Organization Tips for Families - The Great Balancing Act

With the warmer months right around the corner, organization, de-cluttering and spring cleaning are top-of-mind for many families. The March edition of the Family Matters Bright Horizons Webinar Series focused on organization tips for families, and how busy, on-the-go parents can balance it all - from work and scheduling playdates; to clever cleaning tips and healthy meal ideas the whole family will enjoy.

The webinar yielded a robust conversation about various topics related to family organization including staying organized when one parent is travelling, using Outlook calendars to streamline the family’s schedule and creative recipes for week night dinners. Moderated by three working Mothers at Bright Horizons, Mary Schofield, Megan Aita and Ruth Fidino, webinar hosts and participants provided their own time management and home organization tips and tricks. Some of these key takeaways included:

  • Compromise, compromise, compromise. According to Megan, it’s all about compromising with children when it comes to creating a solid daily routine. For instance, ensure that all chores are accomplished before children can watch TV or play with electronics, especially in the mornings.
  • Flip the day around for creative dinner ideas. Planning family dinners during the week can be challenging, so webinar hosts and participants recommend getting creative and having breakfast for dinner at least one night per week. Whether you decide to serve-up Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes or whole grain waffles with strawberries, the whole family will enjoy this change-up in the schedule.
  • Don’t leave home without your rescue bag. Whether you’re at a restaurant or on a long car ride, a rescue bag containing your children’s favorite books, activities, photos and non-perishable snacks can be great solutions for a lot of situations. Megan keeps hers in the car at all times, because you never know when you’ll need the rescue bag!
  • Abide by the "rule of half." Stacy Erickson, of HomeKey Organization, recommends putting away half of your children’s toys and then rotating them out. In a recent post on the Bright Horizons Family Room blog, Stacy says that the rule of half, especially for toy storage solutions, usually creates a calming effect on the environment for both parents and kids.
  • Designate a day for laundry. Known as Organized Mom on the Bright Horizons Family Room Blog (and the “Stain Queen” to her children), Mary has never met a clothing stain she can’t beat. She recommends choosing a day of the week to devote to laundry, and always keeping the laundry room stocked with stain-fighting solutions and tools including a spray bottle of vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, Tide detergent and an old toothbrush.
  • Works of art. Your children’s artwork and papers from school are precious and priceless, but does it all have to be saved? Mary recommends displaying certain items, but keeping their works of art on rotation as they create new pieces. Ruther’s children used storage under their bed to house their school work and art creations if it didn’t go on display in the house. At the end of the year, they went through all of it together and kept only certain things that would fit in one container. Looking back through everything together was a fun family experience, as well!
  • Staying ahead. All three webinar hosts agree that preparing the night before is a huge time-saver for families. Whether it’s packing lunches, laying out clothes or leaving pre-packed backpacks by the door, preparing for the day the night before can save time (and sanity!) in the morning.

With over 3,700 registrants for this webinar, it’s evident that organization and time management are important topics to many busy families. This conversation continues on Twitter, Facebook and The Bright Horizons Family Room Blog, where Mary, Megan and Ruth often share their additional thoughts and ideas when it comes to this Great Balancing Act.

Be sure to join the next webinars in the Family Matters Bright Horizons Webinar Series. The webinar in May will discuss caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, and July’s webinar will focus on family fitness.