From hubbub to Zen: On organization, time management and alacrity

Story Image

Organized chaos: Having a routine helps Tamiko Saame of Oak Park take care her children: (left to right) Aleksander, 7; Stella, 9; and August, 5. | SUPPLIED POTO

The school year has started, and families are in the process of getting au fait with new schedules, changing bedtime hours, after-school programs and athletics, doctor’s appointments and the daily grind of running a household. Get organized now. Prepare your family for busy days by following these ideas:

Keep a master calendar

All of the family events, schedules and engagements should be on a central calendar. If you prefer a tangible paper calendar, choose one that has large enough spaces to write everything. Keep the calendar in an easily visible and accessible location.

Many online calendars allow families to sync up at home or on the go. Simple to share with others, Google Calendar is free, and it has an easy-to-use interface with day, week and month views. Parents can color code different sections or even create distinctive calendars for each family member and then have the individual calendars merge onto a main calendar that everyone can view and update.

Another free online family calendar is Cozi, which offers a color-coded calendar, shopping list management, to-do list organization and family journals. In addition, parents may receive appointment reminders via text message so that they never miss an important date.

The early-to-school bird gets the worm

If you’re finding that mornings at your household are full of chaos, set your alarm clock a little earlier in an effort to gain more peace and cheerfulness at the outset. Do as much legwork as possible the night before-lay out outfits, get school lunches packed and have all homework or school supplies loaded in your kids’ backpacks. Have a game plan for breakfast to ensure that your children are starting off on the right foot with a healthy meal instead of wolfing down goldfish at the bus stop.

“We have established routines where the kids have the responsibility of brushing their own teeth and hair and they get dressed mostly on their own,” said Tamiko Saame, Oak Park mother of three. “I make sure that I read all of the materials that they brought home the day before so that I’m not signing permission slips and trying to find exact change for field trips as we’re rushing out the door.”

Stay positive

Just like how an edgy passenger on a flight looks to the flight crew for reassurance, kids also emulate the mood that their parents set. To create mornings that are trouble-free, pay attention to your disposition. Stay open minded to new school endeavors, teachers and daily operations and give everyone time to adjust.

“Maintaining a positive attitude in the morning is helpful because it sets the tone for the rest of the day,” said Margaret Ryzewski, a mother from Riverside. “A happy mom in the morning hopefully means happy kids all day long.”