Controlling the Chaos: 5 Easy Ways to Get Organized

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to do listLife gets busy, as every parent knows. We are juggling multiple schedules, obligations, and responsibilities, and it often feels like if one ball gets dropped, they all are going to fall. At the beginning of this school year, I found myself adding another ball to the already chaotic mix: working toward my graduate degree.

Each day, I find myself shuffling between so many different roles. I start each day as a wife and parent. Once at school, I transition to a teacher, advisor, and coach. Once home, I return to the roles of wife and parent, sometimes chauffeur, and many evenings I am also working as a graduate student. To help our chaotic mornings and evenings run more smoothly, my husband and I came up with a list of 5 things we do regularly to keep our ship afloat and out of rough waters. 

1.  Meal Planning: Before doing our weekly grocery shopping, I plan out the meals for the following week, sometimes even beyond, mixing in a little variety where I can. A typical week includes a meatless meal, a pasta meal, a meat and potato meal, and an ancient grains or brown rice meal. This gets written on my homemade weekly meal plan chart, which also includes any evening plans (gymnastics or karate) and if I need to prep a cold lunch for the next day. Here’s an example of a week’s plan: 

If I’m feeling really adventurous, know certain ingredients need to get used up, or know the next week is going to be a busy mess, I might even look ahead to the following week and leave a sticky note for my future self to reference when meal planning next time around. You can see that in the picture above.

2.  Protein Preparation: Knowing what supper is going to be before I leave in the morning is helpful for my whole family. The next step is to do any preparation for the meal I can ahead of time. This often means pulling the protein out of the freezer to defrost during the day or sending my husband (who works from home) a message throughout the day asking him to thaw something out. That way one of us can start working on dinner once everyone is home. It seems like such a simple thing to do –because it is– but it’s also incredibly helpful. 

3.  Weekly Wardrobe: Sundays are meal planning days, but they are also clothing planning days. As often as I can, on Sundays, I look at the weather and events for the week ahead and plan out outfits for both my preschool daughter and myself. I lay hers out in her room, and I hang mine in my bedroom. Sometimes I am not successful and only manage to lay out complete outfits for a day or two. But, as long as we have our outfits decided the night before, it’s one less decision we need to worry about in the morning and one less thing we need to track down before making our way out the door. 

4.  Scheduled Personal Health: Exercise and meditation are important to well-being, and many times, if it isn’t scheduled, it just doesn’t happen. When planning meals on Sundays, my husband and I run through our evening schedules for the week, as well as our children’s, and take note of when we each plan on working out or getting other work done (my grading or classwork, and his second job or photography hobby). On our best weeks, this goes on either the meal planning sheet or even on our shared Google Calendars! This way we are both making time each week to take care of our well-being, and also know we aren’t double-booking ourselves. 

5.  Be Direct:  In our little world of Minnesota Niceness, this has been a hard one for me to adapt. As a wife and mom, I struggle with being direct in my communication. I often default to be being politely indirect, saying “When you have time, could you ____,” or “please get _____ done soon,” or even “It sure would be nice if I could find the time to ______.” In the classroom, I’m more comfortable being direct, so I needed to work on taking that mentality home. Once I started being more direct with my family members, saying “You need to get _____ done before you can ______,” or “I need to get _____ done. When would that work best for you?” I saw more things being accomplished with less arguing, yelling, miscommunication, and disappointment.

 

Adopting these 5 habits have helped our busy family get organized, feel less chaotic, and more in control. What things do you do with your family to help control the chaos? Share in the comments!

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Heather is a Rochester native but considers herself a "country mouse" meant for small-town livin'. Her hubby has been her rock and anchor since high school, 1998. Her children Murphy (2010) and Delaney (2016) are her biggest blessings and let's be honest, her biggest challenges. On an average day, she wears a variety of hats: wife, mom, furparent, high school English teacher, friend, coach, homebrewer/beer snob, music enthusiast, bookworm, Potterhead, Disnerd, Parrothead, coffee junky and more. She is food-motivated, but nothing brings her peace like listening to the waves lap the North Shore, couch cuddles, or sitting in her PJs playing games with friends.

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