Excluding periods of lockdown and isolation, being busy seems to follow an unending upward trajectory. When we get too busy, balls start dropping. We lose track of things that need doing and when they need to be done.
Recently, a mum and member of our Mums of the Shire Facebook Community Group reached out for some support getting organised. As usual, our wonderful community of mums was incredibly helpful, so we thought we’d summarise their advice (and add a few practical tips and time management tools of our own) that you can implement to get, and stay, organised.
Tools, tips and tricks for busy parents
Automate all things possible
Getting organised is so often about unburdening our memory. One of the easiest ways to do this is to automate anything you can so that it no longer adds to your mental load. Start by setting up direct debits for any regular bills, rent/mortgage and savings transfers. If you have a washing machine or dishwasher that you can set a timer on, load them each night and set a timer for the morning. Let technology be your friend in whatever ways you can think of.
Establish easy routines
You can eliminate the chances of forgetting to do regular jobs by doing them at routine times every day. You can make lunches for the next day while the kids are in the bath/shower, put away clothes every time the kids are eating breakfast- find what works for you and just try to stick closely to it.
Delegate, delegate, delegate
As your kids grow older, you’ll be able to delegate more and more tasks. From a young age kids can start helping around the house with tasks like sorting clean washing into piles for each family member, putting away dishes and wiping down tables. We love this list of age-appropriate chores from The Organised Housewife. The more other family members are able to do, the less that will fall on to you, so we suggest embracing delegation when your kids are as young as possible!
Make meal planning easy
Most mums we’ve spoken to detest having to come up with new ideas for dinner. There are some super helpful apps that will allow you to save time and stay organised by helping you find new recipes, create meal plans and automatically create grocery lists based on your selections. Whisk, Mealime and SideChef are the best we’ve tried.
Double your dinners
On a similar note, avoid having to make twice as many recipes by doubling your dinners. Seek out freezable recipes so that you can eat one serve the night it’s prepared and freeze the other for a night you’re short on time.
Sync your schedules
To stay organised, it helps if your family is all on the same page. If you have a partner, look into apps that allow you to sync multiple schedules. The ability to add an event with a reminder, assigned to your partner, will save your sanity time and time again. Our community recommends Google Calendar, Cozi, Time Tree and Family Wall.
Keep it visual
While having synced schedules on your phone is, we feel, essential, having a visual reminder in your house acts as a useful memory aid. You can use a whiteboard or planner, with a colour for each family member, to visually depict what’s coming up in the month ahead and a corkboard or whiteboard to stick up notes/letters requiring attention that you can’t act on immediately.
These days we have multiple different devices that enable us to set reminders or alarms. When you add things into your online family calendar apps, set a reminder for a day before, and maybe again an hour before so that you’re eliminating the likelihood of forgetting or missing upcoming events/responsibilities. Setting alarms can also help you to improve your focus. For example, if you know you have to leave to pick up the kids from school at 2:45pm each day, set a Monday-Friday alarm for 2:45pm and then you won’t spend so much time worrying about what the time is and checking your watch. Instead, you’ll know you can just continue working until your alarm goes off, which will increase your productivity.
Support your mental health
Sometimes being organised still isn’t enough. We’ve previously provided strategies to help you keep your mental load in check, which can support the above practical ideas. If you’re struggling to cope, we also encourage you to seek mental health support from a professional.
You can contact any of the following for support with mental health concerns:
Psychological Support Services
If you don’t have a GP, or for access to subsidised counselling, please contact: Central and Eastern Primary Health Network Ph: 1300 986 991 | www.cesphn.org.au
New Access Coaching Service
Free coaching service aged 16+ experiencing mild to moderate anxiety and depression, via phone, video conference or face to face. No referral needed. Ph: 9477 8700 www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/newaccess
Ph: 13 11 14 (24/7) | www.lifeline.org.au
Ph: 1800 187 263 | www.sane.org
What works to keep your life organised? We’d love to hear your best tips for staying on top of things!