Cleaning Up After The Holidays

How to Clean Up the Post-Celebratory Clutter and Set Up for a Fresh Start

It’s a brand new year. We are all (hopefully) somewhat inspired to start 2017 fresh and set ourselves up for the greatest year yet! But after all that holiday cheer (and after you’ve enjoyed a day or two of eating cookies for breakfast and watching the kids enjoy their new toys) it’s time to figure out where in the world you’re going to put all of this stuff.

In the midst of all the pine needles and strewn about presents, clean-up can seem overwhelming.

Here are a few strategies to help you get started and set up the house for a more simplified New Year ahead.

1. Inventory & Evaluate the Toys:

Oh, the toys! Even with the most valiant efforts to curb the influx of toys this time of year, you can find yourself with quite a pile once the glitter settles. 

Teach your kids that this is a great time to go through their toys and pass on what is no longer played with. Kids outgrow their once beloved toys very quickly and in this digital age, they are mainly on electronics in their spare time so they don’t need that much stuff. Sit with them and gather ALL THE TOYS in the house. Consider carefully those you choose to keep in your space, those you put away for later, and those you find another home for.

2. Set up a Donation Station:

While surely every gift was given in good cheer, it truly is the thought that counts. If items won’t be useful or enjoyed in your home, donate them to someone who will find value in them. With the aim of getting a fresh start in the new year and finding a new home for all of those holiday gifts, put those empty Amazon boxes and festive gift bags to good use by setting up an area of your home to collect items for donation. Encourage the whole family to fill those containers with items they no longer use or enjoy. 

3. NEW RULE-One in, Two out :

As you take stock of the new items that you’ve been gifted and begin to put them away, apply the one in, two out rule as you go. If you have a new shirt, find two old shirts you no longer wear and set them aside for donation. If you’ve been given a new book, replace two old books you know you won’t pick up again. Teach your children this rule with their toys as well.

4. Take Care in the Take Down:

When taking down the holiday decor, rather than fast as you can, pack things away neatly in ways that will make things easier next year. Discard broken items. Sort pieces by category. Use a cardboard tube to keep lights from tangling. Label your boxes. Only keep the things you love and donate the rest.

5. Deep Clean:

If you really want to start the New Year fresh, after the de-cluttering and the donating, take some time to deep clean your home. This is a great task to outsource if possible and a wonderful way to ensure a clean start to a healthy new year.

Cheers!

XO, Stacy

 

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

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It’s already February! Well basically. It’s January 31. How did that happen so fast?

Here we are in 2016. Our kids are older and changing every day. We’re older. We’re finally settled into the new year and the holidays feel like a distant memory.

As we have thoughtfully planed for the year ahead, many of us may have high expectations for ourselves (not to mention our kids!). There's probably so much going on in your life right now that you need to STOP for one moment and take a breath.

We want to accomplish all we set out to do. But first, we must set ourselves up for greatness and success. Let's start by evaluating our (often overwhelming) expectations.

Be realistic and respectful of yourself. What are your goals? Can you just make a sudden shift and turn tired old habits into new productive ones? Or, do you need to make shifts more gradually with a lot of support?

I personally like to set goals. Goals can be set small or high but there is less pressure attached to the idea of a goal, than making an "instant" shift. Know your patterns. Set smaller, easily attainable goals that will eventually lead you to the bigger accomplishments you want to make down the road. They also keep me focused.

Here are my goals for 2016:

  • Exercise at least 30-50 minutes/ 4-5 days a week
  • Take my vitamins daily and be more conscious of “white food” intake. Eat more veggies!
  • Take classes.
  • Meet new people and try new things.
  • Have lower expectations of others & try to not take things personally.
  • Practice gratitude.

I have many other things I want to accomplish (photography classes, sustainable gardening, learning another language, getting my Nutritionist certification…) but I feel these few are the most important to get me in a good head space. I have simplified all of my goals into these six "self-improvement" goals, this way, I am setting myself up for success. The more success I have, the more likely I am to set and maintain higher goals down the road.

Most importantly be nice to yourself! If you are making positive changes and listening to your inner voice, you will feel so good! Be your best self and give yourself a pat on the back for making any positive changes in your life.

If you can simplify your life one goal at a time, you cannot fail. Take one step at a time and believe in yourself. You are the master of your choices!

Blessings and love,

Stacy

Purging Kids Clothes

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If you’ve got kids, you’ve got clothes. TONS of clothes! And as your kids grow, all those little pants, tops and dresses just keeps multiplying! As clothes begin to take over their rooms, drawers and closets, it’s time for you to take back control. In an ideal world, we would all have the time to go through our kids clothes, shoes and sports uniforms and discard what is no longer needed on a regular basis. But, let’s face it, life as a parent is way too crammed with activities that we barely have time to take a shower let alone organizing our kids socks!

Here are a few basic steps to help you on your way to retain control and set up systems to help you keep on top of their clothes BEFORE they take over their rooms.

Find a common item to tackle and don’t stray. For example, if your child has overflowing drawers in his or her room, start there, in the room, next to the dresser.

  1. Grab some empty bags or boxes. Trash bags or store bags with handles work fine for donation items.
  2. Label the bags and/or boxes KEEP, DONATE, RECYCLE & TOSS
  3. Dump EVERYTHING out. Even if you think you’ve looked through there recently, do it anyway.
  4. Go through piece by piece.
  5. Dispose of accordingly

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I know this may be hard, but try to be mindful in this process. Be SELECTIVE about what you are keeping. Use your best judgment.

Anything too small should be donated and anything stained or torn should be tossed.

If you have hand-me-downs that don’t quite fit, go through those and take out what you want, place in a box or bag and label with the clothing size and or/season. Store extra items in child's closet (or garage if there is no room).

IF you have items to pass on to family or friend, make a separate pile and be sure to plan delivery of said items in the immediate future so they don’t accidentally get donated, tossed or mixed back in with the keepers. Place in a labeled bins or boxes and make arrangements to drop off as soon as possible.

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On to the organization part:

  • Take all the KEEPERS and put back in categories. Shorts, dresses, tee's. pants, swim, athletic... All like items together in their place.
  • You can also use dividers in the drawers to customize and maximize the space.

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  • Next, take ALL DONATIONS down to your car and drop off (or schedule a pick-up) ASAP!
  • TOSS unwanted items in the trash.

CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve now set your child up for a streamlined wardrobe, one that he/she can easily navigate.

With kids, it really is less = more. The less they have to choose from the easier it will be for them to make decisions. Often while trying to empower our children we end up overwhelming them with too many choices.

Take the time to do this on a regular basis; I suggest every three-four months if your kids are under ten. Mark it down on your calendar and make it a priority. Cleaning and going through your kids stuff on a regular basis is part of being a parent. Think about it as taking inventory. Now you know what items are where when you need to find them.

You’ve also done a good deed and potentially helped someone else by donating. In addition, this sets a good example for your kids to learn about being charitable and not excessive.

Now your kids will find it so much easier to get dressed when you’ve eliminated the things they don’t wear. This leads to happier more harmonious mornings for everyone!  Remember, LESS IS MORE!!! xo

 

 

 

Organized Shopping

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I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. How many times have you gone into a store to buy one or two things and $200.00 (or more!) later, you have a car full of stuff you didn’t intend to buy? We are all guilty of buying things that we simply just don’t need. Whether we are at the grocery store, Nordstrom, Costco or Target (my personal faves.) we all could use more help when it comes to shopping more thoughtfully. Luckily for you, I am here to give you some tips on how to change all that and stay on task when in the stores so... listen up!

Tip 1: Figure out what your weekly financial allotment is for shopping; food, necessities, clothing, auto, pet supplies etc. and set a realistic budget that you can stick to. If you have a joint account with your spouse, make sure he or she is on the same page as you. Work this out as a team, otherwise you are headed for some heated arguments and possibly the couch!

If you need help creating a budget, there are dozens of interactive tools available online, including your bank. If you have a smartphone, apps are handy for managing your spending on the go. Once you are able to recognize certain spending patterns, you can decide what it is that you would like to change. Do some research and you will be on your way to setting up an easy to follow shopping budget for you and your family.

Bonus tip: try to use cash when you go shopping. You will DEFINITELY stay within budget if all you have is the cash in your wallet.

Tip 2: After you have the financials figured out, encourage yourself, every day, to shop with intention. Before you head into a store, set your limits. Come equipped with a well thought out list and consider the following questions when you veer into dangerous territory and are tempted to buy off the list:

  1. Did I come into this store for this particular item?
  2. What will I use this item for?
  3. Why do I need it? (“Because I want it” isn’t a sufficient answer)
  4. Do I already have something like it?
  5. Where will it “live” in my house
  6. Am I 100% sure I need it?
  7. Is it returnable (make sure of the store policy) if I find I don’t really need it?
  8. Can I really afford this right now?

Creating a list and sticking to it is critical to organized shopping. And now, it’s easier than ever especially if you have a cell phone (everyone does, right?). Use the tools and apps available to you. They will help you tremendously in getting organized and staying on financial track.

Tip 3 (and most importantly): Be honest with yourself. Stay within your own personal means when shopping, especially for “non-necessities”. Don’t let the excitement of the moment encourage you to purchase something when you know, deep down inside, that it’s not the best decision.

I know, it’s hard to avoid that when you feel you deserve it for working hard, or something is really cute, or the kids would love it... but those justifications will lead you off track when shopping and, possibly, even closer to debt.

Number one: DON'T BLAME YOURSELF! We are a nation addicted to instant gratification. Daily we are encouraged to BUY BUY BUY! Unfortunately, this can lead to overspending and clutter in our homes. Back in the day people used to save their money to buy things they really wanted. Remember lay-a-way? Today with the overuse of credit cards, and the pressure of “keeping up with the Joneses” we just don’t practice that same discipline.

But, the good news is that you CAN make changes. YOU have the power! I now command you to take control of your actions! Use the tools that are available to you and you too will be on the road to successful, organized shopping. You will find you feel a lot better about yourself when you maintain control and within budget than you would if you were toting around a $1,400.00 Louis Vuitton purse you really couldn’t afford.

Remember; less is more.

Peaceful Functional Bathrooms

Peaceful Functional Bathrooms

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