing with this amazing system. The cork boards are great for posting meal and snack ideas, like these and these.
There you have it 10 ways to hack your busy life and make school prep and busy weeknights a little more peaceful.