There is something about the start of a new year that makes you want to look back at the past and want a new, organized start, even for those of us with a very busy mom life. I always start the year with a new sort of energy and with an out with the old and in with the new mentality.
Here are some of my favorite tools thave have helped me get and stay somewhat organized with my busy mom life year after year cause I’m not going to pretend that I’m super organized. I’m not. But like all moms, I do my best!
Organize your Day
Google Calendar! – It is one of my favorite tools because I can add my husband’s schedule when it is something he needs on his too like a school event. You can color coordinate it, have reoccurring events (for example my boys have piano lessons so I entered the day/time in one time and now it is automatically put in for the rest of the year).
I love it because it syncs with your phone and sends you notices. Love, love, love it!
Have a to-do list. I have my google calendar for things that have a specific time like dr. appointments but for things that are a little more flexible but still need to get done, I use a written calendar as more of a to-do list.
I do write times in them but they are more goals and things I’d like to get done because as all mom’s know things pop up and you never know what’s going to happen. Having a to-list and prioritizing them with the most important things first, allows you to be able to remember and get done all those things you need to get done in a day.
My favorite calendar to write in is a Bloom Daily Planner. They are relatively inexpensive, pretty and help keep your daily to dos orgainzed.
Any Do App – If you’re not the writing down list types you can use this app instead. It helps you organize your daily to-dos.
Evernote – I can’t talk about organizing my life without talking about the Evernote app. It’s one of my favorite things ever. I keep long lists of things I need to have on hand. I have a list with people’s birthdays, a grocery list, ideas for projects, kids school info like their student number and bike lock numbers, teachers names and emails……
I even have a list where I write down books, shows or movies people recommend to me so when I’m wanting something to read/watch it’s all right there. It’s one of my favorite apps ever.
A Timer – Weird I know. But I use a timer for so many different things and so do my kids to help us stay on track. Things I use it for:
- Cleaning up. I could seriously spend hours cleaning one area or I might go the opposite direction and not want to do any of it. Designating 10 or 20 minutes to clean the a certain area helps me stay motivated and keeps me from going too nuts if I’m feeling like a crazy cleaning lady when I have other things to do.
- To take a break – I work a lot on my computer (with this blog, for my jewelry biz, another website…. ) I’m on my computer a lot and so I try and time my work and then time a break so I can get up and move around a bit.
- Monitoring screen time – This is for both the kids and myself. When the kids know there’s a time limit when it’s time to turn it off it is usually done without complaint.
- Potty training – Which I am in the middle of right now. When I first started I had a timer set for every 15 minutes so I could remind my little guy and now that we have been doing it for 2 weeks it’s 30 minutes or sometimes 45. I know without it I would forget and then accidents would happen!
This timer is my favorite because it has a large screen and has a little stand thing that pulls out from the back so it can be propped up. Also it’s magnetic. We have 4 around the house. One at the piano, one at the computer desk, one at my desk and one that’s usually in the kitchen but gets moved around when needed.
Organize Your House
Ditch the “Everything Drawer” mentality – Growing up we used to have an everything drawer which meant later as an adult I had one. Then I realized started to wonder why. Why did I need a drawer that held little bits of everything when all those things should have their own home.
Batteries? Put them with the office supplies. Pencils, crayons and writing utensils? At a desk. Random coupons? In a wallet where they would actually be used. A screwdriver? Put in the garage with the tools. Change? In a change jar/piggy bank/whatever you use to keep change. And so many other odds and ends that get accumulated.
By figuring out homes for everything it makes things so much easier to find and keeps you from buying multiples of things because you know if you have it, it will be in one designated spot.
Doing this can be overwhelming but as you start cleaning and organizing figure out where everything goes. Everything should have a home and there shouldn’t be an everything drawer/basket/pile….
Use plastic storage containers– Oh how I love them. My husband thinks I have too many but I can never have enough.
I use storage containers for everything. I have bins for different sizes of kids clothes. Bins to organize kids toys. Bins for cooking and baking supplies. Bins for organizing my home office and crafting supplies.
I personally love Sterilite containers because they are clear so you can easily see what’s inside, they stack easily, they’re durable and they have handles that lock them shut. You can find plastic storage containers everywhere, even the dollar store has some nice looking white ones.
For nicer looking storage, I love to use white weave plastic storage containers like this one which is super sturdy, easy to clean and goes with everything. I found most of mine at Target in various sizes.
De-junk everything – Bit by bit go through and just start getting rid of the stuff you don’t need or use. Brainstorm the different areas in your house that need a bit of attention and need to be decluttered then when you have some time in the day you can cross them off them one at a time. Grab some big plastic bags and label them garbage or VVA/donate (see below!) as you start going through things.
Contact the VVA here and you can schedule a time where they can pick everything up from your house. I LOVE it! No more trying to get everything in my van, getting kids together just to make a trip to a Goodwill drop off. Just set a day and they come to you and you’re also supporting a good cause. Win, win.
Over the holidays I helped my mom move out of the house she has lived at for almost 30 years and man did she accumulate a lot of stuff. So did we because all 5 of us kids had at least some things stored there but it made me think about all the junk I have and need to purge. So I’ve been going through a couple of drawers a day or through a cupboard finding things that we don’t need or use anymore.
Organize Your Health
I’m all about finding ways to make things get done easier/faster. Smarter not harder right?
Fitness tracker – I like the Fitbit which can help you track your workouts, activity levels, sleep patterns. It even works as a watch and alarm clock. Super easy to use and it syncs up with your phone to keep track of everything.
Water Tracker that tells you how much you should drink every day and helps you make sure you stay hydrated.
Pyrex Custard Bowls – Now hear me out on this one. I know for me one of my biggest issues is portion control so I have fallen in love with these bowls. I got my first set years ago because I just needed some smaller bowls and we don’t always need massive soup bowls and these were perfect.
As the years passed I realized they were the perfect size for eating and that where the line is (you can see a faint line) is just around a cup. These smaller ones where the line is holds about a half a cup. They have helped me so much in regulating the amount I and my family eats. Plus they extremely durable and I’ve only broken one in 6 years after a LOT of kids dropping them. They are the most used dishes in the house!
Organize Your Kids
Hanging cups are my favorite! I bought them when they first came out. They were kind of spendy but we love and use them every day.
My kids always wanted water and for some reason thought they needed a new cup every time so this solved that problem and we use way less cups. I clean them all at the end of the day and we’re good to go.
Magazine file holders are a staple at my house. They keep me and my kids organized and we have many for lots of different purposes like:
- Kids homework (they each have their own to put papers and work)
- Kids piano books/notebooks (my guys do piano and it helps them keep them together)
- Craft supplies (we have one for all blank paper like construction paper, lined paper, white paper)
- Books – My kids have one for books they are reading or their favorites. They are especially nice to keep contained those beginning readers which are small and can get lost easily.
- Special papers/artwork (I have one for each kid where I put things like their school pictures, sports pictures, awards, special mothers day gifts they’ve made, a few favorite pieces of artwork…)
- Important papers (we have a special folder for each kid with all their important documents like birth certificates, social security card, immunization records..)
- Magazines of course! We get a few like Zoo
Entry Way Organizer – This is one of my favorite things ever. Find something that works to organize shoes, coats, hats….
Now my husband is pretty handy and can build a lot of things but he had been so busy at work to build a custom entry way organizer/built in. So I did a lot of research and found an entry way organizer that will work until he is able to make a custom one. It’s simple, not too expensive (compared to others I’ve seen!) and fits the area we have.
I put mine together in less than an hour and it has helped us contain the coats, shoes, waterbottles…..
Favorite Books About Cleaning/Organizing
I was going to suggest The Life-changing magic of Tidying-up because I’ve heard so much about it but honestly I have yet to read it. I’ve heard people talk about what it’s about (my mom’s currently reading and loving it) and it all seems good and well but I need some more practical advice about cleaning with this busy mom life of mine!
Life’s too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets is hilarious and very practical. From the back it says:
“Family life leaves no time for forcing bulbs, alphabetizing the pantry, origami napkin folding, or even keeping the house very clean for that matter. Most of us can barely get dinner on the table three nights a week…..”
I love one section titled “Good enough things- housekeeping tricks and shortcuts for the recovering perfectionist” with some simple practical tips she has on keeping things from getting too out of control and making things look cleaner than they are.
And these books are about teaching kids to clean because I’m all about having kids help. They should because they’re a part of the family and it helps them take responsibility for the house they live in.
Cleaning House is about a mom teaching her kids to take responsibility for their surroundings and teaching them basic life skills. She talks about all the ups and downs of her 12-month experiment in getting her kids to get to work and help clean house!
Mean Moms Rule is funny and lighthearted. I’ve recommended it to numerous people and lent my copy out to lots of moms. It’s hard to teach your kids to help clean but it’s so good for them to learn to work hard and take responsibility for themselves and their house.
You’re a mom and are doing amazing things. You deal with crying babies, kids puking, potty training, helping kids practice for spelling tests, fold endless amounts of laundry and wash so many dishes you stopped counting long ago. All on ridiculous amounts of sleep. You are wonderful and can do hard things.
Hopefully, some of those gave you some simple and practical ways to organize your busy mom life this year!
Please let me know in the comments if you have any great tools to help you stay organized!