I am the mother of eight-year-old triplets and a very energetic 11-year-old daughter. Everyone I meet always wants to know, how do you do it?
One word: organization.
When the triplets were babies I had to write out their feeding, sleeping and pooping schedule on a graph just to make sure that everyone’s needs were met, and nobody would starve to death.
These days, my organizational needs have changed. With four kids in school, what organization looks like for me is a system of having a place for everything, and everything in its place.
I have created a list of organization tips that have helped in raising our higher order multiples plus one. In sharing these tips, I am not asserting that I have a 100 percent success rate by completing any or all of them each day. But, I can attest to the fact that when I do follow through with these ten tips, my life becomes a lot easier.
1. Wake up 30 minutes before the kids.
My husband has been suggesting I implement this advice for years, but sadly, I am not a morning person. When I do follow this little gem of wisdom, I can take a shower and make my coffee before the kids march down the stairs like a herd of elephants. This technique just starts the day off on the right foot.
2. Do one load of laundry every day.
You may be thinking, “Yeah, but she has a family of six, and I only have a family of four, and so I don’t need to do laundry every day.” Wrong. If you do not keep up with a load of laundry a day, those clothes accumulate, and then you end up with five loads of laundry on the weekend. That is just not right.
3. Lay kids clothing out before bedtime.
My kids are terrible at picking out their outfits. I find it extremely helpful to have each child help me lay out an outfit each night and require them to put the outfit on before they come downstairs for breakfast. Doing this is a time-saver and hassle-reducer.
4. Meal plan.
Meal planning, that nasty little chore that falls right in between a visit to the dentist and constipation, in my book. It takes time, preparation and organization. When I meal plan, I feel like supermom. Meal planning not only saves time during the week, but it saves money because you buy only the ingredients you need for the week instead of the ingredients you think you may need. Here is an example of my pre-planned meals for the week:
Monday: Beef Stew
Tuesday: Baked Ziti and Chicken
Wednesday: Calico Bean Pot
Friday: Homemade Pizzas
Saturday: Chicken Nuggets and Baked Beans
(since Mommy and Daddy are going out)
Sunday: Spaghetti Bolognese
My kids help me prepare a part of the meal some nights. They love to put together salads, and it saves me a lot of time. Sundays are cook with Mommy days, and I trade off letting one of my children find a recipe, plan it out and then help me make it.
5. Have kids pick up toys before bed.
By the end of the day, the playroom and bedrooms are disasters. Sometimes before bed, we have the kids clean up their mess so we can start the next day off clean. Having the children pick up their toys teaches them responsibility and organization early on. Some nights we forget to have the kids clean up the playroom, but the bedtime blitz is a good habit to get into.
6. After school goal chart.
We put together a chart so our children would have some boundaries, guidance, and direction when they get home from school. We all know that kids NEED boundaries and direction to be happy and successful individuals. If the children complete their after school responsibilities WITHOUT COMPLAINING each day of the week, they earn ten LEGO dollars.
Here is what the chart looks like:
7. Divide and conquer after dinner responsibilities.
For ten years, my husband and I have been in charge of dinner dishes. Recently, we have divided up all the dinner dishes tasks for the children to do each night. The 12-year-old rinses the dishes and puts them in the dishwasher. The triplets clear the table, wipe it down and vacuum. My husband and I sit in the family room with a glass of wine each and remind each other how long we have been waiting for the day when our children could help around the house.
8. Move coats and shoes to the garage.
It only took us eight years to figure this out, but now that we have discovered this little organizational delight, our lives have changed for the better. For years, we have struggled with where everyone would store their shoes and coats. Kids shoes were shoved in a cubby system that crowded my laundry room. Coats were hung haphazardly on a coat rack by our front door that one of the kids would tip over on themselves from time to time. For someone who enjoys organization and tidiness, the shoes and coats were disaster situations.
My husband stopped by Home Depot and picked up an inexpensive shoe shelf and coat hanging system. Everything has been built on a small person’s level so there will no longer be an excuse when I see coats on the floor and shoes scattered everywhere.
9. Duct tape parking spaces.
My husband and I devised a plan to create parking spaces for the four bikes and five scooters we have. We went to Home Depot and picked out a duck tape for each child in the style that matched their personality. We created parking spots using their special duck tape, so there is never a question of where to park their respective bikes.
10. Sort snail mail.
As soon as I lay eyes on our mail, I immediately begin to sort through it and recycle what we don’t need. I have a place for my bills, a place for my catalogs and a place for my coupons, etc. This is helpful because if you do not sort through the mail each day you will end up with a gigantic pile of paper on your dining room table or kitchen counter within days. Also, a few years ago I painstakingly called each company that was sending me a catalog I did not want to receive and asked them to remove me from their mailing list. This significantly cut down on my mail and saved a few trees in the process.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
The most important part of being organized is having a proper place for everything in your home. Toys, school backpacks, homework and outerwear all need a place to live. If you don’t have a place for something, find one. If you can’t find a place for something in your house, then it isn’t that important, and you should probably donate it.
If you want your life to feel more organized, your home is a great place to start.
This post was originally published on BonBon Break and has been syndicated with permission.
For more multiples parenting tips and stories, order your copy of Multiples Illuminated: A Collection of Stories and Advice From Parents of Twins, Triplets and More today! Or enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a copy from April 8 – 16.
Megan Woolsey is a the co-editor of Multiples Illuminated, writer, and publisher living in Northern California with a very supportive husband and a wild bunch of red-headed children – a set of triplets and their big sister. Megan has been published in The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, BLUNTmoms, Bonbon Break, Mamalode, In The Powder Room and is an essayist in two anthologies.