By Ed Clarke
Life with kids is joyful and hectic. Turn up the joy and tone down the hectic with these tried-and-true tips for getting your family organized.
Designate a Space for Everything
From your oldest child’s violin to your youngest child’s ever-expanding lego collection, all your family’s belongings should have a designated home. Store items in clearly labeled containers. Share your organization system with the rest of your household so they can follow suit.
Create a Family Command Center
Never miss another doctor’s appointment or forget to sign another permission slip. A command center provides a central location for everything your family needs for their daily routine. Post a shared calendar. Hang school and work bags. Set out two baskets — one for outgoing items like mail and another for items that require your attention like bills or school forms.
Take the Stress Out of Your Morning Routine
Mornings tend to be especially chaotic and stressful for families. Simplify getting out the door by preparing the night before. Have your kids help make lunches, pack backpacks and pick out clothes for the next day. Arrange shoes by the front door to avoid experiencing the mysterious case of the missing sneaker just as the school bus is pulling up.
Involve Kids in Household Tasks
Child development experts agree that kids benefit from participating in chores. Not only do they learn valuable life skills, but they also feel a sense of accomplishment and belonging by meaningfully contributing to their family.
It takes a lot of time and patience for children to learn to complete chores in a way that meets your expectations. Start by introducing developmentally appropriate tasks. Model each action and work with your child before expecting them to perform steps independently.
Get in the Habit of Menu Planning
Planning meals ahead of time takes the guesswork out of deciding what to make each day and helps you stay within your budget. Try one of the many templates available online to get started.
Set a Daily Cleanup Routine
Develop a routine of cleaning up together at the end of each day. Set a time or tidy up while listening to a playlist of family favorites. Since many hands make light work, everything will be back in its place in no time.
Store Important Documents Securely
With each child, you accumulate many important documents related to your child’s identity, health history, and education. A recommended practice for managing these records is to retain both paper and digital copies. Organize documents by child or according to contents. Keep paper copies in a fireproof home safe or lock box.
Securely store and share digital versions using a cloud or document management system. For sharing purposes, files should be in PDF format. You can easily convert other types of files to PDFs using this PDF converter.
Hire Outside Help
Many families hire professionals to tend to specific household responsibilities such as cleaning and childcare. If you’re conducting a nanny search, consider what household chores will be part of the nanny’s duties. Draw up a work agreement that clearly communicates your expectations.
Give yourself room to tweak these tips to best fit your family’s needs. Once you’ve found your groove, you should notice your household running more smoothly, leaving you more time for the things (and people) you love most.
Ed Clarke is a family counselor who believes in a multi-faceted approach to social health. By identifying opportunities to improve our mental and physical health, career wellness, and relationships, we can thrive in our everyday lives. He created SocialHealthToday with a group of peers to reach a broader audience.