Posts Tagged ‘children’

Routines

August 8, 2017

girl gymnast athlete isolated

Last week I talked to you about habits. Some habits are good habits and easy to maintain, some are not so great and can be replaced with better habits.

What about routines? What is the difference between a habit and a routine?

First, let’s talk about what makes it a routine.

A routine is a series of actions that is repeated so often that it becomes automatic.

We know that gymnasts have routines (a series of acrobatic moves) that they practice on the balance beam, on the floor mats, on the parallel bars – you get the idea.

 I can think of all sorts of routines that happen and I bet you can too. Professional athletes, for instance, have routines they follow to warm up their muscles before they either practice or play their sport.

I have routines which I practice every day. I have a morning routine and an evening routine. These twice daily routines help me move quickly through some regular chores in my home. I don’t even think about them anymore. I just move quickly through my morning routine and when I get home in the late afternoon I settle into my evening routine.

My morning routine goes like this: I get up, let my dogs outside, feed both the dogs and myself breakfast, water my plants, tidy the kitchen, walk the dogs, quickly vacuum the kitchen (my dogs shed a lot), and then shower and start the rest of my day.

Are you thinking, that’s a lot to take care of. Well, honestly, I take the most time on my morning walk and in the shower. The other things take no more than a few minutes. And, I’ve done this routine for so long that I don’t even think about doing these tasks. I just do them.

My evening routine is different. I come home from work, update my client files, do a final check of email and respond to some – if necessary. Then I spend a few minutes tidying my desk and workspace. This way it is ready for me in the morning. The last thing I do is make my list for the next day. I review my appointments, think about what I want to do for my business, any volunteer responsibilities I have and how I might fit them into my day, and plan my day. I do this with the understanding that something may come up to prevent me from accomplishing what I set out to do. This way when the unexpected happens I am prepared!

I sleep well because I’m not trying to remember what I have to do the next day. I am certain, because I follow this routine, that I have written out my plan for the day.

My routines keep my house tidy and my business running smoothly. Like most things my routines get tweaked from time to time.

Do you have a routine you follow?

Child girl doing gymnastic exercises

Do your children have routines?

Even the youngest of children can follow a short routine. It provides structure to their mornings and evenings. A friend of mine was telling me that her 9 month old grand-daughter has an evening routine. She has a bath, puts on her pajamas, turns on a white noise machine, gets her lovey and goes to sleep. Of course, her mother or her grandmother do most of these things for her. But, this is the routine they follow and this little girl is content. She can predict what comes next.

Write me back and tell me about your routines. If your routines aren’t working for you I’d be happy to talk with you to help you to create ones that better fir your lifestyle.

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Tidy Drawers?

June 14, 2017

Tidy Snap

Are your drawers tidy? Don’t you wish that there was an easy way to fold your t-shirts and keep them folded – even after you’ve rummaged through the drawer looking for the shirt you want to wear? Alison Tringale has created a product that is so simple to use even her little girls use it.

Want to know what it is? It’s called Tidy Snap.

I’ve included the link to the product here. www.tidysnap.com

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not being paid to write this review. Alison read some of my recent blogs about children and chores and thought I’d like to see her product, Tidy Snap, since it has helped her children fold their shirts. She very nicely sent me her product and I took it to a client’s house to see if her young daughter could fold a t-shirt the tidy snap way. She could!  And she thought it was really cool (which means to me that she will want to use it to fold her t-shirts). Her mom was as impressed with the Tidy Snap as I was.

In addition to keeping the shirts tidy in the drawer it will also save time. Imagine how wonderful it would be if your child could quickly and easily find the shirt they want to wear without making a huge mess in the drawer or dumping all the shirts on the floor!

There is a video on the tidy snap website which demonstrates how to use the product. Since it is so simple to use it’s easy to see that with the tidy snap you can involve your children in not only putting their laundry away but also in the rolling of their shirts the tidy snap way!

I think there are multiple uses for the Tidy Snap system. I can see using it to keep my collection of scarves tidy in a basket or drawer. I hang my camisoles so that I can easily see which one to wear. The Tidy Snap would help me out there too. I could use it to keep my camisoles tidy in a drawer or in a basket on a shelf saving hanging space for clothes which really need to hang.

I bet you can come up with even more creative uses for the Tidy Snap. Check out Tidy Snap’s website and then write me back and let me know what you think.

Rainy Day Family Activities

June 1, 2016

Here in Atlanta the children are out of school on summer vacation. We all want to spend lots of time outside enjoying the great outdoors but what do you do with your children when it’s pouring rain outside?

A certain amount of TV time or electronic game time is great. The children love playing with their devices.  I’m sure you don’t want them to spend the majority of their day in front of a screen!

Here are my top five suggestions:

1.      Do you have board games? Rainy days are a great time to pull them out.  Board games have a terrific educational component to them that is sometimes overlooked. The children engage in counting, reading, and taking turns. All wonderful skills!

young kids happy childrens family preparing funny cookies in kitchen at home

 2.      Do you like to bake? If you do that can be a really fun way to spend a few hours on a rainy day. The children can read the recipe, measure the ingredients, mix the batter and set the timer. These are also great educational skills to reinforce while they are away from the classroom. Of course, it’s really rewarding to have yummy treats to enjoy!

Mother with daughter reading book

 3.      Read a chapter book. Create a comfy spot with extra blankets and pillows. If your children are good readers you can take turns reading with your children. This helps to engage their mind and promotes creativity! Ask the children to draw a picture of their favorite character in the story.

Boy Coloring Pictures While Family Looking At It On Floor

 4.      Coloring – bring out the coloring books for adults and for children. You can have a selection of markers, colored pencils, and crayons available. Remember to talk while you’re coloring.

Full-length rear view of mother watching daughters trying on clothes in room

5.      Closets, Cupboards & drawers – Pick one. Have your children look at all their clothes in that one spot. Take all the clothes out of the designated area.  Ask them to try on any clothes that they are not sure if they fit. Put those in a donate bag. Put any clothes that your child say he won’t wear in the donate bag too. If there are clothes that need repair put them in a ‘to be mended’ bag. Tackle another area on the next rainy day. This way clothes don’t linger in your child’s room beyond their useful life and they are benefitting another child.

 I’d love to know about your favorite rainy day activity.

 

 

Organizing Conference #NAPO2016

May 25, 2016

I just had the great good fortune to attend two days of the #NAPO2016 Conference in Atlanta. It was my original intention to attend the entire conference but my two sons and daughter-in-law decided that it would be good to visit me. I LOVE it when they visit as they do not live anywhere nearby but I freely admit that I was hoping they would not choose to visit when I was in the middle of attending this great conference. However, the three of them arrived on Friday evening and I was home to greet them. In my world, family trumps everything.

This blog post is not about my family but about the wonderful time I had at the NAPO 2016 conference in Atlanta.

The sessions I attended were fantastic! I am so happy to belong to an organization which brings in great quality speakers to further the education of their members. I will write more about the sessions next week.

For the first time this year I had a table at the Expo with two other organizer colleagues: Jonda Beattie and Judith Kolberg. We were selling our organizing books. It was a blast as many organizers stopped by our table to chat, see what was new, and buy our books. We, Jonda and I, had two new books available for sale. They are two children’s organizing books. They teach children how to go about the task of breaking down a seemingly overwhelming project (picking up a very messy room) into small manageable components. They are titled: Suzie’s Messy Room and Benji’s Messy Room. It was exciting for us to have our organizing colleagues see our new books, like the illustrations and the content, and buy them. We are working with one organizer who wants to buy the books in bulk and then provide them to participants in her workshop. Please feel free to contact me if you have a similar idea.

The other great thing that happened this year at conference – actually it happens every year – is connecting in person with organizers that I usually just communicate with online. We are a community. We speak the same organizer language and totally support one another in our efforts to give our clients the best organizing services. That means that we refer out to one another when necessary. It is an extraordinary experience to be among such a wonderful like-minded group of talented colleagues.

Admittedly, going to conference is an expensive experience. You have the cost of travel, hotel, buying from the vendors, some meals, and entertainment. I’ve found that putting money aside each month in an account earmarked for conference is the best way to afford the investment in my education as an organizer.

If you have a professional conference that you’d like to attend try my strategy of a savings account specifically for that event. I’d love to hear your thoughts on conferences. Do you attend them? Do you find them worthwhile?

 

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely  - SMART Concept

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely – SMART Concept. Conceptual image with yellow paint line on the road over asphalt stone background.

 

Feeling Overwhelmed?

April 27, 2016

It’s not unusual to feel a bit overwhelmed at this time of year. Why? Well, if you have children there are all the end of year school activities. These include awards ceremonies, class parties, prom, graduation ceremonies and parties, athletic competitions and the list goes on. If you don’t have children the groups you belong to may be winding down, finishing up activities.

Then there is the yard. If you live in the South you may be changing out the winter annual plants and replacing them with the spring/summer colorful annuals. If you live in the North you may be guarding the tender perennials that are just starting to grow. In fact, yesterday my sister told me they were expecting snow in Vermont. She was concerned that the plants that were poking their heads out of the ground might be damaged by freezing temperatures!

What to do about this feeling of having so many things to do and a finite amount of time?

First of all, BREATHE!

When I’m feeling this way, overwhelmed, I sometimes forget to take deep breathes. How about you?

Start by getting out your calendar and noting all the due dates.

Then get out a sheet of paper and write down the steps you need to take to bring each event to completion.

Some events may just be a matter of getting there on time. Others may need you to take some actions – like buying or making cookies for a class party or planning a pre-prom parent party!

Once you have broken each of these tasks down into steps get your calendar back out and schedule those steps into your planner. Take into account your regular chores and activities and be sure to allow travel time or set up and clean up time.

I know that this is something I have just done for myself as I was feeling overwhelmed by all the little tasks I have to complete in the next few weeks. I was definitely feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared. Writing everything down and breaking the tasks into their steps helped me. I hope it helps you too.

 

Now What? How Flexible is Your Plan?

October 21, 2015

Young girl doing gymnastic exercises on the pier (ancient version)

How do you define flexibility? The dictionary has several different definitions. They are: 1. to be able to bend without breaking; not stiff or rigid; easily bent; pliant 2. Easily persuaded or influenced; tractable 3. Adjustable to change; capable of modification.

If you are physically flexible that will serve you well as you age. How do you maintain that flexibility? Easy – exercise regularly and focus on being able to move easily. I do competitive ballroom dancing as a hobby. Last weekend I participated in a dance competition in Atlanta. There was a woman 94 years young dancing tango, foxtrot, waltz, Viennese waltz and quickstep – wow! I imagine she practices regularly; since ballroom dancing requires you be physically fit and flexible as well as mentally alert and flexible.

At this time of year it’s easy to feel swamped or overwhelmed by all the activities and events. If you have children in school there are parties to volunteer for and field trips not to mention the school recitals and performances. If you are part of a volunteer group many celebrate and honor their volunteers in November right around Thanksgiving. I have a large family and keeping track of who is doing what, when and where can sometimes sound like a comedy routine.

This is where the third definition of flexibility comes into play. If you can adjust or modify your plan for the day you are brilliant! How can you do this? You start by being organized, by keeping your calendar up to date, and by having a plan for each day. When you know what you are doing, when and where then you also know what things can be shifted – modified – to accommodate a slight change in plan.

strategy photo

Chaos happens when you don’t start with a plan. When you let the day happen without having an idea of how you are going to get the things done that you want to do the day can float on by. You can be pulled in many different directions, never quite finishing any task. Letting the day float on by is a wonderful thing to do when you’re on vacation!

Try and create a plan for your day with your calendar in hand. Take note of your appointments, how long it will take you to travel there and back, how long the appointment will probably last. Then see where you can fit in errands or other tasks that you’d like to accomplish. Then take note of any remaining or free time. If something unexpected pops up you’ll be able to shift those errands and other tasks around to accommodate the unexpected event. You’ll also know what can be put off for another day.

This will help with that swamped and overwhelmed feeling that can creep up on us as we’re preparing for all the fall festivities!

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!

Stuck at Home?

February 12, 2014

Here we go again. I’m in Atlanta and listening to the news reports of the catastrophic storm that is hitting this area. I’m so thankful that the media has given us ample warning this time and that most everyone has followed their advice to stay off the roads. I’m sure you remember the pictures and stories of just a few weeks ago when so many were trapped on the highways around Atlanta.

So, what to do… I’m at home as are many. Are you wondering how to occupy your time? I have some suggestions.

1. Catch up on your paperwork and filing. Take this day when you have to be at home and really clean your desk. Take everything off and only put back those things which you need. Make a pile of things to follow up on – bills to pay, invitations to respond to, emails to answer, documents to file. Make a folder with anything tax related to tackle when you’re ready to prepare your taxes! Take a little break after you clean your desk. Then go back to it and tackle one section at a time. When you’re finished – celebrate! Treat yourself to something wonderful!

2. If you have children at home get out a board game and play the game with them. You could also involve the children in going through their toys, games, stuffed animals. Help them figure out if there are games with missing (never to be found) pieces that should be tossed. Maybe they have outgrown some of the toys and games. Perhaps there are games or toys which they no longer really want. Put those aside to give to younger cousins or to donate to your church nursery school or another charity you support. You accomplish several things by doing this with your children: you teach them how to cull their belongings and you teach them the benefit of giving to others. 

3. Sort through your winter clothes (and your children’s). Put aside anything that still fits and that you still like but that needs mending. Make a separate pile of clothes that don’t fit, are too old, or that you no longer love. These go to a charity of your choice or if they are really tattered – into the trash.

4. Get out a project you’ve been working on and tackle the next step! I have a few more hours work to do on a needlepoint tapestry I’ve been sewing for the past year and am looking forward to finishing it today!

In other words, put this time that you are housebound to good use. No need to be wondering what to do with this day that you’re stuck at home. I’ve told you what I’ll be doing, I’d love to hear from you how you spent your time.

Maintenance is Key!

February 5, 2014

Are you thinking about getting your home really organized? Do you like the thought that once all your belongings have a place to be you will be able to find what you need when you want it? As a professional organizer I think these are beautiful concepts. The caveat here is that once everything is organized you must maintain the system.

Think about this another way. If you have a car you need to make sure it has gas in the tank. Every now and then the car will need to have the oil changed or undergo a routine servicing so that the car continues to run smoothly. The car will also need to be washed so that you can see clearly out the windshield – front and back. If there is trash in the car – like food wrappers, empty water bottles, or soda cans they can be thrown out so the car can be vacuumed. It’s also good to remove the trash so you have room for people and other things, like groceries, that you really want to carry in your car.

Your home is much the same. You can’t expect to organize once and be done. Schedule a few minutes every morning to make sure the bed is made, dirty clothes in the hamper, and the dishes washed and put away or rinsed and put in the dishwasher. Plan these chores into your morning routine so that when you return home from work you don’t have these chores to tackle before you can begin preparing for dinner.

Schedule a few minutes in the evening to sort the mail. Take the time to at least separate out the mail to be recycled or shredded from the mail that needs attention – like bills or invitations.

As you go from room to room in your house if you see a few things out of place put them where they belong. You’ll thank yourself later. A few things are easy to attend to. That will only take you a short time. It’s when things are left out of place that they tend to multiply. Then it will take you much longer to take care of the out of place items. Don’t indulge yourself by saying “I’ll do it later”. In my experience, later never comes.

Plan time into your day everyday to clean and maintain one room of your home. Just as it’s impossible to organize once and be done it’s impossible to clean once and expect your furniture to remain dust free. It doesn’t take long to dust and vacuum a room when it’s done regularly. As you’re cleaning the furniture put aside anything that has lingered in the room and doesn’t belong there. When you’re finished cleaning take the time to put those out of place items where they belong.

Rotate through the rooms in your house taking care of one a day. Doing this regularly means that nothing is actually that dusty or dirty and it won’t take you very long. This way you don’t have to dedicate an entire day to cleaning your house. It’s much more rewarding to spend your day off doing something you want to do – maybe something fun with a friend or family, maybe something indulgent like a spa treatment, maybe some gardening… the possibilities are endless.

If you have a spouse or partner and/or children involve them in the maintenance routine. Teach them to put their belongings away. You can make a game out of it. Put on some good music and let everyone know that now is the time to gather things up if they are out of place and put them away. Let each person have a part in keeping your home clean and tidy. Doing this you accomplish several things. You teach your children how to pick up and put away and you teach them to care for their home in a responsible manner.

Remember the key to having a clean and well organized home is maintenance. Create the system and then work it.

What To Do At Home When You Can’t Go Out

January 6, 2014

Does this cold weather have you staying home wondering what to do? I have a few suggestions for you which will also help you organize your home.

Take a look in your closet. Are there a few pieces of clothing that are:

1. too small

2. too big

3. in need of repair or alterations

4. haven’t been worn in the past season

5. when you put it on, you decide not to wear it and then put it back in the closet

Take these items out of your closet and make some decisions. Either schedule a day and time in your calendar to have alterations made or put the items in a shopping bag to take to your local Goodwill.

Miscellaneous Drawer

Everyone has a drawer where they put small things that don’t have an immediate home. Empty the drawer and start sorting. Put the small change in a change jar. Put the pens and pencils in a pencil can or drawer. Figure out if the other odds and ends like batteries, rubber bands, golf balls or whatever can be put away. If not, do you need them or want them?

Filing Cabinet

Get out some extra manila files and a pen or a labeler if you have one. Go through your files. Make the 2014 files for your financial documents, investments, and taxes and any others that you switch out from year to year. Remove the 2013 files and put them in a place where you can work on them to get your taxes done ahead of time!

Now go through your other files, one at a time. Determine if there are any files that are obsolete. Shred them, if necessary. As you’re going through your other files – be sure to look at each piece of paper – determine if there are any papers in those files which you don’t need any more. Shred them, too, if need be.

You want to do this every year so that you don’t just accumulate paper. Know what you have in your filing cabinet.

Kitchen

Maybe this is a good time to empty the kitchen drawers, one at a time. Wash them, dry them, and then put the items back where they belong. If you come across something that doesn’t belong, or that you don’t want, or that is broken either find it a home, donate it, or toss it.

Children’s Art and School work

This could be a great time to go through your children’s art work and school work with your children. Weed out the things the two of you decide you want to keep and put them in a memorabilia box. Recycle the others.

There are lots and lots of things to keep you busy, not bored, at home during this cold snap. These are just a few suggestions. I’d love to hear if you take me up on any of these ideas and if it leads to further organizing in your home!