Toys in general can be a challenge to donate as many thrift stores don’t take them. Now, according to Joan Verdon of Forbes Magazine, parents can add one more resource for re-purposing one of the most popular toys – Lego.
Lego has launched a pilot program, Lego Replay, that lets you print out a free shipping label and send back used Lego’s. Lego’s partner in the pilot, Give Back Box, will receive, clean, sort and repackage the Legos for delivery to Teach for America and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston. The pilot program will run through spring of 2020 and hopefully be expanded to other countries.
Other toy recycling options:
- Toy consignment
- Lego Reseller Bricks & Minifigs
- Posting for free on your neighborhood email group
- Donate to after-school programs
Read the full Forbes article here.
To continue the cycle of re-use, consider procuring your upcoming holiday gifts through consignment stores or online postings!
A great reason to declutter and organize your home is the possibility of leveraging it to rent or share or swap. Seeing your home through the eyes of guests can motivate you to pare down essential areas, streamline your own living style and in the process and create a more attractive place to live!
House swapping (HomeExchange) is a great way to eliminate lodging cost from a vacation. Short term rentals (AirBnB, VRBO) are a great way for empty nesters to earn some extra income. It can take a lot to get your space prepared to share – even partially – but comes with the added bonus of giving your home a refreshing makeover to make it more livable for you…and your family and friends.
Imagine someone walking into your home and saying, “What a nice place to stay!” You can achieve this effect without turning your house into a hotel. A few improvements can make a huge difference…and inspire you to do more. Here are 3 strategies to make this happen:
1 – Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
On visible surfaces — in the kitchen, the bathroom and the bedroom — clear out everything but the basics
- Excess products put away or discarded
- Clear the nightstand of dusty books and paraphernalia
- Simplify the décor
- Develop systems for managing laundry
- Take care of any outstanding repairs that create safety issues
There’s quite a range from being very clean, neat, usable, but looking very lived in to making it look more like a hotel…very sparse. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but usable. If you are renting you can charge more for a more hotel-like environment.
2 – Create Space for Overflow and Personal Items
- Make the house easily transformable to reduce the hassle of preparing to share. When you want to make it “guest ready” for yourself, for a relative coming to stay, for a party, or for a short term rental or house swap.
- Make space in a closet or part of a room where you can secure your personal or valuable items for things you would put away when someone is using your space. You can even dedicate an extra room for this purpose and have a locking door.
- Make space in cabinets or closets to store overflow items neatly but out of the way.
3 – Making Key Supplies and Info Accessible
- Prepare an “Welcome to Our Home” cheat sheet with key emergency contacts, and basic instructions for things like TV use, internet access, and trash/recycling.
- Make sure you have clean towels and sheets available and visible
- Consider stocking the kitchen with a few basics such as coffee/tea to make guests comfortable
If you’re considering doing short term rentals, there are other considerations re supplies that renters might expect. Places like AirBNB provide convenient list of things you should have stocked in your home
Not sure where to start? An organizing assessment with a Professional Organizer can provide you a punch list of things you could do, give you advice on the viability of sharing and also give you tips on what to tackle first.
Filed under Decluttering, downsizing, Empty Nest, General Organizing, home organizing, Kitchen, Living Room, Memorabilia, middle-age, organizing, Perspective, Strategies
Did you know organizers don’t just organize? Professional organizing comes in all sorts of flavors. Some organizers are more generalists and cover lots of areas; others pick one specialty and stick to that. Have a look at the variety of challenges where professional organizers can help:
- Business development
- Children and teen organizing
- Chronic disorganization
- Closet design and organizing
- Corporate operations
- Digital organizing
- Estate management
- Estate sales
- Event planning
- Feng Shui
- Financial management/Bookkeeping/Bill-paying
- Garage sales
- Hands-on organizing
- Hoarding behavior
- Home inventories
- Home offices
- Home staging
- Household management
- KonMari organizing
- Notary Public
- Online sales
- Paper management
- Personal assistance
- People with disabilities
- Project management
- Psychology involved in organizing/productivity
- Records management
- Relocation and move management
- Social media
- Space planning and design
- Speaking and training
- Storage units
- Task and time management
- Team productivity
- Travel prep
- Virtual organizing
No matter the size or scope of your project, we can help you find an organizer with the specialty you need! Ask us for recommendations or go directly to the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals — NAPO.net.
Filed under ADD/ADHD, artwork, Bathroom, Bay Area Services, Bedroom, Business Organizing, children, Closets, clothing, couples, Decluttering, disorganization, downsizing, Empty Nest, Garage, General Organizing, Holidays, home organizing, Kids, Kitchen, Laundry, Living Room, Memorabilia, Moving, Office, Paper, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, School, Seniors, Storage, Technology, Time Management, Travel, Wedding
Halloween approaches and, as with any holiday, it’s an opportunity to revisit how you organize all the supplies that go with it. Drag out all the bags and boxes where your Halloween stuff is lurking and give it a fresh look!
- Set aside outgrown kid costumes to hand-down to friends & family or donate.
- Repair or discard damaged/broken props and costumes.
- It can be useful to separate small props/accessories from larger costume pieces.
- Ziploc bags or smaller boxes within a larger container are helpful.
- Give your future self a gift and label all containers.
It’s a good idea to keep décor in a separate container from costumes. It makes decorating easier and you may need costumes for other parties/occasions/general dress-up play. It makes sense to have them live in different locations.
There’re basically 2 options for Halloween specific party stuff– keep them with other Halloween supplies or keep them with other party supplies.
- Halloween friends: Sometimes these end up stuffed into the same box as décor. That can work if you don’t have that much but do yourself a favor and at a minimum use large Ziploc bags to keep paper goods separate from house décor.
- All party friends: Store all holiday/party specific paper goods in a container together but keep them separated by holiday/event within that container.
A word about containers…
Don’t forget the concept of container as limiter! What containers you choose depends largely on where you decide to store Halloween supplies and how much room you’re willing to give over to it. Lidded tubs are great because they’re deep and can stack and be labeled easily.
Some décor (such as giant inflatables and yard props) are too large to contain in a tub and must have some shelf or floor space. Remember, you get to choose how much is enough in each category – contain it appropriately then live within.
While we are working with people who are downsizing or just clearing space, we hear the stories about many of the objects that they might be parting with. We’re always looking for ways to help our clients to make room for their next chapters and/or to let go of excess stuff. It’s often the attachments to “stuff” that holds people back from making that move to a more desirable area, to downsize into a place that feels more cozy … or to just have people over.
We were introduced to Laura Turbow of Still Life Stories. She and her partner Rachel Friedman, photograph and capture the essence of special items. Grandpa’s chair, a prized-but-bulky trophy, that taxidermied swordfish that just doesn’t fit any more (did it ever?). In the process, they honor an individual and/or the story behind it.
One of the goals of Still Life Stories is to help people hold on to what matters and brings them joy and to let go of the rest. That happens to dovetail with our work as Professional Organizers. We help people discern what our clients will bring with them into their future. And to keep what brings them joy.
Downsizing does not have to mean the end of things. Converting the ‘thing’ into digital photos and story that can be shared and remembered, that can survive fires, floods and disasters…while giving you the space you need. The April 4th post on the Still Life Stories Facebook page shows the power of a story when the history behind an object is shared.
Have you thought about moving but feel paralyzed at the prospect of how to go about dealing with everything involved? You’re not alone! Moving can be an extremely overwhelming project. A good way to approach the task is to think of it in 4 areas.
What To Do With All Your Stuff?
- The sooner you start paring down belongings – whether you’re moving or not – the better.
- It can be easier to think about your possessions from the perspective of what you want to keep rather than what you want to get rid of.
- Start with low-hanging fruit…it is way easier to purge accumulated office supplies than the decades long backlog of photos.
- If you’re stuck, enlist the help of friends or family (only if they will be non-judgmental), or enlist a professional organizer or senior move manager. These can be found at net, NAPO-SFBA.org, and NASMM.org.
Deciding Where To Live
- Work with a Placement Specialist – ideally someone local, not a general internet service. Placement services are free because they are compensated by the living facilities. Local professionals really know the features and culture of all the available options and will work to find the right fit for your personality and needs.
- Choosing a home or retirement community is as much about the outside life you’ll have there as the place itself. Do you want/need to stay near your current doctors, family, friends, and familiar areas? How will moving impact your social circle and support network?
- There are many different options for downsizing – including staying at home! Sometimes the best choice will be plan for support services so you can age in place at home.
- Start looking before you’re ready to move. It can take awhile to make a decision about where will be the right fit…it’s much better to do the legwork and take your time about this major decision than feel pressured or rushed if something happens and you have to move quickly.
Manage Your Emotions
- Moving can be one of life’s most stressful events; expect to feel a range of emotions both positive and negative.
- Don’t go it alone! Create and rely on a support network – friends, family, hired professionals to share the tremendous workload and stress of the move.
- Be aware that feelings about a move can come in different stages and layers.
- Having conversations early on with your adult children (or parents) about moving can bring clarity and more ease when the actual move happens.
- Document your desires around long term and emergency care in writing to ensure your wishes are honored if you aren’t able to advocate for yourself.
- The move doesn’t end on moving day – adjusting to your new space and life can take time and support.
Selling Your House
- There are real estate professionals that specialize in working with seniors. Look for the designation: SRES – Senior Real Estate Specialist.
- There are different financing options available to help make a move happen. Consult a reputable mortgage broker or realtor to discuss options.
- Work with a realtor who really knows your area and takes all the specifics of your situation into account when making the plan for how best to sell .
- Staging matters – Most buyers have the easiest time picturing their life in your home when the home is staged rather than filled with your things.
- Work with a realtor who partners or can refer to a professional organizer or senior move manager to help you downsize.
Intimidating as it is, getting started on any of these items is the best way to start! Pick something that feels relatively easy to get the ball rolling. Every step you take brings you closer to the end goal!
Are your parents ready to move? Maybe one is thinking about moving but the other isn’t ready? Are you worried about their safety and think they should be thinking about moving but they don’t seem interested at all?
Assess the situation and be realistic. Deciding to downsize is process with many layers and chapters. Where are your parents in that process?
- Not ready. Can’t see themselves leaving home
- Considering the possibility, but not convinced
- Ready but don’t know where or how
- Ready and have a plan
Assuming your folks ARE ready to move and are just getting started, here are some tips for helping you successfully help them:
- Your pace may not be their pace. Be respectful and mindful of where your parents are at in the process of being ready to move. You’ll only be able to go as fast as they are capable and willing to. Understanding their resistances rather than fighting them will enable you to better tailor your message to their ears.
- Help assess their immediate needs. Are they or you considering moving because of a need around safety, health, hygiene, housekeeping, meals, or social life? Help identify solutions to challenges in these areas while they are still at home if possible.
- Don’t let your attachments hold them bac Can’t believe they are wanting to get rid of the special quilt Aunt Mary made? Then you take it!
- Don’t take sides. When one person in the couple wants to move but the other doesn’ Generally, unless health and safety are at risk, there are many pros and cons to moving – all subject to a particular person’s perspective. Remember that the negotiation process between couples is complicated and not so much about right and wrongs as it is about finding a set of solutions that both can live with.
- Offer to find resources. Downsizing and moving can require a lot of research and using different vendors – offer to research and coordinate potential resources that may be needed during the process. This can allow your parent to focus on the work of sorting and decision making.
- Estate sale folk, auction houses, online auctions: who is in the area? How do they work and what percentage do they take? What happens to the things not sold?
- Thrift stores – which ones will come pickup from the house? Which ones require staging things outside? Who will take what?
- Hazardous waste – how to get rid of leftover cleaners and chemicals in your area? (stopwaste.org) Are free pickups offered for seniors in your area?
- Free city bulky waste pickups – most cities offer at least 1 per year but all have different rules about how to schedule them, what can be picked up, and how items have to be organized at the curb.
- Movers & packers – find out rates, ranges, and availability. Check reviews and call references
- Professional moving/organizing help – Sometimes an extra hand is needed to make the move happen. NASMM.org and NAPO.net both offer search pages to find professionally trained help in your area.
Additional resources you may find useful: