Tidy Up: 3 Top Tips to Help Single Parents Get Organised
Being a single parent can be chaotic at the best of times, and one of the best ways is to keep organised. Daniel Sherwin from Dad Solo gives his top tips for staying organised in the home and having a pro-parenting schedule.
Single parents shoulder a heavy load. Between busy work, school, and parenting schedules, you meet yourself coming and going. One way to calm the chaos and make your days run more smoothly is to get organized. Our tips will help you organize your home and schedule.
It’s difficult to get into a routine when your home is cluttered. To organize your home quickly, work with your kids to sort belongings. Make a “keep,” “trash” and “donate” pile as you go through each room. Then, make a plan for the items you decide to keep. If you’re not sure where to store your belongings, consider the function of each room.
For example, organize your kitchen to support cooking, baking and making kids’ school lunches and snacks. Keep plastic containers and bags in a drawer with snack items and lunch foods so your kids can easily access what they need in one place and prepare for school the night before to avoid the mad morning rush.
Next, designate storage containers, closets, and drawers as places for each item and ensure everyone knows where things belong. Store items where you will use them, and encourage your kids to create homework spaces in their bedrooms stocked with school supplies. This will keep your kitchen counters and table clutter-free and keep your kids organized as they get into a routine of completing homework.
2. Create a routine
Kids thrive when they know what to expect, so you need to create a routine as soon as you get organized. Be patient because the initial hard work will pay off when everyone understands and meets the expectations. Try to implement the routine on a weekend so you can work out the bugs before the chaos of a school day hits.
Begin by helping your kids practice getting ready for school at night. Homework, backpacks and other school necessities should be packed and in a central location each night so the kids can grab their belongings on the way out the door in the morning. They also should choose their school clothes and pack their snacks and lunches the night before to save time and reduce the school morning craziness.
After school, kids should put their belongings in the same central location and start their homework. Put a basket near this location for papers that you need to see or sign from school; this will help you stay organized and hold you accountable for the routine, too. Set aside time each evening to check the box, go through the papers with your kids, and return them to their folders before going to bed.
Your evening routine is important, too, because it will help you prioritize family time. Plan to eat as a family at least two or three times a week. Then, work together to clean up the table and dishes. Make sure homework is done and ready to go for the next day while your kids pack their snacks and lunches.
Make sure you add in other tasks to your evening routine as necessary; for example, younger kids may need to clean up a play area for bath time, or older kids may need to pack their sports gear for the next day’s practice. Bath time and reading time should be part of a bedtime routine for younger kids, too.
3. Create a family calendar
If you have a crazy parenting schedule with drop-off and pick-up times, meetings and sports practices and games, create a family calendar in a central location of your home for everyone to see. If it’s too overwhelming to create the calendar for an entire month, limit yours to one or two weeks.
It’s helpful to make the calendar a dry-erase board or chalkboard and to keep a cork board for papers and reminders nearby.
Your busy life as a single parent demands organization and routine. Work with your kids to clear the clutter. Then, create routines and a family calendar to keep everyone on schedule.
Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.