I admit it – I don’t have kids. I’m not even married. So, why in the world am I guest blogging on this site, and what makes me think I’m qualified to talk about the great balancing act that is the life of a mother?
I am the oldest of nine children. Yes, all from the same two parents. No, none of us are adopted and there were no multiple births. My mother is not only the Queen of the great balancing act but she’s also an organization guru having taught home management at the college level for several years. As the oldest, and second mom in a lot of ways, all those organizational skills managed to rub off on me. When I was younger, instead of hiring me to babysit, mothers would ask me to clean their houses while they went out with the kids.
While I know juggling several freelance jobs and running a youth group doesn’t make me all knowing about the ins and outs of motherhood, I do have some pearls of wisdom I gleaned from my mother that are universal – I hope to share those.
Growing up my family kept a huge whiteboard on one of the kitchen walls. While slightly obtrusive sitting on the wall in this common room, the board managed to simplify the lives of everyone at home. Here’s how it works:
The board is broken up into three sections: The two ends look like a calendar while the middle is blank. The calendar sections are filled in with the current month and the upcoming one. Every major event in the kids, parents or family’s life is documented there. The parent-teacher conferences, soccer games, PTA meetings, piano lessons, days off of school, birthdays, little league picture day, holidays, etc… all get filled in on the appropriate day.
As each child brings home dates to remember it immediately gets marked on the board. To further clarify, assign each child a different color marker, so that at first glance you know exactly who is busy on any given day.
The calendar system helps in two ways:
1. The calendar gives you more order and peace of mind. You can easily glance at the board and know who needs to be where and when. You know whether you’ll be able to make Scrabble night with your girlfriends on Friday because you can see the exact timing at a glance.
2. Your family will be able to see everything that’s going on. Instead of reminding the 6-year-old that the pool party isn’t for another 2 weeks, he can refer to the calendar and figure that out himself. The 16-year old knows that she won’t be able to have a car on Saturday afternoon because you and your husband will both be out driving to little league and soccer.
The middle section of the board is left blank for notes. The kids can leave a memo for you to call back a neighbor or you can remind all of them that this weekend you’ll be going camping.
When hanging your white board, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
1. Keep it high enough off the ground that the little ones won’t be able to write on it or erase it.
2. Locate the board near one of the telephones you use regularly. That way when the mother’s club president calls to check dates with you, all you’ll need to do is glance up to know what will and won’t work.
3. Hang it in a place your family frequents. This will help communication channels flow better and messages will reach the necessary person.
Katie Hinderer is the oldest of nine children and a freelance writer. Visit her blog at