Staying Organized With Small Children

Organization is an area I’ve always struggled with. I have A LOT of stuff – my husband thinks I’m a hoarder, although I think I’m pretty good about tossing stuff I don’t need anymore – so I always feel like my house is cluttered, no matter how “picked up” it may be. I feel like I spend 90% of my time cleaning and straightening up, but somehow things always feel a little out of order. It’s like I just can’t get organized enough.

Now that we’ve got two little guys running around the place, staying clean and organized has become a much bigger challenge. Especially now that Gavin is mobile – his speciality is taking items from one room and moving them to a drawer, cabinet, or hidden corner in another room. I found Grayson’s shoe that had been missing for a week in Gavin’s blanket drawer yesterday, so needless to say, there’s only so much that can be done. All this to say – mamas, I understand the struggle. So today I’m sharing my favorite ways to stay organized – or as close to organized as we can manage – with small kids.

Staying Organized With Small Children | Haven Gray {The Blog}

  • Establish Routines

The older Grayson gets, the more I implement this one family-wide. I’ve done this a bit for myself, obviously – we have a morning “routine” on preschool days or any other time we need to be up and out of the house quickly that we pretty much always stick with, and if we stray too far from this routine, things get a little chaotic.

I’ve also started working on an after school routine with Grayson – take off your shoes and take them to your shoe basket in your room, take out lunch from backpack and empty the container, hang your backpack on the hook in your room. It takes a lot of prodding and reminding, but I’m hoping the more “routine” it becomes, the better things will go.

We also do a nightly clean up of the living room (most nights). We have the boys gather allllll the toys that have been strung out from the kitchen to the back door and put them all in the basket. If there are things that obviously go in the playroom or in their bedrooms, then I make a pile and make it a game “I bet you can’t take five things to your bedroom all at once!” or “I bet I get the laundry folded before you can get all these toys to the playroom!”. Grayson is HIGHLY motivated by any type of competition, so he will do anything if he thinks he can win.

  • Everything Has a Place

Literally everything in our house has a place that it belongs (although some days I’m convinced I’m the only one who knows this). Now, I mentioned Gavin’s new favorite game of “take this thing and put it in the LAST place it should go”, so not much is actually in its place these days, but in theory this works. We have a million books, and they go one of three places: the bookshelf in either the playroom, Grayson’s room, or Gavin’s room. We have one small basket for toys in the living room. Aside from that, toys need to be in the playroom or in the toy box in either boys room. Even in the playroom I have a system for how I like things to be organized, but that happens typically about once a week when I go in and spend about half an hour putting everything back in its place, and the rest of the time it’s mass chaos in there.

  • Baskets Baskets Baskets! 

You probably noticed above that I mentioned a shoe basket and a toy basket – we have so many baskets in our house you guys. In the front room there’s a basket where I collect all things husband related – his mail, his random things that he leaves around the house, etc. In the kitchen, each boy has their own snack basket that I keep in the pantry stocked with their favorite snacks. In the living room we have the toy basket and a little basket-like container for the 500 remotes. In their bedrooms, shoe baskets, book baskets, toy baskets, etc. In my bedroom, I’ve got a basket for magazines and a random catch-all for my stuff like I have for the husband. In our bathroom, a basket for all the lotions and potions that we had to move up and out of Gavin’s reach. In our closet, I have a basket for clutches, our medicine is in two baskets, there’s a basket for my sandals – seriously, I could go on. And don’t EVEN get me started on the playroom.

This should give you an idea of just how highly I value a good basket. If all else fails, buy a basket and give that thing you can’t find a place for its very own place! And a major plus is that they’re a cute way to stay organized. Win-win!

  • Plan Ahead

I already went into more detail about this in my post 5 Things That Make My Days Less Stressful, but planning ahead is huge for staying on top of things when you’re responsible for not only yourself but little ones as well. One of the most important things I do (when I’m being a good organized responsible mommy) is get ready for the next day the night before. Plan outfits, pack lunch, stock the diaper bag (and the snack bags inside) – basically ensure that all we have to do is get up and get ourselves ready and we can head out the door.

Another huge thing for our family is our family calendar. I bought this big dry erase calendar at Target, and the husband hung it on the inside of our pantry door. Every month I fill out my personal planner and then put all of the important activities on this calendar where he and I can both see it. This helps SO MUCH when it comes to he or I planning date nights, meeting up with our friends, his work dinners, weekend activities – before we plan anything, we know we can see our entire schedule here at a glance so we don’t double-book ourselves.

  • Let It Go

This may be the most important thing on the list, and the one I have the hardest time with. When you’ve done all you can do and things are still a hot mess around your house, it’s time to let it go. Just for awhile – maybe just until bedtime or until the next day. But sometimes I will do all I can to keep the house picked up and organized, literally all day long, and still by the time Daddy walks in the door it looks like a bomb went off. All you mamas know that by dinner time you are usually DONE, so the last thing I want to do is clean up another mess. Like I mentioned above, we usually have them pick up the main areas before bed, but some nights that is just a dent in the chaos. So sometimes I really just have to let it go and say I’ll tackle it in the morning. As long as I know the basic organization is taken care of – hence everything having a place and all my many baskets – I know the actual cleaning up won’t be that big of a deal once I’ve gotten a fresh start the next day.

If you’re someone who thrives on staying organized and in control (I can maybe relate), having children can be a super frustrating challenge sometimes – I mean, why do they LOVE to cause so much destruction? Can’t they see how much nicer life would be if everything were just neat and tidy all the time?!? But, we know that the odds of them coming around to our way of thinking are not likely to happen anytime before their 18th birthday, so we can only do so much. Take care of the basic organization around your house, and let the rest go. I promise this is the healthiest approach for maintaining your sanity.

My Personal Goals for 2017

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. I used to loosely pick a few every year, but I literally don’t remember a single one, which makes me think I probably didn’t do so well with them. The last few years I have chosen a word for the year, and I have really enjoyed it. My word for this year is “Intentional”, and it feels so right with where I’m at right now. I want to be more intentional in every aspect of my life – as a wife, as a mom, as a business owner, as a leader. No matter what I’m doing, I want to do it well, with intentionality.

So although I won’t be making resolutions for the year, I do have a few things that I want to work on to better myself, my life, the lives of my family, over the year of 2017. Since putting things out publicly is the best form of accountability I know, I thought I would share them. Here they are, in no particular order.

Personal Goals 2017 | Haven Gray The Blog

  • Lead a Healthier Lifestyle

I recently started a BeachBody challenge, and it’s really awakening a love for fitness that I haven’t felt in years. I was a little skeptical going in, but now that I’m in it and loving it, I plan to stay consistent with this throughout the year. Also, I drink less than a full bottle of water most days – I have GOT to change that this year. And on top of that, I am probably actually addicted to sugar. I’m better than I used to be, but I drink at least one coke a day and have at least one sweet snack a day. I would love to cut that waaaaay down.

  • Be More Patient

Patience may be my biggest struggle, especially when dealing with my kids. If the stars are aligned and I’ve had the right amount of sleep/caffeine, I can pull it off pretty well. But under my normal circumstances, this is a huge struggle. I’m working to be better about this every day.

  • Read My Bible Daily

There for awhile, after I first came back into living a life of faith, I was in my Bible nonstop. I was so hungry, and I was learning so much. It has definitely tapered off in the last couple of months, so I’m making it a goal to get back to my daily reading. It makes such a difference in my day to day life.

  • Read One Book a Month

Goodness, I love to read so much, and it’s been SO hard to get it done since I’ve been a mama. I want to somehow find a way to read just one book a month. In my former life that would have been laughable because I read several books a month for years, but this is where we’re at, so I plan to do my best!

  • Say No When It’s Necessary

It’s tough for me to tell people no. If I’m asked to help in some capacity I always want to do that. If we get invited to a play date, I always want to say yes, even if it’s inconvenient. The past few months I’ve been feeling SO overwhelmed, and I’m feeling pretty positive that it’s time to let some things go.

  • Be a Better Friend

Being a good friend in this season of life with all the little bitty kids running around is not easy. It is so challenging to just get through every single day that thinking of others sometimes doesn’t even cross my mind. I’m hopeful that I can be more intentional in this way and reach out more often, lend a helping hand more often, and just be there when my friends need me to be.

  • Schedule Regular Date Nights

We have really let the date night thing slip for the last several months, and I think it is so essential in a marriage to get out without the kids and remember why you got together in the first place. I’m shooting for at least one date night out of the house a month.

  • Play & Read More With My Boys

I am not great at getting down in the floor and just playing with my boys. I have been trying much harder to be more intentional about this lately, and I can tell they love it. Now I just need to make it a much more regular thing – and I also need to make sure the iphone is put away during this play! I also want to put a larger focus on reading. When Grayson was a baby/toddler, we read a TON of books. Every night he would bring like 10 books and put them in my lap and I would rock him and read them to him. Now that there are two of them, I find myself reading a lot less. I hope to figure out a nighttime routine where I can read to both of them on a regular basis.

  • Work on My Relationship With God

I feel like there is SO MUCH growth that needs to happen in this area for me. I haven’t figured out the best way to make a quiet time type situation happen for me since getting up early before the kids is difficult when they are IN your BED…but I know this has to be priority #1, so I plan to figure out a regular routine that works for me.

  • Overreact Less

I know that I am lightyears ahead of where I used to be, but I do still tend to lean to the dramatic side of things. Fights with my husband feel HUGE when they’re basically nothing, sick kids stress me OUT and occasionally cause me to panic, plans that get changed at the last minute send me spiraling – so this is definitely an area I hope to improve upon this year.

  • Use My Time Wisely

Time is such a precious thing when you are responsible for tiny humans all day every day. When I do happen to have any spare time, I need to use it wisely.  Would it be nice to sit on the couch at the end of the day after the boys are asleep and binge watch Gilmore Girls? Of course!!! But wouldn’t it be wiser to use that time to work on the shop or blog? I think so.

  • Movie Night With My Husband Every Weekend

For the last couple of weekends my husband and I have rented a movie on our TV, turned off our laptops, put our phones down, and watched a movie together. I cannot tell you how long it’s been since we have done that, but it has been so fun! I’m officially making it a goal to make this happen every weekend that we’re home.

  • Family Dinners Without Technology

I am so embarrassed to admit how our dinners go, but here’s some brutal honesty for you. Grayson sits at his kiddie table and eats while playing with dinosaurs or watching TV or playing on his ipad. Gavin sits in his high chair and snacks around on whatever he’s eating. The husband either browses through his phone or works while eating. And I put my headphones in and watch Netflix on my ipad. This is how it goes almost every night. I usually eat after everyone else is done because I’m getting everyone else set up, bringing more, finding drinks, etc. The husband eats super fast and is typically on to something else before I even sit down – but I really, really want to change this. My family never ate dinner together when I was growing up, and I definitely want it to be a part of our lives.

While I’m definitely not looking at these as “resolutions” that I have to keep, I think they all just fall in line with my goal to be more intentional this year. Of course I’ll mess up and I’m sure I won’t be able to check everything off the list every time, but I feel good about diving into a new year with all of this in mind.

So what about you – Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Choose a word for the year? Something else altogether? I would love for you to share!