Being organised (or at least trying to be) and having routine and plans is something I love to have in my life. It is both crucial when raising a family, and also something that is a huge part of my character for my personal sanity. I love to write “To do” lists, keep on top of things, have things written down, and have goals and some kind of structure in our day to day lives. I am a spontaneous person in many ways, but mostly I find comfort in having some kind of plan and structure. I feel there is a lot of stress and unnecessary chaos in family life where there are no real plans or routines!

Being a stay at home mum raising 3 kids, as well as being a blogger, a student at night school and the president of the girls youth organisation at school is a challenge, but is also very much my reality. Throw in trying to have date night with Nath, a social life, keeping track of extracurricular stuff and general life – it is no easy feat. And so I feel it is hugely important to be organised and keep some kind of balance for all of the demands of life, and to ensure self care.

For me, in order to do this I have in place things to keep organised and to keep some balance to my days. These include recording appointments and schedules in various places, and “My 3 job rule” to keep on top of the home without it becoming a complete drag or dominating pull!

How I Keep organised day to day 

I have had a lot of people observe to me that they find it interesting that I still write the majority of things we need to do with a good old pen and paper. It fascinates them that for someone that spends so much time online why I don’t use a digital calendar like google? The truth is that whilst I do record reminders on there, my brain seems to much prefer the act of writing things by hand, and seeing it all there to monitor and tick off. I don’t know why but I much prefer to write it all down, as oppose to type it!

I record things in 2 places – A family Calendar and a Diary!

A family calendar – For several years now we have had hung in our kitchen a family calendar where we have to hand all of the families appointments, classes, schedules and social events. It is useful fo Nathan and I when planning weekends and school holidays, and it is also good for us all to just be aware of what the coming week looks like for one another!

I love the flexibility of being able to look up and see at a glance what is planned that day and in the coming weeks!

A Diary – I love a Diary for my own personal goals, “to do” lists, notes and family stuff. I have tried numerous types of diaries, but my favourite has to be the one I have now that Nathan bought me from TKMaxx this Christmas. I love that each month is in sections, and each section has inspirational quotes and such an array of spaces to write lists, appointments, goals and birthdays (to name a few). I find my brain likes the layout of it, and how I keep things in order within it’s pages!

In my diary I pretty much copy everything off the family calendar (only this one is able to move around with me) and then add in all of the little things I do day to day; like food shopping, seeing friends. playgroups, cleaning, assignments, blogs etc. I used to love to bullet journal things like my goals, bucket lists, blog ideas, gratitude and blessings, and last year I did try a bullet journal for everything, but I found the creative style too much work, and it all hurt my brain not having it prewritten, so now I love the balance of my new diary with all of its little sections – most of which I would have previously written into bullet journal format, but it is already there!

A new addition to my life, and something I really love for an organised life and journaling, are the new filofax notebooks – again they have the option to be divided into sections, some with pockets to keep letters/bills/leaflets in, and the mix of lined/squared/plain paper, as well as the option to add extra sheets in to, make it the perfect option for bullet journaling or as a general family organiser. It is a good space to brainstorm ideas, make plans, set goals (with more plans), and keep lists of all sorts from all areas of life!

The leather look cover and bright colour options feel lovely, and it is a really useful and versatile piece of stationary for anyone looking for a more free way to keep track of (and organise) various areas of life!

My 3 Job Rule (for Balance and Sanity)

I love the saying “all work and no play makes ______ a dull boy/girl”! And so whilst I am one who enjoys routines and structure, there is an element to me that loves and craves some adventure and spontaneity. I suppose keeping a diary and track of everything, creating routine etc gives balance to my life and helps me to enjoy and be on top of the day to day demands, whilst still making space in my weeks to have fun and live life!

When Ethan was a baby however, things became very out of sync and I developed a very unhealthy cleaning obsession which included unrealistic expectations on myself to have a very orderly home all of the time. I don’t know how it got to that point, I suppose I saw it as being a sign to the outside world that I was coping well if my home was tidy when I had a new baby. But, reality was that after several months it was one of the tell tale signs that I had PND, and I soon realised (at breaking point and since) that motherhood wasn’t about having a clean and tidy home all of the time, but living life with my kids. Yes part of motherhood is creating a clean and safe environment, but it is also the responsibility of parents – not just me, and that it was unrealistic to expect it to be so. In time I began to enjoy being a mother more and have since been able to get more of a balance by living my 3 job rule mantra!

As our family has grown, so has the food bill, laundry pile, and the lack of order – I quickly realised in all of this that my days could quite easily be spent going round in circles and being dominated by the demands of a family home. Hours could be spent cleaning, Ironing, doing laundry, loading and unloading the dishwasher, cooking and hoovering. I knew that whilst I was a stay at home mum, this isn’t what I wanted all my days looking like. Yes I wanted to care for my family and keep our home in order, but this wasn’t just my sole responsibility – I am a mother, not a cleaner! And so early on, when Ethan and Megan were young and both at home full time, I realised I couldn’t do it all everyday, and nor did I want to. So, to help my mind and mental well being, and to be a more present mum, I Introduced for myself “the 3 job rule”!

The idea is that each day (except for Mondays which has become my cleaning the house day after the weekend and is more intense) I do just 3 jobs in the house – only 3, and then I go and do other things I need to do or want to do. The jobs are things that can be done quite quickly whilst the kids get dressed or for 20 – 30 mins after the school run, but they help me keep on top of the home! I do my 3 jobs, and then we might go out with friends, or on adventures somewhere. We might go to local groups, or swimming, or to the park…for a walk out, or simply snuggle and watch a movie. I do all of these things without the mum guilt or worry that there is loads to be done at home, because I know I already did the 3 most pressing jobs that morning and that is enough!

For me I always want to make sure they are done in the morning so that the day can be ours. I don’t particularly enjoy coming back to a messy house when we have dinner to make/eat, and other things to do, and so daily (often before or right after the school run) I always  1. Clean the Kitchen  2. Put on a load of laundry and then 3. (which is more flexible) usually clean the lounge. But Sometimes it might be to put the dinner on if it can be in the slow cooker, or it will be a quick hoover round, or maybe some ironing, or folding laundry.

Having the 3 job rule ensures the house stays in order and is clean, without dominating my day. It means I have a sense of achievement each day because my home is in a decent state, and I have done several things before leaving the house. But ultimately it means that I am more than a cleaner of our home! I keep my home clean yes, but within half an hour, meaning I have time with my kids and a social life with other mums and family. I means I have time to do things for me as well as my family, and I love it.

Organization and routine are very important to me, and I love the feeling of being in control of my day’s and making good use of time each day. Now that there is just Alice and I during the day, we tend to stay fairly local for school runs, and so that when she naps I can then blog or do college assignments. On an evening Nathan and the kids usually help tidy up from dinner, and Nathan always takes care of the bins!!! I love this balance as each day I can shut the door and go out with the kids to school and not stress, knowing I have accomplished something in my home and keeping on top of what needs doing without being dragged down by it all! I like that when we come home the downstairs is almost always clean and tidy, and for me it is a real sense of accomplishment to be able to balance everything I am and do.

It is so good for my mental well being and soul to have some structure, time out of the home most days, and just time with my kids to be mummy and go places and do things! I find that keeping a diary/notebook to track my goals, plans and schedules, as well as setting little daily goals in the home, all help me to accomplish this huge goal to raise a family (with all that that entails) and have some personal development and goals too. Whilst some days are a complete write off, most days are good and I flop into bed knowing I have used my time well and done my best!

*I received the Filofax notebook recently as a gift from them, and so wanted to share with you how lovely it was!

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I heard on the radio the other week that apparently there is a high proportion of parents that run out of ideas of things to do with their kids in the summer holidays by the second week! I really couldn’t believe this because honestly I personally feel the complete opposite that there actually isn’t enough time over the summer to fit in all we want to do. I look forward to having the kids home and we always talk of all we will do to and from school leading up to half terms and holidays. So I guess my question to you would be what are your thoughts and do you feel there is too much time to fill and occupy your kids? Do you struggle to know what to do each day and are wishing them back to school? OR are you full of wonderful ideas and plans and enjoy the school holidays? Do you have routines and schedules you fall into?

As I say I do look forward to the school holidays as I enjoy having the kids back, days out and generally more time to talk together and have fun. Don’t get me wrong it is of course exhausting and trying at times and some days are extremely stressful or a complete disaster, but on the whole its just great to have them around and all be together and its that aspect I really like about it. I like to make the most of the time we have and so a week or so before these summer holidays started (and just before I went in to be induced with Alice) I sat down and using an idea from Pinterest I have had for a couple of years, I planned our summer on a big sheet of paper and then stuck it to the fridge. I used a themed schedule and then worked in stuff from the summer bucket list that fitted into that category. Once the bucket list was penned in, I filled in the gaps with all of the other things I knew the kids would love to do, new things to try or things that we haven’t done in ages that would make our summer manageable, fun and organised!

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So in a hope to help out struggling parents this summer fill their time and enjoy the kiddos, here is how we are doing it and some examples of what we have done on the schedule.

Monday is “Make it Monday”…it is an easy going crafty type of day because after the weekend its an opportunity to just chill a little. We usually walk into town on the scooters or go to the park first thing, but the focus of the day is being creative and once they have let out some energy we enjoy our make it activity in the afternoon. The 1st week we made a solar system using polystyrene balls and paint and this last week we made tie dye T-shirts which was great fun. After our hols we plan to do baking, which I am leaning towards something a little more exciting than the usual buns or biscuits and Ethan recently suggested we could “make a fire” one Monday!

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Tuesday is “Take a trip Tuesday”.. an opportunity to go out somewhere. Our 1st week we headed to Bridlington to see grandma, enjoyed fish and chips and a day at the coast, and this last week it was swapped with our Thursday activity and went to the farm with friends. Towards the end of the holidays we want to go to a national trust place, Billy bob’s in Skipton, or somewhere just adventurous.

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Wednesday is “Water Wednesday” and all about getting wet. My kids love water and this is an opportunity for water fun midweek.  As we were at grandma’s the other week it worked well to go in the paddling pool/water slide, and after our holiday (which will be swimming daily) we will be heading to Magna or the great water fountains in Bradford. Some more Ideas we had near us were also Valley gardens in Harrogate (FREE) and othe parks with water features and paddling pools, all dependant on where we wanted to travel!

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Thursday is “Thinking Thursday” which is where we do an activity or outing that stretches their minds a little and a day with more of an educational focus. We plan to go to a new museum towards the end of the holidays, but already we have joined the Library summer reading programme and spent the afternoon there reading books and doing a book treasure hunt about Roald Dahl. Most recently, as we were packing for our holiday, the activity included them making books about dinosaurs and playing schools whilst I organised clothes for what felt like a million people!

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Friday is when we just have fun, we call it “Fun Friday” – and this week we took a train into Leeds and went bowling. The actual activity was a lot of fun, the day overall not so much. The kids absolutely loved it and together we had some good laughs and healthy competition, but several things made it feel totally nuts and all a little tiring/stressful. Next week they want to go Trampolining and after that a Swimming pool with slides!!…

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For the most part we have done what was written in, but depending on the weather, kids behaviour, invites from friends at the last minute and baby feed times we are also a little flexible…as long as what we do fits into the theme of the day, it makes things easier and it has given us some consistency and ease as to just knowing what type of activity we will be doing, even if what was on the schedule changes from one park to another or a different crafty activity.

I really love being organised in life so the holidays are the perfect opportunity to be uber organised and planned! Its so great knowing what we are doing each day, when we will need the car etc and it also has really helped the kids know what they are doing and what they can look forward to, so then can be used as a bribe if needed, but really helps them with routine. What I like most is the balance of fun, creativity and even some educational opportunities which all keeps costs lower as its not all extravagant days out. Our weeks are really varied and we make good use of time and the kids seem to be loving it whether its a day out or educational, they are keen because it is mostly their ideas and the titles like “Water Wednesday” fill them with excitment that it has come around to that day again!

I thoroughly enjoy these moments to have my kids back and have some great fun together, I will definitely continue this schedule whilst they are young and I hope in some ways, by sharing it, it has helped you if you are struggling with ideas…so grab some paper, write in the dates and headings, and brainstorm together with your kids a well balanced, fun week, and enjoy your kids and the school hols. You may be surprised with what you find yourself doing.

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