Organizing Tips for Overwhelmed Parents

‘If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.’ Abigail Van Buren

Being a parent is a full-time job; you not only have to take care of your child’s physical needs, but also ensure their mental and emotional health, as well as track their progress in school and social life, all to ensure that he has as bright a future as possible. And despite all the effort parents put in, and the constant reminders of the love between parent and child, sometimes, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. All the work done in raising a child might be worth it in the end, but that doesn’t stop it from being work; and with all a parent has to do (and perhaps more, if you have a day job or other commitments), it’s very easy to be snowed under by the herculean effort required to simply keep to your daily schedule.

But perhaps, some of that work can be lessened or even mitigated if you were more organized? Perhaps you’re overwhelmed because of waste time, because you don’t know where everything is? If you’re feeling like your life’s work (hint: parenting) is spiraling out of control, or if you simply want to maximize your efficiency so no ounce of effort is wasted on your child, then perhaps you should take a gander at some of these organizing tips:

1)     Daily Schedule

If you don’t have it yet, you should put serious consideration into hanging up a daily schedule, if not for your family, then a personal schedule for yourself. A daily schedule makes life more organized; you’ll always know what to do at what time, so there won’t be time wasted by you simply wandering around wondering what to do. Keep an efficient schedule with varying tasks; a schedule should help in the spreading out your chores, evenly and equally. Divide your schedule into hourly or half-hourly timeslots; and if you spend more than 2-3 hours on a single task, you’d know that it’s gone overboard. Fill up your schedule with thing you regularly do on a daily or weekly basis, like cooking or the laundry; and space them between periods of half hours/hours of relaxation, to give yourself time to stress down.

If you’re one of those people who simply cannot keep to a fixed schedule, a variable schedule can be set up. Simply fill in your schedule with those chores you absolutely need to do, and which you do on a daily or weekly basis. The rest of the timeslots left, either leave them blank if you’re sure you can find something to do, or fill them in with something general; like ‘relax’ or ‘social’ or ‘clean’. This gives you the freedom to decide what to do with your spare time, but also keeps the rest of your time more organized, not letting a moment go to waste.

If your family agrees, make up schedules for them to adhere to as well. Family calendars for important events, chore schedules to remind your children of their chores, and daily schedule for the kids are all great ways to ensure efficient time management for the whole family.

2)     Storage/Organizers

Once you have your time under control, your second consideration should be the physical objects; namely, all the tools and other junk you have lying around your home. If everything is where it should be, it’ll cause less frustration for both you and your family.

Buy storage containers for just about everything; cabinets and drawers for the kitchen, shelves for the reading and living room, and boxes and drawers for the bedrooms. Label them if you want to; but over time, learn to always store the same things in the same compartments. Here’s a hint; it doesn’t really matter whether the compartment itself is messy or neat. What matters is you know your tool/object is inside the compartment, and that the mess is out of sight (and therefore out of mind).

Teach your children (and your husband/wife if necessary!) to pick up after themselves; return everything to their designated position. Make the contents for each compartment have a general theme; for example, in the living room, perhaps you’d have one drawer for remotes, one for books, and the last for electrical wires. This way, everyone in the family knows where everything should go, even if they forgot the object’s original position after hours of use.

Lastly, if you find your house cluttered with knick-knacks and useless junk, you should designate a storage room. Set aside a room (a small or medium sized one, depending on how much junk you have) to store all the junk; and make sure your family knows about the existence of this room, so they can make regular visits to deposit all the junk they no longer want. Especially during spring cleaning, make thorough use of the room; humans are lazy by nature, so having a ‘junk room’ on hand should steer them towards clearing their junk. Then, when the storage room gets too full, organize a garage sale, or even a giveaway; clear the room by selling the stuff or donating everything to charity. This way, the room acts as a ‘rubbish bin’ of sorts; temporary storage to encourage the family to clear their junk, until the next garage sale or donation drive.

3)     Child management

Alright, so you’ve got your time and junk under control. Now, you should focus on your children. Most of the stress parents face originates from their children; so it stands to reason that to tackle the stress, you have to tackle your children (metaphorically, of course).

Firstly, ensure good family communication. Family meetings once a week or month are a good idea, to get any important matters laid on the table, and settle any underlying problems in a family member’s life. Remember to include your children in the meetings though, physically and verbally, so they don’t feel left out.

If both parents are usually busy or working, perhaps you should set up a family notice board. Set up a simple cork/sponge/foam board in a location your family frequents; the living room or kitchen, perhaps. Leave pins or post-its below the board. Then, tell your children that if they have any matters they wish to communicate, ranging from the trivial like a request for groceries or the important like attendance for the school play, they can simply leave a note on the board and either parent will take notice. Of course, you should then make it a habit to check the board regularly; nothing’s worse than an ignored child.

Also, make sure that your children aren’t overwhelmed with activities; when the children themselves are overwhelmed, a domino effect would occur causing the parent to feel overwhelmed as well, due to the fact that parents will most probably have to assist and keep up in a child’s activities. In most cases, 1-2 extra-curricular activities per child will be more than sufficient for a child’s growth.

And of course, lastly, you should make your children as self-sufficient as possible. Trust your child to handle the small things on their own; small things like lunch/dinner and coming back home from school by themselves is something that any teenager or mature child should be able to handle.