There is a challenge that exists today for grandparents and parents alike. Grandparents want to find the perfect gifts for their grandchildren, and many of today’s children often already have more toys than they know what to do with. Parents also struggle with the issue of having too much toy clutter in their children’s bedrooms.
I frequently get calls from parents who have contacted me because they are struggling with their children’s clutter. Often, grandparents are major contributors to this clutter. Parents cringe each time another gift is lovingly delivered, because it will inevitably require a place to live within the already crammed storage spaces of their child’s room. The following is a list of helpful suggestions for dealing with this issue as the holidays approach and children’s birthdays come and go.
Communication Is Key
If you are a parent with this problem, having an open conversation with your parents or in-laws is a good place to start. Help them understand that your child does not need more toys and that you don’t have room for them. To ensure that the conversation stays light and positive, be sure not to blame them for the clutter that your child has already accumulated. Then, provide them with a list of suggestions for useful gift ideas and be sure that they have several options to choose from. Because grandparents struggle with finding gifts that will actually be appreciated and used, a list of ideas is sure to be well received.
As an alternative to traditional gifts, provide your parents or in-laws with ideas for tickets or gift certificates that offer fun or educational experiences. Experience gifts offer the additional bonus of providing an opportunity and an excuse for making special memories with that child. The activity can either be spent with a grandparent, or provide your own family with a special activity to do together. I have listed some ideas for experience gifts below:
Ice cream, cupcake, cookie or yogurt shop
Children’s Museum or other Museum
Educational classes such as music, art or dance lessons
Martial arts classes
Family get-away to a favorite destination
Play or music concert
Family Fun Centers
Ice Skating, bowling, miniature golf
For Girls – manicures or pedicures
Special activity night with grandparent to bake, do crafts or go fishing
Gift Certificate Ideas for Useful Gifts
Gift certificates to stores can also be given with the intent to purchase more practical items such as the following:
Athletic Stores where sports gear or clothing can be purchased
Music Store if your child plays an instrument
Favorite Clothing Store where school clothes will be purchased
Department or Super Store to purchase school supplies and/or backpacks
With a little creativity, Grandparents can make personalized gift baskets filled with fun consumable items. The possibilities for these are endless, and can be personalized according to the child's hobbies and interests. Here are few examples:
Snack Basket full of an assortment of favorite snacks
Movie Night Basket with a favorite movie, a variety of popcorn, drinks and candy
Baking Basket full of all the things needed to bake and decorate a batch of cupcakes
Give Giftster a Try
If your parents or in-laws are even just a little tech savvy, I recommend giving this helpful service a try; Giftster.com is a private, web and mobile based gift registry connecting family and close friends. It is a group gift wish list and is completely free. It allows family and friends to list their gift preferences so that others can make purchases using the list. This is a great gift buying resource for the whole family and is easy to use. Giftster will ensure that everyone receives gifts that they really want and appreciate.
HOW MANY SETS OF DISHES DO YOU OWN?
Do you have multiple sets of unused dishes claiming too much storage space in your home? If so, you are not alone, it appears to be a commonality in many of our homes. This is the #1 most frequent form of clutter that I find in kitchens and dining rooms.
They may be meticulously packed away in protective china covers or occupying the top shelves of our kitchen cabinets. We may find them crammed into a dining room hutch or tucked away in a storage bin somewhere. Wherever the dishes reside, they are dusty, unused and hogging up precious storage space. So I ask you, why such madness? Why do we all keep these crazy sets of unused dishes in our homes when 98 percent of the time we use just one set?
The stories behind the dishes are often the same. They are Grandma’s antique dishes, or perhaps another loved one has gifted them to us. Sometimes these dishes are the ones asked for on a wedding registry, flawless and untouched because they are considered to be the “good dishes”...you know… just for company, but then we don’t actually use them when company comes because it’s just easier to use paper plates. I have found that there are 3 main reasons why many of us possess multiple sets of dishes:
Maybe your inherited dishes are very pretty or maybe they’re not… either way, they came from your Grandma, whom you adored, so how could you possibly get rid of them? Furthermore, how can you use them every day when Grandma only used them for special occasions? What if they get chipped or broken? Sometimes there is more than one set of antique dishes in a home. One set from Grandma and mercy…another set from Mom. They may even be passed down from a great grandmother, making them an even grander family heirloom and that much harder to let go of.
2. BYGONE TRADITIONS
The second reason for extra sets of dishes is that formal dinner parties are part of our parents and grandparents legacies. Everyone had “the good china” accompanied by fancy silverware and they actually used them for most special occasions. But this is a tradition of the past that is hanging on merely by our left over dishes. These days most of us are much less elaborate when we entertain and keeping things simple to save time is more important today than it was in the past. Even during the holidays, our family tends to use paper plates, we may buy the more elegant and expensive ones for the occasion, but we still stick with paper. After all, who wants to spend all afternoon washing fancy dishes on Thanksgiving Day instead of relaxing and visiting with family? Not me.
3. THEY MIGHT BE VALUABLE
The third reason we keep these dishes around is in anticipation that they may be worth a lot of money. We figure that since these inherited dishes are antiques, they must be valuable. The problem though is that taking the time to find someone to assess the value of them, then taking more time to sell them becomes a barrier to getting rid of them. So the dishes stay, and the years pass by and they serve no purpose in your home except to occupy space.
SO WHAT TO DO?
If you love Grandma’s dishes, why not go ahead and use them every day and get rid of the ugly, mixed matched, worn out dishes your using now? Just because Grandma only used them only for formal entertaining doesn’t mean you have to. And, not using them at all because a piece may get broken does not really make sense. That’s like buying an outfit and not wearing it because it may ware out someday. If you want to ensure that you preserve Grandma’s treasured dishes, take one place setting and put it in a keepsake box so that you will always have it. Then use the rest of the set and enjoy them, because life is short!
USE THEM OR LOSE THEM
On the other hand, if you really don't like the dishes you have inherited, why keep them out of guilt? Your loved one would not want to put this burden on you. Is it not better to honor the dishes by letting them go to someone who will cherish and care for them just as your loved one did? They are not serving anyone collecting dust in storage. Again, you can keep one place setting to have as a permanent keepsake. Your loved one will surely approve.
PASS THEM ON
If you happen to be keeping the dishes only to hand down to your child, talk with that child and be sure that he or she wants them. Many young people these days are less interested in antiques. If they really do want them, pass them on now, you should not be required to store your child’s dishes for 10 years.
BE REALISTIC ABOUT ENTERTAINING
Just because our mother and grandmother kept a “good” set of china complete with formal silverware does not mean we need to do the same. Embrace today’s lifestyle and ditch all the extra china and fancy silverware. When you entertain, do yourself a favor and let go of the fantasy of impressing others with elaborate and elegant dinner parties. Instead, consider keeping meals as simple as possible, so that you can enjoy entertaining often with more ease and less stress.
VALUABLE? – MAYBE, BUT PROBABLY NOT
I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, but most antique dishes are worth much less than most people would expect, even if they are beautiful and ancient. Do you really want to store presumably valuable dishes for 10 or 20 years just to eventually discover that that they are worthless? That said, some antique dishes can be valuable, so if in doubt, commit yourself to taking them to a few local antique dealers and having them assessed. Make it a priority and do it now rather than putting the task off. Then you can decide if you want to sell to the antique dealer, or take them home and sell them online. Just be sure that the money you make selling them on your own is worth the time you put into it. Oftentimes, all said and done, it’s not.
While there are a few things I could actually buy in bulk like toilet paper and energy bars...our family eats a ridiculous amount of energy bars, most of the food in our home gets used too slowly for me to justify stocking up with large quantity purchases. Since there are just four of us in living in our home, I do not personally shop in bulk. Buying in large quanties can save you money when it makes sense to do so, like buying frequently used non-parishable items or stocking up for an upcoming party. If your not careful however, you can actually end up spending more on groceries each month rather than less. The key to reaping the benefits of bulk shopping is to shop selectively and resist going overboard. Here are some things to consider when shopping at bulk food stores:
Bulk food stores encourage you to buy everything big. When you buy perishable products in bulk, you risk having it expire before it gets consumed. I have thrown out loads of expired food over the years while organizing client’s pantries. Stick to buying products that your family goes through quickly, and to non perishable basics like paper towels and toilet paper. Also, bulk food stores do not carry small packages of products, so if you happen to be out of something that you use only occasionally say, sesame oil, you'll be forced to buy a giant sized bottle and spend more money on it than you would have at a regular store. Furthermore, that sesame oil is more likely to expire before you can get it all used.
PACKAGE SIZE CONFUSION
Since sizes and quantities of products purchased in bulk are so different from regular sized items, it is difficult to compare apples to apples when it comes to prices. We can be tricked into thinking that we are saving more money on bulk items than we really are, so be sure to do your math before you make the purchase. Once you add on the membership fee you have to pay just to shop, your savings may be less than you think.
One primary way that stores cash in on our shopping habits is that we are naturally tempted to buy more of a given item just to get it at the lower price. Everybody wants a bargain, but it’s not a bargain if you didn’t need it in the first place. Resist going overboard by carefully considering each item and whether or not you really need that much of a given product before you put it in your cart.
The more stuff you have in your home, the harder it is to keep it all organized. The same theory applies to your pantry. Believe it or not, it is much easier to stay on top buying what you need if you don’t stock up. Once you have multiples of everything at home, it becomes difficult to monitor what products you are actually running low on. To keep your pantry under control, only replace the items that you are almost out of, and always use a grocery list. If you shop without a list, and just grab everything that you see because you’re not sure whether or not you might be running low at home, you are headed straight for inventory chaos and you’re sure to waste some money along the way.
LIMITED STORAGE SPACE
Though this one does not actually cost you money, it does cost you space and is perhaps the biggest negative to buying in bulk. Stocking up with large sized products takes up lots of precious storage space in your pantry. If you don’t have a lot of space, don’t allow a 6 pack of giant sized ketchup bottles to steal it, unless of course…you happen to run a burger joint out of your home. If your pantry is so full that it starts to spill over into a second location like your basement, you are likely to forget about what you have down there. Instead, store all of your food in one place and stop buying when your pantry is full. Larger non-perishables can be space hogs too, like paper towels, don't buy a pack of 48 rolls unless you have plenty of space to store them in for 6 months. Before you decide to put something in your cart, consider whether or not you have space for it at home. It is frustrating to get home and not know where to put the things that you purchased.
As American consumers, we are constantly being coaxed into buying more and buying bigger, because it means more money for the seller, but we don't have to be mindlessly wheedled into submission. We can't even order a burger at a drive thru without hearing, "Do you want to super size that?" By shopping mindfully and resisting the urgings to go overboard on sizes, you can save considerable amount of money. As a bonus, you'll also keep your pantry inventory organized and under control.
Written By Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free, Professional Organizing Services
I guess you could call this is a kind of Cinderella story of sorts. It is the tale of how a little pink plush monkey was rescued from the bottom of a lowly trash bin. She managed to escape by a monkey’s hair and rose up to the lofty heights of well… from a toys perspective, let’s just say she is no less loved than Buzz Light Year. Today, she proudly hangs from the door of my 16 year old daughter Emily’s bedroom. She has the important job of greeting and sizing up all who enter. Most of the other plush toys lay squashed a box in the back of her closet with numerous other forgotten stuffed toys. Some plushers are not even that lucky, they have been donated or discarded or much worse… passed on to the dog to slobber on and slowly tear into bits. But Las Vegas Monkey has a different story, she is one of the very few stuffed toys that Emily still proudly displays.
Years ago, before I started my organizing career, Las Vegas Monkey arrived into the arms of my two year old Emily. My husband and I took a business trip to Las Vegas and brought back two little plush monkeys as souvenirs for both of our girls. They loved them for awhile, but eventually they were seemingly lost and forgotten among the other multitudes of toys. One day, I was home alone and decided to do a bit of tidying up of the girl’s bedroom. At that time, combined, the girls must have had about 100 stuffed animals. As I rifled through the pile of trinkets and other debris, I came across Las Vegas Monkey. At that time, Emily mostly ignored this monkey (or so I thought) and I noticed that it's arm was broken, it had been pushed into her body making her look like she had only three limbs and I couldn’t pull it back out. I confirmed the toy to be officially broken. So I ask you, why keep a broken stuffed animal when you have 99 not broken ones to play with? I made an executive decision and tossed it into the trash. “Emily won’t even notice that it’s missing” I told myself. BUT, I was wrong...DEAD WRONG.
Poor Las Vegas Monkey laid there, dirty and broken in the bottom of a trash bag. Not much future lay ahead of her and the only worse fate she could imagine is finding herself in the jaws of the slobbering dog. Exactly one day later, while I was cooking supper, my sweet 4 year old came barreling out of her room with a look of terror on her face. “MOMMY!!!” she hollered, ‘Where is my pink monkey??? I can’t find her anywhere; You didn’t throw her away did you?” She asked this question in a “You wouldn’t do a terrible thing like that would you?” voice. With a guilty stare, I nodded sheepishly. Then I quickly tried to redeem myself by explaining logically to her that the monkey was broken and she had 99 other stuffed animals to play with. That excuse did not work even 1 percent. For one thing, it does not work to explain things logically to a hysterical 4 year old. She fell to the ground, seemingly heartbroken. Then she ran to her room to bawl. At that point, I was pretty sure she was never going to talk to me again. So what did I do? Well, I did what any guilty mamma with a heartbroken child would do... I went dumpster diving.
Fortunately for me, the trash had not yet been picked up. Unfortunately though, I had to search through every trash bag in the dumpster before I found Las Vegas Monkey. I finally found her at the bottom of a trash bag, at the bottom of the dumpster. She was wet and dirty and stinky, and so was I, but I felt victorious just the same. She went into the washing machine, Emily’s heart was mended, and I was forgiven...mostly.
Over the years, Emily has grown very fond of her little monkey, perhaps because she came so close to losing her, or, I like to muse that is because her mommy braved rotten food to rescue her. To this day though, it is not the dramatic rescue or the fact that the monkey was at the bottom of everything that Emily recalls. Nor does she remember how dirty and stinky I got. No, she only reminds me of how horribly wrong it was to toss her monkey into the trash in the first place. It took her along time to trust me again, and just to make me feel even worse, my husband, who is much handier than me at fixing things, managed to fix the monkey's arm after all. Las Vegas Monkey isn’t even handicapped anymore. So that is why today, she can hang gracefully and honorably from Emily’s bedroom door with both arms intact.
What might not mean much to you may be a treasure to another person, and you do not want to jeopardize your loved one's trust. Many of my clients have heard me tell this amusing story, and they know that I never ever recommend making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of for others. You can at best, put any items in question into a box for them to inspect and approve of before they let them go. Children need to make their own decisions as well…most especially, 4 year old little girls.
Organizing College Dorm Rooms; Ideas To Make The Most of Small Spaces
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.
WHAT TO DO WITH FAMILY KEEPSAKES
We were recently interviewed on home organizing ideas for home sellers, drawing from our extensive experience helping our clients move to new homes.
The first steps to prepare your home for the market are mostly the same things you should be doing to prepare to move. So it’s a great opportunity to hit two birds with one stone!
The main issue we see with our home organizing clients is simply too much – too much furniture, too much decoration, too much stuff. Homeowners accumulate items over the years and become immune to the first impression others get from their home.
Buyers put a LOT of weight on first impressions, and homes look larger when they have less furniture in them. This is why model homes are very sparsely decorated, with just a few select pieces of furniture.
So I recommend homeowners go through the home and look for things to donate or get rid of. There are even organizations that will come and pick up your donation free of charge like the Salvation Army or St. Vincent De Paul.
If there are items that you’d like to pack in advance, make sure to write a general description the contents on the outside of the box, and store them out of the way in the garage or basement, where they won’t affect a buyer’s first impression.
What about putting items in storage while the home is on the market, and then moving those items into the new home?
I try to direct homeowners away from storage units as much as I can. Most likely that storage unit will never get 100% cleared out, and you’ll pay for it month-after-month to store things you don’t use.
Plus items like photographs and keepsakes don’t do well in non-climate-controlled units, so there’s always a chance your items will be damaged in storage.
I recommend going through your home and letting go of anything you’re not currently using. If you absolutely must use a storage unit, here are a few tips:
Keep everything off the floor.
Make sure you leave aisles, and label your bins so that everything is accessible.
For safety purposes and to avoid lower bins from being crushed, don’t stack storage bins too high.
Put everything in plastic containers to protect from critters and from water damage
Many homeowners use professional movers, any tips for working with a moving company?
Yes! We help a lot of homeowners prepare for that type of move, and we have some great tips.
First, remember movers are flexible; you can hire them for certain parts of the job, or let them handle everything. I do recommend if you handle anything yourself, it’s the UN-packing. Movers are not organizers, you will spend less time looking for things if you unpack yourself or better yet, leave that job to a professional organizer.
A quick counter-intuitive tip: Professional movers are experienced in packing and moving fragile items, so if there’s one thing you leave to the pros that would be it.
If you have very valuable items such as high end art work, we suggest you move these items yourself or hire a company that specializes in packing and moving these types of items.
Beyond that, keep your movers (or helpers) happy, provide donuts in the morning or sandwiches for lunch, drinks in the afternoon, tip them well if they did a good job etc.
Lastly, if you do your own packing, make sure each box is clearly labeled with the box’s contents, and the room it’s going INTO, not the room it came FROM. You can also put up signs on each room to match the labels on the boxes, so that everyone knows exactly which room each box goes into.
The most important thing to remember is that whatever you pack first, will be the last to come off the moving truck. So do not pack items that you will need right away until the last minute.
Where can people learn more about home organizing and preparing to move?
We have some great tips for handling pets on moving day, which items to pack last, and so forth. You can visit us at www.cleanclutterfree.com or call us at 402-443-9673 and we’d be happy to answer any questions!
Thanks to the good folks at WestOmahaHomeGuide.com for interviewing us!
If you’re looking to buy a home, we highly recommend their site.
It features all sorts of useful information about West Omaha homes for sale, neighborhoods, events and local businesses like ours.
Click here to search all homes for sale in West Omaha.
Do you tend to have duplicates or even triplicates of the same spice taking up space in your spice cabinet because you accidentally bought a replacement thinking you were out?
If so, you may have a black hole residing in your spice cabinet. Spices go in, never to be seen again, then just as fast as they disappeared, they show up again, right AFTER you purchased another bottle. Am I right? Well do not fear, you can get rid of the black hole and keep your spice cabinet organized for good by following these easy steps:
Step 1: Take all of your spices out of your cabinet and sort all like spices together.
Step 2: Check expiration dates and throw out all expired spices. I find more expired items in spice cabinets than in any other room in the house.
Step 3: Remove all duplicates of the same spice and set them aside. Be sure to leave the bottle that is closest to expiring with your main spices to be used.
Step 4: Now it is time to organize. I recommend grouping spices according to category rather than alphabetically. For example: Place all of your grilling spices together, all garlic and onion salts and powders together, all herbs together, all sweet spices together (Cinnamon, ginger, cloves etc.).
Step 5: Use helpful organizing tools such as Lazy Susan’s, tiered shelving and plastic bins to make spices easier to sort, see and find. I try to arrange everything so that each and every spice can be seen at a glance with no bottles hiding behind other bottles. Group like spice categories together, ie: All herbs on the tiered shelving, all salts and powders on the Lazy Susan, all grilling spices in a plastic bin etc.
Step 6: Place all of your duplicates together in a separate location to ensure that they do not get used before the older bottle is gone (ie: In a plastic bin on the top shelf of the spice cabinet where they are accessible but out of the way).
Step 7: The most important step of all is to develop and stick to a simple maintenance routine; Always check the duplicate area before you buy replacements, and if it is time to buy another because the one bottle you have is nearly gone, place the new bottle in the bin until the old bottle is gone. When you run out of a spice, immediately write it on a grocery list so that you don’t forget to buy it. Remember to return spices back to their designated locations as you use them to keep them sorted and grouped together.
Congratulations! Your spice cabinet is organized and you have just eliminated that nasty black hole from your kitchen. All of your spices can now be seen and found easily!
Written By Laura Coufal
June 19th, 2015
Clean & Clutter Free
Spring is just around the corner, and it is the perfect time for a fresh start, the time to let go of the clutter in our homes that is weighing us down. Many of us have an over abundance of stuff that we no longer use. Prepare to live a little lighter and simpler beginning this spring by following these steps:
1. Do Not Wait, Donate. If you have many items you are holding onto because you want to have a garage sale or sell by another means, consider those that you are helping by donating your rarely and barely used items instead. Is the money you will make selling these items worth the time and effort it will take you for you to sell them? Is it worth the valuable space they are taking up? Lastly, consider the example you set for your children, when you donate to those in need. You can take it a step further and involve them in the process by asking them to donate some of their old toys as well. Also, remember that everything you donate is tax deductible.
2. Don’t Shop Impulsively. Before you bring anything new home, ask yourself three questions; will you honestly use it? Do you have a place to put it? And, most importantly, can you afford it? If you cannot answer yes to these questions, leave it at the store and leave the money in your pocket.
3. Limit Your Collections. I myself am not a collector, because well… it’s just stuff, and I can’t take it with me when I go. I like to say that I cherish people, not things. If you have several large collections cluttering up your home, consider reducing both the amount and size of them. Keep only those items you cherish the most. Too many collections make our homes look like stores, and lose their appeal. “Less is More” is the key phrase here.
4. Live Simply and Consciously. Fight the natural tendency to be materialistic. Be satisfied with what you already posses, rather than always seeking more material stuff. Contemplate the difference between what you want, and what you really need. Challenge yourself not to bring anything home this month other than the necessities. You’ll be surprised how much money you save. Read the book Living Minimalist, written by Joshua Becker. You may not necessarily become a Minimalist overnight, but it will definitely give you a new and improved perspective on how to live a simpler life.
5. Organize Strategically. Don’t try and organize the whole house at one time, as this will not only be overwhelming but it will be less rewarding at the end of the day. If you do a little organizing here and there, it’s hard to see tangible results. Instead, focus on one small area such as your pantry or your hall closet. Move onto another area only after you have completed the first. At the end of the day, you will reap the rewards of your labor every time you open your pantry door and see an organized space.
6. Don’t Shop Before you Sort. Because shopping for organizing products is fun, most people make the mistake of shopping too early. Be sure to sort what you have first, into groups of like items. Then purge what you no longer need after you finish sorting. If you complete these 2 steps first, you will have a much better idea of what you need and will avoid buying too much or the wrong organizing products. Use the prospect of getting to shop later as your incentive for getting the sorting and purging steps done first. You are more likely to complete your organizing project if you save shopping for later.
7. Establish a Donation Box. Keep a donation box in a designated location in your home year around, this will allow you and your family to toss no longer used items in, as they come across them. When the box is full, start a new box. This is a simple trick that will prevent unwanted items from getting shoved back into the drawer or closet.
8. Give Clutter Free Gifts. Gift certificates for restaurants or other experiences like game tickets, or movies are always well received. Offer to pay for a service that you know the receiver will appreciate, such as a massage or car wash. Even a gift certificate to a store is a step above a gift, because the receiver can buy something he or she really needs instead of getting a gift that may turn into unused and unwelcomed clutter down the road.
Written By Laura Coufal - Feburary 2015
Clean & Clutter Free
Storage units can be a helpful solution to storing personal belongings, while moving from one location to another. Keep the following tips in mind if you are thinking about utilizing a storage unit:
1. Create aisles in your unit with box labels facing out so that you can easily identify what is in each box or bin.
2. Use plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes to protect your belongings from possible water damage and critters such as mice.
3. Keep valuable items off the floor in case water gets into the unit.
4. Stack heavier boxes on the bottom so that heavier items do not crush the bins below.
5. Do not stack boxes too high to avoid stacks from toppling over.
6. Read your rental agreement so that you know the rules regarding termination and late payments.
Need a storage unit now? Check out SpareFoot.com for storage units located in the Omaha area: https://www.sparefoot.com/Omaha-NE-self-storage.html#infotiles"
Joanie Rich was starting a new phase of her life, and she wanted to do it in an uncluttered space. Last May she retired from four decades of teaching elementary school and finally would have the time to tackle some organizational issues at home.
“I had been talking to my friends about this project, and I decided I better just do it,” Rich said.
But where to start? And how?
First stop was Rich’s upstairs closets. She and a friend went through her wardrobe and she donated, or threw away items she didn’t need or wasn’t wearing anymore.
That was relatively painless, Rich said. She knew the first floor would be more difficult and decided to call in a professional.
She realized, mostly due to her bad knees and mobility issues, she had been coming home from work and just settling in without really putting things completely away. She used plastic totes to store needed items and just slid them under a table or cabinet, or stacked them in a corner out of the way.
Rich met with Laura Coufal, of Clean and Clutter Free, and the two came up with a plan. For Rich, the goal was to clear out her first floor, getting rid of some of the accumulation of her school items and make the space more usable for her post-teaching lifestyle. She wanted a place to do crafts, like her stamping and cardmaking -- and a desk that was cleared and organized.
And the bins -- her adult son, Steven, calls her the “queen of bins” -- that had been storing random items needed to be emptied or, at the very least, reorganized.
Coufal agreed; she showed Rich some areas that she thought could be reworked and offered a plan. Over a couple of months, the two would meet once a week and work on specific areas for a few hours.
“It takes time to get rid of years of accumulation,” said Coufal, a professional organizer. She said people shouldn’t feel guilty about getting rid of things or consolidating them.
In Rich’s case, for example, they started with three piles: Keep, throw and donate.
The hardest for Rich were the ones that were sentimental or had memories attached, she said. Coufal suggested taking a photo of the item to evoke that good memory.
“I could release it myself then,” said Rich.
Focusing on small areas at a time is another tried-and-true organizational strategy, Coufal said.
For instance, near the front door, they set up a small cabinet with some cubbies. Instead of stacking things randomly, there is now an area to put bills that need to be paid right after she opens the mail, another for scarves and gloves, and another for her clogs and tennis shoes. The recycle bin is right outside the door, easy for Rich to reach.
The small table near her recliner, which was overrun with “necessities,” has been cleared. One small sectioned box holds television remotes, paper and pen, and reading material.
“I’ve reclaimed my coffee table, too,” Rich said.
Getting rid of some big pieces of furniture in the dining room cleared out even more space. Rich wanted a table, but Coufal suggested her large dining room table with six chairs was really more than she needed.
A large entertainment center in that room was also cleared out. Rich happily donated that furniture and purchased a smaller, drop leaf table with two chairs that fits nicely in the corner. She can make it larger for dinner guests and it doubles as her craft desk.
The biggest challenge, according to Rich, and also the biggest accomplishment of the project was her desk area in the dining room. “It was horrible,” she said.
They went through it, creating a filing system for the papers she wanted to keep and getting rid of those she didn’t need. Her laptop has a space on the desk now, and she easily can access what she needs in that area.
As Rich looks around the rooms she is happy with the change, declarint it “a load off of my shoulders” to have it done.
Her new mantra, courtesy of Coufal: “If it just takes two minutes to put it away, take the time and do it.”
So far, so good.
It’s that time of year, when many homeowners want to clear out the clutter. To many of us, organizing is a great idea that is sometimes difficult to execute.
Here are a few ideas to get you started from Laura Coufal, professional coordinator.
* Organize strategically, so you can see tangible results. Focus on small areas, like your pantry or hall closet. Each time you open those door, you will see your newly organized space.
* Establish a donation box and keep it in a visible location in your home year 'round. Your family can toss items in as they come across them. When it is full, start a new box.
* Don’t buy organizing products/bins before you sort. First go through what you have, then you will have a better idea of what you need and won’t buy the wrong items.
*Limit your collections. If you have large collections, go through them and decide to keep only the best of the best. At the very least, display only a small selection, so your home doesn’t look like a retail store.
*Sort through the storage boxes/bins you already have. Sometimes these turn into a hodge podge of items or things you thought were worth keeping years ago. If you have a lot of these, start by going through two or three at one time.
Reach the writer at 402-473-7214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @LJSkcmoore.
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Back To School
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Change Of Seasons
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Clutter Control For Creative People
College Dorm Room Organizing
Craft Room Clutter
Dining Room Organizing
Establish Helpful Routines
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Haiti Mission Trip
Just For Laughs
Keep Pantry Simple
Kids And Keepsakes
Kids Room Clutter
Less Is More
Living In The Present
Make More Room In Your Pantry
Money Saving Tips
Organizing & ADHD
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Simplify Your Home
Spice Cabinet Organizing
Storing Christmas Decor
Stress Free Organizing
Teaching Organizing Skills To Kids
The Danish Art Of Hygge
To Do Lists
Too Many Sets Of Dishes
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Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.