Our house often resembles one of those insurance commercials with Mayhem wreaking havoc everywhere! Four kids keeps us very busy and on the go! Between school, homework, play dates, ballet, lacrosse and tennis, some days I don't know if I am coming or going!
In order to help me stay sane and make sure the kids have what they need for each activity I try to always be prepared! This doesn't always work out - there have been times when it seems like we "live" out of the van and I open up the back to find a replacement for whichever item got forgotten - I have sent my son to LAX practice with warm bottles of water from the back of the van, my daughter to school with another kids sweatshirt that was found in the back of the van, taken my other daughter into the store with another kids shoes found in the back of the van, fixed both girls hair in the school parking lot with pony tail holders and bows found in cup holders and on van floor! We make it work and it is only temporary. For the most part, it is not an everyday occurrence. We do have one hard rule - no eating anything that was left in the back of the van, on the van floor or in the cup holders! There have been times when I have made one of the kids spit out an old cookie or piece of gum that they quickly spot and shove in their mouth. Yes, this is true, it has happened and I know it is gross!
Here are some tips that work for me:
Do as much as you can the night before!
This includes: packing lunches, giving kids their baths or shower, homework, getting clothes out for the next day, getting out whatever item the kids need for the next day (library books, filling & chilling water bottles, uniforms, etc), getting back packs, coats and shoes together.
Make it easy!
In our front hall closet I have a large plastic storage bin. All of the kids coats, sweatshirts etc. get put in this bin. I don't have to worry about hanging things up and the kids can get out/put away what they need. I do make sure that the bin contains clothing for the correct season. Very often the inside of the closet looks like the bin exploded - but don't open my closets and I won't open yours! Having a bin also makes it easy to "scoop" the contents back inside. In our front hallway we have a "shoe bench". Crate & Barrell Storage bench with lid - kids shoes are stored in it. Again, the kids can take out/ put away their own shoes.
Have a spot!
Have one spot and always keep certain items in that spot. My oldest son wears glasses, we make sure that at the end of the day, he takes off his glasses and puts them in the same spot. This way in the morning we know exactly where they are. Early on in the school year he missed the bus 1x because he couldn't find his glasses. Since we started this system, it has not happened again. I also always keep my purse, sunglasses, keys and the kids' backpacks in the same spot. We use hooks & baskets - doesn't look too bad and hides & stores our "stuff"! We also always use the same spot in our garage for storing tennis racquets and LAX equipment.
Keep it in your Car!
If all else fails, just keep it in your car. This works great for ballet shoes and sports equipment that are only used at the specific activity. This way you always have it! I also have a few items in my car "just in case" - a tote bag that has a change of clothes for each kid, my trusty bucket, a first aid kit, a blanket and some bottled water. Because you just never know!
Have a great day! Please share some of your tips that help you and your family to be prepared!