Organization for the Novice


I am having my 4th baby in 8 weeks and am realizing how much more organized I would like to be. I know I need master shopping lists for the stores I frequent, meal plans for the month with grocery lists, more routines in our home and more. Do you have any advice for a novice planner as to where to start? What are the routines/organization that are the most helpful to your day? Do you grocery shop every week on the same day? Have a day out a week or use an evening for those trips? Can you just come out to visit me in Indiana Amish country and help me get organized? :) I learn so much from your blog, thank you so much for all you do!



Hi Kathy-

You must be even closer now to holding that sweet baby in your arms! Hang in there; I know how exhausting those last weeks can be.

My husband and I were just discussing organization and how it comes naturally to some of us while others of us have to learn it from the ground up, so to speak. I was raised by an organized mom and a super tidy dad. All those years growing up in their home I heard things like, “Pick it up, don’t pass it up” and, “It takes more time to contemplate making the bed than to actually make it.” I watched my mom make lists and keep a Daytimer. My tendency toward organization, tidiness, and decluttering might not come naturally but it was certainly learned and is now a habit. If that’s not the case for you, then there are definitely helpful sites and books that can get you started:


Organized Home

Organizing Plain and Simple: A Ready Reference Guide With Hundreds of Solutions to Your Everyday Clutter Challenges

Organizing From the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Organizing Your Home, Your Office. and Your Life

Organizational systems are a great tool for achieving a household that is peaceful. However, I have had to learn to set aside some of my desire for a perfectly orderly home in light of reality. I’d love to have a laundry room that looks like Martha Stewart’s but there is a reason her laundry room looks like that: she does maybe three loads per week. On the rare occasions when all of the laundry is caught up here, it lasts only a few hours. At the end of the day, nine people toss their day’s laundry into the hampers and the cycle begins all over again. All that to say, be sure your expectations match your reality.

With a new baby coming, you have some areas that will continue to need your attention (i.e., meals, laundry) and others that can stand a little slack (i.e., school organization). First identify what you want to give your waning energy to right now- you mentioned meals and grocery shopping in your email so let’s start there.

I make a month’s worth of menus and shop once a week. Would that work for you right now? There have been some years when making a week’s menu at a time worked better for me. I can shop during the day because I have older children who can stay at home and work on their academics while I take a few of the younger ones with me. But when that wasn’t my reality, I often shopped at night. I enjoyed getting out by myself and having a quiet hour or two browsing the grocery aisles. If that would work for you in this season of your life, then by all means, do it.


Master lists are indispensable. Take an hour or so this week to make master lists for the stores you frequent, and arrange the lists in the order in which you shop the store. That will save you a ton of time, too.

My systems are always evolving because our lives aren’t static. Just today I was walking the baby out in the cry room during church and noticed a lunch schedule for the school where our church meets. It occurred to me that I need to revamp our breakfasts and lunches to be more scheduled- burritos on Monday, crackers and cheese on Tuesday, etc. so that we can move in and out of those meals without them being a big production each day. There are seasons where this approach might not be desirable for us, but right now I can see how it might be a blessing.

Just when I think we’ve got something all figured out, some aspect of our lives changes and we need to revamp. I have new chore cards to make this week because the seasons have changed and the kids are getting antsy. Without organizational systems in place, however, chaos reigns and peace is hard to come by.