You spent 15 minutes looking for one school sock, the eldest child went off to school but left his lunch at home. You start to cook dinner only to realize that you don’t have the key ingredient you need to make the meal, so have to hurriedly pack all the kids in the car and make a mad dash to the supermarket at 5pm, when everyone is already over tired.
Does this sound like a typical week in your household? Each week you think I will start getting organised but when it comes to actually doing it you feel overwhelmed and not sure of where to start. Starting is often the hardest step.
In home life there are so many tasks that are repeated each day, every day of the week, every week of the year. We need to eat, wear clean clothes, get out of the house on time, get the kids off to bed so they get a good night’s sleep and so on. The best place to start when organising the home is to set up routines for these types of key tasks that need to be completed in your home on a regular and frequent basis.
Why use routines? Routines work because they allow you to do the tasks around the house without really even having to think about it. Once set, and carried out day after day, routines become automatic. Routines allow you to automate the small things like:
- What will I give the kids for lunch?
- What will my first household task be?
- What will we have for dinner?
- Will I go shopping for dinner ingredients today?
Routines get us started. When you wake up in the morning if you know what you need to do, you can just set about doing it. This is especially helpful when you are tired. When tired it is often harder to make a decision so you can spend 15 minutes thinking about what you should be doing next, as opposed to actually doing something!
Here are three routines to establish in your home to start getting organised:
Menu planning is the routine that has the biggest impact for the least effort. By planning out your evening meals, it makes life easier by:
- Sorting out what to cook the family for dinner
- You can cook in advance if you need to, depending on your schedule
- You can plan meals to fit your schedule – quick meals for when you will be late home, for example
- It makes shopping easier and you make fewer trips to the shops as you can shop for the whole week
- You can get your kids involved choosing the meals, which then makes time easier as they have had a say in what they have for dinner and more likely to eat what you serve up without complaint.
Without a strong evening routine, it is much harder to have a morning routine that will work. Smooth mornings help roll out to a smooth day for the whole family. Establishing an evening routine where you spend 30-45 minutes getting organised for the next day, also saves you time in the long run. If you are doing these activities in the morning, it very often takes you twice as long to complete them when you have little ones around as you have to stop to negotiate sibling disputes, direct kids into the right activities and give cuddles to soothe those meltdown moments.
Below are some activities you can do at night before you head off to bed, which will set you up for the best chance at an organised morning. And best of all, these activities don’t just have to be completed by you. Your partner and older school kids can all be given tasks to complete:
- Breakfast table set or breakfast foods organised
- Prepare school lunch boxes
- Complete school notices
- Ensure clean school clothes available (or if very little, get their clothes out)
- Unstack dishwasher (kids can add their dishes straight to the dishwasher when finished breakfast in the morning)
- General tidy
- Check your calendar for commitments the next day
- Make a list of key activities for the next day for home
As with the evening routine, creating a morning routine doesn’t just have to involve you. Children as young as three can contribute to getting themselves ready for preschool. They are capable of dressing themselves, packing their bags and tidying up after themselves. It can seem very hard at times to get kids to do this, seeming much easier and quicker to just do it yourself. But you don’t want to be getting all the kids ready every day for the rest of their lives. Let kids do what they are capable of and work with them so they have a morning routine they know and stick to. Put up a photo chart showing the steps they need to take for kids who are yet to read and a schedule for school kids so they can be responsible for ensuring they take the right items to school each day.
Ensure you have a routine for yourself too. It may be that you get up early each morning before the kids to go for a run or meditate, then move into family time. Whatever the activities are make sure you have a routine in place that will help achieve your personal goals and keep the family organised.
What routines have you created in the home to keep family life organised?