Read these 53 Getting Organized Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Parent tips and hundreds of other topics.
Okay, The Hollywood Reporter just put out an article on the Anti-mom. The writer, spoke about how the evolution of the mom has changed from the Donna Reed and June Cleaver days to what we see now.
No longer do women vaccum and clean house while wearing high heels and pearls and do it all with a smile. Now, many tv moms are neurotic, hysterical, unorganized, or too organized (think Bree Van de Camp), but they are flawed. Brilliantly, realistically flawed. They freak out, they screw up, they fall on their faces, and they are fierce defenders of family, all while being flawed.
Thank goodness, because I'm not a big fan of wearing high heels unless I'm going out and as for pearls, again they are for special occasions. Now as for the defender of family, I could take on the entire Taliban and I'd kick their collective asses if they tried to hurt my kids, but you wouldn't hear June Cleaver say that. She'd bake them a pie and offer to iron their robes. Of course, I doubt the actress would do so.
The point is moms (and dads) are flawed and it's fine. In fact, it's normal.
So what that you can't clean the house, do the grocery shopping, clean, fold, and put away the laundry, make a pot roast with vegetables that everyone will be happy to eat and run the kids to school all before noon AND do it all with a smile and freshly ironed clothes.
Hey, I don't own much that I have to iron, jeans and t-shirts are my usual style and most meals with vegetables, even the ones they like, start with "but I wanted candy for dinner."
And yet, we as parents, find ourselves thinking we don't do enough, be enough, worth enough when we're all attempting the hardest job in the universe--the ultimate in on-the-job training--raising our children.
So the next time you think you're supposed to be like June Cleaver or even Martha Stewart--remember this: June Cleaver is a fictious character and everything she served was prepared by someone else. And Martha? Well, I don't think she has time for much housework so ironic how she tells you how to keep yours, isn't it?
Basically, appreciate what you do everyday--love and care for your children. After that, the rest is superficial.
To store your kids' markers so that the caps are never lost, fill a shallow plastic container with plaster of Paris. Then place the marker caps upside down in the wet plaster. When the plaster is dry, place the markers in their new permanent homes. Now the caps won't disappear, and the markers are always ready to use.
If your dream job would be to work from home, make money and stay home with your kids, the best way to start out is to take it slow. The best solution may not be to create an independent business right now but to work for someone else at home. Don't quit a day job or throw money into an at-home venture impulsively. You may end up losing money and falling further behind.
To prevent sticky and cold hands when your child eats her next popsicle, use a small yogurt container or margarine lid and cut a slit in the middle of it. Slide the lid upside down onto the popsicle stick and it will collect any juice and drippings within the rims of the lid.
To keep kids entertained in a doctor's waiting room, I make a list of ten simple items (like a ball, or a red car) and we play scavenger hunt. The kids search in books or magazines for pictures of each item. As they show them to me, I check them off the list. The first to find all items wins.
To clean you child's bath toys and prevent mildew build up, put them in a net laundry bag. Fill the tub halfway with water and add some bleach. Place the toys in the bag, and let them sit for about an hour. Rinse the toy bag off with water. When you are finished, you will have both clean toys and a clean bathtub.
To organize day-to-day tasks and keep them from becoming too overwhelming, set aside specific activities for each day of the week. Eg) one day for laundry, one for housecleaning, one for shopping, etc. You'll feel more in control and less guilty for not completely certain tasks.
To avoid losing puzzle pieces that fall out of puzzle boxes, put each puzzle in its own resealable plastic bag. Cut the picture off the box top and include it in the bag, so you will know which puzzle is which. The bags are easier for kids to handle, and won't break like the boxes do.
To organize a messy medicine cabinet, diaper-wipe containers can be a life-saver. Categorize your items, (such as first-aid, make-up, pain relievers, etc.) and put them in their own containers. You will save time by not having to search for what you need, and nothing will get lost behind a bottle or jar.
To organize and remember your family's events, keep all family activities, appointments, birthdays, and school events on one calendar. Color code notations for each child with a different colored pen or marker (blue for Jimmy, red for Suzie, etc.). Transfer from last year's calendar important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries.
To make toy cleanup easier, we use large plastic containers along the wall, and designate each one for a particular type of toy: cars, dolls, blocks, etc. Each night, the kids load up their shopping carts with toys and place them in the corresponding bins. It's fast, fun and teaches sorting skills.
To prevent your children's clothing from becoming stained, and to keep it looking like new, you can treat the fabric with Scotchguard. You can purchase a can in most department stores. Simply spray the clothing before washing the first time, allow to dry, and launder as usual. In the future, you will be amazed at what you can simply wipe off your children's clothes.
To keep instruction booklets and receipts from new purchases organized, try placing them in clear plastic sheets for three-ring binders. You may have one binder for baby items, one for electronics, etc., or use a large binder and tab the sections. You can easily flip through to find what you need, and it is much easier than digging through piles of paper.
When planning an at home business, break down past jobs into their parts to evaluate your skills. Do you have computer or organizational experience? You may have to volunteer or take a class to hone your skills. The information-technology field is particularly fertile for at-home work. For something low-tech, such as baking wedding cakes, try your culinary hand as a hobbyist first -- and consider formal classes at a community college or other professional cooks' training program.
To keep your child from becoming bored during errands, try making a boredom basket. Fill it with your child's favorite books, crayons, puzzles, toys, snacks, etc. When you reach your destination, your child then chooses which activity he would like to take inside and use. This way there is always a new "boredom buster" available.
To put an end to constantly tying your young child's shoes, try lacing their shoes with quarter-inch elastic instead of shoelaces. Your child will be able to simply pull on the shoes without tying and untying by stretching the elastic, and the elastic can be tied into a permanent bow. It will also increase your child's independence and make the rush out the door go a little bit smoother.
To help your child stay focused in the morning and finish getting ready for school, try using a timer. Separate your child's duties into categories - eg) dressing, eating, brushing teeth, etc. - and determine a reasonable amount of time to do each task. Set the timer once she begins each task, and make a game of beating the timer. If she beats the timer all week, offer a reward on Friday.
Your kids enjoy eating at fast food restaurants, yet you find it difficult to juggle the kids, money, tray and drinks in order to get settled at a table. The solution: get your meals at the drive-thru, then go inside to eat. Your food will be conveniently bagged, and the kids can still run around on the play structure.
If you find yourself stuck without a child's booster seat at meal time, you can make a quick and easy booster seat by placing several catalogs or old phone books in a pillowcase. Wrap the end of the pillowcase around the stack to hold them together. You now have an instant booster seat, just be cautious of the pillowcase slipping off the chair.
Young girls often have trouble telling the front from the back of their panties. To help them out, you can use a fabric or permanent marker to draw a design or initial on the front. She will learn that the picture goes in front and make getting dressed much easier for both of you.
If the kids plan to buy lunch or even just milk at school, organize envelopes with the correct amount of money for each child for each day during the week. Do this on a Saturday to avoid scrambling during the week for the right amount of change. Alternately, you could fill the envelopes and put them in the book bag each night, particularly if your little one might lose the envelope clutched in his or her little hands.
Before your child goes to bed at night, have him tell you he wants to eat for breakfast the next day. Help him get out the necessary materials, like bowl, spoon, etc., and have him set his place at the table. This will put an end to early morning breakfast decisions, and, best of all, everything will be waiting when you wake up.
To help toddlers with self-dressing, without limiting their independence, try having clothes pre-folded into packages of matching outfits, that are also weather-appropriate. For example, fold underwear inside a shirt, and fold them both into pants. Then your child just grabs a pack of clothes of his/her choice, and you know that it will match.
Once a year, take the school permission form, make a dozen copies, and throw them in a folder. If kids forget their permission forms, you'll have them, but they're also great to pass on to people or organizations that never ask for a form, such as soccer coaches, community art classes going on field trips, and so on. You'll feel more comfortable knowing medical information for your child is immediately accessible, if needed.
To stop young kids from playing with toilet paper and unrolling an entire roll, there is a simple, free alternative to the commercial products sold. Just place a rubber band around the roll. Your child can spin the roll until her heart's content, and all the adults need to do is move the band aside to get some paper.
To keep track of valuable magazine articles, keep a spiral notebook and a gluestick in a convenient place. Whenever you see an article you wish to keep, clip it out and glue it in the book. When you wish to reread an article, it will be at your fingertips. This is much easier than searching through piles of old magazines.
To help kids who have trouble remaining patient during shopping trips, try taking along a child's shopping cart, if the store does not provide one. Allow your child to push it down the aisle, and make sure to fill it with his favorite items. This should make shopping more enjoyable for you both.
To help teach kids sorting skills, and to keep the laundry under control, try using three hampers or containers. Together with your kids, cut out pictures or label containers - one for whites, one for darks, one for light-colored clothes. (They could also be color-coded containers) Each night, dirty clothes are sent to the correct container.
I have often found at playgroups and various outings where many children are that there are often several sippy cups that look exactly the same. Since young children are unable to read their name, I decided to put their own picture on their cup to identify it. This way they know they have their own cup at a glance, and it stops other kids from drinking from their cup too.
As a mom of young children, it may be very difficult to find the time to take a shower. One thing to try is to buy a clear shower curtain, and bring the kids (and some toys) into the bathroom with you. (Make sure you child proof first!) You can see what your kids are doing, and they'll like knowing that you are close by.
To avoid cranky, groggy kids on the first day of school, move bedtime back gradually. A week before school starts, move bedtime a bit earlier every night until you've moved it back to the time you want the kids to be in bed on school nights. Teachers everywhere will thank you!
To organize meal planning and grocery shopping, use an extra calendar to write down your meals for the upcoming week. Choose a night to plan ahead your meals for the week, and write out your shopping list at the same time. This will save time during the week since you already know "What's for dinner?". This will also save you money since you won't need to make last-minute shopping trips, which can cause impulse buying and purchasing expensive ready-made products. Also, if you are having trouble deciding what to make, simply look back on your calendar for ideas. You may wish to place a star beside meals that were a real hit.
One of the best ways to make raising a toddler a little easier for parents is through a regular schedule system. This system can be a verbal routine or something written down on a chart, but must be followed on a daily basis for best effect.
Creating a toddler schedule usually centers around meal and nap times. Other moments in between can involve working on learning and/or reading, watching a favorite movie, going on an outing, playing with a favorite toy, playing in the backyard, etc.
The most important thing about keeping a toddler on schedule is to make sure every moment of the day is filling with some sort of activity. Leaving toddlers to their own devices often leads to frustrated parents and a big mess!
By putting together a schedule that is solid for the child, you can easily eliminate much frustration from your home.
Mornings can be nightmares.
"Mom! Where are my shoes?"
"Dad? Where's my backpack?"
"I can't find my homework!"
"I've got a three page paper due this morning, can you help me?"
The list is endless and the number of ways to be late in the morning can make you wish you simply homeschooled. But it doesnt' have to be that way.
Having a good night time and morning routine can help take the stress out of all this.
First, have one area where all school items go--backpacks, instruments, sport gear/gym clothes, homework, etc. Whatever is standard for the child to take to school, have a centrailized location where this has to be before the child goes to bed.
Second, go through the lunch menu at the beginning of the month and figure out which days are take lunch and which are buy. Hang it on the refridgerator so you know when those days are and it comes as no surprise at 630a. Also, there is nothing wrong with heating leftovers and sending those for meals. Have too much spaghetti from the night before? Send a helping of it in a thermos along with a piece of fruit, a handful of carrot sticks, and a bottle of water and you're set. There is no rule that says every lunch needs to be unique. Use what you've already made and save time, money, and sanity.
Third, as soon as the children get home, find out what homework they have. Do this before any TV or (fun) computer time. I know kids need time to decompress after being at school all day and giving them down time and a snack after school is great. Problem when they sit down and start watching TV or playing on the computer, it makes it difficult to pull them away from these fun activities. Why give yourself a reason to argue? Use the down time (set the timer) to talk to your child about their day, go through their homework, and simply spend a little time together.
Fourth, have a calendar at the centralized location and put every event on it. That includes when projects are due, weekely spelling tests, library book day, quizzes, etc. This greatly discourages those last minute "I have a ten page project due in the morning". If it's on the calendar, everyone knows these projects are due and can help each other. Also, if there's a lot going up one week, this helps whomever is planning meals to know if it needs to be a proper sit down meal week or go simple with sandwiches and soup for meals.
Fifth, although breakfast can be the most important meal of the day, it can also be the toughest. Do you serve the same meal each morning or do you give a variety? Depends on what kind of time there is in the morning. This is where planning comes in handy. For those of you who want variety, plan your menu on Sunday. Then there's no guessing. Also, there is no hard a fast rule that says only breakfast food for breakfast. A warm bowl of stew can make one happy belly in the morning. Again, leftovers from the night before can be a very easy breakfast. Be sure to include a mix of food so lean proteins, carbohydrates, and a fruit and veggie can help the child have a great morning.
Following these five steps can help make mornings far more happy.