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

 

Helping Aging Parents

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  One of the most challenging things to do in our adult lives will be dealing with our aging parents. Many of us are sandwiched between elderly parents and young children. Nearly half of adults in their 40's have a parent age 70 or older and we are also either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child. Take a breath 'cuz it's a lot to handle!

It's time to face the reality and be as well equipped as possible to deal with the responsibilities that come with caring for parents and children simultanously.

Besides dealing with the usual unknowns of daily life, taking care of our parents may quickly become a daily responsibility. One of the hardest things to do will be to convince a parent to move out of their long-time home or get the care they need. Often they get to a point where they cannot live on their own and they will need more support.

Here are a few basic tips to use and to help things stay in perspective while in this extremely difficult process.

IMPORTANT ITEMS TO DISCUSS:

CAREGIVING - Caregiving is a family affair. Often the child who lives closest to the parent is going to handle most of the burden simply because of proximity. It is important to gather your brothers, sisters, children and uncles and aunts together to address an ailing loved ones needs. It is good to have a meeting and discuss the problem, without the parent present, and be realistic about the situation.

THE FUTURE: It’s never too early to start to have regular conversations about what the future holds. Approach it as your problem instead of your parent's problem, If you tell them 'you have to do this, or do that’, you'll lose them. Instead say something like, 'Mom, I'm concerned about you; it makes me worried to see you like this.'" Share your concerns from YOUR perspective and try to get a plan in place.

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POWER OF ATTORNEY: Important items to address include financial issues and who will act as the elder's durable power of attorney for health care. "One of the most important things is to decide who will make the critical decisions,". Typically a family approach is recommended where one capable person be appointed as the elder's primary advocate. This person, whether a son or daughter or adult grandchild, should be in charge of financial decisions and act as the elder's durable power of attorney for health care.

FINAL WISHES:

Although difficult, take the time to talk to your parent(s) about their final wishes. Do they have plans already made or do they avoid the discussion like the plague? The more you know, the less you have to worry about the "what if's". Traditions, buriel/cremation plans, financial situations and any other wishes should be discussed and ideally documented.

The more open and honest everyone is the better the outcome. This is often a challenging time for most families but you need to try and look at the bright side. Life is short, the people that drive you crazy are the ones you're going to miss the most!

Try to stay present, get support, communicate effectively (not emotionally) and be grateful every day.  It's also good to keep in mind the way you treat/talk about your parents in front of your children. They are also learning about caring for people and what they see from you sets the tone for their general compassion.

Try to come from a place of love. This is what being an adult is all about!

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 Lunch Packing

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Hallelujah!

For us, school starts tomorrow. Many of your kids may not go back tomorrow but within the next few weeks we will all have to face the dreaded, daily lunch packing challenge! Being prepared is crucial to staying organized for this daily task. Here are a few tips to make the process easier and maybe even a little bit fun!

  1. Involve your kids. Sit down with your kids ahead of time to plan out some good balanced lunch options. Use the simple guidelines below to create yummy and healthy snack/lunch ideas that are easy to pack. Pay attention to what they like. If you're just packing what you think they should eat, it will probably just get thrown out. Work with them to create a lunch they will actually eat and give them the energy they need to get through the day.
  2. Make lunch cards. Grab some index cards and write down their lunch options. Create at least 5 different, balanced lunches on paper. Involve your kids in this process. Now that you have your lunches planned out, they can select which one they want for the next day. Keep cards clipped on the fridge or in an accessible jar or bin in the kitchen. Pick a card, pack it up, throw in a water and you're set to go!
  3. Make their lunch the day before. I always pack their lunches after I empty out the lunch box they brought home that day. After school, have them empty out their lunch box and set it on the counter. Depending on their age, they can pack it themselves or you can do it together. Store packed lunch in the fridge. In the morning put an ice pack in to keep things cool.
  4. Be prepared: They may not be the healthiest but buy some pre-packed snacks so they are easy to just throw in. Coupled with some protein, fresh fruit and veggies these are fine in moderation and make lunch making a whole lot easier. Some good options are: yogurt tubes, string cheese, chips or Goldfish, hummus with pretzels, crackers, KIND bars, Z bars... You get the idea. You can also pre-pack fruits and veggies. Carrots, celery, cucumber, frozen grapes, tangerine slices etc. pre-packed in baggies will stay fresh a few days in the fridge. Keep these items stocked and stored together in the fridge or pantry. Let everyone know those are for lunches and off-limits while at home.
  5. Have supplies handy. Make sure you have a few good lunch boxes, water bottles, baggies, spoons, forks and plastic containers with lids on hand. There are so many options and many reusable baggies and containers to use too. Know what works for your child. If he/she is always losing his/her expensive water bottle and lunch box, try a paper bag, disposable baggies and store-bought plastic water bottles.
  6. Send love. Have a few cute "love" notes already cut out to pop in for your little cutie! Pinterest has some awesome "lunch box note" printables available for free. No matter how old your child is, seeing a little note from you will always put a smile on their face!

Be realistic. Staying organized is really just some thoughtful thinking and planning ahead. If you turn this "chore" into a habit, involve your kids and have the right items on hand, you'll be setting yourself up for success and your kids will be well nourished and able to focus in class.

So...pack on CHEERS to a great, first week back at school!352bb167cde8da81a21f0d5dc29b3b8c

Accessible Medications

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One very important thing to keep organized is your medications. It is crucial to stay current with these in case of emergency. Especially with kids or elderly people in your home you want to know that you have everything you need in case of an emergency.

With just a few, simple steps you too can be super organized and will no longer  have expired meds, vitamins and ointments taking up space in your medicine cabinets. So gather all your meds, first-aid kits, band-aids and vitamins and lets get started!

FIRST:

Asses your situation:

Where are all of your meds? In case of emergency, do you have everything you need in one place? If not start by gathering all meds and first-aid items, including band-aids and emergency items such as Epi-Pens or Antihistamines.

You should now think about WHERE you take your vitamins and meds and keep them in one container in that room. You can use items like plastic shoe boxes, small lazy susans or drawer organizers or whatever you may have to consolidate like items together.

I like to keep our daily vitamins and meds in the kitchen so I can take them and give to my kids at breakfast. Any meds or vitamins I take at night, I keep that in my night-stand drawer and I keep all First Aid items and extra supplies in our hall linen closet in labeled bins:

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NEXT:

Gather ALL meds, first aid items, creams and vitamins. Go through all items one by one reading the dates and the pertinent information.

Any expired meds and creams should be put into one "discard" pile. Any medications you no longer use or were for a past infection or illness should also be put into the discard pile.

Take all other like items and store together in the place you will be using them. Organize by type and label for easy accessibility.

FINALLY

Getting rid of the expired stuff:

There are many improper ways to dispose of meds, like tossing in the trash or flushing down the toilet. Here is what I like to do to insure they don’t get into the wrong hands or filtered into our water system.

According to the FDA, they give the following suggestions when throwing out expired, unwanted, or unused medicines:

  • Some pharmacies have Medicine Take-Back Programs, if you have a large number of meds to dispose of, I suggest finding a pharmacy that offers this.
  • If you choose to dispose of items at home:
    • Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds;
    • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and
    • Throw the container in your household trash.

Before throwing out your empty pill bottles or other labeled packaging, remember to scratch out (or tear off) all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.

In regards to expired liquids and syrups, these can be poured down the drain. Expired creams can safely be tossed in the trash.

Please take the time to do this. It is so important to take inventory on a yearly basis. You do not want to be caught unprepared.

Cheers to your health!

 

 

 

 

 

Peaceful Functional Bathrooms

Peaceful Functional Bathrooms

First of all, a bathroom should be a simple, yet functional space. For many of us, yes I'm talking to all you busy mommies out there, being alone in the bathroom is the only ALONE time we get all day! Let's take some time to make it a nice, relaxing, super-functional space to be in.

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