Now What? Are you Prepared for Disaster?

September 2, 2015
Natural disasters design concept set with hurricane and flood sketch isolated vector illustration

Natural disasters design concept set with hurricane and flood sketch isolated vector illustration

September is National Disaster Preparedness month. We often talk about being prepared. In fact, our children have fire drills at school. There are so many things we can do to help ourselves and our families be prepared if and when a disaster should strike. But, how many of us actually follow through and create plans which we then share with the other members of our family?

Let’s think about some possible scenarios and then look at the things anyone can do to be more prepared.

Sometimes we have warnings that a natural disaster could hit our area. Think about fire warnings, hurricane and flood warnings. However; there is often very little time between the time a tornado warning is issued and the tornado strikes. So, what should we do?

We can stock our homes with some basic survival supplies like flashlights, a battery operated radio and batteries for the flashlight as well as the radio, canned goods (keep in mind that canned goods do have an expiration date – so use them before they expire and then replace them!) bottled water, granola bars, extra blankets, hand sanitizer. You can make a list that is appropriate for your family and area of the country. Please don’t forget current medications! Have a place in your home where you keep these items and can easily put them together should the need arise.

Have an evacuation plan and practice it. Teach your children what to do, how they can get out of the house if there should be a house fire or flood.

Which room is the best room or area of the house to stay in if a hurricane or tornado is predicted? Is there enough room for everyone or do you need to find a couple of safe places?

If you’re looking for a good book with excellent suggestions and strategies of how to prepare for a disaster check out Judith Kolberg’s book: Organize for Disaster

Another way to prepare ourselves is to have a complete home inventory. Why do you want this? Well, if your home is damaged or destroyed as a result of one of these natural disasters you will need proof of what the house contained. You will also need access to account numbers and insurance policy information.

The best way to keep this information is in the cloud. That way you can access the information from any computer at any time. The program I highly recommend is HomeZada (www.homezada.com). This program allows you store your inventory complete with pictures and other useful information that will help you with the upkeep and maintenance of your home. Check it out!

I hope you find these tips useful and will implement some of them!

Now What? Packing and repacking

August 26, 2015

Are you planning to take a vacation soon? The end of August – Labor Day weekend – is a popular time for many people to get away. We often talk about packing your suitcase. You begin with:

1. Thinking about where you’re going

2. Checking the weather forecast

3. Thinking about the kinds of activities you’ll probably engage in while you’re away so that you bring appropriate clothes

4. Making a list

Well, what about when you pack up to come home? I just came home from a week away. Thankfully I remembered to check and double check everywhere I had stashed my belongings. I was flying home and the flight was due to leave around noon which was good because it gave me time to pack my suitcase and thoroughly check my room before I left. I think it can be a little easier if you’re driving. Then you can have a laundry bag in which to deposit the dirty clothes. Just tuck that bag into the car and you’re all set. It can go from the car to the washing machine! You can also have a tote bag or two to hold any trip souvenirs.

What about if you, like me, are flying home? Is there a way to pack your suitcase to separate the clean and still wearable clothes from those which need to be washed?

What do you do with the things you’ve accumulated during your vacation?

How do you make sure not to leave anything behind?

I start with an empty suitcase. I think some people sort of live out of their suitcase in the hotel room. I tend to unpack everything. I hang up those items which can be hung up and stash in a drawer my other clothes. Toiletries go in the bathroom. Desk items, like my computer, planner, and a notepad go on the desk.

Before I begin my packing I decide what I’m going to wear as I travel home. I lay those clothes aside, so they aren’t accidentally packed. Then I start my packing with my shoes on the bottom of the suitcase. I open the closet door and empty the drawers onto the bed.   I add in the clothes which can be worn again or which I haven’t used during my vacation. In the interest of full disclosure, I tend to pack too many clothes!  I tuck in the empty spaces any small items – things I may have purchased during my stay. I separate the clean clothes from the laundry by layering a dry cleaning bag on top of the clean clothes. I keep one or two dry cleaning bags in my suitcase just for this purpose.  Any laundry goes into my suitcase next to last. This way it’s among the first to come out of my suitcase and straight into the laundry.

The last place I empty of my belongings is the bathroom. I double check the counters and any shelves to make sure I bring everything home with me. My laptop, charging cord, phone charging cord, planner, and notepad go into my laptop bag.

Before I actually leave my hotel room I give the drawers, the closet, the bathroom and the desk area a second look. I definitely don’t want to leave anything behind. If you’re traveling with children who have their own room follow the same procedure with them. Do you have a system for making sure you’ve packed everything as you travel home from vacation? I’d love to know about it!

 

 

Now What? Clothes and Closet Maintenance

August 12, 2015
white wardrobe with clothes hanging at home

white wardrobe with clothes hanging at home

Once you’ve organized your closet you’re all set – ready to move on and forget about your closet right? Think again. To keep your closet and your clothes in tip top shape you need to have maintenance habits in place.

Let’s think about this. In the morning, you select your clothes and get dressed. In the evening you come home from work or school or play and put on your ‘around the house’ lounging kind of clothes. I don’t know about yours but mine are comfy clothes – sweat pants and top.

What did you do with the clothes you took off?

Did you put them in the laundry basket to be washed?

Did they go into a bag for the dry cleaners?

Can you wear them again? If so, did you hang them back up or fold them and put them away?

Or did you leave them laying on the floor?

As Sheila McCurdy says “The floor is not an option”. You have many other options but if you leave them laying on the floor they will become wrinkled, stepped upon, and unwearable until they are cleaned.

Consider this, you’ve paid good money for these clothes and you want to have them last and stay looking good for as long as possible.

The best way to do this is to examine your clothes when you take them off.

Is there a stain from lunch today? Quickly treat it and put it in the laundry basket or schedule your next trip to the dry cleaners.

Can you wear this outfit again before cleaning it? Great! Hang it up. This way many of the wrinkles will hang out and it will be in your closet ready for the next time you decide to wear it.

If it’s not stained and not wearable again either put it in the laundry basket or schedule a regular trip to the dry cleaners.

When you take care of your clothes in this way your closet stays tidy and you stay in control of your inventory of clothes. You take the time to put your clothes away where they belong so you will know where to look for those items. You know if something needs cleaning or mending. You have scheduled time to take those clothes to be fixed or you have scheduled time in your calendar to fix them yourself.

What if it’s beyond repair? Or if you don’t want to spend the money to repair it?

Either toss the item or donate it. Perhaps someone else will be able to repair it.
Maintenance is a key component. When you do a little daily maintenance you don’t find yourself in chaos.
Write me back and let me know how you maintain your closet.

Now What? Too Many School Supplies

July 29, 2015

Can you ever have too many school supplies? I think you can. When your child begins his school career in nursery or preschool you are given a list of supplies to get for your child. Some school supplies are taken to the school for the teacher to have in her classroom. Other supplies are important, or necessary, to have at home so that your child can complete his homework without you dashing off to the store to get markers, crayons, colored pencils, notecards, poster board, tape, the list goes on and on. When you do this year after year without culling the past year’s supply your in home supply multiplies dramatically.

Before you run out to get the necessary supplies this year take some time to go through the ones you have. You may be able to shop from your own store at home to supply your child with most of what he needs for the coming school year. You may also be able to give some of your supplies to a friend or a local charity if your child has aged out of some of the supplies you have around your house.

As your child gets older some items on your school supply list get dropped off. It may no longer be necessary to keep a stash of crayons or markers at home. What about all those binders and subject dividers or half used notebooks? What do you do with them?

Consider going through the supplies and determining what is really usable. This is something you may consider having your child help you with before school starts up again.

Get out the crayons. Put the broken ones in a pile or perhaps a large plastic bag. You may be able to use those in a rainy day craft project. Put the whole crayons – the ones that are still nice – in another large plastic bag or a basket to keep. If at the end of the school year your child has not used the crayons – either the broken ones or the whole ones consider tossing the broken ones and donating the whole crayons.

Next get out the markers and some paper. Test all the markers. Put the ones that still work in a basket or a plastic bag and toss the ones that don’t work. Also, toss the ones that don’t have a cap!

Move on to the colored pencils. Sort them into usable and not usable piles. Keep the ones that can still be used and toss the remainder.

Do you have piles of colored craft paper? Go through those piles and recycle the bits of paper that are not large enough to be used for much of anything. Then sort the paper according to color and keep it in a container or on a shelf near where your child does homework or craft projects.

What about those binders and half-used notebooks? First try cleaning up the binders. If they clean up nicely then have your child use them again. Are they completely falling apart? If they’re falling apart or don’t clean up well – toss them. As for the half- used notebooks either use them for grocery or ‘to-do’ lists, recycle, or donate them.

As you begin to think about school starting think also about gathering all these school supplies from around your home first. Go through them with your child. Determine what can be used this school year and then go to the store to purchase the rest!

Now What? Too Many School Papers, Projects and School Supplies?

July 22, 2015

I’ve been talking to you about having too much and learning how to cull collections of your belongings. Well, if you have children you know that there is something else that floods our homes. That is school supplies, papers and projects.

Let’s talk about school projects and papers first. The influx starts when your child begins school. He comes home with lots of art work and projects. Now, in my house, we decorated the refrigerator with these beautiful art creations. When we ran out of room on the refrigerator we started taping these projects to the kitchen cupboards. From there we went to the walls of his bedroom. I think you’re probably getting the idea. Pretty soon my house was really, really full of kid art. I knew that if I didn’t come up with a method of culling this art work there would be no room in my house for anything else. And, I also knew this was just the beginning as he was in pre-school! I didn’t want to think about the amount of papers and projects we would accumulate over 14 years if we already had an abundance in pre-school!!

Between us, my son and I decided that each art project would stay up on the cupboards in the kitchen for all to enjoy for one week. We marked on a calendar the day the project would be recycled or saved. If it was ultra – special and wonderful it would go into the memory box. Admittedly, this took a bit of scheduling and following through on my part but it also gave my son a time frame. He knew that in time each project would come down from the cupboards and that we would decide if it was a keeper. This all took place for me back in the days before digital photography.

I now recommend that my clients with young children take a picture of their child with their art project and have the child tell them something about the project. This allows my clients to keep the art project in such a way that doesn’t add to the collection of items in their home. They display the project in their home for a short period of time and in one small designated spot – like a bulletin board and keep only the very special ones in the memory box. They recycle the bulk of the art work as soon as it comes down from the bulletin board. They always have the photograph along with a description of what the art project relates to in school and the date.

At the end of the school year some of my clients have put this collection of digital photographs in a printed album for their child.

I’m mentioning this now because here in the South the school year is just weeks away from beginning. It’s a good idea to have a plan of what to do when the art work starts coming in. This strategy can be applied to older children also. The projects may not be as numerous but they are sometimes very large. Taking a picture of the project keeps it around. Have your child add a written description to remind him what the project related to – science, english, social studies – and the teacher’s name.

I’d love to know if you’re inundated with school art work, papers, and projects. If you are, is this a strategy you might consider using? Write me back and let me know!

Now What? Too Many Toys?

July 8, 2015

These past few weeks I’ve been talking with you about knowing when you have enough of something based on the container. I talked about clothes and closets and books and bookshelves. Today I’m beginning the topic of our children’s toys.

Wow! What a topic! I know that when my children were little toys just seemed to multiply overnight. My mother would give toys on random occasions. Birthday parties with goodie bags contained small toys. Then there were birthdays and holidays and all of a sudden the toy chest, closet, and shelves were full to overflowing!

Then the toys appear in the family room. I’m not sure there was ever a space (maybe the dining room) that didn’t have some sort of collection of toys. So, do I think there were too many? Absolutely I do.  However, we moved overseas when my children were young. Because of this move we were only allowed to bring a certain amount of things with us. Naturally, this meant we had to cull our collection of toys – making some tough decisions.

So, how do you go about this process with your children?

First, think about what is age appropriate. Are there any toys they have aged out of – baby toys, toddler toys? I understand they may love these toys and may even play with them occasionally. Help wean your child away from these toys by removing these toys slowly. Be sure to do this when they are not around. You can selectively donate out (to a friend, relative or charity) a few toys at a time. If you want to keep them for another sibling then simply put them out of sight. Perhaps the top shelf of a closet.

Next, are there any toys that are missing pieces or broken? Those should be easy to discard. Please don’t donate toys that are not in ‘gently used’ condition. Your child can help you with this process. It’s a valuable life lesson for children to learn to go through their belongings and weed them out. This will help them understand that they do not have to keep everything they own always.

Finally, are there any toys of which there are duplicates or even triplicates? Please reduce the number by eliminating the extras! Your child can help identify the extras. You can even go together to give the extras to a local daycare center.

I’d love to hear from you on this topic. Do your children have too many toys? Is the amount of toys overwhelming? How do you handle this?

Now What? How Many Books are To Many?

July 1, 2015

I’ve been talking with you about the concept of enough. A few weeks ago I wrote about how many clothes are enough. Moving on to books… I’ve often heard said ‘you can never have too many books’. I disagree. Even though I think books are wonderful and I am, in fact, a self-professed book-worm. My nose is often buried in a book whether it be an e-book, a paperback, or a hardcover. However, I pass novels on to family, friends, or to my local public library once I’ve read them. I do keep reference books and books that have spoken deeply to me that I may want to re-read. I do not let my collection of books grow to the point where there are so many books that I don’t have places to adequately keep them.

What do I mean by that? Well, let’s go back to the concept of the container. We’ll imagine that the bookcase is the container. How many books can your bookcase hold without double stacking and without one row of books in front of the other? Some tall bookshelves with long shelves may hold many, many books while other bookcases being shorter with short shelves may only hold a few. Perhaps you have more than one bookcase in your home. Maybe you have a few shelves in the bedroom and a larger bookcase in your office or family room. You could also have a few large coffee table or picture books in the living room.

When you’ve run out of places to put books try not to run out and buy another bookcase. If your containers (bookcases and shelves) are full starting looking carefully at what you’re keeping and edit out books you’ve read and will not be re-reading. Maybe your children have out grown some of the books. Consider donating those in good condition to a pre-school or nursery. Maybe you’ve read some great novels, your friends or family members may want them or perhaps donate them to your local library. What about all those cookbooks? Are there some that you honestly never ever open? Put them aside to donate too.

I’m interested to know about the books in your home. Do you have too many books or is your collection just right?

 

Now What? Closet Organizing Tips

June 25, 2015

Last week I started a conversation with you about your closet. I compared the closet to a container. When a container is full, you can’t put anything more in it. Likewise in a closet, when it is full, it becomes difficult to put clothes away neatly.

I promised to give you tips on how to organize your closet after spending some time culling your collection of clothes. So, here they are!

  1. Group like with like. Put all your slacks/pants together. Put all your blouses/shirts, skirts, dresses and jackets together too.
  2. Once you have them grouped together separate the colors within each group.
  3. Take the time to separate the dressy clothes from the everyday clothes

You will be amazed by how easy it is to spot the clothes you are looking for when your clothes are group by type and by color.

Are you wondering what to do with your shoes?

Depending on the space in your closet you can get a shoe rack and put the shoes you wear most often in the shoe rack.

For the shoes you wear only occasionally, consider storing them in an under the bed shoe storage drawer or in clear plastic boxes on a high shelf in your closet.

Another option is to get an over the door shoe rack.

Here are a few more tips courtesy of my friend and colleague, Geralin Thomas from Metropolitan Organizing. I love these tips because they are so easy to remember!

Geralin says look for anything that needs Mending. Ask yourself a few questions: Are you going to take the time to fix this yourself or get it fixed? If so, schedule it in your calendar. If not, remove it from your closet.

Next, look for anything that needs to be Ironed. Will you actually iron it? Will you get someone to iron it for you? If you answered ‘yes’ then schedule the ironing. If the answer was ‘no’ remove the item from your closet and try to buy wrinkle free clothes!

Finally, is there anything hanging in your closet that needs an Alteration? Is it too long, too short? Does the waist need to be let out or taken in? Is it worth fixing? If the answer is ‘yes’ then schedule a trip to the tailor. If the answer is ‘no’ remove the clothes from your closet.

I hope these tips help you keep your closet in good order. Remember, your closet can only hold so many clothes. When you plan to go shopping also plan what you will be removing from your closet to make room for the new clothes!

Now What? How Much Is Enough?

June 18, 2015

I’d like to start a conversation about what enough means to you. How do you know when there is enough of something?

Well, sometimes the container defines enough. Take a glass, for instance. When you go to fill it with water you know you have poured enough water as the level of the water reaches the rim of the glass. If you get all the way to the very tippy top of the glass you know you won’t be able to lift the glass to drink out of it. It’s too full, there’s too much water.

A bowl, a plate, a pot are all similar in that the size of the container defines how much you can put inside.
These are easy concepts, right? But what about our closets and clothes?

I’d like you to think of your closet as a container – a defined space. Only so much will fit inside. Intellectually we all know this to be true. Yet we cram as much as we possibly can inside. So much that the hangers don’t always fit in well and the clothes become bunched up. Sometimes there are so many clothes to put away and no room for them that they find homes on the floor, on the back of chairs, doors, and in doorways. How do we figure out how many clothes are enough?

I have a few strategies for you to use to keep your clothes collection manageable.

First, let’s talk about your clothes. Are you keeping some because they hold marvelous memories of a great time you had while wearing them? Would you ever consider wearing them again? If so, great – keep them. If not, then take a picture of the clothes, remove them from your closet, and put them aside to donate. Someone else can benefit from them.

Next, are there any clothes hiding in the back of your closet. Perhaps you aren’t wearing them because they are either too big or too small. Maybe you’re thinking that one day you’ll be that size again. Well, maybe you’re right. You may be that size again one day but when that day comes these clothes will probably not be in style. Please remove those clothes from your closet and put them aside for donation.

Now, take a hard look at your clothes. How many pairs of black slacks do you need? I suspect you want to have different kinds of black slacks – dressy, work, and knock around. How many of each kind do you need? How many can you wear at one time?

Sometimes it’s necessary to have a pair to wear, a pair in the wash, and a pair ready for the next day. So, that makes three. This holds true for many articles of clothing that you need on a regular basis.

Think about this and decide how much is enough for you.

Now that you’ve removed the extra items from your closet you have room to get your hanging clothes organized!

I’ll give you some great closet organizing strategies next week. In the meantime, take an inventory of the clothes you’ve removed from your closet, take a picture of the pile and attach it to the inventory, then take your donation to your favorite charity. Be sure to attach the donation receipt to your inventory!

Reward yourself for a job well done!

Now What? Let’s Get Outside

June 3, 2015

How are you spending your days? Do you spend much time outside? I know I do. I love going on walks with my dogs, going biking with a friend, and even canoeing on the Chatahoochie. I always take water with me – do you?  I use a water bottle made by Life Factory. I love these bottles because they’re made of glass, they’re easy to clean and they are even dishwasher safe!

Using these water bottles means that I’m not spending money on buying bottles of water. A money saving strategy! Also, since they are made of glass they are free of chemicals! Wonderful!!

Life Factory recently added to their line of water bottles (they come in a variety of sizes, colors and caps – straw, flip, and regular) with tumblers, and wine glasses! I love this! Imagine a picnic without plastic cups.

I can imagine having a picnic and bringing along these glasses. I admit bringing these glasses will add to the weight of the picnic basket but it will reduce the amount of waste. Check them out – they are sold in packages of 2. Let me know what you think. Will you make the switch from plastic to glass?


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