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Moms and Time: How to Keep Your Family Organized

blocks that spell mom
  God could not be everywhere, therefore he created mothers.
- Hebrew Proverb

When my kids were little, some days between feeding times, nap times and diaper changes, I felt like I was lucky to leave the house before nightfall. I thought things would change when they got older. Things did change, but none of my time was freed up any more than it was when they were little. Feeding times, nap times and diaper changes were just replaced with school activities, homework help, sports practices, and car pools. Listed below are some of the tips I've learned over the years to make life easier when you are a working mom with kids.

Keep a Central Calendar for the Whole Family

1. Post a family calendar in a visible place with everyone's schedule on it. Children should be able to look at the calendar to know what activities are coming up for them over the next week or two. On your calendar include things like sports practices, birthday parties, holidays, school holidays, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, field trips, parent's nights out, family meetings, etc. Having one centralized calendar makes it easier to see and resolve any schedule conflicts well ahead of time.

Have a Family Chore Chart

2. Make a chart with all of the household tasks that need to be done in a week and divide the tasks among family members during a family meeting. Then post your chart on the refrigerator, message board or some other place so everyone knows their assigned tasks. Even young children can be assigned simple chores like picking up their own toys, setting the table, dusting, clearing their own place after eating, or folding towels. (Children who are too young to read should have a chart with pictures of the chores they need to do each day.) School age children can help with tasks like taking out the garbage, folding laundry, helping with yard work, vacuuming, and taking care of pets. Older teenagers can do most tasks that adults can do such as run errands, grocery shop, make simple meals on busy nights, do their own laundry and cut the grass.

Create Systems for Routine Tasks

3. Have systems in place for reoccurring tasks. The book, Sidetracked Home Executives 1 by Pam Young and Peggy Jones, though a bit dated, has some good ideas for handling routine tasks and keeping your home organized. The basics of their system are to write down daily, weekly, monthly and yearly tasks on color coded 3X5 cards and then use those cards as reminders each day to plan what you need to do that day. It is a deceptively simple idea, yet one that is lacking from most time management books. Most other books on managing time always have people setting priorities and planning tasks each day. However, this system is helpful for moms and other people with lots of routine tasks to accomplish. I think these days most people would put their tasks lists on a compter instead of using index cards, but the basic idea of planning all of you ongoing tasks like shopping for birthdays, cleaning the carpets, paying the bills well ahead of time is still a helpful idea.

Have Regularly Scheduled Family Meetings

4. Make it a habit to get the whole family together at least one night a week to go over trips, schedules, classes, etc. This way everyone has a general idea of what is going on in the week ahead. Teens can then plan ahead and see what nights are available for them go out or invite friends over and which nights are reserved for family time. Be sure to discuss school projects and tests to avoid going to Seven-eleven late on on Tuesday night looking for supplies to make a science fair project due the next day!

References

1. Young, Pam, and Peggy Jones. Sidetracked Home Executives: From Pigpen to Paradise. New York: Warner Books, 2001.