I’m sure I’m not the only mom out there that feels like a constant circus act. I’m guilty of not saying “no” enough and often get caught feeling like I’m a headless chicken running aimlessly trying to get the kids to their activities, getting everyone out the door to school and work on time (without forgetting show & tell, class snack duty, theme day at school, lunch money, activity sign up sheets, homework assignments, and the list goes on and on). It seems like a revolving door of obligations, with no clear end in sight….I’m actually certain as my kids get older, these obligations will only multiply. So, how do we handle it without feeling like we’re not going to end up in the nut house? I’ve compiled my best tips that I’ve implemented to keep our family of 5 running as smoothly as possible (and miraculously on time, most days!):
1) Find A Calendar System That Works – I still use a planner book (love my Erin Condren planner!) because I need to be able to see things on paper. However, my husband doesn’t ever see this and we need to be able to communicate all of our activities so we both know what’s going on day-to-day. We found a free app, Cozi Calendar, to be lifesaver for us.
We can each add items from our phones, can choose the family member that the calendar item applies to, and either of us can look at it as needed and have the most up-to-date schedule. We use the free version, which does have pop up ads from time to time, but there is also a premium version you can pay for to avoid the ads. Another bonus with this app is that it’s got a grocery list included. Anyone in the family can add to the list. This is perfect for those times when you happen to be at the store but can’t remember what might have been written on your grocery list at home. Or when you’re out and about somewhere and remember something you need to add to your list. This app has been a lifesaver for our busy family!
The other calendar (yes, we have several!) that we use regularly is this large dry erase calendar that we have on the side of our refrigerator. This is good for us as we walk by it anytime we come or go from the house. We update it every week our schedule along with our menu for the week.
2) Meal Plan – I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people say that meal planning is key. I never really thought that it would save that much time/money, but we finally gave it a whirl about a year ago. All I can say is LIFE SAVER! A simple 15 minutes of meal planning and making a grocery list on Sunday (I go grocery shopping for the week on Monday’s) saves us so much time/hassle throughout the week. We typically look at our schedule for the week, figure out which nights we’ll have limited time for dinner prep and plan meals accordingly. Not having to go back and forth for 20 minutes each day with the husband and kids as to what we’re having for dinner each night is worth it’s weight in gold. Now, my husband starts dinner since he’s home 30 minutes before me, so by the time I get home dinner is nearly ready. Since we know what’s on the menu, we typically get the meat out ahead of time so it’s thawed and ready to use. Meal planning has saved us money as well, since I just buy the groceries I need for the week rather than guessing at what we might use. I’m telling you, take my advice and meal plan! If we didn’t, we’d be eating fast food 4-5 nights a week just due to our crazy schedules! I created my own grocery list that helps me not miss anything as I got through the store because it’s grouped in sections. Here’s a copy you’re welcome to use – Grocery List
3) Do As Much As Possible At Night – Mornings are crazy, right? Getting everyone out the door without a major meltdown (even from my 8 year old) each day is a miracle. My goal is to eliminate as many things as possible the night before so that our morning runs as smoothly as it can. This means homework is always done before bedtime, clothes for the next day are picked out, and backpacks are packed with all papers, permission slips, show & tell, etc. My kids are not happy morning people (unless of course it’s a Saturday, in which case they’ll be up chirping happily before 6:30 am – why?) so we try to make our mornings as pleasant as they can be by having as much done as possible ahead of time.
4) Car-Pool With Other Parents – Unless you’re a mom with super powers (I haven’t figured out how to get those yet), you can’t be four places at once. When you have multiple kids in multiple activities, you need to rely on your mom-squad to help you out. Find a neighbor or friend that you can car-pool with to your child’s activities and it will take some of the load off of your plate. The time spent in the car traveling to and from practices and other activities can kill hours of the day. Find another parent to help out and cut that time in half.
5) Avoid Overplanning – Okay, so maybe this tip was added because I need to remind myself of this one! Don’t overcommit yourself or your kids, or you’ll regret it. I’m guilty of this! Sometimes you just have to know when to say no. Kids need time to be kids and a little down time is good for the soul anyway! Plan in some time for your family – whether it’s one evening a week or a few hours on the weekend. Time goes so fast and soon our littles will be out of the house. That extra activity isn’t really that important, is it?
Tell me – have you tried any of these tips and do they work for you? Do you have any other great tips to get us through the crazy called life? Comment below – I can’t wait to hear your suggestions!