In my experience, "managing" and "organizing" are relative terms, but some days, it kind of feels like the stars align, so I sat down and had a Think. Unfortunately, for my readers, I may have picked a less than organized day to figure out which of my 100-odd mutterings on any given day are of value, so here goes: use with caution.
(Also, I'm kind of a practical girl. There, you're forewarned.)
1. Cook double. Or even triple. If you're going to bother getting all of the ingredients out, not to mention the pots dirty, you might as well cook for an army. Invest in some containers and a freezer, and presto -- instant meals for later. This simple strategy alone has saved my sanity on countless occasions, as well as given me something to do with the scads of large scale food items I leave Costco with.
2. Get a calendar. Our Family Rule goes something like this: "If it isn't on the Calendar, it isn't happening." (and I don't care whose birthday it is). I am militant about putting all of our clan's activities on a big can't-be-missed calendar right on the kitchen door. First off, it imprints said birthday parties, soccer practices and parent-teacher meetings on my otherwise swiss-cheese-memory. And second, it's given me the odd coupon when my Other Half "forgets" to post the company golf outing and I "relent" and let him go anyway.
3. Do laundry regularly. This one seems simple, but I swear, if I don't do it at the same time every week, it snowballs within a day to gargantuan proportions. Nothing throws a morning off kilter more easily than kids with no clean clothes -- and mark my words, this will always (and only) happen on Picture Day. Keep up with the laundry and you'll be a happier human. While you're at it, teach the brood a thing or two about responsibility and refuse to do more (thereby contradicting #3, but only technically putting it off for a week, emphasizing the point) until they put away the clean stuff.
4. Have enough underwear. And jeans. Seriously, underwear, socks and jeans aren't that expensive. Buy each kid enough for at least a week, two if you can manage it. You can even get decent jeans at a thrift store (I know, 'cause I do), and best of all, they don't need to be washed every day. In order to make it from one week to the next, without doing laundry daily (see #3) having enough pairs of shorts, plus a few, is a must. Think of it as environmentally friendlier. Kind of.
5. Walk. By that I mean walk some hills once the kids are at school, in bed, or with a sitter. I mean walk instead of run everywhere -- and smell a few roses, see a few worms, stop and check out an anthill or three. Exercise and appreciating the small things in life are good for body and soul. And vital when you're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
6. Wear a watch. Being late can be super stressful and leads to all kinds of embarrassing shrieking. Plus, there is no slower being than a kid who's being urged on by Mom running ten minutes late. Pack your bag the night before if you have to, but try to leave five minutes early for everything. Then count those bonus five in the waiting room as personal minutes (and hope for an outdated copy of Vanity Fair lying around).
7. Ease up on the throttle. No one ever went to university in pull ups. Grade One geography marks don't really matter. Lukewarm tea has its merits and your kids won't remember how clean the bathtub was growing up. I promise.
8. Relax and eat the odd Fruit Rollup. I almost fainted the day I walked in and my sitter's other charge was feeding my daughter her first french fry (yes, from THERE). Now, a few kids later, I know that aside from all of the junk my kids breathe in daily, they eat pretty well, are active and generally healthy. I try to look away when the odd packaged treat makes its way into the house and make twice the organic carrots at the next meal. Flexibility is your friend. (repeat three times) So is sanity.
9. Take time outs. We had a "Crying Chair" long before the Nanny did. Our rationale? No one wants to hear that stuff, so take it just out of earshot until you're good to play nicely again. It usually worked. No kid (or grown up) likes to be out of the action for long. As for Grown Up Time Outs, go to the odd movie or grab a coffee, even if you can't do it with your partner. It'll give you both the energy and common sense required to deal with the next biting three year old (and there will be a next one).
10. Stop. And do it now. One of the biggest challenges in our household is keeping up with all of the "To Dos" (see #2) I've learned to empty the backpacks when we get home from school -- and fill out all forms, sign tests and get out the trip money -- right then. It's worth the pause to get it done, and get it off the List. Otherwise, it's anyone's guess when (or IF) I'll remember to do it later.
11. Carpool. And share the Load. The best invention ever: gotta be the Carpool. Get into as many as you can manage and watch your List shrink to real person size. The upside? You get to see who your kids are hanging out with, make a few new friends (whose families have similar interests) and cut down on your own car time, which -- who are we kidding? -- equals very unproductive time. The downside? Finding enough carseats, granola bars and room for hockey bags, but that all comes out in the wash too.
So there you have it. My 11 Tips -- I simply couldn't leave out "Carpool" -- culled from a long list of things I routinely rant about. Have I missed anything? Leave a comment and share your favourite Survival tip!
Disclosure: This post is part of a blogging contest from the TwitterMoms community. There is a chance this post could be randomly selected to win a $50 Target GiftCard, so wish me luck! For more details, you can view the contest page here (http://icomp.ly/IconApps).
Actually, wish me extra luck, as I'm not technically eligible to win, living as I do on the wrong side of the lake ...