Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Organized Chaos

Hey friends!! Hope you had a fabulous three day weekend!! We sure did at our house and we are ready for the busy week ahead! A question I get asked almost daily and have received many emails about is "How do you stay organized in your busy life? What are some pointers you would give someone that is barely staying afloat, much less getting dinner on the table??". Well today, I am not going to talk clothes, instead tell y'all about my organized chaos.

This week starts the first REAL week of the "school/dance/sports season". School may have started a few weeks ago, but that was cake compared to the schedule that will begin today. Let me give you a peek at what our schedule looks like at the Browns:

Shane and Rachel - full time jobs
Claire - School and 10 hours of dance during the week, at least one hour on the weekends
Owen - School and 5 hours of football a week
Bree - School three days a week and three hours of dance a week

Not going to lie, when the dance company audition results came out and I saw that Claire is going to dance in 10 company dances this year (solo and duet included that will not get a specific hour a week) - I may have had a slight panic attack. That meant 10 hours of dance during the week when we add in technique classes. Then Bree had three hours and Owen's football schedule was not even set yet, yeah this mama was trying to keep her stress in check. We are firm believers in eating dinner together as a family as much as possible and school always comes first. With the kids running around that much, I was not even sure if we would even eat dinner anymore. Sorry kids, hope lunch filled you up :).

So, I do what I always do and the first step in handling our crazy schedules, I prayed. It may seem silly to pray about "your schedule", but it's not. Pray that The Lord will show you how to handle this situation and show you the opportunities to still spend together as a family. If you are stressed, feeling like you are all over the place and need to get your act together, pray about it specifically. Turn it all over to The Lord. He will show you the answers.

Well after weeks of praying, getting all of the final schedules lined up, and seeing how it all came together, I am completely at ease. Dare I say excited?!!? Every thing has worked out and I know that the Lord answered that specific prayer.  I have been doing this working full time with three kids thing for over 5 years now and I feel like I have somewhat figured it out, or at least what works for my family. Some of these things may not work for you, but you can change and add things as needed. Here are my organizational tips I LIVE BY. Really, my whole family lives by...

1. Sunday Planner time! Get a planner and use it. I have tried the digital thing and nothing will beat my paper planner that I can write in and physically hold each week. I have used an Erin Condren Life Planner for 4 years now and could not live without it. That may not be the one for you, but find your "sweet spot" planner. You will feel so much more organized if you take the time every Sunday evening, sit down in a peaceful spot with your favorite pen and write everything down for that week.  (I limit myself to a week of planning at a time. I try to add things in advance as needed, but I concentrate on each individual week.  Keeps my anxiety at bay :).)  I fully believe writing down something will help you remember it better than just "knowing". When you can see it all written down at once, you can plan all of the other details. We also use Sundays as laundry day. I really hate laundry, but Shane does not mind it so he helps me a ton. Very rarely is all of our laundry always done- but we make sure all of the school uniforms, dance clothes, football pants, etc. are cleaned and put away on Sunday nights. Makes a huge difference for us!

2. Family Calendar - I started this project this year and I am already loving it. I bought a huge chalkboard at Hobby Lobby, gridded it out for 6 days a week (sat/sun sharing) and 5 people. Each Sunday after I fill out my planner, I update this calendar with every one's individual schedules. It is propped up on my desk and if anyone needs to know what they are doing that night, they just have to glance at the calendar. It has helped Claire and Owen know if they need to change after school if they can't remember from our talk that morning. Even Bree can use it and gets excited when she has something on her calendar :).  Now that my family is getting older, I am trying to pass some responsibility on and hold every one accountable.
(PS - that says "LABOR DAY" vertically on Monday before you get confused :)...everyone in insta did!)

3. Meal Plan - Now that you can see what your schedule is going to look like and where everyone will be each night, you can plan dinner. I look at each night and plan what kind of meal works for that night's circumstances. If I know that me and the girls are going to eat before Shane and Owen get home, then I plan something that will be good heated up later. If I know that everyone is going to rush in, grab dinner and leave, I plan something that can be taken to go. If I know that we are going to be home, I plan a bigger meal since I have the time. I am trying to set myself up for success - trying to do too hard of meals will only make me stressed and more than likely I will skip it and we will have take out.  I make my grocery list off of the meal plan and only buy what I need for that week. When I am writing in my planner, I also look at the lunch menu at school and plan for the days the kids want to take their lunches, and add that to the grocery list. I also pick up small meal items (lunchables and those protein snacks) that I will pack in additional lunch boxes for the kids to take to dance and football so I can be at ease they are not starving. One big stress of mine is that the kids don't ever feel stressed. That keeps me up at night. I want them to feel organized, not too hungry when they are working hard, and know they are always taken care of. Plus, it never hurts for them to learn organization either!! I also write the week's dinner menu on the back of my pantry door (painted it with chalkboard paint) and everyone knows to look there for dinner plans.

4. The night before roundup! Every night I look at the schedule for the next day and plan accordingly. The girls get their dance clothes lined up and packed. Owen gets his football gear and clothes ready. Homework is checked, planners are signed, and clothes are laid out for school. We are not morning people in the Brown house. If we are running around like crazy in the mornings and feel unorganized, it usually ends up with 2 of the 5 bawling. True story. I sleep SO MUCH better at night knowing we are ready for tomorrow. I have been known to get up from bed and go lay out clothes, pack lunches, sign planners, etc. because we almost forgot. It is so worth it! I also pick up the house every night and go to bed with a clean home. My kids are older and my house is not as messy as it used to be (at least downstairs, Lord have mercy on the upstairs, kids quarters :) ) - so this is much easier than it used to be. My advice to you mamas of littles - just clean when you can. Plan it in your planner, but lower the expectations. That baby could care less that your house is messy, but it loves to see it's mama smile and play with it. Trust me one day, it will help clean too :). And also, confession: I have my house cleaned every other week. The best money I ever spend. Period.

5. Don't forget your planner by Wednesday! This seems silly, but we have all been guilty of it - have our pretty planner filled out with our best handwriting on Sunday.....and then don't open it again until next Sunday. I keep my planner open at work and it goes home with me every night. We need constant reminders of our plans. I seriously feel lost without it. Become besties with your planner. She won't fail you!

6. Homes for all the gear! My kids have to haul a ton of stuff! Backpacks, lunch boxes, dance bags, football gear, etc. Your car is not the best place for it. It may work for you, but not for us. Every night the kids bring all of it in and each thing has a home. That way, we all know where it is and can find it when we are walking out the door....or if we forget, we can easily tell Nonna or Poppy where to find it. My kids playroom has been changed to a media/school room. They have desks to complete their homework on and a place to hang their backpacks. They also have designated spots for each of their other bags. I am going to try to make them clean all of these bags out every Sunday this year. We will see...

7. Lastly, but most importantly, GRACE. We all know that we can do all of these things and for the first few weeks things will go great, dare I say perfect. Then all it takes for us is Shane to travel or me to travel, or one of the kids to get sick, or a big meeting and all of this organization goes to hell in handbasket fast. That is when you have to reel her in, get through the mess and come back to all of this. Don't give it up, just start it back up. I pray constantly for The Lord to keep me sane and show me I can do this with His help. I am not doing this alone, I have Shane, my mother that gets my kids where they need to before I can get there, but The Lord is at the forefront - this is not all on me. Y'all need to remember that too. You can't do it alone. Ask for help!

Hope that I was helpful to y'all and feel free to email me or comment with any questions!! Also, I have updated the "Shop" tab at the top and you can see see some of the items I have bought or want to buy. This will be updated weekly!!! Happy Tuesday!


  1. I only have a two year old little boy I dont know how you do it all! thanks for all the great tips, will be using it as I prep for our first week of nursery school!

  2. I was so sad when you shut this blog down. How I stumbled upon your return - I have no idea! I am so happy ! Every time I shop I would say - think of Rachel what would she buy - I swear. I go to old navy now because of you and F21. I wanted to mention to you nordstrom for plus size. I don't have one but I do online. When they have sales it's good prices for good quality. Oh it feels good to have you back - just in time for fall. WELCOME HOME :)

  3. Such a great post!! Thank you for sharing your tip and secrets - I'll definitely be implementing this week!!


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