Ducks In A Row

Ducks In A Row November 12, 2013

I love Kellie’s annual Christmas post.  Every year it inspires me to get it together and promises the fruit of my labor will be more time to adore Jesus in Advent.  Win-win.   Real, true, well-planned holidays are possible without stress and having a larger family does not preclude doing something well.  Because really, in the end of it, it’s all about planning and doing it ahead of time.  The more I live, the more children I have, the more I plan.  There’s really no other way.

You could say I’ve been learning this lesson the hard way over the years.  I am an organized person, by nature, but that was before I added 5 souls and a husband to the mix.  Getting us where we need to be, when we need to be, with what we need to be has been the ultimate organizational conundrum of my life!  I get asked all the time, “How do you do it?”  Really?  Truly?  With every detailed, organizational bone in my body!!!  And a LOT of grace and forgiveness from Above.  I always make sure to mention that too.

Today I wanted to share a few tips from the trenches, a few of my latest organizational tools that have begun to reap goodness in our day to day.  I know here at BC we just threw a lot at you in terms of holiday organization, but in case you need help getting your days organized too, read on!  If you can get your daily life together, then you can more feasibly add in the holidays and other bigger picture items and not be completely overwhelmed.

To start things off, I’ve set up a little mama corner in my kitchen.  It is my space and the kids know they are not to touch the items in mama’s corner.  In the drawer below is our monthly calendar, extra note paper, pens/sharpies, stamps, etc.

I’ll go through and highlight some of the features of mama’s corner…

1) A Family Agenda

A partially complete agenda–I promise you there’s something I forgot!

This is a day by day matrix of all my school-age kids and the days of the week.  On Sunday night I begin compiling their homework, tests, projects, etc. that are due for the week and write them on the day they are due.  It is like the ultimate family to-do list and has been very helpful for keeping tabs on who’s got what and when.  The inspiration for this chart came upon waking the morning of November 1st (the day after Halloween) and realizing my son had a “dream house” project due that day and we had forgotten it completely.  My other son had 2 quizzes, we had make-up pictures at preschool, and the baby was vomiting.  It was the awesome (heavy sarcasm) kick in the pants I needed to do a better job of managing.  Thus, our family agenda was born.  Two weeks in and we are enjoying the fruit of this organizational piece.

2) Meal Planning

What’s for dinner? Now everyone can easily see and my 7yo can plan his mutiny!

I actually just made this puppy over the weekend, so it is a work-in-progress.  Needless to say, I’m so excited about the look of it and just how it makes me feel knowing it’s up there, posted on my fridge.  Too bad it can’t cook too!  😉 I have always done a hand-written one of these, but in printed form with separate boxes for entree, side, and vegetable it looks nice and will help me better plan for each component of our nightly dinner.  I’m always good at the main dish, but often forget to plan the sides and end up throwing lettuce on everyone’s plate and calling it a night!  lol  I could do a better job of planning for more variety all around.

3) Inspiration

Don’t forget that you need fuel for the journey you’re on!  As you can see, I’ve included a few motivational pieces to keep me going.  One is a quote (author unknown) that I love and reminds me to reach for Jesus always, but especially in the hard-pressed moments.  I put it right at eye level at our most popular cabinet to make sure I never miss it.

Thank goodness Christ wore robes

The second is a sweet plaque a friend gave me for my birthday last year.  It is so humbling to look at because oftentimes I fall far short of amazing.  But at least when I look at it, I’m reminded she thinks a lot of me and that gives me motivation.  Whatever works! 😉  As moms and parents, we need that positive feedback because we are building cathedrals in secret and doing a lot of unappreciated work.  In fact, that’s a really clever idea for a blog…  😉 lol

You are amazing and don’t forget it!

I’ll leave it at that for today, but will surely be back soon to update you on our latest and greatest, what’s working and what’s failing, and hopefully tweaks for these systems and more.  Until then, plan on and keep up the good work.  God bless!

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  1 Cor. 5:58

"Thank you for all your years of blogging. It has been such fun and a ..."

A Final Post
"Just for anyone researching this subject, I teach elementary music and most pop songs, lyrically ..."

Pop Music and Kids
"MA, it took me forever to comment on this post, but wanted to thank you ..."

Christmas to-do list
"Way to go, MA! That's the spirit, just one step at a time. I started ..."

Christmas to-do list

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Just seeing your handwriting on that little note brought back some memories 😉 I miss those motivational notes on my desk! Ahh, the college memories.

    Good stuff here. My corner of the house is my desk, and our shared family calendar. Both Mr. Red and I have access to it from our phones and our computers, and it makes life flow much more smoothly. I may start to print out dinners for the week as I think my children would like to know what’s coming. I have a tiny crucifix just below my computer screen, and another just above the sink where I do dishes. These help to remind me of my purpose.

  • Juris Mater

    YOU GO GIRL!! I am just starting to come up for air and realize how much we need some serious organization ourselves–over the last couple of years, I feel like I’m just putting out the next fire, with very little grasp of the bigger picture. Because, like you, I’m organized by nature, but all these moving parts make my head spin!!

    Question: the thing holding me back from a master schedule is that I like spontaneity… well actually I DON’T like it at all, but I think my kids need it. When I have a tight master calendar like this one, I think I will be so totally task-oriented that we might not remember to just follow where creativity and imagination lead, and put moderately important things temporarily on the backburner sometimes. Maybe this is where I should add “waste time with kids” in an hour slot in the afternoons or something…?

  • Bethany

    JM, I have also been fighting tooth and nail with the imposing schedule for years. I want to be more free-spirited, more spontaneous… But my wise husband has had to remind me (over and over) that with a proper, organized schedule it actually helps us have MORE free time in the long run; more sanity. After my kids get home from school they get 30min of free time–to eat a snack, goof around, throw the football–but then its down to focused work. The more together and focused we are, the more relaxed time we have later. I fight it every time, but GG is right!!!

  • Bethany

    Kel, I can send some sticky notes in the mail if you need some extra pump up! 😉 Maybe you need to make up a showering decree and send it to me to sign. lol Great, wonderful times.

  • Bethany

    The showering one is for me–I know you have that covered now. 😉

  • Kat0427

    This is great! We are struggling with an after-school schedule – I find the different age groups to be our biggest challenge at the moment – but it’s always good to hear how others manage!

  • Maggie

    Your system looks great! As a side note, I don’t remember my parents ever keeping track of when I had homework/projects due. I’m not trying to criticize your kids–it just seems crazy that young children have so much homework that parents have to help schedule and manage it. For elementary school, I would have no problem sending in a note to the teacher, “Sorry, we didn’t have time to complete this (probably pointless) project.”

  • “(probably pointless)” — LOL!!!!! Hilarious! And this is why I can’t bring myself to send my kids to school. LOL!

  • ElizabethS

    I smiled a lot to see “Bang Bang Shrimp” on your meal plan. I have no idea if it’s similar, but our family makes “Bang Bang Chicken”. The two year old yells “bang bang!” whenever anyone talks about chicken.

  • Bethany

    Elizabeth, yes! I made BangBang Shrimp for the first time on Sunday–one of the million recipes I’ve pinned on Pinterest that I’m finally getting around to trying. It was pretty good! The family couldn’t believe I had actually battered and fried the shrimp in our kitchen. Your 2yo sounds adorable.

  • Donna

    B-mama this is great- keep ’em coming. I really can never see enough “how to get your big family organized” posts. 🙂

  • Mary Alice

    We have a tight schedule, and therefore we know which days have room for spontaneity! I know that Tuesday and Friday are my more “free” days, and so recently when a friend asked if I could help her out by watching her kids on a Tuesday, I knew that I could say yes, but that it was taking a big chunk of our freedom. In the end I did say yes, it is a good friend and what she has to do then is important, but I know that my kids will have a tighter week because of it.

    Also, I used to only “plan” dinner for the busy nights, figuring that I would wing it on the afternoons that we are home, but that means that I am not free to get into the craft, watch the circus or whatever the kids have come up with, because I am stressing about dinner!

  • Mary Alice

    My 5th and 7th graders have so much homework that I really don’t need to keep track anymore, they have a lot of work to do everyday. I think it is harder to organize when they have these projects here and there. We haven’t been through an exam cycle yet, but as that comes on I think I will have to have it in my calendar so that I can be sure not to schedule random doctor appointments, dinner with grandma, etc.

  • MaryAlice

    I have a really similar corner of my kitchen, right next to the fridge! Mine is so much messier, though, that I am afraid to post a picture. Everything “important” seems to wind up there when it doesn’t have a phone — random chargers, a puzzle piece that we found under the couch, etc. But, I do have a small filing system there as well, and you might find it helpful. I have a folder for each school, and one for my husband (his mail goes in there) and one for me. Then, I have a folder that I call “pending” this is where I shove paperwork that needs to get done, and I pick it up anytime I have a spare moment. Doctors forms, etc.

  • Lisa

    Such a great idea to have a filing system for mail! My husband’s just piles up all over the place — I love the idea of having a designated folder for all of his mail. And the pending folder — love it! Thanks!