Organizing Your Home

Cluttered kitchen drawer filled with a jumble of everyday objects

"Call the plumber!" your husband yells from the basement. You begin to search the junk drawer to find the plumber's business card from last year when he installed the washer. You sift through the drawer and discover a dog-chewed yo-yo, pencils without erasers or points, Strawberry Shortcake stickers and a business card from the dog walker. You sigh and think, There's got to be a better way.

One of the first things I do when I start a new position is take inventory of all household-related and emergency contacts. There is nothing worse than being in a house that is not yours when the electricity goes out, and you don't know which electric company provides power to the home.

Whether yours is a personalized list or a printout from the internet, having a master list of all household-related contacts is a necessity. Grab a pencil and start your list: electric company, phone company, water company, heating company, plumber, electrician, mechanic, cable company, car insurance company, home insurance company, health insurance company. Include your account number, the name of the provider and the phone number. Head to your favorite office supply store, grab a binder and some plastic page protectors and voilà! Information will never be lost in Junk Drawer Purgatory again.

It is also a good idea to include in the binder profiles for each member of the family. This profile should detail vital information such as date of birth, medical conditions and phone numbers of physicians. Each profile can be as elaborate as you want it to be, listing anything and everything — from underwear sizes to ring sizes — if you are a lover of details.

Having a master family schedule is also a great way to eliminate household confusion. While on your trip to the office supply store, grab one of those oversized calendars and some colored markers (I prefer the dry-erase type). Assign each family member a color, and fill in the calendar with everyone's day-to-day schedule.

When assigning your colors, make sure you save one color to designate family time and then be sure to include time for family on your calendar (this is even more important as the kids get older and their activities leave everyone feeling disconnected). Once a week, try to plan something special to do as a family. Whether it is going for a weekend morning walk or taking a special outing to the park, having regularly scheduled family times will ensure that the ties that bind don't unravel amid the business of life.

From The Working Mom's 411 © 2009 by Michelle LaRowe. Published by Regal Books, Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Next in this Series: Making Mornings Manageable