Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How to plan a successful, stress free holiday party

Here we are again at the time of year the decorations, the presents, the hype, the STRESS! Like many of you, I am hosting a few holiday parties. Here are a few tips on making your preparations stress free:

  1. Send Invitations( Ideally 2 weeks to 10 days before the party):
  2. Make things simpler by having your guests RSVP only if they are not attending.
Make Lists(write these down all in the same place. And again, the earlier the better):
  1. Purchasing / Grocery List
  2. Cleaning List
  3. Decorations
  4. Wardrobe
Assessing your needs for the party by making these lists will save you a lot of stress on the day of, and the days leading up to the party.

3. Keep the lists with you:

Have the pad or notebook that you wrote the list down in handy at all times and portable if possible so you can write down little things as you remember them. I find there is always something I have forgotten to write on one of my lists. This way there is virtually nothing that you forget.
    4. Map it out:

    Mapping out where the guests, food, games, and flow of the party is critical for the gathering to go off smoothly. Strategically setting up zones is also extremely helpful. Food zone, game zone, kid zone, etc.

    If you are having actual place settings for each individual, keep in mind those who may not get along well should never sit closely at the table. For a harmonious atmosphere, strategically place them on opposite sides of the table.
      5.Coats and Shoes:

      Plan ahead of time where coats, shoes, and purses will be put in a secure space for safe keeping until your guest's leave.

        Think best case scenario. Make enough for the amount of guests you invited. You never know when last minute when someone's plan change and they end up coming even though they originally declined the invitation.

        7. Don't be the Martyr. Stressing yourself by making the perfect meal from scratch with every entrée, Iron Chef approved is not only not realistic, it causes way to much stress on you and in turn will not allow you to relax and enjoy the company of your guests.

          Instead, make a few signature dishes and assign out the rest to your guests or if you have the means, many local delicatessens would be happy to help you out with a few dishes. Just remember to plan ahead so the catering establishments you chose will have plenty of time to get your order ready.

            8. Clean up:
            Paper vs. China. Carefully weigh out your options when it comes to what you place your meal on. If you have a formal sit down dinner, china and flatware are appropriate. If it is casual, potluck most people use paper.

            1. When use paper remember the following:
            Make sure the paper plates are sturdy and big enough what is being served.
            Splurge on nicer, sturdy napkins. You won't regret it.
            Shop around and see if you can find festive, sturdy utensils.

            9. Don't expect perfection:

            Mentally prepare yourself for the realization that everything will likely not go as planned. A good host or hostess will let the small hiccups that may occur to roll off their back so that the guests and the evening will not be spoiled by minor incidents.

            That being said, preparing for possible hiccups is not a bad idea. So always have a plan B.

            Above all this is a party for pete's sake! So let yourself enjoy and don't sweat the small stuff. Happy party planning!

            Tuesday, October 13, 2009

            Here is the KSL Clip! Directions to how to make the apron coming soon!

            5 Timesaving tips for household chores

            Welcome KSL viewers! Here is the artice from the website. Enjoy our blog and come back often!

            We're all busy people who have the need to juggle multiple commitments for our time. We've all wished for just a little more time in our busy schedules -- time to spend with the kids, time to spend with our friends and a little more time for ourselves. Here are 5 timesaving tips to ease the housekeeping and free up your life for your other obligations.

            1. Hang it up:>Hang everything but socks, underclothing and pajamas right as they come out of the dryer (and towels and linen).

            Where to hang it?
            § On a portable hanging rod, (mine is a basic shower curtain tension rod and some are small enough to fit in a doorway)
            § Store hangers on the rod
            § Designate a shelf and or basket for each family member (ideally above or close to the dryer) and one for household items
            § Collect empty hangers when you collect your dirty clothes so you never run out.
            § Have a laundry sorter to sort the laundry
            § Spot check each piece, one by one.
            § Wash & Dry laundry, immediately hang everything that can be hung on a hanger
            § Fold socks and underclothing and put in family member’s designated spots
            § Distribute Clothing

            This eliminates you having to fold then hang shirts, pants, etc. And you take it from the dryer to the hanger to the closet. Not from the dryer, to folded, to un-folded to be hung or folded to put in a drawer. You won’t believe how much time you will save!

            2. Keep it shining: Keep disposable disinfecting wipes in each bathroom and the kitchen. Disinfecting wipes work well for all-purpose cleaning. And the best part is they disinfect surfaces, too. This makes them perfect for kitchen and bathroom cleanup. While the wipes aren't meant for scrubbing tough dried-on dirt, they do a great job at quick cleaning most surfaces in your home. Whether you're playing host to guests or just cleaning for yourself, Disinfecting wipes can get the job done quickly. This is a chore that can easily be passed along to a child who can do a once over in the bathroom each day. A box of baby wipes are also great to have on every floor of your house for quick clean ups of sticky fingers and faces.

            3. Write it all down in one place:
            Americans waste more than 9 million hours a day looking for lost and misplaced articles and paper. Keeping just ONE notebook for all of your messages is KEY. Keep it small enough so that it is portable when needed. When you think of something you need to do, jot down a reminder. This can be used for the following:

            · Telephone numbers and addresses
            · Important messages
            · Grocery lists
            · To do list
            · Anything else that gets put on a piece of scrap paper

            Stock a binder or folder with a list of emergency contacts and household instructions for the babysitter so you don’t have to write them down every time you leave. This will save you endless minutes recalling just what you were supposed to do and where you wrote down something important.

            4. Identify your timewasters:

            Make a hook for those lost keys, keep a running grocery list on your fridge. Our biggest timewaster as a society? You guessed it; the internet.

            · Internet Usage: Most of us have a Face book or Twitter account, here are the stats for FB:
            o More than 6 billion minutes are spent on FB each day. What are you contributing to this number?
            o There are 40 million status updates a day.
            o If you have uploaded FB to your mobile device, statistically you use it twice as much as the active users and 50% of the people who are on FB look at it at least every day.
            Solution: Set a timer when you look at FB or only watch one show you love per day, etc that way you will not spend too much of your day engrossed in things that prevent you from getting things done.

            5. The "Do it All" Apron: This one comes from one of my bloggers, Risa Baker, from Farmington, Here is her fabulous idea:
            Here is Risa in her own words: “I wear a (cute) 1/2 apron that I made, with 3 large pockets. I put garbage bags, paper towels, cloths, some spray cleaners, iPod, phone, and lotion in it. I can do the garbage cans as I go, and not make a special trip. I also put 5 to 8 extra bags in the bottom of the garbage cans. The lotion helps me stay moisturized after using liquid cleaners, and then having to vacuum, or sweep. I don't like doing those things with dry hands. I can also pick up random things as I go, save them in the pockets, and put them in their place later (Like a hair clip that is in the family room, but belongs in the bathroom.).” What a fantastic idea Risa, thank you for sharing it with us!

            Another blogger, Anne Richardson, had a great saying; "Keeping up is easier than catching up, I try to live by that.” Great saying, thanks Anne!

            Add all of these timesavers up and you could win back some of that time you never have enough of. Even though you may save only a fraction of this time, you'll still find minutes and hours you can spend in more meaningful ways.

            Remember the 80/20 rule: Remember the 80/20 rule; most people spend 80% of their time trying to complete 20% of their tasks. Prioritize what is most important to you and then move on to the rest. Also, let some things slide that are unimportant, it is okay not to do everything!

            Tell me your favorite timesaving household tips. Thanks for stopping by!

            Saturday, October 10, 2009

            Crockpot SWAP

            Hey there bloggers! We are starting an old fashioned crockpot swap! Although this is not organizing, it is timesaving. AND I am always looking for new recipes so post away! Here is my most requested and best loved crockpot recipe:

            Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

            1 ½ pounds beef stew meat super trim
            1 ½ cups beef stock (broth is ok, stock is much better)
            1 medium onion finely chopped
            1 large green bell pepper (optional)
            2 cloves fresh or roasted garlic
            1 can condensed cream of mushroom
            3 cans of sliced mushrooms or 3 cups of fresh mushrooms
            2 tablespoons ketchup
            1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
            ½ teaspoon sea salt or regular salt
            ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
            1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
            Hot cooked noodles (we prefer linguine noodles with this), or rice

            Brown stew meat in a skillet, sauté onions with meat. Place meat and onions in Crockpot. (I usually add the drippings from the skillet to the pot as well). Add all ingredients except sour cream / yogurt and noodles/rice. Cook 6 hours on low, 4 hours on high (the longer it cooks the tenderer it is). During the last half hour of cooking, add sour cream or yogurt to the pot and use a wire whip to smooth out the lumps. Allow sauce to thicken to gravy like texture. Makes 8 servings.

            Add some fresh rolls, steamed veggies, and you have a great meal the whole family will love! Enjoy!
            Now it is YOUR turn! Sent me your favorite Crockpot recipes. Yummo! Post away!

            Tuesday, October 6, 2009

            We have a winner, and she gets to be on TV!

            Way to go, people! We had some GREAT ideas on how to simplify your household chores. Clearly one idea stood out above the rest. RISA BAKER is our winner! Here she explains her "magic apron," in her own words:

            "I wear a (cute) 1/2 apron that I made, with 3 large pockets. I put garbage bags, paper towels, cloths, iPod, phone, and lotion in it. I can do the garbage cans as I go, and not make a special trip. I also put 5 to 8 extra bags in the bottom of the garbage cans. The lotion helps me stay moisturized after using liquid cleaners, and then having to vacuum, or sweep. I don't like doing those things with dry hands. I can also pick up random things as I go, save them in the pockets, and put them in their place later. (Like a hair clip that is in the family room, but belongs in the bathroom)."

            How AWESOME of an idea is that!?! Risa will be shown in action with her awesome apron next Tuesday on Studio 5 at 11:00 am on KSL channel 5. The clip will be shown during my organizing segment. The topic for the segment is, you guessed it,
            5 timesaving tips for busy Moms. Congratulations Risa! You definitely deserve bragging rights!

            So tune in for some great time saving tips next Tuesday at 11:00am!

            Sunday, September 27, 2009

            Let's hear it!

            Hello fellow bloggers! After 7 days of blogger problems, I am BACK. Back and asking for YOUR best timesaving tips when it comes to household chores. Post away!

            I am doing an upcoming segment on Studio 5 on October 13th. And if your idea has that WOW factor, I will demonstrate it on the show and give you credit on the air for your FAB idea!!! How cool is that??

            So, tell your friends, families and neighbors to post there FAVS here. BUT there is a catch!
            You have just ONE week to leave your comments, ONE week! SO, blog away, people, I know I count on you!

            Thursday, September 17, 2009

            Tuesday, September 15, 2009

            Your "Essentials Box."

            Before moving or relocating, everyone should prepare an essentials box, a box full of items you'll need for your last few nights before you move and/or the first few nights in your new home.

            This should be the last box you pack before you move. However, it's a good idea, while you're going through the cupboards, drawers and shelves, to identify what you'll need for the first few hours/days in your new home and set them aside or start adding them to your essentials box.

            This box will be the first box you open and should include items that will enable you to provide small meals, clean, deal with small emergencies and possibly entertain you while you unpack the rest of your home or in case the movers are delayed.

            Some people opt for packing an essentials box for every room in their house. You can do this if you feel the need to for sanity purposes those first few days. Others prefer to pack just one box they can travel with.

            Here is a list of what is needed in your Essentials Box:
            • Toilet Paper (one for each bathroom)
            • Hand soap (one for each bathroom and the kitchen sink)
            • Hand towel (one for each bathroom)
            • Dish soap
            • Dishtowel and dishcloth
            • All-purpose cleaner (unopened)
            • Cleaning Buckets
            • Paper Towels (at least 2 rolls)
            • Snacks
            • Beverages
            • Pet food and dishes
            • Radio
            • Paper plates, forks, knives, spoons and cups
            • All-purpose cutting knife
            • Scissors or utility knife (to open the rest of your boxes)
            • Small emergency / first aid kit
            • Flashlight/candles/matches
            • Shower curtain (nothing worse than forgetting this one!)
            • Shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, floss, and paste
            • Flat iron, hairspray
            • A change of clothing and towel for each member of the family.
            • Garbage bags
            • Portable tool kit

            For the Kids (to keep them occupied)

            • Portable DVD/ TV player and DVD's
            • Portable video games and music (Nintendo DS, Gameboy, iPod, etc.)
            • Coloring Books and Crayons
            • Favorite snacks and games
            You may not be ready to pack your Essentials Box yet, but that doesn't mean you can't start making a list of items to include. The rule of thumb is to include all essentials that you'll need for at least 24 hours. Presumably, there's a grocery or convenience store nearby, but just in case, you should have some food stuff on hand that you can quickly prepare for your family.

            After you've prepared your Essentials Box, take it with you in the car or in the cab of the moving van if you're moving yourself. Again, this will be the last box packed, and the first one you open!

            Monday, September 14, 2009

            What NOT to pack whe you move.

            Believe it or not, there are some items that require special packing and handling, items that moving companies will not move if they are not properly prepared. Even if you're moving yourself, you may want to take extra care in packing certain items, especially if you're moving a long distance.

            Dangerous Goods

            Any material that is flammable, corrosive or explosive is dangerous and illegal to move. If you have dangerous goods, call your local recycling pickup service, fire station or the closest EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) office to find out how you can properly dispose of these items. Or ask a neighbor or friend if they could use the item.

            Here is a list of items that should not be packed:

            • Acid
            • Sterno
            • Darkroom Chemicals
            • Pesticides
            • Motor Oil
            • Gasoline
            • Charcoal
            • Lighter Fluid
            • Fertilizer
            • Paints
            • Car Batteries
            • Matches
            • Nail Polish & Remover
            • Ammunition
            • Liquid Bleach
            • Aerosols
            • Kerosene
            • Pool Chemicals
            • Chemistry Sets
            • Fireworks
            • Motor Oil
            • Paint Thinner
            • Batteries
            • Loaded Weapons
            • Weed Killer
            • Ammonia
            • Lamp Oil
            • Propane
            • Cleaning Fluid
            • Perishables

            If your move is local, proper packing and storage can enable you to take perishables with you. Just be careful with meat, eggs and dairy products. Spoiling can happen quickly even in colder.

            If your move is long distance, dispose of all perishables and find a new home for your plants. If you're moving household and outdoor plants, make sure they are properly packed and stored.

            Items of High Value

            High-value doesn't necessarily mean it has a high price value, rather it is sentimental or a "can't live without" item. Think of them as the "can't live without them" stuff, things that you might grab if racing out of fire. If we're moving any distance, photocopy all important documents such as any identification, licenses, insurance records, etc... Just in case.

            So when you're packing, think twice about shipping the following items with the moving company or on the moving truck:

            • Personal Files (marriage license, passport, birth certificate, wills, insurance papers)
            • Home Movies or Personal Video Tapes
            • Address Books
            • Flight Tickets
            • Financial Statements
            • Photos
            • Photo Albums
            • Car Keys, house keys, safety box keys
            • Deeds
            • Tax Records
            • School Records
            • Check Books
            • Jewelry
            • Collections (art, coins, stamps, etc...)
            • Letters
            • Stocks
            • Computer Software
            • Computer Back-up Disks
            • Medicine
            • Children's artwork

            These items are often overlooked, don't let this be you. No one wants a flammable substance to explode or not access to medicine while you are going through the chaos of moving. So take the time to be prepared!

            Sunday, September 13, 2009

            Start Packing!

            1. Decide what you like and use the most.

            Statistically, a typical American household uses less than 20% of what they own on a regular basis. This 20% should be the focus of what you pack first.To determine the 20% that's useful, do the following:

            • A few months or weeks before moving day, purchase some sticker dots and mark an item with a dot whenever you use it.
            • When you move, only pack items with dots.
            • In your closet, tie a piece of ribbon or string around the top of a clothes hanger. When you wear an article of clothing, put your clothes back on the empty side of the marked hanger. You'll soon know what you wear and what just takes up closet space.
            • For your garage or basement, buy different-colored storage bins and put items into them as you use them, so you can determine what you use most.

            2. Pack nonessentials first.

            Here is a general list of things that can be packed weeks in advance:

            • Out of season clothing and shoes
            • Wall art, paintings, pictures
            • Rarely used kitchen gadgets & cookware (waffle iron, bread maker, cappuccino machine, fondue, ice cream maker, etc.)
            • Fine China and Flatware
            • Books
            • DVDs and CD's (with the exception of favorites that can be watched on moving day)
            • Towels and Bedding
            • Food Storag

            3. Toss as you go:

            • Keep a bag or box for donations as you pack things up
            • Carry several large garbage bags for things that need to be discarded

            4. Be a stickler at detailing the contents of each box:

            • Although time consuming, you will thank yourself later when you are trying to find something specific in the chaos of a move that you carefully detailed each box

            5. Give each room a specific color code

            • Whether you buy inexpensive sticker dots, or color code your boxes with different colors of permanent marker, each room in your new house should have different color dot that corresponds with the color on your moving boxes.

            • Pack like items together in the room they are intended to go in your new home.

            Saturday, September 12, 2009

            Moving Boxes: Finding the right type of boxes for your move

            Getting the right moving box isn't going to make or break your move, but it will help to ensure your stuff arrives at its new home all in one piece...and it may save you some time, perhaps some money and a few days stuck on the couch with a sore back or strained muscles from lifting boxes that are too heavy or too cumbersome to manage. So find out what kind of boxes are avaliable, what you might need to move your stuff, then get packing.

            How to Shop for Moving Boxes:

            Planning is the most important first step. Complete an inventory of what you have to pack so you can get an idea of the type and quantity of items that you need to move. You can purchase ready-made moving kits online – often delivered overnight -- that provide the right quantity of boxes and moving supplies for your move.When you are shopping for moving boxes, you will see them presented with their 3 inside dimensions in the following order: length, width and then height or depth. For example, a standard medium moving box will be shown with the dimensions of 18 x 14 x 12, which indicates the boxes’ length, width and height if you are looking from the top down into the box.Moving box manufacturers have created several types of boxes, specially designed for moving household items. Normal moving box types and sizes include:

            • Medium Boxes (18x14x12) – These are industry standard boxes that are versatile and can be used for a number of common household items. You can use these boxes to store books, collectibles, kitchenware and most of your other household items.Medium sized moving boxes are best suited for a mix of some heavy household goods combined with some light items
            • Large Moving Boxes (20x20x15) - Large sized moving boxes are all-purpose moving boxes that can be packed with heavy items, but can still be carried easily.
            • Extra Large Moving Boxes (23x23x16) – Extra large moving boxes are best suited for light goods such as bedding, drapes, towels and clothing that you do not place in a separate wardrobe box. Do not place too many items in a large moving box as it can become unwieldy to lift and carry.

            Keeping Items Safe:

            The most common cause of damage during a move comes from the vibration of items inside your box during transport. If you leave space within the box or you have not properly wrapped the items in padding and bubble wrap, you will leave open space that create movement of your items inside the box.

            With too much space, a sudden jolt could cause your items to penetrate the box and be left open or exposed in the truck for the remainder of the trip.Insist your movers use quality packing tape, packing paper and bubble wrap. Even if you fill up boxes with clothes, blankets or pillows, you are providing more protection against shifting of items inside the boxes.This small extra investment upfront can pay big dividends. Just a few damaged dishes or other expensive items can create an expense far exceeding the cost of the extra packing materials. (And as always, check out moving insurance for futher protection.)

            Other Important AccessoriesOther items that are important to have on hand, along with your quality moving boxes, include:

            • LabelsBox
            • Markers
            • Sofa Covers
            • Packing Tape
            • Packing paper
            • Bubble Wrap
            • Furniture Pads
            How many boxes do I need?
            Determining the number of boxes you’ll need for your move can seem like a daunting task, but there are some general guidelines that can assist you for estimation. You may choose to purchase one of the moving box packs available, which include a variety of boxes in a quantity that meets the needs of the average mover according to the size of their home. There are also online calculators that will provide you with a recommended number of boxes in relation to the size of your residence and the quantity of materials you’ll be transporting.

            Few factors will weight on the success of your move like moving boxes. It might sound like an exaggeration, but think about it: if you have cheap, flimsy boxes, there's a much higher likelihood that they'll fail, and your things will break, plan accordingly.

            Friday, September 11, 2009

            Map out a plan


            • Map out your packing schedule (draw it out on a piece of paper, have fun with it)
            • Pack room by room in order of use (decorations can be packed first)
            • Toss any boxes you have not opened in the last year or that you have never opened from your previous move. Holiday decorations and keepsakes should be your only exception.
            • Color code each room on your map so you can mark the boxes accordingly.

            Taking time to map things out and create a master plan will get your thoughts together so your move will go smoothly.

            Thursday, September 10, 2009

            Back in the Saddle Again

            Hello again, friends!

            School started, clients galore, results in severe negelect on my blog! My apologies.

            I have decided to start something new. Daily blog posts. That's right everyday. Here's how it will work:

            • I will spend seven days on one subject starting today.

            • After seven days, we will move onto another subject and do seven days of tips again.

            Starting today we are going to talk about how to pack for a move. Seven tips and steps will follow. Please let me know how you like the new format.

            Also, I am creating a survey for what you would like to see me do tips on the next Studio 5 segement, please let me know your thoughts. Happy September!

            Packing your house for a move, Blogpost 1; Creating a Master Plan

            Create a Master Plan

            Whether it is a notebook, 3-ring binder, expanding file, small container, or electronic device, you need to set up a master plan for your move. This container will house everything you need for the move. Also, try to keep it small enough so it is easy for you carry anywhere you need. Included in the master plan may include and is not limited to the following:

            • Calendar of your choosing
            • Place for contractor, subs and realtor business cards
            • Phone numbers of places and people that may be important to your move
            • Utility shut on and shut of dates
            • Paint swatches, etc.
            • Info on homes you may be interested in
            • Expenses
            • Buyers and Sellers
            • Sticker Colored Dots (for color coding boxes)
            • Anything else pertaining to your move

            Creating this master command center will ultimately dictate the ease of the moving process. Good Luck!

            Friday, August 21, 2009

            Un-packing TV Spot

            How to Unpack the REST of the House

            Hello once again KSL viewers! Below is the article from the KSL website, I will have the video up from the segment shortly.

            I hope you enjoy the blog. Browse around and see that various topics we have covered in the past. The google search engine on the left sidebar will take you anywhere you want to go on this blog. My ultimate goal is to great a site that is relevant to you, my readers. And, let me know what you'd like to see more of.

            PLEASE NOTE! I am currently pre-registering people for my paper organization class in October, the details are on the left side bar.

            Also next week's blog I will give you tips on how to PACK for a move so drop by again!
            And finally I will be putting up a survey shortly on what you would like to see me focus on upcoming Studio 5 organizing segments. Let your voice be heard! Welcome and enjoy!

            Article from the segment today......

            You've moved in; you've furiously unpacked your essentials and the dust is settling. Now you're left with all the nonessential stuff which seems like three times more than what was essential, it's overwhelming! Here are twelve tips to completely unpacking an entire house without losing your sanity.

            1. Assess the new home space beforehand.

            Take a look at your space before you move in to determine what is different from your previous home's space room by room. A spiral notebook and graph paper are great for this.

              • Make a list of what you plan to put where. Mapping out the space is also helpful.

              • Once you have done this you will have a better idea of where you will need to have the boxes moved and how you may need to organize your packing if that is still an option.
            2. Sort like items together in the rooms where you intend to store them.

            Ideally you would have the items sorted before you pack.
              • If not, no worries, just start sorting and make it work.

            3. Organize one room at a time
            • A common problem is that we don’t stay on task when moving. There are so many things happening at once that it is easy to go from task to task, never completing any of them. Stay on task.

            4. Determine what containers and storage bins can be reused in the new space before you go out and spend additional funds for new containers you may not need.

            • Don't go out and buy new containers till you know what you have with your own inventory.
            • Think outside the box when it comes to re-purposing containers, you may be surprised what can go where, and what can be reused.

            5. Purge as you go.

            • Occasionally there is not the time to purge, eliminate clutter and unwanted things while you are packing things to move.

            • Take this time while sorting, to purge things you no longer want or need.
            • Have a box handy for donations and a garbage bag to hold all the excess paper and bubble wrap as you unpack.

            6. Measure before purchasing containers.

            Save time and money by purchasing the right containers the first time.

            Always measure twice before writing the measurements down.

            • When each room is completed, collapse all boxes and remove all garbage and debris from the room.
            • Give your morale a boost by being able to see completed rooms and keeping unnecessary clutter out of your way.

            7. Once you have decided placement of things…Assign everything a home.

            • LABEL EVERYTHING whether it is with handwritten labels or a fancy label machine, labeling everything gives clarity to each item's proper place and insures an easy way for things to end up back where they belong.


            • In the first few weeks in the new home you will find what does and does not work for you and your new space.
            • Expect to re-arrange a few things as you actually "live," in the space.
            10. Set aside time each day dedicated to unpacking.

            • The average person can only go through thirty-five boxes in an eight hour period. Plan accordingly. You may be a superhero at unpacking, but don't stress yourself out by planning for a superhuman effort.

            11. Organize first, decorate last

            • Although it is extremely tempting to "nest" in your home first and decorate, you will thank yourself later for taking the time to completely organize and put things away before you decide what to hang up (hint: less holes in the walls).
            12. Pace yourself.

            • Rome wasn't built in a day; don't expect your home to be unpacked and organized in a day either.
            • Be consistent and patient and before you know it your home will be what you want it to be.
            • Focus on completing each task. With any move there will be lots of distractions. Remember your focus and stay with each task until it is completed.

            I love to hear your favorite unpacking ideas, so please, leave your comments and share!

            Monday, August 3, 2009

            And the winner is..............................

            Wow! Those of you who emailed me or left comments on my blog had some fantastic ideas on what you re-purpose.

            This decision was so hard, that I put my 3 favorite ideas in a hat and randomly drew the name.

            And the winner is: Kylie, with her reuse of her empty prescription bottles. Kylie, please email me at : for details on when I can come do your complimentary organizing assessment.

            Here is Kylie's comment:

            "I love to reuse prescription bottles to store sewing supplies, such a pins and needles. And anything you want to make difficult for little hands to get too."

            Thanks so much to all those who participated. Please! Feel free to comment or add your own organizing idea to any of our posts. I usually have a new post once a week. When we help each other, we help the world!!

            Thursday, July 30, 2009

            Repurposing Segement on Studio 5

            My apologies everyone for the computer glitch and things not posting right away. Please let me know your ideas for repurposing.

            Upcoming television segment will be on "how to move like a pro." Welcome and enjoy!

            Organizing on a Budget: Using items you already have to organize something else

            Welcome KSL Studio 5 viewers! To participate in the drawing for a free organizing assesment ($100.00 value), please leave a comment on the bottom of this blog post with your best repurposing idea. The winner will be annouced on Monday, August 3rd. If for some reason you are unable to post a comment, email me your idea at Good luck and Happy Organizing!

            Article from the Studio 5 website.....

            Contrary to popular belief, organization does not need to cost a great sum of money. Fancy containers are fun and pleasing to the eye but are ultimately not needed to achieve the majority of your organizational goals.

            As a general rule, there are three questions you should ask yourself when you choose to repurpose a container:

            1. Is it a sturdy container?
            2. Is it the right kind of container for the use I had in mind?
            3. Will it help me meet my organizational goals?

            Once you have answered to yourself these questions, you can move forward and repurpose!
            Here are some ways to organize your home by repurposing items you may already have in your possession. You may not have originally thought these could be repurposed-but think again!

            Storage Tin
            Although this container was originally used to store cookies, it can also be a great way to store other things around the house. Here we have made dual use of it by adding memorabilia from a treasured trip. I always have a habit of saving little mementos and information about places to see or stay. This is a great idea for using items that would otherwise be thrown out or stuffed in a drawer. We used Modge Podge glue to decorate the container and also to seal and waterproof it after we were finished. Not only is this great to store markers, pens, office supplies- it is a visible memory of a magical trip.

            Another use for this container was created with some left over black spray paint that was sitting idle in our garage. We purchased inexpensive vinyl for under three dollars (©Word Candy Vinyl), and have created a new place to store our dominos game whose container was not salvageable.

            The sky is the limit to what you can add to a tin like this- National Geographic maps, old greeting cards, scrapbook paper- whatever works for you. And best of all, it’s free.

            Ground Pepper or Cinnamon Tins
            Think a pepper or cinnamon tin is useless? Think again! After a “Go Fish” playing card box tattered beyond repair, we created a new home for the beloved game with a used ground pepper tin. We washed the inside out with soap and water and used a colored piece of paper Modge Podge craft glue and sealant. Then we added the stickers from a surplus my son had in his sticker stash. And viola! A new home for his “Go Fish,” cards.

            Baby Food Containers
            Who knew repurposed baby food containers could have so many uses! These sturdy, airtight containers have endless possibilities! From paper clips, push pins, cereal, crafts to ear buds cords (a use I stumbled upon a few days ago), these containers are simply wonderful to repurpose with.

            Canvas Tote
            As a teenager I worked in a grocery store bagging groceries. Our duties also included putting items back on the shelves that were misplaced or had discarded at the checkout counter. We called them “go backs.” I thought this was a perfect name for the container I use to run errands in the card and clean out the car at the end of the day.

            To create a “GO BACKS©” bin, make sure it is big enough for your personal or family’s needs.
            Store it near your front door, the door you come in and out of most, or in your car for the following things:

            · Friend’s toys or clothing that are left behind
            · DVD’s / Games that need to be returned
            · Library books
            · Small Items to donate to a charity
            · Newspapers or magazines that need to be
            · Letters to be mailed
            · Bank deposits
            · Items that need to returned to a store
            · The uses are endless!

            The “Go Backs©” bin, also comes in handy once you have finished your errands and the bin is empty. At the end of the day when you’ve made your last trip in your car, you then use the bin to remove all items that don’t belong in your car (toys, shoes, socks, backpacks, food, etc). Put them in the empty bin and take it in the house. This eliminates losing kid’s school papers, bank receipts and other things that may come up missing. Thus you have cut down on the “I can’t find this,” problem.

            So, pick a bin, basket or whatever kind of container is around in your house that you think may work and try it out. You won't believe you ever lived without it! I use my “Go Backs,” bin nearly every day.

            Laundry Baskets
            Laundry baskets have so many uses! Our picture shows how we have used one to store outdoor sports equipment. It’s large, sturdy, and holds a great deal. It is also great for pool and swimming toys as it is waterproof.

            Another use for this plastic wonder is nightly cleanup.

            We all know at the end of the day there are toys, shoes, laundry, papers, books, etc. to be put away. I make a conscious effort to try (I don’t always succeed) to have a
            picked-up house when I go to bed. It makes mornings so much easier! For a long time I found myself gathering things up in my arms to the point of dropping things just to avoid making multiple trips when putting things away. Weary of all the trips I was making, I devised my own system of putting things away in a faster more efficient manner.

            My brother calls this “The Ten Minute Blitz,” (thanks Mike!). It really it only takes about that many minutes to have things put away for bedtime.

            So say there's a little mess in every room. Take a laundry basket into the living room and put in everything that belongs someplace else. Then move on to the dining room or kitchen. Take out everything that belongs in that room, put it away, and pick up items that go someplace else. Do this in every room in your home. If you have multiple levels, go level by level, thus making the trips up and down the stairs less of a hassle. After two trips around, everything should be back in order. Get the kids involved (my son loves helping me; he thinks it is a game). Then when you wake up in the morning you can start your day with a clean slate.

            Homemade Magazine Holders
            Most magazine holders cost anywhere from seven to ten dollars. You shouldn’t have to pay money when you can make one yourself, with a design of your choice. All you have to do is use an empty cereal box. My son and I made his coloring books holder with green wrapping paper and simple clipart from our word processing program. We cut out the pictures and glued it on the wrapping paper. We added Modge Podge to seal and waterproof our design. As you can see, it is not perfect, my son did most of the work, he enjoyed doing it, and it is great for all of his coloring books.
            Here are directions to make your own magazine holder from an empty cereal box:

            Step 1
            First, measure your empty cereal box so that you know where to make your cuts. Pick one side of the box. From the bottom, measure up about four inches and draw a line right across. You will not be cutting the other side of the box , as it will be the back of your magazine holder. Starting at the side of the box that will stay intact, measure and make a mark on the front of the box, two and a half inches in. Also make measurement mark on the top back of the box.

            Step 2
            Make your cuts. Remove the entire top of the box (where you would open the box of cereal). On the side of the box, remove all of the box from the top to the mark you previously made.

            Step 3

            Make your slant in the box. Starting on the front of the box, from the point where you made your two and a half inch mark to the side of the box, draw a diagonal line to the point on the side of the box where you removed the cardboard. Repeat for the back of the box and remove the cardboard above your cut lines. The box should look similar the magazine holder in the picture.

            Step 4
            Choose any type of paper covering that you prefer in any type of design. I chose some green wrapping paper; however, scrapbook paper, spray paint, or whatever you like can be used. Place double sided tape on the edges of the box, and then place the covering on the box. You will not need to pre-cut it.

            Step 5
            Cut your covering so that it aligns with the edges of the cardboard. You can choose to put the covering on the inside of the box or leave it plain.

            Step 6
            Using Modge Podge glue or Contact Paper, seal the covering onto the box. Also cover the entire covering itself. It gives the magazine holder a nice sheen to it.

            Step 7
            Smooth down all of the taped edges. You now have a custom made magazine holder for a fraction of the price!

            With a little bit of elbow grease and imagination, organizing your home and everything in it does not have to cost a lot of money. With these ideas, you will have fun along the way!

            © Copyright Clearing Space by Design, 2009
            Photography: © Allyson Randle Photography, 2009
            Leave your comments here!

            Tuesday, July 28, 2009

            Gearing up for a Family Trip A-Z

            As summer winds down, most of us still have one or two family trips we are taking before the kids head back to school. As I ready for my own family trip in a few weeks, let’s talk shop about preparing and packing for that family trip.

            At least a week in advance spend fifteen or twenty minutes making a list of things that need to be done before you leave for vacation. Your list might consist something like this:

            Things to be done before you leave

            a. Stop the mail
            b. Stop the newspaper
            c. Confirm all Reservations
            d. Arrangements for pets
            e. Arrangements for house
            f. Pay bills that may come due while you are away
            g. Shop for trip
            h. Do the laundry (so you won’t have even more to come home to)
            i. Clean the car (if you are going to use it for traveling)
            j. Water Plants
            k. Unplug small appliances (Day you leave)
            l. Turn off air conditioner (Day you leave) or up to 85 degrees
            m. Leave personal info. (life, home, car, health insurance info) with attorney or trusted friend, take a copy with you.
            n. Print out directions from MapQuest or Google Maps.
            o. Get the car serviced and filled up. (If you are going in the car)
            p. Plane tickets and passport and other papers together in one place you can easily grab and go
            q. Tell a trusted neighbor when you are leaving and when you return so they can keep an eye on anything suspicious at your home while you are away
            r. Refill any prescriptions that may run out while you are away
            s. Gather any literature about destinations you may want to go to
            t. Secure hotel information and confirmation
            u. Know where your travel rewards information or frequent flier information is
            v. Fill up car with gas (if you are driving)
            w. Turn off water (nothing like an unexpected flood or leak to come home to) in the house.
            x. Have an “out of office, or town” greeting on your email
            y. Leave a contact number and travel information with a family member or trusted friend
            z. Clean the house! Do yourself a favor and come home to a clean house.

            You might be skeptical of leaving personal information behind (see “m”) when it is a simple trip away for a few days. Things happen beyond our control. Having this information in an emergency can not only be helpful, but in some instances, live saving…..

            Happy Trails!

            © Copyright Clearing Space by Design, 2009

            Monday, July 13, 2009

            Converting Old Film, Movies and Slides to DVD / CD.

            After a 3 week hiatus, as promised here is some info on converting old film, movies and slides to DVD and CD. I also researched a few websites that offer software for the conversion.....Enjoy!

            Websites for software:

            Here is a fantastic Article to Get you started!

            Saturday, June 13, 2009

            Digital Photo Organization: Which to Choose?

            While it is great to want to snap photos to capture memories and taking photos with your digital camera is fun, easy, and addictive, before long you may find yourself with hundreds of photos on your hard drive, as well as printed out all over your desk, room, and walls. What should you do to organize and catalog your photos?

            Picaboo, Snapfish, Photobucket, PhotoShop Elements,,, and many more offer digital photo organizing and editing. In this post we are going to talk about why you may want purchase or use photo organizing software for your digital photos.
            Whether you use folders on the computer or a digital organization program, you need to have a plan for your organization.

            When deciding on photo organizing software, the first decision you will have to make is how you want to use the product. Some products are great organizers where others offer more editing tools. A few programs we talk about in this postare applicable to online image publishing. If this is your interest, you may want to look at those products.

            Features – The best photo organizers include customizable ways to organize and view your images as well as a good set of editing/enhancing tools and creative ways to share your pictures.
            Ease of Use – You should not have to be a professional photographer or master computer operator to use these products. Their functions and features should be easy to figure out the first time.

            Ease of Installation – A good program will load quickly and not cause errors or problems with your computer.

            Help & Support – Product support and technical help are important aspects that contribute to presenting an exceptional product. Good help includes inter–program help pages and tutorials as well as online FAQs, a searchable knowledge base, user forums and email and telephone technical support.

            Here are some tips to help you clean up the clutter, and enjoy your digital memories.

            1. Download a free image organizer. Fast small ones include Xnview, Irfanview, Picasa from Google is an easy-to-use photo management tool.

            2. When you transfer your photos from your camera to your computer, immediately put them into a folder on your hard drive -- not just My Pictures, create a subfolder by date (use reverse date format e.g. 2007-06-26 which is listed better by computers ordering files by name), event name or both.

            3. If you already have a large amount of photos dumped into your My Pictures folder, take some time to create subfolders, and sort them into the appropriate folder.

            4. Regularly back up your photos by burning them onto a CD or DVD or Thumb Drive. Nothing is worse than having a hard drive crash and losing all of your pictures. Put your CD or DVD into a box, holder, or album (you can find 'photo albums' for picture CDs in photography shops) so you know where it is and have easy access. I prefer thumb Drives because they hold 3 times as much as CD's, just remember to carefully categorize each picture on the drive, CD, or DVD.

            5. Remember that if you back up your photos onto a CD, Thumb Drive, or DVD leave them on the computer as well, you will eventually find you have multiple copies of the same photo in different folders. Back-up portable external hard drives are a perfect place to store a large amount of digital photos.

            6. A good rule of thumb is to put only photos about a particular subject on each CD and label it as such, such as "Grand Canyon Trip" or "Christmas 98" then if you want a particular subject you can find it easily because you don't have "Jewelry Projects" on the same CD as "Reunions."

            7. Back up your digital photos regularly.

            8. And finally, if you use your images for a website, make sure to save the higher resolution original somewhere. This is because images saved for websites have a much lower resolution and look really terrible printed out.

            And remember to download your photo images on a regular basis, something I am learning to do. Otherwise when you won’t have them on your memory card when you need them.
            Our final post about photos will be on how to transfer old 35mm and slides to digital images. Happy Photo Organizing!

            Monday, June 1, 2009

            Studio 5 Spot

            Greetings and welcome to those of you who have not frequented this site before. Here is the link to the Studio 5 segment about "being confident." I come on 1 minute and 22 seconds into the clip.

            This is the site for getting weekly tips on organizing much more! Questions about organizing? Ask away! Want to share what has worked for you? Post it here in the comments for everyone to benefit! Browse around and take a look at our wealth of past tips!

            Enjoy and come back often!

            ~Linda Isom

            Sunday, May 31, 2009

            Picture Organizing: What to keep

            Thank you Blogger for working again! I apologize for the 2 week hiatus. Vista, iTunes, and Blogger have been arch enemies on my computer the past week or so. I think the problem has been remedied. Now back to the ranch……

            As discussed in the previous post about pictures, we talked about the process of sorting pictures and pulling out the ones that we do not want to keep.

            The definition of a "bad" picture varies. There are, of course the blurry, fuzzy, and mistakenly taken pictures that make sense to get rid of.

            Other "bad" pictures are up to interpretation. We women are the worst for burning, ripping, and cutting our faces and bodies out of otherwise good pictures of everyone else. Whatever our size or station in life, the majority of us have at least done it once.

            I myself have deleted or ripped up pictures I have loathed of me over the years. However, my perspective on this has dramatically is why:

            One day last year as I was asked to find a "casual," family picture for something my son needed at school, as I scrambled to find a few pictures of us that I surely "thought," I had, it shocked me how little pictures there were of me at all. It was as if I had erased myself from the events, vacations, or special moments that were captured on film.

            This also caused me to reflect back to my own childhood, I never cared whether my parents were fat or thin, had funky hair or crazy clothing. I just cared that they were there and enjoying the experiences with me. Without pictures we cannot possibly remember all that has transpired in the past.

            After my personal "Ah, ha," I have deleted very few pictures of myself, especially when there are others in the picture and we are celebrating a special moment. They are a part of our life history that can never be repeated.

            When I am 80 years old, I am not going to look back at what I looked like or didn't look like in a picture, I am going to look back and remember the life I lived and the experiences I had. And I am sure; I am going to wish that my younger self was not so hard on herself.

            I know this blog post has little to do with organization, but all the same it is something to decide upon as you sort your pictures.

            Therefore, in defense of preserving memories, rethink things before you delete them or throw them out.

            And there is this little program called "Photo Shop" that can help us look our best!

            Please,Send me your thoughts on your own picture woes!

            Friday, May 8, 2009

            Organizing Pictures, let's organize together!

            Now that you know my greatest organizational weakness, let learn together how to organize them. Here is some information I've gathered about 35mm pictures, we all have them.

            From HGTV

            Photos that were taken by a 35mm camera with or without negatives.

            "First discard any unwanted photos, organize them by year. Store in large envelopes marked by year, and when you go back to organize past vacations, you'll be able to find all the photos easily and quickly.

            Don't overload yourself with such a large project right away. Work your way back through the years. Start with more recent photos first, and whenever you have extra time, start organizing other photos from past years.

            Whenever you find an unlabeled photo, label it. Even if you are not going to put it into a book, label it to the best of your memory. Make sure to use an acid-free photo-safe pencil or pen (available at photo processors and art-supply stores.).

            If you don't have time to immediately label each photo, label the outside of the envelope with the date and events that are on the photos inside.

            Photos don't have to be organized in chronological order. It is only one of the logical ways you can do it. Consider categorizing photos by event, such as holidays or parties, or do it by person--an album for each child in your family.

            Separate the negatives from the photos. Place them in envelopes, and label the outside with date and subject. You could even write on them where the photos can be found for quick reference."

            Great! I'm ready to get started, how about you? Once I get my pictures organized (hopefully this week) I'll look into adding all of the 35mm's to a CD or thumb drive for safe keeping. Wish me luck!

            Leave your comments here with your own tips! Let's do this together!

            Friday, May 1, 2009

            Just for the Record

            Clarification is needed to those of you who "assume" that my home must be perfect all of the time, and so should yours.

            My house is rarely in perfect order. I have a life, a child, a husband, and a crazy, hectic schedule like most of you. There are times where toys are in every room in the house, laundry piles up, bathrooms are dirty (they are dirty right now) floors need to be vacuumed, dishes are in the sink and so on and so forth. I am not so frigid that I walk behind my son and husband just to clean up after them.

            With this in mind, you should also know that at any given time, we can tidy up the house in about 20 minutes to make it presentable for company or visitors. How do we accomplish this???? Virtually everything in our house has a home, a specific place where it is stored and can be put away. All the toys are labeled as well as anything that is containerized.

            Did this just instantly happen over night? Of course not, my life is not a television show where "overnight" eveything is complelty put together. In general when I move into a new home, it usually takes me 4 to 6 months to get things organized in a system that works for us. It never ever happens overnight in "real" life.

            Maintenance is the key to keeping a sense of order in your home. Just like everything else in life, it will not always stay perfect. You must make the effort to put things away and clean things up or no amount of organization with change your situation.

            Life changes, situations change and things that once worked and stayed organized may need to be modified or re-organized altogether as life goes on. They key is to reorganize once the system no longer works. Ignoring the system breakdown and putting it off only makes the reorganization more painful and much more time consuming. I make the effort to try not to ever let myself get in that type of situation.

            My worst problem area? My pictures! Granted, they are all in one place but not one is in an album. Even professional organizers have things they need to work on!

            So as you look at whatever part of disorganization is plaguing you remember, start small, work one project all the way through until you are finished and then move on to something else.

            Being and staying organized takes a lot of effort. BUT, it is FAR easier than being disorganized. This is why I have coined the term "organized chaos". When you have children and a busy life, it is simply unrealistic to expect a "perfect" house all the time. What can be achieved is a simple system or systems that make it easy to put things away and create order when needed.

            Knowing this about me should help many of you feel better about the efforts you make in your homes and perhaps motivate you to better organize the problem areas in your home.

            Below is a post about "chore charts". Hopefully it will give you ideas in your home.

            Chore Lists

            Here are a few samples of chore charts I have done for clients. First we identify what needs to be clean. We use words and phrases that are familiar to our children, we laminate the charts use super sticky Velcro to attach the dry erase marker to the chore chart. Lastly we hole punch the chore chart and attach it to an inconspicuous spot where it can easily be retrieved. The dry-erase marker is great if you need to add more jobs or temporary as needed. Here is the "sample" chart.

            These lists below are for the "Morning Routine". Lamanating and adding the dry-erase marker as with the chore chart can apply to these as well.

            Let me know if any of you are interested in your own similar chore lists! Enjoy!

            Wednesday, April 15, 2009

            Teaching your children to do chores

            Ah the good ol’ days when I didn’t have children and my house stayed neat and tidy with very little effort. Then my son came brought the tornado two’s and disaster three’s and so on.

            Although I would never trade motherhood or my amazing child for anything, it seems that children come pre-programmed to throw our homes into complete chaos whatever stage of childhood they are in.

            This week we are going to talk about ways to teach your children responsibility along with helping around the house.

            Here are things kids can do broken down by age group:

            Ages 2 and 3 (This age group is also in a earlier blog post)
            Many toddlers are eager to help with chores, and while their “helping” may not always be appreciated, keeping their excitement and the habit of helping out alive, should be. Sticker charts are a great way to keep toddlers excited about helping. Their chores may have to be completed with you helping every step of the way, but you are laying the groundwork for children that find chores and helping a way of life.

            Some chores 2-3 year olds can do…
            • Help make the bed.
            • Pick up toys and books.
            • Take laundry to the laundry room.
            • Help feed pets.
            • Help wipe up messes.
            • Dust with socks on their hands.
            • Mop in areas with help.

            Ages 4 and 5
            Preschoolers still find helping to be an exciting venture and usually are thrilled when time is taken to teach them new chores. They are ready to do some chores without constant supervision. Rewards at this age are very motivating. A sticker chart that allows you to build up to bigger rewards can be appropriate. For some preschoolers, tying chores to an allowance is a great option and fosters independence in choosing a reward.

            Some chores preschoolers can do in addition to the ones above…
            • Clear and set the table.
            • Dust.
            • Help out in cooking and preparing food.
            • Carrying and putting away groceries.

            Ages 6-8
            These school age kids may or may not still have their childlike enthusiasm for completing chores. What they do have, however, is an overwhelming desire to be independent. Parents and caregivers can guide children to become independent in their chores, using chore charts to keep track of their responsibilities both completed and pending.

            Some chores that they are capable of in addition to the ones above…
            • Take care of pets.
            • Vacuum and mop.
            • Take out trash.
            • Fold and put away laundry.

            Ages 9-12
            Children in this preteen age are capable of increasing responsibility where chores are concerned. Keep in mind that many children this age rely on continuity. Find a system that works for your family and do not change it without the input and support of the people it directly affects. Make sure that you factor in rewards and consequences and address those issues with your children. Let them know the consequences of not completing chores, as well as the rewards for fulfilling their responsibilities.

            Some Chores preteens are capable of in addition to the ones above…
            • Help wash the car.
            • Empty the Dishwasher / Learn to wash dishes.
            • Help prepare simple meals.
            • Clean the bathroom.
            • Rake leaves.
            • Operate the washer and dryer.

            Ages 13-17
            Teenagers are developmentally ready to handle almost any chore in the home. At the same time a teenager’s schedule can sometimes become quite hectic, leaving little time for chores. Make sure that the workload of your teenagers is manageable.

            Some chores teenagers are capable of in addition to the ones above…

            • Replace light bulbs and vacuum cleaner bags.
            • All parts of the laundry.
            • Wash windows.
            • Clean out refrigerator and other kitchen appliances.
            • Prepare meals.
            • Prepare grocery lists.

            Other tips to consider:
            1. Be reasonable in your expectations.
            2. Be an example (when you slack off, they tend to slack also).
            3. Have consequences without being harsh.
            4. Get organized before you expect everyone else too.
            5. Supervise (do not interfere unless work is not being done).
            6. Train your workers.

            And finally, try very hard not to “redo” the work that they do so it meets your expectations. They will see what you are doing whether you realize it or not and do one of two things: Never really do the job well because they know you are going to redo it or, feel as if that nothing they try to do is good enough for you.

            It is ok to show them what you expect it to look like, just don’t expect perfection from them only after a few times of them doing the chore, especially those under the age of 10. It took almost a year for my son to make his bed well enough for me to not send him back to work on it again.

            Having your children help around the house not only teaches them an essential life skill, it also makes life easier for you as the parent. When we’re all helping, family life is happier too!

            Monday, April 6, 2009

            Kids and Cleaning: When pulling teeth seems easier.

            I often get asked by Mom's and Dad's how to motivate their children to clean up around the house. One of the most common complaints I hear goes something like this: "My girls / boys room is a disaster, I send them in to clean it, deprive them from all the day's activities and privileges, 4 hours later, they have cleaned up nothing!"

            Contrary to what you were hoping for, most children under the age of about 10 need supervision when cleaning up gigantic messes. Realizing that you, as the parent, need to be actively engaged while they clean is the first hurdle in the battle.

            Here is something to consider: If the mess they are trying to clean up is big by your standards, imagine how they see it. They are overwhelmed immediately and do not know where to begin. As a few minutes pass, they see some toy or book amidst the chaos that looks interesting and they focus all their energy on one specific item and try to block out the rest. I remember feeling like this as a kid (I preferred the shove everything under your bed technique, sorry about that Mom!) and giving up just like many children do.

            Here are questions to ask yourself about your children in regards to cleaning up:

            1. Does everything they are cleaning up have a home and/or a specific spot? This is a critical step in teaching your child how to clean up after themselves. Often times a child gives up quickly when they do not know where things belong.
            2. If the items all have homes, does your child know where it goes? When choosing a home for toys, books, etc., pick the most logical place that would be easy for your kids to put it away. Complicated configurations and difficult containers are a sure way to hinder the process of clutter clearing.
            3. If it does not have a home do you really need it? Over sized stuffed animals and "happy meal" toys tend to be some of the worst offenders when it comes to cluttering up spaces. Unless the toy or the stuff animal is a beloved toy played with on a daily or weekly basis, it's time for the toy to be sent to good will to make room for the toys actually being played with and used.
            4. Can you get rid of something else to make the item a home? As our children grow, they also grow out of toys. Getting rid of toys that are no longer played with can easily free up more room for current toys they are actually playing with. If you are done having toddlers in the home, now is a good idea to purge those toys and send them off to charity so they won't be mixed with toys they actually play with, thus resulting in less clutter and less clean up.
            5. When cleaning up has your child returned things to their homes or have you been fed up and cleaned it up yourself? This is also another critical question to ask yourself or see for yourself by asking your child if they know where a specific item goes, you might be surprised with the answer. We "think" they should know where everything goes, but how often have we actually seen them return the item to its home? Toddlers especially could benefit from this trial and error process. As busy Mom's we tend to give up and put away half of our children's toys just so we can move on to something else. Spending that extra time once or twice, will help you see whether adjustments need to be made so that your children know where to put everything.
            6. Label EVERYTHING! Whether you label toys with pictures for young ones who cannot read or you add handwritten or fancy printed kind, labeling will ensure that the item will be put back in its home.

            Here is a trick I have used with my child and with clients with multiple children when cleaning up. Instead of telling them to clean and then walk away expecting them to "just do it," try this:

            Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes (depending on the task) and ask your child to pick up all "like" items and put them away within the period the timer is set. For example: Start by having them clean up "just" the books. Once they have cleaned up all the books, set the timer again to cleanup all the Cars, Barbies, Trains, Lego's, etc., always by category, not all at once. Set the timer in small segments and continue to have them work on cleaning in categories of "like" items.

            You will find they enjoy being timed and "beating the clock".

            Before you know it, they will have things cleaned up in less than half the time it would have taken them otherwise. Breaking it up into small projects with "like" items also helps the child understand how to break down the mess in their minds so it's easier to clean. Try it at your house and let me know the results!

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