School has now started back for both my oldest daughter AND me. If you glance around our kitchen and living room right now, it’s evident we’ve gone back to school. How? The piles of paper.
Paper, paper everywhere and none of it spendable. In all seriousness, the paper piles were getting on my nerves and I knew I had to get rid of them.
1. Start with your existing paper piles
The first step to managing those paper piles is to sort through them.
Go through those papers and get rid of any that aren’t needed, and put away what you need to keep. We utilize several folders in our house: one for school papers, one for bills, and one for work related items. Anything else is shredded or thrown away.
2. File your bills
We have two places in which we file bills: one for bills to pay and one for bills that have been paid. We keep our paid bill stubs in a binder for a year and then we shred them.
3. Go paperless, when possible
Manage other paper clutter by stopping it at the source. Switch to paperless billing when possible, and remove yourself from junk mailing lists.
4. Dispose of junk as soon as possible
Don’t keep unwanted junk paper around…just shred or throw away that unwanted paper as soon as it shows up.
I blinked in June and suddenly, it was August. I’m not sure where summer went, but wherever it went, it left quickly. My oldest daughter starts school next week. The school supplies have been purchased and the school clothes have already been washed and put away. But what else can we busy Mamas do to ensure we are all better organized for the coming school year?
1. Plan ahead
Plan out outfits, meals, and even lunches. Prepare ahead of time as much as possible. Make lists of everything you need to do and buy in the coming week and review it often. The better prepared you are, the better you will handle those unforeseen circumstances that pop up and stress us out.
2. Write everything down
You can’t remember everything and you don’t have to try. The minute you hear about a meeting or event, write it down. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to forget it. The other step is to refer back to your calendar at least weekly to see what’s coming up.
3. Do a “back to school” dry run
Wake up early one morning before school starts and drive to the school at regular time. This will help you become familiar with the traffic patterns, the route, and will help you anticipate any hazards or obstacles that may make you late. Of course, there will still be unforeseen things from time to time, but having driven the route once before helps put your mind at ease.
4. Set up a logical routine and stick to it
Does homework come with tears and tantrums in your house? Having a set “after school routine” can take some of the fuss away. Set the expectation early in the school year that homework is done as soon as you walk in the door and stick to it. I always tell my daughter that it I better to get homework out of the way first thing and then you no longer have to worry about it. Having set morning routines can also eliminate some of the morning rush as well.
5. Wake up earlier than you think you need to
Who likes being in a hurry? Not I. When I’m hurried, I get stressed and I end up forgetting things. Which stresses me out even more. Waking up earlier allows you more time but also allows you time to eat breakfast. Studies have shown eating breakfast improves brain function and helps sharpen your focus. It’s hard to concentrate on anything when your stomach is growling!!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a fabulous first day of school.
Our fridge was pretty well organized, but like most organized spaces in our home, it was starting to get a little out of hand. This happens to the best of us, but I have good news. With these tips, you can get your fridge organized quickly and easily.
1. Group like items together
I grouped these dairy items together in an acrylic container because not only are similar, but because their containers are also similar.
Our bottom drawer is used to store sandwich items, such as cheeses and lunch meats.
Kid snacks are all stashed together.
As are salad items
And dairy/ condiments.
2. Put items in clear containers so you can see them.
How many times have you forgotten about perishable food items and only rediscovered them when they were expired? Clear containers help you see what’s in your fridge. I am the world’s worst for forgetting about fruit and veggies in the crisper drawer, so having these things on eye level helps as well.
3. An unused crisper drawer is a space-saving place to stash canned drinks.
They still roll around a bit, but not as much than if they were loose in the fridge. Plus, you have more room in the fridge for other things.
4. Stash things you use the most in the front, and things you use the least in the back.
No one likes knocking over everything when they’re trying to reach something else.
5. Use place mats or Fridge Coasters to catch spills or stickiness
See those handy dandy flowered mats in my fridge? They’re cheap shelf liner. It grips the fridge and doesn’t slide around, and it wipes clean with a wet cloth. Plus, it’s cute. Win, win, win.
6. Take a moment each time you grocery shop to clean out any expired items.
When you are restocking your fridge with fresh groceries, this is the perfect time to do a quick check for any expired or spoiled items. I also like to take this time to wipe down the inside of the fridge with a wet, soapy cloth.
These tips help us keep our fridge clean, functional and organized, which makes cooking a lot easier. Plus, you spend less money on grocery day, because you aren’t spending on items you already have.
My oldest daughter’s closet was kind of a hot mess.
Well, more than kind of. It WAS a hot mess. It started out great, but as her clothes got bigger (and she did, too), her needs began to change. I decided her closet needed a bit of an upgrade. Since her boxes and organizer shelf were still in great shape, it didn’t need to be a big upgrade.
The first thing I did was order her some new hangers. Now that she is older, her clothes were falling off the child sized plastic hangers. I’d flip through her closet and the clothes would slide right off.
I purchased a pack of fifty velvet hangers from Walmart.com, and also a ten-pack of the same hangers with pants clips for her jeans and skirts. For fun (and to make them match her boxes), I ordered them in hot pink.
Now that her clothes were no longer falling off the hangers, and her hangers were all the same size and width, her closet already looked tons better.
I also removed anything that did not fit, or was out of season to give her more space. Afterward, I began to think about what she needed to store in her closet. She is a little fashionista, so there are plenty of scarves, hats and purses that needed a home.
She also doesn’t wear pantyhose or tights that often anymore, so we really didn’t need two baskets for those.
When I finished purging things, I put all like items together, and updated her basket labels. When I finished, I had this:
A closet that meets her needs and is pretty to look at as well.
With two little girls who like shoes as much as I do, I don’t see it getting any better. My husband isn’t impressed by the shoe buying, nor is he impressed by my shoebox-hoarding. I just knew I could do something cool with them.
I’ve wanted to reorganize my train wreck of a craft cabinet for awhile now, so I thought these would make cute storage boxes for my supplies. I raided my craft cabinet and found chalk paint, antiqued book plates and some paint brushes. I pealed all the stickers and tags off the boxes and wiped them with a dry microfiber cloth.
I gave the box lids two coats of green chalk paint. Keep in mind anything chalk painted usually has an ugly phase. Don’t let it deter you. Just wait 12 hours and apply a second coat. The picture above is after the first coat- see how streaky and thin the paint looks?
And that massive green blob at the bottom is where my unattended (only for a minute, I promise) grabbed my paint brush and paint I’d left out and got to work. A word of caution: put paints and brushes out of the toddler’s reach when you’re not using them. I’m lucky that’s ALL she painted.
I then applied two coats of paint to the bottom of the boxes and allowed them to dry.
I then attached these antiqued bookplates to the box fronts. I already had these in my stash, but you can find them at Hobby Lobby. Side note: if you are having trouble poking holes in the shoe boxes to attach the brads, I’ve found using a grill skewer works well to poke through the cardboard layers.
When I finished, I had three sets of cute little storage boxes.
And with these, I loved the bottom of the boxes and opted not to paint them. I love how they turned out! They’re pretty enough to display on a desk or bookshelf.
Next time you buy shoes, don’t toss the box. Get yourself some chalk paint and book plates, and make some cute little storage boxes.
RIGHT Now. Drop everything and PURGE YOUR HOME NOW! No, I’m kidding. Sort of.
I know you read a lot about purging your home on my blog. Some of you are probably fans of living with less already, while others of you are scratching your heads and wondering how much more stuff I can get rid of and blog about it. #istillhavetoomuchstuff
I am currently in the midst of a whole house purge, but we will talk more about that later.
The truth is, living with less has a lot of benefits. Some are health benefits, some are financial benefits, and some are so good they don’t fit into any category. I’d like to share a few of those with you today, as well as some great advice for purging your home that I’ve collected over the years.
1. Living with less can be beneficial to your mental and physical health
Living with too much causes your house to feel cluttered. A cluttered house feels chaotic, and makes it hard for you to relax and destress. Continued stress affects your mental state, as well as your physical health. An organized and clean home evokes a peaceful feeling, and who doesn’t want to feel at peace in their own home?
This one is especially true if you have kids. More stuff=fewer places to put things away. Stuff that is left out in the floor becomes a trip hazard. Show of hands: who else has fallen over items left in the floor, or stepped on some hard plastic toy with your bare feet? (Lego moms, can I get an “amen?” )
2. Living with less makes your home feel and appear cleaner
Living with too much makes it harder to find places to put things away. Having nowhere to put things causes your home to look and feel cluttered (see above).
A cluttered house also seems dirty even if it really isn’t. Having less stuff and less clutter makes your house look and feel cleaner.
3. Living with less saves time
How does living with less save time? It means that you spend less time looking for things. It’s been said that the average person spends four years of their life looking for things that they are missing. Not being able to find your missing items makes you stressed. Having less stuff means that you don’t have to sort through so much when you need something.
5. Living with less saves you money
How is this? Well, when you make a conscious effort to live with less, you are much more intentional with your spending. Additionally, who here has ever bought something, only to realize you already had that same item at home? Living with less makes it easier to distinguish what you need- therefore keeping you from spending money on something you already have.
There are many benefits to having an organized and simplified home, with less stuff. Start with one room at a time and keep only what you need- donate, recycle or throw away the rest. I know many people who wish their home was less cluttered, but I don’t know anyone who wishes their home was MORE cluttered. Start today and you’ll soon see the benefits.
Picture it: you’ve finally arrived at your destination on your long-awaited yearly family beach vacation…and you’ve arrived to complete and total chaos. Your hotel/accommodations weren’t what you envisioned, you can’t find half of what you’ve packed, your kids are hungry and grumpy, and you’re about to lose your mind. We’ve all been there, and it’s never pleasant. Sometimes, despite our best planning, our vacations don’t always go so well, and sometimes when you book your vacation the following year, you worry you’ll have a repeat experience.
Worry no more, because an organized family beach vacation IS possible.
The two major things that stress me out the most about vacationing are 1. Spending too much money, and 2. not properly planning for the needs of my family beforehand. Those are the issues I’m going to discuss the most today.
1. Save money before AND during your beach vacation by:
a. I’m a big fan of saving money on vacations. Although vacation lodging is expensive, you can actually save some money. Before booking, browse discount travel websites such as Expedia or Hotels.com. Many chain hotels/motels even offer discounts for military personnel, AAA members, and many other things. Sometimes hotels offer special packages for certain rooms or off site activities that could save you a little cash. You should certainly check to see what reduced rates, discounts, or special rates are available prior to booking your accommodations.
b. It’s super easy to blow your travel budget on meals if you manage to eat out for every meal. If you’re lucky enough to get a hotel room with a kitchenette, or rent a house/condo, you can utilize your kitchen and refrigerator to cook some lunches and breakfasts yourself. A trip to the grocery store for a few cheap, smaller meals is still cheaper than eating in restaurants for every meal.
c. Kids eat free at some restaurants. If dining out is on your itinerary, you may want to find restaurants that are family friendly. Depending on the age of your children, you may even be able to find a few restaurants in which your kiddo’s meals will be “on the house.”
d. Don’t go shopping. I know this one sounds crazy, as it’s one of the things some of us look forward to when we go to the beach. BUT, before you shop, ask yourself: is this something I can do at home? Is this really something I need to buy right now, on this trip? Are similar stores available back home? If you can answer yes to two of those questions, don’t shop. Wait until you’re home, where prices will likely be less in a “less-touristy” area.
e. Search up discounts before booking excursions or activities. Sometimes your hotel concierge or front desk staff will have an inside scoop on coupons or discounts for local fun and games. You’d be surprised how often you can find discounted rates on aquarium tickets, local mini golf attractions, or amusement park admission via your hotel’s front desk.
2. Plan ahead as much as possible by…
a. Researching the area before you book your trip. If you’re headed to a destination you’re already familiar with, skip this step. BUT, if you’re traveling somewhere new, you may want to make sure your family will have plenty to do. Make sure there are lots of fun activities that aren’t too costly your family can enjoy. You also want to research the area so you’ll know where nearby drug stores, minute clinics and pharmacies are in case you need them. Familiarize yourself with the area so you will not have to spend so much time looking for streets and landmarks.
b. Create checklists. Before you start packing, write out a checklist for each family member and what you’ll need to pack. Be mindful of any planned activities or excursions you’ll be participating in as you’re thinking about your packing list. Create a checklist as well for what you’ll need while traveling to your destination. For your kiddos, it’s a good idea to have some snacks and quiet activities on hand to curb boredom. Make sure when you pack that you aren’t rushed. If you’re in a hurry, you’ll be more likely to forget things. See also What to pack in your toddler’s pool bag! and Vacationing with kids: How to simplify.
c. Pack your vehicle the night before your trip, if possible. Packing the night before will save you some time, will cause you to be less stressed when you leave for your destination, and will give you time to realize you may have left something behind.
I hope you have enjoyed our travel tips. Tune in next week for our favorite products for traveling to the beach.