Are your kids back to school too? Last week was our first week (well, three days) back and it was blissful yet super busy. Between running a business, taxi-ing kids back and forth to various lessons and practices, serving on our school's PTSA board, leading a Girl Scout troop...yeah, it takes a lot of time. But more importantly, it takes a lot of practice! A few of my friends have kids younger than mine, so they were just starting preschool or kindergarten last week and I got asked more than once how I stay organized. Well, here you go!
First, let me say that what works for our little family might not work for yours. I only have two kids and we limit the amount of activities that they are involved in (saves money and headaches!). I'm also lucky that my husband works from home a few days a week, so if need be, I can miss the school bus and run to my own meetings since I know he'll be here to get/drop off the kids.
Second, contrary to what I have seen on a lot of organizing blogs in blogland...you do NOT need to invest hundreds of dollars in planners, pens, stickies, etc. A binder and some paper is really all you need. Anything else is just gravy.
Third, I will say that I owe a lot of my organization methods to my mom. She taught me how to meal plan and prioritize and of course, love lists.
Speaking of lists, I'm someone who just NEEDS to write stuff down. I know a lot of people who love Google Calendar and Cozi and the like, but those don't work for me. If I don't write it down...it never happens!
OK, ready to get started?
In the past, I had a notebook for just about everything - meal planning, home maintenance, to do lists, etc. I kept losing my notebooks and realized that method really just didn't work for me. I decided that it would be easier to just have ONE main planner, and I chose to use a binder. I've combined IHeartOrganizing's Home Binder Kit and 2013-2014 Planner into one awesome binder that pretty much does everything I need it to. Jen sells most everything that is in her Home Binder individually...so check out the contents and decide if you need the whole kit and caboodle or if just a few sections will work for you.
I printed my planner and binder out at home, but you can get it printed (and even spiral bound at a place like Staples or Kinkos).
So how to I use it?
Sunday nights, I get my binder, my pen, some highlighters, some stickies and washi tape, and get to planning. First, I look at the upcoming week to see what's on the docket. Doctor appointments, practices, 1/2 days at school, etc. Then I plan my weekly menu around that. My girls are both in soccer in the early evenings, so I've found that crock pot meals work best on those days. I have a lot of meetings for PTA and Girl Scouts around bedtime, so I try to plan quick meals for those nights so that I don't have to spend all evening in the kitchen making a huge mess for my husband to clean up (thanks, Honey!). We keep it simple for breakfasts (smoothies with muffins or quick bread, oatmeal, and eggs with bacon or sausages and toast) and I use Pinterest for lunchbox ideas.
After I meal plan, I write the meals in my planner using the planner pages and also the meal planning page that comes with the family binder. My whole family is constantly asking "What's for Dinner/Lunch/Breakfast?" and this is an easy way to have them figure it out on their own ;-) Next comes the grocery list. I use the inventory printables from IHO to keep track of what I've got and what I'm out of.
When I'm finished meal planning, I make my to do list...I like to assign several tasks to each day. If you need some good basics for a daily to do list, FlyLady is great. I use her basic cleaning routine and weekly schedule and it's worked for several years!
During the day, I keep my planner open and on my desk so that I can check things off (YAY!) or add things as needed. I try to keep my supplies near my binder at all times. I like using highlighters (one color for each person in my family), and I like washi tape for day long or several day activities (vacations, family visits, etc.). Sticky notes are used when I run out of writing space or if there is something I need to move in the future. I get just about everything at Target...you really don't have to spend a ton of money on supplies - the binder, dividers, pens, stickies, and tape were around $10 for the whole shebang.
So that's it! The two keys are to designate a little time every week to plan, and then to check things off and reasses