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I don’t know about you, but I constantly feel on the verge of drowning in my commitments. Between my full-time job, a husband who works 60-80 hours a week, and four children who have their own social and extracurricular schedules — not to mention running a household and bearing the mental burden expected of mothers – my poor brain is constantly confused and trying to keep up all the things. But if I’m being honest, it would be like if I had four kids or one; Some people are just not good at being organized and I’m one of them.
Summer is a brief respite from at least some hustle and bustle, but now that school is starting I’m just stressed anticipate all the stuff I need to mentally juggle. Luckily for people like me, we live in a time when inventions and innovations that save sanity abound.
write it down
Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes the easiest way to keep track of things is to use the old-fashioned method of literally writing them down (I know… how archaic!). Instead of cluttering up my space with sticky notes, I love my reusable wall calendar; mine is from Artifact Uprising and is personalized which is a nice touch. The whole family can write things down, and everyone can see the entire month at a glance, so we not only know what’s happening that day, but what’s happening in the days to come.
Keep it digitized
If you’re more tech-savvy and keep all your important events on your calendar from your phone or computer, a digital calendar like Skylight can be a big help — it automatically syncs with calendars from Google, Outlook, Apple, and more. so everything you enter into your personal calendar appears on the skylight with no extra steps. You can also color-code different schedules and events, but my personal favorite feature is the grocery list. My whole family can add things to the list through the Skylight app, even while I’m in the store. Of course, that means I get a lot of requests for things like ramen noodles and Mountain Dew (and random wish-list items like “Ferrari”), but the best part is that if I don’t get something, that’s the responsibility She. “You should have put it on the skylight!” is my mantra.
One of the things I find most helpful is to spend 10 minutes (or 15 if you’re ambitious) each day figuring out what tomorrow’s schedule will bring. It may sound too easy, but you will be surprised. When you devote a small block of time solely to planning ahead, you feel a lot more prepared — and it saves you having to worry about things on the side. If you’re having a hard time focusing on a task for 10 minutes (raises your hand), set a timer or use an app like Forest… where you plant a seed that will grow into a tree once your allotted focus time is up transformed. However, if you exit the app to scroll through your phone, your little tree is doomed.
Also helpful in these few minutes? This next little treat…
I know. It sounds like one of those things that are great in theory but not easy to implement in real life. However, feeding a family takes a lot of time; When you take care of everyone’s various sports and after-school schedules, eating becomes a real pain even if you normally love to cook. We all know that awful feeling of staring blankly into the fridge, realizing nothing has defrosted, and resorting to fast food (again) because it’s easy, cheap, and we’re tired. Then we have to deal with mother’s guilt for making unbalanced nutritional choices for our families. Yay!
So yes, prepping what you can do ahead of time for the week’s dinners might take a little more effort upfront, but it pays off when you’re pressed for time and already have something to put together quickly. Stock up on an arsenal of recipes (like the ones you can find here and here — but a quick Google or Pinterest search can turn up a treasure trove of ideas). If you’re feeling really special, you can use an app like Recipe Keeper to not only help you organize those recipes, but to help you plan ahead. You don’t even have to do things like pre-dicing onions or freezing browned hamburgers or anything; just the simple act of plan out Your meals and making sure you have everything you need can make a world of difference. Oh, and get a slow cooker if you don’t have one. You will most definitely need a slow cooker. Don’t want to spend the money on a new one? In second-hand shops they are practically a dime a dozen!
There are people out there who are a lot more moved in together than I will ever be, but I like to take manageable tidbits from their social media accounts that are like master classes in organization and productivity! Sure, it sounds counterintuitive to scour social media for tips on maximizing your time, but seeing and hearing it from someone else can be inspirational in such a simple way Think it’s not about getting organized. The How to GYST channel (I’m sure you can figure out what those letters stand for!) on YouTube is an amazing resource. Or you can just search TikTok for categories like “Life Hack” or “Productivity” or “Organization” and find inspirational content like this from Tiffany Moon, MD!
Productivity Hack #getthingsdone #workworkwork #workingmom #Productivity #Hack #Efficient
♬ Watermelon Sugar – Harry Styles
carpool? There is an app for that
If you have a child or children in sports or outside of the curriculum, it can feel like you’ve taken on some kind of thankless, unpaid Uber gig when you’re dragging them from point A to point B. (In addition to the long list of thankless, unpaid work parents do…but I digress.) Carpooling with other parents can be a lifesaver—and it helps them, too, so everyone wins! There are several helpful ridesharing apps like Carpool-Kids; You create a carpool, invite other parents to join, and then have a schedule in hand of who’s driving whom, where, and when. You can even get push notifications in case you break out and forget.
Organize outfits for the week
My friend uses a simple but brilliant system to keep her son ready for school in the mornings with less effort, and I’m adopting this habit with my own kids this year. On Sunday night, they choose what he will wear each school day for the coming week, complete with socks and underwear, and place each outfit in one of five storage bins labeled “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,” and so on. That way, you don’t have to hunt for clean clothes or matching socks in the morning rush… and you can guarantee your child won’t walk out of their room in something terribly inappropriate.
Keep those papers in check
All parents know that overwhelming feeling So. Many. Papers. Kids bring home entire forests worth of permit slips, worksheets, fundraisers and random crap over the course of a week. Before you know it, there’s a pile of clutter on your kitchen counter or whatever else your house has… because let’s face it, every house has that one place that all the crap ends up. Use some sort of organizer – I like this one! — Breaking the papers into categories: things that need to be done immediately (such as you may need to keep within reach for easy reference throughout the year.
Important note: This only works if you go through it regularly! Otherwise it’s just another hodgepodge. Sort through the papers maybe once a week during one of those 10 minute focus sessions?
And finally, this is perhaps the most important tip of all to help you feel like you have it all this school year…
Let others take responsibility
Mothers, let me put out an important reminder: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING! Think of yourself as the “team captain” – you may be the main coordinator and the one your teammates come to for help solving problems, but you are not responsible for carrying the entire team alone. Sometimes it feels deceptively quicker and easier to take care of everything yourself, but in the long run, delegating tasks and responsibilities helps everyone involved. You, because it takes some of your overflowing plate, and your kids, because they’re learning the importance of getting involved—and, more importantly, that they are capable. Give them a to-do list. Share household chores with your partner. Accept the offer of your parents or friends to take your children to football practice from time to time.
There is no magic way to miraculously make you feel like you have it all. Chances are we’ll all still be feeling stretched thin and being pulled in 20 different directions – because, well, parenting. But if you can tweak your lifestyle in one or two ways and give yourself enough time to tick something off your to-do list, it can bring you a sense of peace. And that is a good thing, especially in motherhood, that is worth its weight in gold.