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Staying Organized in a Chaotic Life

Busy schedule. Appointment sticky notes.

When it comes to managing work, school, and family life, some parents are swallowed up by the chaos while others seem to juggle all the demands without skipping a beat. The challenges facing parents put their organizational skills to the test. Finding a way to balance the responsibilities brought about by many demands is necessary for parents to keep their sanity. Once you find your rhythm, the balancing act is much more manageable.

The first thing you can do to get yourself organized is to make a special folder of vital information for each of your children. Label each with one child’s name and fill it with contact names, phone numbers, and schedules pertinent to that child. Include the names and numbers for teachers, doctors, and caregivers who may be able to help you out when you are in a bind. The folder should also include the name of each child’s school and his or her schedule of classes. This is the place to store the child’s schedules for sports and other extracurricular activities. Add to the list of contacts the names and numbers for any coaches, sponsors, and supervisors responsible for your child at such activities. Be sure to make copies of each child’s folder info. You will need one to keep at home, one for you to keep at work, and one for your spouse’s workplace, too. As the school year progresses, be sure relevant changes are made to the vital information in the folder as soon as it happens. Being up to date can make all the difference when an emergency arises.

It’s nearly impossible for a parent to successfully organize his or her time without the aid of a calendar. If you are managing without one, that’s great for you, but you may be depriving your family of dates and times for which they must plan. Post a large calendar in a conspicuous spot so all members of your family utilize it. Here, record special events, times for practices, and the name of any drivers designated to help with transportation. Add pictures to illustrate important events that affect your kids who have yet to learn how to read. This will help them feel a sense of belonging to the family unit and to teach them skills in organization. If you are tech-savvy and have older children blessed with the same skills, try using a digital calendar that can be shared with your family. Users can post their own schedule changes, and everyone can set alerts that will remind them of upcoming engagements.

Writing lists is another key practice of those who have a lot on their plates. Use sticky notes, a whiteboard, or a daily agenda to help you and your family manage time best. To-do lists can help everyone stay on track. Fill the lists with tasks that need completed and decide how to prioritize them. What needs done immediately? What tasks recur each week? What are items to do that are important but not crucial at this moment? Some items need done now while others can wait, but don’t procrastinate finishing something just because it’s unpleasant. Your least favorite items listed might be the most satisfying to accomplish. Get those daunting tasks out of the way first.

Another key factor in organization is knowing how and whom to ask for help. First, your children can be great help. Even preschool-aged kids can learn to fold laundry, pick up their toys, and wash vegetables. Older kids can take on more household chores like caring for pets and mowing the lawn. Big brothers and sisters can assist their siblings with homework, getting ready for bed, or picking the next day’s outfit. Trusted adults can also assist your family. Friends, neighbors, and relatives can help with everything from transportation to babysitting. You may have a fleet of people waiting to lend you a hand, but you’ll never know unless you ask.

As you work to find balance in your life, don’t forget that you and your family need time for sleep and leisure activities. These may need to be written on the calendar if they are being neglected. With all the opportunities that will arise throughout the school year, it’s easy to overschedule your lives. There’s no harm in saying no to a new activity or in giving one up for another. Discuss these situations with your children beforehand, especially if a child is missing out on sleep or is struggling to keep up on classwork. Staying organized can be a brutal challenge at first, but once you find your rhythm, you’ll make every beat count!

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