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Blog Parenting from the voice of experience.
Simplify Life With a Plan

By Nickole Podany

I love having things planned out. Being organized, having routines—it makes life easier. You know where each kid needs to be. What they need to bring. When they need to be there.

But I’ll be honest - when things don’t go as planned, I’m thrown. I tend to get a little anxious and flustered. Oddly, this only occurs when it comes to my children and my home. My job is full of chaos, unpredictable outcomes and fires that I take in stride.

My biggest roadblock to having things planned out and organized at home? My kids. It’s understandable, they’re kids. Messes don’t bother them. Plans don’t faze them. But routines? Those work for us. For me, routines start first thing in the morning. If I don’t follow the set routine, my entire day feels thrown off. My girls have their routines as well. In the past few weeks, with my younger daughter randomly deciding to wake up earlier than normal, disrupting the routine, I know they feel the same. They need their routine—it shows in every cranky response, tired eye-roll or sigh.

I’m not saying that a parent has to have a minute-by-minute routine that they follow. Ours is more free-flow, but yet a routine. I wake one daughter and she gets ready. When that daughter is leaving for school, I wake the other daughter. With an hour and a half difference in start times, this is feasible. It allows them both to go about their own routines with little interference from the other. Even if their routine is nothing more than me walking into their room every 5 minutes until it’s finally 10 minutes before they have to be at school and they roll out of bed. My routine? It’s simple: shower, coffee, the Today Show and getting ready for the day.

We’ve got the morning routine down pat. School gives them their routines during the day. When we all get home in the evening, that’s when things tend to fall apart—if I haven’t planned ahead. Take dinner for example: if I haven’t planned what meal we’re going to have, I’m left scrambling to come up with something for all of us to eat. That’s why I try and plan what meals we are going to have for the week and I do my grocery shopping on the weekends. Making a grocery list helps me get in and get out with everything I need (I never forget my list!).

 Most times, this works out great but there are times I forget to take the chicken out of the freezer or realize I’m out of an ingredient, or I hear the dreaded complaint: “Ewww, I don’t want THAT for dinner.” Cold cereal, anyone?

Once dinner is done, we all settle down, and relax. We have a loose definition of relaxation; it could be enjoying a TV show we all agree on, working on homework, doing laundry, or dancing to Just Dance 3. The point is, we are all in the same room spending time together - unless it’s Zumba night, then you’ll find us at the studio dancing around like fools!

Routines don’t end there - Lastly, we have what could possibly be my most favorite routine: getting ready for bed! While one child is working on some last minute kitchen-cleanup, or homework, the other is sent off to brush her teeth and put her jammies on. This accomplishes two things. One: They are going about their own routines, and Two: They are on opposite sides of the house, which will hopefully minimize distractions and fights. Because girls fighting over the bathroom? That’s a roadblock I run into all too often.

Roadblocks or not, our routine is consistent. There is one thing I’m terribly strict about, though. Every night before my girls go to bed, I hug them, give them a kiss, and tell them I love them. (The younger one has an added “Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”) It’s our thing. They are 15 and 12 years old -but I’ll never believe they are too old to be told how much I love them!


"It's not easy being a parent, whether you're a single parent or a two-parent home. But parenting, like life, is what you make of it. I may not always make it home to be there when they get home from school, but I always make it there, wherever there is, when it really matters to them." - Nickole Podany

Nickole lives in Salt Lake City, UT with former homes in Arizona, Iowa and Texas.  She has two daughters, ages 15 and 12.  Nickole describes her parenting style as city chic.  She is working mom who pretends to cook way more than she does. A few of her hobbies include Zumba-ing (with her girls), following celebrity gossip, cleaning up after her children and hula hoop contests.