Organising for busy parents – 15 hacks to make life easier
It’s commonly believed that organising for busy parents is impossible because time and energy are in short supply when you have offspring. But getting organised is an investment in your future sanity. Establish good habits, systems and modelling early on, for the benefit of future you.
Here are some ideas.
- Minimise the amount of toys and clothes you bring in. Organising for busy parents can mean just saying no. Because the more you have, the messier things get. Make sure the grandparents get the memo (and good luck with that)!
- Don’t give in to pester-power. That one treat you buy your kid at the supermarket checkout will haunt you by raising their expectations in future.
- Declutter and organise your home and the kids’ stuff. Organising for busy parents means minimal clutter and a place for everything. Also, use labels! That means things are easy to find, AND easy to put away. Which brings me to…
- Don’t put it down, put it away. Set expectations that the kiddos will do the same. No more toys out of the toybox until the first lot is put away, no television until the Play-Doh is packed and no dessert until the dinner dishes are in the dishwasher. Organising for busy parents takes effort, but the payoff is real. Packup music can help – no wonder they use it at kindergartens.
- Rotate their toys. If you have enough space and mental bandwidth for additional toys, pack some away and have a rotation system. Giving them access to lots of stuff at once increases overwhelm and mess.
- Say no to birthday party gifts. Write ‘no gifts’ on kiddo’s party invitation. If parents protest or insist, suggest they bring a bag of chips, or gift some cash (if age appropriate).
- Set up a go zone or command centre to get the family out of the house smoothly. Store everyday items (shoes, hats, school bags), calendars, notes and important organisational elements here. But only the necessities – or this zone will quickly become chaotic.
- Have you heard of colour-coding their stuff? Each child is assigned a colour and the system carries across everything from underwear to drink bottles. So at a glance you know what is there and what is missing, and who to blame when something is not put away.
- News-flash – pyjamas are not essential. Organising for busy parents can mean thinking outside the box. For smoother mornings, some families bathe their kids at night and dress them in the next day’s outfit. Assuming it’s comfortable of course. Leggings or elasticised shorts are a winner.
- A dressing-room zone near or in the laundry can be a good spot for washed, frequent-wear clothes. Kids come here to get ready. It saves folding and distributing all the things to all the rooms.
- Go one step further and don’t even pair the socks. If the kids want matchy-matchy, they can pair them as they dress. This may mean you all let go of the idea of perfection.
- Declutter with them regularly and build that muscle, so they learn how to make decisions and let go. Kids work well with concrete concepts like “let’s choose the dolls that are your best friends” or “let’s pick out your 50 top books”. A clear, positive approach that gives them agency is best.
- Don’t over-schedule them or yourself. They don’t need to be in every activity. And you don’t need to spend two days making a birthday cake unless it’s a high priority. Leave time for relaxing and for maintaining your house.
- Say no to hand-me-downs, or at least be selective. If you find hand-me-downs too useful to forgo, sort and label in sizes so you can have a working system for getting things into circulation correctly.
- Meal plan, or at least have healthy foods on hand you know the kids will eat. If that means they have raw vegetable sticks and some cereal for dinner, you’re doing great!
Organising for busy parents means minimising and organising items, putting things away and sometimes just saying no. Additional furniture, tubs and drawers can be useful in getting organised, but often the answer is less rather than more.