I have a blended family of five children between my husband and I and one on the way. Four of our five live with us full-time and they range in ages from 8 to 15, so being organized at our home is a must in order for us to keep our sanity. Good organization and an efficiently-run home has to be part of our daily life in order for our family to run smoothly. Here are a few of the little ways I have organized things in order to keep my family on track.
Shoe and Socks
With 14 feet in our house, shoes and socks have a tendency to get out of hand. My husband and I placed a cubicle shelf on its side right inside the main entryway at the back door. There are eight slots and I marked each slot with a family member's name (leaving one slot empty). Daily wear shoes are stored in the proper cubicle to avoid the morning (or anytime) rush of "I can't find my shoes!"
For socks, it can be difficult to figure out whose is whose. I use a permanent marker to make dots on the inner cuff of socks so I can tell at a glance who those socks belong to. One dot signifies the oldest kid and five dots means the youngest.
Right inside our back door entryway, I have placed a file organizing rack with six slots. Each kid has their own slot and the top slot is for my husband and myself. Each slot has a colored folder to hold graded homework papers, notes, mail, gymnastics forms, permission slips and the like. If any of the kids comes to me looking for a homework paper or a form they received from an activity, they need to look in their folder. When they arrive home from school, each is required to give me any papers sent home from school. I look through all papers then place them into the appropriate folders.
We have a large, poster-sized dry erase calendar on the wall in our kitchen. Each person in the family has a different colored marker and I mark all activities and appointments with the appropriate colors. Family activities are marked with black and this system allows me to see at a glance what is going on in the coming month and who needs to be where on what days.
Print it Out
We have house rules of behavior which I have printed out and post at various places in the home. Because we are a blended family, my children and step-children are still adjusting to new and different expectations that my husband and I have chosen for our family as a whole. They need reminders of what we expect so having printouts for them to see as well as verbally going over rules helps drive the lessons home.
For smoother transitions on school mornings, I have started requiring all the kids to have their backpacks packed, ready to go and by the back door for bedtime. Reminding them to lay out their clothing before bedtime also helps make mornings go quicker.
These are just a few of the things we do in our home to make it run smoothly and some days it actually does run like a well-oiled machine. Some days, not so much. We try to adjust as necessary to make everything work and in general, it does but flexibility is the key. If something no longer works, we work out a new plan and keep working at it until we have it right.