If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a military spouse, it’s to be organized.
Military life is full of challenges and being prepared and organized can make things so much easier. It’s a new year and we are all making resolutions. If yours is to be more organized, here are 5 tips to get you on track.
5 Organizational Tips for Military Life
It’s much easier to stay organized when you have fewer things to organize. I don’t like having clutter, especially paper clutter. A great idea is to open mail and immediately dispose of what you don’t need and file what you do need to keep. Have a specific place to put bills. Once they’re paid, file or shred them. Don’t leave papers out.
Pro-tip: Go paperless whenever possible.
It isn’t just paper that needs to be minimized. I remember shopping with my grandmother when I was little. When I found something I liked she would say
“do you need it or do you want it?”
I still think about that question when shopping and that keeps me from buying things I don’t need. Military families move so often and packing and unpacking can be daunting. Do you really want to move with so many things?
Minimizing the amount of things you own can help you stay organized. I keep a box for donations in my room. When I come upon something I don’t use, I drop it in there and take the box to the donation center when it’s full. If you do this regularly, when it’s time to PCS you won’t have as many things to go through before the packers come to your house.
You’ll also have more room in your closet for clothes you actually wear and your kids will have space for toys they really play with.
There are plenty of things you can’t get rid of though, including documents. I have a file box for my husband and myself as well as one for the kids. Paperwork that needs to be saved goes in their proper place as soon as I’ve gone through them. This includes insurance information, school transcripts and tax paperwork.
I also recommend creating a file or folder with important documents. This could have your marriage license, birth certificates, Social Security cards, passports, military orders, power of attorney, a printout of a LES, car titles, insurance information, important contact information, a copy of your will and more in it. These items are in my go-to file. It is so much faster to have everything in one spot when you need things in a hurry.
Being in a hurry happens a lot in military life. Planning ahead makes things go smoothly. I feel much better when I am prepared for moves, deployments and everyday life.
Don’t let yourself get stressed out. Make the time to get your thoughts organized. Do you have a PCS coming up? Will your spouse be deploying soon? Is your week going to be busy?
Prepare yourself for these things by thinking about what you need to do for each. If your spouse is deploying list the things you need them to do before they go and don’t wait until the last minute to do them.
If you’re moving this year, you’ll want to prep for the move. Do as much as you can ahead of time. Start thinning out things you don’t need, gather things that you will need for the move and look into the area that you’re moving to.
If you have a busy week, make sure you’re prepared for it. Plan your meals for the week. Use your slow cooker for easy dinners. Make sure backpacks, diaper bags and lunches are packed the night before.
You might feel like you have to do everything, but you don’t have to do it all yourself. Share the responsibility with your children. Kids of all ages can help around the house. Our 4 year old is in charge of feeding the dog and setting the table. If you have older kids, they can do laundry, empty the dishwasher and walk the dog. Everyone can help make dinner too. Children can even pack their own lunches.
If you are moving, have the kids declutter their room. Let them organize their toys. Put them in charge of preparing their things to be packed. Make them feel part of the process.
When my husband says he’s going to bed, he goes to bed.
When I say I’m going to bed, it never happens that I just go to bed. I always see something that needs to be done. I started thinking of it as resetting the house. This is basically tidying up the house so that I come down to a nicely organized space in the morning. This includes picking up things in the living room, putting away the dishes that dried, setting out items for breakfast and putting bags by the door.
Resetting can also be for your mind. Don’t go to bed with a million things on your mind. Review what you need to do before you go to bed so that when your head hits the pillow you fall asleep.
If you do some of these things to get organized, you’ll find your military life is more enjoyable and less stressful.