I will freely admit it: I am, by nature, disorganized.
Now that’s not all bad, actually. In fact, there are many great things about being disorganized. I am creative, spontaneous and super easy-going. Highly organized people are, decidedly, NOT. So while I find summer a haze of breezy, go-with-the-flow kind of days, when school days rear their heads again, I’m forced to put my nose to the grindstone and get back to a more organized routine.
This is not easily accomplished. For some people (yes, you type As out there know who you are), living by lists, schedules, deadlines and routine is second nature. It’s not only easy for you; it’s comforting. And while the knowledge that I have a fool-proof routine in place does bring me a measure of comfort, it’s definitely a tough grind getting there.
But the thing is; as a working mother with two school-aged children, routine and organization are essential! If I don’t work diligently to make sure that all the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed, something important will fall through the cracks at work or worse — at my children’s school — and it will be my fault. Oh! The humanity!
So as the dread day approaches, I dust off the calendar and gear up the routine so that I can set myself and my girls up for the best possible chances of success in our busy lives. If you’re like me, take a page from my book and follow my tips for getting organized and minimize the chances of stress and chaos in your life. If you’re already one of those uber-organized super moms, well then I’m sure you’ll relish the chance to share your own tips in the comments!
STREAMLINE THE SCHEDULES
There was a time in my life where I had a home calendar, a work calendar and an organizer. That was a crappy time of missed appointments and missed deadlines. For example: I would get a message at home reminding me of my dentist appointment, and jot the date on the calendar by the phone. But then, two days later at 1:30 p.m., I would be working away diligently and miss the appointment, because, of course, my home calendar was…well…at home, and I wasn’t. Similarly, I’d make a note of a personal engagement in my organizer, and then leave it in my bag or on my desk, and the weekend would sail by. I’d only discover the missed engagement when I opened my organizer at work again on Monday. The only solution seemed to be copying things from one organizer or calendar to another: an approach that inevitably still has its weaknesses.
Fortunately, the advent of the smartphone has helped the less innately-organized among us to minimize these risks. We no longer need to carry around a bulky leather-bound organizer in our purses…I mean, honestly: who doesn’t have their cell phone nearby almost always? I have eliminated the need for calendars by every phone and a filofax, because I have a smartphone. Everything I need to remember, from appointments to kids’ activities, to work deadlines to my shopping list goes in my smartphone. I also program alerts and reminders for all these events (sadly, personal experience of missing things that actually were in my calendar is the lesson learned there) so that I can be as close to positive that I will never miss an important commitment again. Now if only I could remember to charge my phone…
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
This is another characteristic that I prefer to see the upside of: I don’t consider myself inconsistent as much as very adaptable and flexible. In my work, that is a huge plus. At bedtime on a school night? Not so much. So while our summer involved a lot of late nights (hey, if there’s a great movie or a meteor shower that goes past midnight, I’m not going to miss it) I recognize that both my girls and I need our beauty sleep during the school year. So the iron fist comes out and we are kitted out in our jammies, tucked in and ready for dreamland at 9:00 p.m. every weeknight. Then when the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. the next day, I’m able to take it (somewhat) in stride and our mornings can evolve peacefully and without the insane stress of being rushed. Anyone who has ever tried to rush ‘tween girls will know that it ranks in level of difficulty with herding rabid cats with PMS.
PUTTING IT OFF IS OFF-PUTTING
I used to have a jokey motto: “why do today what you can put off ’till tomorrow?” Which was all well and good when it was just me I had to worry about and if I had to race off to work with no breakfast and only a few toonies to rub together for lunch it was no big deal. However, with two growing children to send off to school every morning, I simply don’t have the luxury of procrastinating. That’s why my girls and I can be found every evening in the kitchen making sure our school bags are ready to go for the next morning.
I make sure I read and initial their school agendas — and I check the bottoms and all nooks and crannies of their backpacks for any notices that need to be signed and returned. Nothing’s worse than your kid missing out on something important because you overlooked the form. A perfect example: last year my older daughter didn’t get a yearbook because the form got lost or overlooked somewhere.
Next on the list is homework: even if I have to stand over them with a whip (figuratively speaking), I make sure it gets done. Finally, we make our lunches, assembly-line style. Pop them in the fridge and we are ready for bed, with no jobs hanging over our heads that need to be rushed through in the morning.
It may not be easy, but it is possible for even the most easy-going of us to put together a school routine that minimizes stress and disappointment. I am living proof! So, all you type As out there: what additional suggestions and tips have I overlooked?