It’s not easy managing a family’s activities, so we compiled our favorite time management tips for busy moms and dads.
Managing multiple people’s lives gets complicated. We get it! It’s enough to give you a headache. But there are ways to get more organized at home. For stay-at-home and working parents alike, it’s about setting up a system you can stick to and using a few handy tools that work for your family’s needs. Try these tips for keeping multiple schedules and projects straight.
Organized Mom Tip #1:
Choose Your Tools
Not all organized moms operate the same way. Consider your family situation and your personal preferences. If you’re the keeper of the master schedule, consider putting pen to paper in a fancy planner. If you share scheduling duties with another parent, an online calendar such as Google Calendar might work better. Since it syncs across phones and computers, it can help you avoid pitfalls like double-booking Saturday morning playdates or signing up for too many activities during the same week. “The most useful trick is to always include your spouse or partner on calendar invites to make sure they’re in the loop,” says Alex Toccin, who manages two kids and an upscale clothing brand of luxe staples company with her husband, Michael.
Are your children old enough to get involved? A smart option for families with kids who can read and possibly even schedule outings themselves: a classic wall calendar in the kitchen, where everyone can easily check it. And since it’s part of your decor, choose one that fits your aesthetic; Schoolhouse and Chat Board offer beautiful ones. “My husband and I sit down on Sundays and see what’s going on that week,” says mom of three (soon to be four!) kids and content creator Ciera Hudson. She and her husband add appointments, classes, and even dinner ideas to a big dry-erase calendar that hangs on their fridge. “It’s helpful to involve the kids,” she says. “Our six-year-old can look at it to see what’s going on.”
Organized Mom Tip #2:
Ditch the Handouts
At the beginning of the school year, put all the important dates—vacations, holidays, conferences—on the calendar of your choice. When you get the soccer schedule at the start of the season, add every practice and game. By putting all the particulars in one place, you won’t have to reference a random slew of papers pinned to a bulletin board or stuck on your refrigerator. You add the information to your master calendar, then toss the papers in the recycling bin.
Organized Mom Tip #3:
Recruit an Assistant
They’re called smart speakers for a reason, so put your Amazon Echo, Google Nest, or Apple HomePod to work doing more than playing music while you cook or research useful facts like Chris Hemsworth’s height. Ask your friendly assistant to remind you when it’s time to leave for ballet class or that you need to pack your son’s lunch in a paper bag for his field trip tomorrow. (Keep in mind, you may need to configure your assistant’s settings in advance so it can provide reminders.) For tweens and teens with responsibilities at home, let your smart speaker do the nagging, er, reminding, so you don’t have to be the bad cop telling them to take out the trash for the thousandth time.
Organized Mom Tip #4:
Build in Time for Your Pet Projects
If you’re hoping to find time for a hobby or task that’s hung out on your to-do list for far too long, remember this: Hope is not a strategy! Projects should be added to the calendar too. Especially during colder months where the weather may keep you inside, you may find you actually have an extra 2-3 hours to get started on a project. So, even if it’s a few months in advance, add it as a placeholder on a Saturday in January: “Create a book of the kids’ artwork” or “Start a new knitting project.” Then, be sure whatever you need for your project is close at hand: Corral those favorite pieces of art into an easy-to-grab folder, and pick up skeins of yarn and the right size needles. When the date arrives, pull out your project and get to work. Something came up that day after all? Bump it to another date in the near future. It’s more likely you’ll actually get it done when you treat it like any other “must-do.”
Organized Mom Tip #5:
Curate a Recipe Collection
From meal ideas to grocery shopping, dinner requires a lot of preparation—and frustration for many. Streamlining the process will free up hours for other pastimes. Consider binding all your favorite recipes into a beautiful recipe book from Plum Print, in collaboration with Giada De Laurentiis. “Like so many families, my most memorable times have been centered around the kitchen table, enjoying recipes and stories that have been passed down through generations,” the celeb chef says. No more rifling through an overstuffed box of mismatched index cards or pages torn from magazines when it’s time to meal plan! With all your go-to dishes and family faves in one place, weekly meal prep will be a breeze. You’ll save time by cooking through the book, not to mention saving money by making use of ingredients you have, instead of letting them stay hidden for months under the frozen waffles!
Start using these tips today and you’ll find that you, too, can be an “organized mom” (or dad). You’ll not only get all the essentials done, but you’ll also have created time for fun!