by Nina Restieri
Like many others, I always feel super organized at the beginning of the school year. I start filling in a brand-new day planner with appointments and activities and meal plans, and I stick to it religiously. I get all the kids where they need to go on time, and I also cook healthy meals and keep up with the laundry and exercise daily.
Then, October comes. And gradually, things start to fall apart. I’ll miss an appointment or I won’t have time to plan the meals one week, and just like that, the whole thing falls apart. I’m back to feeling overwhelmed, overscheduled and disorganized.
Staying organized with kids is kind of like keeping your weight down: We all know what we’re supposed to do to make it happen, but we don’t always have the discipline to do it. For me, it doesn’t come naturally—it’s a daily practice that requires real effort, like getting out and exercising.
Here are a few of the items on my daily practice list that keep my family organized…when I actually make it a habit to do them.
• Keep a mini office in the kitchen. I have a lovely office in my house, but when it comes to family organization, everything happens in the kitchen. I can’t explain it, but I have adapted to it. I’ve set up a mini office in my kitchen with everything I need to keep the family organized:
Office supplies, plus all my files related to the kids and school
And lots of notepads and paper, that way I always have everything I need ready to write a note to the teacher, fill out a quick medical form or mail a check to the PTA.
• Keep a running list of quick meals, and keep the ingredients in the house. I have a small notebook where I write down meals the kids (and I) love. With four kids, it can be challenging to find a meal that makes everyone happy, so when we do find one we treasure it! I try to keep ingredients on hand so that even on late carpool nights, I can throw together a quick dinner at a moment’s notice.
• Make to-do lists. Ever since my very first job out of college, I have kept a running to-do list. Making a list helps me remember all the minutiae that would otherwise fly in and out of my brain in a heartbeat. And crossing items off the list as I accomplish them is just really satisfying! I keep my personal to-do list right in my momAgenda, that way I see it every single day when I look at our schedule of the day’s activities.
If you make it a daily practice to stick to a few simple organizing principles, I guarantee you will feel organized. And when you feel organized, you’ll feel greater peace of mind. You can sleep at night knowing you have a handle on what’s coming tomorrow. And that frees up your mind and your time for more important pursuits—like quality time with the kids!
Nina Restieri is the founder and president of momAgenda, and a mom of four children. Learn more about Nina and momAgenda at momagenda.com.