This has been a whirlwind year for me having both my boys in preschool, but on alternating days.
Five days a week, I drive about 25 minutes to their co-op preschool in Davidsonville. I drop one of them off at their class, then tote the other on errands in the area. Some days we have after-school plans and don’t get home until after 3 p.m. Then it’s time for household chores, dinner, baths and an attempt at quality one-on-one time with my kids.
The afternoon flies by and soon enough, the boys are tucked in bed. Then, if I’m not running out the door for an evening commitment, I’m trying to decide whether to crash on the couch with my husband to watch another episode of Fixer Upper or motivate to actually fix something in our own house. The couch usually wins.
With this kind of routine, unfinished projects quickly add up and obligations go unmet. It was time to get organized, and goodness do I love organization. My husband rolls his eyes every time I come home with a new set of bins or baskets. I have lofty dreams of a clean playroom, organized craft supplies and a closet fit for an OCD neat freak. But for now, I would settle with just an organized daily schedule that is practical for all of us.
We started with our morning routine, because that tends to be where everything falls apart. It’s a little known fact that if you don’t get up before your children, they turn into Gremlins. Or at least it seems like they do. But if I can drag myself out of bed early enough to spend some time alone, drink a cup of coffee, and maybe even get in 30 minutes of exercise, suddenly I have this super power to be able to handle my kids better. I’ll be real though, it doesn’t always happen. And I do love our Saturday mornings when the kids come bounding into our room, and we snuggle all together in the “big bed.” But on weekday mornings we needed more structure, so I’m trying to get up early.
Next we decided what morning tasks the boys can handle on their own, so I’m not running around quite as much flailing my arms and screaming, “We’re gonna be late! Again!” So now they help by cleaning up their plates after breakfast, getting dressed, putting on their shoes, getting their school bags ready, and such. It also helps if they know where everything belongs, so now we have a bin where they always put their shoes and a hook with their name for their jackets, school bags and things like that. I also am blessed to have my husband work from home. He’s always ready and willing to help get us out the door in the morning. (Maybe he’s a little too willing.) But I love those days when the kids and I go piling into the van, and I find my water bottle and protein shake already there waiting for me. So making our mornings organized has helped immensely.
Next up were the chaotic, jump from task to task, crazy afternoons that I felt weren’t productive. I love to-do lists, and have gone through various apps on my phone, but I currently have the free one, “Errands” and love it. In the morning, I open it and try to assess the tasks for the day and put them in some sort of order to make them easier to accomplish. Then, throughout the day, it helps keep me on track. I even put simple things on there like “give boys bath” and assign it a time and alarm because frankly, we’ve forgotten before. I also try to set some alarms for the night before so I can do things like lay out the library books that are due or put a birthday gift by the door, so in the morning rush they don’t get forgotten.
I’m hoping that down the road I’ll look back on this crazy year of playing chauffeur to my two preschoolers and think fondly on how it forced me to get more organized. Who knows, maybe by then I’ll even have all these craft supplies categorized and put away.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.