7 Tips for Staying Organized with Kids in the Summer

It’s seven days until the calendar marks the first day of summer (though summer in Nashville started in about April), and to celebrate we created a list of seven tips on how to keep your summer organized. Especially with kids!

1.     Vacation prep, part 1: create a list of things you always need to do before going on vacation (set up a lights timer for when the house is empty, back up your computer and phone in case of a technology emergency, move valuables to the safe, etc.) to help with last-minute stress.  Part 2: create a list of items you always need to pack (medication, phone chargers, etc.), to make packing for each trip easier in the future.

2.     Think about things that you should always have in your car during the summer, and take the time to go ahead and stock them.  Toys for the park, extra water bottles, sunscreen, towels for the insanely humid days when you decide to run through a sprinkler but don’t want to ruin the seats of your car…you get the idea.

3.     Clean out the garage of old gardening items or outdoor toys that didn’t get used last year.  You could approach your closet the same way.  You don’t need old, unused items cluttering your space, especially clothes that you didn’t wear over the winter.

4.     Empty out those backpacks and clear out school work, so that it’s not cluttering the house all summer.  School’s out, celebrate!  Purge whatever you don’t need, and set aside unused school supplies either for summer crafts or to use as supplies next year.

5.     Go through kids’ artwork from the past year and narrow down what to keep and what to purge.  Doing this every year not only helps keep you from getting overwhelmed, but also makes it easier to keep the art separated by year.  Online services such as Plum Print will make photo books for artwork, in case you want to remember your kids’ creations but don’t want to physically store them.

6.     Create a ‘boredom bin’ for the kids.  Fill it with crafts, activity books, games they can play on their own, books, or anything else that might help them fill the time.  If all else fails, have a ready-made list of chores that they can help out with around the house.  You may get some of the help you’d like, especially if there’s a reward incentive!

7.     If you have a teen who just graduated high school, shop early on for college dorm supplies so that you have more options.  Designate an area in the house for a ‘college pile’ that you can add items to throughout the summer.  Starting college is stressful enough without having to scramble at the last minute, and Target during college move-in week can look a little post-apocalyptic.

 

Happy summer days!

A Good System Shortens the Road to the Goal

It’s a common opinion that beginning a New Year’s resolution is easy, and that it’s keeping up with a resolution that’s problematic.  Here in mid-March that may feel pretty accurate, but we’d like to offer an alternative view: beginning a new habit is difficult, which actually becomes easier to maintain once the habit is routine.  The roadblock many people encounter is how to form the habit in the first place.

Setting up for success requires two components: the commitment to change, and setting up a system that gives you the ability to change.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “a good system shortens the road to the goal,” and that happens to be one of the staple principles we organize by on a daily basis.  Organizing someone’s kitchen or closet or bathroom can bring immediate gratification, but if it’s not set up with a good system, then the space will never be maintained.

We like to organize with the mentality that to get to any item, it requires the least number of steps possible.  It’s easiest to put something back in its correct home when you know exactly where it goes, and doing so doesn’t requires unnecessary effort.  Simplicity should be prioritized above all else.

For example, store your charging cords closest to where you often charge your devices, and give them a designated home.  Keep your most frequently used bathroom products in the most accessible spaces.  If you never take the time to take the mail to the home office and it instead piles on the kitchen counter, then don’t set up a drop zone in the office, set it up in the kitchen.  Be realistic, but prioritize with a good system, and it will be easier for the maintaining habits to fall into place.

Fall into Organization

Fall is upon us once again!  And when it comes to Fall, there are some seasonal trademarks you just can’t miss:

1.     Fashion Season

Yes, we love summer and shorts, but who doesn’t love boots?  As you transition into fall, keep those lovely leathers in shape.  Boot inserts help keep your boots molded and in top condition, and some inserts even come with hooks.  Handy, if you have extra hanging space and need the floor space for more storage.  Like for storing more boots.

As the rain picks up, don’t get angry at those beautiful boots for trekking a minor flood into the mudroom.  While you’re at The Container Store or Bed Bath & Beyond getting boot shapers, also pick up a boot tray.  Add some rocks, and you have a cute, functional drip station solution that protects your floors (and socks) from muddy puddles.

2.     Back to School Season

Speaking of the mudroom, it wouldn’t hurt to do some touch ups on the space that sees the most damage during the school year.  We all know the damage doesn’t come from actual mud as the name suggests, but from the backpacks, sweaty sports equipment, books, shoes, jackets, superhero lunchboxes and whatever additional hodge podge of items that comes off the school bus.  Really, it’s not the mudroom.  It’s the mayhem room.

A cubby system is fantastic for keeping everything organized as you swing back into the heart of the school year.  Don’t have the luxury of built-in lockers?  Bins and labels for each kiddo will be your new best friend.  Pretty baskets and clip-on tags from The Container Store are some of our favorites.

3.     Pumpkin Spice Latte Season

Coffee is a must-need for power-productive organizing sessions.  Trust us, we’re professionals.

4.     Raking Season

When the leaves start falling, the pool toys and patio furniture start coming back into the garage.  Rather than shove everything in for the winter, now is a perfect time to do some sorting.  Fall is perfect working-in-the-garage weather, and you’re already going to be outside cleaning the grill and gutters, right?  Give your garage the TLC it needs now before the holidays arrive and the cold sets in.  When spring comes around, we’ll promise you’ll be glad you did.

image via: thecontainerstore.com

image via: thecontainerstore.com

image via: marthastewart.com

image via: marthastewart.com

Happy organizing!

-Heidi

Professional Organizer & Boot Enthusiast 

Spring Cleaning

This is the definition of spring cleaning according to Google:

spring clean·ing

noun: spring clean; plural noun: spring cleans; noun: spring cleaning; plural noun: spring cleanings

1.     a thorough cleaning of a house or room, typically undertaken in spring.

verb: spring-clean; 3rd person present: spring-cleans; past tense: spring-cleaned; past participle: spring-cleaned; gerund or present participle: spring-cleaning

1.     clean (a home or room) thoroughly.

 

And according to Wikipedia:

Spring cleaning is the practice of thoroughly cleaning a house in the springtime. The practice of spring cleaning is especially prevalent in climates with a cold winter.

 

Here in Nashville, winter doesn’t exactly always require down vests and thermal long underwear.  Heck, many of us never even bothered to take out our heavy sweaters this year.  But spring is dawning, and that means it’s time for spring cleaning.

Where did the notion of spring cleaning even come from?  One theory is that it originated from the Jewish custom of Passover, or the religious renewal many Christians experience in preparing for Easter.  Or maybe the credit goes to the Chinese, and the customary house cleaning that takes place before the Chinese New Year.

Regardless, humans are more tired in the winter.  Why is that relevant to spring cleaning?  Hormones in our bodies react to the amount of sunlight we receive, and with the shorter, cloudier days that come with winter, we’re put into a sort of extended sleepy stupor.  Longer, sunnier days bring us more energy, hence the arrival of spring cleaning frenzies.  Just look again at Wikipedia’s definition: the practice of spring cleaning is especially prevalent in climates with a cold winter.  So the math works like this:

Winter = sleepiness = laziness = letting the clutter build up.

Yep, I just gave you an excuse for being lazy all winter.

Actually, Wikipedia did.  And since it’s from Wikipedia, that means it’s completely accurate, right?

But now it’s spring, so that excuse was short-lived.  Sorry.

Along with religious rejuvenation and watching nature’s greenery re-emerge, spring can provide a restart for the soul. When we decide to scrub down every surface in our homes and clear the clutter, we are clearing away the weight of cabin fever and starting anew.

Don’t forget that besides cleaning, the de-cluttering aspect of spring cleaning is just as important.  Just as grime builds up on the inside of your oven, clutter builds up around your house.  If you take the time to actually look at it, you may realize just how much stuff built up over the dark, dreary months.  Purging unwanted items and creating clear, clean spaces brings peace to the mind and soul, and we highly recommend it.

When you’re wiping down the pantry shelves, go ahead and dig through all that food in the back and check for expiration dates.  Cleaning the bathroom drawers?  Surely there’s some make-up or old lotion in there that you tried once and decided you don’t even like.  If you’re never going to use it again, toss it out.  Maybe even take a look at some of those winter clothes you haven’t worn in over a year.

It’s not that hard, and it will help you feel a whole lot better.  I promise.  You are literally helping your house lose weight.  Just in time for swimsuit season, too.

 

-Heidi

Professional Organizer &  Organizing Enthusiast

Resolutions or Goals? To Set or Not to Set...

I stopped making New Year's resolutions several years ago because this is how it usually went... I would decide that starting January first, I would stop or start some lofty habit. By the middle of February my steam had fizzled out. I spent the rest of the month feeling lousy having disappointed myself, yet again.

 

I would tell myself that my failure was because "I set unrealistic goals." "I'm a serial high-achiever." "I'm an idealist." But, who was I kidding? I failed because the goals I set and the image I had of myself did not match. I failed because I didn't actually want to reach the goal or to do the resolution I made. Or perhaps I didn't really want to do the work necessary to achieve the goal.

 

Now, if you are one of those people who can pull off their New Year's resolutions, I salute you, and you can stop reading! But, first, please teach a class so I can attend, because I am not that person.

 

For the rest of us who struggle with New Year's resolutions, may I encourage us to stop making them? Additionally, can I encourage us to pause before we set any goals at any time of the year? Let's get some coffee or tea and have an honest conversation about our self image. If you're on our website and social media, it's likely because you are interested in organizing. Perhaps you want or need to get organized. Perhaps you feel stuck. If so, this article may help. 

 

I ask you to consider this premise: to the same degree that you feel disorganized you likely have a correlating sense of embarrassment, shame or frustration. To comfort you, I've included some pictures of my own garage and basement, right now. Yes, even organizers have areas to work on. 

IMG_8045.JPG

 

Back to that self-image, as long as we see ourselves how we have always seen ourselves, we will continue to think and to act as we have always thought and acted. If we want to behave differently, we have to grow our mind. Repeat after me: I am the most dynamic and extraordinary of all of God's creation! Try this one on for size: Who I have seen myself to be has served me well, until now. This image no longer fits me, and I am growing. I AM growing.

 

How are we growing? Using myself as an example, my leading phrase for 2017 is "If not now, when?" I decided on this phrase, because I have a habit of feeling overwhelmed by the numerous ideas and projects that I come up with then put off out of fear. This may have served me in the past but no longer. Now, I am growing more bold. I am growing more focused. I am the most dynamic and extraordinary of all God's creations, and I am becoming a newer version of me. That is what I am saying to myself. 

 

What are you saying? How are you growing?

 

If you want to see more simplicity and organization in your life -- it doesn't necessarily start with organizing. It doesn't even start with us helping you. It starts in your mind.

 

OLD THOUGHT:     "I wish I wasn't so busy, I would have more time to organize, to think..." 

NEW THOUGHT:     "I am growing in knowing my own boundaries. I'm growing, and it is helpful to delegate. I have good thoughts and ideas."

 

OLD THOUGHT:     "I am just not an organized person."

NEW THOUGHT:     "I am growing, and I accept myself just as I am, right now. I am also growing in my skill to organize. I can learn anything."

 

OLD THOUGHT:     "I don't know how to organize. I don't know where to start."

NEW THOUGHT:     "I am growing. I am competent, capable and amazing. So, I am growing in my skill to organize. I can ask for help. I can do this."

 

OTHER NEW THOUGHTS: 

"I am growing in patience with myself and others."

"I am more flexible than ever."

"I am growing in boldness."

"I am growing. I can start. I can try. I am more energized than ever."

 

Let us start here, seeing ourselves with the knowledge that we are growing. By March, instead of finding a resolution list taunting us with failure, we will see a new image in the mirror celebrating its confidence and beauty and tackling life's goals and challenges.

 

Rest assured, new challenges will come along. New goals will need to be set. Thankfully, these won't be as scary, overwhelming, or hard, because we will have cast off our old garments, our old ways, and grown to fit the new ways required to climb these mountains. Our January self learned to grow. Our January self learned that any new challenge simply requires a new wardrobe of thoughts.

 

I am so proud of you! It is difficult to face the inner self. It is easier to try and fix external things. But, you are growing, and now it is time. It is time because you are reading this. "If not now, when?" You have got this, so go on; give it a go. One small step. See you later this year!

 

"Success is a progressive realization of a worthy ideal." -- Earl Nightingale

 

-Autumn

Organizer and Lifestyle Management guru