It's not very sexy is it?
No one ever got hot under the collar thinking about a filing system.
And I don't think Mr Gray ever made Ana write a meal plan. That would have been sadistic.
But domesticity comes to us all and if you're going to run a home you may as well put it on autopilot so you can concentrate on the fun stuff. (No, not that fun stuff. Get your mind out of the gutter, young lady!)
But setting up organizational systems take time and energy. So, where to start?
I've divided my list of most favorite, can't cope without, organizational systems into 3 categories: rookie, specialist and veteran.
Wherever you fall on the organizing spectrum (yes, it's a spectrum), I hope you'll find something helpful and encouraging.
Rookie Organizing System
While some organizational systems might be a 'nice to have', everyone needs to pay the bills, eat and have clean clothes every day. If you don't know where to start getting organized, I highly encourage you to start with these 3 basic systems. Everything else is just gravy.
I know some people hate the word budget, but whatever you call it, every home need some kind of system to ensure bills are paid on time, you have money to feed the family and hopefully put something aside for a rainy day.
It doesn't have to be a complex panic-inducing spreadsheet. I'm no financial wizard but I can recommend this helpful post from Chrissy at Organise My House: 10 Easy to Use Budgeting Tips. Tip number 5 is gold.
While some people cringe at the thought of making a 'budget', I'm pretty certain just as many people hate the thought of a 'meal plan'. But budgets and meal plans work together like jeans and a white t.shirt. It's a classic combination.
Meal planning can save you money, time, and effort. A meal plan is your knight in white armor when 5pm rolls around and you're dealing with hungry kids and that internal battle of 'should I just give up and order take-out?'.
If you've previously tried meal planning and given up, I highly encourage you to try out a different meal planning system.
To help you find your perfect meal plan, I've collected some of the best blog posts about different systems right here for you. Try them on, shop around, you can change your mind whenever you want.
Short on time? Try: 40 Dump Recipes For The Slow Cooker That Are Actually Delicious By Lauren Greutman
Hate to meal plan? Try: The Non-Planner's Guide To Meal Planning By Laura at I Heart Planners
Cooking on a very small budget? Try: Feed a Family of 4 for less than £9/week By Jack Monroe at Cooking On A Bootstrap
Want to give freezer cooking a whirl? Try: A month's Worth of Freezer Cooking Recipes By Crystal at Happily Ever Uncluttered
The last of our essential home management systems is a doozie. Laundry. That eternal struggle between humanity and dirty clothes.
Laundry is actually a 6-part process: sort, wash, dry, iron, fold, and put away. I've noticed that people usually seem to struggle with one part of that process.
I'll be honest, for me it's that last one. I can't remember how many times a stubborn little laundry mountain has appeared on our kitchen table forcing me to suggest 'let's eat in front of the tv tonight'.
What bit of the laundry process do you struggle with? Is there anyway you could make it less difficult for yourself? Creating a system, which really means getting into a habit about doing something, is the answer. But it has to be a system that works for you.
How many of these 3 rookie organizing systems can you tick off? If you want to keep your organizational journey going, let's check out the next stage: becoming a specialist.
Specialist Organizing Systems
School papers, insurance renewals, coupons, receipts....the list goes on and on.
So we need a system to deal with it all. At the start of 2016, I followed along with Laura at I Heart Planners for her Tackle Your Paper Clutter Challenge. All the details are still on her blog so if you're struggling or looking to tweak your current system, I highly recommend taking a look, .
If you think you'd like to go paperless, I can highly recommend The Ultimate Guide To Going Paperless from Abby and Donnie at Just A Girl and Her Blog.
Whatever path you follow, the secret to dealing with paperwork is two-fold: firstly, set up a system that works for you; secondly, spend time weekly dealing with incoming paperwork. It's no good setting up a beautiful system and then not using it.
Keeping track of appointments, after school clubs, and everything else can sometimes seem like a full time job. It's no coincidence that busy CEOs and top politicians have people on staff just to manage their diaries.
Whether it's a synced Google calendar or a paper calendar hung on the fridge, I find it helpful to keep track of family commitments in one central location that everyone can access.
Since 'The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up' was published, there's a lot of discussion about whether you can declutter once and for all or whether it's a continuing cycle.
If you're asking me, I'll tell you that decluttering is a continuing cycle, especially if you have children. You can't escape it as they grow out of clothes, toys, books and games. It's not just the kids, though. We moved house about 12 months ago and although I thought I did a thorough declutter, I still find myself filling donation bags (*sigh*).
At least a couple of times a year, usually before major holidays like Christmas, I find it helpful to be proactive about looking for things to donate, recycle or re-purpose. If you're looking to get started with decluttering but don't know where to start, take a look at this post I wrote recently: Decluttering: 198 Things to Purge Without Tears.
How many of these Specialist Organizing Systems have you set up? Are you ready for promotion?
You’re one half of an elite fighting team called ‘parents’. If you’re a lone agent (AKA single parent or a military spouse with a deployed partner) self-care is doubly important.
Taking time to look after yourself reaps benefits for the whole family. You can’t expect to take care of other people if you’re exhausted, neglectful of your health or emotional well-being.
I’m guessing you already know this on some level, but the problem is finding the time, right? If you’re pressed for time (and who isn’t?), take a look at this post I wrote called Avoid Productivity Burnout: 68 Powerful Ways to Relax in 5 Minutes. It won’t solve all your problems but it might get you out of a tough spot one day. Take care, mama.
While some people love cleaning, I think most of us just love the end result. Sparkling bathrooms, immaculate kitchen counters, and dreamily fresh linen on the bed make me giddy. But, honestly, I’d rather be playing Lego with my son than scrubbing the grout.
For me, cleaning a little each day works. I set myself daily jobs (wiping kitchen counters, emptying the dishwasher etc and on top of that I clean a room each day.
The key is to find a rhythm that works for you and your family. Those cleaning routines all over Pinterest may work a treat for the people who wrote them. But that doesn't mean you should do the same thing. You be the judge of what works for you.
I was nearly killed. Twice. And that was before I joined the military.
Those are stories for another day but my point is that you just don’t know what’s around the corner.
At the very least you need to think about life insurance and a Last Will and Testament. Minimum.
Then you need to think about whether you want to write final letters to your family (in the event that you are die without being able to say goodbye) and perhaps a living will (in the event that you are injured and don’t recover consciousness).
It might be an act of terrorism, war, natural disaster or something else entirely. But it’s unlikely you’ll go through life without being part of some emergency, however big or small.
Taking some small steps to get your home and family ready could make all the difference.
Pinterest is full of Emergency Prep advice but I encourage you to take a look at the Red Cross website which is full of helpful resources for getting started. Click HERE to read the helpful Make A Plan post.
You don’t have to build a bunker, grow your own food or stockpile a decade’s worth of toilet rolls while you wait for a zombie apocalypse. Your prep may be modest but small actions can make a big impact.
Organizing is a spectrum. Just like physical fitness. You aren't going to go from one end of the scale to the other over night. Just like you aren't going to run a marathon tomorrow if you only started jogging today.
The main goal of organizing systems is to make your life calmer, easier and happier. At least that's what I believe. This list is not meant to add further weight to your already brutally overworked shoulders.
Read through this list again. Do the things that you think will benefit you and your family and leave out what doesn't work for you.
You'll be surprised what you can achieve by taking small steps consistency over time.
Above all remember to enjoy the journey.
You got this, mama.
This list is just my own personal opinion but I'd love to know what you think. Are you a rookie, a specialist or a veteran? Write your comments in the box below, I can't wait to hear from you all.