Summer Organizing for Moms

With summer just picking up steam, we're still in new-routine mode. Last week we focused on adjusting to the new time schedule (longer days, later nights). Today, MomSpeaker and professional organizer Darla DeMorrow explains how she keeps her brood on track despite all the distractions summer brings.

Summer organizing tip 1: Make lists

I don’t travel much these days, but I’m always on the go with my little ones, who are now 7 (she reads) and 4 (she doesn’t read yet). One parenting gift I am giving them is the gift of lists. In fact, my 7 yo wrote down the list shown above that we’ll use to get ready for one of our favorite summer day trips, to Sesame Place, which we’ll do several times this summer. Didn’t she do a good job? Yes, we need a list for even a short day trip like this because I managed to forget lip gloss last time. Since I have approximately 472 tubes at home, I hate to buy another when we are out, ya know. Just put it on the list, and I won’t have to buy one more I only need for the day.

Summer organizing tip 2: Write it on the calendar

This summer, the name of my game is “Keep them BUSY!” I’m packing the calendar to overflowing. Some people thing it’s strange to schedule weeks and even months in advance, but I don’t want to miss a thing. So if I hear about a free concert or any other event that looks great for the family, I immediately block out that time on my electronic calendar and fill in the location, address and other logistics. Sometimes I’m not sure if we can fit it all in, or which side of town we’ll be on that day, so I end up double booking. But that’s OK, because then I have choices. If there is a day without planned activities, I’ll mark calendar time at the library, movies or a friend’s house. This is the first year I’ve been able to sit down and share the week’s activities with my kiddos. They enjoy having something to look forward to, and they are old enough not to be devastated if something doesn’t happen as planned. I use the same calendar that I put my business appointments and regular family events on. There’s no reason to set up another calendar. You only have 24 hours in the day.

Summer organizing tip 3: Organize the garage

Not everybody has a garage, but most people have some storage space. The early days of summer are perfect for organizing the garage or basement or shed before the sweltering heat kicks in. Not only is it a good idea to organize the garage so that you can get to all the fun summer gear, but it’s a good time to evaluate whether you can put the car back in the garage again before it snows. Brrrrr. I don’t even want to think about it just yet. If you have any fitness goals, like getting back on your bike or making better use of that extra fridge in the garage to store fresh produce, then you’re going to want to be able to get to things without tripping over, you know, other things. Not everyone can have a beautiful garage. I even exposed my ugly but totally useful garage in this video. You might get some ideas from how we manage our too-small space and all the kid toys.

Summer organizing tip 4: Eat well

Yes, eating well is an organizing tip. I do things like put yogurt tubes and grapes in the freezer, so they help keep camp lunches cold. I make sure the kids have access to kid cups and approved snacks, so I don’t have to get up and feed them every 12.5 minutes. I  keep a couple of water bottles in the freezer, so we always have cold water in the car for day trips. I also do a lot more slow-cooker meals in the summer because it’s lovely to have the meal cooked when we are out having fun without having to fire up the oven or hop on the grill. Most people think of a slow-cooker as a winter gadget, but ground turkey mixed with chopped onions, canned black beans, frozen corn and taco seasoning is a favorite of ours. Mix and cook it right in the pot. There’s no fat to drain off.

Summer organizing tip 5: Prepare the night before

We have a pretty smooth school-day routine, but summer days are a little more varied and longer. So I take the last few minutes of the day to make sure we are set up for the next day. I check the calendar to see what’s on the agenda. Just like during the school year, we lay out clothes and pack lunches the night before. But in the summer I also lay out on the breakfast table one to three math or skills worksheets for the kids to work on right after breakfast. I also do whatever else we need to prep for the next day, like:

  • Pull library books that need to be returned.
  • Pack a bag for our planned day trip (see #1 above)
  • Email friends to confirm if we are headed to a playdate
  • Pull out brownies or cookies for playdates (Feel free to invite us; I usually bring chocolate.)
  • Pack everything we might need for the errands I hope to run, like coupons or returns
  • Pull out sporting gear if they are headed to a lesson
  • Lay out items they might need for chores, like their laundry, the vacuum, or a dusting cloth.
  • Gather supplies for any Pinterest/craft project I have lined up for the little ones.

Obviously, we don’t do all of these things every day. How crazy do you think I am? But whatever is on our agenda, it takes only a few minutes to run through the plan for tomorrow and gather supplies the night before, when everyone else is out of my way. That saves me from having a hand-to-forehead moment in the morning after we’ve left the house.

If I’m really on my game, I might have a few minutes to read my latest Kindle book before settling down for the night. I’ve actually been able to get through a couple of books already this summer, and it’s got to have something to do with having a little more organized routine for our summer days.

Darla DeMorrow is a Wayne, PA mom, professional organizer and author. This post was adapted from her blog Heartwork OrganizingShe also blogs at The Pregnant Entrepreneur. You can also circle her on Google+.

Categories: MomSpeak