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Tag Archive: Ask the Organizer

Ask the Organizer: Tips to Simplify Summer Schedules

Earlier this month, I posed the question, What are your biggest challenges with organizing busy summer schedules? And today, I’m excited to read Andrea’s tips to help us simplify and organizer our crazy, busy summer months! 



Summer is almost here… and I can’t wait!  My husband is a teacher, so it’s no surprise that our summer days are a lot more relaxed than the busy school months. However, even with more time for relaxing, the “lazy days of summer” can often start to feel pretty hectic and disorganized if we don’t have some sort of plan

If you can relate, here are a few ways to get organized and still enjoy your summer.

1. Know your schedule.

Before you even start trying to simplify and organize your summer, you’ll want to take 20 minutes and look through your calendar for June, July, and August.

  • Are you planning any vacations?
  • Will you need to take time off work?
  • Do you have any weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, or baby showers to attend (and buy gifts for)?
  • Are you planning any home renovation projects that will take up lots of extra time?
  • Will your kids be going to summer camp, sports camps, music camp, Bible school, etc.?
  • Will your kids be participating in sports teams or in any sort of group projects?

Your answers to some of these questions will help determine how you spend a good chunk of your summer. And depending on how busy you want to be, you might decide to say no to some activities after looking over your schedule.

2. Decide on a summer routine.

No, I don’t think your summer days should be as structured as the rest of the year, but I can almost guarantee you and your children will be happier if there is some sort of daily/weekly routine you follow during the summer.

We all know that our homes will not magically clean themselves and meals won’t be prepared without some effort on our parts; so try making these events a family affair. Maybe you play inside during the morning, then everyone helps to clean up before lunch, and then you go out and do a fun activity in the afternoon.

Or maybe you can plan your weekly menu as a family and then let each child (age-appropriate, of course) help make the meal one night a week.

Here are a few more ways to implement a loose routine…

  • If your family loves sleeping in, allow everyone to sleep in five days a week, but then wake up “on time” the other two days. This will allow you get get a little more done on those days without spoiling all the fun.
  • If your family loves going to the beach, have a “beach day” once a week. You could even make this day a reward for cooperation throughout the rest week!
  • If you enjoy family BBQ’s or picnics at the park, plan your weekly menu accordingly and try to implement at least one picnic lunch a week.
  • Allow your children to plan an event one day a week. Of course, you’ll want to help them plan the details, but this will give them something to look forward to, and force them to be creative.

By having some sort of general plan, everyone will be a bit less restless during the long summer days.

3. Plan ahead to avoid boredom.

It’s almost inevitable that your children will get bored at some point during the summer.

To avoid the constant “what can we do now” questions, plan ahead and create a list of things they can do if they get bored. Some examples might be:

  • Play outside
  • Read a book
  • Watch a movie
  • Play a game with siblings
  • Ride their bike around the neighborhood
  • Go on a scavenger hunt and look for ________
  • Make an obstacle course in your backyard

Try to put at least 20-30 items on your list and you might want to make separate lists for different age children.

Then (this is important so listen up), at the bottom of the list, put “Ask mom if she needs help with anything”. That way, if they complain they’re bored and have already done everything on your list, you can say, “well, you haven’t asked me if I need help with anything, so why don’t you go __________”. Fill in the blank with any number of household chores.

This way, if your kids continue to complain about being bored, you’ll at least get a clean house out of the deal!

4. Keep your vehicle packed.

Even with a general routine to your day, summer is the time for spontaneous beach trips, picnics in the park, or fun outings with friends.

However, if you need to take the time to pack and worry about forgetting something at home, you’ll waste lots of valuable time. Instead, keep your vehicles packed with summer essentials:

  • Suntan lotion
  • Sunglasses
  • Beach towels / beach toys
  • A cooler (obviously, you’ll have to add ice and food at the last minute)
  • Extra water bottles
  • Extra diaper bag — if applicable
  • Restaurant, fast food, and ice-cream coupons (just in case!)
  • Park passes
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Stroller or even small bikes

Keeping these essentials ready and waiting will save you lots of time and allow you to literally drop everything and do something fun.

5. Don’t forget yourself.

See if you can swap babysitting services with a friend, relative, or neighbor, hire a house-cleaning service for the summer months, or implement other ideas to make sure you have some margin in your schedule and are not running yourself ragged. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but if you schedule in time for things that energize you, you’ll most definitely be a better parent to your children for the rest of the summer.

What are your tips and suggestions to keep things calm, organized, and simpler this summer?

Andrea Dekker is a wife, mom, blogger, organizer, speaker, and founder of Simple Organized Living. Her goal is to motivate and encourage others to “create their best life” through simplicity and organization.

photo source; photo source

Ask The Organizer: What are you biggest challenges with organizing busy summer schedules?

Many, many of you have written in or commented in the last few months that you are really struggling with home organization. So I’m excited to let you know that I’ve teamed up with Andrea Dekker from Simple Organized Living to bring you a brand-new monthly feature called called “Ask the Organizer“.

Each month, we’ll feature one organizing question and let you weigh in your thoughts, answers, and opinions. Then later in the month, Andrea will pick one or two of the most popular responses and share her tips, ideas, and suggestions for dealing with those issues!

This month’s question is:

What do you struggle with most when it comes to organizing busy summer schedules?

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to planning family vacations, fun activities, sporting events, holiday get-togethers, etc.?

Leave your answers below and then check back in a couple of weeks for Andrea’s expert organizing advice!

Ask the Organizer: Organizing Children’s Clothing

Earlier this month, I posed the question, What is your biggest issue when it comes to clothes clutter?  and the majority of your answers implied that children’s clothing was a pretty big issue in your home.

So today, I’m excited to read Andrea’s tips to help us declutter and better organize our children’s closets. Over the last several years, Andrea has worked with many moms with different ages of children (and different sizes of closets). She also has a 5-month-old daughter… so she should bring some interesting perspectives to the whole topic of clothes clutter!

If you’re overwhelmed with your children’s clothing, here are a few tips that might help you gain control of their closets. (These tips also work for adult closets too! :))

1. Purge

The first step in dealing with any type of clothing clutter is to look over everything you have and start purging. I know firsthand how quickly the amount of children’s clothing grows — especially with all the different sizes and seasons — so there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have plenty to purge.

Only keep the items you absolutely love, unless you have a younger child who will soon be wearing the hand-me-downs. And unless you have vast amounts of extra storage space, I would strongly encourage you not to hang onto clothing for the possibility that you might have another child, who might be the same gender, and who might be born the same time of year as your current child/children. It’s just not worth the space it takes.

Try to eliminate your emotional attachment to the items and instead, come at it from the perspective that by getting rid of the clothing, you will free-up more space for items you actually need.

I’ve also found it can be easier to purge if you give/sell the items to another mom who could use them for her child. We have received tons of hand-me-down clothes gifts and are so thankful every time.

2. Evaluate

Now that your children’s closets and dressers have a little more breathing room, don’t rush out to the store to fill them back up again. Step back and take a moment to evaluate what you actually need for each child.

If you do laundry regularly (which I assume you do), your children probably won’t need more than a few nice outfits, a handful of play clothes, and some PJ’s. See if you can get by with the clothing you have. If there is something you need, jot it down and take that list with you to your next neighborhood garage sale.

3. Rotate

If you have multiple children, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll end up with all different sizes and seasons of clothing. Plus, you know that the size on the tag isn’t always accurate — for this reason, it’s important to regularly rotate your children’s clothing!

Since I still have a small infant, I try to rotate her clothes every 6-8 weeks (or as she grows out of them). With older children, you’ll probably only have to do this every season or every year.

I simply put bins on one of the shelves in her closet and any time she grows out of something, I add it to the “too-small” bin. As she grows I pull clothing from the “too-big” bin — which contains any hand-me-downs, garage sale finds, and clothes gifts we’ve gotten.

When the “too-small” bin is full, I purge the items I don’t love, and store the rest.

4. Store

Unless you are finished having children (and have absolutely no sentimental attachment to your baby clothes), you will probably need to store some of your children’s clothing. If possible, it’s always the most convenient if you can store the clothes right in the child’s room who will wear them next — in the bottom drawer of a dresser, under the bed, or on the top shelf of the closet.

If you don’t have room in the bedrooms, I’d suggest using large clear plastic tubs or vacuum-seal bags to roughly sort the clothing by gender, season, and size. Oh, and make sure you clearly label the contents so you can actually find the clothes when you need them.

And as you put items away for storage, remember to continually question whether it’s really worth the space you are taking up to store the item… oftentimes it makes more sense to purge the items now and borrow or buy used if you need them again in the future.

I think Crystal shares my same philosophy when she says, “It’s just not worth it to keep items you aren’t using if you don’t have anywhere to store them”.

5. Repeat!

Unfortunately, your children’s closets will not magically stay organized after just one purging session! So as they grow, you’ll have to repeat these steps on a regular basis.

However, keep in mind that you don’t always have to do all the “dirty work”. Encourage your children to get involved in the process — I can almost guarantee they will be more likely to keep their space organized if they helped in the process!

Of course it’s never fun to get rid of cute baby and children’s clothing, but I always remind myself that by keeping less “stuff”, I then have more space, time, energy, and money. Plus, by donating some of the items we no longer need, I’m helping other moms too!

What are your tips to organize children’s clothing?

Andrea Dekker is a wife, mom, blogger, organizer, speaker, and founder of Simple Organized Living. Her goal is to motivate and encourage others to “create their best life” through simplicity and organization.

top photo credit

Ask The Organizer: Clothes Clutter

Many, many of you have written in or commented in the last few months that you are really struggling with home organization. So I’m excited to let you know that I’ve teamed up with Andrea Dekker from Simple Organized Living to bring you a monthly feature called called “Ask the Organizer“.

Each month, we’ll feature one organizing question and let you weigh in your thoughts, answers, and opinions. Then later in the month, Andrea will pick one or two of the most popular responses and share her tips, ideas, and suggestions for dealing with those issues!

This month’s question is:

What is your biggest problem or issue when it comes to clothes clutter?

Leave your answers below and then check back in a couple weeks for Andrea’s expert organizing advice!

Ask The Organizer: 6 Tips to Get Your Family On Board

Earlier this month, I posed the question, Is Your Family On Board?. Your answers were kind of a “mixed bag” but many of you responded that it was difficult to get your family members to meet your organizing expectations.

So today, I’m excited to read Andrea’s tips to get our families “on board” when it comes to keeping our homes organized.

In my own family and in my experience helping many families to get {and stay} more organized, there is usually one person in the family who is more organized than everyone else.

If that one person is you, I know how frustrating it can be to get your family on board with your cleaning and organizing standards. But it’s not impossible! Yes, it might take a decent amount of effort on your part, but the results will be worth it once you are no longer doing all the work around the house.

Here are a few things to think about as you encourage your family to “get on board”.

1. Do it yourself.

This might go without saying, but if you expect your family to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher, hang their clothes in the closet, put their papers away, and clean up after themselves; you will first have to do these things yourself.

Your kids aren’t going to eat vegetables if you refuse to eat them; so why would you expect them to be neat and organized if you are a complete slob?

Before you even venture down through the rest of these steps, make sure you are willing to do everything you’re asking your family members to do… otherwise I can guarantee it won’t work!

2. Ask them to do it.

I learned very early on that unless I ask for something to get done, it probably won’t. Even if the clothes are folded and sitting at the end of the bed, your kids might not realize that the clothes should be put away — unless you ask them to do it.

If your family members aren’t naturally clean and organized, their brains don’t constantly think “what can I do next” — so we need to ask them {and make sure to ask nicely!}

3. Show them how to do it.

If your family members have never had to fold their clothes, clean the bathroom, or load the dishwasher, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t intuitively know how to do it. So after you ask them to do it, show them how to do it — especially if you have a specific way of doing it.

If you like the socks folded a certain way — show them. If you want the dishwasher loaded in a specific way — show them. If you want them to unload their backpacks into a specified location — show them.

And yes, you might have to show them more than once, but just keep at it! Over time, and with persistence on your part, these things will become second nature.

4. Let them do it.

One of the main reasons to get your family on board is to alleviate some of your responsibilities and the need to do everything around your house, right? So once you’ve asked them to do something and showed them how to do it, then back off and let them do it!

I realize that your children might not fold the laundry as nicely as you would or clean the bathroom as thoroughly as you would, but at least they’re doing it. Once you know they are capable of doing what you ask, don’t hoover around, watching to make sure they do it perfectly.

If they do mess up a little, it’s okay to correct them after the fact, or “remind” them of how they should be doing it; however, they won’t learn unless you actually let them do it on their own.

5. Make it fun to do it.

No, I don’t think every chore has to be fun — but I do think that by making some of these organizing chores a little more fun, your family will be much more likely to participate.

If you want your children to put their dirty laundry in the clothes basket instead of on the floor, try putting the clothes basket under a basketball hoop so they can “shoot” their clothes into the hamper! Or encourage family members to keep the bathroom neat and organized by letting each person pick out a brightly colored bin to store their items in.

I’m also not above giving rewards for a job well done. Encourage your children to get rid of 25 toys by allowing them to pick one new toy or let them have a special treat or do something fun once they’ve accomplished their chores.

6. Thank them for doing it.

I know we don’t always get thanked or praised every time we clean and organize something around our house, but I’ve witnessed first hand that a simple “thank-you” goes a long way when you’re trying to get your family on board.

By implementing these simple tips, there’s a good chance that {over time} your family members will “get on board” with your organizing efforts and thus, alleviate some of your responsibilities. Yes, I realize some of you might be thinking these steps could never work — but would it hurt to at least give them a try?

At the very least, you’ll give your family a taste of what you do every day, and hopefully teach them a few new skills in the process!

How do you get your family on board?

Andrea Dekker is a wife, mom, blogger, organizer, speaker, and founder of Simple Organized Living. Her goal is to motivate and encourage others to “create their best life” through simplicity and organization.

 

top photo credit

Ask The Organizer: Is your family on board?

Many, many of you have written in or commented in the last few months that you are really struggling with home organization. So I’m excited to let you know that I’ve teamed up with Andrea Dekker from Simple Organized Living to bring you a brand-new monthly feature called called “Ask the Organizer“.

Each month, we’ll feature one organizing question and let you weigh in your thoughts, answers, and opinions. Then later in the month, Andrea will pick one or two of the most popular responses and share her tips, ideas, and suggestions for dealing with those issues!

This month’s question is:

Is your family on board with your organizing goals?

If they are, what have you done to get them on board?

If not, what are you biggest struggles/obstacles to getting them on board?

Leave your answers below and then check back in a couple of weeks for Andrea’s expert organizing advice!