South suburban spotlight

Mom to knowBeth Randall of Plainfield

Keeping activities straight just may be a parent’s biggest challenge. Sports, scouts, dance, school. It’s bad enough if you have one child, but if you have two or more?

Plainfield mom Beth Randall, a certified professional organizer and founder of Joe Organizer, shares the tools she uses to keep her family sane while navigating through the extracurricular maze.

Problem: Finding that needle in the haystack—or in this case, the coach’s phone number.

Solution: Create a family binder for all the extracurricular paperwork. Randall says to divide the binder into sections, both by child and activity."For example, Nathan: soccer; Noah: basketball; Claire: dance,” says Randall. Include all extracurricular activities from sports to scouts and religious education. This is where team rosters, calendars and any miscellaneous paperwork you get will be kept. Note: Family binders are great for keeping adult extracurricular activities organized as well.

Problem: Forgetting something on the way to an activity.

Solution: Randall says every activity should have its own bag."In the bag should be all the supplies, uniform, shoes, etc., that the child needs for the activity.” Inside Randall’s son soccer bag you will find his soccer socks, cleats, shin guards, ball, empty water bottle and uniform.

To be successful, Randall suggests enlisting the troops. This includes making your kids responsible for putting together and maintaining activity bags.

Problem: Finding last-minute missing items like gloves and hats makes you late.

Solution: Randall suggests an over-the-door shoe rack."It provides up to 48 pockets to store all that winter gear,” says Randall."Mittens will never lose their mates. And, during the summer months you can replace the winter gear with all that summer gear that you always want to have handy such as sunscreen, bug spray, goggles for the pool, sunglasses, etc.”

For more information about Randall or Joe Organizer, visit her Web site at Jean Dunning

The ins and outs of being a City Slingerby Jean Dunning

Wearing your baby is in. Babywearing, carrying your baby on you via a sling or other such type of carrier, is becoming quite hip with moms who want to feel closer to their babies yet still be able to move around and get things done.

Moms, like Amy Gabriel of Bolingbrook, say it isn’t always as easy as it seems—you need to get the right carrier, the right fit and know what to do with it when you get it.

That’s where City Slingers comes in. City Slingers is an online community of women who advocate and share tips on babywearing. The group of 221 members, who help each other in the virtual world, now has groups that meet in person in Chicago and Bolingbrook.

Once a month these moms share tips, try out each other’s carriers and socialize. Kids are welcome and even encouraged.

“Meetings are only mildly structured,” says Gabriel, who co-leads the Bolingbrook group. The Bolingbrook group meets from 10-11:30 a.m. the first Thursday of the month at IKEA, 750 E. Boughton Road in Bolingbrook.

To learn more about City Slingers or to sign up, go to Yahoo groups and enter the key word City Slingers or you can e-mail Amy Gabriel at

See sled dogs in action in MoneeMost of us will never make it to the actual Iditarod, but you can still get an upclose look at mushing by visiting the Monee Reservoir at Ridgeland Avenue in Monee (west of Route 50, south of Pauling Road). Musher Mania takes place from noon-4 p.m. Jan. 12. The Siberian Husky Club of Greater Chicago will provide presentations on the Siberian husky breed, the Iditarod, mushing skills and more. The program will go on whether there’s snow on the ground or not. This family program is free—you can get more information at (815) 534-8499 or

Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Since 1984, the Chicago Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for Chicagoland families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.
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