Posted by: coachingparents | October 15, 2008

Catching up with Super Mom Tonia Tomlin

by Minette Riordan, Ph.D.

I had the opportunity recently to catch up with my friend, author and organizing expert Tonia Tomlin. Tonia and I met at the Plano Chamber of Commerce about 4 years ago. I was proud of her when she told us she would be appearing on HGTV’s Mission Organization for the first time and excited for the growth it would bring to her organizing business, Sorted Out. Then I found out she was having twin girls and I wondered how it would affect her life and her business. That was 2 1/2 years ago and Tonia has learned a lot about being a supermom since the last time I saw her.

Tonia found herself on bed rest in the hospital for weeks before the twins were born. Not one to lounge about, doctors orders or not, she had her husband go out and buy her a laptop. She ran her business from there, and she started making notes for what would eventually become her first book, Chaos 2 Calm: the moms-of-multiples’ guide to an organized family, which was released in September of this year.

Like so many of us moms, Tonia had no family available to help her out, either while she was on bed rest or after the birth of her girls. She found herself needing to organize the friends who offered to help out and ended up creating “Sign up to assist” forms to make sure that everything was being taken care of. After the girls were born, one of them ended up being in the hospital for an extended period of time and Tonia again relied on friends and her organizational expertise to help keep the chaos to a minimum.

In her new book, From Chaos 2 Calm, Tonia combines her professional experience with her experience of being a mom of multiples. She has a series of charts to help parents keep track of everything from child care to meal planning. She includes a CD version of all the forms so that parents will be able to recreate and reuse each form. One of my favorites is a standardized letter that new parents of multiples can send to companies requesting discounts, gifts and coupons for parents of multiples. She has even done all of the research for you on what companies to send the letter to. All you have to do is make copies of your children’s birth certificates, copies of the letters and address the envelopes.

Tonia told me that being a working professional woman may not prepare us for motherhood but in her case it certainly helped. Tonia writes in the prologue to her book, “When my husband and I were blessed with our twin daughters, I became aware of the challenges moms-of-multiples are faced with each day. Through my relationships with various moms, I witnessed first-hand how a lack of organization can wreak havoc on moms-of-multiples in every aspects of their lives, from their daily routines to even their relationships with their partners. In my own life, I was faced with the challenge of taking my own organizational processes, within the home and in my personal and professional life, up a notch. Parenting multiples is like living life in the fast lane where there literally is no rest for the weary.”

Chaos 2 Calm covers everything from sharing the chores and clarifying family values, to creating a simple budget. One entire chapter is dedicated to child care, forms with questions to ask a potential nanny, emergency contact information and an entire nanny binder of forms and to-dos. This book is an invaluable tool for parents who need help getting organized! Starting when your children are young allows you to have a great plan in place as they grow up and get busy schedules of their own.

I asked Tonia to name her top two tips for moms and her first one surprised me but it makes perfect sense. Her number one tip for moms is to make an appointment with themselves for at least one hour each week. Schedule it in your calendar, whether it is for an hour sitting on the couch reading (ask your husband to take the kids to the park) or an hour out of the house doing something you love.

Her second tip is to create a family communication center to save yourself time and the endless frustration of trying to find things. This might include bills, kids’ homework, artwork, schedule for activities, etc. It generally becomes the go-to place for all of your paperwork. She says that you can create the communication center on the wall where you can see it, tucked away in a bin or a cubby, wherever you will check it regularly. As your kids get older, they can participate in keeping the information organized and available.

On a personal note, Tonia’s goal is to spend more time with her children by being more organized. She makes sure to focus on her daughters when she is home with them and tries not to be doing laundry or dishes. Another goal is maintaining her relationship with her husband. They have a regularly scheduled date night every two weeks that is written on the calendar and the babysitters are scheduled ahead of time. Her purpose is to help herself and her family stay focused on their core values and not overcommit themselves.

This book will get you organized as soon as you hear those magical words, “Congratulations, you are having twins.” I recommend you go buy a copy for yourself today and for your friends. This is a great baby gift idea, too, for a new mom-of-multiples. But don’t think it is just for moms-of-multiples, it’s for all moms who need a little help getting from “Chaos 2 Calm.”

To find more about Tonia Tomlin, visit her online at or

Minette Riordan, Ph.D.
North Texas Kids


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