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Tag Archive: Home Organization

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.

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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: 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!

Free customizable morning, afternoon, and evening routine cards

Need some extra inspiration to create morning, afternoon, and evening routines?

I asked Joy from FiveJs.com to create some free customizable morning, afternoon, and evening routine cards you can type into, save, print, and stick in conspicuous locations around your home to help keep you on track.

To get you started, here’s my morning afternoon, and evening routine cards. Print your free customizable routine cards here.

Want to help your youngsters develop a morning routine? You can print these free morning routine cards from Living Locurto.

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Want some practical help with setting up your day for success? It all starts the night before! Be sure to grab a copy of my brand-new online course, Make Over Your Evenings.

This 14-day online course includes videos, a workbook, and step-by-step projects and is designed to help you maximize your evenings in order to experience more success in your life, more order in your home, and more joy in your soul.

It’s time to stop sleep-walking through life and wake up to the amazing excitement and fulfillment that comes when you follow my simple plan to Make Over Your Evenings.

Find out more about it here.

How to Develop a Routine That Works–And Stick With It! (Part 4)

So, if you did your homework yesterday, you now have a written routine created for your family. Way to go!

A Routine Only Works if You Follow It

Just having a routine written down on paper is not enough. You actually have to stick with it!

Now, like I said yesterday, you don’t have to follow your routine perfectly for it to make a big impact. But you do need to use it as a guideline on a daily basis. Even just following 75-80% of it almost every day can mean a world of difference in your home and life.

Here are four suggestions to help you stick with your routine:

1. Add One New Thing Every 3 Weeks

If the concept of a routine is completely new for you, don’t try to overhaul your life all at once. Slow and steady changes in the right direction will result in much more lasting and long term changes. As I’ve often said, moving in the right direction–even at a microscopic rate–is still moving forward.

I recommend adding one new habit every three weeks. Start with a morning routine and stick with that for three weeks. Then add in an evening routine and stick with it for three weeks. Finally, add in an afternoon routine and stick with that for another three weeks.

Once you’ve got your routines down, try filling it in by following your entire written routine. If that’s too much to add all at once, go back to just adding in one or two new things to your routine every three weeks.

2. Create a Checklist

I’ve found it really helpful to print a new routine for each day of the week to follow and check off as I complete each task. This might just be the Type A in me, but there’s something about checking off things from a list that helps to keep me on track.

If you don’t want to mess with having a new page for each day, you could print and laminate your routine and use a dry erase marker to check it off. And then just wipe it clean at the end of the day.

Or, if you’re more of a techy person, you could use some type of online program on your computer or smartphone. I use the To Do App for my daily to-do list (this is separate from my standard routine) and think it could easily be set up to have a standard routine to check off each day if something a bit more high-tech appeals to you.

However, don’t try to make it more complicated than it needs to be. A simple list printed on scrap paper with a pen to check it off can work just fine. What matters most is not how high-tech or elaborate your system is, but that it inspires you to follow through with your routine!

3. Get An Accountability Partner

If you feel like you’re not disciplined enough to stick with a routine on your own, find an accountability partner to help keep you on track. Maybe it’s a friend who checks in with you via email every afternoon. Or a neighbor who pops by every afternoon. Or your spouse who checks in with how your day went at dinner. Maybe you form a group of online friends on Facebook to keep each other accountable. Or perhaps you do something entirely different.

Think about what would most motivate you to stay accountable and then get that accountability system in place. No excuses; just do it!

4. Reward Yourself For Sticking With It

Create milestones to celebrate along the way. This inspires you to keep at it when you don’t feel like sticking with it. Plus, life is just a lot more enjoyable when you make time to celebrate your successes!

What ideas do you have for motivating yourself to stick with your routine?

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Need Some More Help Getting Your Home & Life in Order?

Then you’ll want to check out The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle — an AMAZING collection of homemaking helps & resources — many that I’ve already read and benefited so much from and many more that I cannot WAIT to read myself!

One of the books in the series is called Paperless Home Organization. This ebook is designed to walk you step-by-step through using your gadgets to organize your life, putting technology to work for you so you can be organized and get rid of your paper clutter.

And if you’re looking for even more help, three other books in the collection that I highly recommend and that will help you with your home organization and reducing paper clutter are: One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler, Project Organize Your Entire Life, and Your Simple Home Handbook.

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Grab your copy of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle here. It’s only available until Monday so you’ll want to get it while you can!

Best of all, these are all ebooks — so they won’t bring any extra paper clutter into your home! :)
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