6 Secrets of Organized Moms
When it comes to keeping my household organized and my kids in line, I aim to run a tight ship -- and usually we manage to stay afloat. But then, there's always a mom who has more children than I or works longer hours -- or both -- and still has empty laundry baskets, toy-free carpets, and kids who (gasp) do chores without being begged. How the heck does she do it?
To get the answers, I asked the most efficient (but still normal!) moms I could find. A few organize other people's homes for a living; others learned to cut corners as a means of survival; some are simply more efficient by nature.
But don't worry if you aren't, because you can borrow their tricks. (Maybe that should be tip No. 1.) Here, their secrets:
1. They know discipline saves time.
It's a common scene. You're at the Gap with your toddler when, bored, he begins pulling clothing off the hangers. You sternly tell him to quit it or you're leaving. He tests that theory by tugging another blouse to the floor. You're livid but continue to issue a steady stream of warnings as you pick up the outfits in his wake. After all, you don't really want to leave until you've finished shopping the sales rack.
Certainly it's easier said than done to drop what you're doing and haul a whining kid back to the car. But the way Angie Gerrard of Natick, Massachusetts, looks at it, you can endure arduous, argument-filled trips to the store until your child's past adolescence. Or you can go home without stuff a couple of times and ensure shorter, smoother store visits in the future.
That's why Gerrard, a former nanny and daycare teacher, chooses her words carefully with her two children, Ben, 4, and Ella, 2, and always follows through with the consequences. "If my two-year-old takes off her socks when we're out and I tell her we're going home unless she puts them back on, then I take her home if she doesn't put them on." It doesn't take too many experiences like these, says Gerrard, before your child knows you mean what you say and behaves accordingly. "You save yourself so much time when you actually make good on your threats."
This zero-tolerance approach is the only way Denise Nichols, a Kennewick, Washington, mom, can keep her ten -- yes, ten -- kids in line. "If I hear anything starting, I just step in and stop it," says Nichols. "I separate them, I take the toy, whatever it takes." No questions asked. Otherwise, she says, her entire day would be filled with enough accusations and cross-examinations to constitute a Law & Order marathon.
Barbara Rowley, a mom of two, is a contributing editor at Parenting.