As we all know, fall looks slightly different this year. If you have kids at home, there is a high possibility you’ve been preparing for their home school spaces, as many schools start with distancing learning. But what about you? Do you have an area where you organize what you and your family need? Do you have what I lovingly refer to as an Organization Station!? Having a defined space for keeping tabs on the family's life can be a game-changer. Here are four things that get so much easier with an Organization Station:
We all have it. It never ends. But it doesn’t have to be all over your house, your car, and everywhere in between. Bring it all to one location--your Organization Station. One of my favorite tips about paperwork came from Organize 365, called the Sunday Basket. It’s a weekly routine that helps you review your current paperwork and ignore the rest.
Every Sunday, I sit down and pull out my “Sunday basket,” which for me is a gray cloth file box that sits on my desk in the kitchen. I gather any loose papers on the desk.
Then I quickly sort them into categories--bills, coupons, events, ideas for the home, etc.
And then confirm what must be done this week, as opposed to what can wait beyond this week until next Sunday.
It’s been the best paper system that has worked for me yet! It’s a system where each week I sit down and make quick decisions and see a stack slowly disappear.
2. Meal Planning
As we all head into fall routines, it’s time to get real about meals. Instead of just wandering the kitchen and hoping for the best, take a minute and sit down and plan. To keep your meals interesting, planned, and on budget, here's what I've found works best:
I quickly peruse my fridge and pantry for anything items we have left, and jot some ideas down.
Using that list, I look at recipes in books and Online, and pick a few to plan for the week. This is easy because my cookbooks live near my Organization Station.
Once I have recipe ideas for the week, I plot them out while looking at my Google calendar to see if we have any plans that I should take into account. I like to do this on a weekly planner sheet that can be hung on the fridge.
Now that my week is set, I’ll make a final grocery list. Having a clear food plan for all to see can help the whole family understand what’s going on that week.
Do you have a place to easily track your spending? Whether you use a fancy app, Excel, or a notebook, sitting down to plan your family’s financial needs is super helpful--and even moreso when you have a dedicated place to track things.
Each week I pull out my finance folder and the week's receipts, and check in online to see what our spending was like that week.
I align our spending for the week with my budget for the month, so I know how much we have left allocated for each category and whether anything needs to be adjusted.
Once I’ve marked off receipts (was this Target amount for household goods, or food, or clothing, or..?!), I move them into my envelope for the month, which stays in my financial folder on my Organization Station desk.
4. Kids’ Items
Though your kids’ ages may range, use your Organization Station as a place to corral all the information about the school year, health needs, activities, etc. However, be mindful that this does not become the place to store your kids' books or supplies: rather, this is the place for you to organize what you need to know for them. Their homework station needs to be elsewhere!
One of the biggest temptations with an Organization Station is to use it as a dumping ground, particularly when you're working on all the creative ways you are helping your child learn. The best way around this is to name another space for those items. When new items enter your home, take a moment to think about where those items will live, and make sure your routine includes time to tidy those items away when you're done with them.
Your organization station is all about keeping you and your family organized, it’s not a storage opportunity. Take time to separate those two actions in your mind - one is planning, and one is doing.
With a little time and a few routines and a dedicated spot to get things done, you'll be well on your way toward staying on top of family life this fall!