(4 ½ minute read) When I was making big changes in my life (and I mean BIG-as in moving to the burbs after 17 years in NYC while simultaneously transitioning from my corporate career to developing GAALS) I needed to make money and decided to do something that comes naturally to me – organizing!
While the business I started, M.O.M. (Most Organized Mom) was short-lived, I enjoyed every minute of it. But as my children got older and continued adding to their list of activities, hobbies, wants, and needs, I found it more challenging to stay organized (especially with everything I had going on for myself, transitioning back into the working world and running GAALS). I needed to make my life easier somehow. And I needed to find more time in my day. By creating / finding effective and efficient systems, I would be able to do both.
I’ve decided to share my organizing tips and tricks with my beloved GAALS community because getting back into the swing of things at the start of the school year can be challenging. And in my type-A opinion, all of the organizing articles I see are basic. No specific methods. So instead of more fluff, I figured I’d share my own systems; with hopes that you’ll find them as useful as I do.
In the hub of your home (for me – the kitchen)
have a bulletin board or binder with the following info sheets.
Note: I also take pics of each sheet with my phone
so I can access the info anywhere anytime!
1) Important Names and Numbers
Having one sheet with your home address, phone numbers for your family, neighbors, school and emergency numbers is super helpful. I also include my children’s dosage of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, so I have it at my fingertips. Also consider including home service providers.
Your contact list might look something like this:
- Your home number and address
- Emergency numbers: 911, police, poison control, alarm
- Family & Important phone numbers: Mom, dad, siblings, Grandparents, aunts and uncles, Baby sitters, Neighbors, Close friends
- Address and phone numbers for Schools, Doctors, Pharmacy
- House Service Contacts:
- Vet, Dog Walker, Groomer, Boarder
- Gas & Electric Company
- Landscaping & Sprinklers
- Plumber & Electrician
- Insurance comp (car & home)
- Auto repair / maintenance
- Cable, Internet & Phone
- Roof, gutters, chimney, hvac, cesspool
2) Numbers, Emails, & Addresses for Friends of Your Child
Make an excel spreadsheet with one tab for each child. Write their friends’ names, their mom/dad’s name, email, phone number, and address. I email the list to myself, and print out copies for my purse, house, and car. This way, when I have to pick up one of my daughters, I know exactly where I’m going (so does my hubby and babysitter).
I also include what days their friends are free for when I need someone to watch my child or pick them up from school. This was also useful when my children became old enough to call and make their own playdates. They were able to see who is free and when, and could call to make plans instead of relying on me to do it.
Note: I recommend putting this contact information in your phone contacts. You can make one contact (ie: Jen’s friends), then copy and paste your list into the notes section.
- Mom’s emails & phone number and home addresses
- Friends’ phone numbers (if they have phones)
- Days/Times each friend is available / unavailable to have a playdate
3) School Schedules
Knowing which days your elementary school kids have to wear sneakers for gym and which day they have to bring their library book or instrument to school can alleviate extra trips you might need to make to bring what they’ve forgotten-I’ve learned that the hard way. Make a list and post it on the door or hang it with their backpack. And get your children in the habit of checking it before they leave the house. I’m a huge proponent of teaching responsibility from an early age.
When you have children in middle or high school, when schedules and teachers change several times in any given day, knowing which class he/she is in at a certain time can be useful. Especially when scheduling appointments that can’t be made after school, like getting braces off. It can also assist you if you have to get in touch with your child and/or drop off something at school that they need – like their sports bag that they need for their big game that night.
4) After School Activities and Sports Game Schedules
Make a list of activities for each day of the week. Include the address and specifics about pickup, like whether you need to go into the building to get them and/or where to go. You may want to include friends in your child’s class, and their parents’ phone numbers, in case you (or anybody who might be doing the deed for you that day) are running late and/or need a ride for your child.
- Name of Class
- Time of Class
- Specific info about pickup (ie: you must go in, which door to wait at, etc)
- If applicable: carpool schedule
Regarding schedules, it’s also helpful to have a wipe-off calendar somewhere that everyone can easily see. I’ve tried monthly and weekly cals, but find the weekly ones work best since they provide more space. And we need it!
Perhaps one of the best tips I can provide:
In the calendar app on my phone, I created various color-coded calendars: one for personal and one for work (you can sort by calendar, which is pretty handy). But the most useful thing is the shared calendar. I created accounts for my children and now our whole family shares a calendar with all of our family/kid commitments (prior to my daughter getting a phone, she accessed it on an ipad). Now, I’ve gotten my girls into the habit of checking the calendar before they make plans, to see if we have anything scheduled. Given they are older and more independent, I ask them to add their plans to the calendar so I can also plan around them. ie: when they get a party invitation, they input the time and location.
I use the calendar app for everything. Now that I have one daughter in middle school and one in high school, their schedule changes by the day. On our shared calendar, for each day of school I write whether it’s an A, B, etc day. I didn’t do this when my oldest daughter was in middle school. I left it to her to figure out. But in high school, she can leave early two days out of the six on her schedule (some kids get to go in late!), so it helps me plan better.
I also have a shared calendar with my husband, which I use for things like when I have something at night and he needs to be home for the children. Before making a weeknight plan (without the other), we check the calendar. Our deal: if you want to do something and see the other person has a commitment, you’re responsible for figuring out how to make it work.
5) Lunch, Dinner & Snacks
If your child buys school lunch, print the monthly menu and have your child circle the lunches that they want, so you can plan when lunch needs to be made. To make that dreaded task easier, make a list by category (ie: proteins, carbs, fruits, veggies, snacks) and provide all of the options (foods they like) under each. Then have your child circle one from each category each time he/she brings lunch. Or even better, have them use it as a checklist as they prepare lunch for themselves!
After school, kids often grab what’s quick. Having a healthy snack list is great because when children look at it they’re reminded of simple nutritious choices, like carrots with hummus or banana with peanut butter.
When it comes to dinner, I often forget about some of the foods my kids like. I made a list of proteins, vegetables, and carbs that we serve for dinner. Seeing it in black and white makes it easy for me, and for the kids.
It’s a lot of work to keep a family and home running. I’m not a fan of allowance as I don’t believe my children should get paid to do things that help (after all, no one pays me!) Having a chore/job chart (just like they have at school and camp) is a good way to go. Our list shows each day and what they need to do. When I created it, I kept in mind their after school schedule (ie: if one child has a long commitment on Monday, their chore is a quickie). The most helpful chore I task them with is dropping down everyone’s laundry. Each does it once a week on a designated night. I remind them when they need to include the sheets. Next is asking them to sort!
Just do It-You’ll Thank Yourself Later
I know, to somebody who isn’t quite as OCD as I am, this all might sound like a bit much. Getting organized seems to be more time consuming-and sometimes even daunting-than it is worth. But I promise, once you put in a little bit of work on the front end and get all these elements up and running, the ease of mind and time gained on the back end is WELL worth it. Making these things a habit and daily part of life has made my families life run so much smoother, and I am confident that it can do the same for you!
Share with us…
Our goal at GAALS is to provide best practices that will aid you in helping your daughter to build character, confidence and life skills. However, we recognize that there is no one size fits all solution for parenting. That’s why we are grateful when we hear questions and comments. It enables us to see new perspectives, and to pass along our learnings to our community. Please email us at info@GAALSusa.comShare: