A few of you have asked me for my organization tips. Here are a few.
1. Let everyone help. It won't always get done the way you want, but it will get done, and kids won't learn any younger. I have a chore chart where the kids rotate jobs each week. They don't get allowance for these basics (set table, clear table, clean bathroom, vacuum living room, stairs, clean family room, empty trash). They get to do these jobs cuz they live here rent free, and oh yeah, I want them to be responsible. Even my 3 year old can pick up her toys and put her laundry away. Older kids clean their rooms, and help younger kids with their rooms, if they want extra allowance.
2- There is a list of "deep cleaning" tasks if any kid wants to earn money or an extra privilege. These are generally things like wipe down walls or cabinets, organize and clean out closets, rotate food storage, etc.
3. Each family member has a basket with their name on it. I put all the things that never find their proper place in the buckets. Each night, or every other night, the kids empty their buckets before bed.
4. We have a check off list for Saturday chores to make sure they are learning how to be responsible.
5. When I'm not too frazzled I try to make it fun. Like setting the timer for 60 seconds and see who can get the most done; or listening to music while we clean--I remember Marilyn McCoo and Lionel Ritchie blaring from our stereo on Saturdays when I was a kid.
6. I also try to praise everyone for a job well done and offer incentives to those who go the extra mile. Often we offer the kids a mild bribe like if you get all your chores done we can go swimming, or have a campout, or make a treat.
Since the baby was born I feel like I live in a Fisher Price-Book bag-Coat-Shoe war zone. Things are not the way I'd love them to be, but that's okay. We have lots of places to shove things when visitors come. I have had some messy roommates in my lifetime and it was awful, for me, to live in place that was a constant disaster zone.
I have a large calendar on the back of my door. Andy hates it there, but it's in the kitchen which is where I normally am. I have a different colored marker for each kid so I know who should be where on what day at a glance. You can use your cell phone, Blackberry, iPhone, Franklin, piece of paper, or other devices to accomplish the same thing.
I keep an on-going list of what I need on my fridge. I also keep a meal plan for the week there so I know what needs to thaw for the upcoming meal.
Remember that you aren't going to get everything done that you want to do in a day, whether you have kids or not. Life (or something else) Happens. On those days that just aren't going my way I try to look at accomplishing one thing. What absolutely has to get done today? If nothing is a priority then somedays nothing gets done. I remind myself I don't have to do it alone and I ask for help. My older kids are great helpers and if I give Andy a honey-do list he's right on task. But being organized is my thing. It keeps me from going in 1000 directions at once and taking things one at a time so priorities are met and life is less chaotic. Hope this helps those of you who asked.