Today, families are busier than ever, and its easy to get overwhelmed with keeping up with it all. The following is a list of helpful routines that can make all the difference in maintaining order and reducing stress at home as the weeks roll by.
1. Daily & Weekly Routines
We all function better once a system is in place. Routines are especially important for children, so forming habits that take place daily or weekly, like having set times for homework, and chores and having consistent bath and bedtimes can be soothing for both parent and child. Parents having set weekly routines for getting things done, like paying bills, filling the dishwasher and doing laundry are also helpful. Routines not only help keep families organized, they reduce stress and enable us to feel more in control.
2. The 15 Minute Family Huddle
Every week, have a short family meeting to discuss the weeks upcoming appointments, activities and other details. Use this planning session to go over all of the upcoming weeks to-dos, this is when details can be added to the calendar, like errands, deadlines or phone calls that need to be made. These meetings help families feel more in control as the week progresses and forgotten details are less likely, ensuring that stress levels stay low and last-minute emergencies are avoided.
3. 10 Minutes Each Night
Have each family member take 10 minutes before bedtime to get ready for the next day. Choose outfits, prepare lunches, pack everything that needs to go to school and set it by the door. Also, gather together after school supplies for activities. Doing this will make the mornings run smoother and will prevent items from being forgotten.
4. Delegated Household Tasks
This should never be a one-man job even for a stay at home parent. Each family member should be engaged in this process and can be assigned age appropriate household tasks. Even if your kids are busy, making them responsible for completing scheduled chores, will teach them valuable skills that transfer to adulthood. It takes teamwork to Keeping a family running smoothly, reinforcing this fact when kids are young will solidify this attitude as they grow older.
5. A Place for Everything
Having permanent homes for everything ensures that clutter is kept at bay and time is not wasted looking for things. Assign homes to everything you own and make sure other family members know where things go. Reinforce the rule that things need to be returned to their permanent homes when they are not being used.
6. Clutter Cutting Habits
By teaching kids helpful tidying habits like making their bed each morning, hanging up their back packs every day, cleaning up one toy or project before bring out another, etc. they learn valuable skills that will carry over in to adulthood. Reinforcing these important habits will go a long way not only in keeping the home organized now, but in helping kids develop automated organizing skills that will last a lifetime.
7. Twice a Year Purge
Families today have a substantial amount of stuff coming into the home on a regular basis. For this reason, it is important to take time twice a year to de-clutter and purge items that are no longer being used. By moving unwanted items out of the house on a regular basis, you balance what is coming in with what’s going out. Establish a box labeled DONATE and communicate with each family member so that everyone knows where to put their unwanted items. Then make it a priority to move it all out twice a year.
8. Practice Saying No
Today, many families overbook their days, not wanting to miss out on activities and opportunities. We also struggle with saying “no” to our kids and to requests for commitments because we feel pressured. But learning to say no when we have reached a limit is the best thing that we can do for ourselves and for our kids. Limit the number of activities you and your children participate in. This will ensure that your family has time to get important tasks done and stay organized on a daily basis. It also it will allow you to build in “down” time into each day. Scheduling “down” time where nothing is going on will ensure that every family member including yourself has time to unwind and refuel.
9. One Family Calendar
It is helpful to have one central family calendar that everyone uses, whether that be a paper calendar or a digital one that everyone’s phones are synced to. Having everything on the calendar and having only one that everyone uses will ensure that nothing is forgotten.
10. Don’t Put Off the Predictable
Just as it is much less stressful not to wait until the last minute to do a homework assignment, it promotes peace to get predictable, scheduled activities out of the way ahead of time rather than waiting until the last minute. For Example: Shopping for Saturday nights’ dinner party well in advance rather than waiting until Saturday morning allows extra time for any unexpected surprises that might pop up.
There are some things you can’t change about your house. Its location, the school zone, and the size of the yard are a few features that come to mind. Chances are, you aren’t willing to change the layout or add a new bedroom if you’re moving either. The good news is that buyers already know this information about your home before they walk through the front door, so if they are there, they’re not looking at the floorplan.
So what are they looking at? Buyers are there to see the condition of the home. And the very first thing they will notice is if it is clean, since this is a good indication of how well the home has been cared for. But you’ve got kids, and clean has taken on a whole new definition, and it’s time to take a new look at what clean means. Your sale just might depend on it.
Here’s how to get things in shape when you barely have time to get yourself ready each morning.
Start with “the great purge”
The most challenging aspect of cleaning when you have kids in the house is getting rid of all the stuff you don’t need. Kids tend to form an emotional attachment to everything. But, now is not the time to provide asylum to stuffed animals and armless Lego men. Talk to your kids about the move, and let them know they can’t take everything with them. If they are resistant, it might help to decorate a few moving boxes with “Toy Retreat” signs and let the kids know their stuff is ready for a permanent vacation. Set a good example by cleaning out your own closet, craft room, and garage. Set limits on what you can keep and don’t hold on to multiples. If you do not have time to host a yard sale, contact the Salvation Army, Goodwill, AMVETS National Service Foundation, the ARC, or Habitat for Humanity, which Moving.com explains are all charities that pickup.
Plan to bring in extra hands
When you are getting ready for showings, it needs to be all hands on deck, but sometimes that's easier said than done. First things first, hire a maid service to come in and give your home a deep cleaning, getting into all the nooks and crannies. Next, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to hire a housekeeper to come in once a week to help you keep your clean home maintained. The right person will help you keep toys and clothes put away, beds made with fresh linens and the yard tidied, all ensuring your home is ready for those last-minute showings. This does not mean that the members of your family can sit back and relax – create a chore chart for the daily must-dos so you're housekeeper isn't doing all the heavy lifting.
Provide visual aids
One simple way to ensure your home stays clean is to give your family a clear idea of what you expect. But telling them is not always enough. Plan to take photos of the interior once it’s clean. Print these out and stick them where they are visible within each room -- or each section of room. You may also want to color code the toy bins to facilitate organization. Yellow might be set aside for dolls while green is sanctioned for Nerf guns. You don’t have to stop in the kids’ bedrooms, this colorful cleaning and organization hack can easily apply throughout the house.
While cleanliness is not the only thing your buyers will look for, it’s the first thing they will notice. A clean home looks – and smells – like it’s ready for its new owners, and keeping it that way may put them in place sooner than you can say, “home for sale.”
Guest Blog Written By:
Create A Family Giggle Log
In 2013, coincidentally, the same year that I started Clean & Clutter Free, Family Fun Magazine published our family’s idea to create what we call a "Family Giggle Log" (August Issue). It was so mind blowing, and a tad bit unsettling that we could to go to Walmart and find our family’s photo in the latest Family Fun magazine.
If you have young ones, I want to past this idea along to you. I know these years are busy, but it is during these all too fleeting years, starting around age 2 or 3 that our little charmers say and do things that capture our hearts and make us smile and laugh. I would give anything to live just one day with my children at age 3 again. Nature’s ingenious way of ensuring that we don’t leave our troublesome, tantrum throwing toddlers on someone else’s doorstep, is that they are adorably sweet and funny all the while messing up a whole house faster than a tornado can roll through it. It is during these years that our young ones see things with fresh eyes and ears, so innocent and genuine. They never sugar coat the truth before it comes out of their mouths so what we hear is often interesting and sometimes embarrassing. This stage does not last long though, by about age 5 or 6, it starts to dissolve as their more mature intellect begins to develop.
When our girls were young, my husband and I got into the habit of jotting down things that our girls would say that would make us laugh. We correctly predicted that neither of us would have a keen enough memory to remember every funny or sweet thing they did or said, so we managed to form a habit of getting something down on paper when these moments occurred. We had a notebook that we called our “Family Giggle Log”. The entries were messy and short because we did not have a lot of time, but thanks to this little notebook, we captured memories that would have been long forgotten. Now that our girls are well into their teenage years, they still enjoy our occasional recaps of the past as much as we do. As predicted, out not only did I forget half the things my girls did when they were young but I can’t even keep straight which one did the things I do remember! For this reason, I am ever grateful for the memories that we did catch before they slipped through our fingers like sand. The following are a few of our favorite inserts from our Family Giggle Log hopefully they will make you smile too:
“Mommy what is an earthquake?” Me – “That is when the earth shakes around for a little while.”
Maddie - “Do you go upside down?”
Dad was at the park with the girls, and Maddie was hanging from the monkey bars...
Dad - "Be careful Maddie"
Maddie - “Dad! You’re bothering my attitude!”
“Mommy, Why do women where bras?”
Me – “Oh just to give some extra support.” (I know this was a lame explanation but I couldn’t think of a better answer at the time).
Cassie - “Is it because bras help make men’s love you more?”
Cassie shared a story she wrote at school with her dad....
Dad – Wow, good job, you really like to learn don’t you?
Cassie – “Actually, I just like to impress people”.
"Mommy, if I throw my booger into the fire will it explode?”
“If I put on a whole bunch of clothes, to you think I could live inside the refrigerator?"
And one more from Emily because she was extra inquisitive...
“If everyone in the world blew on my finger at the same time would it fall off?”
I have already managed to copy many of Maddie’s Giggle Log entries into a scrapbook that I created for her when she graduated, and I plan to do the same for the younger two when I get around to making their scrapbooks...hopefully before they graduate. For me, capturing our young children’s special moments in photos and in written form, through journaling, letters and stories, holds greater power to take our family back to this precious time than other kinds physical keepsakes, so I limit keeping larger keepsakes like art work and projects. Words and photos take up much less room in our home and I just take photos of the rest.
Having lived through raising my own children, the best advice I can give to young parents is this; The most special memories made are the ones that they hold in their hearts as the years go by. For us, surprisingly they were not the times that we went to Chuckie Cheeses, instead it was the times that we did seemingly silly things together like having a picnic in the basement on a cold winter day that they seem to remember and cherish the most. So while it is good to try to capture some your child's memories when you can, ideally through photos, videos and written words, don't get so caught up in taking photos and such, that you miss out on being fully present during those precious moments as they rapidly roll by.
Written By Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free Professional Organizing Services
I was talking with an acquaintance the other day; she asked me how my organizing business was going and then asked “So are you one of those people who like to have everything just so?” I told her that I am not a perfectionist if that is what you are asking. But I do like to be able to find things when I need them.” So if having everything “just so” means having a specific place for everything I own, and being able to find things easily when I need them, than yes I am one of "those people". But if you are asking me if I am particular about having everything perfect, this is definitely not me. I like things to be simple, not perfect.
I actually have become an organized person out of necessity, due to my ADHD and the fact that I have a low tolerance for juggling tasks and remembering things. I get flustered easily, and my short attention span makes me forgetful and flighty. I need to keep things really simple for myself in order to keep all my ducks in a row, lest I forget a duck. When I was in college and living with several roommates they found it quite amusing to tease me about the fact that I could not leave our dorm room without returning at least once to grab whatever I forgot. My car keys, purse, books, sometimes I had to return twice...it was embarrassing.
I learned early on that everything in my life needs to have a permanent home in order for me to keep track of things. Though my home is not perfectly organized all of the time, we can keep it looking fairly presentable without much effort simply because we have less stuff and everything has a home. In addition to having a home for everything, like items are stored together. That’s pretty much it, it is a simple system; Less stuff, everything has a place, like items together. Since everyone in my family knows where everything belongs, things are usually put back when we are done using them. Nobody does this perfectly either, and as you might guess, some family members are better at it than others. But we have established the habit of doing it most of the time, which goes a long way in maintaining order overall.
I like to get things done with the least amount of effort possible, so when complicated tasks are presented to me, my mind automatically starts figuring out how to simplify the job at hand. This comes in handy when getting things done. I'm always looking for ways to consolidate errands, or save a step when cleaning. I much prefer simple organizational systems to complicated ones because they are easier to maintain and use. When it comes to my schedule, I keep that as simple as possible too. This may mean having to say no when I am asked to take on too much, but it is important that I do this for the sake of my sanity since I get overwhelmed so easily. I limit my involvement to the things that are most important to me, keeping my priorities in check, like family time.
I don’t spend a lot of energy fussing over and making sure everything is in perfect order at home. I do make a strong effort to frequently get rid of things that we are no longer using, and this is really the biggest secret to staying on top of keeping order in our house. Being organized has less to do with trying to achieve perfection, and more to do with keeping things simple, lightening the load, and establishing and sticking to helpful habits and routines. We should always ask ourselves the same question when we are overwhelmed with household tasks, with staying organized or with adding things to our calendar; How can I make this easier for myself so that I can minimize my stress and feel more peaceful at home?
Written By Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free Professional Organizing Services
When you think about decluttering, does it suck the wind out of your sails? All too often, the task of tidying up can feel overwhelming, and turn even the most resilient homeowner into a deer in headlights. Sometimes it can make you want to throw in the towel, or at least call for professional reinforcements. However, a few clever strategies can be just the ticket. Here’s how to ensure the task of paring down is not only simple, it could even be called “fun.”
Formulate a plan
How do you plan to tackle your “stuff”? Everyone has their own best methods for decluttering, and to ensure you stick with your project, think about what works best for you. For instance, some people do well with selecting a certain number of objects every day and parting ways with them. Other people do best sorting a section at a time. For some people, the key to beating clutter is scheduling a particular time for the project, even 15 minutes per day, and committing to it. You can even print a helpful calendar from Home Storage Solutions to help you stay on track. The important thing is to find your method, and embrace it wholeheartedly!
Putting things in order
As you go through your home, keep in mind it’s important to develop a system that will help you avoid becoming cluttered again. This can be especially challenging if your home doesn’t feature an excess of square footage. If space is tight, be creative, and consider some unconventional, yet oh-so-clever storage hacks. For example, furniture can multitask, such as using an attractive vintage trunk that is both your coffee table and a storage solution. Wasted wall spaces can hold floating shelves. Baskets can house unsightly items on your shelving, turning an eyesore into an accent. In the bedroom, the space under your mattress can hold under-the-bed storage bins. Look for ways to put idle space to work!
Focus on feel-goods
As you declutter, there will likely be plenty of things you no longer want or need. Instead of tossing them into the trash, think of ways they can benefit other people. You can donate items to a charity, offer them on a swap website, or even have a yard sale. If you make a little money, consider donating it to a nonprofit, or invest the funds into furthering your decluttering project. Another idea is to check into local nonprofit events. Silent auctions are popular fundraisers, and you could piece together themed gift baskets to donate to a worthy cause. It’s a great way to amp up your motivation, and the warm fuzzies double the fun!
Put on some tunes
Even if you find a great decluttering method, are making wonderful progress, and enjoying seeing the fruits of your efforts, there will probably be days when you struggle with your motivation. One of the best ways to overcome those lackluster moments is with an upbeat cleaning playlist. In fact, you might want to put on your favorite tunes every time, since Huffington Post notes just listening to music can potentially cut your work time in half!
Reward your fine efforts
You’re doing a really good thing. Decluttering can be provide life-changing benefits, helping you to be more productive and healthy. On top of that, you might have donations to charities and a little spending money. However, there is nothing like a little pat on the back to really make you feel great. Some experts suggest picking out a thoughtful reward that compliments your project nicely. In other words, avoid something that will clutter up your house again, or that is unrelated to the task. For example, invest in some attractive storage baskets to outfit your space, or take a day off to stay home, savoring your uncluttered space. Think of the perfect gift to give hardworking you!
Decluttering can be overwhelming, but with a good plan you can do it! Choose a method that works for you, stay motivated, and enjoy a special reward. It’s a challenging project, but you’re worth it!
Written By Guest Blogger
Back when my kids were still in grade school, we were hustling through our morning routine, when my daughter Emily came running to me. She announced that she could not find her school uniform jumper. I calmly ensured her that it was hanging in the laundry room, clean and ready to be put on. “It’s not there Mom!”She barked back. I was confident that it was there so I told her to look again, sure that she would find it. But of course, she didn’t find it, so with a sigh; I trudged into to the laundry room to retrieve it myself. When I got there, I could not find it either, and I could feel anxiety and frustration boiling up inside me. Now I was the one going into crisis mode. We had to leave for school in 10 minutes; and it was going to be 95 degrees that day so wearing her hot pants were out of the question.
I knew for sure that it was hanging there yesterday…yet it had vanished mysteriously. I ran around the house frantically looking for the jumper. After 10 minutes of frenzied searching, my older daughter Maddie, was the one who happened to take notice of what my youngest one was wearing, Cassie, who was 6 had gotten dressed and was indeed ready to go, but her school jumper, which was supposed to go to her knees, nearly reached her ankles. The mystery had been solved, and I laughed at myself for being so busy panicking that I hadn’t even noticed her. Jumpers were quickly traded and we piled into the car, arriving to school without a minute to spare.
Once the crisis had past, the whole event turned out to be quite amusing. Though, big picture, this was not a large issue, it still managed to derail our morning. This is a perfect example of how one little mishap can turn a normal calm morning sour and stress levels can escalate in a heartbeat. We thought we had everything planned and ready to go, but still, unexpected chaos found its way into our home that morning. If you are a parent, you know exactly what I mean, craziness can happen without warning. It seems that these occasional crisis’s are simply part of family life and while we can’t avoid these roller coaster moments entirely, having helpful organizational routines in place for staying on top of things can go a long way to help us feel more in control when the unexpected does occur. Routines give us a sense of security and predictability that bring us comfort. They also help us to get more done and forget less.
Planning Sessions for Moms
One especially useful routine for minimizing family chaos, is scheduling a 20-30 minute planning session for yourself at the beginning of each week. You can greatly reduce the day to day stress of managing a busy family and feel more in control by doing this one thing. I do mine on Mondays, but they can be done anytime that works best for you. If we dive into each week without taking the time to plan ahead, everything comes at us without warning and we feel like we are simply managing one crisis after another.
Use a weekly planning session to examine your calendar and make sure that you are prepared for each of the week’s upcoming activities and appointments. Add things like errands, household chores, meetings and phone calls to ensure that they will get done. This will help you to catch things that may have been overlooked, like two conflicting appointments or the fact that your daughter has her first soccer practice this week and still needs soccer cleats. Make a to-do list for any other tasks that need to get done as well. You can also use this time to plan out your family’s meals for the week and make a quick grocery list for the items you need to pick up from the store. By doing this, you should only need to visit the grocery store once a week, which will save you time. This planning session can also be used to make out a weekly chore chart for your kids and pay any bills that are due.
If you can include a planning session in your weekly routine and stick with it, you will feel more prepared and in control on a daily basis. You will also get more done. More importantly, you will reduce the potential for any unexpected chaos that may be looming ahead. Instill a little much needed peace into your family’s busy week and add weekly planning sessions to your calendar.
Written By Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free Professional Organizing Services
I often work with clients who are
creative, and some of these people
have an incredible amount of talent.
But multiple unfinished projects,
and the supplies needed for
proposed craft projects can create
clutter in a craft room to the point
that it is impossible to work
in that space. The following is
a list of tips to help you keep
your craft room organized
and avoid getting physically
and mentally buried in your
Written By: Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free
Professional Organizing Services
1. Resist Starting a New Craft Project Before Finishing The First One
So you have a quilt that was started a year ago, a half made scrapbook for a friend, and then there is that dress you were going to make that you bought all the supplies for but never got around to starting. Does this sound like you? It is tempting to start a new project when the one you are working on gets challenging or boring, but if you force yourself to finish one before starting or buying supplies for another, you will avoid the mental clutter of having too many projects floating around in your head. Having too many craft projects going at one time can not only compound the physical clutter in your craft room, but can be mentally taxing because they morph into little voices inside your head nagging you to finish them once and for all.
2. Evaluate How Much Time You Have Before You Commit
Creative individuals often have inspiring ideas, but these ideas require a certain amount of time and energy to become a finished product. It is so easy to get carried away with too many projects because if you are passionate about the craft, you also likely enjoy the work. You may need to pace yourself to avoid getting too far behind if you have a busy schedule. Having too many projects going at one time and not being able to make progress on them can be frustrating and discouraging. Limit your projects so that you have a reasonable amount of time to complete them.
3. Decide Whether or Not Your Current Craft Projects are Really Worth Finishing
If you already have too many unfinished projects going at one time, consider each project and ask yourself these questions: Why have you not finished it? Is it solely due to lack of time? Are you looking forward to the next time you will have a day off so that you can work on it? Or would you prefer to do something else? Did you put it down because you got bored with it? Are you still excited about it or has it lost its appeal? Are you only finishing it out of guilt because you spent money on the supplies? These questions should help you decide which craft projects are worth finishing or even starting, and which ones to give up on.
4. Give Yourself Permission to Let Go of Unworthy Projects
So what if a project that you were once excited about has lost it’s spark? It has turned into a burden that you feel guilty about. You were inspired at one time to do it but where did that inspiration go? You feel bad because you have already invested money and time into it. But it does not make sense to spend precious time and energy working on a project that no longer inspires you. Why force yourself to finish something solely out of guilt? Unfinished projects do more harm than just clutter up a room, they make you feel heavy. Life is too short to live with these burdens, and crafting is supposed to be fun! It is okay to let a project go, guilt free. In the end you will be surprised at how liberating it feels to mentally let go of a project. And a clutter free room will simply be an added bonus! It’s okay if not every creative idea that you think up comes to fruition.
5. Get it Done Once & For All
If you have craft projects that you have decided to complete, commit to getting them done now instead of letting them linger. Schedule time on your calendar to work on the project and stick to the plan. Don’t let another activity take its place at the last minute. The best way to take action and beat procrastination is to get it on your calendar so that you make time for it in your schedule. Also remind yourself that you deserve to have some time for yourself to do the things that you enjoy. We all need a bit of leisure time to do what we love. Too often we are guilted into replacing enjoyable activities with work instead.
6. Resist Buying Craft Supplies Before You Start
I frequently come across multitudes of craft supplies that were purchased for proposed projects that never materialized. Resist buying supplies for a project until you are ready to start on it and have already put time aside on your calendar to do the work. Because we are inspired by our new ideas, and because shopping is so enjoyable, it can be challenging to resist shopping impulsively before we are ready to start. By being mindful and resisting these urges, you will not only keep your craft room more organized but you will save money. Also, once you spend money on craft supplies, you automatically lock yourself into completing a project. By holding off on shopping, you can avoid feeling guilty if you change your mind. As an alternative to shopping, try writing down your ideas in a craft project notebook so that you don’t forget them. Then you can shop when you are ready to start the craft.
Mental health is partly controlled by our genetics and partly by our environment. While counseling can help you manage stress and anxiety, you can also take measures at home to keep things cool and calm so you have a place of respite from whatever ails you.
Here are a few tips to help you keep a clean house and create a calming space.
Cut the clutter. If your decorating style can best be described as “junk drawer chic,” you might want to reconsider the amount of stuff you keep in your home. As the Huffington Post explains, clutter can actually ruin your life. Not only can it increase your stress levels, but having a cluttered house can wreck your diet and make your home anything but a safe haven. Spend an afternoon purging your countertops and cabinets of things you really don’t need, and only keep those items you can’t live without.
Simplify your cleaning routine. After the clutter is under control, keep things clean by streamlining chores. Dust, mop, and vacuum all rooms at the same time to avoid having to get your cleaning tools in and out of the utility closet. And don’t forget neglected areas, such as the walls and baseboards, behind the appliances, and inside the kitchen cabinets. Angie’s List also suggests dusting the ceiling fan and above the kitchen cabinets, which will reduce allergens in the air.
Insist on assistance. If you live in a home with more than one person, more than one person should handle the cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance. Assign specific chores to each member of your household. Even something as simple as having your kids put the dishes away or fold the laundry will help keep your home clean and free up valuable time for you to focus your attention on self-care. Your family—or roommates—will no doubt offer up excuses as to why they can’t help out. Be ready with a counter argument and available to offer instructions on how to get things done. And remember, teaching your children how to care for a household puts them in greater position to manage their own homes as young adults.
Learn to love lists. The human brain is hardwired to like lists. Not only do lists help you keep track of what you have—and haven’t—done, keeping a list of daily, weekly, and monthly household chores can help you remain focused. Creating lists helps bring order to the chaos, and that can lower your stress levels. Keep separate lists for each room in the home and make sure they are visible. Another benefit of listmaking is that it gives you a mental boost when you see tasks being marked off.
Don’t forget the outdoors. You don’t want to relax inside all year, so it’s a good idea to focus on the exterior of your home as well. There are a few simple tricks to make sure your outdoor spaces remain maintained season to season. Start by clearing debris out of the yard at least once a week. Once leaves begin to fall, rake them onto tarps for mulching or composting instead of allowing them to pile up and mold throughout the winter. Bob Vila offers more tips on simple outdoor maintenance tasks. Don’t forget to set up a cozy spot with a hammock or lounge chair where you can relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Once you have your cleaning routine down, consider changing your spaces to best accommodate your interests. For instance, if you like to read, carve out a corner of a room where you can cozy up with a good book, or rearrange your kitchen to free up counter space for baking. Whatever you decide, make it something just for you, and keep it neat and tidy.
Guest Blog Written By Alice Robertson
DEAR YOUNGER ME....
A warning to young families from an empty nester:
DO NOT PUT OF UNTIL TOMORROW, WHAT CAN BE DONE TODAY:
Earlier this year, I spent several days in the basement of a client, wanting to get her home ready for a future move. We were about two days in, with seemingly a long road ahead, when she sighed heavily and called out her warning to me. “Whatever you do” she said, “Do not wait forever to go through your stuff and get rid of it like I did!” Her large storage room was packed with the all of the beloved and not so beloved things of yesteryear. Her three adult children had moved out years ago. We had sorted piles of kids keepsakes, stuff to donate, stuff to give to her children, stuff to sell and stuff to keep. She told me that if she only could have known when she was younger what a burden all of her stuff would become, she would have none a better job of dealing with it then rather than letting it build up.
AVOID STOCKING UP ON BARGINS:
“Better yet”, she said, “If I would have known better, I would not have collected half this stuff in the first place.” She pinpointed one of her downfalls to be stocking up on sale items that she couldn’t pass up because they were bargains. She loved to entertain, and in her head, she wanted to be ready for future parties and celebrations. She also wanted to be ready to decorate for upcoming holidays. As it turned out, many of those “great deals” ended up being a waste of money because she never got around to actually using the supplies.
THE LONGER YOU WAIT, THE BIGGER THE BURDEN:
Of course this wasn’t the only thing taking up space in her storage room, it simply added to the ever growing pile. She had accumulated a mountain of stuff that fell into the ambiguous category of “No longer treasures, but not yet trash”. Including old furniture, home décor and framed photos that no longer merited a place upstairs. As the years went by, her storage room became a graveyard of things forgotten from yesterday. I reassured her that her situation was not at all uncommon, many families struggle with the same issue, especially if they have lived in the same home for many years. I commended her for making the decision to deal with it now. She easily could have put it off for another 10 or 20 years. Because this job is a physically and emotionally demanding one, it’s best not to wait until we are 90 to tackle our storage room buildup. I also reminded her that some people leave the job undone forever, placing a giant burden on their adult children.
DECIDE TO DECIDE:
My client does make a very good point though and young families can benefit from not shrugging off her warning. Much of the stuff we store in our storage rooms ultimately represents indecision, and it is tempting to put off all of those difficult decisions until tomorrow. My client suggests that you “Make it your goal to thoroughly go through your clutter well before the last child leaves home”. “Deal with clutter when you see that it is starting to build up.” she says.
LIMIT KIDS KEEPSAKES:
What I have learned from years of organizing is that adult children want only a manageable amount of childhood memories, not a museum of their past. A couple of keepsake boxes and handful of photo albums per child is sufficient. You would be surprised at how many of my clients are holding on to multiple boxes of keepsakes that their children don’t even want.
Take the following 5 steps to prevent storage room buildup:
By taking away a bit of wisdom from my client and becoming more vigilant of what you park in your storage room today, you can save yourself the pain of having to face an overwhelming mountain of clutter tomorrow.
Written By Laura Coufal
Owner: Clean & Clutter Free
Consultant, Clutter Coach
Next week, my daughter begins her second year of college, so in honor of this big event, I have reposted my tips and suggestions for organizing college dorm rooms from last year.
PLAN AHEAD FOR FURNITURE AND DECOR
If you know ahead of time who you are going to be rooming with, talk with your future roommate in advance to avoid duplication of larger items such as furniture, television, microwave etc. You could also discuss decorating, and come up with a style or theme together so that your décor doesn’t clash with what your roommate brings to the room.
Measure the spaces in your dorm room and take photos to ensure that everything you are bringing will fit into the spaces available. Try rearranging the existing furniture or stacking the beds to create more space.
ESTABLISH ZONES WITHIN YOUR COLLEGE DORM ROOM
If possible, create small areas for different activities such as studying, sleeping, entertainment and eating. Store everything that you need for each activity in their assigned zones. For example, for studying, create a place to store pens, pencils, highlighters, a comfy pillow, portable light, glasses, etc. so that you will have everything you need at your fingertips when it is time to study.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EVERY INCH OF STORAGE SPACE
Bed risers and under the bed storage bins are a great way to utilize the space underneath your bed for extra storage space. Add storage cubicles to the bottom of your closet if you are short on shelf storage. Over the door pocket organizers, are great for extra closet and bathroom storage.
STORE IN-SEASON CLOTHING ONLY
Bring only your summer and fall clothes to school until cooler weather arrives. Take your summer clothes home with you and bring back your winter clothing as the weather changes. You will free up much needed space in your closet if you only store the clothing suited for the current season.
MAKE USE OF HANDY ORGANAZING PRODUCTS
Stackable storage cubes are perfect for college dorm rooms because they not only to give you extra storage space, but can also double as night stands or end tables. 3M command hooks are handy for hanging purses, coats, robes etc., and they can be placed anywhere without causing damage to the wall. Inexpensive plastic portable drawer systems can be placed in your closet for extra drawer space.
USE A CHECKLIST TO ENSURE THAT YOU DON'T FORGET ANYTHING
Visit the following website to print off a checklist of recommended necessities to bring along with you to your college dorm room: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/making-a-decision/off-to-college-checklist. Knowing what to bring will not only ensure that nothing essential is left behind, but will help you to avoid bringing items that you don’t need, that ultimately end up cluttering up your small space. This list is exhaustive, so you won't need to bring everything on the list, think about what you really need and only bring what you will use. You may also be able to share some of these items with your roommate which will save on space.
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Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.