Yesterday morning, I was feeling pretty together. I even got a compliment from my daughter's daycare teacher on our little nametag clothing stickers and wrote down the url for the site where we get them. I drove to work with a song in my heart, parked the car, popped the trunk and realized: I left the laptop at home.
Yes it happens to the best of us and I am, admittedly, not the best planner and organizer. However I do manage to hold my own - most of the time. I've come a long way from the disheveled mess I was two years ago. I have taken some well-published advice and made up a few tricks along the way, adding in a dash of Lean and Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM). Here's my crazy method that usually works well:
Rule #1. Do little tasks when you remember them, not when it is convenient. If I would have put my laptop into my trunk the minute I finished with it, like I usually do, I would have never had that 'doh! moment the other day. Or when I saw it in the hallway at 10pm the night before. Or at 7am in my pj's. This goes for taking out the trash, taking the laundry downstairs, and pretty much everything else that is easy to forget repeatedly. If you are a parent, you are constantly distracted and the chance of derailment by munchkin or anything else is very high.
Rule #2. Sync calendars with your partner. This way, you don't get sidelined by a surprise activity, whether that is a commitment that one of you made that the other might have forgotten, or something else that one of you plans to do but forgot to tell the other one. The added benefit is if one of you forgets to look, the other one picks up on the activity in their calendar. In business we call this having a project plan. Here, your family is the overall project. As in business, don't put every little task or reminder in here or it gets cluttered up and ignored, and you have no concept of what the big stuff is anymore.
Rule #3. Try, try, try to put your stuff in the same place. Everyone knows this and we're all guilty of breaking this rule at one time or another. Sooner or later it catches up with ya.
Rule #4. Get your kid to help you. I was shocked to find out how helpful a two-year-old could be. If they have enough motivation they can accomplish quite a bit, like finding lost keys, cleaning up, etc. and may well find the task more enjoyable than you ever would.
Rule #5. Stick to structured routines during the week and leave the spontaneous things for the weekend. If you always do the same routine, chances are it takes a lot less effort to remember. For my morning, it's get dressed, check on the munchkin, feed the fish, feed the cats, start the coffee, make breakfast. Like clockwork. Little kids crave routine - can you really blame them?
Rule #6. When it all comes crashing down, laugh, brush yourself off, and forgive yourself. None of us are perfect and things go wrong all the time. There is nothing to be gained from dwelling on it. As I learned in a well-known weight loss program, One day at a time, no guilt, and move on!
Two years ago in the middle of PPD, I would let something as small as forgetting a bib to completely ruin my self-image as a mother. Today, I remind myself that forgetting a bib is nothing more than that, forgetting a bib. If everyone's still alive and in one piece, you will recover and that's all that matters.