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Conquering the Clutter: How Busy Parents Can Stay Organized
Gigi Schweikert, president and COO of Lightbridge Academy, offers tips for parents looking to get more organized and beat the morning rush.

We all try to be better organized – especially on those busy back-to-school mornings. It’s never our intention to forget the class cupcakes or to dress our kids in “purple” on “orange” day. Most of the time, we’re just so busy that getting organized can feel like another thing on our “to do” list. Somehow, we parents think aspiring to a color-coded filing system with typed labels in plastic sleeves is the only way to manage the morning rush. And since we usually fall short of this goal, we feel doomed from the start. There’s no right way to get organized. You simply need to be able to quickly find “the stuff” you need to get the job done. For busy moms, one of the greatest organizational challenges is simply getting out of the house in the morning.

So what do we do? Unfortunately, young children have no sense of time and quickly come to believe that the definition of hurry is “Mommy and Daddy are getting cranky.”  After a little bit of encouraging and coaxing fail to get our children moving, we usually resort to nagging and pleading, and sometimes yelling. Mornings like this leave everyone frustrated, exhausted and discouraged.

Here are some ideas to help you get more organized and beat the morning rush:

Prepare as much as possible the night before.

Pick out clothes for the next day, including yours. If possible, choose clothes for the entire week on the weekend. Include underwear, socks and even hair accessories.

Keep your items in the same spot.

Place backpacks by the door with homework and other things packed inside. Know what shoes everyone will be wearing and place those by the door. Looking for lost shoes at the last minute makes everyone frantic.

Get up earlier if you’re always running late.

A few extra minutes of sleep may seem like the best way to cope with the morning rush, but those minutes can make the difference between hectic and hurried.

Have a consistent morning routine.

Children are more cooperative and more comfortable when they know what to expect. Give your child enough time to succeed on his own. Remember to give reminders and establish clear expectations regarding your routine. Use an alarm clock in your children’s room. This will ensure that you wake them up at the same time each morning.

Have a first this, then this policy.

Children may not have a sense of time, but they do understand sequence. Create little reminders like “You may go downstairs when you are dressed,” or “You may play after breakfast.”

Stay Positive.

Spend your time taking care of your chores. Encourage and remind, but try not to nag your children. Let them experience the consequences of procrastinating. This may mean missing breakfast or not having their homework.

Don’t expect miracles.

Children approach life with a more relaxed, slower pace and we could all learn a lesson from that. Even with seemingly flawless plans, unexpected things can always happen. For really important, I can’t be late, mornings, have your children sleep in their clothes. Comfortable sweats work well.

Most of us are always charging off with our To-Do lists in hand, thinking that when everything is done (which it never is) we can enjoy life. What we busy moms do every morning is life and our ability to step in time with our children amid the everyday stuff, such as getting out of the house in the morning, takes some organization and a lot of patience. But somehow, someway, mothers always get it done.

Gigi Schweikert is the president and COO of Lightbridge Academy and an expert in the field of early childhood education. She has managed corporate childcare centers and their educational programs for more than 30 years. Schweikert was the host of Today’s Family and is a bestselling author of eighteen books. Follow 1851 Franchise as she shares her tips on parenting and childcare.

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