Hi everyone! I always find it funny when I look back at times in my life (college, vet school, being a newlywed, opening my animal hospital, pregnancy, etc.) when I thought I had a lot on my plate, and too much responsibility, stress and chaos. I never thought life could get more stressful then the time I was pulling an all nighter in college learning the molecular structure of argon and thought my life and future career depended on it. But it seems now that as life progresses, we have more responsibilities and much more stress. So, while we can all yearn for the days when our kids are finally grown, retirement is near, and life is slowing down, what we should be doing is making the present less stressed and enjoying the many responsibilities we have at this later stage in life. If you missed my last post, Let’s Get Organized in 2016 Part 1, I went over some basic things that I do in my life to keep things organized and less stressful. Today I want to go into more specific details on the challenges I encounter with my crazy schedule and how I manage the chaos. I do not pretend to be an organized expert by any means and some of these things may seem ridiculously obvious and may not work for you. For me, my goal with organization is to not be surprised with last minute responsibilities, and to be able to cherish these precious moments more. They really do go by so fast!
BIRTHDAYS. When you have children, you end up attending 3 to 4 birthday parties a month, if not more. Here are a few tips on what I do to keep it all organized. When I get an invite, I immediately RSVP (if I can), place it in my planner, and order a gift on Amazon (yep, my favorite website of all time). This guarantees I am about 1 month ahead of schedule and not running around for a birthday gift last minute. I keep my house stocked with wrapping paper, cards, tape, and ribbons. I even have last minute gifts lying around. One company I love and highly recommend is stickerkid.com. I have pre-ordered stickers that say “Happy Birthday! Love, Luke.” For family and friends’ birthdays and anniversaries, I use the app, Birthday Alarm, to remind me of the upcoming dates. The moment I get a notification of someone’s birthday, I order a gift and make sure it’s in my planner.
NIGHTTIME RUSH. Dinner for baby, dog, us, bath, book and bed. We have one toddler, and a bear (our 150 pounds Saint Bernard, Dory) and it always seems like a chaotic rush. I can only imagine how crazy it is with more kids. My husband usually gets home after 7pm and we try and get Luke to bed by 8pm so things can get a bit crazy. I actually found that making dinners for Luke on Sunday and heating them up throughout the week helps with the dinner preparation. I mentioned in my prior post that picking out our weeknight meals on Sunday and making one trip to the grocery store is a huge time saver. I try and pick easy, 1 pot meals for Rob and me during the week that take no longer than 20-30 minutes to prepare. I am very lucky and have a very hands on husband that does so much for Luke. We divide and conquer in our family and it makes things so much easier for both of us. I may cook dinner, while Rob is doing bath time, or I’ll do bedtime while Rob is prepping dinner. Even if your partner is not as hands on, small things like reading the kids a book, or feeding the dog can help dramatically. Come on guys…get in there! Also, pick an early bedtime for your child so that you and your partner can have some time to unwind and relax before bed.
MORNING RUSH. All I have to offer for this is- prepare ahead of time! We prepare Luke’s lunch and pack his backpack the night before. That saves time in the morning. I also try and wake up 1/2 hour earlier so I can sit and have my cup of coffee, practice yoga, read, watch TV, and get my mind ready for the day. Giving yourself that 1/2 an hour before the day starts helps get things started on the right foot and puts you in a better state of mind.
KEEP AN ORGANIZED AND STOCKED HOUSE. I get made fun of a lot for this. I buy things in bulk (toiler paper, paper towels, coffee, toothpaste, soap, diapers….you get the point). Nothing bothers me more than going to get something and being out of it…ugh, I HATE THAT! Amazon also has a program where you can get things automatically shipped monthly or bimonthly, which is helpful. Another great tip is to keep your home organized so when you need something you’re not spending 1/2 the day searching for it. I organize my drawers, garage, and laundry room about every 6 months or so, usually after I had just spent 3 hours looking for a thermometer or some tape. It saves a lot of frustration and stress!
HAVE A BACKUP PLAN. Life is not an organized laid out road map as much as I would love it to be. Especially with kids, emergencies and last minute things that come up. I always make sure to have “backups” in case of emergencies that may be able to pick Luke up from school or cover me at work. This has been so helpful in times of emergencies for me. Think of a list of people close to you that can help in a pinch. And don’t forget to thank them!!!
Everyone has crazy busy lives and we’re constantly trying to keep our heads above water. I, by no means, have it all worked out, not by a long stretch. I hope some of these tips help to make things less stressful. The best moments in my life right now are spending time with my family and watching Luke grow. I do not want those times to be clouded with stress, and last minute responsibility. I love hearing what others do to keep their lives in order, so please feel free to comment and offer your suggestions!