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Moms Talk: Getting Organized

From calendars to clear, plastic toy bins, the San Lorenzo Moms Council weighs in on ways to get organized and bring structure to their families' busy schedules.

How do you keep your family organized?

Christie Arias: Us, organized? Well, we separated the kids' toys into two separate toy boxes. One for "girl" things and one for "boy" things. I've thought about ordering name labels a million times, but haven't gotten around to that quite yet.

My kids know what belongs to them. I do have clear storage bins for a few categories of toys: Legos, dress-up, dollhouse items, play kitchen, large cars and trucks, Hot Wheels and GeoTrax. We also have a bookshelf for all the books.

In a perfect world I would love to have a place for everything in its own little designated spot, but my house just isn't big enough!

Stacy Blom: We are a very structured family that plans in advance.  When the girls were younger, we would pick out our clothes the night before to make sure they didn't need ironing.

We'd place papers and items of importance that needed to be turned in on the dining room table to be taken before they left in the mornings.

We try to plan ahead as much as possible. Never wait until the last minute for anything!

What organization systems and techniques work best for you?

Christie Arias: I have the family schedules in my planner. It is a write-in calendar, no iPhone or anything fancy.

Back when I worked full-time, my company had their own planner system and taught employees a course on it. I am able to be very detailed in my planning that way.

I view each month at the beginning of the month and then write out the weekly schedule on a "weekly calendar" that we keep on the fridge. That way, anytime during the week we can have a quick glance at the calendar and know what we are doing and when we have to be somewhere.

When I am out and about, I add calendar items to my phone and give myself an alert an hour before appointments. I also set up reminders for myself to write them in the calendar.

Stacy Blom: My family lives by my 12-month calendar that sits on the kitchen door. Every appointment, school activity, sporting event, meeting, etc. is written on this calendar. There is also a pocket for every month and in it go all reminders, tickets, notices, etc.

This way, we always know where everything is. We also have "to do" lists and lists of things we need to remember before leaving each morning. There are notes all over the house to help us remember and keep us organized. We even keep a white board on the fridge for important items!

How important is keeping your family organized?

Christie Arias: Our family of four has a system that seems to work. We have a specific place for playing with certain things. For example, if you want to play with Play-Doh, you have to do it at the kitchen table and use a plastic placemat under it. Or if you want to color, we have a kids' table where crayons and coloring books are kept.

Luckily for us, we have a large living room with a lot of floor space for playing. Pretty much by limiting certain types of activities to one area, we can keep things under control and not have toys spread completely throughout the house.

Stacy Blom: It is very important for me to keep my family organized, but even more important is the fact that my children are now very organized themselves. They both play sports, and when it comes to having all their equipment prepared, they are very good about remembering things for themselves.

I laugh when I walk in my oldest daughter's room and see that she also has a memo board and calendar to organize her life with.

What are some of the ways you teach your children organization?

Christie Arias: I've found that certain toys that have a specific place or belong in a clear storage bin are easiest for kids to know where they go, so they tend to put them away when they are done playing with them.

But the toys and items that just belong in the toy box typically end up on the floor long after bedtime and usually are still there the next morning.

My kids really like having very specific places to put things. Even with their clothes, they know where to find shorts on a hot day vs. pants on a cold day. There are certain things that are a constant, and these type of things my kids just know.

Stacy Blom: I think being as structured as we are, it has just rubbed off on our kids. When you don't know any different, then you just follow what you know.

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