Today, families are busier than ever and its easy to get overwhelmed with keeping up with it all. The following is a list of helpful routines that can make all the difference in maintaining order and reducing stress at home as the weeks roll by.
1. Daily & Weekly Routines
We all function better once a system is in place. Routines are especially important for children, so forming habits that take place daily or weekly, like having set times for homework, and chores and having consistent bath and bedtimes can be soothing for both parent and child. Parents having set weekly routines for getting things done, like paying bills, filling the dishwasher and doing laundry are also helpful. Routines not only help keep families organized, they reduce stress and enable us to feel more in control.
2. The 15 Minute Family Huddle
Every week, have a short family meeting to discuss the weeks upcoming appointments, activities and other details. Use this planning session to go over all of the upcoming weeks to-dos, this is when details can be added to the calendar, like errands, deadlines or phone calls that need to be made. These meetings help families feel more in control as the week progresses and forgotten details are less likely, ensuring that stress levels stay low and last-minute emergencies are avoided.
3. 10 Minutes Each Night
Have each family member take 10 minutes before bedtime to get ready for the next day. Choose outfits, prepare lunches, pack everything that needs to go to school and set it by the door. Also, gather together after school supplies for activities. Doing this will make the mornings run smoother and will prevent items from being forgotten.
4. Delegated Household Tasks
This should never be a one-man job even for a stay at home parent. Each family member should be engaged in this process and can be assigned age appropriate household tasks. Even if your kids are busy, making them responsible for completing scheduled chores, will teach them valuable skills that transfer to adulthood. It takes teamwork to Keeping a family running smoothly, reinforcing this fact when kids are young will solidify this attitude as they grow older.
5. A Place for Everything
Having permanent homes for everything ensures that clutter is kept at bay and time is not wasted looking for things. Assign homes to everything you own and make sure other family members know where things go. Reinforce the rule that things need to be returned to their permanent homes when they are not being used.
6. Clutter Cutting Habits
By teaching kids helpful tidying habits like making their bed each morning, hanging up their back packs every day, cleaning up one toy or project before bring out another, etc. they learn valuable skills that will carry over in to adulthood. Reinforcing these important habits will go a long way not only in keeping the home organized now, but in helping kids develop automated organizing skills that will last a lifetime.
7. Twice a Year Purge
Families today have a substantial amount of stuff coming into the home on a regular basis. For this reason, it is important to take time twice a year to de-clutter and purge items that are no longer being used. By moving unwanted items out of the house on a regular basis, you balance what is coming in with what’s going out. Establish a box labeled DONATE and communicate with each family member so that everyone knows where to put their unwanted items. Then make it a priority to move it all out twice a year.
8. Practice Saying No
Today, many families overbook their days, not wanting to miss out on activities and opportunities. We also struggle with saying “no” to our kids and to requests for commitments because we feel pressured. But learning to say no when we have reached a limit is the best thing that we can do for ourselves and for our kids. Limit the number of activities you and your children participate in. This will ensure that your family has time to get important tasks done and stay organized on a daily basis. It also it will allow you to build in “down” time into each day. Scheduling “down” time where nothing is going on will ensure that every family member including yourself has time to unwind and refuel.
9. One Family Calendar
It is helpful to have one central family calendar that everyone uses, whether that be a paper calendar or a digital one that everyone’s phones are synced to. Having everything on the calendar and having only one that everyone uses will ensure that nothing is forgotten.
10. Don’t Put Off the Predictable
Just as it is much less stressful not to wait until the last minute to do a homework assignment, it promotes peace to get predictable, scheduled activities out of the way ahead of time rather than waiting until the last minute. For Example: Shopping for Saturday nights’ dinner party well in advance rather than waiting until Saturday morning allows extra time for any unexpected surprises that might pop up.
Back when my kids were still in grade school, we were hustling through our morning routine, when my daughter Emily came running to me. She announced that she could not find her school uniform jumper. I calmly ensured her that it was hanging in the laundry room, clean and ready to be put on. “It’s not there Mom!”She barked back. I was confident that it was there so I told her to look again, sure that she would find it. But of course, she didn’t find it, so with a sigh; I trudged into to the laundry room to retrieve it myself. When I got there, I could not find it either, and I could feel anxiety and frustration boiling up inside me. Now I was the one going into crisis mode. We had to leave for school in 10 minutes; and it was going to be 95 degrees that day so wearing her hot pants were out of the question.
I knew for sure that it was hanging there yesterday…yet it had vanished mysteriously. I ran around the house frantically looking for the jumper. After 10 minutes of frenzied searching, my older daughter Maddie, was the one who happened to take notice of what my youngest one was wearing, Cassie, who was 6 had gotten dressed and was indeed ready to go, but her school jumper, which was supposed to go to her knees, nearly reached her ankles. The mystery had been solved, and I laughed at myself for being so busy panicking that I hadn’t even noticed her. Jumpers were quickly traded and we piled into the car, arriving to school without a minute to spare.
Once the crisis had past, the whole event turned out to be quite amusing. Though, big picture, this was not a large issue, it still managed to derail our morning. This is a perfect example of how one little mishap can turn a normal calm morning sour and stress levels can escalate in a heartbeat. We thought we had everything planned and ready to go, but still, unexpected chaos found its way into our home that morning. If you are a parent, you know exactly what I mean, craziness can happen without warning. It seems that these occasional crisis’s are simply part of family life and while we can’t avoid these roller coaster moments entirely, having helpful organizational routines in place for staying on top of things can go a long way to help us feel more in control when the unexpected does occur. Routines give us a sense of security and predictability that bring us comfort. They also help us to get more done and forget less.
Planning Sessions for Moms
One especially useful routine for minimizing family chaos, is scheduling a 20-30 minute planning session for yourself at the beginning of each week. You can greatly reduce the day to day stress of managing a busy family and feel more in control by doing this one thing. I do mine on Mondays, but they can be done anytime that works best for you. If we dive into each week without taking the time to plan ahead, everything comes at us without warning and we feel like we are simply managing one crisis after another.
Use a weekly planning session to examine your calendar and make sure that you are prepared for each of the week’s upcoming activities and appointments. Add things like errands, household chores, meetings and phone calls to ensure that they will get done. This will help you to catch things that may have been overlooked, like two conflicting appointments or the fact that your daughter has her first soccer practice this week and still needs soccer cleats. Make a to-do list for any other tasks that need to get done as well. You can also use this time to plan out your family’s meals for the week and make a quick grocery list for the items you need to pick up from the store. By doing this, you should only need to visit the grocery store once a week, which will save you time. This planning session can also be used to make out a weekly chore chart for your kids and pay any bills that are due.
If you can include a planning session in your weekly routine and stick with it, you will feel more prepared and in control on a daily basis. You will also get more done. More importantly, you will reduce the potential for any unexpected chaos that may be looming ahead. Instill a little much needed peace into your family’s busy week and add weekly planning sessions to your calendar.
Written By Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free Professional Organizing Services
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.