Parenting is definitely one of lives greatest blessings, it can however create its share of stress, frustration and overwhelm. The key to reducing stress and to simplifying life is to get organized and establish daily routines for the entire family.
Teaching children responsibility for their belongings, as well as organizational skills will help instill invaluable habits for them to carry into their adult lives.
We can’t, of course, expect to stay organized if we don’t start out that way, so begin with a thorough de-cluttering of your home. Let go of anything you no longer use, need or love. Sell or donate usable items and toss the rest. Next, create homes for all items in suitable containers, closets, cupboards or on shelving. Whenever possible label containers so everyone in the home will know where to find items or where to return them to.
Establish evening routines:
1. Enlist the help of the entire family for 10 – 15 minutes each evening to help clean up any clutter by returning items to their intended homes. Even toddlers can be taught to clean up their toys at the end of the day. Make it fun by turning the clean-up into a game like “beat the clock” (Set a timer for a few minutes, then try to return everything to its original home before the bell rings). When children get older make it part of their daily/weekly chore chart – reward them every so often by offering special treats depending on their age. (Such as time with mom/dad, stickers or a trip to their favorite play ground.)
2. Set up a “launching pad” near the door with hooks for bags, backpacks, purses, coats, keys, etc. Before going to bed be sure that each bag is packed and ready to grab on your way out the door in the morning. Have school aged children do their part by returning homework into their backpacks and packing up any sports gear.
3. Pick out clothing for the next day to save time in the morning.
4. Pack lunches in the evening to eliminate added stress.
Deal with everyone’s paper clutter:
1. Sort mail daily. Slice open envelopes and sort contents into appropriate categories such as “to pay”, “to read”, “to file”, “to shred”. Recycle all junk mail and envelopes immediately. Take a minute to distribute the piles to their respective homes, i.e. near the shredder, in your inbox, and if time allows drop the papers into the responding folders.
2. Children bring home lots of paper from school each week. Be diligent when deciding on what to keep. Display a favorite drawing or good test grade for about a week in a designated area such as a cork board , hanging off a string attached to a wall or even in a special frame. When a new paper is ready to get displayed switch out the favorite and store in a memory box created for each child. Be sure to add the date and name of your child before storing.
These are just a few things to help keep the clutter and stress to a minimum. I would love to hear what daily practices have saved your sanity over the years in the comments below.