Bigger Family Organization

Ok, ok…in all honesty, 99% of the time, I don’t consider us to be a big family.  However, sometimes it seems like I have 50 kids.  And although it seems like adding one more to my existing three wouldn’t be a big deal, it really threw us for a loop.  I mean, all of our routines were thrown off to a degree, and we kind of had to start all over.  I realized that I was going to have to reach a whole new level of organization if I wanted life to flow relatively smoothly.  So over the last few months, I have found some organizational breakthroughs in trouble areas that have helped us tremendously and wanted to share them with you.

Problem Area #1: Medicine

My family is notorious for forgetting medicine.  We are terrible, terrible medicine takers.  We rarely finish an entire dose of antibiotics and a daily medicine, Psh!  Whatever!!  But….over the past few years, my crew has gotten to the point where we can’t forget medicine any more.  Lydia, Isaac, James, Tim and I all have daily medicine, almost all of us take Claritin, and really, I wanted everyone to take a multivitamin.  What’s a mom to do?

Enter the pillbox system!  You thought it was just for older people didn’t you?  Nope!  I have reinvented the pill box!  (Imagine me standing like a superhero when you read that…it’s how I feel about it!)  So here’s what I do:

Bigger Family Organization

Excellent Organizational Tips for Bigger Families

Every Saturday, I pull out our medicine bottles for the week and divvy out all the medicine for each day into each person’s pill box.  Then, each night, we all meet in the kitchen and take our meds and vitamins.  I store them in a silverware holder which is perfect, because things like nasal sprays and liquids meds can easily be slipped into the front slots.  It also helps me stay ahead of needing new medicine, because I can easily see at the beginning of the week if I need a refill of something and I set the empty bottle on the counter as a reminder to get it filled the next day.  Love this!

Problem Area #2:  The Paper Problem

We have a pretty serious paper issue at my house. As in…there’s a lot of it. Paper from schoolwork, paper from bills, paper from Tim’s work, notes that need to be saved, paperwork that comes with the adoption process….the list goes on and on and on. So, I use what’s called a Command Center. No, I actually didn’t come up with this one, but I sure wish I had! I saw it first at A Bowl Full of Lemons and just loved the idea, so I tried it, and it worked beautifully. I’ve been using this system for about three years now. It’s super easy. When the mail comes in each day, I throw away any junk mail, and I put any bills in the first file labeled, “To Pay.” Anything that needs to be filed goes in the second file labeled, (you guessed it!) “To File”. Then, the next four files are for my kids’ work. This works great with school or home school. When work comes home from school, I go through it immediately. Anything that I need to save, I stick in James’s folder. Anything that is trash, I throw away immediately. The same principle goes with home school. All their work that I want to save goes in their files until I can file it more permanently (usually about once a month I’ll do a big filing session and put things in their permanent spot).

Bigger Family Organization

Great ideas for organizing bigger families

The next two files are for Tim and me. I used to get in trouble all the time for throwing away things that Tim needed. It never failed that a piece of paper would sit on the counter until I just couldn’t stand it, so I would finally throw it away, just for Tim to walk in five minutes later and ask for it. It never failed! But, now, when I’m not sure, I just stick that paper in his file and it’s there when he asks for it. I keep my file for anything that I want to keep or need to do.  No more cluttered desk space!

Problem Area #3: Chores

With four children, I must admit, I have grown weary of spending my days cleaning. I have tried just letting some things go…but I just can’t! I am just not that kind of person. I desperately wish that I could function with a little mess and clutter though. However, it’s ok…I have to accept that I’m a compulsive cleaner and picker-upper and work with it. So this summer, that’s just what I have decided to do. I realized that if I’m spending all my time cleaning the house, I will get to the end of the day and feel as though I haven’t spent much time with my kids at all.

So, I decided that in addition to our regular daily chores (making bed, brushing teeth, etc), we would have “duty areas” each day. The areas rotate daily so they don’t get too boring. This is essential. I have four duty areas: Laundry Duty, Kitchen Duty, Bathroom Duty, and Outdoor Duty. These are all trouble areas for our family…and yes, I know…it’s pretty much the entire house! Here’s our chart.

Bigger Family Organization

Ideas for Bigger Family Organization Trouble Spots

The basic idea here is that whatever child has laundry duty will help me and eventually do some or all of the laundry that day, depending on age and skill level. The same goes for the kitchen, although this seems to be the favorite of all the kiddos (psst…they get to help cook and plan the meals for the day!).  Bathroom Duty is a simple wipe down of the bathroom.  Outdoor duty consists of picking up trash and toys, watering plants, and cleaning up the car.

Hopefully these ideas have given you some organizational inspiration. I haven’t done one of these organizational-type posts in a while because I haven’t felt that organized in a while, but we’re getting there once again. Baby steps, right? What are your favorite tips for organizing your family?

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