Saturday, February 11, 2012

Here You Are and Here I Am

Welcome to the blog of my former life.  What does that mean?  Here's a short overview....

In 2000 I started my very own organizing business.  I was also working a full-time job.  One year later I had my first child and then my second arrived two and half years later.  I made the decision to stay at home with my kids but continued with my business, which was great because I was the boss, right?  I could make my own schedule and be there for my kids.

Before I knew it, my youngest was in 4K.  Boy! Did I had plans!  I was so excited for this new chapter that I had organized and planned out!  Well, God had a different plan.  He blessed us with a surprise; our third child.

Since I said I was going to give you the short overview, I'll get to it.  I made the decision to be a full-time stay at home mom.  I closed my business and it took me two years to do it.  It was hard to let go, but I know it was the right choice for me and my family.

I think there is still a lot of useful information on this blog and so I'm leaving it up.  You may come across some old posts and references about teleclasses and workshops in here.  I wish you luck in your organizing adventures and who knows, maybe I'll be back some day.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Get Those Toys Organized in 5 Steps

For more Work for Me ideas, visit We Are THAT Family.

Toys! Toys! And more toys! Many of my clients, readers and friends frequently ask me about organizing toys. Don't worry it can be done. I've used my five-step STUFF System™ to break it down into doable steps.

Gather all the toys and start making piles by sorting like items together. This step may take awhile, especially if you have lots of smaller pieces. This is a great time to get the kids involved as sorting is the first basic skill you can teach your child about organizing.

Take Out
Now it's time to make some decisions. What toys can go? Have a box or space for those toys which you can donate, sell or give away. Don't forget to have the garbage and recycling containers near by.

You may or may not want your children involved in this step. It is a perfect time to teach them that it is OK not to keep everything. On the other hand, it might be a battle of tears, pleading and stress for all. Use your judgment; you know the personalities, tendencies and age of your children the best.

Utilize the Space and Systems
Where will everything live? Consider the space from your child's point of view. Keep their favorite toys in easy-to-reach and convenient places. You'll thank yourself later, as this makes clean-up time less challenging.

Think about zones. Keep toys together that go together. For example, a building zone, a reading zone, an arts and crafts zone, etc. This is also the time to determine if shelves, hooks, or other space-utilizing hardware should be added. Perhaps there are such items elsewhere in your home that are not fully utilized.

Fill Containers
At this point you have identified the keepers and have a good idea of how you want to use your space. You can now think about containers. Containers can be boxes, bins, bags, baskets, etc.

Not sure how many and what sizes you'll need? No problem! Just take a look at those piles from sorting and you'll get a good idea of what you'll need. Try to keep like items together and don't forget to take your space and any shelves into consideration. Take some measurements and make notes to aid you if need to make a trip to the store.

Open containers work really well for most children, however if you need to stack them to make the most of the space, go with the lid. Avoid big toy boxes that hold many different items because EVERYTHING tends to get pulled out during play.

Labels are essential! I like to use pictures and words for younger children. You could even label the spots on shelves. Labels make retrieving and returning items easier for children and adults.

Keeping those toys organized is almost always an on-going process for parents and kids. Try to maintain the space on a continuous basis with regular clean-up times and frequent purging (before birthdays and Christmas is a great time). Your family can start a new habit of sharing and trading toys with other families. Put the focus on making room for new toys rather than eliminating their stuff.

On a final note, children typically play with 20% of their toys 80% of the time. Too many toys can make play time difficult and clean-up time overwhelming. You may want to try rotating toys and books; store one-third to one-half of the toys and books and switch them about every three to four months. This helps to keep kids interested and your living space less congested. Remember, the more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to take care of! Play time should be enjoyable not a stressful experience for child and parent.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back-to-School: 8 Tips to Help You Plan Ahead and Reduce the Morning Stress

I know this post is a bit of repeat but it's back just in time for Back-to-School! For more Work for Me ideas, visit We Are THAT Family.

Think for a moment how your family starts off the day. How would you describe the mornings in your household once school starts? Do they tend to be calm and peaceful or rushed and stressful -or, somewhere in the middle?

I found that planning ahead really helps to curb the morning madness. This month, I'm sharing 8 quick ideas to help make your mornings less of production for you and your family.

1. Give yourself time to get up and ready to go before the children need to be up, even if it's just 15-30 minutes before the kids. I find that when I do this, I am more relaxed and able to focus on helping my children. The day is more likely to start off with conversation rather than prodding and nagging. I also feel better about myself. When I feel good about myself, it has such a positive impact on my day and those around me.

2. Make sure the kids have adequate time to get ready for school without being rushed.

3. Empty the backpacks after school, not in the morning to avoid any last minute surprises.

The Night Before
4. Have your children pick out their clothes for the next day. Make this part of their bedtime routine.

5. Make sure the backpacks and school supplies are ready to go near the door. Maybe even the shoes and jackets, too. In the winter I get all the snow gear get out and ready to go as well. What about the lunches? Can they be made ahead of time? Does money need to go to school to pay for hot lunch?

6. Determine the breakfast menu and set the bowls and cereal out after dinner. A healthy breakfast really adds a positive start to your child's day.

7. Develop a bedtime routine that works for your family and stick to it the best you can.

8. Double check your calendar, including the car pool schedule and after school activities. Think about what tasks or errands you want to accomplish the next day. I'm not talking about a major to-do list but maybe 2-4 items, or maybe just one part of a major project.

Don't Forget!
Another part of planning ahead is getting the school activities on your calendar or planner. This includes the school calendar for the year, any sports, activities, scouting schedules, etc. You can use a wall calendar, a personal planner or computer, but try to limit it to one.

I like to use Outlook on my computer. At the start of each week I print the 7-day view and post it on my refrigerator so everyone in the family knows what's going on. I tend to color-code activities by type of event (personal or child-related). You might want to color-code by member of the household.

Do you want ideas for organizing, displaying and maintaining your child's school papers and artwork? When you order my Tickler File System , I'll also send you my popular e-book, Maintaining Childhood Treasures: A Mom's Guide to Organizing School Papers and Artwork!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Is This Missing From Your Summer Calendar?

Me Time!!!

Taking a little time for yourself will allow you to give more to your children and family. This means doing something just for you that you enjoy.

You may give yourself the time to read a good book, work on a favorite hobby, exercise, or have a cup of coffee with friends. You could make a date with your spouse, join a Bible study group, get a massage, or spend some quiet time alone.

If we want to be the best we can be in our roles as parents, co-workers, spouses, friends, and members of the community, we must remember to also take time for ourselves.

What's top on "Me Time" list? Reading, going for walks, and getting together with good friends. How about you?

FREE Shred-a-Thon: New Berlin, Wisconsin

Saturday, June 26, 2010
9:00 am - 11:00 am
Maritime Savings Bank - New Berlin
15505 W. National Ave.
(Just East of Moorland Road)

Feel like you are drowning in paper?
Tired of shredding everything yourself?
Concerned about identity theft?

• Bring up to 5 boxes or bags of papers (staples, paperclips and rubber bands are okay)
• Watch the SecurX truck shred paper safely and securely
• Drop off non-perishable food items for the New Berlin food pantry or make a cash donation

FREE Shred-A-Thon Sponsored By:

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Organize School and Papers in 4 Easy Steps

For more Works for Me Ideas, visit We Are THAT Family.

Understandably, many parents want to treasure and capture their children's journey. However, good intentions can quickly create a great area of stress for many moms and dads. The key is to be selective in what we save and organize it so it can be enjoyed and treasured. Having a system in place with limits will help you and your child make decisions as the numerous papers and artwork enter your home.

The Simple Steps

Collect it.
Have a basket or spot for each child to put the finish school papers, permission slips, communications from school that you need to look at. Be sure to put it in a spot that they can reach. Make this part of their coming home routine.

Limit it.
If you kept everything, your home would quickly become a storage site. This is a good opportunity to teach your children that it is OK not to keep everything. Get your children involved in the process to help them to learn the skills they need to help themselves as they get older.

Depending on the age of your child, work together to figure out what papers and projects will be kept and/or displayed. Maybe the keepers go on display and the rest is recycled. Typically, younger kids will want to save everything. As always, use your discretion.

If you find it hard for you and your child to make a decision right away - that's okay! Some families may prefer to keep all the items from a school year and then go back to pick out the best representatives of the whole year. Others may want to limit the collection to whatever can fit inside a designated container.

I recommend, if at all possible, making decisions as you go and use my 3 T's to help you.

-Take Out: Toss, recycle, or give away the items that are not keepers.

-Take Action: Display it for a set time period.

-Take Back: If you are keeping it, take it to the designate storage container in a reasonable timeframe, perhaps weekly, every other week or monthly.

Share it.
Be sure to spend time letting your child tell you about their work. That's why they bring it home to you!

Store it.
However you decide to store the memorabilia, take time to label the containers with the child's name, the contents, and the age or school year of the child. That way when you do want to pull something out, you can locate the items without having to search and dig through one big container.

Do you already have years of school papers and artwork piled or stuffed in large totes? Don't worry! Start from this point forward and then go back later to thin out and organize past memorabilia small steps at a time. Set an appointment with yourself (write it on your calendar now). Get your system in shape before summer starts!

Do you want more ideas for organizing, displaying and maintaining your child's school papers and artwork?

When you order the Tickler File System by June 30, 2010, I'll also send you my popular e-book,
Maintaining Childhood Treasures: A Mom's Guide to Organizing School Papers and Artwork!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Zero Clutter Week! Getting Ready for Summer Break

Summer break starts in less than 2 weeks! Some of you are already there. My family had a great and busy Memorial Day weekend and now I have this urge to get the house, calendar and my mind prepared for summer. I'm planning ahead and tackling the clutter around here before the kids get out of school. I want a clean plate and a fresh start with ZERO CLUTTER!
  1. I'm going to finish up those projects on my to do list. First up, uploading my family photos to my online photo book for the year 2010. I like to work on this month by month and well, I got a little behind.
  2. I want to clean off the refrigerator. Stuff gets piled on top, stuck on the front and WOW - the dust is thick! I'm also going to clean out the refrigerator. This job isn't so tough because I try keep on top of it whenever I do a big grocery store trip but could use a good cleaning.
  3. The paper clutter is going to be eliminated! OK, I cheated and did a majority of this last week when I cleaned out my files and went through the school papers and artwork (when the kids were at school). But, I do have a few loose ends to take care of. My June newsletter comes out this week and this month's article focuses on getting those school papers organized.
  4. I'm returning phone calls and getting in touch with friends and family. Of course my friends and family are NOT clutter, but I have a pretty lengthily list of calls I would like to make and I have some down time this week to get back in touch with those important people in my life.
  5. Summer activities will be finalized. I'm taking care of the registrations for my kids' summer activities and camps. I'm also getting everything on the calendar, even the 2010-2011 school calendar! I know my husband and I will be looking forward to a few date nights alone so we are picking some dates now and making arrangements. I want to be clear that I am careful not to over schedule; I need to be sure to protect our free time. I prefer last minute spontaneous get-togethers with friends over scheduled events.
  6. I'm taking a break from Facebook this week. I realized a while ago that this technology has its positives and negatives for me. I spend way too much time checking Facebook and I have fallen into the trap of "feeling busy" with all the energy I have put forth. Once I realized that I had time for that but not to give #4 my attention, it was an ah-ha moment. Please note: my blog post automatically get posted to my Stuff 2b Organized Fan page so I'm not really breaking my 5 day hiatus already. :)

ZERO CLUTTER.....It feels so good!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Where Have I Been?

So, it's been over a month since I've posted. Have you been wondering what I've been doing? That's OK if you haven't, I'll tell you anyway.

This last month or so I've been doing the mom thing. Our little Lia is now 6 months old! She, like her older sister, does not stop moving. I'm not complaining (out loud), but she has my attention. My older two are also keeping me pretty busy with plays, practices and after school activities. Lucky for me, I have a great group of friends that keep me sane and laughing.

On the organizing side of things, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of fabulous women last week in Delafield, WI. The Lake Country Women's Club invited me to speak on The Five Steps to Getting Your STUFF Organized.
On the home front, I'm busy putting together our summer schedule. I'm so glad that I kept last year's calendar; it's all too much to remember. I'm also actively protecting our free time. It goes by too fast!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How to Set up a Household Action Center

Does junk mail, school papers, bills and other paper clutter pile up quickly and take over your counter tops and table top? Do you find yourself stacking and then stashing the piles out of sight when company comes over? Are you scrambling in the mornings to get the kids out of the house with everything that they need? Do you miss appointments because you forgot or pay bills late because you can't find them?

If you said yes to more than one of the above, a Household Action Center (HAC) may be the answer. This is the same system I use and teach my private clients. A well-organized HAC can help you to deal with activities, information, and papers that come into your home.

Your HAC should be set up in a central location, most often it is the kitchen-the hub of the home. I like to utilize a portable file box (shown in the picture to the right) but it could also be stationed in a desk or filing drawer. Supplies, such as envelopes, tape, stapler, pens and pencils, and the telephone, should be near by. Through your Household Action Center you can manage your mail, bill paying, calendar, events and projects.

A very important component of your information center will be a Tickler File, which consists of a dated accordion file (1-31 and January-December) and action files. Another important and very necessary component is a calendar or planner.

So, as paper and information come into your home, you must make decisions on each item. Use my 3T Plan™ for making decisions: Take Out, Take action (now or a future date), or To file. Things you need to act on will go into your action folders - labeled with the actions your need to take. If you have a paper that you need to act on at a specific date, put that paper in your tickler file behind the appropriate date or month.

Another useful tool is a household binder. This 3-ring binder can be used to keep regularly accessed information. Common things you would store in your household binder might be school calendars and directories, lunch menus, practice schedules, and frequently used telephone numbers. I like to keep action forms in mine.

Use your system on a regular basis. Get into the habit of consulting your Ticker File and calendar at the same time every day, preferably the night before or in the morning. You should be continually adding and taking out items. Setting up a Household Action Center will help you eliminate the piles and reduce the stress.
For more Works For Me Ideas, vist Rocks In My Dryer.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Giveaway Winners: Drawer Organizers

Thank you to everyone we entered my last giveaway for Rubbermaid's 6 piece Drawer Organization Set. It was fun to read your junk drawer stories! I hope you found some inspiration to tackle your junk drawers one by one.

I used to generate the two winning numbers of 5 and 1.

#5: Sandy said...
"Junk drawers???? I have junk cupboards - two corner cupboards that I just don't know what to do with and they collect everything - BBQ equipment, matches for the grill, sand from a trip to the beach, just a whole lot of everything. Thanks for entering me."

-Sandy, are those two corner cupboards an awkward space by any chance? This might call for some re-utilizing of your space, sorting like things together and finding new homes for that stuff that's just hanging out. Also, taking out that stuff that you don't really use or need.

#1: Sheila M. said...
"I have multiple "junk" drawers all over my house -- and I'm fairly certain I've got previous drawer contents hanging out in packing boxes from a move we made almost 3 years ago. *yikes*"

-You're not alone on this one, Sheila! I've seen this before. The great news it that most likely you'll be able to ditch what's in those moving boxes that you haven't looked at in 3 years. Remember one step at a time. One drawer at a time, one box at a time.

Congrats Sandy and Shelia and thank you Rubbermaid!
Be sure to contact me with your address. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Quick Organizing: DVDs, CDs and Silverware

Project #5: DVD and CD Recovery
Grab a box or a basket and gather all the cases and lose discs scattered around the house (The kids could easily help with this project). Match up the CD, DVDs and their covers or, perhaps you can use a CD album to store your music and movies. Get rid of the ones that are unwanted, damaged or not used.

Project #6: Silverware Drawer
What does your silverware drawer look like? Does it need attention? Take everything out of the drawer and wipe it out. It's amazing how many crumbs can get in there! Sort all the utensils. Take out the stuff you don't use. Could you add inexpensive containers to keep the drawer better organized? Hey, maybe you could win some free ones! Enter my giveaway to win Rubbermaid's 6 piece Drawer Organization Set.

View more Quick Organizing Tips.

For more Works for Me Ideas I usually tell you to visit We Are THAT Family, but this week, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Quick Organizing: How to Organize a Junk Drawer

Project #4: Junk Drawer
Almost every home has one (or two). It’s that special drawer where you can find anything, from hair bands to hammers, batteries to balloons. My friend calls it the magic drawer because you just don’t know what you'll find in there.

I’ll break it down using my STUFF System™
Take everything out of the drawer and Sort like things together. Take Out (throw, recycle, donate) the broken items, keys that have no home, dead ink pens, etc. Determine how you will Utilize the Space. Where will everything live? It makes sense to keep the frequently used items near the front of the drawer.

Fill Containers to keep like items together and eliminate the shifting of items when you close and open the drawer. I like to use the inexpensive containers shown here. Finally, Follow Up with your organized space on a regular basis. Straighten up things every once in a while, put items back in their homes after each use and adjust as needed if you find something just isn’t working.

Watch a short video on Organizing a Junk Drawer. Feel inspired to get your junk drawer organized? Post a link to your before and after photos. I'd love to see them!

View more Quick Organizing Tips.

For more Works for Me Ideas, visit We Are THAT family.

Enter my giveaway to win Rubbermaid's 6 piece Drawer Organization Set.

Rubbermaid Drawer Organization Set Product Review and Give Away

The good people at Rubbermaid sent me a set of their new 6 piece Drawer Organization Set to try out. This is perfect timing as I just shared my latest Quick Organzing Idea, How to Organize a Junk Drawer.

Here's shot of the product out of the package.

The drawer organizers interlock with one another. This allows you to adjust and create any any configuration that fits both your needs and your drawer space.
These containers are very sturdy and I like the various sizes.

The drawer organizers also have grips on their bottoms which stop them from shifting back and forth when the drawer is opened and closed. I love this feature because it I want my baskets to stay put!
You can use the drawer organizer in other places, too. Places that come to mind are the utensil drawers in the kitchen, desk drawers, bathrooms - to keep all those hair band and barrettes organized. These would be great for craft supplies as well.
Another neat thing about Rubbermaid's drawer organizers is that they come with a tip sheet on how to tackle your junk drawer. I like that they supply the buyer with the how-to!
Updated Note on the Tip Sheet: The tip sheet is not included in the package when you buy this product at the store. I was mistaken. I'd love to see this happen in the future!

Now for the giveaway.
  1. Simply leave a comment on this post and tell me about your junk drawers. Don't be shy. Everyone has them.
  2. I will randomly pick 2 winners and notify them by posting the results on my blog.
  3. This giveaway will close at 5pm Central Time on March 5.

Feel inspired to get your junk drawer organized? Check out my post Quick Organizing : How to Organize a Junk Drawer. Post a link to your before and after photos. I'd love to see them!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quick Organizing: Make a Donation Box

Project #3: Make a Donation Box

Have a designated container for donations. When you come across an item that can be donated, put it in the box right away. Keep a slip posted near by to make a note of items for tax deduction purposes. Be sure to grab your donation box when you are working on an organizing project.

I keep my donation spot in the laundry area because it's right by the back door. When it gets full, I put it in the van and drop off the items the next time I'm running errands.

View more Quick Organizing Tips.

For more Works for Me Ideas, visit We Are THAT family.