Some might call me rigid, inflexible, the opposite of go with the flow, but I call myself organized, calm and collected. Working from home with 4 children requires a systematic and structured day in order to get things done and keep everything organized, including my brain! When I sat down to start writing this article I was actually amazed at how our family runs like a well oiled machine. Of course we all have good days and bad days, but these things help keep me sane and on top of all my duties, both professional and housekeeping.
#1 – My closet is color coordinated. Crazy I know, but it just gives me a sense of calm every time I look at all the colors next to each other. Also, the rest of my bedroom could be a complete dumping grounds for any random thing left out from the kids, but at least those clothes look nice and pretty on their hangers. Also this does help with picking the outfit of the day, and saves me at least 2 minutes in the morning.
#2 – I always leave really early for any event, appointment, kid activity, etc. If the event starts at 3:00pm, then in my head it starts at 2:50pm, and I leave the house with enough time to arrive there by 2:45pm. I would much rather have time to spare, then constantly feel rushed. Adding kids to mix, I simple work backwards from the start time of the event, and time everything I need to do before I leave. Example: Sunday Morning Church – Church begins at 9:30am, we need to leave the house by 9:00am, it takes the kids 30 minutes to get dressed and brush teeth so they need to start that at 8:30, it takes them 20 minutes to eat breakfast so they should be eating by 8:00am, throw in a little downtime after waking up and they should be waking up by at least 7:30am. I know this all might sound weird, but really this is how my mind works!
#3 – Color Coded Calendar. I know there are some great apps that utilize this same concept, but there is something to be said for writing everything down. It sticks in my mind better that way I guess. I have a yearly master calendar in my office (I will get to that later), and a monthly calendar on the pantry door in the kitchen. Each child has their own color and all activities, events, reminders, etc., are written nice and big for all to see. This also allows the children to take responsibility and check the calendar for their own activities. So and so has gymnastics today, she can look at the calendar and know that she needs to put her leotard in her backpack. One less thing I have to do, and I am teaching independence. (I could write a whole other article on that one). Underneath the calendar is a cork board for the children’s homework or important papers. I like to keep them there, so that I and the kids, see them every time we go into the pantry.
#4 – Master Calendar. It may be old school, but I still use a paper calendar and a pencil in my office, both for professional and personal use (all on one calendar). It never leaves my office, and stays right next to my computer. When an email from school about an event is opened, or a client wants to book a session, it goes immediately into the calendar.
#5 – School Project/Note Basket. My kids are probably over trained, but they know that when we get home from school they need to empty out there backpacks and put everything in the school project basket. Then later on that night, I can go through it, toss the not so important stuff (like the umpteenth worksheet), keep the wall worthy art/project, and pin any important notes to the pantry. Disclaimer: The kids are old enough to know that if it is really important homework due the next day, that they skip the basket and it goes right on the pantry.
#6 – Shoe Baskets in the mudroom. I am a stickler for a tidy house, and although I have become more tolerant since having children, I still feel it is important to teach my kids that all things have a place, and said things should be put away in that place. My biggest one is shoes in the mudroom. Each child has a basket for their shoes, and they are required to put their shoes in their baskets whenever entering the house, wet snow boots excluded. One of my favorite memories of my first born son, was him (at the age of 2) explaining to his father that he (dad) needed to pick up his shoes and put them away. Dad still has a problem with this one!
#7 – Weekly Menu. Every Saturday or Sunday I sit down and plan the weekly meals. Then I do the weekly grocery shopping. Its not my favorite part of the week, but boy does it help on those nights after school, or after lessons, when the kids are asking “what’s for dinner?” and I already know. This is also why I instituted the Menu board in the kitchen. Each week I write the menu, and then I don’t have to hear the question “What’s for dinner?” because they can look for themselves. They also get excited when they see their favorite meal is coming up that week. Or sometimes I will write a big question mark and they know that means daddy is bringing home a surprise dinner.
#8 – Kids can do laundry too. There is a hamper in each of my children’s rooms, and every night they put their dirty clothes in it. When it gets full (usually overflowing) they know its time to move their dirty clothes to the laundry room. This is a win-win! My kids are learning how to do laundry, (my future daughters-in-law will thank me) and I don’t have to track down all the dirty laundry, sort it, etc.
So there you have it. Little things that I do to make my day-to-day like a little easier and feel less hectic, and lets be honest, in this day and age, everything little thing helps!