Category Archives: Kids

Car Seat Recycling at Participating Targets

Have you had trouble finding a new home for your child’s outgrown car seat?  The charity stores won’t take them.  It can be pain. They take up a lot of room in your house or garage and they don’t fit in the trash can!!

TerraCycle and Target want to reward you for recycling your old car seat at a participating Target store!

How It Works

From April 17th through April 30th, you have the opportunity to recycle your old car seat at participating Target locations! To participate, simply bring your old car seat to the designated Target Take Back recycling area at a participating Target store.

All car seat brands are accepted for recycling. In return for recycling your car seat, you will earn a 20% discount on a new car seat.

To see if there are participating Target locations in your area, please click here.

You don’t have to buy a new car seat in order to take advantage of this service.

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Filed under children, Decluttering, Kids, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse

Grab-N-Go Kits for Hassle-Free Outings

Be Prepared For a Day at the Beach

Be Prepared For a Day at the Beach … or Anywhere!

Want to head out to the park and find yourself scrambling around the house trying to find where the sunscreen was last left? Or the hats?

Summer, with its many outings and camps is a great time to put together a few “grab & go” bags. If you have certain activities you do often, it is worth duplicating some items in order to always have them on hand when you’re ready to go. The bag contains the staples that always need to be there and things like snacks or reading material can be added as needed.

Beach/Pool Bag: bathing suits, sunscreen, goggles, earplugs, towels & hats

Park/Outing Bag: sunscreen, hats, bug repellant, picnic blanket

Day Camp Bag: sunscreen, sunglasses money, hat, light jacket

The key is having a dedicated home where your specialty bags live and remembering to replenish the bags after your outings. Make sure freshly laundered items make their way back into their bags instead of into a dresser or cabinet.

This model of making specialty bags also applies year-round to other activities and not just for kids:

  • Sports: uniform, water bottle, sunscreen
  • Overnights: toiletries, flashlight,
  • Classes: paper, pen, class materials
  • Gym/Workout: water bottle, toiletries, snack bars
  • Meetings or Committees: notepad, pen, reference materials
  • Charging kit: extra phone & computer chargers

It may seem like a bit of extra work, but when your supplies are ready to go, getting out the door quickly keeps you relaxed and able to be spontaneous. Spend your time on your outing instead of stressing out and wasting time searching the house for the park blanket. As an added benefit your kids learn the benefits of being prepared ahead of time!

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Filed under children, Decluttering, Holidays, homework, Kids, organizing, School, Strategies, Travel

Minimalism Movie: Lessons Learned

minimalism picture (1)

live a curated life … life by design instead of by default

 

Last week the three showings of the Minimalism documentary that our professional association (NAPO) hosted sold out! The majority of the attendees stayed afterward to share their impressions.

Here are 5 of our takeaways from the movie:

  • Fashion Challenge: Project 333. A woman who picked just 33 pieces of clothing, shoes and accessories and just wore those for 3 months. The point is that no one noticed!
  • The story about the couple where the woman had multiple sclerosis. They decluttered their lives to bring her stress level down as a way of managing her MS symptoms.
  • Seeing people live in tiny houses or small apartments designed with moveable walls and features that enable minimal living challenged our assumptions about how much space we really need.
  • Fabulous clip of a speech by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 on consumption. His message: Owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning.
  • The idea that we need to be MORE materialistic, not less. Attaching value to well-made construction … treating items with care so they have long lives. When did furniture become as consumable as magazines??

What we wanted to hear more about:

  • Details of the different styles of minimalism with concrete examples of HOW different kinds of people have implemented minimalism in their lives.
  • How this philosophy applies across class and race

Here’s a movie that will help us all challenge assumptions about what’s disposable, what we really need; inviting us to stop and reframe those assumptions with the goal of living with less.

As professional organizers, we’ve been exposed to the dark side of overconsumption. It has given us a perspective of minimalism by default and thus we mostly live simply.

After watching the movie Dana felt liberated to keep her favorite sweater. She had felt pressure from our culture to have new, more fashionable clothes. Though old and getting a little worn, the sweater still looks good, is a classic style, works well, and she loves it! It’s a keeper.

What has this movement given you permission to do? Need some more ideas? Check out www.theminimalists.com.

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Guest Experts, home organizing, Kids, organizing, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Closing Out the School Year

 

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Do you know that feeling of celebration when the school year ends? It’s all well and good but with the end of school comes stacks of homework, completed art projects, elaborate dioramas and original literary works.

Do yourself a huge favor and don’t wait until the end of the summer to weed through it all. The good news – it doesn’t have to be a big hairy project. You can make huge headway in a short amount of time. As little investment as one hour can save you lots of hassle in the fall.

Here are four quick projects you could do in an hour (especially if you enlist the kids for some help!):

  • Empty out the school backpacks completely and search the house for orphaned schoolwork
  • Go through completed homework and separate true keepers from the rote worksheets and tests. Pick a representative sample that captures the school year and preserve only the assignments that both you and your child want to carry forward
  • Decide what you’d like to display and move other items to a memorabilia box or oversized art portfolio (pay attention to the fact that these items have a lifespan)
  • Throw out broken or used-up school supplies – dead glue stick, broken pencils, dry highlighters, etc. – in the process create a kit with the leftovers to be used for next year’s backpack

Involving the kids teaches them the lesson of “cleaning up” after an event. It teaches children the importance of having a sense of closure and responsibility. This is a useful habit for other areas of life too: you know the problem…you return from a conference or a trip and all your mementos, notes and maps are stuffed into a backpack or gift bag waiting to come back and haunt you at a later date.

Do you have a tip for how you motivate your children to go through their schoolwork? Share it with us!

 

 

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Filed under children, General Organizing, Kids, paper organizing, School

Say Bye-Bye to Toy Clutter!

bye bye

Parting is such sweet sorrow!

We love learning from our clients! On a recent appointment with a client, Dana noticed a mid-sized bag on the floor of the kitchen pantry. She asked what it contained and the client said “Oh, that’s the Bye-Bye Bag!”

This is a great technique for holding her kids accountable for cleaning up their play space. Here how the “Bye-Bye Bag” technique works:

  • When it’s time to pickup the playroom give the kids a set time to get the job done.
  • If they refuse or the time is coming to a close, remind the kids that any toys they choose not to put away will go into the “Bye-Bye Bag.”
  • The Bye-Bye Bag holds toys for 1 week. At any point during the week they can go into it and choose to put a toy away but at the end of the week anything left in the bag gets donated.

Here are 5 keys to making it actually work:

Make cleanup easy (and possible!). Have accessible, simple homes for toys to be put away. It’s hard for kids to cleanup if shelves and bins are stuffed and jumbled.

Make A Routine. Setting a regular time in the day linked to an event that always happens (teeth brushing?) helps create an expectation for children. For example, have toy pickup always be 15 minutes before teeth brushing time.

Be Consistent! You don’t have to break out the bag 100% of the time for cleanups but address the reluctant behavior consistently so kids understand that it’s part of the routine.

Be Firm but Kind. The point of the exercise is to teach responsibility and accountability. Putting away toys is their choice, but there are consequences to the choices they make. This is a very important life lesson! Using the Bye-Bye bag doesn’t have to be threatening or mean, just a simple consequence for their choice.

Follow Through. The power of this technique only stays effective if toys actually do go “bye-bye.” If they aren’t retrieved from the bag in a week’s time, out they go! To ensure prompt follow-through keep the bag somewhere you’ll remember.

Have a question about how to apply this in your home? Or do you have a variation that has worked well for you? Share it here!

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Filed under children, Decluttering, General Organizing, home organizing, Kids, Living Room

Easy Solutions for Keeping Kid Keepsakes

kid art - 1

Do you have a unwieldy stack of kid creations in your garage or closet? Do you love to see the creativity in the various objects they create then feel paralyzed by the thought “Now what do I do with it?” Rest easy, you’re not alone. In our decades of organizing, kid art and memorabilia is one of the most common clutter challenges we deal with.

Here are 3 tips to manage the overwhelm:

Show it off before stowing it away

Dedicate a bit of wall and surface space to display the most recent creations. It gives time for everyone to appreciate the items and for attachments to wane a little. When new items come in, it’s time to decide whether the older items really make the cut at true keepsakes.

Separate the wheat from the chaff

They aren’t all keepers. Really. Remember, the goal is to keep a representative sample that catches a snapshot of their life. This includes homework. Routine worksheets and tests aren’t nearly as personal as original writing – kids talking in their own words about their lives in that moment. Also, don’t delude yourself that you’ll “make time to go through it later”. Be honest, you’re life is likely too busy and there’s far better uses of your time.

Use the right containers

Oversize art portfolios (available from craft & art stores) work perfectly for the preschool/early elementary years. Regular size art, homework, awards, cards/letters, and school/sport photos fit perfectly in a plastic file storage box with box bottom hanging files for each school year. Definitely have separate containers for each child. Object art does best in it’s own box, tissue wrapped for protection.

Bonus tip: Go digital! Take pictures of your child’s creations and put them in a system – folders, iphoto albums or sites like Picasa. And there are many apps available to memorialize your kids’ art.

Imagine your grown child coming back home to clear out their things after they’ve launched. They find a discreet amount of their memorabilia – a portfolio and a box – with the special art they created in their childhoods and are able to enjoy the memories and revel in their creativity while not being overwhelmed by dusty heaps of tattered paintings and dog-eared papers.

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Filed under Bedroom, children, Closets, Decluttering, disorganization, Empty Nest, Garage, General Organizing, home organizing, Kids, Memorabilia

Purging Toys With Your Kids

toy jumble

Is your child’s play area overwhelming?

US children make up just 3.1% of the global kid population, but American families buy 40% of the world’s toys. Time Magazine, 3-23-15

When parents recognize the limits of their space and try to get the kids involved in purging, they often can’t get past the kids’ resistance to letting go — suddenly everything is precious. Here are some suggestions to keep the kids involved but meet the goal having your stuff fit comfortably in your space.

Let kids help, not lead. Involving kids in the decision making process helps them learn about limits but YOU need to stay at the helm. If you defer to your kids to lead the project it will rarely progress. If it’s an overwhelming situation it’s just fine, and often appropriate, to pull rank and make purging decisions without their input.

Have-to-Have vs. Nice-to-Have. Kids always approach the purging decision from the perspective of “do I like/want this?” When you have more toys than will comfortably fit in your space, “like/want” can be a first layer of purging but there will need to be a second layer of tough choices that is solely about space constraints.

Narrow the focus of decisions. For example, “We have room to keep 10 (pick a number) board games, pick out your 10 favorite” or “We have room to keep one box of little cars/planes/vehicles; here’s a box, fill it up with your favorites”. This way you are leading the process and setting boundaries on the volume but the child gets to make choices. Choosing one specific category to work on prevents overwhelm and distractions. It’s much easier to decide favorite puzzles, for example, if you’re looking at all of them at one time instead of randomly as you come across them.

Set specific timeline goals. For example, pick one category of toys per week to purge. Sample categories:

  • Balls, bats, small sport equipment
  • Action figures, character toys
  • Board games
  • Card games
  • Electronic games
  • Large environment toys – play kitchen, activity centers
  • Building toys
  • Art supplies: (easiest to do these separately) markers, crayons, pencils, paints, stamping, stickers, etc.

As a last resort. If you’re not quite ready to let something go, it OK to pack it up and move it to a garage or closet in “limbo” until a little more time passes and the attachments lessen. Date the box and commit to revisiting these items.

Let’s be clear – toys are all about WANT, not about NEED. When faced with an overflowing playroom we like to remind parents of the Little House on the Prairie story where the kids were thrilled to get a small doll made from a used sock each year. For centuries kids were perfectly content to entertain themselves with their imaginations and their natural environment. Our modern culture has shifted to pressure parents into providing an endless variety of “stuff.”

As we approach the gift-giving season, it’s the perfect time to re-assess the old and make room for the new. With fewer toys there is less clutter and less cleanup. It’s much easier to hold kids accountable for picking up when toys can be put away easily. The biggest bonus – more time to actually play with the toys you keep!

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Filed under Bedroom, children, Decluttering, General Organizing, Kids, organizing