Aug 3, 2011

WFMW: Back-To-School Time Management For Busy Families

As the kids start back to school, life starts to get crazy again.  Homework, sports practice, lessons, recitals, games, church, girl/boy scouts, social activities...the list could go on and on.

But the key to staying sane is being organized and managing your family's time effectively.

Think I'm an expert at that?

You'd be wrong.

BUT, I *have* learned a few tricks along the way that help me to keep us mostly organized and prepared for all we have to fit into our busy days. 

Today, I am sharing some with you!  First, I have a few BIG tips that help me.  And finally, I will list some quick specific tips that I have found useful.  Here we go!

Big Tips:

-Invest in a good calendar!  This might be the single best purchase I ever made!  Having a calendar that is in a central location, that everyone can see is KEY to making things run smoothly.  That way, husband and wife, (and kids!), are all on the same page in terms of what is coming up.  In fact, my husband is so well trained that if I forget to write something down on it that we have to do, he now says, "if it's not on the calendar, it doesn't exist!".  The one I use is Amy Knapp's Big Grid Family Organizer.  It is a 17 month calendar and includes lines, which is nice to keep things from getting all jumbled , and also a space on each day for a dinner menu so that I can plan those out as well!  I {Heart} my calendar in a BIG way!

-Plan Ahead!  This is also something I am *kind of* passionate about.  I think that it's so important to look ahead into the month, (and maybe the next), to see what's coming up for your family.  That way, everyone is aware, and if changes need to be made, they are not being made at the last minute.  Plus, it will help you to not over extend yourself or your kids.  Another advantage to planning ahead is getting great deals, and not losing out on things.  For example, you don't want to get to December and realize that all the tickets for that show you want to see are sold out, or the doll your daughter wants for Christmas is now out of stock.

-Make a List!  I am a HUGE list maker.  I make one at least once a week, and during busier times, once a day!  They are my to-do lists, and without them, many things would fall through the cracks.  Because my brain doesn't remember things like it used to, and because trying to remember EVERYTHING for all four of us, well, just doesn't always work.  Sooo, I write it down.  And don't just write down the big things like PTO meeting, or Bake cupcakes for the class.  Write down the small but important stuff too, like, 'call (insert friend's name here) and make plans to get together next week, or 'go on a walk 4 times this week'.  Because your "little" stuff is important too and you need it to keep you happy!

-Keep a Routine!  My girls don't allow this to be an option in our family.  They really need routine to help them feel secure and well adjusted.  But it really *is* a good idea for all families.  If you keep things in a routine, you are less likely to forget stuff.  For example, if you always pack lunches the night before, you won't forget in the morning and get a call from school at 10am asking you to bring it over.  Also, homework routines are truly helpful for making sure all the work gets done everyday.  For us, the kids can have a snack when they get home, and then it's homework time.  Your family may need to do it differently, but whatever works for you, build it into a routine!  Another routine that is key is bedtime!  Kids do better when they get plenty of sleep, and it gives parents time to catch up and get ready for the next day.

-Ask For Help!  No mom can do it all.  And we all have different strengths and weaknesses.  So be willing to ask for help and ACCEPT IT WHEN PEOPLE OFFER!  Also be willing to realize that all things do not have to be done by you!  Too busy to help with that school craft you promised to make?  Ask a friend!  You need someone to help with the treats you don't have time to make?  Buy them at the bakery (no one will care!)!  Can't fix that leaky sink?  Call an expert!  It's fine.  Even Martha Stewart isn't 'Martha Stewart' all the time.

Quick Tips

-Lay out clothes the night before

-Make a monthly meal plan, (it saves money and time!)

-Pack the kids backpacks the night before and re-check in the morning, (you would be surprised at what you miss)

-Keep numbers you need programmed into your mobile phone.  That way, you can call and make appointments while you are out running errands.  Some I keep are: school and transportation, doctors, salon, restaurants and pizza (for carry-out on busy nights), Electric Company, Cable Company, and the bakery :)

-Plan in some fun time!  I always make sure we work in down time to our schedule so it doesn't all become a never-ending to-do list!

-Exercise when you have time!  (Wish I actually did this all the time...).  But whether it's early in the morning, or 15 minutes while the kids have lunch, work it in.  I am learning that every minute counts, so don't tell yourself just because you don't have 30 solid minutes, you can't do it.  Do what you can!

-Do at least a load of laundry a day.  It keeps it from getting overwhelming and even if it's not what you, (or the kids) want, you at least have something clean to wear every day.

-Do dishes early in the morning.  That way, they are out of the way and you don't have a messy counter and sink when you are making lunches and dinner, (again, wish I always took my own advice here)

-keep the craft boxes supplied!  It is my go-to when the kids are bored and it always saves the day!

-keep extra snacks, wipes, and a change of clothes (for the kids), in the car.  You never know when you will need them!

-make bigger meals on the weekends and freeze them for busy nights. 

-Save big jobs (like cleaning out the garage), for less busy times.  Don't overwhelm yourself!

-Have a place for your mail and make sure to set a time each week to do bills, answer letters etc.  That way, your cable won't get turned off because you forgot about it.  (Yes, that has happened to me...)

-Keep wipes in your bathroom even if your kids don't need them anymore.  That way, when you haven't had time to clean, and someone stops over and you need to do a quick touch up, excuse yourself to the bathroom, and wipe it up! 

-Have a system for where kids put things when they get home!  For us, backpacks go by the door, shoes go in the shoe basket, and lunch box goes on the counter (so I don't find gross food the next day!).

-Be as flexible as you can!  I am a super planner, but I always try to leave a little room for flexibility because in this life, you just have to roll with the punches!

As Always, I am linking up with We Are THAT Family for Works For Me Wednesday!  Skip on over and check out all the other great ideas!


  1. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love the wipes in the bathroom idea so that when guests drop by I can run and do a "quick cleanup"!! Thanks for the ideas!


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