The school year has officially kicked off, and the chaos has ensued! Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, working mom, or some sort of awesomeness in between, these six tips to keep your weeks efficient and organized are sure to save you time, add structure to your routine, and minimize the chaos!
1. Set your goals. Goal setting is the best place to start when trying to establish order in your home. When setting your weekly goals, make sure to hit two categories: What you would LIKE to do and/or have time to do each day/week, as well as what you NEED to do to feel accomplished.
On a personal level, my two LIKE to do goals are to allow time daily to exercise and to have quiet time for Bible study. On a NEED to-do level, however, it is important for me to weekly set time aside to write, work on my Make-A-Wish task list, serve at the church, and to volunteer at my daughter’s elementary school, so all of these are prioritized on my list of goals. When I have completed my personal goals, I write both daily goals such as reading practice and vision therapy and weekly goals like scripture memorization and chores for my children. This is where the structure in our home begins.
2. Write out a morning routine. After getting goals set, move that list to the side and plan your mornings. What time do you need to wake up to squeeze in your goals (both your own and your children) before heading out the door? Each morning may look different, so be sure to be specific. Our mornings are structured like this:
Tip: To execute our morning time goals, I prepare lunch the night before, set out clothes for each child, have my children locate their socks and shoes, and get their backpacks ready.
3. Plan after school activities and set time aside for children to accomplish their goals. Once your morning is planned, write down each day of the week leaving plenty of space below. Beneath the day of the week, specifically plan exactly what each day will look like after school, including time set aside for your family’s daily goals as well any after school activities. This is what it looks like for our family:
Through this chart, it is much easier to see which days are going to take more diligence to hit our homework or chore goals and which days are more free for afternoon play dates or doctor appointments, which is super helpful because it provides so much structure for my children. In addition to structure, it also makes it easier easy to know exactly which after school invitations to commit to and how to do that, while still helping children reach their personal goals.
4. Plan your week. Now that the day is planned before and after school, focus on what needs to be completed while your children are at school. Just as I did for after-school, I now do for myself — filling in that large hole between school-drop off and school pick up. Each day of the week looks incredibly different for me, so again, I write down each day of the week and fill in by priority what needs to be completed daily and weekly. This helps me maximize my time while my children are at school (and can help maximize time at work) as well as the days that my preschooler is home with me.
Tip: Designate an “ALWAYS NO” day. The most important thing about planning for myself is leaving ONE day per week where the answer is “ALWAYS NO.” This is the day that I make a conscious effort to always leave wide open without any commitments outside of our home to fulfill goals which I usually sum up with cleaning and paperwork, but if I am lucky, I may score a little time to curl up on the couch and read.
5. Update your calendar weekly. As soon as you’ve completed all of the above, combine it all in one safe spot. For a hard copy calendar, I LOVE Erin Condren products. For electronic calendars, I love Google Calendar for its ability to sync not only to my phone, but also to my watch where I am able to instantly see what our schedule looks like, as well as receive reminders directly to my wrist. In addition, I make a master copy to put on our fridge so my husband also knows the general flow of not only the kids week, but mine as well.
Tip: As soon as the school year starts, grab a master calendar and input every date, meeting, school volunteer day, church commitments, your husband’s calendar, after-school activities, etc., that you can think to add, even if you aren’t sure you can make it. Include goals and reminders such as to make well-check appointments or to send an apple to school for a project.
6. Sunday night specific: Meal plan, exercise plan, task plan. Take roughly 30 minutes every Sunday and get specific about your week. Fitness buff? Quickly jot out your exercise plan for the week. Busy week? Jot out your meal plan and make a master grocery list. Which days will you tackle specific items on your to do list? This half hour of time on Sunday saves me hours of time during the week.
Tip: When making your lists, make a master list of all of the meals your cook organized by modes of cooking (crock pot, grill, baked) and choose of that list every week to cut time off of meal planning.
What do YOU do to stay ahead of the game and organized during the school year?