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I spend a lot of time doing what I would call administrative/secretarial tasks. All the way from scheduling playdates/parties, purchasing gifts, scheduling family time or social time, travel, etc. I haven’t found a great way to stay on top of everything that needs to get done before the day ends! And often I feel like I do things inefficiently or not in the most cost-effective way because I am so rushed.

Is this a problem for others?

If so, what products/services have you found out there to help alleviate some of the burden/stress? Have you hired anyone to help with this?
 

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I haven't found any products per se, but these are my lifelines:

--A really good wall calendar that has plenty of space to write
--A good calendar app--I use Outlook at home and at work; I synch my calendars.
--Sticky notes galore that I toss out as soon as the thing is done or purchased
--For housekeeping, the Flylady system, modified because I don't do it everyday.
--A lot of self-talk about how things I can't get to, don't matter.
--Radical self forgiveness for not 'doing it all' everyday. The days that I do it all are fabulous, but they are rare. Learning to accept that!
--Never being cranky with kids about doing chores or tasks. They don't need to do it perfectly; they just need to do it.
 

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Menu planning .. no last minute shopping or "what's for dinner?" panic

Clothes cubby for kids .. my kids had a weekday cubby system where on Sunday night we checked the weekly weather forecast and picked out a week's worth of clothes that evening... no carrying on in the mornings about "nothing to wear"

Have a the kids do a ten minute tidy before the bedtime rituals begin.. do such a thing before you turn in as well. This helps enormously in the everyday feel of the house if you tidy up a little each night nothing gets too overwhelming. And this sounds odd, but I do the bulk of my big housework on Thursday nights... even if I have to stay up a little. Facing the weekend with a clean house helps all of us relax and feel less stressed.
 

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Philomom made me remember--yes--menu planning is critical. I used to subscribe to a very low cost menu planning website, that also generated a shopping list. Once I got the hang of it I didn't need the service anymore. I built up a binder full of recipes that people liked and were quick and reliable. I do menu planning on Sunday nights for the week, then shop on Mondays.
 

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We can't afford to have someone clean our whole house, but we've payed for people to vacuum and mop the floors. Makes a huge difference, and is a lot cheaper than full cleanings.
 

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Yes, meal planning is crucial! It's also been very, very helpful to me to insist that my partner cook at predictable times, instead of saying he's always happy to cook if I ask him politely but never actually volunteering to cook or making any plan to do so.... We used to have 3 assigned nights per week each, and then it fell apart when we had a baby and I was working part-time and he was working full-time so we assumed that between that and my being The Mom, I would do most of the cooking, but then that assumption continued after I returned to full-time.... After he started working from home, eventually I was firm about needing him to cook every weeknight, while I cook on the weekends. I still do 90% of the meal planning, but he cooks what I plan, and I appreciate it!

I use a 4-day laundry plan to keep up with the cloth diapers and the dirty clothes.

For scheduling, I am very low-tech; I find this less stressful than keeping a device charged, dry, and out of my toddler's hands! I have a wall calendar at home, and I make a weekly to-do list by folding a sheet of paper in eighths: one box for each day and one for "next week"; I set it up during Sunday naptime and transcribe any appointments that are on the calendar, then go over last week's list and write the things that did not get done, then write in laundry and other chores. I tape my list next to the calendar so I don't lose it! Often when I set appointments or make other plans, I'm doing it from work (making phone calls during business hours/using computer without kid distractions), so I write myself a note about my plans and put it in my lunch bag; when I'm unpacking the lunch bag at home, I write the stuff on my list and calendar and tell the family about it. Sometimes I send myself lunch bag notes from home to work reminding me to make calls.

My partner is home when the mail arrives. He puts my bills and important stuff in one bin, junk mail in another, ads and catalogs near the dining table with the newspaper. Once a week I have "inbox" on my list, and that's when I open the important mail, write checks, manage online accounts, etc. My son and I process the junk mail together once a month or so--look for anything useful and recycle the rest! I look at the grocery store sales, coupons, catalogs, etc. while I'm eating breakfast or late-night snack, and I add to the shopping lists accordingly. I

I also try to minimize the things I feel I "have to" plan. My one-year-old doesn't have playdates unless they double as childcare or mom socializing. My ten-year-old arranges his own playdates for the most part; it's only if he's having trouble connecting with someone (different school, busy schedule, etc.) that I get involved. We have a museums membership (includes 4 local museums) so if we want a family outing, we usually go to one of them or a park, and little planning is needed.
 
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I like the notes to yourself in your lunchbox thing. I do that a little bit too. I also send myself emails from home to work or work to home, or invite myself to appointments at one or the other so that I'm clear on both ends!!
 
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