Honestly, I had this amazing idea for a blog post. I actually got so excited, because I was like this is perfect, and it perfectly fits Simplify Your Life. Unfortunately, I forgot to write it down, and then when I went to make my graphics for the post, I could not remember what the topic I had thought of was. So, then I decided to go with the other thing that comes to mind.
Ways to keep your family running like a well oiled machine, or at least like a mostly well oiled machine. Now, I am no expert on anything. Particularly not parenting, running a household, organization, or life. However, I do know how to try things out, and see what works well. So, with Gigi starting Kindergarten, and everything going on in our life, I have been trying out things, for a while now, in hopes of keeping us running more smoothly.
So, here goes a few of the things I have found, that have helped me keep things running well, or at least well enough.
1. Planner. These days, so much of life is based on or connected to technology. However, I have found that having a regular paper planner, has helped me immensely. Yes, technology is great, and yes I have many planner options on my phone. However, it was not until I went "old school", and got a paper planner, that I started keeping it all together better. I currently use a Happy Planner from MAMBI. I have a Deluxe Cover for it, and I love it. I actually REALLY love it. However, I do plan on switching over to a fully customized Plum Paper Planner soon.
I am switching, not because I don't love the Happy Planner, but because I feel like the Plum Paper will better fit my life, and my needs. I can add in an entire section for blog organization. Plus, I feel like it will keep me better organized, as I am now trying to juggle not just our regular life things, my blog, and my health, but now all of Gigi's school stuff.
So, I highly recommend looking into an actual paper planner. The ones I find most awesome, are Happy Planner, Plum Paper Planner, and Erin Condren. However, there are SO MANY options. I just know you can find one, you will love. Also, there are so many Planner Groups on Facebook, that can help you get started, and get the most from your Planner. My favorite one is called "All Things Planning".
2. Wall Calendar. Yes, another "old school" item. Do not get me wrong, I still keep my phone calendar fully loaded, with every possible thing we have going on. Sometimes, I even include things that are maybes. I like to try to do things, even if at first I am not sure we can definitely do it. Plus, with my health being so up and down, sometimes I actually have a good day, and we can do something we were originally unsure of. Having the major/important things on paper, helps. I like to look at the calendar regularly, and make note of things that are coming up. It helps me better remember everything, and helps me to plan things out. It also helps me better prepare financially. So, if you do not have a physical wall or desk calendar, I recommend trying it out. My current one, was a gift from my mum Rosemary, and is a Boston Red Sox calendar. So, the bonuses are thinking of my mum, when I look at it, and thinking of my Red Sox.
3. Sync all family members digital calendars. Speaking of calendars, I definitely recommend maintaining digital calendars, and letting everyone possible to have a digital calendar, and syncing them regularly. In our family, Chad has a calendar, and I have one. On mine, I maintain all of my own events, and all of Gigi's. It will not only help things run smoother, and eliminate any schedule conflicts, or at least as many as possible. I thing the more balls you juggle as a family, the harder it is to eliminate all conflicts. Plus, inevitably, some days will be way busier than others. At least, if you are all synced up, you can keep things as easy and smooth as possible.
4. Family Command Center. This can be as simple or as complex, as your family's needs and home allows. I definitely recommend having at least a basket for incoming mail, until it can be processed and discarded or filed away. Other helpful things, are dry erase boards, cork boards, filing cabinets, menu boards, phones, address book (including all important numbers- doctors, plumber, electrician, baby sitters, favorite restaurants, and family members), post it notes, pens, markers, postage notes, a box of blank cards, and any other items you use to keep your life organized. I recommend making a desk are the command center, or some extra space in the kitchen. Our command center is kind of just a corner in the living room, where I sit the most, and have a table with a draw and shelf. In the future, my goal is to utilize my desk in the hallway, as the command center. I do not have that desk in the hallway yet, so it is just a goal. Once I get my hallway organized, and set up how I want, I plan on making a post about it. Fingers crossed that happens soon. I am still trying to find the perfect desk for my space, in a price range I can afford.
5. File System/Fire Proof Safe. I definitely recommend getting an actual system for all the papers you need to keep. Whether it is receipts, manuals, warranties, tax papers, bills, or kid's schoolwork. Rather than have it scattered all over in various places, get it all gathered up, and organized in one place. As someone who has survived two fires, I cannot stress this enough. In the event of an emergency, it is best to know exactly where you need to go, to find important things. I also recommend, keeping them elevated if possible, in case there is ever any flooding. I also recommend buying a locking safe, that is fireproof, and keeping your most important things in it. Birth certificates, social security cards, medical paperwork, financial paperwork, and anything else you would absolutely not want to lose in a fire.
6. Meal planning. The Bergham family needs to get better at this, but whenever we do it, it helps immensely. I strongly recommend planning your meals for the week out, and do the shopping in advance. You can do prep work the day before, and meal times can run much more smoothly. I feel so stressed, when I am trying to figure out in the morning/early afternoon, what is for dinner that night. Plus, often, I will realize I do not have certain ingredients, and this leads to even more last minute changes, or urgent/inconvenient store runs. Now that Gigi is in school, this is even more important to me, because I value our time together even more, since there is so much less of it.
7. Communication. In relationships, communication is so important. I have seen so many relationships fall apart, simply because the couple is not great at communicating with each other. Well, a family is one of the most important relationships, and communication is definitely important. Chad and I are pretty good at communicating. Possibly because I am such a talker. However, at times, we have moments where it is so evident we did not communicate well. Those moments really stink, and I work extra hard to avoid them. We do pretty well, and when we do encounter those moments, we immediately start communicating, and we work through it. I try to make sure Gigi understands how important it is, that she always talks to us. I let her know, there is nothing she cannot tell me, because I will always love her no matter what. I am really hoping she remembers that in her teen years. For now, it just helps keep us running as smoothly as possible, and avoids confusion.
8. Routine. I do really well, when I have a solid routine going, and it is becoming obvious that Gigi is the same. So, I cannot stress enough, how much easier things become, if you get a routine, and keep it as much as possible. I think anyone who has a routine down, can attest to how much this one helps. Sometimes, it is not about having a complete and total routine, but more about routines for the important things. Morning routines, bedtime routines, mealtime routines, chore routines, weekend routines, etc. I don't do full day routines, although, maybe I should, but I do use routines for the more complicated and important times. It definitely helps it all to go smoother.
9. Pizza and Ice Cream. This addition is from Chad. When he said it though, I knew exactly what he meant. On those crazy days, where you are all so busy, and your family is juggling a million balls... Do not hesitate to fall back on pizza (or whatever extremely simple, cheap thing your family loves) for mealtime. It can be just the break you all need in the day. For those hard days, where emotions are running high, and things are rough, do not hesitate to break out the ice cream (or whatever treat you all enjoy), to give yourselves a metal and emotional uplifting moment. There have been times, when I feel like things are just too much, and I have grabbed Gigi some ice cream, and I am telling you, it was just the thing we needed. Pizza has definitely saved dinner more than once. It has helped us survive some of the busiest days we have encountered.
10. Plan Ahead. Whenever possible, plan ahead. It can really take stress off of you. Plan birthdays and holidays in advance. Schedule important doctor visits in advance. Plan vacations in advance. Plan fun weekends in advance. Whenever you are able to plan ahead, do it. You will definitely thank yourself later. Plus, planning ahead helps you to avoid any last minute hiccups, and get things fixed before it is too late. Plus, in some cases, it can allow you to save up money, and even save money on the event itself. So, I strongly advise you to plan ahead.
My bonus advice, is purge. Any chance you get to get rid of stuff, do it. Donate it or throw it away. I think we often tend to hang on to things that do us absolutely no good, and that can clutter up our lives. I am a firm believer, that the less clutter, the better. I think that is why I wish I were better at living in such a tiny house, with such little storage/closet space. I wish I were far better at it, and had less clutter around.
So, there you have it. My non-expert advice on how to help your family run like a well oiled machine. Do you have any tips not on my list? I would love to hear them!
Be sure to check out these other awesome blogs, and see what they have in store for you, to help simplify your life!!
Karen of Baking In A Tornado