Recently I was asked how on earth I have time to cook/bake/read/blog with a busy toddler and a hungry three-and-a-half-month-old. My response?
“I’m annoyingly organised.”
In my previous life as an employee, I was once given an award that cheekily suggested that my incredibly tidy desk was all due to having OCD. However, it was simply because I recognised early on that I work best in order, that chaos in my work space equals chaos in my mind, and that for me, efficiency goes hand-in-hand with organisation.
I haven’t worked since we left London in November 2009, but I’m still as organised – most of the time – as I was back then. I won’t claim to have a foolproof method for success, because having children means nothing is for certain, but I do manage my time pretty well, and that means having time for doing the things I love.
~ I write lists. I have a notebook in which I write a master list (things like call chimney sweep, make card for so-and-so’s birthday, order photos, etc), as well as a daily list, which has the most mundane things on it (like wash nappies, hang nappies, vacuum etc). I like to feel as though I’ve achieved something with my days (other than being “mum”), and I also need to be reminded of the things I need to do.
~ I have a plan for my blog: on Mondays I write about our travels, Tuesdays are devoted to food, Wednesdays and Thursdays are reserved for Wardrobe Wednesday/books/random musings, and Fridays I join in with Thing I’m Loving. I also schedule posts and have drafts written when I think of them and have the time, which means I can just hit publish if I don’t have time to write something new.
~ I triple-diary things that we’re doing. We have a wall calendar, plus I have a paper diary and the calendar on my mobile phone. That way, I’m not likely to forget. Tall asks me each evening what we’re doing tomorrow, which means I have to check and plan ahead.
~ I get up when Tall does, despite the very strong pull of our super-comfy bed and our snuggly littlest one. I have breakfast with my big boys, I shower when Pickle goes down for his first sleep of the day, and I get myself ready to leave the house straight away (shoes on, jacket with bag, etc etc). Before he goes down, I get Pickle mostly dressed; I leave off his pants, in case he has any nappy explosions while sleeping. I let Tiny play in his pjs until the last minute, and then we do speed dressing. I make sure he has his shoes on before Pickle needs another feed, so that we are ready to go as soon as he’s done/in the car seat/asleep again.
~ I add 5-10 minutes onto our travelling time, to allow for buckling the capsule into the car, waiting for Tiny to climb into his seat, nappy emergencies and top-up feeds. I’d rather arrive somewhere early than feel rushed and get all flustered.
~ I plan the week’s meals the day before I do the grocery shop. I sit down with some recipe books, think about what’s in the fridge, and I write down everything we need for each meal. I also have a notepad on the fridge to write down when I finish a pantry staple, and this gets transferred to the main list. When I’ve done the shopping, I then write a menu to stick on the fridge, based on the use by dates of meats and so on. This makes it easy for me to prepare things in advance, if necessary; the night before, I check the list, check the recipe in case something needs marinating overnight, and check when a meal needs to go in the slow cooker.
~ I use nap time/quiet time to prepare ahead. Tiny loves to help in the kitchen, and I use it as an opportunity to talk with him about food or safety, or to let him try new flavours.
Right now, I have a huge pot of ragu simmering on the cooktop; this means there’ll be no rush at 5pm to think what to feed Tiny, and the sauce will taste so much better anyway!
What do you do to keep yourself organised and on track for keeping life going smoothly?