Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Organized Chaos

I believe that a good relationship is built on honesty, so I'll tell you right up front - I am terribly disorganized. I am a total scatterbrain. I lived in blissful ignorance of this for years. But by the time the youngest child started school, I knew I was in over my head. There were just too many misplaced lunches, missed appointments, and forgotten field trips, not to mention that last minute panic at the bus stop when you remember that it's Blue Day and your child is dressed entirely in pink. The guilt was crushing. The whining was unbearable. I had to do something.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm still a scatterbrain, but I've managed to create a sort of organized chaos with the help of a few tricks.

First of all, we stick to a 2 activities per child rule. This does not include school related activities like after-school sports or performances. Swimming, dancing, music, karate, gymnastics, gator wrestling - whatever. They get to pick two and stick with them. We also try to choose things that are nearby, to cut down on travel time.

The next step is to remind myself of all these goings on. 2 activities x 3 kids = 6 + other appointments, meetings, outings...too much for the old string on the finger trick. So I set up reminders in my email program (I use Microsoft Outlook). It works beautifully. I can set it to give me as much notice as I need. If preparation is necessary, I set it to remind me a few days in advance. For regular activities I just need an hour or two. These reminders also get emailed to hubby as a back-up plan (yes, I'm that bad). Then he can call out "Frankie has swimming in an hour?" and I can say "Sure does!" and pretend like I hadn't forgotten all about it.

So now I don't have to worry about forgetting, but I still like to see at a glance what the whole family has going on. Scheduling new appointments and outings is much easier if you know who has swimming, who is working, who is running away to join the circus (you wouldn't believe how often that's put on the schedule). The best way I've found to keep track of the whole family (short of microchipping everyone) is with a family organizer/calendar. My favourite is this one by Sandra Boynton. It's colourful, fun, and it comes with stickers and a magnetic phone list to put on the fridge. There is enough space to keep track of a family of five. I use different coloured markers for each family member, so the month is usually a beautiful array of scribbles (with Hubby's column suspiciously sparse).

So this is how I've managed to juggle the daily family madness. These tricks are expecially handy at this time of year when all the field trips, sports days and year end activities are clumped into a three week period.

Now, if someone could tell me a good way to remember where I put my car keys, I'd be smiling.

1 comment:

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

Ooooh, must check out that book and buy one for my ex-husband, who is actually worse, way worse, than I am.
Sorry, can't help ya with the keys.