Today's teens are incredibly busy with school, sports, clubs and other extracurricular activities. Keeping track of everything that's going on is enough to drive any parent to distraction. Today, I'm going to share three tips for keeping yourself (and your kids) organized.
Tip 1: Use An Online Family Calendar
We use Google's Calendar and have a calendar just for the kids. Our Family Motto is “If it's not on the calendar, it doesn't exist”. All the kids are required to use the calendar and update their own schedules. They aren't perfect at this, so once a week I have a time scheduled to sit down and review the calendar. In all honesty, I sometimes still put schedules on the calendar for the kids when they are super busy. As they get older, they take on more and more of the responsibility because it teaches them how to manage their own schedules.
Our calendar is color coded for each child's activity. They know their color and use it to update their schedules. It's simple for us to see, at a glance– who has what that night just by knowing the color. Sometimes they forget to add their name to the calendar after all.
If they have an event but they aren't sure of the time (this seems to happen often with band)– they add TBD to the end of the description and list it as a full day event. This way, when my husband and I are trying to plan something with family or friends–we know that there's something going on without a known time and we can avoid scheduling anything (that we would later have to cancel and feel bad about)
What's really cool is that more and more schools (ours included) have a calendar that can be connected right into your Google Calendar so you can see everything going on for that specific activity.
Tip 2: Have a Family Center
Designate a spot in your home to be a family center. This is just a space where schedules and paperwork is collected for everyone so things are easy to find.
For us, we use our garage entryway. We have two clipboards. One for sports/activity schedules (paperwork that comes when they start a sport) and the other for our household checklists.
We also have a mail center to keep us adults organized. When we get the mail, we immediately sort into recycle, deal with now and deal with later. They each have their own slot in the mail carrier. There's literally hundreds of ways to organize a family center. Pinterest is a great resource!
Tip 3: Have An Organized Filing System
This sounds pretty basic, but it makes all the difference in the world when both you and your spouse know exactly where something is when it's needed. Whether it's a copy of a sports physical or a glasses prescription–when everything has a place–life is so much simpler!
We use a color coded system for our paper files. We scan everything crucial into Dropbox so that we have an electronic copy as well. This comes in handy when we're out and about and need a tidbit of information.
Here's our color system: Red = This is permanent information we should keep forever. Things under this category include Medial Records, Personal Identification Records, Vehicle Records, Pet Records and so on.
Orange = These are critical things that get updated on a regular basis. Things under this category include Auto Insurance, Life Insurance, Health Insurance and so on. When a new policy comes in, the old one is shredded and replaced with the new one.
Green = Financial statements that we need to keep. We don't have very many green files because we scan almost all of our financial paperwork and shred the hard copy. All copies are kept in Dropbox so they are easily accessible to either of us.
Blue = Information that we will need to file taxes for the current year. If we pay property tax, registration fees, etc…these documents are collected in a blue file marked with the current year. Everything is in one place when we're ready to file.
Pink = Supplies. This is where we keep the extra labels, colored tabs, etc.
Once you get organized, it's amazing how much more smoothly your household will run. If you only have time to implement one thing on this list, I highly recommend the online calendar. It takes some time to get set-up but it's so worth it when you're standing at the orthodontist office, trying to make an appointment and you have all the information you need right in front of you.