Organizing Tips and Resources

I put this page together to go along with a live talk at The Motherhood about getting organized. What a great 30 minutes it was…my co-hosts were Christine Koh of Boston Mamas and Meagan Francis of The Happiest Mom. If you missed the talk, here’s the talk summary.

General organization

Don’t try to keep everything in your head. Use a calendar and a to-do list to clear mental space.

Three essential tools for clearing mental clutter

Being organized during the holidays and beyond (at The Accidental Expert

Let your calendar remind you to try new seasonal activities

Use Google Calendar to remind yourself to get a life

Six things about which you may not realize you need reminders

Take notes during phone calls with friends and family

Parent Hacks has lots, lots more tips for getting organized.


Wherever you can: simplify, contain, routinize, and delegate. You can’t (nor should you) do it all! Delegating is a lot easier when there’s a specific place for every item in your house (labels are a great help) and kids can reach things they need to use and put away.

Uses for over-the-door pocket organizers

Teaching kids to declutter their own toys

Put your random bag collection to work by creating “activity totes” (tons of great ideas in the comments)

Keeping the toys from taking over the house

Streamlining paper flow

Organize crayons and markers by color family

Organize art supplies with dollar store bins + laminated labels


Different routines work for different families. For my family, the crucial ingredients are:

  • Delegating! My husband and I share the washing-drying folding jobs, and my kids empty their hampers and put away their folded clothes daily.
  • Easy-care clothing. NO IRONING, dry cleaning or fussy washing instructions.
  • Lots of socks of one brand and color
  • Lots of underwear
  • Folding in front of the TV or while on the phone (get a headset so you’ve got both hands free)
  • Putting clothes away instead of letting them stay stacked in laundry baskets (another good task to delegate)

Parent Hacks has a bunch of great laundry tips.


Feeding your family doesn’t need to be a gourmet affair no matter what the food and lifestyle mags and blogs would have you think. If you love to cook, go for it. If you don’t, or if you’re just tired of all the mental work involved, it’s absolutely fine to keep it simple! Much of the freshest, healthiest food is the quickest to prepare.

Simplifying food- and meal-prep comes down to this:

  • Plan your weekly menu
  • Cook simple weekday meals, doubling up and freezing when you can
  • Keep a running grocery list
  • Keep a well-stocked pantry
  • Have 3-5 easy meals you can throw together using pantry ingredients

Tips for grocery shopping.

My favorite quick-and-easy cookbooks:

Amazon: How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food Amazon: Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast: 250 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Any Time of Day (Everyday Food)Amazon: The Six O'Clock Scramble: Quick, Healthy, and Delicious Dinner Recipes for Busy Families Amazon: SOS!  The Six O'Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth-Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Dinners for Busy Families

and a nod to Jamie Oliver because I admire his passionate desire to spread the word about easy, healthy cooking:

Amazon: Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals

Helpful Websites

The Happiest Mom: Cleaning/Organizing

Minimalist Mama




Buttoned Up

The Clutter Diet blog

The Six O’Clock Scramble (meal planning help)

Helpful books

Amazon: Unclutter Your Life in One Week, by Erin Rooney Doland  Amazon: Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living, by Tsh Oxenrider Amazon: One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good, by Regina Leeds Amazon: One Year to an Organized Life with Baby: From Pregnancy to Parenthood, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Ready for Baby and Keeping Your Family Organized, by Regina Leeds with Meagan Francis

Helpful Apps and Services

Things (Mac, iPhone, iPad, $9.99 for iPhone)

Google Calendar (Web and mobile, free)

Remember The Milk (Web and mobile, free)

HomeRoutines (iPhone, iPad, $3.99)

Springpad (iPhone, iPad, Android, free)

TaskRabbit (Delegate to virtual assistants! Christine has used them and loves them; here’s her writeup on Boston Mamas: Rabbits To The Rescue)

Parent Hacks has lots, lots more tips for getting organized. Have a look around!