Your busy life can easily become disorganized, leading to stress. The idea of adding anything to your to-do list may seem to invade "your" time, but getting organized is well worth the short-term drudgery. In addition to a tidier house, you will gain the long-term benefits that come from peace of mind, sanity, and better use of your energy — namely, enjoying your family. Here are some neat ways to simplify your life and put everything in its place:
- De-clutter your schedule. The first step toward simplifying your life is to figure out the things you want to keep doing and what you are willing to let go. Most of us are only awake about 14 hours each day. To make the most of this time, first write down all that you do from when you wake up until you go to sleep. What is taking up most of your energy? Can you delegate some of your duties to someone else? Try taking 24 hours to answer requests. If it doesn't contribute to a healthy balance, and isn't a high priority, politely say no! A saner life is possible when you free up space for what matters most.
- Delegate. If you have a spouse or partner, have a "family business meeting" with him or her once a week. Determine which family member is responsible for which chore. For those chores that nobody wants (paying bills or taking out the trash), take turns. When dividing up your parenting duties, remember that children benefit from having both parents participate in their care.
- Maintain a calendar. Update a personal calendar with appointments, work, or volunteer commitments; the kids' schedules; and family and house duties. Don't forget to also include time for self-care (exercise, yoga, meditation, massage) and time to just relax.
- Keep the family in the loop. At a set time each week, update a central family calendar. You can use different colors of ink for each family member. Write down who does what and when. This way, everyone will know what's going on and will understand if the family schedule looks too crazy and some activities need to be deleted.
- Make personal space. To keep your home tidy, your children need to know exactly where to put their belongings. Create a personal bin, basket, or shelf for each of your children. They can use these spaces for their shoes, hats, backpacks, musical instruments, and anything else they might want to stash. Set rules and rewards for this space. For example, when your children put all of their things in the right place, grant them a special privilege and offer praise. When they leave their things out, ask them to put the items away and help with some extra cleaning. Teaching your children to organize themselves will go a long way toward helping you preserve your sanity!
- Create personal bulletin boards for each child. Ask them to use the boards to hang up important documents such as invitations, lists of chores, and other critical information. Be sure to include some of their favorite works of art to make the space their own. When they become readers, encourage your children to review and update their boards.
- Clear the clutter. Most of us dread this job. However, clearing out clutter is essential because you will be more able to keep a room clean, as well as feel like everything is in its place. Structure in at least two 30-minute sessions a week to put objects where they belong. As a rule of thumb, trash or donate anything you have not used in the past year (with the exception of memories you really want to hold onto). If you are a pack rat, this can be a painful job. Donating items makes this process much easier as you remind yourself that you are passing on something to someone else who may really need and enjoy it.
- Tidy by tunes. Many moms find it helpful to set aside 15 minutes every evening for family cleanup sessions. Regular cleaning prevents any one job from getting too big. Give everyone clear and specific instructions for what needs to be cleaned up or put away. Turn on some music, and make cleaning fun!