As a working mom of four kids, with a husband who often works from home too, our home has a tendency to be…out-of-control crazy. I love organization — the pages of Marie Kondo’s book are my happy place — but over the last year it seems that I’ve been forced to work on my (ahem) flexibility more than I’m used to doing.
Sure, kids, we can make a last-minute trip to the market for those craft supplies you need right now this very second. Dinner can wait.
So what I’ve done to keep myself organized (and sane!) is something you can do too, no matter how busy you are: I’ve created a to-do list for each day of the week.
Basically, each day, I’ve got one task to focus on no matter what. And it’s totally working!
It’s not only keeping me from feeling overwhelmed by a messy house and an empty fridge, but I’ve noticed I’ve had to scream less often about ONE MORE LEGO ON THE FLOOR. And my family definitely likes that part.
Of course, you can switch the days around to whatever works best for your schedule, here’s the one that’s been working great for me.
Oh and in case your wondering, YES my husband does plenty around the house too. But he’s got his own way of managing it.
Sunday: Pack lunches
Sunday afternoons at my house are spent organizing our meals for the week. Over at Cool Mom Eats, I wrote about how I pack all my kids’ lunches for the whole week at one time, and the entire thing only takes about 30 minutes.
Not having to do this each week night — or worse, early in the morning (because my kids’ leave the house by 6:45 a.m.) — is a game-changer for me.
And while our Facebook fans had a lot of skeptics among them when we shared this, I promise you — if I can do it for four kids, you can handle it too. And yes, the veggies do stay crisp. Ha.
Monday: Laundry, ugh
Monday is my least-favorite chore day of the week, but laundry has to be done. (Or does it? I’ve seriously considered moving us to a nudist colony.)
My kids bring their own laundry down from their rooms each Sunday, and they take turns doing the loads with my husband’s supervision. (He’s awesome at laundry.) Then we use the dining room table as a clean laundry-folding area.
On Monday, while the kids are at school, I fold. When they come home, they put it all away. Or, you can have your kids do all the folding too, something a lot of kids actually enjoy as far as chores go.
It’s actually not all that bad…as long as the 3 year old doesn’t get ahold of the clean, folded piles. Arrgh.
Tuesday: Pay the bills
Tuesday is set aside for paying bills, and I have a system to help with that too:
I have simple filing folders on my desk marked: Week 1, Week 2, and so on. Each day when I bring in the mail, I open any bills immediately, toss the envelopes, and place the bills in the folder that corresponds to the due date on that bill.
Electric is due November 1? It goes in Week 1.
Then, each Tuesday, I sit down and grab that week’s folder and pay everything coming up that week via online banking. I know it sounds like a lot, but it usually takes about 15 minutes.
This has gotten even easier lately, because I signed up for auto pay with my utilities and other regular payments. You can connect them to your credit card, or have them withdrawn directly from your bank account. This way, you never have late fees — and bonus, if you’re paying with a rewards card you can score tons of points to save up for a family vacation, like we are. Yay!
In fact, the more you can automate your recurring payments, the more weeks you may not even have any payments to make manually. But I still like checking weekly, just so I’m in the habit.
Wednesday: Run errands and prep dinners for the week
Because Wednesday is my preschooler’s day home from school, I tend to go light on my office work that day. So, Wednesdays have become my errands and dinner-prep day.
I used to prep dinners on Sunday along with my lunch packing, but now I find I have more time to hang with my big kids on their days home from school.
So, now this is the day my youngest and I hit the grocery store together, and run any other errands we might have. We usually splurge on a little lunch out, then head home. By then, she’s tired enough that I can do most of the advance prep work for our meals for the next 7 days — whether that means making some meatballs and freezing them, or chopping veggies for pasta to stash in the fridge. Busy weeknight dinners now go so much faster.
PS: Cool Mom Eats has the most amazing weekly meal plans that really help me out.
Thursday: Clean house
My kids know they’re responsible for cleaning up their own messes — and it only takes, oh, 7-8 reminders each day. But we still, of course, need to do some deep cleaning once in awhile.
The kids hate this more than a trip to the dentist, and I hate fighting with them about it. So we’ve come up with method that makes it (kind of) fun.
I have a set of index cards labeled with the chores I want done around the house. I flip through them and pick the ones that get priority, making sure there’s an even number per kid, and lay them out on the kitchen table. The kids then take turns picking one chore at a time — I’ll grab whatever is left — and we all get to work while I crank up their favorite Pandora station on our Amazon Echo for 15 minutes.
They even race to see if they can finish before the music ends, while still passing my inspection. Believe it or not they usually do!
Friday: Plan for the weekend
My kids are involved in a few extracurricular activities like rec sports and scouting, which means our Saturdays get busy. But, because I really relish my sleep, I hate having to wake up early on the weekend, scrambling to get ready for our activities.
Instead, I take a few minutes on Friday afternoon to map out the weekend. Everyone gets their bags ready for their activities (or, I do it for them if I’m feeling generous) and I set them near our front door. This way, I can wake up with time for a nice leisurely cup of coffee before racing through the day.
Saturday: Relax. You deserve it.
While you’re not running from birthday party to soccer game to theater performance, take a minute for yourself. Because self-care is something you should work into your week, the same as the rest of your responsibilities and chores. Only this one is more fun.
If you have a partner, set aside time for your relationship. Do some yoga. Binge a Netflix show or two (which always feels indulgent during daylight hours.) Dig into a book or a crossword puzzle. GIve yourself a pedicure. Call a friend to meet you for coffee. Or, just take a really long bubble bath with your favorite podcast on the Bluetooth speaker. Bliss!
Just don’t skimp on this particular “chore” or you’ll feel the effects of it all week.