Organization tips from busy mom Isabel Isidro

Another busy mom shares her tips for keeping her family’s schedule and home together. . Today’s featured busy mom is Isabel Isidro Mom of three balancing parenting and co running a business.

Isabel Isidro is a mother of three boys, ages 7, 4 and 2. She is also the co-founder of PowerHomeBiz.com, a 10-year old site for home business owners and solo entrepreneurs, and runs WomenHomeBusiness.com and LearningfromBigBoys.com. She just tries to live and learn each day – not always succeeding, but always trying.

How do you keep your children’s schedules together ?
My kids are 7, 5 and 2 — and they all go to school. The two youngest are home by lunchtime while the eldest spends the full day in school.

We have a strict schedule in the house, and the kids know it. The younger boys take a nap in the afternoon. They play or relax in the afternoon after school, and one of their favorite activities is playing Wii with their father. The kids then eat dinner, and take a bath. Then from 7:00-8:30 pm, it’s their study and reading time.

I give them the materials they need to work on and practice with, and they choose the books they want to read. By 8:30 pm, they’re on bed and ready to sleep. They’re early risers, and wake up anywhere from 5:30-6:30 am – even on weekends! None in the family are late sleepers.

To the extent possible, we don’t do any extracurricular activities during the weekdays, only weekends. School is tough already for the kids, and we’d like them to have time to rest, have fun, play with each other and just be kids.

Saturdays, though, are when things go crazy with their schedules. They have various lessons, and by lunchtime, I am tired from driving around the area going from one lesson to the next. However, in the afternoon, we always make it a point to go to the library to pick up the books that they’ll read for the week.

Do you use a particular day planner ?
No. I used various dayplanners – from the cheapest to the most expensive leather bound planners. I even attended a daylong seminar by one of the big businesses in dayplanning business on how to organize and plan your day using their dayplanning system.

But none really worked for me. I will be “good” and use the planner judiciously for a few weeks, or even a month. And then nada — blank pages after that.

For one, I need something that I can carry with me all the time, not some bulky planner that sits nicely on a desk but impractical to be carried in my purse around. My purse is heavy enough as it is with all the kids’ stuff, and having a bulky planner does not work.

Do you own a blackberry?
Not a Blackberry, but I use an iPhone with an app for my to-do lists for the day. It’s been very effective for me. I carry my phone all the time, and having my things to do and scheduler on the same small device allowed me to keep track of what I need to do for the day. I just love it!

What is you most used ‘time saving tip’ when it comes to running your house?
You need to be a goddess of multi tasking and organization. Find the best strategy that works for you and your family.

For me, I need to spend a little time the night before thinking what the family needs to do for the day – e.g. making sure the kids have put their assignments in their bags. Otherwise, I’d forget it! I spend a little time putting my list in my iPhone’s to-do app.

My husband has also been extremely helpful in running the house, and I don’t think I can run the house without his help in everything.

Because we run a web business, I also rely on a lot of technology to run a home-based business alongside running a household with three kids. When the kids play Wii for example, I sit and watch them play, but I have my laptop with me to enable me to respond quickly to emails or do some web site maintenance tasks. We also have laptops in almost every room in the house, because you’ll never know when you can sneak in 5 minutes of work. My husband tells me that I am “surgically attached” to my computer. I know I need to unplug sometime, but it’s just so hard!

Do you have a favorite quick meal for your family?
Ramen. We’re Asian, and the kids love noodles. My 4 year old can eat 2 packs of Ramen in one sitting. They also love fried spring rolls, which they eat with rice.

Tell us the truth ? What would we find in your car right now ?

I’m pretty good in terms of managing the clutter in my car. I don’t leave anything in the car, except for the ice skating bag with the kids’ equipment and gloves. Plus a pack of biscuits and crackers that the kids like. There’s no clutter in my car because I carry everything in my big bag!

Even my husband is amazed at how heavy my bag is and what I bring in it. Plus, my husband vacuums and cleans the car weekly so I have no complaints :o)

What advice would you give to other moms who feel the pressure of trying to be ‘super mom’?
Don’t even feel pressured to be a “super mom.” I’d go crazy if I even aim to become one. I just live one day at a time, trying to enjoy life with my family. Let the kids have fun, teach them responsibility, appreciate the value of work, and be grounded with family relationships and religion.

I just want them to experience as much as they can. Don’t feel you have to do what others are doing – just do the best you can do for your family.

What is your number one goal for the year ? How do you plan to reach it ?
To finish my book. I’ve been working on a book about starting a home business for years, and this time I am about ready to have it published. How do I plan to reach the goal? By not sleeping! The only time I can write is at night when everybody else is sleeping. Daytime is pure chaos, and I just can’t write anything during the day.

Some busy moms would love to go back to school but can’t afford the cost. There are many single mom scholarships that could help them reach their academic goals without having to worry about the costs.

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