5 steps for a (mostly) organized life with 3 kids
Isn’t that the way? I need a weekend from my weekend and ironically my weekends are rarely well planned because of the husband factor. I want to include him but then he still has a pretty random and sometimes demanding schedule for work on weekends. Anyway, we got quite a bit done over the weekend including 2 birthday parties and moving our elliptical down to the office so Lars can ‘treadmill desk’* but today I get to do all the ‘normal’ things that make the house a good place to be and creates clean clothing. Ah Ha! are you bracing yourself for a description of my laundry method?!?
Nope, on day 18 of everyday posting I’m answering an emailed question on ‘how’ I manage to remember/do so many different things with kids. I was very pleased that someone finds me organized and I’m happy to pass on my version of 5 steps for a (mostly) organized life with 3 kids under 6
1. Routine. I’ve always loved it and days go better when I have a general plan. I also put specific things on specific days and that is when it gets done. Laundry is Monday, I do all 5 or 6 loads from the week. Barring massive puke, all dirty laundry just gets to wait until Monday. I do a load here and there when I really need to and diapers are done a different day but I learned this from a workflow specialist; do things in order and do not get distracted in the middle. Her example was to not pick up the phone at work while you are in your email hour and vice versa. I never went that far but having a time to do things does help. Key takeaway; make a plan for when you will do a thing and it does save time from doing it daily or randomly or waiting until it is overwhelming.
2. Use my people resources. Lars likes to cook so he cooks most nights and that is a major burden off me. He also works a million hours so he does not have much time to do other things but I still tap him to do things I know he can. For example, he has time at work that nothing is happening but he has to be right there for when something does happen. For those breaks I have a little list of stuff for him to look up. It helps me because he does have time to concentrate and I don’t, and, we have something to talk about. Most recently I asked him to research what plants would winter and what won’t. Took about a week to get an answer but hey, now we both know. I also ask other people for advice/help that I trust because it is tons faster than starting from scratch or diving into the internet. Finally, I have a daycare budget – I am very fortunate – 2x a week Zoe does preschool and 1x a month Fiona goes for a day and those days I really catch up. Key takeaway; outsource where possible – you don’t have to do it ALL alone
3. Writing lists. I’ve recently taken to the bullet journal method. I got a nice hardback blank book and I use it for all my to-do lists. At the beginning of the week I ‘move’ all the things that didn’t get done in the previous week (and still need doing) and start a fresh list. I also can keep track of projects and dates and ideas plus I’m writing little notes about the day that I would not put on a blog like when I notice someone starting to cough so I don’t’ have to rely on my memory. The bullet journal is described really well here and for me I like to make a ‘master’ to do list for the week and then daily my specific to-do tasks. I think the index is genius and so simple and now I don’t loose my post-it or envelope back lists or the undone things on those lists. Key takeaway; find a system to keep track of your to-dos
4. Use technology when it makes life easier. I use my google calendar and phone alerts for things that happen daily like the bus or vitamins or bedtime so I don’t have to constantly watch the clock or worry about forgetting. My smart phone makes my day go much more smoothly since I can quick look up something or check something without disappearing down to my real computer. I really only check my e-mail or facebook while nursing Fiona but multitasking in that time makes me feel much more in touch and in control. Technology is a rabbit hole too, be careful not to spend a million hours on ‘time saving’ apps that don’t suit you and you either can’t use fast or you don’t look at daily because if you are like me they get forgotten quickly. I especially look for systems that auto sync so I can depend on the info on all platforms. For some financial peace I set up auto pay on many of my recurring payments so paying bills is something that takes 10 min of checking up rather than an hour of writing checks. Key takeaway; use what tech works for you
5. Try and mix fun and work. This is a balance to be sure… I’ve said plenty of times I would rather do a craft then do the dishes but the dishes also do need doing. My theory is I try and do one fun/craft/creative thing a day so I have something other than laundry, diapers, dishes, picking up the toys, vacuuming, sweeping, scrubbing (repeat repeat repeat) to look back on in my day. Sometimes my projects take days to finish, some are fast but usually I can include the kids a bit so I don’t have to wait until they are sleeping (ha!) or otherwise engaged. Doing things with kids, like cooking on the floor, takes some tweaking to make work, and, it won’t be as fast as doing it alone but hey, it gets done and who knows what they are picking up on. I suggest if you are using tools to have extras on hand if you are working with the under 2 crowd. Key takeaway; some play some work every day
I think organization with kids is a blend of working with them and working around them. I like to write things down so I don’t have to over think or remember what to do next. I also like reminders and timers for the things that slip because they are everyday things. I hope this helps the person who asked and maybe one or two other people trying to find the unicorn of an organized life with kids. It goes without saying I hope that you need to be flexible too, too rigid a system is bound to go off the rails. If you build in a fail safe, like auto pay and moving to-do list items, you drop the fall far less when life gets all lifey on you.
*my mom’s idea for moving the elliptical worked, thanks mom!
** the bullet journal came to me via fellow blogmom http://www.misszoot.com/2013/09/26/speaking-of-bullets-bullet-journal-ftw/ who I have read for years and years and gotten countless good and new things from.
BTW. This is how I did things when I worked full time too so it can be adapted to a working timeframe too – however – part of ‘outsourcing’ for me was to hire someone to do some of the cleaning, something I now have more time to fit into my day (technically speaking…)