As the holiday season approaches, you’ll likely be spending some time traveling, visiting friends and family. Remembering what to pack for you and your family, along with any presents and toys, can be overwhelming. On one of our first trips with our kid, we got about a mile from the house when my husband asked if I had put in the Pack and Play bed. Whoops! A quick 5-minute detour was much easier than trying to figure out the sleeping situation at bedtime that night. But keeping a master list of vacation items would have been even better.
Since then, I keep a master list of everything we could need on a vacation:
Pajamas and clothes
If we are going somewhere without a pool, I cross off the swimsuits. Kid staying at grandparents, I cross off the adult stuff.
In the week leading up to the trip, keep the list out so you can add any additional items you may need, such as Uncle Joe’s Christmas present or the book Aunt Judy lent you last year.
Having a master list prepared in advance will save you time scrambling at the last minute. And ensure that you never forget that Pack and Play!
HGTV does an Urban Oasis sweepstakes every year. They create a home in a new city and pair it with cars, cash, and other prizes. In 2017, they had over 65 MILLION entries. Clearly, having a calm and relaxing home is important to a whole lot of people.
When you come home after a long day of work or running errands, are you immediately transported to your happy place? Do you give a sigh of relief when you walk in the door?
Or are you saying stuff like this:
“I can never find _______”
“I’m tired of __________”
“I have no place for ___________”
“I hate this _____________”
If you’re like most people, I’m guessing it’s the latter and you’re frustrated that you can’t keep your home organized to make it that oasis that you dream about.
Start by asking if there is any place in your home that you really enjoy and why. For me, I love my kitchen. Mainly, it’s because the counters are (typically!) clear and ready for me to start cooking, which needs to happen as soon as I get home from work. I hate looking at the bookshelves in our living room because there is just too much stuff on them. Guess what a good solution would be for the shelves?
Think about the different ways that you can take parts of your favorite places in your home and make them work in some of your not-as-loved areas. Bringing that little bit of joy to a new room may make a huge difference, turning your blah into an oasis.
I’m a fan of giving your kids some (note:some, not most or all) space around the house. I’ve already shared part of my living room, but I also love to give some space in the kitchen. When my kid is hungry, she goes right over to her bin and gets out a plate for us. She puts it away after it’s been washed.
Since forks are still a little troublesome, we still use the high chair tray and bib at every meal. On the middle shelf, there are just some miscellaneous teethers and small toys in the bin, but eventually, I want to put some snacks in there. We’re not there yet – she’s still a little too messy! The washcloths help keep our paper towel usage down a little. The bottom shelf has all of her plates, bowls, cups (gray bin) and the plastic containers for her school snacks (pink bin).
Getting her on the organizing train when she’s young will hopefully save us a lot of trouble down the line!
Step 1: Throw out all broken and busted clothing. If there is anything that has a broken zipper, missing button, or rip in it, throw it out. If you haven’t fixed it by now, you are not going to.
Step 2: Get rid of everything that does not fit right now. Don’t save anything for “just in case.”
Step 3: Toss all the uncomfortable shoes. If you can’t imagine wearing them for an entire day, then it’s time to get rid of them.
Step 4: Do you love it? Do you feel good in it? Scale everything from 1-10 (10 being something you can’t live without and would replace asap; 5 is meh). Everything under a 7 goes.
Four simple steps makes it seem like it should be a very easy task, but I know it can feel overwhelming. If you don’t have the time or energy for a full closet purge, try doing just steps 1-3 now and then keeping a donation box in your closet. When you put on a shirt that is less than a 7 (such as you can never seem to match with pants or it just doesn’t fit right any longer), into the box it goes. Once it gets full, it heads over to Goodwill.
You will see how much easier it is to stay organized and get dressed when you’re not constantly looking for something you love that fits you!
After you’ve completely decluttered your kitchen or if you’re blessed with ample storage, there are some items that always bewilder the best of us. For me, it’s the cookie sheets and other (mainly) flat, rectangular items that don’t quite stack easier. The best way in my house to store these is to keep them in a filing rack! Now, they are kept upright so I can always grab exactly what I need without having to pull out a entire stack of stuff. And the person putting dishes away always knows exactly where to put the missing item. Since that is usually after the kid’s bedtime, the lack of pans banging against each other is just another win!
Creating a command center can seem particularly daunting if you’re on Pinterest. There are literally thousands of ideas and each one more magically perfect than the one before it. If you have seen any of my Real Life Thursday posts, you know that my house is not a Pinterest perfect home. So obviously, our command center is also anything but.
Our ‘command center’ in our house is basically the little counter space next to the stove when we can toss bags that need to be emptied after work and school before being repacked for tomorrow. I keep a little stacked letter holder for some of those little items that are strictly for short term use. In our junk drawer, we keep phone chargers, along with pen and paper.
It can feel overwhelming if you’re trying to figure out what would work best for your family. Here is my master list of items that you could include in your command center. Think about whether you already have a home for some of these things and if you would like to move them to one central location for everyone:
Small tray for jewelry and/or keys
Notepad and pens
On wall (can be clipboards, cork boards, photo frames, dry erase boards):
Calendar (week or month)
Artwork/greeting card holder
To do list
Bills to pay
Personally, I don’t have a full-on command center in our house. Keys have their own hooks near the door, jewelry is in our bedroom, calendar and to-do list is electronic, menu is in our pantry, grocery list is near our table, paperwork is typically addressed immediately. But that’s me and my house. What is overwhelming about command centers is also what makes them so fantastic: they are 100% customizable for you and your home. If you find yourself constantly looking for some of the items on this list, it might be time to set up a command center and give these items a home!
Giving your kid some space to play in an small house can be tough. I’ve found that trying to sneak some small places can make it easier to clean up and add some creativity to playing by having less toys available. We used to have a table (fort) in this area, but once our tall toddler started knocking her head when standing up, it was time for a change. I moved the garage sale shelves up from the basement and cleared off a bottom shelf to stash some bigger toys and books.
Now, we have a perfect little play nook without the toys completely overtaking our living room!