If I'm Doing Things 'Organized Moms' Do, Why Am I Still A Mess?

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

I do not consider myself an organized mom.

“We’re just barely keeping it together,” I always say, like I had to this weekend when I delivered my daughter to a birthday party half an hour late because I had the wrong time in my calendar. So when I see headlines like “12 Things Organized Moms Do,” I sometimes read the story as a punishment, a sort of self-flagellation for the ways in which I fail my children, and therefore their school, and all the other parents who seem to have it together.

Imagine my astonishment when I realized how many of these things I actually do. Am I possibly an organized mom? And if so, why am I still behind on everything? Here’s the list:

1. Use your smartphone to stay organized.

I do! I swear! I keep the kids’ schedules, and mine, on a Google calendar that imports everything into my iPhone calendar. I set up reminders, I check it regularly, and I update it. I do not, however, always enter the time correctly, which is why my daughter was late for her party.

A good friend of mine takes this to genius level: She even puts in tooth fairy reminders for herself. Her daughter gets tooth fairy money while mine build up tooth fairy debts, since our tooth fairy is sitting on the couch in a TV-and-snack haze, with her phone sitting next to her on silent.

2. Don’t use your phone as an entertainment center.

Does it make you more organized to not have games on your phone? I call foul.

3. Deal with mail (both snail mail and email) immediately.

I think I’ve got this one. Junk mail goes right into the trash, part of my imperative to identify garbage sooner. If I’m at my computer when an online bill comes in, I pay it immediately, especially since most sites will let you schedule a payment date. And I’m known for my rapid-fire emails, which unfortunately often lead to five more rapid-fire emails because I hit send too soon in my desperate efforts to check something else off my list. I also like to hit the send button dramatically, with some flourish, to emphasize the completion of a task, so maybe I’m enjoying that one a little too much.

4. Plan meals.

They don’t suggest that you do this too intensely, just that you have a broad, general sort of plan for the week and then shop accordingly. I don’t do the cooking in my house, but this would totally help my husband, who likes to walk up to me at 6:45 (after the kids have eaten) and ask, “So, um, any ideas for dinner?” Until I learn to cook, though, I can’t complain. All I can do is enjoy the relief on his face when I ask, “How about we get Thai?”

5. Stay on top of your laundry and dry cleaning.

We are pretty great at taking care of our own adult laundry, but the kids somehow use 10 times the clothing we do, and my son is inevitably out of appropriate pants for PE, or my daughter’s out of clean pajamas. Fail.

6. Set doctor’s appointments for first thing in the morning.

I’ve been doing this for years, I just didn’t know it was a strategy. Win!

7. Get up at least 20 minutes before the rest of the family.

This feels like one of those martyr moves, but I do it, and it works. By the time the kids come down for breakfast I’ve showered, dressed, made coffee and emptied the dishwasher. Totally worth losing some extra sleep to get a jump start on the morning chaos.

8. Get the kids’ school stuff in order the night before.

Better yet, make them do it. It’s nice to think that I do that to teach them the value of organization, but really I’m just lazy. Still, it works. Check.

9. Do the same for your own stuff.

What’s the fun in that?

10. Book your sitters the second you know you’ll need them.

I’m on it. I have a first string, a back-up string, and a last resource go-to list.

11. Keep your devices charged.

Totally. Chargers are everywhere, and I never pick up a device without checking it. I’m trying to teach my son about this, since he thinks 13 percent is a perfectly acceptable battery level for his phone, and then seems astonished when it runs out of juice in the middle of the day.

12. Set up autopay when you can.

Confession: Autopay freaks me out. I only have this on two things—our mortgage and our car payment—because missing one of those leads to bigger headaches. But otherwise I don’t like money that slips out of my bank account without my approval. It feels too sneaky. But I still think I get a pass on this, since I do it for the important ones.

So how come I do all these super organizational things and I still forgot to send my daughter’s Brownie vest to school for her last meeting? Why aren’t these tricks helping me? Bueller?

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