Learn everything you need to know about family organization. Discover new tricks for keeping schedules organized and how to manage menu planning and family chores.
From playdates to budgets to school activities, there is a lot to keep track of when you have a family. Read on to learn how to keep track of it all and everything else you need to know about family organization.
The best way to keep your family organized is to start at the bottom – with new habits! This guide will look closer at that, but first, make sure to check out the Change Your Habits Guided Workbook! It takes you step-by-step through forming (and sticking to) healthy habits.
Wondering where to begin? Get our FREE guide, The 30-Minute Organizing Secret, and discover easy ways to overcome the chaos of clutter – even with kids at home!
Family Organization – How To Organize Your Family Life
Family organization is a pretty personal and subjective thing. No two families are the same. So what works for you might not work for the next family. Maybe you have small kids. Maybe you are a caregiver of older parents. Either way, you need this guide.
One thing everyone has in common is this: all families have chores, food, budgets, and schedules to keep track of.
So, how do you manage your family? How do you organize it all?
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Let’s look at everything you need to know about
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This is what you will learn in this guide:
- How to Organize Family Schedules
- How to Share a Bathroom Schedule
- Chore Organization
- Menu Planning Basics
- Family Routines
- How to Organize Family Laundry
- Special Event Organization
- Budget and Money Management
- How to Make Memories as a Busy Family
How To Organize Family Schedules
First, let’s look at how to organize your family’s schedules. From sports to volunteer activities and doctor appointments, there is a lot to track and remember.
There are three main ways to track your family’s schedules: with paper planners, a command center, and smartphone apps.
Paper Calendars & Planners
There are lots of people that still prefer to use paper planners and calendars to manage schedules and appointments. These can be fun to decorate and are perfect for visual learners.
To get the most out of your paper planner, color-code them or separate each day into sections.
Decide what you need to track on your calendar, and use a different color pen for each thing.
Here is an example of how to use a paper planner effectively:
- Work-related tasks – blue ink
- After school activities – red ink
- Menu planning – green ink
- Money / budgeting – black ink
You can also use stickers to highlight important dates and appointments.
If you have a large family calendar at home, make sure you keep a portable one in your purse or car. That way, if you make plans when you are away from the house, you can keep notes and write them down when you get home.
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Another fantastic way to keep track of everyone’s schedule is to set up a command center.
A command center is a place in your home where you hang up a calendar and leave room for notes to family members. We have a super helpful introduction to command centers to get you started.
If your family members all have their own phones, then communicating via calendar apps might be the most efficient idea.
With calendar apps, all the users can see the main calendar and add things to it. This prevents double-booking and over scheduling.
The best family calendar apps are:
- Cozi Calendar
- Google Calendar
- Hub Family Organizer
Next, let’s look at how to manage shower and bathroom schedules.
How do you manage showers and bathroom schedules with a family?
Odds are at some point you will have people butting heads over who gets the bathroom when. This is especially true in the morning when everyone is trying to get ready and out the door. Even if you have three bathrooms and four people in your home, it’s likely to lead to conflict.
Use Paper Calendars to Schedule Shower Times
Place physical calendars in everyone’s room. These calendars will actually be a blessing in more ways than just bathing schedules. Children actually flourish and shine when life is presented to them in a logical and structured manner.
Schedule Shower Times
First, decide how often family members will bathe. There is really no right or wrong answer it’s just important to decide on something so you know how to plan.
Once you have the frequency figured out, the next step is to pick a time. If needed, some people might have to shower in the mornings, and others at night.
It may sound silly to schedule bath time on a calendar, but it will cut down on so much confusion. When scheduling bath times it’s important to always have at least one bathroom open for the necessary bathroom trips that will hit at random times.
The third thing all families will be organizing is the household chore list. Who should clean what and why? What chores are appropriate for what ages? While this may be a challenging topic, it’s not impossible to get everyone in the house involved and even build some good basic routines in the process.
Clutter Keeper® has a really helpful article about how to get kids to do their chores.
Get Everyone Involved
One of the most important principles with chores is they should never be given as a form of punishment. All this will accomplish is creating a negative view of chores. When chores are approached in a positive way, they instill a sense of pride in a child. They learn to appreciate what they have and to take care of the place they call home.
Start With Their Room
The best way to introduce children to chores is to start with their room. It makes no sense to teach a five-year-old how to clean a toilet, but they can be responsible for picking up the toys from their floor and putting them where they belong when they are finished playing.
Start Teaching Chores Young
Chores need to be introduced from the very start. Begin by helping a young child pick up their toys and talk about why it’s important as you do. Make it a point to talk about how great the room looks and how you don’t step on toys and hurt your feet or trip this way.
Older Children Can Take Responsibility
As a child gets older they should keep the responsibility of their own room, and slowly introduce additional household chores that involve other areas of the house. It may sound strange, but children do not just naturally know how to sweep or vacuum a floor, wash dishes and clothes, clean a bathroom, etc.
The best thing to do is to do these things with your child and teach them how to do it. By age 10 most children can handle basic household chores if taught the proper and safe way to do them.
Paying Kids for Chores
One way to encourage children to be involved with keeping a home clean is to assign a monetary value to the household chores. Make a master list and explain it to your children. For example, sweeping the dining room floor after dinner could be worth 50 cents.
As your children do the various chores you keep track on a spreadsheet. Either let the child enter it or watch you so they can see their earned money total go up. Children will learn the value of earning the things they want and also learn how to handle money and limited resources.
Live By Example
One of the most important things to remember with keeping a house clean is to live by example. It makes no sense to tell a child they have to keep their room clean if your room looks like a disaster zone. A child will have a better view of chores if they do not feel like they are doing them simply so you don’t have to. They have to see the parents living by example and doing their part to keep the house clean.
Menu Planning Basics
The fourth area of family organization is planning a menu.
When it comes to feeding a family, taking the time to meal plan and create a shopping list based on that meal plan will help save money due to random and unnecessary purchases. By including everyone in the family, it has the added bonus of creating a sense of inclusion and importance. So what is menu planning and how is it done?
Include the Family in Planning the Menu
Menu planning works best when you include everyone in the house. Everyone has different likes and dislikes when it comes to food. Consider asking each child what is one thing they would like to have for each meal. If one child really loves spaghetti then make that for dinner one night. By making a meal they enjoy it makes them feel like they are important and not overlooked.
Try New Recipes
Once everyone has chosen a favorite meal, consider searching the net for a new recipe at least one night of the week. Sometimes the things you try will be a flop, but sometimes they will become a new family favorite.
When exploring new foods try food from different cultures as well and use that as an opportunity to talk about those cultures with your children. This will give you something fun to talk about over family dinner. One of the best resources for recipes is Pinterest.
How to Organize The Weekly Menu
A few different options exist for organizing which meals are going to be made when.
One option is to write in a planner.
There are also many app-based solutions for menu planning and organization. One of the most popular and best is Pepperplate. Regardless of which method you use to organize your meal planning, the next step is to turn the meal plan into a shopping list.
Shopping List Organization
Take your meal plan and make a list of the ingredients you need to prepare them. Look at household items such as toilet paper or paper towels and add them to the list if needed.
By making a list of what you need you will avoid the impulsive purchases everyone is tempted to make when they are at the store. Sticking to a list and only buying what you need will save you money. Depending on how impulsive you are, it could save you quite a bit.
Next, set up routines to make everything in your family’s life run smoother.
When you have established routines, everyone knows what to expect, and it becomes a habit. Here are some common routines that you can make your own.
- Get dressed
- Make bed
- Eat breakfast
- Brush teeth and hair
- Grab bags and leave
- Eat after school snack
- Do homework
- Discuss any papers from school
- Put bags and books away
- Prepare for any after school activities
Before Bed Routine
- Turn off all electronics
- Do before-bed chores (like put away clothes) to prepare for the next day
- Put on pajamas
- Brush teeth
- Relax before bed with books or other calm activities
Family Laundry Organization
Who doesn’t just love doing laundry? This is one chore that definitely cannot be neglected. It doesn’t take long for one load of dirty laundry to turn into three. Once laundry turns into a heap, almost nobody enjoys doing it, and it becomes such a time-consuming chore. So what are some strategies for staying on top of this fun-filled activity?
Divide and Conquer
Laundry is something that even young children can get involved with. Toddlers can handle putting clothes in a dresser drawer with your help.
When children are younger, you help them with whatever parts they need help with. As they get older they can transition to doing their own laundry.
The easiest way to fail at laundry is to have one member of the family be responsible for the entire family’s laundry.
Create A Laundry Schedule
One thing to consider is that every member of the family cannot do laundry at the same time. This is where the calendars come into play. All you have to do is let every member of the family pick a laundry day and mark it on the calendar in their room.
Few families have more than 7 people so it shouldn’t be too hard to get a schedule figured out. While planning this it’s also important to include bedding in the discussion.
You can either include that as part of each individual laundry day or you can designate one day each week to be the bed-washing day.
Special Event Organization (birthday and holidays)
Another thing that will fall on you as you organize your family, is planning holidays and birthdays.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are responsible for planning family get-togethers:
- Start early – plan parties a month in advance to give you plenty of time to get it all done without stressing out.
- Keep it simple – don’t make more work for yourself. Keep parties simple so they are easier to plan.
- Ask for help – delegate parts of the party to family and friends.
Budget and Money Organization
No matter what situation you may be in with finances, the worst thing you can do is simply wing it and hope everything comes out ok. Create a budget and manage your money so you discover how much more you have.
Best Budget Apps
Thankfully there are some really great web-based applications to help you look at expenses versus spending and the amount of money you have coming in. These are the 3 best budget apps for easy money management.
- Mint – This web-based application can help you make a budget and keep track of your bills. You will receive notifications when bills are due soon. It presents information in a way that you see money and expenses together so you know how much you currently have and how much you need to pay soon. This keeps you from making those needless impulsive purchases that can make it impossible to pay an upcoming bill on time. A mobile app is available so you can keep track on the go.
- Cleo – This application takes a fresh and different approach from the most popular money management applications. Cleo is designed like a virtual assistant similar to Siri, Cortana, or Google Assistant. After setting up everything with Cleo, you communicate through Facebook Messenger with the service. For example, you can ask Cleo “Can I afford to go out tonight?” and Cleo will check your current account balance as well as upcoming bills and expenses and respond with an honest answer. Cleo may respond “Sure, no problem. I’ll adjust your budget to reflect the additional expense.” Or you might get the response, “You cannot afford to do that at this time.” If looking at numbers and graphs gives you a headache, this application would be an excellent choice to consider.
- Wally – This application allows you to enter income and expenses into the app to help you keep track of your money. This app is great for the person who doesn’t exactly trust an application to access and link to their accounts. Everything with Wally is entered manually.
Making Memories Together
Making memories and bonding is one of the most important things you can do for your family. It is one of the most simple to pull off yet easy to neglect as well. Life just has a way of being busy and it’s can be easy to forget to take time for the people you love.
Making your family feel important and cherished is such a priceless gift that will pay off in so many ways. One piece of the foundation of a peaceful, loving, comfortable home is taking time for each other.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Here are some ways to create memories as a family on a budget.
Play a board game together. Laughing for an hour while playing a game can create some fantastic memories.
Go to a park and play something as a family, such as hide and seek. Hiking or just going for a walk are both wonderful activities to do as a family.
Plan ahead for big events. Take a jar or a shoebox, label it “family fun” or whatever is meaningful to you, then save a dollar a week in the container until you can afford to do whatever big thing you desire.
Children are sometimes surprisingly understanding. They honestly don’t mind if you cannot afford to do expensive things all the time, and they are impressed by the effort to save and make doing things with them important.
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More Family Organization Articles
Managing a family can be simple with the right tools. If you found this guide about family organization helpful, here are some more articles you might enjoy too: