19 Simple Organization Tips for Busy Families

Family life is crazy busy, a constant round of breakfasts, packed lunches, after school clubs, play dates, dinners, bedtimes and all the other calendar hogging that goes on during normal life!  Mama, unless you have some systems in place, it's all going to go horribly wrong.  Here's what works for us as a busy family of 5, and will hopefully help you too.

Many busy mums swear by their bullet journals, others by the multitude of apps on their phones, but a lot of us are just winging it from morning to morning.  From pick up to drop off we're desperately trying to find ways to keep it all running smoothly.  Life is hectic!

By the way, check out these brilliant resources for busy mums:

Finding clever strategies that work and smart shortcuts that save time, effort and energy, means you get more done in the time you have, and there is still some capacity left over for the really important stuff - the fun that being a mum should be.  Here's what works to make life easier for us:

1. A schedule

I loathe the word routine with its connotations of Gina Ford etc, but having a plan is crucial to making the days and week go smoothly.  A chart on the wall that shows exactly what needs to be done and who needs to be where that week is a lifesaver for us.  Get into the habit of making next week's every Thursday, and then they have the weekend to tell you what else should be on there!

2. Meal planning

Meal plan on a Wednesday for the following week, and make a shopping list as you go.  That way you have plenty of time to schedule a grocery delivery or get to the supermarket.  Topping up with fruit and veg every few days works best for us, as the girls get through a lot, so dry goods can be bought any time.

3. Lay out clothes the night before

And teach everyone to put clothes in the laundry basket.  Avoid buying hand wash or dry clean only clothing.

4. Family calendar

Set up a family calendar and encourage everyone to write everything on it.  This is the basis for your weekly plan (see above), and if it ain't on, it ain't happening!  Colour coding works well for older kids.

5. Keep snacks in your car

Buy up a stock of long-life snacks that you can keep in a box in the car, along with drinks and 2 litre bottles of water.  That way any hunger or thirst crises can be dealt with before the meltdowns.

6. In fact, keep everything in your car!

We have SO much stuff in our car: changes of clothes, wellies, cardigans, coats, beach equipment, swimming stuff, Crocs, towels for swimming or drying playground equipment dependent on the season!, cosy joggers and tops, picnic rugs, blankets, toys, drawing equipment, notebooks, colouring books, nature identifiers and guides, tide timetables, and playing cards.

That way no-one can ever be bored, have to sit in wet clothes, or unable to do what they want to do.  And we can just get out the door as soon as we're ready rather than hunting for everything we might need - at least that's the theory anyway!

7. Time out

Establish a period of quiet time, for everybody, every day.  We're still working on this one.  Supposedly it's after lunch and we all sit and read or write or draw quietly.  Whether you manage it with everyone or not, make time every day for your time out.  Not sure how?

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8. Keep on top of your paperwork

Open and deal with post as it comes in, and ideally never touch a piece of paper twice.  Set up automatic payments and direct debits for everything, and opt for online statements.  If you're overwhelmed with piles already, here's how to organise your paperwork.

9. Cleaning!

Establish a cleaning schedule, a realistic one, and stick to it.

10. To do lists

Keep a running to do list on the kitchen counter and add things to it as you think of them or see them.  Gently encourage (!) your other half to tackle some of the jobs on there too.  Steve tends not to 'see' jobs, so this works to make sure things get done, e.g. wonky handles, broken toys etc.

11. Outsource what you can

Treat running family life like your job.  Would you really do everything yourself?  Leave job lists like I do above, or hire a cleaner once a week/month/season, employ a gardener, or find a local seamstress to alter clothes.  You don't have to prove anything by doing it all yourself.

12. Tame your hot spots

Keep baskets in 'hot spots', those areas that breed clutter.  Once a day spend 10 minutes sorting the junk and putting things away.

13. Birthday planning 1

Buy birthday cards and gifts once every couple of months.  Check your diary at the beginning of each month and address cards then, posting all at once or keeping somewhere safe until the right week.

14. Birthday planning 2

Set up a gift cupboard and buy a few generic gifts to keep in there for those 'surprise' birthdays or last minute invitations.  It's a great place to store those duplicate toys or games for re-gifting too.  Not that I would ever...

Related post: How to Save Money During Birthday Season

15. Evening prep

Lay the breakfast table the night before, and have snacks, lunches, backpacks, book bags ready to go in the morning.  Mornings go much more smoothly and there is less stress for everyone.

16. Toy organisation

Organise toys so that they have designated spots and make sure they are always put away there at the end of the day.  Yep, it will probably be you that does it, but small children may eventually be persuaded to help.

Related post: Easy Tips for Organising Your Kids Toys

17. Set up places for everything

A place for shoes and backpacks to be left, a place for book bags and letters from teacher, and a central spot where you keep post to send, library books to return, and other errands to run.  A family command centre can make a real difference to having mornings run more smoothly.

18. Clean easy

Keep cleaning products in several places, and vacuum cleaners too if you can, so they can be grabbed for a quick 10 minute tidy when you have the time.

Related post: How to Keep Your Home Clean and Tidy Even When You're Crazy Busy

19. Declutter

De-clutter everywhere, but tackle it a drawer, shelf or cupboard at a time so as not to feel overwhelmed.  Then keep on top of everything and make sure it doesn't build up again.

Just remember that, whatever you are juggling, you don't need to be super woman.  Even Superwoman isn't super woman!  If your house gets messy, you forget a birthday card, or something goes a bit pear-shaped, it doesn't matter.

On the worst days, just be grateful that you kept everyone healthy and the house didn't fall down.  But if you can put some of these systems in place, I promise life will be simpler and you'll have more time for what really matters: playing, talking to and having fun with the human beings who share your life and home.

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