Category Archives: Organization for kids

The Three P’s of Spring Organizing {video}

With Spring officially here it’s easy to want to do a lot of cleaning and organizing in your home after a long winter. You might look around and think of a dozen things that need to be done, but the reality is that you probably have the time and energy for 2-3 projects.

In this segment of Organize Your Life, I will help you get started with The Three P’s of Spring Organizing. Watch and see what they are and decide which project you will start with!

 1. Pick ONE Project:

 The most overwhelming part of starting to get organized is deciding what to do first.  It’s easy to look around at all that needs to be done and go into shut down mode!

  ·        Make a list of 5-10 organizing projects you would like to do OR

 ·        On index cards, write ONE idea per card or ONE thing you need a place for (see cards)

 Pick ONE of these to start and make a plan for this ONE thing only!

 2.  Plan it Out:

  ·        What do you need to make this happen?  What supplies? What kind of time (remember that it always takes longer than you think)?

 ·        Break it down into small chunks of time~30 minutes, 1hour, etc.

 ·        Will you need outside help like a handyman, painter, professional help?

  3.  Purge like Crazy!

 ·       Don’t try to organize clutter.  Purge first and then organize what is left. 

 ·        Get real with yourself…do you have room for this stuff?  Do you love this stuff?  What is the worst thing that could happen if you got rid of this stuff?What do you really use?

 ·        Remember that you can keep anything you want, but what you keep you need a home for it and need to be able to manage it. 


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6 Everyday Uses for Clothespins

6 everyday uses for clothespins.jpg

Forget all the fancy gadgets out there for organizing small things. All hail the clothespin! By nature, I’m not that crafty, so if you’re with me, here are 6 everyday uses for clothespins for the ordinary person (AKA the non-crafter). While these 6 everyday uses hardly cover then endless uses of clothespins, they are actually things I use them for! For one inexpensive bag of clothespins, you will probably have over 100 uses!

1. Hanging lost socks-

sock and clothespins.jpg

What do you do with the single sock while you wait for it’s mate to show up? If you put it in a drawer, you’re likely to forget about it. If you leave it in the hamper, same thing.

Just get a hanger and clip the abandoned socks to it. Hang the hanger somewhere in the laundry area and wait. Someday soon the other one will come clean and show up. (*snicker, snicker*)

2. A bookmark-

clothespin bookmark.jpg

Seriously, clothespins make the BEST bookmarks!

3. Cord clip-

clothespin cord clip.jpg

I absolutely LOVE using clothespins to keep my cords together. You can use them for all kinds of cords that need to be coiled up and organized. This fits great into my work bag and is easy to find with the clothespin. Works great with earphones, lamp cords, chargers, and blow dryer cords when you are traveling!

4. Memo clips-

clothespin memo clip.jpg

This is such an easy way to remember things as you walk out the door. Attach a piece of magnet onto the back the clothespin and stick it to any metal object. My door happens to be metal so that makes it even easier, but if you don’t have that, get a piece of galvanized steel from any home improvement store and nail to a wall. For around $5 you have a message center and you can use your clothespin with magnets.

I use this to remind myself and my kids of things we need to take with us on the way out the door-lunch money, notes, and other reminders.

5.  Food clip-

clothespin food clip.jpg

Don’t waste anymore money on other food clips. You know, the things that hold chip bags, bread bags, and cereal bags shut after they’re opened. Clothespins are awesome for this and so inexpensive!

6. Coupon and Bill clip-

clothespin coupon clip.jpg

One of my favorite uses for clothespins are for keeping papers together. I mostly use them for keeping coupons together when I go into a store, but I also love to use them to clip bills together. Clip a stack of bills together that you are going to pay on a certain date or just use them to hold all the bills together.

Easy to throw into your purse or tote bag and easy to find also because the papers won’t be scattered everywhere!

These are 6 of my favorite ways to use clothespins, but the reality is is that there are endless amounts of uses for a really inexpensive bag of them! I didn’t even touch on the multiple uses for craft projects. If that’s you, I would love to see what you do with them! Please share.


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5 Ways to Keep a Cluttered House Cluttered

a real room in a real house

Ever wonder how a cluttered house stays cluttered? I often see some really basic habits of my clients and their children when it comes to clutter and messes.  These are habits that us parents don’t even recognize and if we do, we don’t know how to fix them.  So, I will probably step on your toes and maybe even offend you, but my purpose is to help you Live Better.  Here are 5 ways to keep a cluttered house cluttered.

1.  Don’t pick up after yourself and don’t make your kids pick up either

This is a sure fire way create messes that then get layered with clutter.  Things get lost, buried, and ruined and causes frustration when you can’t find things.  Plus, kids never learn the value of stuff.

2.  Buy too much stuff just because it’s “on sale”

My brother once said to me, “not every moment is a Kodak moment, Amy” in regards to my immense framed photo collection.  He was right and I went to rehab for it.  The same principle is true when it comes to sales.  Not every sale is reason to buy.

3.  Never create a system for dealing with the daily mail

This is probably the number one issue with every single home I enter.  The mail comes in, but it never goes out.  Paper clutter will kill you and it replicates faster than…well, it just replicates really fast!

4.  Save every catalog and magazine that you’ve ever had…just in case!

How many catalogs can you really look at?  Fear not. Six more will come this week and if you really, really want to buy something, I’m guessing you could go online to find it.  Same for magazines.  Cut your subscriptions down to one or two at the most and get rid of last years.  Seriously, you need to purge the magazines.

5.  Decide that your home makes a nicer storage unit than say, a shed

My mantra is this: “Your home is not a storage unit“!  It is meant to be lived in, meaning every room is meant to be used and have purpose.  Having entire rooms that have stuff in them that isn’t being used and hasn’t seen the light of day in three years, is not living with purpose.  Everything in your home should be loved, needed, or used.

messy room-organizing

If you recognize yourself in any of these habits, decide today which ONE you will change and help your family change to. You don’t have to change everything at once, but picking one habit to change will move you in the right direction!

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Setting Up a Homework Station

homework station

I have been working with a client recently on setting up a homework station in her home and since I’ve been searching for ideas, I thought I’d share some of my favorite that I found and tips to setting one up. Setting up a homework station doesn’t have to cost a lot and can be super fun in the creative department.

This is using an armoire and it’s one of my favorite ways to create a homework station. It hides all the little stuff and all the stuff that isn’t pretty to look at. But here they used small planters to create places for pens and pencils and then below, containers for glue, markers, stickers and paper.

When setting up your homework station you will need homes for the following:

glue sticks and tape

pencils, pens, and markers

paper; plain, ruled, and construction

scissors, rulers, and stapler,protractors

resource books like a dictionary, thesaurus, workbooks, and textbooks

flashcards and index cards

Like I said, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on your homework station so look around at what you already have. Still, you may need to purchase a few key things to make it functional. Usually a desk or a table is enough to make your homework station work!

These wall hangers are from Pottery Barn and make excellent use of vertical wall space. Use each pocket for each child and an additional one for papers that parents need to address.  Also create a resource pocket for things like school rosters and calendars.

When setting up your homework station think about what things your kids are always needing to complete their homework. This will change with age, but in general, they need supplies from the list above and a place to put papers that they are finished with.

As soon as the kids come barreling through the door, have them pull out their binders, folders, or other papers that they have brought home.

2.  While they snack, sort out papers that need signed, reviewed, or returned to school.  Separate homework papers that are graded and others that need your review.  Any information papers, like flyers, reminders, memos, etc. set aside in a different pile.

3.  When your kids are older (like 4th grade and beyond), have them do this process for you.

4.  Anything that needs your review OR is an information sheet should go into one place.  This place can be for ALL the kids because you are going to review all the papers.  Each child should have a pile of graded work and a pile of either worksheets or assignments to be done.

These single wall pockets can be found at any office supply store. Add a chalkboard or bulletin board to complete the homework area. 

Love the use of this crib to create a homework table! Add some chalkboard paint and you have awesome station. Notice the small buckets for containers. I have used this idea a bunch of times in both playrooms and homework areas. They are inexpensive and fun!

Notice the buckets again, this time hung from a cafe rod with S-hooks. This family also added fabric hangers from the back of the chairs that holds all their daily essential homework supplies.

When it comes to setting up your homework station get creative and repurpose as much as you can. Make it easy to find supplies and easy to put supplies away. It can be as simple as using a plastic set of drawers on wheels like this family did. You can roll the cart into a closet or corner when the kids are done and it’s out of sight for the rest of the night!


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5 Things to Organize When You’re Stuck Inside

5 things you can organize...

I live at the beach.  The beach isn’t supposed to get snow that traps you inside your home for 2 days. But Snowpocalypse 2014 has occurred here and since we also had snow last week and now again this week, I’m feeling a little nutty.  In order to curb the stir-crazy feeling, I decided to find 5 things to organize when you’re stuck inside!

Just 5.  There are plenty more, but these are doable on any day that you’re stuck inside whether it be because of rain, snow, sleet, sick kids, or waiting on the cable guy. None of this requires you to purchase a new container or contraption or gizmo. Duh, you can’t go out, remember?

1.  The pantry or food cabinets-

Take all the food out or at least groups of it out at a time. Sort it into like-types; canned veggies, canned soups, canned anything, jars of condiments, boxes of crackers, etc.  Then throw away anything expired or stale.

Then organize the remaining food by category.  Put canned food together, group condiments together, cereals together, boxed crackers and boxed food together, and the like.  If you already have a container, make a snack box. Dump all the snacky style foods into the container and call it a snack box.  Snack stuff usually includes granola bars, applesauce, fruit roll ups and raisins, little packages of crackers or cookies,  and so on.

finished pantry

2.  Under the kitchen sink-

Again, pull everything out from under the sink.  What’s under there that really doesn’t belong under there? Potting soil? Kitty litter? Tiki oil? I have seriously seen all of that under sinks!

A good rule of thumb on what to keep under the kitchen sink are cleaning supplies, trash can and trash bags, paper and plastic bags, and perhaps something like lunch boxes or some tote bags.  Try to relocate anything that doesn’t fit these categories because it’s too easy to have it become a big junked up mess under the sink.



3.  The junk drawer-

Probably one of my favorite drawers to dump out, the junk drawer is home of everything you don’t know what to do with!  So, dump it out and begin to sort the junk out.

Rubber bands, Box Tops, soy sauce packets, batteries, keys, take-out menus, lip gloss, ear buds, etc.  The list goes on.  Throw out any real junk and gross stuff and decide what you are going to keep in the drawer.  If you have any Ziploc baggies, use these to containerize any small stuff.  Or use some of your plastic Tupperware-like food containers to create drawer organizers.

Make your junk drawer user friendly. It’s fine to have a place to dump stuff, but once you get it cleaned out, try to keep stuff containerized in it.

4.  Kids clothing-

It seems like there is always purging to do in the kids rooms.  If you have little kids, go through each closet and maybe each dresser to purge out clothes that are too small or very stained and put into a donate bag.

If you don’t have kids, do your own closet and drawers.  Set a goal to fill up at least one bag from each room to donate or give away to someone.

5.  Magazines, books and mail-

This is a big one. You may not get to all of these so pick the one you can finish in a day or so.  I could talk about mail all day because it’s usually everyone’s problem, but if you have stacks of mail everywhere, pick a few stacks to go through and get rid of the junk! Here’s a whole post on mail if you need more help.

Otherwise, pitch old magazines that you haven’t read in over a year and same for books.  Now, I’m a book junkie and have a lot of books, but you still need to organize books and stacks on the floor is not organizing! Here is more help on organizing books. 

organizing magazines

You probably will only get to one, maybe two, of these things, but finish one completely before you start another.  Involve your kids and family and maybe even have a contest to see who finishes first!  I would love to see your projects and hear what you did on your stuck-inside day!

Happy Organizing!

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Organizing for Busy Days: Prep Tips

Are your days busy? I know mine are and organizing for busy days is the key to not pulling your hair out! I wrote these tips a few years ago when my kids were in elementary school, but they still apply today (minus the clothes thing…they do that on their own now).  After watching this video, use these prep tips to help ease the pressure of morning routines.  I find that I have an easier 15 minutes in the evening than the morning and I find myself less stressed when heading out the door.

Organizing Your Life for Busy Mornings:

  1. Pack lunchboxes the night before and refrigerate.
  2. Every Sunday, help kids decide on the outfits for the week.  No changing minds unless the weather drastically does!
  3. Have backpacks ready and at the door before going to bed
  4. Prepare your workbag with all paperwork, supplies, etc. and set by door
  5. Make a task list for the next day before going to bed.  I recommend that you have a Sunday night meeting with yourself to plan out the whole weeks logistics and plans.

 Getting Kids on Board to Help!

  1. Make a morning “To Do” list for them to follow…teeth, hair, make bed, etc., when they are little and still need help.
  2. Whatever time they need to get up to be ready, push it back 15 minutes=No Stress!
  3. Help them to decide on a reward for being ready to leave on time!  Make it fun with a FUN jar.
  4. Set out bowls, cups, and silverware on table for breakfast.  You can even put the cereal box out on the table!

When my kids started kindergarten, I made a cardinal rule for morning routines and that is no TV in the morning during the school year!  It seems a little drastic, but I promise you that your morning will go smoother.

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12 Days of Christmas for the Home {Day 7}

12 days of christmas

Hello troopers! Do you still have your Christmas spirit or do you need to go find some today?  Today is day 7 in the 12 Days of Christmas for the Home series! In the next day or so it’s the last day of school for most places around the country for holiday break. If you have kids in school this could mean you are pulling together teacher gifts tonight and tomorrow. If you have not already thought of it you should get your teacher gifts ready to give.

teacher gifts

This always freaked me out a little.  I didn’t want to give junk and I didn’t have a lot of money to spend either. If you have a bunch of kids in different grades, even in different schools, then it can be more complex (and costly). Be creative-bake goodies, ask a few friends to buy a group gift, or other cost savings ideas. I asked my teacher friend, Kristi, what are best gifts for teachers and she said gift cards!

She suggested Target, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks and PaneraTarget, Panera and Barnes & Noble do an awesome job of online e-cards that get delivered right to an email address! So, if you don’t have time to run out and get anything, order them right online send an e-card! Makes it so easy!

target gift card


barnes and noble gift cards

panera gift cards

I have used in the past for family members and they have a variety of options from VISA, Mastercard, and local gift cards to choose from.  Also sent by email.

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The folks over Buzzfeed compiled a list of 24 Awesomely Thoughtful Gifts for Teachers! If you’re crafty, this is the list for you! And Leah, with Suddenly Frugal, has put together a list of gifts based on grade level. Both are excellent resources.

Finally, The Huffington Post released a story this week about what teachers really want for Christmas and it isn’t stuff, but instead, it’s appreciation and thank you notes! With that said, don’t be compelled to buy or bake things.  Just give a word of encouragement and thanks. So tonight, wrap, write, and tie up those teacher gifts and send them on their way!  If you don’t have kiddos, then you have a bonus day of catching up!

Be sure to get all the 12 Days of Christmas for the Home series here! 


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12 Days of Christmas For the Home {Day 3}

12 days of christmas

This is day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas For the Home series and it’s about purging! We all have too much stuff, including our kids.  I am no exception and constantly have to be in the process of filling up a donation bag.  With just 10 days until the mother-load of new things arrive in your home, we need to do an emergency purge.

Earlier this year I teamed up with Goodwill to promote Getting Ready for the Holidays and encouraged donating early. It’s still not too late and you can write it off on your taxes!


Clients will often say that they just need a bigger house and the clutter will go away.  Not true.  You need LESS stuff and the clutter will go away!  This goes for houses, garages, offices, and cars.  So, before all the new toys, clothes, books, kitchen gadgets, & electronics show up, let’s get rid a few things.

For the next 5 days, give away 5 things per person in your family!  Give each person a bag with the assignment to add 5 things to it over the next 5 days.  They can do it all at once or just do one a day, but by Sunday, there should be 5 things in each bag.  Now, if you have kids like mine, they think that adding a pencil or barrette to the bag counts.  Don’t even try it with me:)

I’m talking a real toy. A real piece of clothing. A real small appliance in the kitchen.  A real book or stack of magazines. Or, a real garage tool (gotcha, men)!  A fun exercise is to pick a charity or particular organization that your donations will go to. The kids know who and where their beloved treasure is going to and makes it more real for them.  I always say bless other people with your blessings!

Be sure to follow all the 12 Days of Christmas for the Home series!


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The Advent Calendar: History & Ideas

One of our favorite family traditions around Christmas is the Advent calendar. I thought everyone knew about or had an advent calendar each year, but when I delivered one to a friend the other day, she had never seen one and didn’t know the story. Here’s the story behind the advent calendar some fun ideas.

So, I thought it would be fun to share the story with you and show you some different styles of Advent calendars.  Remember, we are no Martha Stewarts around here, so I’m not going to tell you how to hand craft one (except for one easy one).  I always buy ours and then I have one that is more decoration and not really used.

The Advent has German roots and is “a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas.”  Most modern Advent Calendars count down from December 1st to December 24th, but the true Advent period is 4 weeks and ”starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25, which is the Sunday from November 27 to December 3 inclusive.[2]”  (Thanks Wikipedia)

That’s the fancy and official definition, but basically any Advent calendar starts December 1st to mark the days leading up to Christmas.   There is a lot of history with the Advent and it’s a fun lesson to share with your family.

Here are several types of Advent Calendars you can get, but my favorite is from Trader Joe’s.  It has chocolate squares behind every door! Yum.

Alright, this one is from Martha Stewart.  Sorry.

Our simplest Advent calendar to date, this is a minimalist take on the holiday tradition: Form the shape of a Christmas tree with envelopes in various sizes, and mark each with adhesive numbers. Stuff them with thin, lightweight presents, such as gift cards and stickers. (You can also see more of our advent calendar ideas.) Use painters’ tape to secure the envelopes to the wall.

Vinyl numbers, 1 1/2″, $4.25 per pack (4 of each number), and Rouge envelopes, from $5.25 for 25, paperpresentation.comPillows, Eep! in Cocoa, and Herds, in Deep Red; 19 1/2″ square, $55 each, by Skinny LaMinx.

Amy, over at The Idea Room, has a really special and re-usable Advent Calendar.

Look at this one from Better Homes and Gardens.  It has the 12 days Christmas instead, just in case you forgot to start on the first, you can start on the 12th!

Finally, this is the one I use as decor.  I got it at Target a few years ago and you could fill it with treats, messages, bible verses, or anything that will fit behind the little doors.


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How to Make a Boo Bag {Halloween}

boo bag banner

Have you ever been Boo-ed at Halloween? It’s one of those annoying, yet fun things that happens during this season and we just got it yesterday. Here, I’m going to teach you how to make a boo bag so you can surprise you own neighbors!

Getting Boo-ed is when someone rings your doorbell and leaves behind a cute pumpkin or bag filled with candy and junk for your kids.  You also get a secret message about what being Boo-ed is about and a sign to place on our front door.  This is to alert other neighbors that your family has already been treated to a Boo and not to do it again to you.


When you are Boo-ed, you are supposed to turn around and Boo two more houses within two days!  What?  Seriously, two days?

Now, I love the idea of neighborly love and the cuteness of it all makes it tolerable, but can I just tell you that it feels a little stressful to produce two more Boo’s in two days.  But, I’m a woman up for a challenge and so I fulfilled my Boo responsibility.

One boo bag goes to the new family in the ‘hood with two little kids and the other to a family with school age kids.  Here’s what you need for your own Boo-ing:

1.  A container.  These pumpkins are cheap and cute.

2.  Candy, of course.

3.  Cheap junk.  You know this one really kills me because I can’t stand junky, unpurposeful stuff, but go to the Target dollar isle or the Dollar Store and get some junk.

4.  A boo poem like this.

5.  A boo door sign like this one.

Put it all together and then do a ring-and-run.  Then you will have passed on the madness to your neighbor to repeat!  Happy Halloween, ya’ll.

boo bags

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