Loose papers and schoolwork and chaos – oh my.
For the past year and a half, I’ve really focused on managing my stress load – integrating self-care, putting down the electronics, and connecting with my kids more…
Currently I’m also working on organizing my home, so I don’t feel as overwhelmed by my small kitchen, school papers, unopened mail, family schedules, first grade artwork, and fifty-five thousand other things. It’s especially tricky this time of year with Holiday parties, receiving and sending cards, and endless packages being shipped to our door.
I’ve been a partner with Responsibility.org and their #TalkEarly campaign for a couple years now, and last year at our summit in DC, organizational expert Rachel Rosenthal gave us some helpful tips on how to help our homes run smoothly.
I’ll be honest with you and admit right now that I’ve never really had an “instagram-worthy” home. In fact, my house is most often a semi-coordinated mess. I know that if I can get a handle on it, it will really help dissipate that feeling of overwhelm… I’m working on it, I swear! I’m just a little um, unorganized with my organization.
One thing I did do is set up a homework station. This way my boys have a place to do schoolwork that doesn’t involve the dining room table. While it is helpful to have school-related things isolated to one area, the area itself is not quite… as neat as I would’ve hoped.
Instead of looking like this:
It actually looks like this:
I mean, at least the explosion has been contained to one part of the house.
We cleaned it up a bit after I took that picture, I promise… and the more surface area we began to see, the easier we all started to breathe.My home organization style may not be Pinterest pretty, but simply clearing the clutter helps clear my mind. Click To Tweet
One of the organizational tips that Rachel Rosenthal spoke to us about was creating a “command center” for your home. This is a spot for the family calendar, things members of the family may need daily, etc. I’ve only gotten as far as putting up a cheap dry-erase calendar on the wall of our family room, but it’s already made a difference.
This way everyone has a place to go to find out what’s going on when… and it’s not just left up to me to remember piano books, or baseball gear. I’m hoping to put hooks/cubbies under this calendar for backpacks and such. My kids love looking at the calendar to see what’s going on for the week, and they’re taking on some of the responsibility of making sure they’re prepared for whatever the day holds.
Another super basic tip is one that so many mothers have touted the benefits of, but I never got around to doing it until several months ago – MEAL PLANNING! Seriously, I have no idea why I didn’t start this sooner. Not only does it help me grocery shop for the week and minimize spoilage, but it keeps me from having to hear “what’s for dinner” every single day. They just look at our little meal board in the kitchen.
Again, not instagram-worthy, but it gets the job done… and it feels great not to stress at the last minute while I dig through the refrigerator worried about what to make for dinner.
It’s amazing how a few little things can really lessen the chaos, and subsequently, some of the stress of family life.
Next up, I’ll be tackling my kitchen counter… and putting into practice Rachel’s “touch-once” policy. That means I deal with a piece of paper or mail as soon as I touch it… and it either gets signed/paid right away, filed for later, or thrown in the trash. I’ll let you know how this one goes… right now I “touch it once” to put it in a stack on the counter, “touch it again” to move it out of the way to cook, then “touch it another time” to put it in my husband’s stack because I’ve decided I don’t want to deal with it.
The most helpful things I’ve discovered so far in my organization journey, is that involving my children is the key ingredient. They don’t need to ask me what’s for dinner – they simply read the board. They don’t need me to tell them what’s on tap for the day – they can be responsible enough to read the family calendar and prepare accordingly. They can be in charge of what school papers/projects get kept and what gets thrown away.I don't know why I thought I had to be solely responsible for keeping the whole family organized. Click To Tweet
This is all clearly a work in progress for me, but I’m glad I’ve put some of this into place before the Holidays – when things can get a little “extra”. Extra holiday projects, extra school performances, extra mail, extra packages, extra family…
It can be stressful, and alleviating some of that stress makes it less likely I will go for “extra” alcohol to cope. I’m still trying to be mindful of keeping alcohol as an enjoyment for me and not a necessity.
It’s been a pleasure working with the #TalkEarly campaign this year. It’s a tremendous resource for parents – encouraging the modeling healthy behavior, and creating a lifetime of conversations with our kids about everything from school stress to alcohol and responsibility.
Happy Holidays to you all, and here’s to a healthy and somewhat organized New Year!
PS – Rachel Rosenthal is offering an online home organization course. If you are interested, you can find details here.
*This post is in partnership with Responsibility.org. All opinions are always my own.