sunset on the porch

via Leon Fishman on Flickr

My wife and I sat on our west facing front step last night after dinner. The sun, a little lower than it used to be at this hour meant that part of our step was in the shade while the other half was in the sun. I sat on the sunny side while she bent down in the shade. The air had a hint of chill to it. While it was still 21 degrees, there was that bit of freshness to the breeze that wasn’t there a week ago.

“Winter is coming,” I whispered in a very bad Game of Thrones impression. She didn’t laugh. reminding me that it snowed last August.

I’ve always considered the back-to-school season to be more of a ‘new year’ season than the one after Christmas. We’ve been off on vacations, relaxing, traveling, exploring, and out of routine for the past 10 weeks. Summer is an entirely different kind of routine where schedules are in flux, bedtime rules are broken, and life is devoured.

Come September, however, and it all falls right back in line. New shoes. New books. New pants. New backpacks. That easy drive to work in August becomes bumper-to-bumper again in September. Splashing at the beach is replaced by swimming lessons, playing at the park replaced by team sports, free play replaced by rushed dinners as schedules get jammed with activities.

That busy time is here and if you don’t tighten up now, you’ll lose control quickly.

5 SMALL STEPS TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR LIFE

1. Shared family calendar

Everyone needs to be on the same page, so make it easy. You might use a big print out family calendar in the kitchen, or a white board by the front door, but also look at getting the family synced digitally.

calendar

Maybe you need to get an app, or maybe you can just set up Google Calendars that members of the family can subscribe to so you get all the practices, games, activities, and events on each other’s phones. This is also a good time to plot out ALL of the Professional Development and School Holiday dates into your calendar so they don’t sneak up last minute

2. Meal Planning

The simplest thing I have done to keep my schedule on track during busy weeks is meal planning. For some that means making all the meals ahead of time on Sunday afternoon.

meal prep meal planning

via Dennis Amith on Flickr

For me it means scribbling some notes on the calendar for Monday-Friday, reminding me what I have planned to make for dinner, so I can whip it out of the freezer before flying out the door. You might do it before you do your groceries, you might spend Sunday floating around Pinterest picking up ideas.

Whichever way is easiest for you, just do it. It’s a life saver.

3. Make time for Family (and yourself)

As you’re plotting out your back to school activity schedule, try to keep one night during the week free. Our boys will be in swimming, soccer, art, and dance this fall. We try to line up their swimming at the same time, we juggle the soccer, art, and dance. Still, when I line up the calendars, I try to keep one night free (usually Wednesday) to give ourselves a breather. There’s no dinner scramble, we can sit together, and it gives the kids a rest in the middle of a busy week too.

family dinner

This is when you also need to make time for yourself. As you’re registering for THEIR activities, find one for yourself too. Maybe it’s evening pottery, early morning spin, or weekend yoga. If you make the appointments and put them in the calendar, you’ll be accountable to them. Time for you is important too!

4. Take a multivitamin

The Centrum Small Steps Survey found ‘life just gets in the way’ for many of us when it comes to making healthy choices. At every life stage, people often say they’ll start their healthier life tomorrow, but taking small steps can help you to get to a healthier you today.

centrum

* banana for scale

Taking a multivitamin is an example of one ‘small step’ you can take, which can help you maintain your health as you work towards bigger health goals.

5. Make a buget, and stick to it

There will be A LOT of expenses in the next few weeks. The new clothes, the school supplies, the school fees, the extra curricular activities, the new shoes. Stop, take a deep breath, and really look at what things are going to cost.

budget

Don’t dig yourself a deep hole that you’ll barely get out of in time for Christmas craziness (yes, I just wrote about Christmas planning in August). Seriously, though, all these little things will add up, so stay within your means and keep your finances healthy like the rest of you!

So while you take a last long sip of summer, sitting on the sunny side of the porch, start thinking about the new routine. Lay the foundation in your head that this year will be different. Plot out the calendars, practice the meal planning, make some time for yourself, take a multivitamin. It’s all about positive, simple, healthy habits. Make it part of your routine and, suddenly, the routine isn’t so bad.

How do you get ready for the new year? What are some of your organization tips?

Disclosure: This piece sponsored by Centrum. Centrum provided information and support to develop this content. The opinions and advice shared here are my own.

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