It's 8 a.m. Cue the rushing, the yelling, the chaos that inevitably occurs in those last moments before the mad dash to school.
"When you have busy moms and wardrobe tantrums and missing homework, how do you find time to pack a healthy lunch?" asks mother of two Christine Landino, as she references a solution, courtesy of her organization business, based in West Hartford. "An Orderly Space has come up with some A-plus ideas for making it an easy breezy task."
Sound too good to be true? Landino says, believe it. A little structure goes a long way, creating less stress for families juggling school, work and extracurricular activities.
Start with a catchy acronym for a well-balanced lunch, which acts as a tool for mom and kids. DMVS stands for drink, main course, vegetable and snack.
"When you're in the grocery store, you can say, 'What do you want for your DMVS this week?'" explains Landino. After shopping, embark on Sunday Assembly in the kitchen, a 20-minute food-prep session that results in three bins marked "lunch."
In the cupboard, fill it with reusable packets of nuts, granola or crackers. The box in the fridge is perfect for storing yogurt tubes, pudding and small containers of fruits and veggies. Landino adds a bit of Vitamin C powder to sliced apples and carrots to prevent them from becoming brown, a healthier alternative to buying pre-made baggies filled with preservatives. This professional organizer even freezes sandwiches.
"Peanut butter and jelly works great, meat and cheese without the condiments, and then it doubles as an ice pack," she says. In the morning, take the empty lunch box to each of these stations. "You're literally just grabbing and going," explains Landino. "In less than 3 minutes, you can pull together a healthy lunch."
Landino, a former clinical social worker, thinks we can become "stuck" due to a "traffic jam" of papers, mail and books. Some simple organization can free-up our physical and emotional space, causing us to take better control of our lives. She has created a strategy for the daily unpacking of the backpack, which does not include piles.
"You are the CEO of your home as a mom, so you need a place for things to go," she says, pointing to a stand-up file system. Slots for permission slips and upcoming events become inviting rather than intimidating. Artwork and special mementos have a temporary container, so they can later be whittled down and stored in portfolios and albums.
Pre-planning can seem overwhelming. but Landino says "it will pay off in the end. Also, the main thing is getting your kids on-board, giving them a voice in it, so that they want to participate, they want to be compliant, which makes everybody's life easier." And, if we model good organization, it will inspire our kids to do the same for themselves throughout high school, college and adulthood.
Find more information at www.orderlyspace.com.