13 Real Moms on Their Genius Secrets for Staying Organized

On a good day, the kids dress themselves, your commute runs like clockwork and you applaud yourself while inhaling the scent of the slow cooker as you walk in the door. On a bad day, laundry is everywhere, ditto traffic and—ugh—you swear it was your spouse’s turn to make dinner tonight? Bottom line: Controlling the chaos is hard, which is why we consulted the women in our lives who make it look effortless—and asked them to pull back the curtain.

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Live By The Calendar

“My husband I use our work calendars for all things home-related so everything is in one place. We also send each other invitations for all the things that are not work-related—meaning the stuff that relates to ourselves and the kids—so we know where we both are and where the kids are all the time. For example, ‘Deb hair color, 7 p.m. on Wednesday.’ I send that to my husband so he knows he has to cover the kids. I color code work things in blue and personal things in purple, but they rarely overlap because I literally can’t be in two places at once.” — Deborah

Deploy Delay

“Laundry is my Everest. I’ve started doing a load midweek, so it doesn’t pile up too high, but I always set the washer on delay (there’s a setting on a lot of machines) so that when I get home, it is ready to flip to the dryer.” — Carolyn

Have A System For To-dos

“I rely on my notebook for my immediate to-do list and carry it with me everywhere. But I also use the Teux Deux app for my long-running to-dos—in other words, all the things I want to remember. Work and life get blended in both of those places, but it helps to streamline just a bit.” — Liz

Date Your Grub

“I always date the leftovers in the fridge. It helps so much in the moments of ‘should we give our baby this chicken that is either from yesterday…or two weeks ago?’” — Andrea

Employ Some Marie Kondo

“I use little boxes in my kids' drawers to organize all their tiny clothes. I have one for socks, one for underpants, one for leggings, etc. Otherwise, I would never find anything!” — Jillian

Know That Sometimes It Takes Three

“I ask the school to include my nanny’s email on everything. As in, they have my email, my husband’s and the nanny’s for all school announcements.” — Mary Kate

Have An Emergency Car Kit

“In my car, I keep a bin with empty sippy cups, bibs, diapers, wipes, a changing pad, sunscreen, snacks and a set of clean clothes for my twins. I also have a small bin with toys. This is super helpful on days when I forget to put something in the diaper bag—or days when I forget the diaper bag altogether. (It happens.)” — Shalah

Streamline Those Photos

“I set up a shared Apple photo album so that family can see pictures and videos of the kids whenever I take them. That way, everyone gets an alert on their phone when there is new activity and they can comment on the pictures, but I don’t have to manually send them pics or post on social media when I don’t want to.” — Jennifer

Categorize When You Pack

“When I pack for trips, I use clear plastic bags to categorize everything and label them by day with outfits enclosed. This means I designate clear bags for PJs, onesies, socks, food/formula, etc. I also always put the Pack ‘n Play sheets inside the Pack ‘n Play after I wash them so that I know they are ready to go for the next trip.” — Monica

Do A Nighttime Pre-brief

“I review everything about the next day with my husband and the kids at bedtime the night before. You’d be surprised what kids sometimes remember that we don’t—I look at it as my last line of defense.” — Shannon

Set Up A Physical Inbox

“I keep an ‘in tray’ in the kitchen for all school notices that need signing or attention from me.” — Nina

Empty Those Backpacks

“I always (always) empty the kids’ backpacks the second they walk in the door. Empty lunch containers go in the sink, homework and folders go in one designated place on the counter and backpacks and coats get hung on designated hooks. It is a great way to kick off the after-school routine and teaches kids organization and responsibility for their items right away.” — Erin

Make A Packing List

“For travel, I have an amazing curated ‘packing list’ of anything we could possibly need—or forget. It includes a long list of obvious basics like bottles, pajamas, baby monitor, loveys, Tylenol, etc. It also has a lot of random things, too, like a childproof door handle, Mother’s Milk tea, hair elastics, shoes. (Yep, one time I forgot to pack any shoes for myself.)” — Caroline

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