I wasn’t always organized. I’m a typical Pisces: the creative one who’s a little scattered and slightly messy. When I took on the responsibility of being a parent to kids as well as cats, I had to get organized. And fast. It has taken a while, but with the help of technology, self-help books, and Oprah, I feel pretty on top of things these days.
And I have to say up front that I have never, ever been one of those moms who over-schedules her kids. When they were in elementary school, we always had a rule of “one thing at a time.” Soccer is one thing, but when soccer, baseball, piano, and accordion practice keep kids so busy they can’t run around outside and just be kids, I think that’s a problem.
I’ve known too many families who constantly rush from thing to thing. The kids become accustomed to Happy Meals in the backseat and learn that stress and doing too much is normal. I’m not against activities — I just think there’s value in having time to ride bikes and sit around the dinner table together.
And if we’re never home, who’s going to play with the cats and take care of their needs? Cats are totally against our activities because they want us home all the time, catering to their every need. And watching them sleep. But really, there are cat-related tasks we can easily forget if we don’t somehow create a system to remind us of them. Cats may not play the accordion (but that would be cute, right?), but they do require brushing, nail-clipping, feeding, and vet visits. I know I’ve had a tough time keeping track of those responsibilities.
Even with limited activities and non-accordion playing cats, busy families need to stay organized. Here are four ways I’ve learned to stay on track.
1. Get a calendar or three!
I know it’s so not eco-friendly, but I’ve always been a paper girl. I love my planner pad and the therapeutic feeling that comes with making lists on paper and then crossing the items off as I complete them. I consider myself a moderately tech-savvy person, but the thought of losing my phone (and, with it, my calendar and to-do list) makes me absolutely nutso.
I’ve had a smartphone for a couple of years, and two weeks ago I began using Google Calendar. My husband did, too, and now we’re totally synched! And we have our information in this cloud-thing, so even if my phone did fall in the toilet, my information would be safe.
The cool thing is, with my virtual calendar — which you can also utilize on the computer — I can create one color-coded calendar for family activities, one for cat-related tasks, and one for my writing deadlines. I can look at each separately or merge them all together. Pretty cool!
I know it might sound silly, but I really need reminders for cat stuff. Saffy requires brushing a couple of times a week, their fountain needs regular cleaning and filling, nails need clipping, and vet visits need to happen. Honestly, if I don’t create calendar reminders for myself, I sometimes forget to do these things.
So far, the online calendar is a success; however, we still use a family wall calendar, and my to-do list has yet to migrate. I still enjoy manually crossing items of my list. Hey, a girl’s gotta have something!
Imagine a world where cat food, litter, and treats just show up at your front door. It’s true! There are companies that offer auto-ship programs, so you can rest easily knowing pet supplies will magically arrive right on schedule. Hey — if you can cross “buy cat food” off your to-do list, maybe you’ll have more time for doing other things. Like knitting cat booties … or something. Mr. Chewy is one site that offers auto-ship services. I reviewed them a few times on my blog and found their variety, service, and delivery time exceptional.
I’ve also automated paying for school lunches online, as well as general bills. I’ll tell you, the time saved by automation has been huge for me. I’m a fan.
3. Declutter, already!
Staying organized is much easier without a bunch of clutter. How often do you weed through kid and cat toys? I’ve found spring and fall to be great times to examine every jingle ball and Lincoln Log and create a pile for donation, a pile to keep, and a pile to toss. There are always local organizations that will stop by and pick up your donations, so you don’t have to drive anywhere! I even donate cat toys that are in good condition.
4. Communicate regularly!
Communication is everything. Sure, it’s great to have synching calendars and all that jazz, but if we never sit down, face-to-face, and discuss plans, we lose that human connection. We try and have weekly family meetings, where we talk about how things are going and discuss anything special that may be coming up in the next week. We make little goals together — both individual and family ones. It’s so much easier to stay organized and feel on top of things when you’re somehow held accountable. And there’s less that falls through the cracks. And cats especially hate it when things fall through the cracks (except for table scraps).
How do you stay organized? Tell us about it in the comments!
About the Author: Angie Bailey is a weird girl with freckles and giant smile who wants everyone to be her friend. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, and thinking about cats doing people things. Wrote a ridiculous humor book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in comedy web series that may or may not offend people. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.
Read more by Angie Bailey: