Back to school: 5 ways to be more organized this year

Back to school: 5 ways to be more organized this year

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.

Simplify Saturday: How to live with less

Simplify Saturday: How to live with less

We have been actively purging our home for a few weeks now. We’ve cleaned out closets, we’ve donated items, we’ve given things away and we’ve thrown away or repurposed other things. It’s easy to get rid of some things, but others, it’s more difficult. How do you decide what to purge and what to keep?

1. Take a tour of your home and note everything you use regularly. It’s easier to do this room by room. If you don’t use it regularly, how long has it been since you last used it? If it’s been more than one year, don’t keep it. If it’s clothing that no longer fits, don’t keep it. If it’s broken, stained, or damaged, throw it away. If it’s something you don’t need, but may need someday, don’t keep it. If it’s something sentimental, keep it or take a picture of it to keep.

2. Living with less creates a sense of calm. Cluttered living stresses you out and keeps you from being able to relax. It’s also true that living with clutter distracts you from being able to enjoy items you truly love. After all, the secret to happiness isn’t having what you want, but appreciating what you have, right?

3. Don’t buy material items for your family but invest in experiences together.

We have been trying to both reduce our number of things in our home, but also to save money. This can be hard when you have kids. When Christmas or birthdays roll around, you may potentially receive a lot of “things.” What if families put money toward experiences, such as a zoo trip, or a paint your own pottery class? Our kids have college fund accounts that their grandparents contribute to for holidays and birthdays. Another popular idea is to have party guests bring an item to donate to a local charity, such as pet food to be donated to an animal shelter. I think in today’s society so much emphasis is placed on having “stuff” and I think it’s important to teach our kids to value one another instead.

4. You get what you pay for

There was a time when if I needed something, I’d just go buy it for as cheaply as possible. I ended up having to replace a lot of things. If you’re purchasing something you’ll use a lot, buy quality. It may seem like you’re spending more money up front, but items of a higher quality last longer and don’t need to be replaced as often. This actually saves you money. I have even found this to be true of clothing: higher quality fabrics wear better and look nice for much longer than cheap clothing. It’s worth the higher purchase price to be able to use it longer. Spending more means you’ll be less likely to purchase duplicate items, too.

5. Make it a point to purchase only what you need

I’m not saying you should never buy things you want. You can, but you must do it sparingly, or you’ll end up spending a lot of money on things that sit around taking up space. Make it a point to buy only what you need and splurge on your wants occasionally. Your home will be lighter but your wallet will not.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for simplified living. Have a wonderful day.

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.

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.