Category Archives: Tips

Keeping it Simple for the Holidays

"Keeping it simple for the holidays" with glittery gold sequins

Think about your childhood holiday memories. Was the best part running around to 20 stores to get presents for every friend and family member? Was it when you were going to 3 holiday parties in one weekend? Was it when you were just lounging around with your loved ones? Was it when you were putting up decorations together?

For me, I’ve been working on slowing down.  I’m trying to make the holiday season all about simplicity and working on the “less is more” concept. Less gifts, less food options, less decorating. 

I think we can all agree that the holiday season is out of control. When the Christmas decorations are out before Halloween, I think it’s time to rein it in a bit! It’s become a months long marathon.

For a while, my gift list was longer than a CVS receipt. I finally went to close friends and family to make a pact to forgo presents for one another. While my husband still loves to buy gifts for his family, I have only my mom and mother in law to shop for – and they get very similar photo books of our family. 

This makes my new year much more organized. Less items to find a home for, less things I don’t need or want, less stuff to put away and pack up. 

Last year was the first year we hosted Christmas at our (small) house. On the 24th for dinner, I put some meat in a crock pot and some grits in another. For the 25th brunch, pre-made pancakes from the freezer, along with a pre-mixed quiche and overnight french toast dish all just required heating. I let everyone else fill in the blanks for the rest of the food. 

With our small house, hosting duties, and toddler running around, we don’t have much space for a full Christmas tree. For the last few years, I’ve put up a long strand of garland over our fireplace and hung my favorite ornaments on there. Simple, festive, and out of the way.

Everyone wants the magic of the holidays, not a ton of things. Spend the next couple of weeks trying to find your own balance, keeping things simple. 

If the holidays are stressing you out, contact me to help you out!

The Most Important Things for Holiday Road Trips

The most important things for your holiday road trip

Last week, we talked about how to organize and streamline packing for any holiday travel. Now is a great time to take a look at your car organization because you’ll likely be spending some of that travel time in the car. Double check that your emergency kit is stocked up before your next big trip. Don’t have one? You can buy pre-made ones at Walmart or similar stores. I like to keep a small medical kit close at hand,with some bandages and aspirin.

For longer car rides, you may want to stock up on some car snacks and make sure you toss in a couple trash bags. Personally, I always keep some bleach wipes on the door of my car, just in case of a mess.

If you’re traveling with kids, they can turn a 2-hour car ride seem like 4 hours! To keep them entertained and yourself organized, enter car kits. First is an activity kit. Find some travel-sized toys. Think small Magna Doodles from the dollar store. Small set of crayons and paper in a small box. Special books they haven’t read yet. If you’re short on time, they sell these too.

Second is the kid emergency kit: diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes. You may have some of that packed away in your suitcase for the trip,but you’ll want a small bag of essentials within reach because Murphy’s Law always applies in the car!

If you need help getting your car organized before your upcoming trip, contact me. Safe travels!

Why All Moms Need a Master Packing List

Why all moms need a master packing list

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:

  • Diapers/Wipes/Desitin
  • Deodorant
  • Pajamas and clothes
  • Sippy cup
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Swimsuits

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! If you need help prepping your list, contact me.

Does your home drain you?

Does your home drain you?

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.

If you want some help making your home into an oasis, contact me today!

4 Steps for an Organized Closet

4 simple steps to organize your closet

I’ve already shared the simplest way to organize your paperwork in 4 easy steps, but now it’s time to tackle another big project with only 4 simple steps: your closet.

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!

If your closet overwhelms you, contact me today to help get it organized.

Everything You Need for Your Command Center

Master List for Building Your Command Center

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:

On desk:

  • Charging station
  • Small tray for jewelry and/or keys
  • Notepad and pens

On wall (can be clipboards, cork boards, photo frames, dry erase boards):

  • Clock
  • Calendar (week or month)
  • Key hooks
  • Menu
  • Grocery list
  • Cleaning checklist
  • Artwork/greeting card holder
  • To do list

Filing system:

  • Per person
  • To file
  • Bills to pay
  • School stuff
  • Invitations
  • Pending file
  • Coupons
  • To read
  • Shred
  • Mail
  • Magazines
  • Receipts

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!

If your family could use a command center to help organize your lives, contact me today!

Real Life Thursdays banner for Organizing CU, a professional organizing company in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, helping you get your house and life organized.

November 1, 2018

A kids corner in the living room

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!

The Importance of Slowing Down

I have slowly become one of those people: an early riser. My alarm typically goes off at 5:00 am. It’s not because I enjoy getting up early. Because it’s definitely not that.

It’s because I need to have some “me time” before my day begins. I am around people every moment of the day from when my family wakes up until I go to bed at night. As an outgoing introvert that needs to recharge frequently, I love having that hour in the morning that is just me.

The importance of slowing down

Slowing down is an important part of getting organized. You can take a breath and really take in what is happening in your home and life. What stuff are you and your family actually using? Are there any routines or habits that you can tweak to better suit your life?

Take a look at your family calendar. How many things are piling up? Is there any time for you or your hobbies? Is there any time for your kid to just play or relax? It’s time to give everyone a break.

Here’s my challenge to you. Find an upcoming weekend that is nearly open. And then mark it as a slow weekend. Do not add another thing to it. No plans, no errands, no rushing.

I understand that you may still need to do some grocery shopping or meal prepping for the week. Or that you may need to run a few loads of laundry.

But resist the urge to stop by the dry cleaners on your way home from the park. Don’t run to Walmart for some batteries. Don’t tackle any home improvement projects (unless your whole family loves doing them together!). Give yourself and your family a weekend to just be together and enjoy a slow weekend of doing nothing. You all may enjoy it more than you think. It may become a new routine.

If you need to slow down, contact me today to find out how I can help you!

Real Life Thursdays banner for Organizing CU, a professional organizing company in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, helping you get your house and life organized.

October 25, 2018

A cart of kid necessities: stuffed animals, diapers, wipes, toys, and books.

If you spend any amount of time on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen these Ikea/Target carts being pinned left and right, used in every room of the house in a variety of ways: art station, sports equipment, doll storage, book case, shoe rack, baking cart. The versatility of this cart makes it a must have in my home!

In the year I’ve had mine, it started a changing table side (with diapers and wipes, burp clothes, extra diapers) and now it’s been moved to our basement to be a toddler command center for those lazy moments when you don’t want to go upstairs to get a diaper.

The Most Important 10 Minutes of Your Day

I’ve previously talked about the importance of keeping up. I mentioned how a couple of minutes every night doing a quick pick up of the house (before it gets too overwhelming) means saving an hour of cleaning on the weekend.

I spend just a couple of minutes getting everything ready for the next day: getting out anything I can for breakfast, ensuring the dishes are all put away, moving any bags to our landing zone, and putting away any paper or toys left around.

Find out the most important 10 minutes of your day!

Another one minute task I do before going to sleep is to check out tomorrow’s calendar to make sure I’ve got everything I need for the day. My kid has show-and-tell every Friday, usually with a different theme. We came thisclose to missing it this week, but one final peek at 9:00 pm reminded me that we needed to find something orange.

I like to do the same thing at the end of my work day: take a look at tomorrow’s calendar, put together a quick to-do list, make sure my desk is orderly before leaving. Having everything in its place makes a calmer start to my day, especially on a Monday!

That’s really what this 10 minutes of your day is all about: getting you in a calmer, more peaceful mindset to make your day run smoother and your life more organized.

If you need help with finding those 10 minutes to change your days, contact me today!