My Challenge: Allie

I “met” Allie through the world of the Blog. I am not quite sure how we stumbled on one another but she continues to crack me up with the escapades of her four children, husband and life in general. On top of it all, Allie is an autism activist, an author and a woman with a sense of humor similar to my own.

Her challenge: Organization.

When Allie first sent it to me she wasn’t sure if it was the type of post I had in mind for the Challenge series. After reading her words I was nodding my head and I think you will too.

My Challenge: Organization

I have four children, with four different personalities. They attend three different schools and each has a different extracurricular activity schedule. I have a husband and a home to take care of. I have freelance writing commitments and a blog. I like to exercise and spend time with my friends. However, there are only twenty-four hours in the day.
An essential requirement of “doing it all” is being organized. Yes, being organized is a must-have quality in people who have much to and many places to be. At one time, I was organized. I really was, although few people in my life today actually believe it. When I was in my early twenties, I attended college full-time, earned good grades, worked full-time, exercised religiously, was responsible for my own personal maintenance and managed a very active social life. I slept little and rarely suffered for it. I was excellent at juggling and few things slipped through the proverbial cracks.
A few decades later, I’m a hot mess – getting by on a wing and a prayer. I’m constantly losing my keys and/or phone. I can’t find my glasses when I need them. I go to the grocery store with the intention of buying everything I need for dinner, leave my shopping list at home and then upon my return, realize that I failed to buy the main course. I routinely forget appointments or fail to be somewhere on time, and show up at events without the required tickets (more than once).
I married someone who’s the opposite of me. He’s a man with a plan who believes that everything has a place and he knows where that is at all times. He has an organized and accurate calendar that dictates his schedule to the hour and three ring binders for the projects he’s completed. He rarely leaves his office at the end of the day without emptying his inbox.
Here is a picture of my office.

How did this happen to me? I no longer work full time, or attend school. You’d think I’d be able to get my act together. Nope. So that leaves me with little alternative other than to blame my children. It’s all their fault. In addition to maintaining my own active to-do and want-to-do lists, I now have to manage the lists of four other people, and deal with all the associated paperwork and transportation.
The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one. Dear world, I have a problem.
Yes, I am aware of my weakness and over the years have made various attempts at improvement. I’m on a never-ending quest to “get organized.” I didn’t realize how never-ending it was until a friend pointed it out to me when she needed something that was in my office. The door was closed and before I opened it, I made my disclaimer that I was in the process of organizing. She laughed at me and commented that I’m always in that state. Yeah, I was a bit embarrassed.
It doesn’t help my situation that my office is the family dumping ground. All the school agendas and forms get placed on my desk. Need something to be returned to the store? Put it in my office. Shipping presents out of town? Oh, just pile them in my office. Working on a school project that requires lots of paper and glue? We don’t want that cluttering up the dining room, do it in my office. Items that take up residence in my office have a good chance of disappearing. Currently, the list of items missing-in action includes a baby shower card with a gift certificate inside. If I’m being honest, I should confess that the card is also a few months late. The baby has already been born!
I bet you didn’t know this, but there’s a bounty of organizational resources available to us on the internet. In the last year, my get-my-act-together focus has been in the blogoshere. These sites are so pretty and helpful. Many of them offer free “printables” that will help you get organized with lists, calendars and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. Side bar: not to go off on a tangent, but those of us who are disorganized, typically are hopeless at DIY! In the frenzy of my getting organized excitement (and panic) last year, I dutifully printed off everything I could find. I went so far as to actually file the documents away in three ring binders, where they still reside today (mostly unread). At the time, I actually envisioned a future where I’d kicked my bad habits and boasted about the newly organized Allie in a blog post, with stunning before and after pictures.

The blog never materialized. Sometimes I think I need to take it a step further and actually hire a professional organizer – or a life coach. But that route can be costly. Still, there’s something to be said for accountability. I did rope my husband into a DIY project last year for an organizational mudroom wall and it looks great. The project turned out to be a lot of work for him, so my guilt has motivated me. Any changes I’ve made over the years have been helpful, but short-lived. I do have a new filing system I’m quite proud of, courtesy of a blog, but it is the exception to the rule. I don’t know if it’s boredom, ADD or the chaos of life, but I always, eventually, seem to go back to my scattered ways. Why is this?

It makes my life so much harder. I also feel remorse about the harried example I’m setting for my children. Does anyone have any suggestions? I’m open and ready to listen, it’s just the execution phase that may trip me up.

As I said I was nodding my head at everything Allie shared. Last weekend I managed to schedule a camping trip in one state, a performance of Frozen on Ice in another state and we managed barely to do all of it. I have also shown up at birthday parties a week early or late and been known to send a thank you card a year too late (to my mother’s dismay).

Thank you, Allie for sharing. I encourage everyone to follow her of at Latch Key Mom. Her posts are always uplifting and I believe most of you will read and say Hey this could be me!

What's your challenge is a series that was inspired by a program I created at Abby's school. I am amazed at how honest and hopeful the challenges have been. Thank you to all who have contributed. To submit your challenge, please e-mail me at

13 thoughts on “My Challenge: Allie


    I cannot exactly relate to the full schedule, although I can relate to the disorganization. I never learned to manage a calendar, so when my structure of going to school ended, I had no way of remembering when I had to do what. I applaud you for admitting the problem and taking the first step in doing something about it.


  2. Janine Huldie

    Shake my hand, because I can totally and been known to forget all here. So, I can very much relate and trust me unless I write myself notes, I can totally forget quite a bit. I am trying so badly to be more organized though and the key word here is trying!


  3. Dana @ Kiss my List

    I'm usually pretty organized – I can't stand stuff everywhere. I don't have any advice for you though, other than starting small. Tackle one area of your office for 15 minutes, and call it a day. Eventually you'll get it clean. Keeping it organized is another story, though! See how helpful I was?


  4. Tamara Camera

    I do the 15 minutes thing too! Glad to hear it works for Dana too.
    Also, I showed up to a pediatrician appointment late. Twice. And now I always ask first if it's the wrong day. Even when I KNOW it is.
    I'm nodding along right now because this morning was a disaster and I don't want my kids to always see me rushing them out the door, but I've never seen an alternative.


  5. Autism Mom

    When I am not organized it is because I am putting off things I don't want to do like filing or something. I find I am most successful when I break up my day with things I like to do and things I don't like – do one for an hour, get to do the other for an hour. Good luck!


  6. Kristi Campbell

    Um so not to brag or anything but pretty sure you met Allie through me. Just saying. It's okay though because I LOVE YOU BOTH. Still. *cough* me? Anyway!!
    OMG I suck suck suck at organizing. Your desk, Allie looks SO MUCH like mine? I have three computers. My beloved and old cinema display Mac, that I love, my mac laptop ibook thing, and my work computer (dell laptop). They are usually ALL open on my desk as are 100 folders and notes and cards and all the things that are all the things. Behind me in my “office” on the guest bed? A whole bunch of “I have done nothing to organize you drawings, photo albums, blech, oh oh AND! Tucker's like five, right? So I still haven't listed his $400 high chair and his pack and play and that stuff on Craig's List. It's all “near” my office. Great challenge!!



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