The memes are circulating, so that must mean the busy fall season is upon us.
Mom’s New Year is on the horizon! I always feel that the start to a new school year feels more like New Year’s than it does in January. You’re coming off a (hopefully) lazy and refreshing summer, and now it’s time to gear up for a new school year jam packed with school, sports, and activities. I know for us, our routines and systems are much more relaxed in the summer. As we anticipate starting them up again, I like to pause and reflect on what worked and what didn’t during the last school year.
- Did you have smooth mornings?
- How did it go picking out uniforms and outfits each day?
- How was the school lunch making process?
- Were school items or sports gear frequently forgotten?
- Did devices get charged each night?
- How was the transition time getting to and from school?
- Did you have any homework battles?
If things went well last year, stick with the same routines! I always say, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!” But, if there were struggles and pain points in your morning or afternoon routine, then examine why and try some new options. Maybe try a few of these things to save yourself time and frustration:
- Prep some ready-made breakfasts or lunches on the weekends to make your weekday mornings go more smoothly.
- Decide on outfits for the whole week on Sundays, so you don’t have clothing battles mid-week.
- Create a checklist to follow that lists out everything your child needs to remember before leaving the house.
- For younger children, offer an incentive if they are ready by a certain time.
- Pack snacks for afternoon carpool (or is it just my child who gets in the car and is STARVING?!).
- Create a special homework station where your child can focus and do their work.
Here are a few other systems we use in our home to save our sanity and time during the school year.
The Weekly Reset
My family’s go-to weekend routine for a smooth week is the Weekly Reset. This is something we schedule for Sundays (but you can pick any day of the week that works for your schedule). Below is a list of things we try to accomplish in a full reset, to give you somewhere to start. But the list can be modified according to your needs, energy level, and time available.
- Open the Week’s Mail
- Complete Quick Action Items/Make a To-Do List
- Sync Calendars
- Meal Plan
- Grocery Shop
- Fill your Car up with Gas
- Meal Prep
- Do Laundry
- Clean the House
- Refill Medications
If you are a visual person, it’s a good idea to print off your specific checklist and laminate it. You can physically check off items as you go. Another option is to keep a list in the notes app on your phone.
Tip: If you know you have a busy weekend and won’t have time to get to everything, pick your top 3 (ours are usually laundry, grocery shopping, and syncing calendars) and fit the rest in as you can throughout that week.
Notes: As you open mail, take care of anything you can do in less than 2 minutes. If it will take longer, add it to your to-do list AND schedule a time in the week to do it.
We also keep visual reminders of the calendar and meal schedule on the wall in our kitchen, so our kids know what’s going on, too. If your kids are older, you can also add them to a digital shared family calendar.
Meal prep for us looks like making lunches for the week and refilling the kids’ lunch-making station (which they use in their morning routines). We also wash and/or chop fruits and veggies for quick, healthy snacks and to be used in recipes throughout the week.
There is a lot to accomplish on your reset day, so I recommend saving other errands (besides getting groceries & gas) for another time. Perhaps you have some downtime while the kiddos are at practice? Schedule your errands for that window.
Friendly reminder: Don’t Do It All Yourself
Remember to delegate! You will burn out quicker than a cheap candle if you try to do the entire reset yourself. This should be a family affair. Teach kids to do their own laundry and clean the bathrooms. Have your spouse handle the mail while you meal plan, or vice versa.
If you’re feeling like you need help splitting household responsibilities fairly or teaching your kids to do their share, check out these blogs:
- Shared Household Responsibilities: Creating Family Systems
- Teaching Kids Life Skills
More Organization Tips that Will Save You Time
- The Daily Drawer
In your bathroom, keep the top drawer free for daily use items. (You can also use a medicine cabinet for this.) Use drawer organizers and label everything, so you never have to hunt for what you need. It will get you out the door faster!
- Create a “Uniform” for Yourself
If you find choosing clothing to be a time-suck in the morning, it may be time for a uniform – but, don’t worry, I’m using this term loosely. Rather than actually wearing the same thing every day, think about wearing the same type of thing each day. Choose your favorites so it doesn’t get old. For fall, it may be a pair of comfy jeans, a t-shirt, a cardigan, and some sneakers, for example.
Try this for a few weeks or months; if it works, consider paring down your wardrobe to save both space and time each day.
- Organize According to Your Routine
When deciding where to store things in your home, think about when and where they are used most. For example, sunscreen is used outside, so we often set up a station for sunscreen right by the entrance to a garage or mudroom. Similarly, you can keep a basket for returns by your garage door, or even in your car, so you never forget to bring it with you on errand day!
For school items, make a drop zone. Having backpacks and lunch boxes that disappear into bedrooms each afternoon is a recipe for disaster. Have hooks to hang bags, wall files for important papers or take-home folders, and a bulletin board for reminders.
- Don’t Put it Down…Put it Away
You may have noticed that I didn’t say “tidy the house” or “organize the house” in my weekly reset. Ideally, you already have systems in place that will make keeping things organized and tidy easy during the week. (If you don’t, reach out and we’ll come to the rescue!) Dedicate that time to more deep cleaning instead.
The simple habit of putting things in their “home” instead of putting them down, will help keep clutter from accumulating. For kids, this includes things like making sure laundry makes it to the hamper and dishes make it into the dishwasher.
- Have a Catch-all Basket
For the inevitable times when you do find something lying around during the week, keep a basket handy in your main living area to toss it into. Then, on your weekly reset day or at the end of each day, give someone the job of putting everything in the basket back in its proper place.
- Go Digital
One quick change you can make to your routine to save loads of time is to turn to the great world wide web.
If you haven’t already, set all your bills to autopay. This way you can just check on them each month (for anything unusual) rather than taking time to write and mail checks or pay online. It will really cut down on your mail, too!
Also, consider ordering groceries online. You’re more likely to stick to your list (saving money) — and some services even let you set standard orders, so with one button you can add all your weekly staples to your cart! Just pop in any special ingredients you need that week and have it all delivered, or swing by and pick them up while you’re out getting gas.
What tips and tricks are you using to save time in your weekly routine? I’d love to hear them! If you’re a newsletter subscriber, reply to my latest note, or find me on Instagram @systemsbysusie and send me a DM!
Each of my career choices-wedding coordinator, event planner, and teacher — gave me the creative freedom to organize everyone and everything. I have always thrived on to-do lists, planners, and systems! Now, I lead a team of organizers to help me on my mission. Read more…