We are always looking for ways to make our lives easier and less crazy…
And sometimes we find ourselves spending more energy trying to find a shortcut than if we had just dug in and persevered with the task in its original form. I know I can’t be the only one who has found herself in this situation.
We want to tame life’s stressors and enjoy balance, without turning our organizing into yet another daunting chore. (Some of you may actually want to spend the majority of your time planning, organizing, and cleaning, and if you do, bless your heart. I love you!)
I do believe whole-heartedly that if you want to have peace and rest in your life, you have to control the things you are meant to control and let go of the things you were never meant to control!
The majority of the moms I’ve met view having an organizational system as a necessary, but sometimes elusive tool to keeping our sanity. I’m one of those people who needs to know where things are. If I can’t locate something I need immediately, my kids run for the hills – they know I’m not going to be happy. (I’m working on this – honest!)
In my nearly twenty-eight years of being a wife and more than twenty-six years of being a mom, I’ve experimented with many types of organizational systems. I have discovered what it takes to keep a comfortable balance between organization and OCD.
If your dream organizational system is so extreme that it takes up way more time than you actually have to spend on it, well… it’s not going to serve you well. Nor will waking up each day and flying by the seat of your pants.
If you haven’t read part 1 of this series: Routines, you may want to pop on over and do that first.
The secret to a doable organization system is controlling the “stuff” of your life a little every single day, so it doesn’t end up controlling you.
In addition to having set daily routines, here are the key organizational elements that I consistently use to maintain balance and sanity for my family. Remember, yours may look slightly different.
1. A budget. I put this right at the top of our doable organizational system, because money can cause a lot of stress and fear that will affect every area of your life. My hubby and I have completed Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey, and this has helped us back the money monster down into the cage where it belongs! As is necessary with every tool, we have adapted it to fit our individual needs.
Out of all of the budgeting tools available, I recommend You Need a Budget (YNAB) the most highly. This handy-dandy program has an app that both my husband and I downloaded to our phones (available for iPhone and Android). Each month, I go on my laptop, look at our bills, our income, and when everything is going to be intersecting. It takes me about 15 minutes a month to update our budget on the computer, which in turn syncs to our phones. We both are diligent to record every purchase or bill paid into the right category in our phone apps. It immediately updates so we both can see what we have left for the month. I LOVE this program – it truly allows us to give every dollar a job.
2. A menu and food shopping plan. We all have to eat, and it’s better to eat foods that are good for you. In our family, my husband is the one who really enjoys cooking. I know how to cook, also, but I tend to approach cooking as a chore. Having a well-stocked kitchen can be a challenge in both the time and budget department. I have developed a system of once-a-month shopping for the staple items needed to stock the pantry and freezer. Our family eats very little processed foods, so at the beginning of the month, I take about a third of our food budget for that month, and I go to Aldi and Costco. This keeps me out of the grocery store except for a weekly run to replace fresh produce, milk, bread, eggs, etc. I do not follow a strict menu, but I do have a list of meal ideas for the month from which I choose every day. Again, the reason this system works is that it doesn’t take a huge percentage of my time. It allows me to control the food “stuff” in our lives without allowing the controlling of it to take over my life. Balance!
3. A family calendar. This is pretty self-explanatory. At the end of each month, my hubby and I sit down together and update our calendars. We do it before I make the budget out for the coming new month, so I know if we have something “extra” coming up. We also make sure that the kids have updated us on coming events. No one likes double booking, and taking ten minutes a month, gives us peace that we have the calendar worked out.
4. A chore chart system. My kids do chores. They began making their beds, cleaned their rooms, and washed their laundry from the time they were about 5 years old. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have to occasionally remind them to pull their weight around the house, but most of the time, it only takes a “look” from me, and they hop to. My chore chart is, you guessed it, doable. I’ve learned that I’m not going to spend ridiculous amounts of time on a weekly chore chart, so I made a master copy of all of the chores it takes to run our house. I printed it off, covered it in clear laminating paper, and hung it on the fridge. Each month (or two!) I rearrange names on it. Seriously, I do not spend more than ten minutes a month on chore charts. As you can see, I use a color coding system, which indicates if the chores should be done daily (blue), weekly (green), or monthly (purple).
5. A planner. I don’t want to spend too much time on this one, because everyone has varying needs for their planners, but after trying many different types of planners, I’ve landed on one that fits my needs beautifully. I recently landed on a printable, adaptable planning system based on Emily Lee’s Simplified Planner. Because my particular planning needs are somewhat complex (this might be the biggest understatement I’ve made so far this year), I need something that can roll with me through my rather rollercoaster-reminiscent days. Take a look at her resources here. She also sells print and bound planners that might fit your needs well. When I had my whole gaggle of kids in my homeschool, I used and loved the Well Planned Day Homeschool Planner.
6. An expectation. I probably should have placed this one at the top of my list. It’s really that important. So many of us have unreasonable expectations of ourselves. Although the Philippians 4:13 says that we “can do all things through Christ who gives us strength,” that doesn’t mean we are expected to do everything we think we need to do. The only way we are going to know exactly what is expected of us is to be in tune with the God who made us and loves us. He’s the one who has the plan for us.
What tips and tools help your family stay organized? I’d love to hear what works in your home.
Hop on my email list so you’re sure to catch next week’s post, as we look at the importance of spending time alone with Jesus.