As a mom who constantly goes through phases of being super organized and motivated, to feeling in over her head and totally lost, believe me when I say I understand the struggle.
I'm a "type A" person at heart, but, you know... I'm a mom. I don't always have time to let my overly organized ambitious projects take shape. I think that plays into my feelings of defeat when things get a little out of control. I want to be super organized, but I just don't have the time!
However, I've learned to adapt and you can trust me when I say you can have your life together without the pack of highlighters and the label maker. It's more than possible to keep your home organized while still leaving plenty of time for your kids and yourself.
One thing that has been a lifesaver for my family, is cycling through toys. I don't practice minimalism necessarily, but I understand that more stuff in the living room means more cleaning, and more toddler screams. So I only keep a small handful of toys out at once, cycling through them every week or two.
If you're looking to get organized without the unnecessary stress, I've got you covered. Follow my twenty tips below and I promise you'll be well on your way to a totally new lifestyle! The best thing - these can be applied, no matter your situation.
20 Pack Clothes Away As Your Child Grows Out Of Them
When you let it pile up, it becomes more and more daunting. As much as it sucks, it's best to just nip it in the bud.
I know it's frequent, but trust me, you don't want to let it pile up. Especially if you have a problem with buying a ton of cute baby clothes that they only wear one time (if at all).
I got lazy and didn't pack my son's clothes from 9-12 months, and by the time he was 15 months old, his closet was too full to hang anything up! It ended up taking me a couple of days to get it back under control. I don't recommend it, at all.
19 Set Yourself Up For Easy Mornings
When you wake up to a cluttered, messy house with nothing ready to go (especially when your kids are school-aged) you're not doing yourself any favors. No one wants to start their day frazzled!
At night, especially when you've been dealing with kids all day long, it's hard to motivate yourself to prepare for the next day ahead. But I promise it makes all the difference!
Simply laying out your kids outfits and setting the lunchboxes on the counter can ensure a much smoother morning routine.
Since I don't have any school-aged children yet, I just make sure the house is tidy and the next day's morning activity is set up and ready to go. It's so nice waking up to a clean house, and I kick myself all the time for not starting that sooner.
18 Keep Wipes In Every Room
Keep wipes in every room! You'll thank me later. Keep them in drawers and on shelves, or really anywhere they fit. It makes quick spills super easy to take care of right away.
This is especially helpful when you have young kids and toddlers running around. We all know how much they like to play in the messes they make. You have to be quick before it turns into a gigantic problem.
Seriously, it's so frustrating! A three-minute cleanup job can quickly become a 20 minute one, and all it takes is the few seconds you're spending chasing down that pack of wipes that you swear was "just right here".
17 Create A Cleaning Plan
Creating a cleaning plan is the way to go, folks! But (and this is a big BUT), it's going to take some tweaking to get it juuuust right.
You can't expect to always follow your cleaning schedule. After all, things pop up, kids get sick, and you can't always predict what's going to happen in any given week. That's why it's important to not go too overboard.
Don't fill your daily cleaning lists to the brim, and be sure to give yourself plenty of wiggle room. It doesn't have to be a crazy specific plan.
For me, I just make sure I tidy up things that I see need to be done while my son eats breakfast, once during nap, and again after I lay him down for bed. That way it doesn't pile up! If you want to assign one week a month to dusting, or a specific day every week to clean the toilets, that's cool too.
16 Use A Planner
Just like your cleaning schedule, your planner doesn't have to be super filled out with little stickers and everything.
I used to love doing all of that, but honestly, who has the time after kids?
Still, planners are great for keeping your thoughts in order. Simply jot down your upcoming doctor's appointments and due dates for bills, and make it a point to glance through your upcoming week on Sundays.
Things that may have slipped your mind will now be fresh, and you'll be much more likely to actually get it done! This works even better when you incorporate my next tip.
15 Use The "Reminders" App On Your Phone
If you don't use the reminders app on your phone, you're seriously missing out. I'm pretty sure it was specifically designed for the tired mom rocking the messy bun who can't seem to remember anything because her brain is fogged by an endless stream of dishes and diapers.
You can set it to remind you when bills are due just in case you forget to look at your planner. As much as I like to think I'm on top of things, I can't tell you how many times I've almost missed a bill.
My phone has saved us many times! Plus, it clears up some room in my brain and makes me feel like I don't have to juggle it all.
14 Create A Meal Plan
Honestly, meal planning can seem like a major time suck, but when you realize how nice it is to have a plan throughout the week, it's more than worth it. It helps you not overspend at the grocery store, too!
Taking the time to sit down and plan out each meal for the week will save you so much time in the long-run. Plus, once you get in the habit of it, it will take you less and less time each week.
You'll start to remember which meals you typically schedule close to each other in order to save money, and which meals take the least amount of time for your extra busy days.
13 Tackle Big Tasks In Chunks
If your to-do list is huge and full of big tasks, break them down into smaller chunks to make them achievable. If you need to clean out the attic, make that your goal over the course of an entire month, versus a one-day job. That way you don't put it off!
If you're anything like me, seeing something like that on your daily to-do list will totally put you off of doing it completely. It's just too daunting!
When you break things down into smaller tasks, you're much more likely to get them all done. In fact, you might complete the entire task sooner!
12 Create A Command Center For Your Family
Okay, your command center doesn't have to be this fancy. A girl can dream though, right? I mean, the one above is absolutely gorgeous!
Just buy a dry erase board and a calendar, and there you go! That's almost as good.
Write everyone's schedule on a dry-erase calendar and keep a quick grocery list next to it for whoever goes to the store next. You can even create Google Calendars and sync them up with your husband's to stay in the loop on what you're both doing.
I wish my husband would do that, but I can't get him to use the calendars on his phone, period. Dry erase board, it is!
11 Use Your Time Wisely
I've been guilty of OVER planning and organizing. This can waste a ton of time that could be spent actually getting things done. Don't fall into that habit. Be better than me!
Sure, it can be therapeutic to sit down and color code your life. It gives you the sense that you actually have things together.
But it's all a lie if you spend more time planning than you do getting things done.
This is yet another reason that I don't go too crazy with the cute stickers and colored gel pens anymore. If I get going, there's no stopping me!
10 Enlist Help When You Need It
You can't do everything by yourself all the time! Get help when you need it! Ask the kids for help, or get your husband to pitch in. If you're willing, you can even ask for help from your parents or your in-laws.
My MIL has saved me on several occasions. I'll be broken down almost to the point of tears, and she'll come over and take my son out to play so I can focus. Even better, one time she took almost all of my dirty laundry and brought it back clean and folded later that evening.
If that's not love, I don't know what is. We all know how quickly things can fall apart. You get sick for two days and the next thing you know, your house is completely trashed. You can't be expected to tackle everything alone 365 days a year.
9 Get Activities Together Ahead of Time
Plan some fun activities for when your kids will inevitably get fussy and get in the way of your cleaning time. You can find a ton of low-prep activities on Pinterest that are total lifesavers.
Busy boxes, like the ones shown above, are my go-to. Depending on your child's age, you should aim to include activities that don't require a ton of supervision. Obviously, you have to keep an eye on them no matter what, but don't make it hard on yourself.
For instance, don't put water beads in a busy box. Ever. You won't get anything done while they play. You'll just create a new mess for yourself.
8 Get A Schedule In Place
Maybe you have a rockin' planner and control center in place, but you're still struggling to find time to actually get everything done. Having a proper daily schedule in place is key.
You may need to make adjustments some days, such as waking up early or utilizing naptime in a new way.
This is exactly how I keep my house running smoothly (for the most part). I don't overplan days or weeks in advance, other than the major things like bills and appointments. Then each night before bed, I sit and write out a quick plan for the following day. It's the only way to keep track of everything going on!
7 Create A Household Binder
Keep all your bills, budgeting sheets, doctor info, and everything else you can think of, in one convenient binder.
If I'm being honest, our household binder is a wreck right now. (It's on my list of long-term things to tackle.)
But, when it is in order, my life is always a lot easier! It makes coupon clipping and bill management a breeze. There are tons of cute printables available on Pinterest, to help you keep track of your kids' afterschool activities, soccer practice, doctor's recommendations, finances, the whole nine yards!
As with anything else on this list, it's one thing to put a home management binder together. Keeping up with it seems to be the tricky part.
6 Out With The Old
When you have a birthday or holiday coming up and you know your home is going to be cluttered with new presents, go ahead and start planning what you might want to let go of.
We all know it's impossible to constantly gain new items year after year without letting old things go. Less really is more!
Not too long ago I had a mommy meltdown and removed more than half of the toys in the living room. I donated some and packed others away for our next baby.
I was so sick of spending 40 minutes cleaning a hundred little toys every night, that I just snapped. And I am SO happy I did. My son is playing with his toys more because there's not a staggering amount of them everywhere, and it only takes me about 5 minutes to tidy them up in the evening.
5 Always Think Ahead
If you find yourself with a little extra time to fill one afternoon, why not tackle something that will make your life easier in the future? Chop up the veggies you'll need for tomorrow's snack or tackle a small chore on your list.
It's hard to find the motivation some days. After all, everyone benefits from a break every now and then. Sometimes it's better to take some time for yourself so you'll be nice and refreshed for the next day.
But whenever you can muster the energy to get something done, I say go for it! You'll thank yourself later.
4 Keep Extra Sets of Clothes and Toys In Your Car
This may not seem like an organizational "hack", but I promise it can make your life a whole lot easier!
How often have you found yourself in a position where you needed a change of pants for one of your kids, or you wish you had a toy to occupy a screaming baby? Probably too many times to count, right?
Keeping extra outfits and toys in your car is essential to feeling like a badass mom who's got it all together.
Bonus points if you have one of these nifty little organizers for the backs of chairs. You're totally winning at that point.
3 Create Good Habits (And Stick To Them)
It's important to create and encourage good habits, not only in yourself but in your kids and other family members as well.
Encourage your kids to put toys away soon after use, get in the habit of wiping up spills right as they happen, and so on.
One habit in particular that I've benefited from lately, has been getting used to cleaning out the fridge every day before going grocery shopping. As simple as it sounds, it was a hard thing to get used to, but it's made my life so much less chaotic.
Instead of frantically shoving food in an already full fridge, I now get to peacefully put fresh groceries away in a sparkling fridge.
Little things like that go a long way!
2 Cut Down On Your To-Do List
Don't drive yourself crazy with a million things to do every day. Cut out the things that are non-essential and go from there.
This was perhaps one of the most challenging things I faced when I was a new mom. I hadn't worked in several months before my son was born. I was used to doing pretty much whatever I wanted all day long.
If I wanted to write a to-do list that was a mile long, I pretty much finished it by the end of the day. After I had my son, I had to kiss those days goodbye.
No matter how awesome you are at multitasking or occupying your children, you simply can't get the same amount done as you used to. It's a hard pill to swallow.
1 Be Consistent
What all of this really boils down to is consistency. We all know how quickly the house can get messy. If you let it slip for even a day or two, it can become total chaos.
Consistency is key! Take 20 minutes to tidy up and organize things every day, and you'll save yourself a huge headache.
Your house doesn't have to be spotless, and you don't have to have a color-coded calendar hanging on your wall to be organized and have your life under control. But it's a slippery slope.
As long as you have things coordinated in a way that makes sense to you, and you take the time to be consistent with things every day, you and your family will thrive!