Saturday, October 3, 2009

Things that Keep Me Sane

Sometimes eating homecooked, sustainable food can be a real time-suck, but here are some things that help keep me organized when it comes to food, family, animals, etc. A lot of these relate to kids because, well, it takes some magic tricks to stay a sane stepmom sometimes.

*The animals are trained to know that they get fed only after my alarm has gone off. This means that they don't beg for food before I'm ready to get up and that they NEVER let me sleep past my alarm.

*The kids earn video game minutes every morning (well, every morning they wake up at Camp Dad) by being ready to go to school before 8:50 am. They have a checklist of things they have to do and can't write down their final time/minutes earned until everything is done.

*I keep a message board on the fridge and freezer to list the perishables inside. This way Mike knows when he needs to use up the broccoli even though he refuses to look inside the crisper drawer.

*I plan easy meals for Monday and Tuesday nights because those are our nights with the kids when they have homework (a.k.a. crazy nights filled with cranky kids. Friday and Saturday are homework free!). The rest of the week I have time to just wing it and cook whatever sounds good.

*I NEVER put unmated socks into a drawer. Single socks go in a bag until they find their match. If they don't get matched, they become dusting socks.

*The kids earn money for chores, but also lose money for naughty things like throwing shoes at their brother or playing with Pokeman cards after bedtime. Most chores and offenses have prices assigned on a spreadsheet (duh).

*I always pack the kids' lunches and my own right after dinner. My lunch is usually leftovers, anyways, so that means it's easy to pack up at night. Making lunches in the morning is darn near impossible for me to accomplish.

*We don't cook things for breakfast (besides toast), unless it's a special occasion or a weekend. It's plain soy yogurt with a touch of maple syrup and homemade granola (made on the weekend) for the kids every morning that they're at our house. I like toast or an apple with peanut butter.

*Bedtime routine is essential in our house because our boys are as night owl as they come. We start with a 5 minute warning. Then they take a bath, drink sleepytime tea (chamomile or one of the bedtime teas) and eat a little snack (graham cracker or toast). Then they go to the bathroom, get water, and clean off their beds. I read them 2 chapters of a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mystery and then it's time for sleep!

* I try to do laundry by room rather than by color. None of us wear white anyways (that would just be ridiculous to even try), so I don't really see a point in sorting by color. If I sort by the room it goes to, then putting away folded clothes is simple- They all go to the same place!

*I do sort my towels and rags on shelves, though. The nice towels go on the upper shelves. The okay towels are in the middle. They're okay for various not-too-nasty purposes. The bottom shelf is for the rags we use to clean everything nasty (dog pee, spills, cleaning the bathroom, etc.). The kids are pretty good about using the right towels. This system is perhaps a symptom of my not-clinically-bad-anymore-OCD. Actually, this whole post probably is.

*I keep a grocery list template (in Excel spreadsheet form, of course) on the front of the fridge. When we run out of something, we just check it off the list. This way I'm always ready to shop.

Hope some of these tips/tricks are helpful. What are your favorite "staying organized" hints?


beastmomma said...

That is very impressive! For the grocery spreadsheet, how did you create the template? Was it from a website or did you just keep track of what you purchased regularly for about a month?

Pearl said...

the perishable food list on fridge is a great idea. may have to institute that system.

I never match socks. I have two kinds, white short or blue long. but I like the socks as duster solution.

Aimee said...

What a great list!
We had a laundry basket full of unmated socks while I was growing up. I think there were some that remained unmated for like 10 years. My mom paid us per mated sock - I think a nickel a pair. Sometimes I'd go on a rampage and come out with dozens of mates.

We aren't as organized as having an excel spreadsheet, but we keep a pile of papers around to make our shopping list on. It's usually in the same spot and the list usually gets re-started as soon as we get home from the store and realize what we forgot!

The only other thing I can think to add is that we use Google calendar and put everything on there. It's usually always up so we can see what the week or month at a glance looks like - and it usually keeps us from double-booking!

Vegyogini said...

You're my hero...enough said!

Catherine said...

Liz, you are super-stepmom! It's so important to be organized to stay sane.

My tips? Let's see . . .

We sort laundry as it goes into the basket, so once it's full, it's ready to throw in.

I try to do as much cooking/prepping as humanly possible on the weekends. This includes "silly" things like chopping up and bagging produce for different stages of meals, etc.

Dan and I each have a tray for papers on the desk, so even though the desk does become a clutter catch-all sometimes, I know where to put everything away!

I put shower curtain pressure bars up in a couple of the doorways in our apartment for hanging line-dry clothes, so we don't have a drying rack cluttering up precious floor space in our teensie apartment.

We meal plan before we grocery shop so we don't have to make multiple trips to the store throughout the week.

Thanks for sharing your tips! It's great to see what other folks do to stay on top of life!

allularpunk said...

i'm not organized at all. then again, i don't have kids (yet), so it's not as crucial for me. still, i ENVY the organized people of this world. i've tried shopping by what recipes we will use during the week and keeping a list of said recipes (with what book they are in, and the page number) on the fridge...trying to sort them by who is cooking on what day and what the circumstances for that day of that week are. actually, i think i could do it, if it weren't for michael. his blatant disregard for my systems make me lax. perhaps that's for the best.

i still envy you and your lists and organization, though.

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

That message board on the fridge is a genius idea! I often forget what's in my fridge because it's so small.

Susan said...

I love the idea of the list of perishables in the fridge. My mother is forever buying cucumbers and I am forever finding them when they are smooshed and old and leaking all over the bottom of the crisper drawer!

J. said...

I have one of my cleaning chores assigned to each weeknight. Monday night: bathroom cleaning. Tuesday night I do a volunteer shift so I don't clean anything. Wednesday: vaccuum living room. Thursday: tidy bedroom. Friday: no cleaning because who wants to clean on a Friday?

I find this system means that the house is usually reasonably clean if we have unexpected guests and, more importantly, it is clean enough not to drive me crazy.

And my partner has that same inability to look in the crisper drawer. I actually stay out of the kitchen when he cooks because he'll just ask me if we have what he needs instead of actually looking for it. :)