My organized chaos

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I’m incredibly disorganized lately.

Once upon a time, I used to be a highly organized person, back in high school, back in college, back when I started working as a nurse, back when I got married, back when I had one kid. I was even pretty organized when Kid #2 graced us with her presence.

I had to be—I was working full time and Kid #1 was involved in every sport known to man. (Okay, definitely an exaggeration…it was just football, baseball, and basketball, and a brief, but nerve wracking foray into wrestling.) Hubby had frequent meetings and classes, Kid #2 tried her hand at some activities, and I took an occasional exercise class. Even the dogs had appointments. Our calendar looked like a rainbow with my color coded plans for the whole family.

I had so much going on that I need constant reminders—the calendar wasn’t good enough. To further keep it together, I resorted to sticky notes. Sticky notes in my purse and on my desk and on the already full calendar, reminding me to make the grocery list, reminding me to make doctors’ appointments, reminding me to empty the dishwasher, edit two chapters of my manuscript, and write a blog post.

My family mocked my sticky note addiction unmercifully. But I didn’t think I could survive without them (the notes, that is). It was a frantic and stressful existence, but I was organized. I didn’t forget things—I did everything I was supposed to…albeit with exhaustion. I wasn’t too bad of a mommy…yet.

And Now…

Like I said, now I’m a mess. It’s like I did a total 180. I’m not so sure when I lost it…all I know is that it’s gone. It started slowly. Ironically, I think it began when our schedule actually started to lighten up and we had less to do instead of more. One day I didn’t write out my To-Do list on my sticky note and the freedom from a tight schedule was intoxicating. The next day, I would get it together, chastising myself for slipping up.

But then it would happen again because I saw that my world didn’t fall apart like I thought it would. One day without a list or a schedule would turn into two…and then a week…and then I found myself going months without planning out the days. And that’s when I really became a bad mommy. (At least in my eyes.)

It Was a Slippery Slope

I told myself that I was relaxing, living my life, but I believe it was just an excuse to be lazy after so many years of constantly being on top of things. I didn’t organize the kids’ rooms anymore, trying to put that chore on them (didn’t work…they really don’t care if they live in a pig-sty).

At first, I got on them about not doing their chores, but after awhile, it became easier just to do it myself. And then, it became easier not to do it at all. Without my lists, I started to forget things all the time. We ate out too much because I couldn’t get it together and remember everything we needed at the grocery store for a meal.

I stopped scheduling things because it was too much work. Writing became difficult—I was too far behind with my goals as it was—why bother now? The prospect of getting my life back on track became overwhelming, so it was easier to slip into laid back Heather mode.

It’s Not What I Thought It Would Be

There’s hasn’t been much on the calendar these days, yet I’m waking up daily, flying by the seat of my pants, not organized at all. In some ways, it’s good. I did need to relax. I was way too uptight and anal retentive in the past, not wanting to veer from my already planned out schedule, terrified of the fallout from being spontaneous.

Still, I feel untethered and out of control by not being more organized…like I should be doing something and I’m not doing it (probably because I can’t remember what it is I should be doing in the first place). The house is not nearly as clean as I’d like it to be, I’ve gained unnecessary weight (yes, I’m blaming this on being disorganized), my cabinets are devoid of food worth cooking, and I haven’t published a book in nearly a year.

As much as I was overorganized in the past and that wasn’t good for me, this new me isn’t best for my mental well-being (or raising kids for that matter), either.

There Needs to Be a Happy Medium

Today is the day before school begins, the teacher/school nurse equivalent to New Year’s Day. It’s time to take stock of how the previous year went and make resolutions for the next year that will hopefully last past the second week of school. I hate the way I feel about my disorganized existence, so I for this school year, I’m going to put a stop to it. In the words of my thirteen year old, “I’ve got to get my life together.”

How Does One Get Your Life Together?

Well, what I could really use is a day that’s longer than 24 hours, but until that’s a reality (who do I talk to about that???), I bought a planner. It’s rose gold (totally in right now) and pretty and has lots of spaces for me to write in. There’s a spot for things to do and places to pencil in appointments, as well as dedicated pages to my goals.

It has pages to jot down ideas and notes, and lines to prioritize your goals and To-Do lists. It even has lines at the end of each month to evaluate how it went, spots to plug in how much money you’ve spent, how many hours you’ve exercised, how many books you’ve read. There are even stickers for important reminders…who doesn’t love stickers?

Since I have a lot of goals for this year—exercise more, save money, cook at home more, write more, publish more—and this planner has everything I could possibly want in order to achieve that.

The day my planner came, I became highly motivated. Immediately I sat down and mapped out what we were having for dinner all of next week. Then I came up with a color coding system for my To-Do list and spent hours considering my “mission statement” (Not to screw up my kids’ any more than I already have and cut myself some slack as a parent…).

After that, I plotted out blog posts and an exercise plan for the next month. I even wrote in daily goals for the next few weeks. For the first time in forever, I felt like myself. I felt like I could really get it together again and I wasn’t the lost cause I thought I was. In other words, this planner is amazing. It’s a game changer.

It’s a Start to Being Organized

My Organization Project is in its infancy…chaos of sorts right now. Accountability will the key to my success. I have this planner to hold me accountable, my readers to remind me when I’ve strayed and I haven’t published a blog post, when I haven’t written anything in months. I’ve got Hubby to remind me to make grocery lists and say “hey, we already ate out this week…how about we cook?”. I’ve got the kids to remind me that I need to be organized for them…so bye, bye Bad Mommy…for now.

Working moms and dads…how do YOU manage to stay on top of things during the school years? All tips are welcome!

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