Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Blow It Up...

***I have no doubt that when I took this picture, I actually had a reason for thinking that this propane exchange station would make for good blog fodder. Instead? It gave me a title completely unrelated to this post.***

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As a working mother to three children who are involved in sports and school activities, I am often asked, "How do you manage it all?" The truth is that I don't manage it all. It (whatever it is) manages me, and I have developed my own methods of coping with and reacting to what can only be described as controlled chaos. I don't think my precious family will be offended by my saying that our life is controlled chaos. I'm pretty sure they have noticed.

I am not even close to being an expert on organization, but these are some of the things that have worked for me.

Numero Uno on my list is my family binder. I have been meaning to make it pretty, but I haven't gotten around to that yet. This 3 ring binder contains everything anyone would ever need to know about my children and their routines and also for the various responsibilities I have. Class schedules, school calendar, lists of phone numbers for teachers and friends, schedules of practices...all of this is in the binder. I often make a copy of field trip forms before sending them back to school. This way I have all the pertinent details for every trip. I also keep coupons in the front sleeve along with their safety IDs.

Inside, each child has his or her own section. Activities that are big, such as the charity 5K that my friend Megan and I are co-chairing have their own section as well. Does Hadley have any major events coming up? Check her tab. Can Layton eat Fruity Pebbles? Check his tab. What is the email address for Ella's math teacher? Check her tab. 

I know this probably seems like overkill to many of you, but honestly, I don't know what I would do without it.

Numero Dos would be my calendar. I know! What idiot keeps a three ring binder and a calendar? Me. I like to buy from either Erin Condren or Plum Paper. This year I went with Plum Paper because I could customize the sections inside. The first few blocks of the day read "appointments." That is followed by "to do" and "Menu." I do a menu plan every week and jot it on the calendar. This helps with grocery shopping and makes having a home cooked meal an easier task each day. There are lots of things that can be made ahead of time and frozen or mixed together and place in the refrigerator until time to cook. We'll talk more about menu planning another day. 

I keep up with all the reminder cards for appointments and tape them to the applicable day. I clip bills to be paid to the date I need to mail each one. I place items that I need to do something with inside each week. The only bad thing is that I trust my calendar with my whole person. If I accidentally write an appointment on the wrong date, I will never notice that I have shown up on the wrong date. If it's on the calendar, it's in granite. A couple of times I have shown up a week early or a week late for various things. That's why I like getting reminder cards. Ha!

I am always looking for ways to help manage my time and resources. I would love to hear from all of you about the things you do to keep your schedule organized. 

Later this week I will post more details about my meal planning and grocery lists and also how my family has to call on friends to help out sometimes. If you are like me, you have a very hard time asking for help, but I have discovered that asking for help is the strongest thing a working mother can do. 

Have a great day!!! And don't forget to comment or email suggestions for how to stay organized!