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How to be an Organized Stay at Home Mom (from a mom of 5!)

So full disclosure, I am not a naturally organized person. When I was working full time, it seemed fine to be completely disorganized. I was working two jobs and taking college classes and had every excuse to be a hot mess. Then I got married and had a bunch of kids and left my job and realized I had no idea how to be an organized stay at home mom. Not only did I have awesome, adorable excuses not to be organized, but my lack of organization was costing us money. It was causing us stress. It was taking away my joy with my kids because there were dozens of visual reminders all around us every day reminding me what a failure I was as a stay at home mom and wife.

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My husband was super supportive and made every excuse for our house being completely out of control, but that’s only because he’s amazing.

And being a stay at home mom is damn hard.

If you are a stay at home mom, you have every right to have things falling apart around you because mentally and time efficiently speaking – being a stay at home mom is the hardest job there is.

However – leaning into those excuses and just living life without trying to develop systems that made things better only kept me feeling stuck.

Finally, I decided I needed to get our disgusting house under control and finally learn how to be an organized stay at home mom for myself.

Of course for my kids and my husband – but mainly so I could feel better about myself and my competence at these important roles I suddenly had.

Simple Bullet Journal

The first thing I want you to do is something I learned while I was working that has continued to serve me in this chapter of my life.

I use this simplified version of a bullet journal to get my mess onto paper and out of my head.

You can read all about my simple bullet journal system here, but I’ll give you the gist:

I take a tablet, any tablet. My current one has scribbles on most of the pages from my kids throughout the years.

I write the date at the top and brain dump everything into it.

Doctor’s appointments I need to make, dishes, take out the trash, sign the kids up for soccer.

List them down the page with bullet points.

For things that are never actually done, like dishes and laundry, I write “spend 10 minutes loading the dishwasher” or “10 minutes putting away laundry.”

Then at some point throughout the day, I try to do those things as fast as I can.

This is now part of my morning routine. I go through yesterday’s list, put an arrow next to anything I didn’t get done, highlight it, and write it on today’s to-do list.

​Somehow, this one change has made a huge difference in how much I get done and how my day goes.

Also, yes I want you to do this even when your house is falling apart around you.

I don’t care how stupid you feel writing “spend 10 minutes cleaning pasta sauce off the walls.”

Just write it, even if it’s just so you can cross it off later and feel accomplished. No one else ever needs to see these lists and they WILL help you.

Morning Routine for Moms of Little Kids

Okay, now let’s hammer out a morning routine.

The biggest thing I did that made a huge difference was just figuring out what my biggest stressors were that I could solve.

For me, it was figuring out what was for dinner (and breakfast and lunch, really), how to find time to do laundry, and how to get our kids to do homeschool on a schedule.

My morning routine is now this:

I make myself a cup of coffee and sit down with my little bullet journal. I move yesterday’s stuff to today (some of these things have been dragged along for weeks). This takes only 3-5 minutes.

I go move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. This takes another 2 or 3 minutes.

Then, I set the table for breakfast, set out everyone’s homeschool binders, and spend 5 minutes unloading the dishwasher.

If no one else is awake yet, I’ll eat my own breakfast and while I’m cleaning up my own plate and coffee cup, I wipe down the counters or do something else for 5 minutes.

If everyone is awake and it’s one of those crazy mornings, I get the kids breakfast, help them to clean that up, and then sit them down for homeschool lessons.

This checks a few big things off of our list right away and sets the tone for a more productive day.

Meal Planning – Frugal Tips and Tricks

Sometimes this happens during my morning time when I have some peace and quiet, so I feel it fits here.

Usually on Sundays, I’ll sit down and look at what is on sale this week. We have Publix and Winn Dixie grocery stores near us, so we have lots of buy one get one offers available nearby. 

I write Monday though Sunday on a sheet of paper in my bullet journal book.

​Soccer games, practices, and doctor’s appointments go next to each day. Then I know if one day should be a freezer meal versus a meal it would take me an hour to make.

Then, I base our complete meal plan around what is on sale and what we have in our deep freezer.

For example, a couple of weeks ago, our favorite frozen pizzas were BOGO at Publix. We stocked up.

Every Friday is pizza night at our house, so Friday is done.

We have a lot of frozen chicken and ground beef. Organic peppers were BOGO this week at Winn Dixie. I decided to make stuffed pepper soup one day and chicken enchiladas another.

Not only does this keep costs down, but it ensures I’m not wandering around the grocery store buying random ingredients with no plan.

When possible, I use apps to do my grocery shopping.

If I go into Walmart, I lose at least an hour of my life and about $100 from my wallet.

Using Walmart pickup has saved me so much time. Time that I usually spend at the other grocery stores buying carefully planned ingredients.

The only time we deviate from the grocery list is if something is on clearance. If you find something on clearance that your family uses regularly (looking at you, French bread rack) stock up if you can. It’ll save time and money later.

Tackle Laundry in Minutes a Day

Laundry and dishes are the two areas that will make you feel the most out of control.

My rule for laundry is that a load needs to be done every single day.

I almost always turn on my washer right before bed. Moving the clothes to the dryer is part of my morning routine.

By lunchtime, I have a dryer full of clean clothes that I can dump on the living room floor, set a timer, and spend about 7 minutes hanging and folding.

When you have older kids that can help, putting away an entire load of laundry can take even less than that.

Nap time is also great for this if you have little littles.

Start timing how long these things take so you can make the most of your time.

It takes me 5 minutes to unload the dishwasher, about 7 to load it, 7 to straighten my hair, and 2 minutes to move clothes from the washer to the dryer.

Weird knowledge, but it has come in handy more often than you’d expect.

If I have a call in 10 minutes, I know I can put away an entire load of laundry in that amount of time.

Being organized is all about finding the little pockets of time in your day and tackling the mundane stuff so you aren’t wasting your quality time later in the day with a laundry basket instead of your family.

For our kids, we have no fold systems for pants and shorts.

They lay neatly in a drawer, unfolded, which takes a significant amount of time off of putting away laundry.

Family members should help with this. Even my 3 year old can go put away her own underwear and sometimes hangs shirts.

Teach them now so they can feel empowered and then help later.

Cleaning Schedule for Moms

My cleaning schedule is almost non-existent because I need to work in to-do list form when it comes to home management.

It’s just how my brain operates.

If I can spend a total of 10 minutes a day on laundry and 12-15 minutes on dishes, I don’t have a need for a daily schedule.

I wipe down the shower while I’m in it.

The toilet takes about 60 seconds to clean when you keep the toilet cleaner in the bathroom.

Now I kind of do those tasks without really thinking about them.

I wipe down the bathroom sink during our nighttime routine after finishing the kids’ teeth.

In my mind, being organized and having it “all together” is about finding easy ways to accomplish the things you used to stress about.

Household chores often take less time than you think. This is why I always tell my readers to time them when you do them.

A massive overflowing sink full of dishes after a holiday meal only looks daunting because you think it’s going to take all night.

When you time yourself and realize you can clean just about every pot, pan, and plate in your kitchen in about 15 minutes, it suddenly doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

End of the Day Mom Routine

My nighttime routine is when I try to have some quiet time with my family.

​In order to enjoy that, we prioritize cleaning up our messy house after dinner.

We send the kids to pick up their toys, my husband and I work together wiping down the counters and the table, and we send our iRobot vacuum out to clean the floors.

Ours was a gift from my mother in law and is now so much cheaper since they came out with a newer version. When ours dies someday, I’ll buy our exact one again. This thing has made such an unexpected difference in how clean our house feels.

This has made a big difference in not only how our days end, but in our relationship with our kids.

There’s something about a messy house that puts you on edge and takes away your patience.

Having a clutter-free home is one of my favorite parenting tips.

You’d be surprised how much more patience you have with your spouse and kids when you dig out from under what feels like an insurmountable amount of stuff.

​How to Find the Time to Clean 

​In my opinion, the first step to being organized is to decide right now that you are going to have less clutter and a better schedule.

Implement a family calendar if you have to.

Then, set aside time to declutter and get your house under control.

You’ll only have to do this once, and then maybe again after some big event. For example, we needed a complete reset after having our 5th baby.

This is when your life is expected to be completely crazy. You manage the crazy by managing how much stuff you have to manage.

Develop new habits so that cleaning your entire home takes almost no time out of your day. Instead cleaning happens in the margins of your day.

Wipe down the sink while you brush your teeth. Wipe down the shower when you get out of it. Keep a squeegee in the bathroom so you can use the steam from a shower to clean the mirror.

The only thing I ever need to actually think about cleaning in our bathrooms are the floors because there’s no easy way for that to happen among other daily activities.

Spend the 10 to 20 minutes it takes at night to involve the whole family, even young kids, in tidying up from the day. Do things you’ll think yourself for the next morning.

Finally, give up social media as much as possible.

So much of my time was wasted on Instagram, watching other people make recipes or clean their homes while I felt like ours was falling apart around me.

Why Getting Organized Matters

I know a lot of what I laid out here probably sounds utterly ridiculous to so many of you. I’m here to tell you, it has made all the difference in our family.

Our home was a lot of work to organize and it took a ton of effort to figure out systems that would actually help us. 

I can tell you though, now that we’re on the other side of it, that the most ridiculous solutions are the ones that helped the most.

My most productive time is at night. Making a daily habit of putting things back in their designated place helped bring a sense of calm to my ADHD.

My husband suffers from PTSD and specific tasks are sometimes hard for him.

He thrives in an organized home and really suffers when we let things get out of control.

While it might feel like we’re just talking about home organization, I can tell you that being a more organized mom made a huge mental health impact on my husband, myself, and my kids.

The hard work of developing a daily routine that we mostly stick to has put the bigger picture into perspective.

We have more time for each other. We argue and yell far less. There hasn’t been a single moment that I’ve regretted the hard work we put into decluttering, cleaning, and organizing our home.

It was time consuming and a huge pain in the butt to conquer my messy personality and learn how to be a more organized person. It really was. BUT it was the most important work I could have ever invested my time in. I hope you take some of these tips and do the same.

how to be an organized stay at home mom routine