Alice Soule is the author of Living With a Jude – a book about the life of the Soule family and the trials and tribulations that they have faced. Alice shares her top tips for keeping a busy family organised:
Rarely famed for my organisational skills, I think I can practically visualise those monumental days where I felt like I was winning as a parent!
Our household is hectic. My father regularly refers to our dwelling as “the crazy house” and I’m in no place to disagree because I don’t think a moment goes by when there isn’t a bustle of movement around the place. Our eleven-year-old son has severe learning disabilities and takes up a lot of my physical as well as emotional energy; we also have two daughters, two cats and a dog. My brain is my working diary and I seem to have channeled the ability to multitask at least nine hundred things at once, all whilst planning for the next encounter.
So how can we better organise our busy family lives? Here are a few suggestions…
1) Colour code a family calendar - Place a large calendar on the kitchen wall as this is where most families tend to congregate and add events as they come along. Colour coding for work/children/parties, etc. really helps you to see everything at a glance. At present, I merely add everything into my phone diary but it isn’t enough as it isn’t as permanently visible as a wall calendar.
2) Following on from above, something that I currently do (to stop my head exploding) is write lists. I write lists for everything but find it particularly useful for those days where your children need to be in twenty different places throughout the day and you also have work to fit in. It sounds rather geeky but I even write a time line for some days just so my brain can relax a little.
3) Plan days out. In my book I have lots of scenarios and images of family day trips and in reality, this is when I am at my less stressed. Because of Jude’s disabilities, family life can be a bit hard-going at times so if I know we have some “out of the house” time scheduled then it lightens the brain load.
4) Food shop online. It has been my life saver on so many occasions…
5) Share the load. I have started delegating chores to our eight-year-old daughter as she is more than capable of helping out these days. Jude has to do a few but obviously very simple ones (http://livingwithajude.co.uk/family/chores/ ),and even Emmeline can aid familiar relations by picking up her toys.
6) Prioritise. No one can do everything so lower the stress levels by taking a realistic stance on your expectations. Go easy on yourself.
7) Something I am horribly guilty of is not taking adequate care of myself. It’s important to make sure you have some down time to avoid burn out. It may seem like a wasted space in the day that you could use to complete something else but in the long run it’s vitally important.
8) Prepare for the next day. I can’t go to bed when the kitchen is a mess and I always have to make packed lunches, get socks into shoes ready for that predictable time when you should have already left but someone can’t find a matching pair! But even if you just get the mugs out for your morning cup of tea, it will make the household rush hour that little bit gentler.
9) Paperwork. File stuff straight away! Don’t end up with a situation like mine…http://livingwithajude.co.uk/family/paper-paper-everywhere/
10) Menu planning! I really hate trying to work out what we’re all having for dinner each night. So at the weekend when time is a little more apparent, planning the week’s dinner menu is a great way of leveraging one chore out of your working day.