June 28, 2018

As I’ve said time and time again, babies come with a lot of stuff . Luckily, most of their stuff is pretty little. In my kid’s dresser, I can fit most of the clothing in just one of the drawers, leaving lots of storage in the other ones. Since we just used a short, 3 drawer dresser as a changing table, we keep changing necessities in the top drawer:

Top drawer of dresser featuring changing necessities: Diapers, wipes, desitin, diaper pail refills, all where you need them

As an infant, we kept most of this stuff on a separate cart next to the dresser, but as she ages, we aren’t changing nearly as often. (I guess I need to start planning what to do in this drawer and the top of it for when she doesn’t need any diapers!)

In the middle drawer , we keep all the current clothing:

Current sizes of kids clothing in dresser

The general set up is shirts on the left (long sleeve on the top, short sleeve on the bottom), bottoms in the middle (pants on top, shorts on bottom), and pajamas on the right. Note how poorly they’re folded. She’s at the stage where she will say no to certain clothing and then want a different shirt. I’m not going to spend time folding her clothes all cutesy when they will either be thrown back in here or have food/toothpaste on them within a minute. Some things, you just need to let go. This is one of mine. #noapologies

The bottom drawer is, in my mind, the most important drawer:

Kid dresser, bottom drawer, next size up

We keep the next size up in here. This is crucial because then you are never trying to find the next size when the kid happens to grow overnight! When you put the clothes in here, you can do a quick inventory of seasonality and you will know exactly what you’re missing before your kid needs it!

Searching high and low

Binoculars sitting on a ledgeGrowing up, everyone in my family knew dad’s keys and money clip were kept on top of the refrigerator. I remember looking up to see if his keys were up there before looking around the house. If he was home, they were there; no keys, no dad. At the same time, no one ever knew where mom’s keys and purse were: in her pocket of yesterday’s coat, near the door, on the kitchen counter, on the dining room table…somewhere in the house was usually a good bet. You always had to shout to find out if mom was home!

Nowadays, my family has a landing zone in our mud room where my purse, husband’s wallet, and our keys stay. For us, we have a getting home routine: come in, shoes come off, purse and wallet go on the table, and keys get hung on hooks. I go through my bag(s) and take everything into the kitchen that I need to go through tonight, such as mail, notes from school, or papers from work.

The same landing zone also acts as a departure area. If I need to take some papers to work, they go on the mudroom table. Books need to go back to the library? Same place. Throughout the day and night, items get placed there for the next time we leave the house. It take a lot more brain space to have to remember: “what do I need to take to school and work?” versus “Pack up what’s on the table.” Having a set departure area makes it much easier to ensure we have everything we need when we leave the house. There is never a “where are my keys” moment in the morning because they are always right where they belong.

June 21, 2018

As I’ve said before, babies come with a lot of stuff. Prior to meeting me, my husband picked out a cute little house that has surprisingly large closets. When the time came to think about how to store all that baby stuff, I registered for hanging shoes and sweater racks:

Hanging sweater and shoe racks organizing blankets

We keep extra wipes in the shoe rack, baby blankets from loved ones in the sweater rack, and then swim gear and swaddles in a shorter sweater rack. As we outgrow wipes and small blankets, I’m certain we will find a new use for these in the future! Any of you guys use these racks for something outside the ordinary?

Making routines routine

You will not be shocked to hear this: I’m a big fan of routines. Our family has routines for school days, weekends, grocery shopping, bed time, cleaning the kitchen after dinner… just about anything and everything. But, trying to keep a structured routine with a family can be, well, trying. Since it takes on average 66 days to form a new habit, it can be especially tough to make some serious changes to your mornings and evenings, especially as family life is always busy and constantly changing.

One habits pointing one way, new ones pointing another

If you’re struggling to get ready on time and are always rushing, check your routine (or lack thereof). You may find that some small changes can make a huge impact on your daily life. Think about what your ideal morning and evening would be like. Would they look something like this?

Morning:

  • Make bed
  • Wash and put away dishes (or run dishwasher)
  • Wipe bathroom & kitchen counters
  • Quick 2 minute pickup
  • Check calendar

Evening:

  • Wash dishes and run dishwasher (or put away dishes)
  • Wipe kitchen counters and sink
  • Sweep kitchen
  • Take out trash
  • Clothes (do a load, put dirty in hamper, put clean away)
  • Go through mail
  • 15 minutes pick up blitz
  • Set up coffee
  • Pick out clothes
  • Make lunches and pack bags

Take a look at what you’re doing now and compare it to how you would like it to look. Maybe there are some things on your list that can be shifted from morning to night to help your AM run a little smoother. Give it a try for 66 days and see if it makes a difference.


June 14, 2018

When you have a little one, you soon realize that they come with a lot of accidents, making back ups a necessity. If you have a small space and a lot of stuff, you need to get creative with your storage solutions. Enter: over the door shoe racks!

Over the door storage

I first put this up in the nursery while pregnant with the little one, knowing that a lot of the stuff would be used for only a short time: the Boppy covers only for a year, the Desitin for (hopefully) 2-3 years, the crib sheets for only a few years. I didn’t want to create a whole storage solution for a limited-time use.

As a control freak, I put labels on each section so you knew what went where. And also what you were grabbing in the darkness of the night, when sometimes changing pad covers look like sheets! As the kid gets even older, I can see it evolving into a toy rack or a place for arts and crafts supplies.

For those first few months, when it seemed like we were going through sheets and covers frequently, I kept it on the open side of the closet door. As we outgrew it somewhat, it got moved to the back of the door, where people didn’t immediately see it when they walked in. As the kid ages and more is leaving the rack, it has now moved to the back of the main bedroom door.

I really dislike single-purpose items in the home, but especially in the kitchen and for storage solutions. As your life and needs alter over time, you need something that can change with you. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box (pun 1000% intended)!

Permanent Clutter

Temporary items become permanent clutter when you neglect regularly sorting an active space.

-Marcia Ramsland, Simplify Your Space

I read this quote recently and tried to look around my house with fresh eyes and see if there was anything that I had grown blind to. Sure enough, it took three seconds to find something: on the bookshelf, four feet from my spot on the couch, sat two old laptops. I had previously messaged one of my brothers about how to wipe them on April 12. I’m not sure if you guys realize it, but it’s June, so two months ago. I’m not much of a procrastinator and my house is pretty well kept, so that is huge to me! When I first put them there, I thought it was a great place because it would serve as constant reminder to me that I need to do this right away. Clearly, that plan did not work because I began to ignore them very soon after that. TWO MONTHS of clutter in the middle of our living room. A temporary item becoming permanent clutter.

Stacks of unorganized papers

I tried to look at the root of the problem as to why I didn’t just wipe them both clean that day and Google a spot to drop off old electronics*. First, it was the instructions I was given: erase it, then overwrite it with the same thing over and over. I had already done the first part; I just wasn’t sure how to overwrite it. But I didn’t ask the very simple follow up question right then. Or anytime I thought of it. My brother works from home, is very available at any time, and we have messaged 100 times since then. (Full disclosure: it wasn’t until I got to this sentence in this post did I think “why not do it now?” It took him less than 5 minutes to respond to me and clarify in very simple terms what he meant.) My goal is to get them wiped this week and have it in my donation pile for Goodwill by the weekend.

Everyone, every single one of us, has areas or things in their house that they’ve just been neglecting or ignoring for a while. It might be two days, two months, two years, or twenty years. But it’s never too late to take a look around and see what permanent clutter you can cut out . Take a look around with a fresh set of eyes and see if you can find anything quick that you could donate or throw out today. Why not do it now?

*I’ve done that hard work for you if you’re in the Champaign-Urbana area: https://www.urbanaillinois.us/residents/recycling-program-u-cycle/where-do-i-take-it.

June 7, 2018

Back in the day, we had a very lovely office with a gorgeous roll top desk from Timeless Treasures in Savoy, a separate spare bedroom, and a bunch of extra space in our house. Then, we had a child and everything changed. The office became an office/spare bedroom hybrid. As the kid became more mobile, the office/spare bedroom gave way to a playroom (with the gorgeous desk still present and a blow up mattress taking the place of a full bed). When the kid got big enough to pinch her fingers in the bi-fold closet doors, more changes were had. The doors went to the basement and some curtains were hung in their place:

Closed curtains in front of playroom closet
Closed closet

But behind those curtains is one of my favorite spaces in our house:

Curtains parted to reveal gorgeous shelving unit
The wonderful and beautiful Ikea shelves!

Everything is still so neat and tidy. I’ve been known to go into the room, just to admire how organized everything continues to be, usually under the guise of “writing a check.”

We got the giant 4×4 KALLAX shelves from Ikea. It was a beast to install, mainly because of a mis-measuring on my part. It was finally put together INSIDE THE CLOSET. The next owners of our house are going to have to break this thing down to get it out. But seriously, who would take out this giant piece of gorgeous storage?

On top of the closet shelf, I keep extra pillows and the aforementioned blow up mattress (it has a bag that it allegedly fits in, but who can ever get them inside?? It stays sort of folded). The clear bins are art and craft supplies for me and the kid. We have a row of office supplies storage and then towards the bottom, some toys and books for when the kid is older.

As you can see, we’ve still got some empty space because as I can already tell, more changes are coming our way. With a kid, they always are.

One false move…

Have you ever noticed how one false move can change the course of your entire day or even your week? Not putting together a grocery list causes you to forget stuff from the store, causing you to order take out, causing you to waste food and money. Or not folding the last load of laundry slows up the rest of the wash for the day. Some days it feels like this:

Dominos tumbling over

For me, it was not having enough “me” time during the day. I would wake up, get ready for the day, take the kid to school, go to work, pick the kid up, prep dinner, hang out with friends or husband, then finally go to bed. Not getting my alone time could bring my entire week to a halt. I’d be cranky and short with my family. I could feel it coming on. I knew the exact cause. And I did nothing to change it.

Now, my day starts at 5:00 am (WHY?!?!?!? asks 23-year-old me). My kid gets up between 5:15 and 6:00 am so it’s great to have that me time to eat breakfast by myself. In front of the TV. With whatever I want to watch. Some days, I can barely get my bagel out of the bag before she gets up. But some very rare, magical days, I get to watch a segment of The Kitchen, or even an entire episode of Fixer Upper.

What about you guys? Shout out to all the members of the 5:00 am club!! Is there any domino effect in your life and is there anything you can do to change it?