Simplify Saturday: vacationing with kids

Simplify Saturday: vacationing with kids

Vacationing can be relaxing and fun, but it can be stressful as well. The trick to vacationing with your little children is to be as organized as possible. With the following tips, your family vacation will run much more smoothly.

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1. Plan ahead as much as possible.

Where will you be going? How long will you be there? What will you need to take with you?

Make a checklist so you will be less likely to forget to pack the things you’ll need. If there are things you need to buy, make sure you create a shopping list as well.

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2. Pack snacks for the trip itself.

Hungry kids are grumpy kids, and sometimes it’s hard to stop for snacks. Pack a small bag of non-messy snacks to keep your kiddos happy while you’re driving or flying.

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3. Pack a “boredom box.”

Take along coloring books, puzzle books, something to read, or anything else to combat boredom. No one likes hearing, “Are we there yet?” every few minutes. If you have a DVD player in your vehicle, bring movies. An occupied child is less likely to get bored and get in trouble.

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4. Explore the area amenities before you book.

If you’re staying somewhere unfamiliar, check into local attractions before you book. This way, you’ll already know what is available to your family before you book your trip, and you can plan accordingly.

Remember to plan outings for everyone. Plan fun things to do with your kids, but don’t forget to include some fun for yourselves as well. Being less stressed means you can relax and enjoy one another more.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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21-day challenge: a whole-house purge

21-day challenge: a whole-house purge

Last week, I had spring break. While I wanted to get a lot of things accomplished, I also wanted to have some down time. I managed to get our garden plowed and some flowers planted.

I also completed a whole house purge, where I went through our home room by room and got rid of many things we no longer need or use.

I got rid of three stacks of old magazines.

Many old DVDs and CDs we no longer use.

A large pile of outgrown toys and duplicate toys.

And about five bags of trash.

To purge the house, I chose to donate anything we no longer needed or used, donate any outgrown toys or clothing, and throw away any broken or expired items.

Living with less makes me feel less stressed and more relaxed. My house feels more cozy, too.

Don’t forget to share your 21-day challenge pictures with the hashtag #21dayorganizingchallenge! Have a great day!

Simplify Saturday: Spring cleaning

Simplify Saturday: Spring cleaning

Some of us have been elbow deep in our spring cleaning routine. Because I am a teacher, spring cleaning takes me a lot longer than most. I don’t enjoy losing my whole spring break to cleaning, so I have to stretch my spring cleaning out across several Saturdays and evenings. This means my projects are on a smaller scale than most, and the bigger things get saved until summer vacation.

I came up with a 21-day challenge for those of us who work a lot, raise kids, and don’t have a ton of time to devote to spring cleaning.

This 21-day challenge breaks your spring cleaning into smaller pieces, and enables you to go through your home room by room instead of tackling your whole house all at once.

Even though it doesn’t say it on the graphic, I dust blinds, baseboards and clean behind and under furniture in each room as I cross it off the list.

Another option is to organize only a small part of each room on the list, and then repeat the challenge for 21 more days and finish the rooms. You have a lot of flexibility.

I would love for you to participate along with us and share your before and after pictures on social media. Please use the hashtag #21dayorganizingchallenge.

Happy organizing! Have a wonderful weekend.

Simplify Saturday: Simplify your cleaning routine

Simplify your cleaning
Routine

Today, I want to talk about how to simplify your cleaning routines. We used to try to clean our entire house on Saturdays, but then we quickly realized we were losing our entire day to cleaning the house, leaving us no time to do anything else. The solution? Designate certain cleaning tasks to certain days, and deep clean different parts of the house on a monthly basis.

1. Create a cleaning schedule that works for your family

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We created this cleaning schedule to help us stay on top of the cleaning duties, but also to break up each task so that it doesn’t require such a large chunk of time to complete. We simply check off each task as we complete it and do whatever is left over Friday evening before bed. We created two other cleaning schedules before we made this one, but those other schedules simply didn’t work for our needs. Don’t be afraid to adapt it as needed. If it doesn’t work for you, you won’t do it.

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3. Create cleaning zones and keep your cleaners there for easy access

We also created cleaning zones, and we keep whatever supplies are required to clean that zone in close proximity. For example, we keep a cleaning kit under the sink in both bathrooms- this kit contains a toilet brush and cleaner, antibacterial bath cleaner, daily shower cleaner, magic sponges, a small hand broom for small messes, and mirror cleaner. We have one in each bathroom. Under the kitchen sink, we have stainless steel cleaner, antibacterial cleaner, window cleaner, magic sponges, and dish detergent. Our multipurpose cleaners that serve multiple rooms (like furniture polish and floor cleaners) are in the laundry room.

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3. DELEGATE!

Don’t try to do everything yourself- even small children can do chores. Give every member of your house one chore that is their responsibility. You can even create a chore chart if your kids like having a visual.

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4. Do whatever you need to to make cleaning more enjoyable

Do whatever you can to make cleaning enjoyable for you. I do, for the most part, enjoy cleaning, but listening to music always makes it a much more enjoyable task. If music’s your thing, crank it up. If playing air guitar on your broom makes you smile, go for it. If using cleaners with a pleasant, calming scent speaks to you, make it happen. Do what works for you and don’t feel bad about it.

How do you simplify cleaning in your home?

Have a wonderful weekend.

Simplify: tips for a happier and healthier life

Simplify: tips for a happier and healthier life

Simplify tips

We’ve been talking each Saturday about simplifying areas of our lives, but what about simplifying our lives in general? There are so many things we do that add stress to our lives, and we don’t even know it.

I publish a blog each week called “Organized and Simplified,” but sometimes my life is anything BUT simplified. I am the world’s worst for trying to do too much, and it’s something I need to work on.

In order to simplify my life, I am doing the following things. Please feel free to comment below and add any more tips- I’d love to hear from you!!

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  1. Know your priorities, and choose them wisely.

I am guilty of often trying to do too much in one day. I often try to do so much, that quantity takes over quality, and I end up doing a lot of things, but not necessarily doing them WELL. If you’re like me, I get stressed out by a lengthy to-do list. Just because you have a lot to do, doesn’t mean you need to do it all at once, or even in the same day. Give yourself permission not to be perfect. It’s OK- no one else is, either.

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2. Read more, watch TV less

I am trying to make an effort to read more than I have been. I love reading, but I usually have no time for it, until summer or spring break. I have been taking at least 15 minutes a night to read something, and a few minutes during lunch to read my daily devotional.

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3. Less phones!

Hooo boy, is this an area that I need to work on!! My family has been making a concentrated effort to put down the cell phones and just be present. Turn off your social media notifications, and allow yourself only a little cell phone time each day.  Being constantly tied to your phone stresses you out and makes it difficult to concentrate on other things.

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4. Declutter your spaces by getting rid of what you don’t need.

A cluttered space is stressful and makes it hard to relax. A light, airy, decluttered space is a space where you can get comfortable and relax.

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5. Focus on the present, not the future

Focus on what you’re doing right now, and what you need right now. Don’t worry too much about the future, as you can’t do anything to change the future. Worry about the future when it gets here. For now, enjoy where you are.

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6. Don’t overcommit- you can say no, and you should say no. No one can do everything- it is perfectly OK to turn down tasks if you feel overwhelmed.

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7. Don’t multitask- singletask when ever you can, to sharpen focus and effectiveness. Trying to focus on too much at once is like a computer browser with too many open tabs. Your brain runs more slowly and less effectively when you are trying to do too much at once. Focus singularly and you can focus more easily.

 

I hope you have enjoyed these tips for simplifying your life. Please comment below to share any additional tips you might have.

 

Have a great weekend!

Simplify Saturdays: Simplify Your Morning Routine

Simplify Saturdays: Simplify Your Morning Routine

I don’t know about you, but mornings are the most stressful time of day at our house. We are frequently in a hurry, the kids are lagging behind, we’re angry and yelling….you get the picture. Side note: it’s usually because someone doesn’t want to wake up.

We are far from having “smooth sailing” mornings, but I feel like we are getting closer. Today, I am going to share a few things we’ve learned that make our mornings run more smoothly.

1. Do as much prep the night before as you possibly can

The night before, we get our clothes ready for the next day. We pack lunches. We lay out the necessities for tomorrow’s breakfast. We put water and coffee in the coffee pot and set the timer. We put our book bags by the front door. We get everything ready for the next day that we possibly can.

2. Check your agenda the night before.

If you’re like me, you’re a list maker. The night before, I like to look at my agenda and see I need to do tomorrow. I check out my to-do list and see what items are more pressing than others. I get a feel for what the day ahead might hold.

3. Get up fifteen minutes before you think you need to.

This one is sometimes easier said than done, but if you give yourself that extra 15 minutes to get moving and get out the door, you’d be surprised how much less stressful your morning is.

4. Don’t go all out for breakfast; a simple grab and go breakfast will work just fine.

Around here, we love instant oatmeal and waffles we make ahead of time and freeze. They’re quick to heat up and easy to eat when you’re in a hurry. Plus, when you have several small mouths to feed in the mornings, simple is better.

5. Leave ten minutes before you’d planned to.

When you leave early, you don’t feel rushed. When you are rushed, you are more likely to forget things. Leaving earlier ensures you have adequate time to travel safely to your destination.

What tips have you tried for a less stressful morning? Have a wonderful weekend.

Simplified Saturdays: Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy

Simplified Saturdays: Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy

3 Questions to ask yourself

 

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, then you know I love to shop. I love to spend money. But you know what doesn’t share my joy in shopping and spending money? My bank account.

As much fun as shopping is, real life happens and real life costs money. In other words, I’ve got bills to pay. Plus, I’ve spent too frivilously in previous years and now that I’m older, it’s time to do better. I’ve learned that I need to be more choosy about what I spend and how I spend it.

These days, when I buy something, I try to ask myself the following three questions:

  1. Do I need it right now?  2. Do I love it? and 3: Can I DIY it, or buy it secondhand?

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1. Do I need it right now?

I am trying hard to only buy the things that we need, but let’s be realistic. Sometimes, you have paid all your bills, you’ve put money in savings, and you want to spend a little on yourself. Sometimes, that mirror you’ve been eyeing comes on sale and you just can’t pass it up. It is OK to buy something you want but don’t need every once in awhile if you’ve taken care of your needs first. When I ask myself this question, it isn’t a deal breaker if I don’t need it. It’s only a deal breaker if it isn’t a necessity, but the necessities haven’t been taken care of yet. If it’s something you don’t need now, but may need later, it’s better to wait until you do need it to buy it. That way, you also avoid the clutter of having the item sit around until you need it.

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2. Do I love it?

I struggle with this when it comes to clothing. I might like an item of clothing and think it’s cute, but when I try it on, I don’t love it. If I like the clothing item, but can’t imagine at least three ways I can wear it, I need to leave it at the store. I may like a decor item, but if I don’t love it and I can’t imagine where I’d display it in my home, then I need to pass it up. I’ve bought lots of things over the years that I liked, but ended up giving away later on. If you don’t love it, and know immediately how you’d use it, don’t spend your money.

3. Can I DIY it, or buy it secondhand?

You can score some incredible deals at thrift stores, Craigslist, and consignment shops. I have consignment shopped for furniture, clothing, and decor items. We have bought several pieces of furniture off Craigslist, including our dining room set.

When it comes to DIY decor and furniture, Pinterest is your friend. Even if you aren’t sure how you could DIY something, Pinterest can give you the sudden inspiration you need to figure it out. I recently created these captain’s mirrors when I was unable to find new ones that fit my budget.

I hope these money-saving tips have been helpful to you. What finance tips are you practicing these days?