photo credit: MattGrommes
A child’s room can be one of the most challenging rooms in the house when it comes to getting organized and staying organized. With some training though, the children will actually be able to learn a system for keeping up with it themselves. That will make your job much easier.
Start by taking inventory of the room and, if they are old enough, have the children help. Get some boxes and label them for clothes (too small, out of season, keepers) and toys (favorites, too old for, missing pieces/broken) and make a game out of it. Give everyone a box and see who can fill their box up the quickest. Keep going until everything is sorted.
Next you can move on to actually sorting the toys. Go through the missing and broken box first. See if any of the toys are worth saving until you find the missing pieces. If not pitch them. Also decide if the broken toys can be fixed, or not.
Then go through the toys that the child is too old for, and decide together what should be done with them. If there is a younger sibling or cousin, maybe they would like to pass them on to them. If not, see if the child wants to donate the toys in good shape to charity. You’ll be surprised at how generous kids can really be if given the opportunity.
Last, go through the favorite toy box. These are the ones that need to find a home either in the bedroom or a playroom (if you have one).
When sorting the favorite toys, determine if you have enough storage in the room for all of them. Plastic storage bins are great for kids’ rooms, especially the stackable ones with drawers. Some come with wheels, and can be easily stored in a closet and brought out when the child wants to play. Try to establish a new habit of only getting out one toy at a time, to help keep the room from getting cluttered again.
Finally, it’s time to tackle the clothes. With children growing so quickly, it’s a good idea to go through their closets and dressers at the beginning of each season. As with the toys, decide together what to do with any clothes that are too small, but still in good shape. Many charities are very glad to receive children’s clothing.
Under the bed storage boxes are great for out of season clothing. Then as the weather changes, swap what’s in the dresser for what’s under the bed. When you swap out the clothes, again check for things they’ve outgrown. It’s also good to have a designated place for the kids to put the clothes that are too small, so when they try something on, they don’t just put it back in the drawer.
Once the room has been organized, teach the child to keep up with it on their own, with a routine every day of putting things where they belong.
photo credit: Peter Hellberg
Space is at a premium in the master bathroom. Women tend to take up a majority of the space with makeup and hair care products, but men are catching up, with all the new products being introduced for them.
The best thing to start with is throwing away any old makeup that is beyond its “safe to use” date. If you’re not sure, throw it away. Then sort what’s left based on your favorite items. If you have duplicates of certain things, like a favorite shade of lipstick, only keep one of each in the bathroom. Store the rest in box, out of the way. Then, as you use up something, replace it.
The counter space can be a clutter magnet. A nice set of decorative canisters or baskets can help neaten things up and are useful as well. Clear canisters are nice, because they allow you to know when you are running low.
If you don’t already have them, hooks on the wall or the back of the door are great for hanging towels or robes. Hopefully the hooks will encourage others in your family to not leave them on the floor. Keep only one set of towels and washcloths for him and her, and any spares can be stored in a nearby hall closet.
The medicine cabinet needs some attention as well. Go through and look at all the expiration dates and throw away anything that is out of date. Not only does this help reduce clutter, it prevents accidents. Do you have bottles of pills that aren’t even labeled anymore? Throw them away. Then replace the medicines you know you’ll need on a regular basis.
There are a few possibilities for storing shaving supplies. Another decorative container or waterproof basket for the razors would work, as would a rack that hangs on the shower wall.
Cleaning supplies can be kept in a small basket or bucket under the sink, if there is room. You may also store them in a nearby closet, as long as it is childproof, if you have small children. Keep everything you need, including sponges, paper towels and gloves. This not only keeps things neater, but also saves time when you need to clean.
As you know, Thanksgiving Day is not about the food or the cooking. It’s about celebrating Thanksgiving Day and being thankful for your blessings big and small.
By Paula Schmitt
It’s that time of year again; time to hide the bathroom scale and plan a couple extra trips to your dentist office. By the time Halloween ends and your Thanksgiving meal has taken place, you’ll not only complain about snug jeans, but you’ll have devoured so much candy that you have rotted a few more of your pearly whites.
Oh, what to do?
I say, ENJOY YOURSELF!
This is the rule of thumb in my household where there are seven warm bodies swarming the apple spice scented kitchen on Thanksgiving afternoon. I spend my entire day wearing an apron, slaving away in the kitchen, only to have my boy’s nit pick their way through the meal. “What’s the green stuff, Moooommmmy? You know I don’t like green.”
Then there is the wonderful post-mortem aroma around the dinner table. No, not Mr. Turkey and not the apple pie. I’m talking smells from the male gender as they all begin to “express” their enjoyment of the meal! Pppppfffffffttttttt. Do we REALLY need to do that right now, it’s Thanksgiving?! Don’t even look under the table. After the meal, there is more food on the floor than there was on the plates. Well, except for the pies. (Hey, save some for me).
All joking aside, this mom is looking so forward to our Thanksgiving Day together. Even though this holiday is a simple time when we come together, eat a huge meal (this year our own home grown organic turkeys) and give thanks for all that we have, it is a special time for our family to talk together and spend quality time with each other – and that is something that doesn’t happen very often with our hectic schedules.
This year, our oldest son who has started his freshman year of college will be coming home for the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m sure he has grown another inch taller and that he is just as handsome as ever. Not only are his father and I anxious to see and hug him, but his younger brothers and little sister are just as excited to shoot hoops, play video games and just hang out with their big brother.
This Thanksgiving, make that special phone call to family, friends and loved ones whom you can not be with, just to hear their voice and say hello. Enjoy your time with loved ones near and far. It passes so quickly.
So go ahead, hide that scale and eat an extra helping of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie…the way I see it, you only live once, right?
Ah, home sweet home. We have just returned from our winter road trip from Vermont to Florida to visit the grandparents. A full two day, each way odyssey. My family loves our annual seven people cooped up in a car 24 hour road trip.
Can you feel the sarcasm?
Ah, Florida! That wonderful, buggy and muggy, hot and humid, glorious
southern state. While it may be home to some lovely beaches and an oversized, rather rich mouse, Florida is also the proud owner of more Senior Special-Early Bird buffets, retirement communities and horseshoe tournaments than any other state in the Union. Our parents are happy there. No problem, we shall come to visit once a year, dragging the rug rats along ever so happily.
The kids call my parents Papa and Grandma and my husband’s parents Grandpa and Grandma Schmitt. My older two boys always remember quite well how their Papa hands out the dollar bills when they arrive, during their stay, and before they leave ($mart boys). Papa also has some great quotes that the kids love to snicker about – enduring them is the tradeoff for all that money. The most popular one, that really gets my guys going, is when their Papa is very thirsty and about to down a big glass of milk or root beer. As he lifts his glass, he always announces, “Over the lips, over the gums, look out stomach, here it comes!” Of course, being a well paid audience, they indulge Papa with a laugh that would make an outsider believe that’s the first time he’s delivered that line. Or this one. When Papa is watching television, don’t dare step in front of him. “Hey, you make a better door than a window!”
Again, laughs all around.
The children’s hungry tummies remember their way to Grandma’s kitchen.
After Papa has shooed them away from the television, Grandma begins pulling out all the snacks and goodies. I nicely remind my Mother that dinner is only an hour away, but she suddenly develops a hearing impairment as she continues to hand out candy, cookies and chips for a nice, nutritious pre-dinner snack.
Visiting Grandpa and Grandma Schmitt was interesting too. You see, while he may be well into his 80’s, Grandpa is a bit of a fitness buff and the hottest octogenarian on the block. My kids treasure Grandpa’s treadmill. These same kids who develop rickets when asked to walk their toys from one room to the next, love to sneak into his room and start running, which they did for hours.
Then there is Grandpa’s love of music. The kids think he is really cool until he cranks up the bass on his sound system. Ah, the beautiful sound of an Opera. My guys run for cover when Grandpa asks if anyone would enjoy hearing some good music. Obviously Grandpa has no idea the current definition of the word. Just wait until these kids get older.
Grandma Schmitt knows a lot about children and mothering. She had seven of her own. The boys’ father was the sixth of those seven. Grandma Schmitt likes to make sure that the children get plenty of rest and shut eye and as the sun is setting and night time comes, Grandma starts checking the clock – every few minutes. About 7:30 p.m. she is wondering what time the kiddies are going nighty-nite. Poor woman, they are just getting revved up.
Despite all the hassles, low sleep, and change in the kids daily routine, we wouldn’t change our yearly winter road trip to visit the grandparents for anything. We miss and love them dearly and wish we could be together more often.
But thank goodness now it’s their turn to make a road trip to Vermont.
photo credit: dimasr
If you’re sticking with our goal to be able to get ready for company any day of the week in 30 minutes or less, then decluttering the kitchen is JOB ONE. The kitchen is the hub of most homes. When it’s working, everything else works better–better nutrition, less weight gain from eating out all the time, easier on the budget, increased likelihood the family will hang out and eat together, and a satisfied feeling that things are well in the world.
You simply can’t keep a clean, highly functioning kitchen if it’s cluttered.
Key Points about Clutter in the Kitchen
- A cluttered kitchen kills the desire to cook so you eat out more.
- It’s hard to get kids to help set the table or unload the dishwasher when the kitchen is cluttered and disorganized.
- A cluttered kitchen makes you feel like a poor life manager.
- Your nutrition and that of your family suffer if your kitchen is so cluttered that it’s difficult or unappealing to use.
- You can’t organize clutter, unless you want to keep doing it every day when the excess spills over again, and again. So you must FIRST get rid of the clutter, then get organized.
What Shape is Your Kitchen in?
You can do much to simplify and streamline your kitchen by following these three action steps:
1. Assess Your Kitchen Tools and Appliances.
Do you love them and use them all? Open your drawers and cabinets. Look through the tool caddie on your counter. Pick up each and every hand tool, electric tool, and gadget in your kitchen and ask these questions to help you pare down to the essentials:
- Is this easy to use?
- Do I frequently use it?
- Is it enjoyable to use – e.g., It feels good in my hand.
- Is it easy to clean?
- Is it easy to store and does it earns its keep in storage space?
- Do I have too many of these?
- Can I do this task just as easily by hand (without the messy cleanup of a machine?)
- Does this tool really make the task easier and quicker, or is it just a cool gadget?
- Is it uncomplicated to use, clean and care for?
- Is it clean, in good shape, and ready for action?
2. Eliminate the Excess and Don’t Buy More.
Think twice before buying new gadgets. There truly is a tool for every task. So we’re tempted to buy lots of tools. Make a pact with yourself that you will avoid impulse buying of kitchen gadgets. On the shelves of the store, gadgets look cute and useful. The promise that “they will do the cooking for you” is appealing.
Instead of speeding up your cooking process, though, they often clog up our drawers, counters, and cabinets. To tell the truth, it’s easier not to bring a tool home than it is to give it up once it’s held a place in our drawers.
Don’t talk yourself into keeping clutter. If some of your tools don’t pass the love-it-use-it test in item #1, then they’re clutter and it’s time to move them out of your kitchen. Don’t fight to keep your clutter with these kinds of statements:
- I may need it someday.
- I have space for it.
- It was expensive.
- It’s still good.
- I like the way it looks.
- I inherited the clutter gene and I can’t help myself.
- It was a gift.
- It was a souvenir.
- It doesn’t take up much room.
- If I start entertaining again, I’ll need it.
3.Decide where you will unload the excess you want to get rid of.
Making this decision ahead of time may help you loosen your grip on your stuff. Here are some possibilities:
- www.freecycle.org (join one of the thousands of local online groups that get-and-give items for free to help keep them out of the landfills).
- Thrift stores
- Church kitchen
- Local shelters
- Garage sales
- Friends and family members
Why Live With the Hassle of a Cluttered, Inefficient Kitchen?
Wouldn’t you love to have a less stressful morning and evening routine in a kitchen that is neat and organized? Decluttering your kitchen will make a big difference. Let this quote inspire you:
When half the stuff in your cabinet is stuff you don’t use, it isn’t just innocently lying there-it is stealing 50 percent of your usable space . . . . The one-third bad really hurts the two-thirds good. Just as a small haze can ruin the sharpness of a great picture, too much junk and clutter sprinkled in (like over salting) can ruin the taste and appeal of the good stuff.
Don Aslett, Not For Packrats Only
Take Action – Nothing Changes Without Action
1. Set aside time this month to declutter and organize your kitchen. Follow the suggestions given and invent your own.
2. Have fun. You don’t have to make your kitchen perfect. Just get started.
3. Enlist a friend to help. You can return the favor.
4. If you are not yet a member of the free Packrats, Paper Hounds and Procrastinators’ Club, go here to join: http://www.cherylmillerville.com/ppp.htm
My job as a clutter consultant was to help Elaine transform several areas of her home for a two-part television newscast on CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). With apprehension, she allowed the film crew to take “before” shots as the reporter interviewed us.
When I left that day, I commented that the entrance to her home might be included in the filming of our makeover. Seeing the broken pots, faded ribbons and flat balloons tied to her lamp post, bags of recycling and more, I suggested we start right there.
Fast forward a month. As we waited for the crew to arrive for the “after” filming, she almost whispered, “I’m glad you suggested cleaning up the outside. I would have been really embarrassed.”
Interestingly, the second segment began with the reporter walking up to the house and entering the front door (about 20 takes) as she set the scene for the makeover that viewers might expect to see. Having a tidy walkway made a big difference.
Now, back to you. Let’s do a quick assessment of your entryway and see what’s ahead for your mini makeover. You might be shocked. Familiar sights soon become invisible. We look right past the junk and clutter as we open the door and race to the ringing phone or the screaming child. Now, take a deep breath and go outside. Do you see any of these things?
- Broken toys or funky porch furniture
- Rusting tools
- Spider webs and dirty siding
- Tangled hoses
- Unfinished projects like flats of plants and bags of mulch
- Broken or empty pots
- Out-of-season holiday decorations
What impression did you have as you approached your home or apartment? Were you thinking “This place rocks!” or “What a SLOB I am”? Did your energy sink or soar? If it sank, you probably feel this way every day when you come home whether you’re conscious of it or not.
Six Simple Steps to Give Your Entryway a Face Lift
There’s nothing sexy about this task, but it feels GREAT when it’s done. You’ll feel that much more on top of life.
- Pick up all the obvious trash and throw it away
- Put away unfinished projects, and make a note on your calendar to complete them. Leaving them out only serves to remind you that you’re disorganized and overwhelmed.
- Better yet, complete the unfinished projects—plant the plants, tighten the screws on the porch swing, and hang the wind chime.
- Now that you’ve cleared away the clutter, take another look at your entryway. Is there something you can do to spiff it up like a fresh coat of paint on the door, a porch plant, or a new welcome mat?
- Open the door and step inside. Clear the first four feet around the entrance so that nothing blocks the door.
- Do the same assessment of your back entrance so you feel good coming and going
Now that you know what the steps are, you might as well get started. Nothing changes without action.
Use this Master Home Organization Plan to help you stay on track with your “company-ready” project. Fill it out and post it to remind you of bite-sized tasks to complete when you have a few minutes. The Master Plan helps you get clear on what needs to be done and provides check boxes to show completion. Making a checkmark feels great. And remember the point of all of this is to gradually get your house in such good shape that you can get ready for company in 30 minutes or less any day of the week.
Spring is a great time to ask this question – how much is enough? Do you know why it’s so windy in the spring? I think it’s windy so that leaves and other debris get blown away so there’s room for new growth. How about being the wind in your home this spring and clear out the excess?
Until a several years ago, I had no idea what was enough. I had 25 bath towels (just for me), 75 belts, and 20 screwdrivers. You get the picture. Oh and the vases. I haven’t counted them because I’m not giving them up.
What was the problem? Lack of awareness, plain and simple. What woke me up was a jammed up bathroom. I kept wanting to squeeze more into the already packed drawers and cabinet. Frustrated that my stuff wouldn’t fit, I took everything out. What a mountain of stuff there was. I was amazed that one small room could hold so much stuff.
Something inside of me said “Count the towels.” I did and was shocked that there were 25 bath towels . . . and I’m the only one using them. Who needs 25 bath towels? Well a spa maybe. But not me.
So I regained consciousness and thought about how many I actually might use. I work out a lot and take many of my showers at the gym. So I thought I could do just great (even with company) if I kept 10 bath towels. What to do with the leftovers? They are great towels…hum. Ah ha! I remembered the social service league. They price things really cheaply so that with very little can get what they need – free or low cost. What a great solution. I just loved dumping those excess towels into that bin! Somebody else needs them more than I do. In fact the towels on the bottom of the drawer probably hadn’t been used in 8 years. Disgusting over consumption and hoarding. I’m almost ashamed to tell you about it.
In a separate instance I decided to get rid of some belts. They were harmlessly, innocently hanging on a belt rack on the back side of a closet door. They weren’t in the way or taking up much room. So why mess with them? That voice said “count them” so I did. 75! Gosh who needs 75 belts? A belt store maybe. There were bright ones, studded ones, thin ones, fat ones, aqua ones, holy ones, leather ones, plastic ones, smooth ones, rough ones. It occurred to me that I didn’t even wear belts.
Ya know belts are sometimes in, sometimes out. But we tend to keep things knowing they’ll come back into style. But have you noticed that they come back in style with a slightly different twist so they will sell well? So why not just let them go peacefully?
So I saved 5 that I thought I might actually wear and gave the rest to . . . you guessed it . . . the social service league. When you find the right place to get rid of your excess, it feels just great, makes letting go easier, and reduces the embarrassment of over consumption.
Now to the vases. I haven’t counted my vases because I’ve decided that I love vases and I actually use them. So they’re safe for now. When I pick little bouquets from my yard, I need a wide variety of sizes and colors to choose from. It’s important to me. So I like having a lot of vases.
What’s the takeaway from this? Well, you CAN keep lots of everything. If you’re like me, you just don’t have room for all of it or the time to manage it. But you CAN keep lots of the ONE THING you really value. Figure out what that is, feel good about it, and release the rest. Counting them first helps. So here’s the action plan:
1.Decide if this “collection” is important to you. Really important to you.
2.Decide if you need that many (count them).
3.Determine how many you will actually use.
4.Think of a really cool place to unload them – a place you feel really good about donating them to. Or give them to your friends.
5.Next time you open the drawer, cabinet, or closet, smile big and enjoy the empty space! It looks so beautiful!
Take advantage of this great spring season to blow through your house and get rid of the unintentional collections that may be stopping up the energy in your cabinets, closets, and drawers.
photo credit: Posh Living, LLC
My husband is as blind as a bat. OK, ok, not really, but when it comes to seeing things or finding things that are literally smack in front of him, well, then yes, he should be hanging upside down in a cave somewhere.
My boys think it’s hilarious and they get a big kick out of it. But the scary part is that my four sons are their father. I can see them following in his footsteps already. It is, quite simply, terrifying, a blind Twilight Zone if you will.
I present for your approval.
The boys and I are in the breakfast room getting ready to eat and my husband enters the kitchen. He notices that we are having hamburgers for dinner and that there is no pickle relish out on the table. He goes to the fridge, bends way over, shoves his nose deep inside looking all around, checks out all the side compartments, then beginning to look a bit panicky, he shuffles from foot to foot saying, “Hmmmm”. The boys and I stop and watch him, knowing what’s coming next.
Sure enough, as predicted, my wonderful husband turns to us and asks, “Anyone seen the pickle relish?”
It never fails.
I walk over to the fridge, reach in and without even looking, pull out the damn pickle relish. Blind as a bat I tell you.
Another typical scene. After our hungry family is all seated and gathered around the dinner table, we say grace and give thanks for this wonderful meal before us. Not a minute into our feast, I notice my husband’s scouring eyes. (Here we go again.) I decide to offer up some assistance before his meal gets cold.
“Uh, what were you looking for, sweetheart?”, I asked as the boys all turned to look at dear old dad.
“Has anyone seen my glasses? I know I put them right here on the table.” He responds and then scratches his head only to find the missing item.
I think it’s a guy thing.
By Paula Schmitt, The All Sports Mom
Rusty irons. Cracked 1875 spectacles. Chipped, faded paintings. Dusty,
yellow paged books.
Ah, these are the good things in life.
Yes, you may know me; I am the ultimate antique shopper and my motto is and always will be “the older the better”. Just ask my sons. They see all too well how their mom will search high and low for that Dasher butter churn, even though she won’t actually be making homemade butter any time in the near future, or for that handy dandy ice cream scoop where the handle is just barely hanging on, even though we already have two others that work like a charm and will scoop on demand.
The nerve of kids nowadays. They want everything shiny, hip and new. God forbid they keep anything for more than, say, two months. Unfortunately they just don’t see the beauty in a 200 year old treasure the way that I do. They don’t seem to be capable of imagining what it may have been like for the original owner so many years ago. I once left home to pick up some milk and returned with a beautiful, slightly worn 1890’s ladies bureau. My children greeted me at the door and took one look at my pride and joy and asked if I had stopped at our local dump on the way home. I asked them to take a closer look, to look beyond the loose handles and scratches. They obliged. Then they continued to ask if the past owner had taken a sledge hammer to the piece while out in the pouring rain.
For Christmas this year the item I wanted most was a “new” antique chair for my desk. Of course, my boys thought this a riot. They asked me if Santa shops at his local flea market or watches the newspaper for a good yard sale. Comical. My quick reply was that they better talk nice about Santa or they’ll be sorry come Christmas morning. That quieted things down a bit.
So I confess. I love old stuff; objects that have meaning and have been cherished over the years. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Someday when I am gone from this world I hope that all the things I own and care deeply about will be passed down to others and bring joy and happiness to someone else’s life just the way my precious antiques have brought pleasure to mine. However, for some reason I don’t expect that my Revlon curling iron purchased at Wal-Mart will be quite as valuable or distinguished as the authentic circa 1920’s Bell telephone I bought for my husband last Christmas.
By Paula Schmitt
The other day I overheard my perfect husband preaching, once again, to our sons about how when he was younger he didn’t have all the luxuries that kids have nowadays. You boys don’t know how lucky you are – Oh No!
Here we go again. Glancing at my sons, you could practically see the boredom grow in the fertile soil of their disinterest.
Why when I was your age, I had to do chores until my fingers bled (yawn yawn), and I never watched TV – I played outside like a real boy (just call him Tarzan). I had to cut the grass, rake the leaves, sweep the pool, shovel the snow, and when I got older, I had to get a job to help pay for my college tuition. (Nominate this man for a Nobel immediately!)
Nowadays, kids have it too darned easy (On and on and on – blah, blah, blah).
Why, I never had access to look up answers on a computer like kids do today. I used my brain, by golly. (Einstein, no doubt).
My guys have heard it all before from dear old Dad. I see the eye-rolling and hear their heavy sighs. Right about now they are wondering if dear old Dad has anything better he needs to be doing, like trimming his nose hairs. But, he doesn’t.
When will they learn to just suck it up, button their lips and listen to their father’s good advice? It’s not like my husband enjoys hearing himself talk day in, day out. (God knows, that’s my job).
So, as I sit and listen to my preaching hubby, for the 10,000th time, deep down I am hoping that my boys will remember their father’s words when they have children of their own. Then they can continue in their father’s footsteps and watch the eye-rolling, hear the heavy sighing, and so on, and so on and so on.
What are fathers for anyway?