Tips for Military Families – #1

Get Organized – Tip #1

I put this one in our book first as I really believe it is a huge part of me being able to keep my sanity when my husband is away.  I am usually a crazed maniac for several weeks before he leaves; getting bulk in everything, cleaning out cupboards so I can find things easily, running errands I know I won’t have time to do when he is gone, organizing gifts and cards for people who will have birthdays or other such events and stacking them in our spare room, writing to people that I know I won’t have a minute to do after he has left, etc.  The two manic weeks are worth the feeling of control and ability to cope that I have once he is gone.  I don’t want to sound like one of those ‘line up the labels of your cans’ type of people (if you ever see my home, you’ll know I’m not!) but it truly makes the absence so much easier when I have some of the big and little things taken care of.

My top ten pre-deployment organization tips:

1) Buy cards for the year of birthdays, anniversaries, a few get well, sympathy, congratulations, etc.  organize them into month.  Plus, buy all the postage ahead of time so that all you have to do is write it and stick it in the mail when the time comes

2) Get large tubs for your kids toys so that THEY can throw everything right in there in a hurry and sort it out later.  We have a rule that every six months we sort out the tubs and decide what we are keeping and what we are giving to charity

3) Assign everyone in your family a towel colour and they are responsible for making sure it is off the floor and washed regularly (it saves the arguments about ‘who stole my towel!?’, ‘it isn’t mine – so I shouldn’t have to pick it up’, ‘there are never any towels for me to use’, etc.)

4) Create a sheet on the fridge for writing what they would like in the way of groceries (reminding them about the differences between likes and needs).  If you have a cell phone with the feature, create a reminder of what you need by standing by cupboards and fridge and recording a memo that you can replay at the grocery store

5) Keep an ‘in-box’ in your kitchen or other high traffic area for your family to put in notices from school, permission forms, bills, reminders, etc. and then you can go through one in-box instead of 3 backpacks, the car, their rooms, the living room, a briefcase, purse, etc.

6) Paint a section of a wall with chalkboard paint (in a high traffic area like kitchen or by the door) so that everyone can leave messages about where they are, who called, important reminders, etc.  You will never again have to hear…  “There wasn’t any paper to leave you a message” or “I didn’t think you would see it” or “I didn’t know where to leave it”

7) Create a cupboard or drawer for office like essentials – scissors, tape, string, paper, paper clips, stapler, pens, pencils, markers, etc.  Once the drawer or cupboard is organized, take a picture and tape it up with the words, “Does it still look like this?”

8) Buy in bulk as much as possible and store it in a dry and cool area of the house.

9) Update your email contacts by sending out an email that says “Just checking this is still you – please reply sender”.  Update contact lists at school, work, with friends and have one posted on the fridge in the kitchen so everyone is aware of the information.  Take a picture of the list with your cellphone(s) so that everyone has a copy.

10) Use a wine rack as a message and storage centre for your family assigning them each a cubby – when your family member is absent it will be a great place to put essential mail, information, etc.

For more information about our books, tips and/or resources go to: http://www.whileyouwereaway.org

To submit a tip of your own, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

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