I am often asked how Aaron and I balance raising seven young ‘uns when we both work full-time, our jobs require us to travel, we’re both working on our graduate degrees and we’re active in our local church. My primary response is to note that I believe God gives each of us grace to handle whatever it is He has coming our way (more on this…). In addition, I think He has given us all different gifts to manage the everyday, and one of my primary gifts is that of creating systems.
Though all of us must learn to be organized, some of us just see the world in a wide variety of systems. Case in point- when my daughter, Angela, was only two years old I found her organizing a set of bags in even rows with the printed side of the bags all facing the same direction. My little systematic heart skipped a beat. 🙂 So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite, time and sanity-saving systems.
The Toddler Closet
I used to dread walking into my toddlers’ closet. I always knew what awaited me behind that door- piles and piles of clothes. The neat stacks I had placed in drawers or clean shirts on hangers would be strewned on the floor mixed with yesterday’s underwear and pudding-stained polo. Ugh! Then there was the issue of matching. No matter how I placed the clothes together, it still seemed Jaraan could walk downstairs with green shorts and a blue shirt.
I had tried sweater stackers and hanging cubes, but one day I saw this shoe organizer in my daughter’s closet and had an epiphany. There were enough compartments to hold over 2 weeks worth of outfits, solving the “refill” problem. They also hung over the door, saving needed closet space for the off-season clothes I hate packing and unpacking each season (there are really only 2 seasons in Texas).
Now my toddlers can grab a matching outfit with socks and underwear included out of a pocket in the morning without disturbing the other ones. I know they’ll match, and there isn’t a match. It makes putting clothes away easy, because I just fold into outfits, stack and put away. YES!
Meals, chores, who is doing what which day….it all goes on the board. We used to “meal plan,” but now we MEAL PLAN. This isn’t to say we stick to this like glue each day, but we don’t go a week without planning out our meals. We basically have the same set of breakfast and lunch items that we just rotate, and we probably have about 20-25 different dinners that we switch around. I know. It sounds boring, but it works for us! We spice it up now and then, trying out a new recipe or modifying common ones.
In addition to meals, our chores keep the house functioning. Everyone contributes. No one- not even the 3-year-old- is excluded. Taking out the recycling or helping match socks are easy chores for a toddler to do. Sophie has learned how to empty the small trash cans in the house and organize the front closet. We used to pay for chores, but now we’re operating under the philosophy that everyone contributes to the mess, so everyone contributes to getting it clean. The reward is being part of a family who works together to get the job done.
This huge blackboard hangs in our living room, and we change up the design and features every month or so. It’s been a fantastic tool to make sure everyone knows what’s going on, I am not asked 20 times what we’re having for dinner, and no one can say, “I can’t remember what my chores are!”
I could never understand why we didn’t have any towels. Then I found a pile of towels at the bottom of one kid’s hamper, and I was fed up. It was my husband, though, who came up with this fantastic idea. Every individual in the house has a different colored towel. They each have two, and we rotate them out every couple of days. I never hear, “I can’t find a towel!” anymore.
I hope this helps someone as much as it has helped me!!