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Organizing Life in a Large Family

Disclosure: This post from my archives is being re-run as part of BlogHer’s Smart Mom’s Guide to Being Busy editorial series, brought to you by Rice Krispies and BlogHer.

I get asked a lot how I can possibly keep our family organized. Sometimes people are asking out of genuine curiosity and sometimes they are asking with that sarcastic tone in their voice that makes me smile sweetly and unleash a barrage of Southern “bless your heart” charm with a raised eyebrow. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. So today I thought I would share a few of the ways I organize our daily life.

1- The Master Calendar

This is vital to the management of our household. Everything goes on the calendar- Matt’s work commitments, the kids school schedule and after school activities, Mase’s pre-school and speech therapy schedule, doctors appointments….everything. It hangs across from our fridge where it is highly visible. I can take one look at the calendar and know exactly what is going on that week and where I need to be.

2- The Pocket Planner

I bought a wall calendar that came with a pocket planner to keep in my purse. I make a lot of appointments on the go while I’m waiting in the car rider line, or waiting for dance to be over, so I need to have access to the master calendar. Every appointment that goes on the master calendar goes into my pocket planner as well.

3- The Weekly Calendar

I found this awesome notepad in the Target Dollar Section awhile back and bought 8 of them. What can I say? I get excited and giddy about new organizational products. It’s a sickness really, I call it Type A Syndrome. I fill out 2 weeks at a time and hang them on the fridge. I write anything happening that week- appointments, parties, school stuff to remember, etc on the top part. At the bottom of each day I write what I’m making for dinner that night. It’s perfect because as I’m planning my weekly menu I can see what days I need to plan a fast and easy meal or plan to start a crockpot dinner early in the day.

4- The Dry Erase Board

I have several of these dry erase boards and I love them. The one that hangs on the front of the fridge is the main one I use every day. On Sundays I write out my to-do list for the week- all the things that must get done that I might forget about when I get busy. Below my master to-do list I also have a daily to-go list where I list the things from the master list that I plan to do on that particular day. Once they are done, I erase them off both lists. I also use this dry erase board to keep track of the kids medications. Zoey is cutting her 2 year old molars and Maia has an ear infection so I need to keep track of what times they’ve had medicine so they don’t end up with a double dose. The last thing on the board is the kids daily chores. Each day I fill in what chores the kids need to do before bedtime. They come home from school, do their homework, and check the chore chart.

5- The Meal Planning

I have been working on organizing my recipes into a system that works for the way I do my meal plans. I’m using the website Key Ingredient because it allows me to make separate cookbooks and also has an app that I can use on my iPhone, handy when I need to double check an ingredient while at the grocery store. I’ve been transferring my favorite recipes over for the past week. I had recipes saved on pinterest, in my bookmarks, on pocket….they were just scattered everywhere and it was taking me forever to sort through them all each week. I am separating my recipes into main categories to make it easy for me to pick meals for the week. My categories include Chicken: Crockpot, Chicken: Bake, Beef: Crockpot, Beef: Bake, Pasta: Crockpot, Pasta: Bake, Seafood, Pork, Soups, Fast & Easy, and Kid Approved. I’m sure I’ll add more as I go along but for now these are the main categories I use each week.

I hope that answers a few questions on how I organize life in our large family. In the past I have shared how I organize our household files, how I cut the kitchen paper clutter, and how I organized the front entryway closet.

How do you organize your family?



5 Ways to Make Your Morning Easier

 

 

It’s well established that I am not a morning person. Not even a little bit. If I had my choice I would not even crack open an eyelid until well after 10am. Unfortunately that is not an option. We are always on a time crunch in the mornings so I’ve had to find ways to save time and still make sure everyone is ready to go.

 

 

5 Ways to Make Your Morning Easier
 
 

1. Have outfits laid out beforehand. I lay out clothes for the week, not just the next day. Every Sunday I pick out clothes for the entire week- and not just for the kids. I lay my clothes out too. This saves me so much time in the mornings! I don’t have to scramble to find something clean to wear or battle with Maia over her outfit.

 

 

2. Gather supplies the night before. Every night I go through the kids backpacks and make sure they have everything they need. I check homework, sign agendas and permission slips, return forms, etc the night before so I know I’m not missing something in the morning rush. Backpacks are placed on the hooks in the front closet along with jackets and shoes are on the shelf below. We can just grab and go in the morning.

 

 

3. Set a lunch schedule. Maia likes to take her lunch to school a couple of times a week and Mase has to take his lunch to preschool 3 days a week. I put them on alternating schedules. Mase takes his lunch Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Maia takes her lunch Tuesday and Friday. When I’m doing my weekly menu plan I also plan lunches. That way there is no scrambling for lunch materials in the morning. Lunch items are grouped together in the fridge and anything non-perishable is packed the night before.

 

 

4. Give a time warning. I give the kids a 10 minute warning and then a 3 minute warning every morning. The 10 minute warning means they need to start wrapping up what they are doing and brush their teeth, put shoes on, use the restroom, and be ready to go. The 3 minute warning means we are leaving in 3 minutes so you better be heading for the van.

 

 

5. Limit distractions. There is no TV, no iPods, no video games in the morning. Period. It’s too easy for the kids to get distracted and then they move slower than molasses! So we just don’t turn those things on and it’s not an issue. This is the first year we have employed this rule and I cannot even tell you how much easier our morning are this school year.

 

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Organizing Life in a Large Family

I get asked a lot how I can possibly keep our family organized. Sometimes people are asking out of genuine curiosity and sometimes they are asking with that sarcastic tone in their voice that makes me smile sweetly and unleash a barrage of Southern “bless your heart” charm with a raised eyebrow. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. So today I thought I would share a few of the ways I organize our daily life.

1- The Master Calendar

This is vital to the management of our household. Everything goes on the calendar- Matt’s work commitments, the kids school schedule and after school activities, Mase’s pre-school and speech therapy schedule, doctors appointments….everything. It hangs across from our fridge where it is highly visible. I can take one look at the calendar and know exactly what is going on that week and where I need to be.

2- The Pocket Planner

I bought a wall calendar that came with a pocket planner to keep in my purse. I make a lot of appointments on the go while I’m waiting in the car rider line, or waiting for dance to be over, so I need to have access to the master calendar. Every appointment that goes on the master calendar goes into my pocket planner as well.

3- The Weekly Calendar

I found this awesome notepad in the Target Dollar Section awhile back and bought 8 of them. What can I say? I get excited and giddy about new organizational products. It’s a sickness really, I call it Type A Syndrome. I fill out 2 weeks at a time and hang them on the fridge. I write anything happening that week- appointments, parties, school stuff to remember, etc on the top part. At the bottom of each day I write what I’m making for dinner that night. It’s perfect because as I’m planning my weekly menu I can see what days I need to plan a fast and easy meal or plan to start a crockpot dinner early in the day.

4- The Dry Erase Board

I have several of these dry erase boards and I love them. The one that hangs on the front of the fridge is the main one I use every day. On Sundays I write out my to-do list for the week- all the things that must get done that I might forget about when I get busy. Below my master to-do list I also have a daily to-go list where I list the things from the master list that I plan to do on that particular day. Once they are done, I erase them off both lists. I also use this dry erase board to keep track of the kids medications. Zoey is cutting her 2 year old molars and Maia has an ear infection so I need to keep track of what times they’ve had medicine so they don’t end up with a double dose. The last thing on the board is the kids daily chores. Each day I fill in what chores the kids need to do before bedtime. They come home from school, do their homework, and check the chore chart.

5- The Meal Planning

I have been working on organizing my recipes into a system that works for the way I do my meal plans. I’m using the website Key Ingredient because it allows me to make separate cookbooks and also has an app that I can use on my iPhone, handy when I need to double check an ingredient while at the grocery store. I’ve been transferring my favorite recipes over for the past week. I had recipes saved on pinterest, in my bookmarks, on pocket….they were just scattered everywhere and it was taking me forever to sort through them all each week. I am separating my recipes into main categories to make it easy for me to pick meals for the week. My categories include Chicken: Crockpot, Chicken: Bake, Beef: Crockpot, Beef: Bake, Pasta: Crockpot, Pasta: Bake, Seafood, Pork, Soups, Fast & Easy, and Kid Approved. I’m sure I’ll add more as I go along but for now these are the main categories I use each week.

I hope that answers a few questions on how I organize life in our large family. In the past I have shared how I organize our household files, how I cut the kitchen paper clutter, and how I organized the front entryway closet.

How do you organize your family?



LESSONS LEARNED DURING THE STORM OF 2009

#1: The meteorologists will be wrong. They always are.

#2: The power will go out. It always goes out.

#3: Waiting until the power goes out to search for flashlights and batteries is a Very Bad Idea.

#4: There will never be enough of the right size of batteries.

#5: Telling the kids that it’s just like camping will sound more appealing if you’re not weeping and fondling the remote.

#6: Being Amish would suck.

#7: The 800 number reported by the news to call in power outages is the wrong number.

#8: If you press 1, you will then have phone sex with Candy Cane.

#9: Candy Cane is not a girl.

#10: Two hours of telling ghost stories is not a good idea right before bedtime.

#11: Ty is still scared of the dark.

#12: The dog is not fond of the dark either.

#13: The dog howls when scared.

#14: Three hours of staring at your spouse in the dark with no electronic background noise and nothing left to talk about is akin to waterboarding.

#15: You will forget to turn everything off when you give up and stumble to bed in the dark.

#16: Mase will wake up as soon as you fall asleep.

#17: Maia will wake up as soon as Mase falls back to sleep…in your bed.

#18: Ty will wake everyone up just minutes after you all fall back to sleep.

#19: It is not possible for 5 people to sleep comfortably in a Queen size bed.

#20: Your children will take over the bed and the covers leaving you shivering and half hanging off the side of the bed.

#21: Maia talks in her sleep. Loudly.

#22: Five people and a dog are not able to co-exist peacefully in a Queen size bed.

#23: The power will come back on at 3am and wake everybody up because you forgot to turn off 2 TV’s, a CD player and all the lights.

#24: The power will go off again at 3:30am, just to mess with your head.

#25: When morning finally arrives, the kids will be bright eyed and bushy tailed while you are dragging your tired ass around with less than 2 hours sleep.

#26: You cannot put a price on Children’s NyQuil. It’s liquid gold in a bottle.



Protected: THINGS I LEARNED FROM THE 4TH OF JULY THIS YEAR

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