Organized 31

Because of moving with the military over 28 times, I’ve often been asked for advice by family & friends. I share ideas from a Military Mom on organizing, moving, crafts, repurposing, parenting, cooking, cleaning and family life.

Susan is a winner of Top 25 Military Moms - 2013

What's a tip for celebrating a holiday or milestone with your kids when your partner isn't able to be there?

Since we've always lived far from our extended families, we video tape all major milestones in our life and then share them with grandparents, aunts & uncles and friends by video tape (in the olden days) and now by email or Facebook. Since recording our memorable events is already a tradition in our family, when Dad is TDY or deployed, we just add the feature of talking directly to him as though he were present during the recording. This works well for us since time differences and duty schedules don't usually allow Dad to Skype with us through the event. The kids love watching the recording together as a family when Dad gets home and over and over and over again after that.

What have you learned about parenting from living in different places?

There is definitely not one "right" way to parent. I feel I'm tolerant of and interested in different parenting approaches. It fascinates me how people in different countries, and even different regions of the US, can have such different approaches to the same task of raising children. We've made teaching and practicing tolerance a priority in our family. Even if you don't agree with the other approach, you can always learn from it.

What are your best tips for traveling with kids?

Relax. If you're stressed out, your kids will react (badly) to your stress and then you'll react badly to their misbehavior.

A crying or yelling child always sounds louder to the parents (just quiet them as soon as you can). Please keep your child from kicking or banging the tray table up and down during an airplane flight (take it from my 19-year old self that had to deal with it during a 7 hour flight!)

I always had special travel toys that only came out during trips. I found age-appropriate interactive toys that were not too loud, blocks, beads, play figures (cars, people, animals), coloring/activity books, and books that were age appropriate. Because my kids only got to play with these toys when we traveled, it was a treat for them. Also, whenever you can (and it's appropriate), make your kids run and jump around before you get in the car or on the plane. Try to tire them out as much as you can. It's worth an extra 10 minutes at the rest stop or walking around the airport to have a calmer child when you must sit down.

Pack lots (twice as much as you think you need) of non-messy snacks like crackers and granola bars. Carry several bottles of water. That way you're prepared no matter how long you're stuck in traffic or how long you're delayed in the airport.

What helps you stay organized? Whether it's a special coupon binder, calendar app or color-coded closet, we want to know all the little tricks and products that help keep your life organized. Please share a photo if you have one.

Susan Sant

I have To Do Lists and worksheets for everything. I have a monthly list to make sure I get the big chores done and the workload spread out over the entire year. On my To Do List I also track categories of items that are on sale that month, so I know that if I need more towels January is a good month to get them on sale. You can see my January To Do List : (February's To Do List is coming tomorrow). We're in the military and move all the time. I've made 3 different worksheets I use to help us choose where to live and which house to select. You can see all 3 worksheets:
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