Many people have commented to me over the years that I must be a very organized person. I'm not exactly sure what they see in me that makes them think that, because I definitely do not list it as one of my strengths. It is something that has developed out of necessity. :-) One of the tools I have found useful is to make lists.
The Grocery List- I realize this one is probably very obvious, however I am amazed that almost no one I see in the grocery store is using a list. I use a list every week and still find myself missing the occasional ingredient. Kimberly wrote about setting up weekly menus. I have four weekly menus that our family rotates through. I also have a grocery list for each week. Initially it took a lot of work, but now it is so nice to be able to print a copy from the computer, mark off the things we don't need and add what we do. I keep a running list in my kitchen of things we have run out of or that are running low. I've also divided up things like toilet paper, shampoo, aluminum foil, etc. among my weekly lists and buy them each month, if needed. I use a similar list when shopping at Sam's or Costco.
The Shopping List- For many years I've kept a Wal-Mart list on the dry erase board along with the items I need to add to the weekly grocery list. Last year it occurred to me I should keep lists for others stores and web sites I visit. I created a list with the following sections: Sam's/Costco, office supply store, pharmacy, home improvement store, craft store, homeschool supplies (usually web sites). When I am ready to go shopping, I cut off the portion I need and take it with me.
The Book List- We buy a lot of books. One of my husband's desires is for us to have a large family library. I often joke with people that we buy books first and if there is money left, we buy food. I keep a list of books we need and a wish list of books we want.
The Gift List- Throughout the year I keep a list of gift ideas for each member of our family. I also make a list of the gifts we give to others each year so that I don't duplicate items later.
The Size List- This is a list I've just recently started. I don't do a lot of clothes shopping in stores, but when I run across a good deal it will be nice to know my 13 year old's measurements.
Many styles today are made to fit tight, so just because I think she should wear a ladies' medium doesn't mean my selection will fit. Last week I bought an XL in something I could tell had a "tight look" and it was still too small! If I had had her measurements with me, I wouldn't have made that mistake.
The Recipe List- I'm actually not doing this right now, but at times I've kept a list of recipes I wanted to try.
The Borrowers List- How many times have you gone to your bookshelf to find a certain book only to remember you loaned it to someone. The question is can you remember who you've loaned it to? I loan out a lot of books, baby equipment, children's clothes, etc. I've found I can't always remember who has what, so I created a list to help me keep track of where my belongings are.
The Packing List- Since getting married, my husband and I have never lived in the same state as our parents. This being the case we do a lot of traveling to visit family. When we only had 1-2 children packing wasn't so difficult. Now that I am packing for 9 (Brian hasn't let me pack for him since I forgot his dress shoes and we had a wedding to attend!) it is a monumental task. I actually have several types of packing lists. The first one is for all the "things" we need to take on any trip. This list covers items from pacifiers to our portable DVD player. Attached to this list is a list of my personal items including clothes, glasses, Bible, toiletries, etc.
When my children were all young I listed their clothing and personal items on the master list. Now that some of them are old enough to pack for themselves I have a list for each child. It lists each item of clothing, shoes, extras like sunglasses, MP3s, etc. After printing each child's list I fill in how many of each item they should pack. I check each child's selections before they are packed.
My final packing list is for vacations. We usually rent a house/condo when we go on vacation. This packing lists consists of things I need for housekeeping. (i.e. dish detergent, aluminum foil, linens, etc.) It also contains items related to that specific location (i.e. sunscreen and beach toys for the beach). I know lots of people who camp use a similar list.
Making these lists requires some initial effort but once completed I only have to do the actual packing. I don't have to spend much time thinking about "what" to pack.
I realize this post doesn't relate specifically to spending time with our children, however I think being organized helps free us up to spend more time with them. Hopefully some of these ideas will help you as perform your various "mommy" duties. So, what type of lists help you?
Tuesday’s Tip for Mom is a blog carnival hosted at Raising Olives to allow moms to share what they have learned along the path of motherhood. Join us every Tuesday as we learn and share tips and ideas for spending time with, encouraging, training or relating to our children.