Now that we’ve brought home Baby #3, staying on task and organized is harder than ever. And while part of the answer is learning to be happy with more mayhem, I have picked up a few organization tips to keep things from sliding into complete chaos.
There are two main themes to all of my suggestions: preparation and education. That is, prep as much as possible ahead of time, as something will always happen at the last minute to throw you off course. Education could also optimistically be termed empowerment, as it’s all about getting your kids involved in the process and learn to do more things for themselves.
I received a complimentary starter pack from stickerkid; however, all opinions are my own.
Organization Tips for Families with Young Children
10. Start a load of laundry first thing in the morning: I got this piece of advice several years ago, and it really has made a difference. It’s amazing how much time gets absorbed every morning with breakfast, making sure everyone has gone potty, etc. Before I turn around, it seems like we’re already halfway to lunch. So I make sure that first thing I start a load of laundry, and by the time I get through that first round of essential tasks, it’s already done and ready to be moved to the dryer, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something!
9. Have set routines that everyone takes part in: Call them chores, routines, whatever works, these are tasks that your kids complete on a daily basis. Work together to establish routines that everyone can agree on then be as consistent as possible. It is worth the effort, believe me! Not only are you helping your kids be more independent, but you are saving yourself valuable time in the end. With time, they’ll need less prompting and will be able to do more and more of it on their own.
8. Do menu planning and have a (more or less) set shopping day: Menu planning is one of those organization tips everyone talks about, but it’s not just a myth – it really works! I have a set of index cards where I’ve written down the meals we make regularly, divided by category: Soups, Weekend Meals, etc. Then I just have to flip through those to come up with a menu plan for the week. (See some of my favorite meal ideas on my Easy Dinners Pinterest board). Then from there is a a cinch to write up a shopping list. Having a set shopping day is more important as your kids get older and you are adding in set activities like soccer practice, and so on. For me it’s helpful to know which day I’ll be going to the store, because I’ll plan that far in advance.
7. Reusable shopping lists: I started using reusable shopping lists when my oldest was little. These are really helpful if you and your partner share shopping duties, or if, like me, you have an extreme case of Mommy brain and tend to forget at least one or two essential items with every shopping trip. For each of our regular stores, I wrote up a list of items we buy from there then laminated them and hung them up inside our pantry. During the week, I can check off items I can see we’ll need to refill. There’s also plenty of room to write in items that aren’t on our regular list. Then before I make a trip, I go through the list and check on all the items to see if there’s anything I missed. No more coming home from the store just to realize we’re out of my son’s favorite snack! These lists are also helpful for those times when my husband calls and offers to stop at the store on his way home from work. It never fails that he calls when I’m in the middle of a diaper change or a heated argument between the boys. This way I can just glance inside the pantry door and rattle off to him what we need.
6. Kids’ drawers and shelves: Have a number of designated drawers and shelves in your kitchen that are accessible for your kids. That way they can get their own plates and silverware at meal times, help put away clean dishes, and get their own snacks. My husband also went through their bedrooms and made sure all the drawers were in working order and safe for kids – important, since we bought several dressers second hand, and originally a few of the drawers didn’t have stoppers, so they’d come all the way out when pulled too hard (as kids are likely to do!) Besides taking the burden off of you, it’s also very empowering for the kids to be able to take care of things for themselves.
5. Build in “clean up” times: I love to give my kids plenty of time for free play, yet somehow for them this translates into pulling all the cushions off the sofa and dumping every toy box onto the floor. Rather than let things build up until the end of the day, we have several designated “clean up” times during the day. That doesn’t mean they have to put away the toys they are actively playing with, but before lunch and dinner, we go through and put away those that they’re no longer using. Besides making sure clean up time isn’t so overwhelming (and that I don’t go crazy in between), it also helps them get used to a rhythm of play and clean up.
4. Keep your bag stocked with essentials and non-perishables: With three young children, we carry a lot of gear whenever we go out, so rather than have to scramble to get ready each time – on top of making sure everyone has gone potty or gotten a diaper change, gotten shoes on, etc. – I restock my bag after each trip so it’s ready for next time. And while I do my best to take along fresh fruit as snacks, I also keep a number of healthy, non-perishable items in the bag to round things out or for those days when cutting up an apple is just not happening if we want a chance of making it out the door on time.
3. Keep a donation box in your closet: With young children, it seems like they are constantly outgrowing clothes or losing interest in toys. For a long time we held onto these for the next child coming along, but now that we have had our last baby, we’re beginning the cycle of gradually passing these on to other families. I have a box (sometimes several!) in my closet for clothes and toys we no longer need, which we periodically take to charities in our area, like a local school for homeless children. It’s an easy way for your family to get involved in charity, plus it keeps down the clutter in your house.
2. Library bags: In our house, we have books coming out of our ears. Every trip we take to the library, we max out each of our library cards to the limit of how many books we can check out. So keeping track of all of these is a big issue for us! My solution was to have several designated library bags that live in my closet in between trips. If I get a notice that a book is due soon (and I’m not able to renew it), or if I see ones that the kids really aren’t interested in, I stash them in the library bags right away. In fact, I usually do a sweep of the house not only just before we head to the library but just after. The “just after” sweep is for those books that I’m not sure about – but if they last in the library bag for a week or two without anyone missing them, I know they’re safe to return. If not, I can always pull them out and keep them for another few weeks.
1. Labels: A recent find are these adorable sticker labels from stickerkid. They are completely customizeable labels for all of your kids’ belongings – from water bottles and umbrellas to shoes and shirts. Never worry about your child’s backpack getting mixed up with another child’s at school, or your super cute snack cups getting confused with someone else’s at the park.
These labels are easy to apply, and – I love this! – you can even pick clothing labels that can be removed later, to pass down clothes to another child or donate them (see #3 above). So convenient! I also love that you and your child get to sit down and customize the labels when you order. We had so much fun doing ours! You can choose from all sorts of designs and colors, even different languages! So not only will you make sure your items are safe at daycare or school, your child will have lots of fun with them!
If you’d like to try them out, be sure to use the Discount Code SG10STICKERKI7_R9 to get 10% off!
Find more tips for your home on my Household board on Pinterest, and share yours in the comments!