Archive for July, 2015

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!

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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?