Everyone with kids knows that they typically come with lots of STUFF. And somehow it keeps coming in…if you have more than one kid the challenge is even greater.
This buildup is natural. More than any other time of life, the very nature of childhood is about growth and change. Your child’s abilities, interests, and sizes are constantly evolving – and all the toys, clothes, learning materials change along with them. And young ones are magnets for toys and gifts from relatives.
This means if you aren’t keeping a constant vigil on moving out outgrown items (and how many of us are, really?) you’ve likely got some backlog of unused and unneeded kid stuff.
If your kids have a little more time at home during the summer, take advantage of that to do some weeding.
Break It Down
You’ll have a better chance at success if you focus their attention onto one category of stuff at a time. A general request to “clean out the playroom” isn’t going to get them very far. But a specific request to gather up all the DVDs and choose the ones they love to watch is much easier to get follow through on.
If you divide up the project into categories you’re teaching an important skill about grouping “like items” together.
Put out a big bag or box and have the kids weed some or all of these groups:
- Board games
- Clothes that don’t fit (can even break this down by type – tops, pants, jackets)
- Sports equipment
- Craft supplies
- Art projects/ drawings
- DVDs, video games
- Toys (you can break this category down by type – electronic, stuffies, dolls)
Create a System and Motivate
Sometimes it’s easier to decide what to keep, rather than what to let go of. Clearly labeling 3 bags or boxes – KEEP, MAYBE, DONATE/SELL can help. Let your family know it’s like going shopping for things they love within our own collection. This helps kids get in touch with making conscious choices about what they really use and like.
Motivation strategies to get them going:
- Help them visualize the end result – more space to play with their favorite items
- Use a timer to bound the work
- Offer incentives or rewards – a movie night after clearing out unwanted DVDs for example.
- Create a contest or game around who can purge the most
If you’re paying for a babysitter or childcare, enlist their help to tackle 1 category a day. Even as little as ½ hour each week spent on weeding will go a long way to staying ahead of the next influx of new gifts or purchases!
Last time we covered how to pack most effectively for a comfortable travel experience. This week we cover the same issue in your carry-on bag. In addition to making you most comfortable for the duration of the flight what you bring in your carry-on matters in case your luggage is lost or delayed. You may not want all these items (some are specific to international travel) but consider this list an open buffet to choose from:
- Boarding pass
- Passport and/or ID
- Copy of complete flight itinerary
- Copy of any transportation or accommodation plans
- Physical address of where you are staying: You will need this to complete immigration forms and it may be helpful to share with cab drivers as well so they can easily look up directions.
- Visa confirmations
- Hand lotion
- Contact solution
- Toothbrush and mini-toothpaste
- Bath wipes to help you freshen up
- Face wipes or mini bottle of face wash and wash cloth
- Ear plugs
- Eye mask
- Long flights: oral sleep aid, your own pillow and blanket
* Make sure any liquids are in a bag meeting carry-on size requirements
- Nut butter sandwich (unless you’re allergic, of course)
- Fruit – apple or dried fruit travel well
- Granola/muesli bars or protein bars.
- Water bottle: Buy one after passing through security, or if you can wait, bring an empty bottle from home (you can bring this through security) and fill up on the plane.
- iPod (or your music player of choice)
- Kindle (or similar) to read books without weighing down your bag
- Music, books, movies
- 1-2 shirts (change of clothes)
- Your favorite “I would HATE to lose this” article of clothing
- Wallet with essential credit cards and other important cards (leave extras at home)
- Camera equipment
- Phone and car keys
- Travel guides – be careful not to overdo this category. Pick your favorite one and leave the rest at home.
- Something to write with – in case you have a brainstorm
- Medication or supplements
What NOT to Bring
…on the plane or in your luggage
- That stack of books you haven’t gotten to in the past 6 months. Heard of that cool thing called a Kindle?
- Multiple shoes for every occasion. If planned activities demand a variety (probably not a good idea to wear running shoes to the cocktail party) limit yourself to 1 sport, 1 dress, 1 casual. Wear your bulkiest shoes while in transit.
- Too tight clothes
- Too fancy formals
- Dashing outfits don’t have the courage to wear at home
These are the basics of what to bring on board for a long trip. Again, pick and choose what is important to you. Some experts advise to bring the bare minimum and buy what you need when you arrive. It all depends on how willing you are to experience discomfort. Traveling with children can be approached in the same way; bring only the basics to save yourself from unnecessary physical stress. Just remember that whatever you bring, you’ll have to schlep it and account for it at every juncture.
What items have you found most useful to bring along on trips? Most useless?
Stuck on what get that special someone for a gift this holiday season? Here are a few of our favorite organizing gifts in no particular order:
These handy bags are ideal for the organized person who likes to use different purses and bags. It sits inside a satchel, keeping items separate and lifts out easily to transfer contents to another tote. They come in a variety of colors that appeal to both women and men.
InBag® Handbag Organizer
Labeling containers makes knowing where to put things back clear and easy. Don’t forget to include batteries and label tape! Label tapes come in ¼”, ½”, and ¾” widths. The 3/4″ width tape is our favorite for large containers…and the tapes come in a variety of colors!
There are many different styles and sizes of these. They can really help to minimize device and cable counter clutter. Consider purchasing short charging cables that stay with the station and save the long ones for travel.
These are a handy way to keep nightstand clutter down. They’re also available for couches!
Clip and Keep Sofa Organizer
BONUS! Stocking Stuffers
PLUS brand GuardYourID Roller: An easy way to get more paper clutter into recycling instead of keeping a pile for shredding…
Post-Its® Super Sticky Pads are fun for the whole family!
Belkin® Cable Ties are handy little chaos-tamers
We hope this helps stimulate your brainstorming while shopping for the best gifts for your friends and family.
Next week, we’ll showcase some consummable presents we think are pretty special.
What are your favorite practical holiday gift ideas?
Is it a challenge to keep up during the holidays?
This is a re-post of a blog by our favorite time management expert, Sydney Metrick of Artful Coaching
The days are getting shorter as we approach winter, and you might feel like there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done; especially during the holiday season. Is it possible to keep up? Or even get ahead? Here are some tips.
- Look at the dates of the big holidays you celebrate. What do you typically do for each of them. Think about how long the preparations have taken in past years and schedule start dates for the tasks.
- Do you have to do everything yourself? Consider what you can delegate and let others take care of those things.
Are the items on your task list “must do” or just “it would be nice to do.” Focus on the must do items.
How much time can you free up to do the things that are actually important? Is watching television or hanging out on Facebook really necessary?
Plan each day every morning. Think about what tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
Learn to say no. It’s okay to set limits.
- Less is more. Think about what is enough and what might be more than necessary.
- If things feel overwhelming just pick three things you will do that day and put your energy and time into doing them.
- Give yourself credit for anything and everything you accomplish no matter how small.
Get plenty of rest no matter what.
Think of being the person who designs your life.
Choose one item on this list and take action this week. Let us know how it goes!
Make a Wish, Your Dreams Could Come True
In the magical spirit of the holidays, we’ve created a list that would guarantee an organized life forever!
- A gift list that writes itself with what everyone really wants
- An elf to put clothes and shoes in order every day before bedtime
- A time warp button to use will to create extra time in the day when needed
- Magnetized desk accessories and supplies that jump back to their homes when the magnet is activated.
- A mailbox force field that automatically rejects and recycles junk mail
- A giving fairy to donate unneeded items to the perfect charity when they most need it
- A gratitude enchantment so that every thought to do something nice for someone automatically gets done
- A dust vacuum that sucks up all the dust before it lands on furniture and knick-knacks – wait, is there already something like this? An air purifier?
- Magical file folders and paper that file themselves and then self-destruct when expired
- An enchanted microphone that translates parents’ commands and instructions into something children welcome and retain
Enjoy the last bits of 2013 and make sure to add these items to your family’s gift list!
Look forward to lots more tips and advice in 2014!
Tips for Holiday Dressing
This week, as a slight tangent to organizing, we invited professional stylist Jalyn Tani Lang to teach us how to mine our closets to easily create a “special” outfit for holiday events. Perhaps this will inspire you to take on a closet makeover after the holidays!
Holidays spell joy and good cheer but can also spell “fashion crisis”! What to wear to that special event? Do you dig out that reindeer sweater and flashing lights necklace? Here are some ideas, on trend, to lessen the sartorial anxiety and have you looking festive AND stylish!
Use Accessories to up the bling quotient and add some pizazz to slacks, suits or dresses
- Sparkly pumps with a pointed toe or bejeweled smoking slipper or flats
- Dangly rhinestone earrings
- Statement necklace
- Beaded collars added to a tailored blouse or simple sweater
- ornate cocktail rings and bold bracelets
- pearl necklaces, layered in multiples
- sumptuous shawls
- embellished scarves
Use Fabrics for elegance
- velvet pants or blazers
- brocade jacket or pants
- lace in anything– a skirt, a blouse, a scarf or shawl
- silk crepe blouse and tuxedo suit
Use Color and Pattern
- in a sea of black, a head to toe winter white outfit will stand out
- black and gold make a strong pairing
- a dress in a saturated hue, emerald green, cobalt blue, plum, purple
- metallics are a festive neutral, use liberally
- color blocking continues to be a strong trend
- animal prints add strong accents to any outfit
Putting it all together:
- Re-imagine a sheath or A-line dress by adding a dressy jacket, sequined cardigan or bolero jacket. Add knockout jewelry, sparkly heels and an evening bag. An embellished or animal print belt can define the waist.
- A metallic tank or top under a suit can go to work. But change out your work shoes for evening shoes, your huge tote for a small glittery clutch, your dainty jewelry for some statement pieces, and your suit now goes to the office party. Another idea is to button up your white blouse under your suit and add a colorful sparkly statement necklace.
- Coated denim jeans in a metallic or rich color, paired with a cashmere sweater in a brilliant color with a statement necklace and fun footwear is casual but party ready
- The tuxedo look is always a classic and sophisticated and with Patent leather brogues, you are on trend.
- If you love all things vintage: A poufy skirt, with a cropped fitted sweater, rhinestone clip ons, with fitted ankle boots or sparkly flats, and a beaded clutch and beaded cardigan for a cool retro look.
You need not spend a fortune to look like a million bucks! Have fun with holiday dressing, confident that you’re current and stylish.