Posts Tagged ‘organizing’

Toy Organization

We’re trying something new with the toys around here.

I had noticed that the toys my kids actually played with were much smaller in number than the number that were constantly laying all over the house. Tiny Barbie shoes, toys that were too “young” for them, play dishes…it was everywhere. I was tired of it.

I may have seen this idea somewhere, and if I did, let me know where it was! But, I gave each child a plastic storage bin and had them pick their favorite toys until it was full (Audrey nowhere near filled hers, interestingly). When they were done, I took out a few more I knew they would miss, and a few I would *like* them to play with, and then we boxed up the rest and put them in the garage.

Hoping for several outcomes with this:

-Anything left out belongs in somebody’s box or in the location I set up for it, so it’s easy for them to pick up their toys when it’s time.

-There are a few things in the garage that I could see us getting out again, but quite honestly, much of it is junk that I suspect we’ll realize we can throw out in a couple months.

-When they go to play, they aren’t so overwhelmed with “stuff” that they fight and get overwhelmed and frustrated.

-They don’t end up emptying the storage bins just to get to the toys they really want.

So we’ll see how this goes. So far I love it!


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Update on the piles

So, based on how many pieces of paper enter this house every day, it’s going to take a little more than filing 5 papers a day. Otherwise I may be working on this for three years before my kitchen piles are gone. 😉 Maybe I’ll do 10.

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I had a revelation today.

First, a little background. For all three years of our married life, we have had piles of papers in the kitchen. Bills, mail, magazines, you-name-it. It gets piled on the kitchen counter. I have always hated this. Here I am, miss organized, and my kitchen always looks like a mess. So I was reading a blog today (currently I can’t remember which one. If I figure it out I will add the link.) She recommends starting a new habit on Saturdays. Just as an example, she said, “say you want to file 5 papers every day after breakfast.” A light bulb came on. That would solve the problem!

Then, I started thinking about the problem itself. My mom ALWAYS had a pile of papers on the counter when I was growing up. It is something I am used to. Organization, however, never was my mom’s strong point. She would tell you that herself. Another piece of the puzzle is the fact that in my brain it is Nick’s job to take care of the finances. This includes the millions of bills (okay, not MILLIONS, but it sometimes feels like millions)

So, here’s the revelation: organization is not Nick’s strong point. It’s mine. I have every skill I need to come up with a system to fix this. Nick will love it. I will no longer have piles on the counter. We will be able to pay all our bills on time all the time, because we will know what’s due when and where the bill is.

I have been living with something when I have everything I need to fix it. Duh. Do you have anything like this? I really believe that God gives families the skills and talents needed to allow for success. This includes the kids – not just the parents. Hannah already has an incredible gift of organization as well. Hers may surpass mine because I will encourage her in it. I hope it does. And not in an obsessive compulsive way – in a way that gives life and finds order out of chaos.

Be inspired also today – what problem do you have that you or a family member has the talents to fix?

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This is a subject that is currently close to my heart. I thought I would offer some of the tips I’m using. Maybe they can be useful to you as well!

1. I read a Feng Shui article in a magazine once. Feng Shui is HUGE on decluttering. It said something like, “Go around your house, touching everything in it. Ask yourself about each item, “Do I love this, does it make me smile? If the answer is no, throw it away.” After having a good laugh about the way they said it, I have applied that principle ever since. If something makes me feel sad when I look at it, or if it was given to me and I have no use for it, or if I bought it and no longer need it, I throw it away. I DO NOT throw away things that have meaningful sentimental value. I have to be careful about this, because I tend to throw away too much and then I’m sorry later. You may lean in the opposite direction – be aware of how much you need to/want to get rid of.

There is no reason, for example, for me to have 3 sets of measuring cups. 2 of them I think I bought at the dollar store when I got my own apartment in college. I have Tupperware ones I got as a wedding present. There. 5 more square inches of cabinet space.

Note: Useful things do not necessarily have to make you smile for you to keep them. I do not advocate throwing away your dishwasher, no matter your feelings toward it.

2. Put same-sized objects together. They fit better and take up less space.

3. Utilize containers – glass bowls, baskets, lazy susans, vases – anything can be used to group things together and keep them looking neat

4. Keep your focus – what is important? For me, I love books. I also love to have people over. Therefore, I am not likely to get rid of many books, except on paperbackswap. I also want to keep most of my duplicate dishes because they will allow me to entertain. I do not spend a ton of time baking, so some of my baking stuff can go. We only have two bedrooms and therefore don’t need 5 sets of extra sheets in the linen closet. At the very least they can go into storage in the garage for the day we have a guest room (or when the girls want to build forts with them in a couple years!).

5. Clothing – they say if you haven’t worn it in a year, you never will again. Take it to Goodwill. Your kids will be mad in 20 years when you say, “I used to have one of those” about something they would DIE to have. But really, do you have space to store it for 20 years? The kids clothes should be packed away in boxes for future siblings or sold or taken to Goodwill once they are too small. Allowing them to stay in the drawer just complicates getting them dressed (and keeping the dresser drawers closed!).

6. Toys – Are there pieces that end up all over the floor, never used for their intended purpose? Are there things your kids are bored with? Pack them away for a month and begin rotating the toys. Every month when you bring out the old stuff, put away different ones. Voila’! New toys every month.

7. If you don’t know where to start, set your timer for 15 minutes and do SOMETHING, anything! If you are still overwhelmed when you’re done, set the timer for 15 minutes and rest. Then set it again and work for another 15 minutes. Or, just keep going. If I can get into cleaning mode, I can change the world in the course of an hour. 🙂

Alright. Gotta go use some more of my own advice! Happy decluttering!

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More on Organizing

Found this site today. I like to skim through lists like this periodically. I’m all for ideas that can make life simpler!

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I have recently found some answers to the questions I’ve been asking for the past several months. My questions about God, about staying home with my kids, about contentedness… The wrestling has paid off. I don’t want to sound trite, so I’ve been hesitant to write about these things. Also the thought that I could share my heart and you, my reader, might find it boring, makes me keep some things to myself. Thus, the title of this entry. However, I love to pass on things I have learned, in the hope it might help somebody else. If I get to the root of the matter, that’s probably what motivates this blog the most. So, here are some thoughts.

-I am getting up early to read my Bible and talk with God.If you know me at all, you know this getting up early is completely new for me. And yet it has changed my entire attitude during the day. If you don’t already do this, please try it. I have found nothing else that changes the direction of our days and the tone in our home like this. There is no schedule, no organization, no book to read that can substitute for a living relationship with God. The difference between stumbling to the girls’ room half asleep when they wake up, and meeting them fully awake, fresh from the Word is like night and day.

-If you find what makes your kids tick and work with it, it changes everything. For example, Hannah, as I’ve mentioned before, is an organizer. It is imperative to keep her living areas organized. My house is far from spotless, but her room and toy closet are organized, and that is the first thing I pick up when I straighten up. Before, she would get overwhelmed at anything. When her environment is not stressful to her, her whole temperament is different. Funny, I’m a whole lot like that. 🙂

-I got the book, “The Power of a Praying Parent” at the library. I will be adding that one to my bookshelves permanently. Prayer is the only thing I have found that silences my fears, helps me to stop carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and helps me to process life. And it’s not just me rambling to God, it’s asking questions and waiting for a response. When it becomes a habit to listen for God’s voice, it gets easier and easier to hear.I knew this at one point in my life, but this stage in life requires a whole new level!

-As soon as I think I’ve arrived, I get a firm reminder that it’s about relying on God. Its not about the strength I can muster, it’s about how much I can surrender and allow God to be my strength. Someone I know likes to tell me, “You can do it, you’re strong.” As much as I love that person, they have it all wrong. I’m only strong in my weakness, because that’s when God takes over and makes everything turn out right. I can just see Him, watching me strive and strain, going, “Are you done yet? Can I do it now?”Far better that I start out letting Him do it than wear myself out first!

I will stop there, mostly due to the thunderstorm that keeps getting closer!

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Priorities and Schedules

Kim’s post today and the links she includes were very encouraging to me. Kim has nine, yes, nine children. This is the kind of person I was talking about that would have to know how to make a household work! 🙂 The common thread I find in most of the reading I have done about household management in a Godly way focusing primarily on the tone in the home. The house can be spotless, but if the kids are undisciplined and unhappy and the marriage has been neglected, it would still be a miserable place to be.

Kim’s comments about stopping right away to work with children who need you really resonated with me. Hannah had been having some attitude issues recently, and in doing some reading I have realized the problems weren’t with her as much as they were with me. We moms simply cannot afford to be lazy, or to avoid dealing with stuff. An angry lecture a few minutes too late is not an appropriate substitute for attentiveness and quick action. I have seen this play out in our home this week. Things have been much happier.

This reminds me of a family I saw yesterday while sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. A very heavy (like, maybe 300 pounds), very tired looking mother herded her four children in to the waiting room while we sat. My intent is not to be critical of this woman, but I could hardly keep from watching the drama that unfolded. The two youngest boys were stinkers. They were into everything, and very unkind to each other and to their sisters. One of the daughters was there for some sort of injury, and when she was called to the back, the other three kids stayed in the waiting room alone. As soon as the mother left, the girl lit in to her brothers, “You’re too close to the tv! Move! Leave that alone! Stop it!” She got louder and louder until everyone in the waiting room had turned to look and make a judgment about the situation.
Eventually the mother came back to sit some more and found her daughter extremely frustrated and practically screaming at her brothers. She sat that little 8 year old down and proceeded to lecture her in front of everybody, not letting the kid get a word in edgewise, about what Jesus would do and how she always acts like this. You could see the rage on the girl’s face. In five years I can only imagine how she will feel toward her mother if that continues. It made me sad. I wonder if the reason the girl got it instead of her brothers, is that the mother has given up on the boys. She was alone and did not appear to be currently married. I can only imagine what it would take to raise four kids alone, and especially to raise two boys that were handfuls.

There’s no way for me to help or judge in the case of that family, but I do know what I want my home to be like. I don’t want to have to raise my voice for my children to mind, even if it means spanking them when it’s appropriate. I want my home to be a peaceful, joyful place to be, even if it means I don’t get to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. The quest continues….

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