Since the start of school this year, I have had several mom friends ask me how I keep up with school and paperwork and homework and sports and lessons without losing my mind.
The quick answer - I don't! My mind feels lost a good portion of the time, and I'm sure the kids will agree that mom is usually a few cards short of a full deck at any given point in time.
But - the long(er) answer is that I do have some procedures in place to keep that wee bit of sanity I have left intact. Here's how I keep us afloat:
I have lists. Every person, every day, every event, everywhere are lists! I have a personal one with my chores/agenda listed, and the kids each have a list on the fridge with every day of the week listed and what they must accomplish each day after school. When they get home from school (if nothing else is going on (ha!), they have about 45 minutes to unwind, watch TV, have a snack etc. Then mom busts out the lists from the fridge and fun begins! Their lists include the following: laundry, homework, memory work, reading, practice instrument, take out trash, wipe down bathroom, make lunch for school etc. They don't have all these chores every day, but if I don't write it down, it doesn't happen. So each day is unique to each child. This keeps me from nagging about individual chores. I just point to the list and make sure everything is getting crossed off while I start dinner. On a side note: from about 3-8 pm each day, you can always find me IN THE KITCHEN. Our kitchen and family room are one big room, so I can supervise much of what's going on while making dinner, assisting in lunch packing (in case a child gets a wild hair and tries to pack all desserts or something) or doing dishes. Once the kids' lists are done, back on the fridge they go, and they can play outside or whatever they'd like until dinner and bedtime routine.
We also have morning lists. I have a bunch of pre-printed slips of paper on the side of the fridge with all the things we need every morning (like sports clothes, instrument, snack etc.). The first person to make his/her lunch after school usually gets one down. Then the kids can make notes about what might need to be added to his/her lunch in the morning (hot item, frozen gogurt) or cross things off that will not be needed the next day. I can also make notes on it about what might additionally need to be remembered in the morning (for instance, this morning some fundraising money had to be turned in).
Whew! It sounds nice and organized, doesn't it?? Usually it works well, but it's not always perfect! I still somehow miss things or send a child to school without something he/she needs, but it definitely helps free my mind of all those little details. So that I can fill it with more important things. I'm not sure what those things are. But my mind is nice and open and ready, whenever I figure it out.