How to Organize Toys – Q&A

*Disclosure: Links included in this post are amazon affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Parents of young kiddos will likely attest that toy organization can be one of the most challenging things to stay on top of. Toys seem to multiply! And, despite our best efforts, we can start the day with a picked up home and by 9am it’s like a tornado hit. So, what’s the best way to organize toys? And to stay on top of the clutter? Check out these Q&A’s:

Q: Thoughts on toy boxes?

A: I’m not a huge fan. Yes, it’s possible to use containers to create some definition within them, but it’s all too common to dump and pile things into the deep abyss of the toy box. Things get lost, buried, and there’s no rhyme or reason to what goes where. There are other organizers I would recommend instead. See below.

Q: Favorite product for toy organization?

A: I love the cube unit furniture pieces. They’re flexible (display them vertically or horizontally) and you get just the configuration you need – 3, 6, or 9 cubes, etc). I also like that they’re relatively low so kids can reach everything on their own. Put a pull out fabric or wood bin inside each section, label it with pictures and/or words – whatever is age appropriate -and you’re good to go. Kids can take the individual bins out, bring them to another room to play, if needed, then easily put them back.

Amazon version pictured below. I like the Target ones a lot, too.

Shoebox sized clear plastic bins with lids also come in handy for corralling little parts and pieces:

Q: Where should toys be kept?

A: 1. Wherever there is room for them.

2. Wherever the kids tend to play.

3. Where the kids can reach.

This sounds almost too simple. But, often, we keep things out of our kids’ reach, so they’re dependent on us (or scaling the shelves) to get the toys out.

organize toys such as these balls

Or, we get after our kids for not picking up their rooms, when in reality, there is no designated or available place for their toys – no book shelves, laundry baskets, stuffed animal home, etc.

Try this quick exercise. Get down to your kids’ level, step back (physically and mentally) from the space, and do a quick survey. If it’s cluttered, what does the clutter consist of? Are storage locations within reach? Does everything have a designated home? You may be surprised what you notice. Only then can you address what needs to be modified and improved.

Q: What about book storage?

A. Have enough shelves to accommodate your stash of books. Another way to look at that is to only have the number of books that you have space to accommodate.

Cube bins like the ones that fit the furniture image above are helpful for paperback books, in particular. Those books can be thin, flimsy, and they don’t stack or support themselves well on a shelf. Nothing wrong with tossing them in a bin. They’re contained, out of sight, and your kids can maintain this system. Bonus!

I like to keep books mostly in the kids’ bedrooms, with a couple in the car to have on hand for road trips and just running around town.

Q: It seems so hard to keep on top of the toy clutter. How do I do it?

1. Purge.

Accumulation happens – especially with toys, so purge, purge, purge! And do this regularly. Kids outgrow toys so quickly, so just like you move them up to the next size of clothing and donate/sell the smaller sizes, regularly go through toys and donate what has been outgrown.

2. Buy less.

It’s ok to question whether your kid really needs the latest greatest thing – and to say no. One way to gauge how much of a priority a potential new toy is for your child is to have them do chores to work for it. If they’re not interested, maybe it really wasn’t all that important to them.

organize legos by having a home for them

3. Rotate toys.

Another strategy to keep toy clutter at bay is to implement a toy rotation system. Stow some away, then bring them out and, in turn, stow away some others. The toys that are being brought out will feel like “new” toys! Your kids may have even forgotten you had them. Advantages: fewer toys are out and needing to be put away, less visual clutter, and less overwhelm for the kids with so many choices.

4. Find the tried and true.

At ages 12 and 8, my kids don’t have many toys anymore. However, we have held on to a couple things that seem to stand the test of time: legos and marble works (configurable tracks for marbles to follow). They’re great for all ages, and enable us to have fewer other toys – knowing the longevity of these toys. What are your tried and true?

organize toys such as these legos in shoebox bins

5. Involve the kids.

Kids of all ages can be responsible for their own things. When we have 1 child, it feels manageable for us to be the keeper of the things and the picker uppers. Then, we have more kids and/or life gets busy, and we continue the habit of picking up after our kids – but this time with increasing frustration and stress – because we have other things to do, and darnit, it’s not our stuff to handle! And, our kids are old enough to do it themselves – but they may be resistant.

YES – of course it can be frustrating to teach, explain, and ask again and again for things to be picked up. And, yes, it can literally take years for things to stick. And, they may not do it “right”. Or how you do it. But, they are learning. After all, this is the long game, right? You WILL see the fruits of your patience and persistence down the road. And, your kids WILL be better for it – as they get accustomed to taking responsibility for their things.

Here are 2 potential starting points: 1. Putting dirty clothes where they belong at the end of the day, and 2. Putting things away before getting out something new. Then, build from there.

This toy stuff is totally doable! Let’s remember the purpose of toys…they’re fun! And, they can be educational, can encourage creativity, problem solving, and cooperation. The list goes on and on. These are all great things worthy of supporting. With some habits and systems in place, we can help to keep the stress surrounding this topic at bay, and can enjoy toys for the simple pleasures for which they were intended.

4 Things to Declutter From Your Mental Space

Decluttering our physical space and decluttering our mental space is undoubtedly related. All types of clutter acts as a weight that drags us down. When our environment is free of clutter, there is a corresponding levity, a calm, and a clarity to our mentality and outlook.

Decluttering our physical environment is great – life changing, in fact. But, a decluttered mind is even better. What are you holding onto that isn’t helpful? Or, isn’t true? Here are some common types of mental clutter. Once we’re aware of these things, we can be more mindful of kicking them to the curb.

1. Comparison

comparing 2 doors

I love the book Love Your Life, Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze. It’s a finance focused book, but the concept of loving your life, not anyone else’s (or the appearance of anyone else’s), can be applied to every area of your life. You can recognize yourself comparing when you find yourself thinking things like “I wish I….” or “If only….” It could be related to material possessions, such as “I wish I had a house like that”. Or, it could be lifestyle related like “If only I could have the time/money/motivation/skill to cook/work out/travel like so and so does”. It takes on many forms, most of them subtle.

Why is this bad? You’ve likely heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy”. What does a thief do? It robs us of something that is inherently, rightfully ours – joy, in this case. We miss the blessings right under our noses. And, you better believe, our kids pick up on this comparison. So, let’s be mindful of perpetuating only what you want those little ones to adopt.

2. Fear

How free would we all feel if the fears we held tight to no longer had a hold on us? We hold them close like they’re ours to nurture and cherish, and it’s just the opposite. They’re ours to actively release, as fearful worrisome thoughts don’t do anyone any good. That’s not to say it’s always easy to do this. But, doing so, even in baby steps, has that same freeing sensation that clearing out a room has.

no fear jumping from rock to rock

3. Busyness

I wrote a blog post you could check out titled The Culture of Busyness. Busyness may be at bay now, but will inevitably return as the pace of life gets back to…normal….right? The good thing about starting from scratch is that we can choose what gets added back! We can deliberately decide if this activity or that trip or that class is something that will be a blessing or, instead, a source of unnecessary stress or obligation.

This resetting is an opportunity to craft a clutter free schedule that honors the stillness we’ve cultivated over the last couple of months, while still pursuing activities that bring joy. Maybe you’ve uncovered some new individual or family interests that you’d like to pursue. Now’s the time to prioritize what’s important and say no to the rest.

4. Perfection

perfect is the enemy of mug. cup says good enough.

Sometimes people mistake a decluttered or organized house as a “perfect” house. That is never the goal! A decluttered environment is a foundation that allows for stillness, and frees up your time and money to make space for what is important to you. Because nobody wants to spend their time looking for lost things, stressed about cleaning all day, or dealing with excess. That’s what organizing and decluttering is about. Not perfection. So, if you find yourself striving for a perfect ________ (fill in the blank) stop yourself, and let good enough be good enough.

8 Ways We Waste Time

We all waste time. There’s no use feeling guilty about it. We’re not robots, nor are we striving for a life of 100% productivity. Mindlessly vegging out can be a way to unwind, relax, and gear up for a new day. But….if you find yourself running out of time to do what you want or need to do, it’s worth taking a hard look at where you’re wasting time.

I like to differentiate between truly wasting time and just having down time. Wasting time is when we should be productive or we need to get things done, but little habits (that we may not even be aware of), get in the way. Then, our time isn’t our own. It slips through our fingers and we feel like we were running around but getting nothing done. Time is one thing we can’t get back. So, let’s be deliberate about it. Here are 8 ways we waste time. The more aware we are of these things, the more we can mindfully form new habits that serve us better.

1. Looking for things

We definitely have better ways to be spending our time than the frustrating searching for lost items. One way to decrease this is to find a home for everything, and put things away after we use them.

2. Procrastinating

Time wasters aren’t always physical activities. Sometimes, a loop of unhelpful thoughts or angst about doing a particular something is the culprit of wasting time. Just do the hard thing. Get it out of the way by doing it first thing!

3. Multi tasking

Wait, what? This is a necessity and, frankly, a badge of honor for us mamas, right? We’re awfully good at it and get a heck of a lot done! But, sometimes, we flit and float from this to that without finishing things. As tempting as it is to bounce around, certain activities benefit from more focused thought (reading, writing, creating, problem solving). If being surrounded by kiddos who need your attention makes this challenging, early morning or late night hours are often peaceful times for distraction free focus.

4. Watching TV

Is it always on in the background, grabbing our attention for a bit, pulling us away from what we’re doing? There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, and of course – no judgment. But, try to change it up by leaving it off for just a couple days and see if it makes a positive difference in your productivity.

5. Phone scrolling

scrolling phone wastes time

Time spent here sure adds up! Try switching up habits a little. Instead of reaching for your phone upon waking, wait until a certain time of the day to pick up your phone. Another trick is to set a timer and give yourself 10 min. to scroll, then be done with it. It’s not about total deprivation, but, instead, moderation – being present enough to be in the moment with whatever your day brings you….a child asking to play, work commitments that need to be handled, or some screen free quiet time.

6. Worrying

It’s unproductive, based in negativity, and makes it very difficult to focus on what’s important. At the end of the day, your situation hasn’t changed but you’ve lost valuable time rehearsing worst case scenarios. Often, we worry about things that are out of our control anyway!

Instead, you could talk to someone. Sometimes just verbalizing worries helps put them to rest. Or, just give yourself permission to worry for a set amount of time, then you’ll be able to let go and move on peacefully.

worrying wastes time

7. Trips to the grocery store

Really? We need to go to the grocery store again? For the 3rd time this week? Sometimes it’s unavoidable and things come up. But, often, making lists and planning out some meals will help in this area. Also, solicit input from your family prior to your main grocery trip so you can be sure to purchase the cleanser your daughter just ran out of, or the brownie mix your son was hoping to make with his friend the next day.

8. Not finishing what you started

Every time you put something down and pick it up later, there’s a ramp up time to get back into it. And it’s a waste of time! “What was I trying to say in that half written email?” you wonder. If you expect to be interrupted mid task, consider breaking the task into smaller chunks that have distinct starting and stopping points that makes sense. This will make it easier for you to pick up again later.

How to Handle School Paperwork

*Disclosure: Amazon links included in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

This school year was certainly unconventional. But, nevertheless, you’ve likely picked up a whole desk full of your child’s school paperwork – just like any other year. Where is it now? In the plastic bag it came in? Maybe a backpack? Or, a corner of your child’s room?

Mixed in with the everyday math worksheets, there are likely some treasures worth keeping. But, just how much should be kept? And how and where? Read on for how to handle all the school paperwork and keepsakes.

school paperwork and crayons

1st Step: Make a Keepsake Bin.

I recommend doing this first – before deciding what to keep. Why? Because it will define the space you are willing and able to allocate toward the “keep” pile. Each of my kids has 1 bin and it contains their school keepsakes from Preschool – 12th grade. We have a separate box for each child (without files) to house other special things such as medals, 3-D objects they’ve made, etc. But, this is where the paper goes.

It’s easy to make! Simply get a file box and insert labeled pendaflex files for each year. I make these labels: baby, toddler, preschool, pre-K, Kinder, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th. You could add a couple extra for “Awards” or anything else that’s relevant.

It’s never too late to start a keepsake bin! You can start the folders with whatever grade your child is currently in. Or, make all the labels/folders and take an educated guess as to where any paperwork you’ve kept over the years belongs.

Here is a photo of my daughter’s bin.

file box for school paperwork



2nd Step: Go Through Papers – First Without Your Child

If you involve your child immediately, it’s definitely not the end of the world. But, I find it easier to pare down the pile first. I can identify what is not important or no longer relevant (outdated field trip permission slip)! Your kiddo, faced with the entire pile, may get fatigued, lose attention, or insist that it’s all equally important.

This step should only take a few minutes, and you’ll be left with a manageable amount, moving into step number 3 below.

3rd Step: Go Through Papers – With Your Child

school paperwork

This should be fun! Your child will get a kick out of showing you their pride and joy projects, artwork, or other accomplishments, and you’ll get a deeper glimpse into their school year.

Show your child the folder that will keep all of their treasures, and explain that anything that fits in that folder that is special to them (or you) can be kept. It’s also a good idea to mention during this process that you love to see all of their work, and you can acknowledge their progress from the beginning to the end of the year. But, the ones that are kept are those extra special pieces that they’re the most proud of.

Last Step: Decide Where The Bin Will Be Kept.

Once the folder is filled with the keep items, it’s time to find a home for it. In your child’s room is a good place – in their closet perhaps. Or, in an office or other area of the home that houses paperwork.

That’s it! It’s painless! And, it’s a system that will keep you organized and on top of school paperwork for years to come. It’s also fun for my kids to get their bins out once in awhile and look over years past to reminisce and be reminded of how far they have come. Happy sorting!

10 Ways to Simplify Groceries

Let’s face it. Grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking consume a large percentage of our time and finances – day after day, week after week. But, luckily, this is an area that we have a lot of say over – where we shop, how much we’ll spend, what meals we’ll make. With some minor changes, we can streamline the whole process and save a buck in the process. Here are 10 ways to simplify groceries:

1.Use a Rewards Program.

I’ve been using the Fetch Rewards app for awhile now, and it’s great! All you do is scan your grocery receipts, which equate to points that turn into savings. I scan the receipt before I even leave the parking lot – just so I don’t forget or lose the receipt. Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you can select from a number of reward options. I always choose some $ toward Amazon. Give it a try!

2. Have a budget.

Groceries is one area of your finances that’s relatively easy to adjust, without feeling deprived. A starting point could be $150/person per month, but depending on cost of groceries where you live, the types of food you like to eat, the stores you prefer, and a number of other factors, your number could be higher or lower. Start with whatever you currently spend, then gradually decrease every week from there until you’ve reached the point where you can’t reasonably decrease further.

The number isn’t the point. The point is finding a budget that works for you, and sticking to it by adopting some habits (from this list of 10) that free up cash to be used for more appealing things than a gallon of milk;)!

3. Plan number of dinners.


I find breakfast and lunch to be easy enough to wing, but, I like to at least estimate the number of dinners per week that will be made at home. Take into account how many times you’ll eat out, get take out, and consume leftovers. Some people meal plan to the nines every week – that’s very aspirational. For the rest of us, it’s a great start to decide on the number of dinners, and ensure you have the ingredients on hand to pull those meals together.

4. Start with what you have.

Where’s the first place we typically turn to when planning meals for the week? Pinterest or the internet, perhaps? I find Pinterest to be a source of inspiration, but find I’m starting from square one when a recipe catches my eye – with a total disregard for what I ALREADY HAVE! Start with your refrigerator instead!


What do you already have that may be hiding in the back needing to be eaten up? See what meals you can make from there, only adding those supplemental ingredients to your grocery list – whatever you need to turn that ground turkey into some mean turkey burgers!

5. Keep a running grocery list.

Throughout the week, you’re continually consuming groceries. You just ran out of eggs….add it to the list right then! Your toothpaste is running low. Add it to the list right away! You get the drift! Have one central place for your list and ask that everyone contributes. Don’t rely on your memory or you’ll be bound to forget things and have to go back to the store again. Bonus tip – if you’re familiar with your store, try writing your list in the order of the aisles so that your shopping will be extra efficient!

6. Bring your list to the store.

grocery list

We’ve all been there. You somehow end up at the grocery store, famished, and without a plan or list. Not good on the budget or the food choices. Make sure you bring a list to keep you on track.

7. Purchase in bulk strategically.

I have a love/hate relationship with Costco. More of a love relationship, but it’s all too easy to blow your budget there (the Target of the food world).

Also, bulk purchases take up precious space in your home. So, purchase in bulk strategically. This means sticking to your budget and only buying what you have space for! If you have a tiny kitchen/home and no space for 20 paper towel rolls, don’t buy them.

8. Shop weekly.

Weekly seems to be that sweet spot – not so infrequent that food goes bad, yet not so often that you spend unnecessary time and money running to and from the store. It also feels manageable enough to wrap your head around what’s going on for the next week – when you’ll be out for dinner or have other commitments or scenarios that will impact your food prep and consumption.

If you find it challenging to only shop once/week, revisit tips 2-6 and see if you can up your planning and list making to help accommodate a weekly shopping trip. Sure, sometimes things come up and running to the store to get what you need for that spontaneous hosting is fun! But, keep an eye on the frequency from week to week and you’ll likely find that fewer trips to the grocery store is positively correlated with sticking to your budget.

9. Cook extra.

It’s a lot of effort to cook! You’ll save lots of time by doubling recipes and freezing extras or enjoying them as leftovers.

10. Start a garden.

garden haul

We planted a garden this year, as a family. It’s great because they kids are involved, they learn about food sources, love to eat what they grow, and you save money. Win-win all around.

I think you’ll find that implementing some of these tips to simplify groceries will help you save time and money – without sacrificing nutrition or preferences. And, who doesn’t want that?

4 Organizational Systems to Implement Today

*Disclosure: Amazon links included in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

You spent time, energy, sweat, and perhaps money getting organized. Implementing some simple organizational systems will help you to stay organized. A little more work up front and on a regular basis means a lot less work overall. But… what are organizational systems, really, and how do they help?

I refer to a system as a process, habit, or way of doing something that is repeated – to bring about a benefit. The purpose here is to automate so that organization sticks! When we rely on tried and true methods to maintain our home and manage our time, we use our time efficiently and spend the majority of it the way we want!

Here are my top 4 organizational systems:

1. Make Lists

A few key principles for making lists effective:

  1. Find 1 place to keep your lists. They’re no use if you can’t find them!
  2. Get into the habit of referencing your list(s) throughout the day.
  3. Be flexible. I keep my lists in my phone and I’m continually editing them as I complete things and as new things pop up.

Daily List: A to-do list is nothing more than a helpful tool for getting things done. It means you don’t have to rely on your memory (phew!) to know what you need to do when, and where you need to be.

organizational systems example of a to do list

I recommend making a list for the next day the night before, as part of an evening routine (blog post here). It includes your top 3 things to get done for the day.

Grocery List: Post it in a highly visible place in your kitchen like the side of your refrigerator. Or, keep it in your phone so you’ll always have it with you. Ask for your family to participate by:

1. Adding an item to the grocery list if they use it up.

2. Adding any requests they have to the list instead of just telling you! You do not need to be the keeper of the list.

2. Have a Plan for Bulk Purchases

Enter the concept of an overstock bin. It’s a pantry game changer. Put a labeled large basket or other container of your choice on the pantry floor (or a deep bottom or top shelf – whatever space you have). It will house your bulk purchases and multiples.

If you buy a 6 pack of broth, keep one out, and store the other 5 in the overstock bin. When you use up the first broth, pull from the overstock bin to replenish. This prevents clutter and makes it clear when you need to buy more (the overstock bin would be empty) and, just as importantly, when you DON’T need to buy more.

3. Handle Paperwork As It Comes In

This doesn’t mean you do all the bill paying, fill out all the forms, and read all the magazines immediately. It just means that there is a designated place to put the papers right away, avoiding clutter accumulation. Designate a place for: 1. Bills, 2. Magazines/To Read, 3. Things to File, and 4. Recycle that junk mail right away!

Here are some great products to help your paperwork organizational systems stick:

4. Manage Your Clothes

Organizational systems example is a laundry basket

Donations: We often hold on to things that don’t fit, that we don’t really like, or wear. Move them on! Designate a donation spot in your house, and when it’s full (or before), bring the container to the donation center of your choice.

Kids Clothes: Kids outgrow clothes so quickly. I love a too big bin and a too small bin in their closets. When your child outgrows something, it goes right into the small bin. When the bin is full, donate or sell the clothes.

Laundry: Ahhhhh, laundry. Everyone’s favorite! Only you can honestly assess what’s working and not working for you. Step back and assess what the issue may be.

laundry suggestions

There’s no right or wrong laundry system, but 2 common ones are:

1. Designate certain days of the week as laundry days OR

2. Do laundry frequently/as needed, regardless of the day of the week.

Either can work. I prefer method 2 because someone always needs X (swimsuit, sports jersey, etc)., when they need it, which wouldn’t always correlate with a designated laundry day.

These are just a handful of the many organizational systems you can implement in your life. Start small, experiment, and see what works for you. Notice what isn’t working, where the pain points are. Maybe it’s schedules, or clothing, paperwork, or clutter. Then, shift to implementing systems from there. They really do make a difference. Good luck!

8 Choices You Can Make Today

We’ve heard it a hundred times…uncertainty. COVID-19 means uncertain times. Things can feel out of our control. Even though we’re all at different stages of getting back to “normal” – some of us under stay at home orders and some not, decisions as to where we can or should go, who to see, financial security, jobs, schools, schedules, and life as we knew it all seem a bit confusing.

When we feel chaotic or out of control, our spaces often reflect this. We crave calm over chaos and dominion over fear. What can we do to restore this calm? Well, I would argue that we’re actually in control of more than we may think.

The word “control” can have a negative connotation. It doesn’t need to mean controll”ing”. If you prefer, you can instead think of control as having the ability to choose or influence.


Here are 8 Things You are in Control Of:

1.What you purchase

You get to decide the food you buy, other purchases you make, and what else will or will not be coming into your home. Staying at home does not mean you need to revert to old habits or to throw in the towel and blow your budget making purchases that will contribute to clutter or regret.

2. Your priorities and commitments

commitments on a calendar

Maybe these have temporarily shifted in the last couple months. Time to re-evaluate some things perhaps. If you’re spread really thin, maybe getting groceries delivered is something you want to do for awhile to make life easier for you. You’re prioritizing your time and well being. What else could you re-think right now? What are you saying yes to that doesn’t feel like a hard yes? If it’s not a hard yes for you it’s ok to make it a no and replace it either with something more in line with your priorities, or with nothing at all.

3. Your expectations

What you used to accomplish and how your day used to flow, is likely different nowadays. Have your expectations for this time adjusted according to your circumstances? Or, are you stuck frustrated by not being able to achieve what you “used to”? You’ll get there again – don’t despair! But, for now, allow yourself the grace to take control of your own expectations and adjust if needed. You can set expectations for your kids as well – from their schoolwork to their schedules.

4. Your attitude and effort

hard work exercising is something you control

We’ve heard it from coaches and other authority figures, and it’s so true. We control our own attitude and our effort – noone else’s, unfortunately;). Not that of your kids or your significant other or your co-workers. You wouldn’t want to give anyone else the power of determining these things for you. They’re yours – to project into the world in a way that you see fit!

5. How present you are

We can take a good lesson from kids on this one. They are so naturally in the moment. If we stop for 2 seconds to put aside regrets about yesterday, demands of today, and worries about tomorrow, we open ourselves up to the beauty, fullness and perfection in the present. It’s hard! It takes intentionality and effort, but the rewards are huge.

6. Your environment

What house rules and expectations do we have in place? We’re in close quarters nearly 24/7. Think about your own habits and how they contribute to the greater household. Are you contributing positively toward a calm and clutter free home? We each have a part to play and you are in control of how you show up for yourself and your family every day.

pretty home

We are not at the mercy of messy kids! They do not get to determine the environment of our home. Sure, kids will be (and should be) kids and everyone makes messes and expresses play and joy (and fights!) loudly sometimes. But, when it comes to the environment you want to cultivate in your home, you can decide. You’re the adult. Teaching our kids is the long game. It’s hard! It takes days that lead to months and years of repetition and consistency and noone is perfect. But, we get to do this.

7. Your consumption

What are you choosing to consume? Yes, food can be a part of this. But, I’m really focusing in on what we take in to our thought and how we spend our time. 24/7 news reels that leave us feeling anxious? What conversations are we participating in and in what way? Your choice!

8. Your outlook


Outlook and mindset matters. How we see our circumstances, our community, and the world shapes our reality. You will “see” the evidence that you seek out. Will you look for evidence that supports scarcity? Or, sufficiency and abundance? Either way, you’ll find it! So, let’s choose wisely. This doesn’t mean our heads are in the sand, but that we make a choice to not be the victim, but to see hope and possibility.

So, the next time you feel disappointed about a lack of control in your life, please be reminded and comforted by the fact that no virus, economy or circumstance is in the driver’s seat of your life. Thank goodness!

The Power of Morning Routines

Last week’s blog focused on the power of a strong evening routine. Here, we’ll focus on morning routines. They initiate momentum building energy. The presence of a good morning routine sets your whole day in motion in a positive and productive way, while the absence of one can threaten to throw off your day. Even if your day starts to go south, you can rest assured that you accomplished a few priority items – whether that’s some quiet time, a good sweat session, or unloading the dishwasher.

hanging clothes

There’s plenty of research that points to the value of particular morning routines such as rising right away. And, some recommended don’ts such as not reaching for your phone immediately upon waking. However…I want to write authentically about what I know best – and with a slant to organization and productivity. I wouldn’t know the benefits of getting out of bed right away;). But, I can vouch for the benefits of morning routines.


  1. Limits procrastination – When you have the mindset that you’ll do the hard thing right way, you’re not as tempted to put things off until “later”. Later may not come, as our days get busy. Moving something until tomorrow or next week causes the compounding of to-do’s and puts you in perpetual catch up mode.
  2. Reduces decision making – When you have a routine, you remove the angst of making a decision. The decision was made when you developed a routine. It’s a yes! Done! It becomes as natural and expected as brushing your teeth. You make so many other decisions throughout the day, so make this easy for yourself.
  3. Generates momentum – If we skip routines, it’s easy to get lethargic and it’s harder to move into the rest of the day productively. However, if we start with a routine, we’ve generated that forward momentum that begets more forward momentum. That being said, it’s certainly not all about productivity. It’s about making a few priority or routine items habitual by ensuring they get done, and then, you have the freedom for more flexibility and spontaneity with your time.

Suggested Routines:

These are some ideas, but I recommend finding what works for you. There’s no right or wrong thing to choose. It’s less about what the routine is and more about starting your day with intentionality and seeing how that contributes to the rest of your day.

  1. Get up before the kids. This is a tough one for me, but I definitely feel more present with them if I’ve already done a couple things I need to do before they wake. Of course, if you have a newborn, work nights, or anything else that makes this impractical, this one doesn’t apply to you.
  2. Review your to-do list for the day. Writing a to-do list is a recommended component of an evening routine. So, morning is when you could review it and start planning your day accordingly. Have one spot where you keep the list…your phone, a paper calendar, your bedside stand, sticky notes on your desk – wherever that is, consistency is key.
  3. Make your bed. Yep, it’s the little things. You will have accomplished the first task of the day. It’s easy, fast, and will give you a small sense of pride that will lead you to tackle other things. I always recommend starting small with our organizing projects, and this is no different.
  4. Put on the clothes you chose the night before. Whether it’s gym clothes, a work outfit, or quarantine sweats, choosing it the night before takes one more thing off your plate for your mornings.
  5. Tidy the kitchen. It’s that single area of the house that, depending on the state of it, makes you feel instantly behind or on top of it.
  6. Feed your soul. Tea, music, a podcast, gratitude journal, reading…up to you!
  7. Enforce some routines for your kids. Think simple, consistent, and age appropriate.


  1. Set your intention. What is your why behind establishing a morning routine? Increased productivity? More calm and less chaos? Let this guide what you choose for your routine.
  2. Be flexible. Make your routines work for you. They should bring you joy and improve your life. If they’re not, switch it up! If you read that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to stick to their exercise routine, yet you’re more of a night owl, by all means, exercise at night! Make that part of your evening routine.
  3. Keep a healthy perspective. If your morning routine gets delayed or cast aside sometimes, don’t sweat it. No need to throw in the towel on the entire day. Tomorrow is a new day!

The Power of Evening Routines

So much of how we spend our time seems out of our control. Work demands, raising kids, cooking, cleaning…the list seems endless, and it’s easy for the day to get away from us. Routines are a great way to bring some productivity, stability, and relaxation to the flow of your day.

A morning routine sets the tone for the coming day, and a night routing sets up our morning to do its job. Here, we’ll focus on the power of an evening routine.

What is a routine?

A routine is an action that we deliberately do over and over again – a rhythm in our lives.

Why are routines helpful?

You may think, ugh, routines aren’t for me. They’re rigid, boring, and you have better and more fun things to do. On the contrary, they’re typically things that don’t take a long time, but actually allow you the freedom and spontaneity to do what you’d like to do for the majority of the time – because you’ve been deliberate about prioritizing.

teeth brushing is a routine

They’re also a great way for kids to learn responsibility for their possessions and actions, feel a sense of stability, and learn the value of hard work. Even young kids can understand “I get dressed and brush my teeth first, then I get to go outside to play!”

Additionally, routines help make the “hard thing” not so hard, when it becomes ingrained as “just what I do”. When something is a part of your day that you don’t have to decide – you just do (like brushing your teeth), you’re more likely to follow through.

If you want to work out in the mornings, but struggle with following through, making it a routine will help. For example, the night before, set out your exercise clothes (this is your trigger). In the morning, at 7am you put on those clothes and head to a class at the gym. Then, you have your favorite smoothie (reward).

Evening Routine Examples:

  1. Delete 25 photos from your phone
  2. Follow a beauty routine – wash, moisturize, brush teeth
  3. Drink tea
  4. Meditate or pray
  5. Set out clothes for the next day
  6. Make a list of 3 things to get done the next day
  7. Review your calendar for the next day
  8. Reply to 3 emails
  9. Find 5 things to donate
  10. Practice yoga for 30 minutes
  11. Read 1 chapter of a book
  12. Eat popcorn while watching Netflix
  13. Take a bath
  14. Walk around the block
  15. Put laundry away
  16. Pack backpack/briefcase/car for the next morning
  17. Write in a gratitude journal
  18. Meal prep for the next day
  19. Watch a show
  20. Prep the coffee maker

Suggested Routines:

Some routines are beneficial, some not so much. But, they’re all routines simply by virtue of the fact that they’re done regularly. Here are a few that I recommend.

  1. Do the dishes before going to bed. If you do one evening routine, do this one. Why? Because nobody wants to start their day looking at yesterday’s (literal) leftovers! It’s easier to start your day with a sense of calm when this one thing is handled. Admittedly, I’m struggling with this during quarantine. We use so many dishes now that there’s a constant backlog of dirty ones. I’m tempted to handle them, but it has been my son’s chore to unload/reload the dishwasher lately, and by the time the dishwasher is done, he’s often sleeping. Time to rotate chores perhaps…
  2. Write a list of 3 things to do the next day. This is really helpful in guarding against other priorities hijacking your time. There’s nothing magical about the number 3, other than it’s a manageable number. And, these things don’t need to be big audacious goals. They could include doing a face mask, playing with your kids, or setting up an appointment with the electrician.
  3. Set a timer for 15 minutes and tidy up. Waking up to a messy home isn’t the most motivating way to start your day. Thankfully, spending a short amount of time every night tidying up will help reduce stress in the mornings and help you avoid marathon cleaning sessions on the weekends.
  4. Have a bedtime routine. This is great for kids and adults. For adults, this may mean a bath and a show, or reading. Or, if you’re like me, sometimes you fall asleep in your kids’ bed while tucking them in – dead tired. It’s ok if routines don’t happen 100% of the time! Your bedtime routine for the kids may be bath, teeth, then 2 stories. Kids take comfort in the fact that they know what to expect and you can take comfort in the fact that they’re doing the things they need to do, while building in time for connection.

The more you practice an evening routine, the easier it will become! This may involve trial and error to find what routines work well, or the timing that works. I invite you to choose something and give it a try!

Organizing Habits: The Three “Ones”

We’re always looking for that magic bullet, right? That little habit that you kick yourself later for not realizing or not implementing sooner. Though there’s truly no 1 magic bullet for organizing, there are some organizing habits and mindsets to adopt that will, undoubtedly, contribute to a less cluttered environment and mind. I call them the Three “Ones”.

1. 1-in-1-Out Rule

For every one item that comes into your house, move one thing out. The reason behind this boils down to simple math. Clutter = stuff. And when stuff accumulates, that means we’re bringing more in to our space than we’re moving out of our space (or it means things don’t have a home or get put back in their home). This baseline can be adjusted to meet your specific needs.

Current State:

Decluttered – If you’re already decluttered and happy with the amount of items in your home, 1-in-1-out should work well. You’ll remain item neutral. This is a great practice to adopt for maintaining all that hard work you’ve done decluttering.

Cluttered – If you currently have a cluttered environment, or too much for your space, I’d recommend 1-in-3 out or 1-in-5 out. It’s really not as hard as it sounds to find 3-5 things to get rid. Promise! And, it should take no longer than 5 minutes.

So how does this work?

1. Awareness. So many things come into our home without us consciously realizing it. Gift bags from birthday parties, school paperwork, mail, clothing, any mail order purchase we make. Think about all those amazon packages you (may or may not) be bringing in! Increasing your awareness is the trigger that prompts you to find the items to remove from your home, leading us to….

2. Follow through. This is the part that usually trips us up! Find the 1 thing, the 3 things or the 5 things. Anything that doesn’t belong in your house is fair game – even old papers that need throwing away. Aim to do it right when the new thing comes into the home (remember – that’s your trigger!)

Or, if you don’t have a few minutes, put an entry on your calendar for later that evening that says “find 1 thing” or “find 3 things”. Then, when you get a minute that evening (after the rush of dinner or bustle of kid bedtimes, etc), find the things, put them in your car or wherever you keep donations, or in the trash can.


Teaches kids about choices. There have been several times when I’ve been shopping with my kids and they’ve asked to buy something. When I asked them if they could think of something they would be willing to part with if they brought this new item in, they said, “I’d rather keep my current things”. And they happily let the new thing go. Often it was just something that caught their eye in the aisle/an impulse, just like when you grocery shop hungry and suddenly need everything! This isn’t about deprivation – just prioritization and learning responsible buying habits.

Makes maintaining organization easier. You’re guarding yourself against those overwhelming organization projects that loom over our heads – just too overwhelming to tackle.

2. 1 Minute Rule

What is it? It’s the habit of handling something right away if it will take less than one minute. Think of it as avoiding the accumulation of chore “clutter” just like the 1-in-1-out rule guards against the accumulation of physical clutter. When one minute tasks pile up, they become overwhelming. It’s always easier to find one minute multiple times a day than it is to carve out a 30 minute chunk of time to handle the same amount of work.

If you’re tempted to toss the clothes on the back of the chair out of habit, stop yourself, ask if will take less than a minute to put them away (it will). Then, just do it right away. If it seems like you’ll always be running around doing little chores, you won’t! They’ll be so habitual, you won’t even think about them as chores. Think of it as just being responsible for your own things and space, doing your part to maintain your home, and showing your kids how to do the same.

3. 1 Day at a Time

Getting and staying organized becomes much more feasible when it’s accompanied by the mindset that progress happens a little at a time. Start small and think about what you can accomplish right now/today, instead of being overwhelmed by the enormity of an entire house that needs attention.

Break each large project down into a series of more manageable tasks. Celebrate the little wins! And, recognize your accomplishments for what they are….legitimate progress that is making a dent in that larger goal. And, if today wasn’t all that productive? That’s ok. We all have those days. And, tomorrow is another day – full of promise.

Decanting Basics

*Disclosure: All links included in this post are amazon affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Decanting….it’s not just for wine. But, what is it? And, what does it have to do with organizing? Decanting is something I often do for clients, and have done extensively in my home. This post has all the decanting basics, as well as answers to the questions you never knew you had!


1. What is decanting?

The process of transferring something from one container to another. In the context of the kitchen, it’s transferring food (let’s say flour) from the original bag into a more permanent and sturdy container. When we get rid of original packaging we free up space in our cupboards and pantries. More on the benefits to follow.

2. Should I decant?

It depends. It comes down to personal preference, and whether you’ll be committed to maintaining it and transferring packages after every grocery haul. I find a lot of value in decanting, and the pros heavily outweigh the cons in my book. But, I’m not here to tell you what to do – only to present information and perspective so you can do what works best for you.

And, this isn’t all or nothing! You can decant certain items and not others. My recommendations are in question 7 below.

  1. Less messy (no dusty flour bags or cumbersome cereal bags)
  2. Keeps food fresher longer/air tight
  3. Food is visible so you know when you’re running low
  4. Save $ in long run (know what you have/won’t buy duplicates)
  5. Fits spaces well (often modular/stackable)
  6. Uniform look
  7. Frees up space
  1. Putting groceries away takes longer
  2. Up front container purchase can be costly

3. How do I know what size containers to buy?

Fortunately, brands such as OXO provide guidelines for what containers work well for commonly decanted foods, so you can purchase exactly what you need. See below image. Guides for their other sizes are on their site.

oxo size guide

4. What is a backstock bin?

A backstock bin is a large container (I like a basket on the floor) that contains excess/bulk items, used to replenish your main stash of food. If you decant a bag of crackers into a container and it overflows, toss the partial bag of crackers into your backstock bin until there’s room for it in the main container. Or, if you purchase 6 boxes of pasta, decant one, and keep the other 5 in backstock until needed.

It’s a way to manage inventory so you know what you have and what you need. How do you know what to put on the grocery list? First, check the container where you decant your items. If it’s empty, check the backstock bin to see if you have replenishment there. If not, the item goes on the grocery list. It’s easy, and keeps your main food areas clutter free!

In the second image below, you’ll see the snack backstock bin on the floor, directly under the main snack bin…all the components of a great organizational system!

overstock bin

5. What containers should I use?

OXO Pop containers are my favorite, Pricey, but worth it.

Mason Jars work well, too:

I like these for cereal:

I love these for spices. They also come in a pack of 36.

There are lots of great options. Look for something clear so you can see what you have, and airtight to maximize shelf life.

oxo containers

6. How do I know the use instructions or expiration date if the original package gets discarded?

I stick these adhesive business card holders onto the backs of containers. Cut out the pertinent instructions, slide in the sleeve, and you’re good to go. I do this with pasta, quinoa and rice, primarily.

As far as expiration dates, we use up food pretty quickly, so it’s not an issue. But, if you want to log the date, write it on the container with a paint pen.

7. Any tips on getting started?

Yes! Start with just a couple categories of food to see how you like it. I recommend starting with cereal, baking staples, or spices. Snacks and other categories can come later, if you find you’re liking the decanting process and experiencing some benefits. Give it a try!

Filing 101

*Disclosure: Some links included in this post are amazon affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Filing…not a glamorous task, but one that can make your life easier! And, who doesn’t want that? All you need are some simple systems in place.

This time of year, in particular (tax season), can go much more smoothly if you have what you need right at your fingertips. And getting a handle on filing in everyday life means less stress and annoyance when you can’t find where in the world you put that _____ (directory, business card, bill – fill in the blank). Check out these Q&As.

Q: What supplies do I need to set up files?

file folders in drawer

A: I like hanging files – in a drawer or a box (whatever suits your fancy), with hanging files and paper files inside. I use a label maker to print labels that adhere to the plastic tabs.

You could get fancy by using different colored file folders and designating a category to each color. For example, red = financial, blue = home, yellow = work, green = kids, etc. Within each category would be more specific files such as home improvements, neighborhood association, or lawn in blue. But, beware of overcomplicating. Simpler is often better.

Here are some sources:

Cute hanging files/folders:

Standard hanging files/folders:

Label maker:

Q: What do I name my files to be sure I can find things later?

A: File by generic category such as “Electrician” instead of the electrician’s name or the business name, since that’s harder to remember. You’re aiming to strike a balance so that the name isn’t so generic that everything fits in there/file is too big/things are hard to find and yet isn’t so specific that it’s hard to maintain.

Q: My paperwork just piles up everywhere! How can I get on top of it?

A: A couple simple habit changes can help! Truth is, a million different filing methods can work. The keys are to have a system, and have a trigger to do the actual filing.

Think about the sources of your piles. Is it mail that doesn’t get handled as it comes in? School paperwork? What else? Think of all the things that could come into your home…greeting cards, ads, report cards, etc. For everything you need to keep, decide where it should go.

Handle the mail right away. Don’t keep any junk mail, catalogs, or any other paper that you don’t need. Recycle them when they come into your house. This should not take longer than a couple of minutes.


It’s ok to have a designated temporary holding area for each category of paper clutter until you get around to filing it (because….real life). Find some containers and label them “to file”, “to do”, perhaps another one “bills to pay” – whatever categories work for you.

Sort mail and other paperwork into these categories as soon as it comes into your home. Then, once a week, go through each of those zones and handle everything (do the filing, pay the bills, sign the permission slip, etc). Put it on your calendar, just like you would any other to do in your life.

Q: Any tips for filing kids’ special projects, keepsakes, and school papers?

A: Yes! Make a special box for each kiddo, with files for each grade/stage. Work with your kids to edit down to their favorites (and yours!) Check out this blog post for more information.

Q. How do I prepare needed documentation for taxes?

A: 2 things. 1. Have a master list of what you need AND 2. Keep a running file for the year.

Master List: Develop a list of things that you need for taxes, year in and year out. No need to reinvent the wheel. Categories could include charitable contributions, child care, property taxes, W-2s, investments, car registration, etc.

As you’re receiving your year end statements and pulling your documentation together, reference this list as a master checklist. That way, you’ll know when something is missing or what you have left to track down.

Tax File: At the beginning of each year, set up and label a file for the coming year. For example “Taxes 2020”. Keep a copy of your master checklist from above in your file. As applicable paperwork comes in throughout the year, put it in that file. Then, when it’s tax time, cross reference your master list with what you have in your tax file to be sure you have everything.

Q: How long should I keep important papers and tax documents?


A: There are things that I used to keep that I’ve realized just aren’t necessary. Common things to consider throwing away include receipts for minor purchases, manuals and warranties that can be found online, coupons past the expiration date.

There are varying opinions as far as how long certain documents should be kept, but there are typically 3 distinct categories: less than 7 years, 7 years, and indefinitely. Here’s a guide to get you started. Check with a tax professional or other trusted advisor if you’re unsure of anything.

how long to keep paperwork chart

A yearly cleanup and shred session is a good idea. It’s helpful to have something that triggers you to do this. Right after filing for taxes is a good time. Schedule it into your calendar for April 15th and shred up that outdated paperwork.

Q: Should I use an electronic filing system?

A: It’s definitely an option. How and where you file really comes down to a matter of personal preference. I prefer to have hard copies of my tax docs, and most other categories as well. Many of the things I file come into my home already in paper form, so I find it easier to directly file them then to digitize them. Here are some digital resources if you’re looking to explore electronic options:

  1. Evernote – digitize, take notes, find information, scan magazine articles
  2. The Paper Tiger – manage digital and paper files

Either direction you go – electronic, paper, or a combination, the key is keeping up so you’re not holding on to things that are expired, not applicable, or you just no longer need. Consider putting quarterly appointments on your calendar for the next year to serve as prompts. Without that, it’s all too easy to forget about it.

Filing really doesn’t need to be intimidating! The hardest part is keeping up, but, once you have a filing system in place, designating a little time each day to stay on top of paper clutter will pay off in the long run.

Label ABC’s

*Disclosure: Some links included in this post are amazon affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

This topic is riveting! No, really……stay with me. Labeling can make or break an organizing system, and provide that extra touch that really elevates a space. Let’s dig into the options so you can determine what the best option will be for your next organizing project. But first…


Why start here? Because you need something to label! I like how Dana White, from A Slob Comes Clean, explains the concept. The purpose of containers isn’t to contain everything we have. It’s to provide boundaries for our things. A container defines the space we’re willing and able to allocate to an item or group of items.

Instead of accommodating all the red crayons you have with multiple/large containers, think of a container as the space you have to work with. So, decide how many red crayons you need, fill an appropriate sized container with them, and part with the rest.

This is a subtle mindset shift that promotes different buying habits. Instead of purchasing the jumbo box of 100 red crayons because it’s on sale, you’ll buy the smaller one that accommodates your needs and fits within the space you’re allocating to it. You’re in charge of your space and you get to make the decisions that result in a decluttered environment that meets your needs.

You don’t need to get fancy. Shoeboxes work fine, as do the many sizes of wallet friendly Sterilite containers that are easy to find. The Container Store is my favorite resource, as they have so many versatile products, as well as solutions for any hard to organize area or niche you could conjure up.


There are so many options out there that one (or many!) will certainly meet your needs.

1. Chalkboard Labels:

Pros: Easily change text, relatively inexpensive, adhere well

Cons: Can’t apply to textured surfaces such as baskets/fabric, may smudge

Best For: Pantries, anywhere you’ll need to change text periodically

Purchase here. Chalk pens can be purchased here

acrylics with chalkboard labels

2. Bin Clip Labels:

Pros: Easily change text, versatile, elevated look. Choice of colors – silver (Target), wood, gold, black (Container Store) to work into your decor

Cons: Higher price point

Best For: Baskets, fabric bins

Purchase here (silver labels from Target) or here (Container Store)

bin clip label on basket

3. Label Maker Labels:

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to generate, consistent typeface

Cons: Learning curve to operate, may lose adhesion

Best For: Smaller containers that can only fit a small label

Purchase here


4. Vinyl Labels:

Pros: Beautiful aesthetic

Cons: Pricey, time consuming to generate

Best For: Creating a custom look

Purchase here: For any of you crafters, a Cricut machine can generate the labels. Or, you can purchase them from sellers on Etsy.

vinyl label examples
Mrs. Hinch Stickers,

5. Hang Tags:

Pros: Go-to solution when other standard labels won’t work

Cons: Somewhat cumbersome, tend to flip backwards

Best For: Baskets that are too thick to accommodate a bin clip label (like in the photo below)

Purchase here

hang tags on baskets

8 Organizing Pitfalls to Avoid

*Disclosure: Some links included in this post are amazon affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

You’ve given organizing a valiant effort, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn’t. Organizing is a practice (recurring), not a project (1 time event with a defined start and end). But, even so, you shouldn’t need to reinvent the wheel constantly. You should expect to make headway and feel like you’re on the right track. There are some common organizing pitfalls to avoid – things that make it more challenging for organization and systems to stick. Being aware of them can help you avoid them altogether! Here they are:

1. The decluttering step is skipped

Not all spaces require decluttering. But, most do. More often than not, we attempt to organize a space that has too much in it. Rearranging clutter will still leave you with clutter! We need to see what we have and be able to easily access it. This is much easier to do when you’ve pared down. Ask yourself a few key questions: 1. Would I buy this item again? 2. Do I use this? 3. Do I have something else similar to it? The answers to these questions should help you determine what stays and what goes.

2. Item categories are too specific

Identifying commonalities across items and grouping like things together is a key step in organizing! Often where we stumble is assigning categories that are too specific. For example, you may currently have pretzels, potato chips, and popcorn in your pantry. If these items are decanted into containers, you may have labeled them as such (pretzels, potato chips, and popcorn). But, you may not always have these things on hand. When we buy tortilla chips, we don’t have a place for them. We don’t have appropriate labels anymore, and our systems fall apart.

Instead, try more generic categories such as “snacks”. More specific categories are ok if they are representing things that you always have on hand.

3. Categories aren’t labeled

Unlabeled areas/containers become miscellaneous catchalls, because there is nothing that clearly identifies it as anything else.

Labels are sooo key. Even if a category name seems obvious to you, it may not to others in your household. I’ll write a separate blog post to dive into the best labels for different scenarios. But, for now, I’ll recommend a few:

  1. Everyday label maker: Great for labeling solid plastic containers.
  2. Chalkboard labels. Elevates the look beyond your standard label maker label. Fun to use in pantries.
  3. Bin clip labels. I love to use these! Many popular bins do not accommodate an adhesive based label due to their material (fabric, wicker, etc). So, these are handy to have on hand. They clip right onto the edge of a container. You can write onto the included paper or print your own label to adhere to it.

4. Organizing too much at a time

There’s a tendency to take an all or nothing approach to organizing. Living in a state of disorganization can weigh on us, building up stress until we finally hit the “too much” point. We feel like it’s too out of control, we can’t go another day in this state, so we make a BHAG (big, hairy audacious goal – as Jim Collins would say). That’s all well and good. But, it is too overwhelming to tackle everything at once.

Slow and steady wins the race, in this case. Choose a small area to build momentum. This could be a drawer or a shelf. No space is too small! You’ll get to it all, eventually, if you pace yourself.

5. Going solo

You know what’s in your head when you’re organizing. The system makes perfect sense to you. But, if you want it to stick, everyone in your household needs to be on board – or, at the very least, aware, of the new and improved level of organization.

family photo

Let them know you’ve found homes for everything so that it will be easier for them to find things! Or, better yet, welcome their input and assistance. Discuss the other expected benefits. Walk them through where things belong, and how everyone can play a role in maintaining the space. Then, prepare to exercise loads of patience as everyone adjusts!

6. Overcomplicating the process

When we unnecessarily overcomplicate organizing, it becomes more of a burden than a blessing. And, when something is a burden (time consuming, hard to remember, not intuitive) it will be difficult to maintain.

There is beauty in simplicity. When something is simple, we can involve even young kids. For example, a simple calendar where each family member’s entries are a particular color can be understood and maintained by everyone. But, if there are different codes and colors for each type of entry (school, sport, activity, appointment, etc) and for each family member, it can quickly become complicated and can contribute to visual clutter. Keep it simple!

7. Not committing to change

There’s a human behavior component to organizing that is sometimes overlooked. The physical space is one element and the new habits to support the maintenance of that space is another. Buckle down those first couple weeks as you commit to maintaining what you’ve set up. The good news is that small changes go a long way.

For example, if clutter was the issue, commit to putting things away where they belong before moving on to something else. This is especially helpful with kids and their toys.

Of course, you flex along the way. This is key! You’ll adjust as you move forward. But, remember, we have to actually do something different if we want to experience different results.

8. Not personalizing it

For organizing to be effective, consider your tastes, preferences, and lifestyle. If you’re a visual person and love color coding, a visual wall chart may work great, whereas a written to do list may not. If you take your shoes off as you walk into the house, create shoe storage there, instead of/in addition to other locations.

Also, consider the age and size of your kids when organizing their clothes. Put books within reach and try to use a lower hanging rod for clothes when possible. This promotes self sufficiency and less dependency on mom and dad!

kid closet

Luckily, organizing pitfalls do not have dire consequences if you fall into them! We’ll learn and course correct.

The good news is that organizing at its core is simple. Pare down to what you use, like, and have space for. Group like items together. Contain them. Label them. And put things away where they belong. Come back to this if it feels complicated. And, now that you know what pitfalls to avoid, you’re well on your way to an organized space.

Spring Clean Your Beauty Products

*Disclosure: All links included in this post are amazon affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Spring is here! With this comes plenty of outside projects to tackle. But, it’s also the time when we get the itch to organize inside. Bathrooms are one of those areas that can easily accumulate clutter. Here are 6 tips for cleaning and organizing your bathroom and beauty products.

1.Check Expiration Dates

Personal care products and cosmetics don’t last forever! Check your products to see when they expire, as they’re all different. Here’s an example of what you could see. Discard anything that is expired.

expiration dates

2. Wash Makeup Brushes

There are some specialized products you can buy to wash brushes, but mild soap and water work just fine.

  1. Add a drop of gentle soap or shampoo into a cup filled with warm water.
  2. Swish your brush around in the cup, working the cleanser into the bristles.
  3. Rinse brush until water runs clean.
  4. Dry brush flat on a paper towel.

3. Swap Out Products

My routine doesn’t vary all that much season to season, but this time of year I do lighten up on products and bring out more spring colors. Tis the season! Consider swapping out your deeper lip shade for a new fresh shade and start using lighter weight creams and foundations to replace the heavier winter formulas.


4. Discard All “Duds”

DUD stands for damaged, unused, or duplicates. Most of us have been there. We try a new product for awhile, then realize we don’t like or use it. So, we leave the opened container in our bathroom to live out its days. Be realistic here. If you didn’t like the product initially, you probably won’t like it now.

Anything that is unopened can be given to someone else who may end up loving it. Check the expiration date first!

Also, what is currently in your bathroom that doesn’t belong there? It’s helpful to take a step back and evaluate where things should live based on convenience (where and how you use them) and available space. Extra towels may fit best in a linen closet. Products for your kids could go in the bathroom they use instead of yours. And bathroom cleaning products could be consolidated with your other cleaning products in a laundry room or cleaning cupboard.


5. Evaluate Your Overstock

Bulk purchases can be helpful IF you have the storage space for them. But, often what happens is that we buy multiples of things because they’re on sale or we don’t realize what we already have so we overbuy. Due to this, we end up with multiple moisturizers, sunscreens, lip shades – all scattered throughout the bathroom.

Soooo…just like every organizing project we do, take everything out. After you’ve gotten rid of the DUDs, see what you have left and group all duplicates together. If you found 4 shampoos, put 1 in the shower. Then, store the other 3 in a labeled overstock container. Make it a habit to check there first before purchasing more. This acts as an inventory system to guard against overbuying. When you’re down to the last product, that’s your trigger to add the item to your shopping list.

6. Organize

towel hanging up

Now that you’ve pared down your inventory and grouped your overstock, organize what remains. Assign a home for everything. Remember to think broadly, utilizing the backs of cupboard doors, drawer dividers, and vertical space with products like these:

Lastly…label everything! Happy organizing!

9 Take Aways From a Stay-At-Home Spring

Life as we know it just got flipped on its head. I had plans to blog about the typical spring cleaning and organizing topics – and I will continue to do so. That still has a place in our lives – perhaps more than ever as so many of us are home and tackling projects that we didn’t make time for in the past.

But, right now, as we adjust to working, living and teaching in a stay-at-home and social distancing environment, this topic seems most relevant. Let’s put the kids’ learning objectives aside for a minute (there’s plenty of focus on those), and dive into the lessons we can learn from our stay-at-home spring – things worthy of deliberately carrying forward once this is all behind us. I like this quote I’ve seen all over social media:

In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.


1. Community is Important

There’s a palpable sense that we’re all in this together. It’s powerful, and can combat the divisiveness that is rampant in our politics and our culture at large. Community does not mean everyone holds the same beliefs or values. On the contrary, it is richer when filled with diversity of thought and experiences. But, it does mean we’re looking out for the greater good. We’ve been reminded that humanity should be viewed through the lens that reveals each us as as being more fundamentally alike than we are different. Each of us is worthy of feeling safe, cared for and loved for, regardless of geography or human circumstances.

community sign

There are many examples of community that I’ve either witnessed or heard about during these times…encouraging notes written with sidewalk chalk, thank you messages for essential workers, dedicated shopping hours for seniors, songs over Zoom calls, virtual prayer and church services, free online workouts and resources, and strangers exchanging knowing smiles.

2. Kindness is Everywhere

The news is certainly filled with an abundance of grim statistics, but there is another side to the news – that which showcases humanity’s ability to show up. When faced with extremity, we’re also faced with opportunity. Kindness is innate in each of us.

People on the front lines are serving with selflessness. And, countless citizens are giving their time, money, ingenuity, and prayers to equip, comfort and bless others.

3. There is Beauty in Slowing Down

The world moves at breakneck speed, along with our schedules, and those of our families. Sometimes a gentle nudge isn’t enough to make us notice and adjust. Sometimes it takes circumstances where we have no other choice but to slow down. We can’t run errands, shuttle the kids, or squeeze in one more appointment or meeting.

This at home time has prompted a fundamental return to the basics, to the things that matter. Family. Time together. Games. Creating. Cooking. Moving. Taking a Walk. Getting Outside.

4. Being Outside is A Blessing

walk in the woods

The great outdoors has been a saving grace for me and many others. Rain or shine, getting some fresh air buoys moods and breaks the mesmeric and fearful thoughts that can run on repeat when we’re stuck inside.

It is a gift to be able to get out and move freely. We are reminded of the vastness, beauty and order of creation.

5. People Are Resilient

We’re all doing our best to adapt/survive during this time. Our kids are included in this. They’re incredibly resilient. Their lives got turned around, too. Their support systems, schedules, activities and plans were upended. They may have questions and fears. And they now have mom or dad as a “teacher”?! This hasn’t been an easy road, but they’re doing their best to adjust. May we all extend ourselves and others some grace in this space.

Many people on the front lines are working tirelessly to care for others, ill equipped, and on little sleep. May we buoy them up. Our economy is taking a hit. It has taken hits in the past and it will rebound. Our sense of security feels shaken. But, fear will not win.

6. Creativity Abounds

paint brushes

Businesses are adapting at the drop of a hat. Restaurants are offering curbside pickup, delivering meals, and selling pizza kits to make at home. Neighborhood kids are figuring out how to play “together” while observing social distancing. People are utilizing technology to celebrate special occasions. And, downtime is encouraging our kids to be resourceful and to play.

This creativity was always there. It took a catalyst to awaken it. But, it has always been there and will continue to be. We will need it, moving forward.

7. Stuff is Overrated

Bigger and more is better, right? More activities, higher goals, better car, bigger home, more possessions. The list goes on. Though none of those things is inherently bad, in my opinion, they’re each worth revisiting.

Many people have been spending more time organizing and paring down possessions, as of late. This is a time of realizing what matters and what doesn’t. What contributes to happiness and what doesn’t. Let’s remember this in the future.

hope sign

8. Technology Can Be a Connector

I’ve definitely been on the bandwagon that feels technology and social media pose more issues than benefits, particularly for our kids. But, we’re seeing how technology can be used for good. It is being used to connect people, disseminate information, teach and inspire others. It is enabling us to mimic human interaction the best we can. And, technology is promoting commerce in the absence of brick and mortar transactions, and it is supporting the productivity of remote workers across the globe.

9. Teachers Rock

Last, but not least….teachers are amazing. We all knew this. I knew this. I have many amazing teachers in my family and have had a first hand glimpse into their world for years. But, it really hits home when you’re suddenly walking a day in their shoes…but only with your own kids, not the 20+ they skillfully deal with day in and day out. From classroom management and motivating different learners, to dealing with squabbles, fielding questions, tears and triumphs, teachers handle this with enthusiasm, patience and joy. God bless.

These are challenging times, no doubt – at the global and local levels. The journey is not easy. We will not come out of this the same. But, we will come out of this together. And, we get to choose what we bring with us.

Organizing for Baby

*Disclosure: All links included in this post are amazon affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

There’s nothing like a newborn baby. Their expressions, sweet smell, and little noises. And, they’re soooo tiny! How can something so small have so much stuff? The carseats, clothes, toys, and gadgets seem to overtake our homes, cars, and storage spaces. While some of this is inevitable, and, really doesn’t last that long in the overall scheme of things, it doesn’t need to be feel out of control. Organizing for baby can be approached just like organizing the rest of your home…with some intentionality and simple systems.

3 Organizing for Baby Tips:

1. Determine What You Really Need.

There are so many new baby things on the market now compared to when I had my youngest child almost 9(!) years ago. Some of these may be the best thing since sliced bread. Some aren’t. What I loved you may not. And vice versa. But, everyone can benefit from the basics. I recommend the following:

  • Somewhere to set baby down. In the first few weeks, in particular, I found myself needing somewhere to put baby besides a crib/pack and play. Carrying and snuggling is great, but mama (and baby) can use a break sometimes. Here are some good options:
  • Sleep sacks. Do these come in adult sizes? These are the best! Like a wearable blanket, they go over a onesie or pj’s for sleeping. Super easy to get on and off and your baby stays warm and snuggly.
  • Bundle Me. This cozy covering zips onto the carseat, providing a sleeping bag of sorts around the baby. It’s super convenient for cold weather, eliminating the struggle of putting on a cumbersome coat.
  • A stocked diaper bag. Diapers, wipes, travel changing pad, extra change of clothes, and feeding supplies should all be kept ready to go. Try to replenish anything you used directly after an outing. Nothing worse than being stuck somewhere without a diaper when you really need it! Changing pad:
  • Baby Carrier: We loved the Baby Bjorn, but there are so many great carrier and sling options. Look up reviews, talk to friends and family for recos, and take your pick.

As far as things to avoid, generally, I steer clear from anything too fussy (fabric wise or time consuming button filled outfits) and anything that takes up a lot of room.

2. Use Too Small/Too Big Bins

This is a good one! Babies and toddlers outgrow clothes so quickly, particularly during the first 2 years. It’s all too easy to miss the brief window of time when something will fit. Initially, it’s too big. Then, you blink and it’s too small! Having a system for rotating clothes in and out is so helpful in preventing this.

How it Works:

  1. Put 2 bins in your closet. I like clear plastic with lids, such as a 56 qt. Sterilite bin, or whatever your space allows.
  2. Label one bin with the size your baby is currently wearing. Let’s say your baby is in 0-3 months. This is the “too small” bin. It will start out empty.
  3. Label the other bin the next size up from what they’re wearing. In this case, it would be 3-6 months.
  4. When your baby outgrows a 0-3 month clothing item it goes directly into the 0-3 months bin. Once that bin is full, it’s already organized and ready to store elsewhere, such as in a basement storage room. Or, items can be donated or sold.
  5. When baby is ready for the next size up (3-6 months), you’ll have it all ready to go (in your “too big” bin).
  6. *I recommend ONLY keeping the next size up in the too big bin. When there are multiple sizes combined, it becomes an unnecessary organizing project to sort through what is what – and you’ll likely miss that short period of time when something fits! Anything bigger than one size up can be kept in a storage area outside the bedroom.

Dressers: I recommend having only the clothes that currently fit your baby in a dresser (or drawers or cubbies – whatever you have). Drawer dividers are great for separating out different types of baby clothes and small items.

3. Implement a Toy Storage System.

We had a big toy bin with our firstborn. It did not work well. Everything tended to get dumped in and buried. There was no sense of organization and small parts got lost.

Instead, I like labeled bins that contain like items. There are so many great options, such as a simple and budget friendly shoe bin container like this:

I also like the endlessly versatile cube units such as this. They are available at Amazon, Target, IKEA…lots of places! There are great fabric bins that fit in each cube. Just be sure to purchase the size that fits in the openings.

plush toy

If you have older kids and are looking to involve them in organizing and maintaining their things, I wrote a whole blog post about that. Check it out here.

Organizing for baby can be fun! The implementation of a few systems can go a long way toward efficiency and peace of mind (at least, sanity!) during these months of being in the trenches with your sweet little one. Enjoy!

How-To’s of Homebound

Crazy times we’re in now, huh? We’re all making our way through this space of abandoning our previous routines, floundering to find new/temporary ones, perhaps feeling stir crazy – all likely with the kids home from school and the adults working from home.

The “Pinterest perfect” pressure can set in – urging us to adopt THIS perfect hour by hour schedule to prevent our kids from experiencing, not summer slide, but extended spring break slide. All while keeping up with our work. Maybe scrambling for daycare. And, wait, I’m not qualified to teach my kids! I don’t have a teaching degree. Etc. etc. Yikes!

This pattern of thought is understandable, but can easily be a slippery slope. Deep breaths, all. This, too, shall pass. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7, King James Bible).

home bag

Everyone is doing the best they can. You are doing the best you can. Let that be enough. With this framework, let’s move forward, guided by what feels right for ourselves and our families. Here are some how-to’s of homebound. “How to” does not mean “the only way to…”. It just means how can we approach these times in a way that’s healthy, supportive, productive? These tips apply to anyone – whether you are a parent, finding yourself unexpectedly working from home, or just grappling with how to process these unprecedented times and support the community at large.

1. Set Realistic Expectations.

Perhaps recreating 7 hours of school at home, with lesson plans and the whole nine yards, is gonna work for you. But, if, like many of us, it isn’t, that’s ok. There are a couple extremes: 1. Full on “school”, and 2. Never getting dressed, sleeping until noon, no books, screen time all day, day after day. And, you know what? Our kids’ previous routines could get so busy… juggling sports and activities, homework, chores, friends and family time. Welcome this time as our collective exhale. Not a free for all, but an exhale. There’s a middle ground here.

play outside

My goals are to strive for connection, doing what we can, with what we have, where we are, and being realistic about it all. What this looks like from my perspective: some chill (such as sleeping in), some learning (see below, 1-2 hrs/day), getting outside daily, and enjoying some unstructured time.

Even if you don’t have kids at home, just because you’re home more than usual, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have more motivation to clean, organize, and tackle everything on your to-do list. We’re definitely hearing about these people on social media. But, you may feel more inclined to cozy up, read a book, and enjoy additional time for reflection. There’s no right or wrong approach.

2. Explore Learn at Home Resources.

We’re not striving for perfection with home schooling. We’re keeping the wheels on the bus for awhile. Filling the gap. Once we shed the weight of thinking we need to be curriculum developers and teachers, it’s actually fun to explore some available at-home learning resources. Your kids’ school may be sharing resources with you. If so, great! If not, there’s a lot of other options out there. Many of these are child led and can be explored independently.

Just this morning, I showed my 3rd grader a website and left it to him to engage with whatever he found interesting. He chose to watch a video about George Washington. Then, he excitedly proceeded to piece together a George Washington-esque costume. This took no preparation or direction on my part to make sure he was “applying” his learning. He did this naturally. This dress up time and creativity IS learning. Building forts IS learning. Exploring outside IS learning.

crayon box for homeschooling

3. Find a Routine.

Kids crave routines. When I first told my son he would be out of school for awhile, I mentioned that we would get to do some of that learning at home. He lit up and said “Oh, like do specials, then have snack time, then recess, then….” Hmmm, seems he skipped over the math and reading parts;). But, the point is, he wanted to recreate that sense of routine at home. It’s familiar. And, in these times that are anything but familiar, bringing some elements of our routine with us can be comforting.

Similarly, my daughter lamented to me yesterday that she hadn’t worked out in 3 days. I remarked that I hadn’t worked out in probably 3 weeks! Then she said “Yeah, but mom, it’s not part of your daily routine and it IS part of mine!” She was right. She truly enjoys to exercise, and was more thrown off because she was missing something that is part of her norm. I, on the other hand, try to grab a class here and there, but it is not part of my routine, so it felt like no big deal for me.


Our routines may look different for awhile, but think through what elements can stay the same. For example, most of the morning and night routines can stay intact. The times may adjust, but the elements remain. For example: wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, make bed. There’s a grounding element to this that sets us all up for the day.

4. Work From Home Tips.

In my previous career, I worked on a team to define and execute a flexible work environment (including working remotely) at our place of business. It was fascinating – digging into understanding what flexibility was desired, identifying and removing roadblocks, and gathering and interpreting data about remote work.

work from home

If you find yourself in uncharted territory of working from home, or perhaps leading a team who is working from home, I share these tips:

  • Trust that your team is doing their job. More often than not, they are, even though they’re home. Feeling trust and extending trust from and to your boss/employees/co-workers during this team goes a long way toward establishing an environment of mutual respect and productivity.
  • Maintain a schedule. This includes setting boundaries. It can be easy to allow work time to blur with the family and personal hours, so set some work hours – just like if you were physically entering and exiting your employer’s building. Also, take breaks. Eat lunch. Get outside, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  • Find a good place to work. It can be hard to focus amidst a commotion filled household. Try to find a place that’s somewhat separate from the main buzz of the home. I work from home and I established a mini routine that has been helpful for me to start my work day. I simply slide our big office barn door closed, acting as a visual/spatial cue that signals it’s time for me to get to work.
  • Establish some protocol. What’s the best way for your team to contact each other? Text? Call? An internal communication platform? How will meetings be conducted? There are lots of tools to facilitate productive remote communication and face time. Ensure everyone is on the same page to ensure efficiency.

5. Care for Yourself and Others.

  • Get outside daily. Walk the dog, play some sports, do anything to breathe in some fresh air.
  • Start a daily gratitude list. It can be easy to get sucked into negativity and fear, but this is a great way to remind ourselves of the good that always has been and will continue to be all around us.
  • Support small and local businesses. Really, support all businesses. Keep that economy rollin. But, particularly those small businesses that were already operating on a shoestring budget and may be hurting now and in the coming months. You can purchase a gift card for a restaurant and redeem it at a future date.

We’re all in this together. And, this too, shall pass.

5 Things to Get Rid of Today

We all have unique preferences, shopping habits, and things that we have, arguably, “too much” of. “I’m a shoe girl!” Or “I keep collecting candles. I just can’t help it!” No reason to feel bad about this. Your collections are yours and yours only, comprised of unique and special pieces that make you feel like you. IF you have the storage space for these special things, you use them and love them, rock on.

However, there are some common categories of things that can universally be removed from our homes. They cause our closets, shelves, garages and storage units to bulge. Not to mention contributing to the equally burdensome mental clutter that weighs us down.

Here are 5 things to get rid of today. Don’t delay. Let’s get after our clutter and excess so we can enjoy peaceful and beautiful spaces and lives.

1. Anything That Does Not Fit Your Body.

As in, anything that does not fit you TODAY. Let’s be real and allow for some exceptions, including if you are pregnant or postpartum – in which case, give yourself time and grace to determine what does and will fit.

Why shouldn’t we hang on to things that used to fit, might fit, will hopefully fit soon? We tell ourselves that these things provide motivation to put in the work necessary to fit into them again. But, do they really? Do you really look at them and feel good about yourself? Or do they, conversely, conjure up feelings of inadequacy or stress? More likely the latter. They are just extra weight. Let. Them. Go.

2. Anything That Does Not Fit Your Space.

This one is straightforward. We tend to expand to fill our space. But, then it’s all too easy to keep accumulating without releasing anything. If something is crammed into a closet, piled on the floor, or spilling out of a room, you don’t have room for it! You have more stuff than your space allows. Something has to give. You can either: 1. Declutter the entire area to reassess what your priority items are, and let the other things go. Or 2. Relocate the overflowing items to another area of your house that makes good sense and that has enough room.

Tip: If you find that you have overflowing spaces, get a container (a shoebox/anything), label it to indicate the category it will house, then fill it. Any overflow needs to go in another container or needs to go. Containers are so useful in that way. They provide the parameters within which we need to fit our possessions.


3. Anything That Does Not Fit Your Lifestyle.

You used to be have a job outside the home that required more formal attire and now you work from home? This change in lifestyle necessitates a reassessment of your wardrobe. It makes good sense to keep a curated selection of your favorites from your previous world – in case your circumstances change. But, the majority of the clothes that no longer fit your lifestyle can be sold, given to friends or family, or to an organization that donates workwear to people who could use it.

Other lifestyle changes include a change in hobbies or sports you participate in. Maybe you were super into the treadmill 10 years ago, but haven’t touched in since. Time to free up your space!

4. Anything That is Damaged.

goodbye sign. let it go.

It’s never a convenient time to fix things. Certainly not right after something breaks! Instead of fixing something right away, we return it to where it goes, or toss it into a pile to deal with it “later”. Later never comes! What does come is a feeling of weight, burden and overwhelm that accompanies the accumulation of all the broken things in our environment. The procrastination stops today! Either fix it today or let the item go.

I’m often surprised by, in reality, how easy and fast it is to fix the things we’ve put off addressing for weeks, months, even years. So much easier than halfheartedly keeping it on our to do list for all that time. But, realistically, if something can’t or won’t be fixed, let the item go. If it’s something you need to replace, you can replace it.

You deserve nice things! You are worthy of things that are free of stains, tears, or other damage. Even if you don’t know how a replacement (of a pricey item, perhaps) will come into your life, the act of letting go of the old can pave the way for new blessings to come your way – often in ways you never anticipated.

5. Anything That You Do Not Use or Like.

These things are related. You likely don’t use something because you don’t like it. Or, you don’t like it because you’re not using it and aren’t getting any value from it. Perhaps you’re feeling like you shouldn’t part with it because you paid good money for it. But, the money has already been spent. Holding on to it (but not using or really appreciating it) doesn’t bring the money back. It is ok to let these things go.

Full disclosure…I try to be really mindful and deliberate about the tone and content of these types of posts. My intention is to strike a balance. I want to sincerely acknowledging the attachment you can have to your possessions. This includes not judging or nonchalantly saying “Get rid of everything! No big deal!” But, I am in the business of promoting transformation and moving you forward, out of old ways of thinking or habits and into new ones that will propel you into a greater sense of peace and contentment. So, I will challenge you. It is not about getting rid of stuff to then replace it with more… stuff. It is about getting really clear about what does matter. To You. I can’t answer that for you. But, whatever it is, prioritize that. Allocate the majority of your time, money, and energy into it and release the rest.

Top 10 List for Kitchen Decluttering

Ah, the kitchen. The heart of the home. It’s a natural gathering place where people congregate around the table, preparing and enjoying food and each other’s company. When the kitchen is organized and running smoothly, it can make an otherwise unorganized house a little more palatable. Here’s a top 10 list for getting your kitchen decluttered.

1. Clear Countertops.

This is number one for a reason! If you do just one thing to declutter your kitchen, please do this. It won’t take long, but it will make a big difference.

Tuck your smaller appliances away, even ones that are used frequently. It takes less than 10 seconds to pull out a toaster from a cupboard and put it back away. Also, paperwork tends to accumulate on countertops. Take a few min. a day to go through mail and school paperwork to prevent accumulation.

2. Keep Up With Dishes.


Catch up on dishes as part of your nightly routine. There are nights when this won’t happen. Of course there will be! But, if you integrate this in with your nightly routine (those things you do out of habit like brushing your teeth), more often than not, the dishes will stay under control. Set yourself up for a calm and caught up morning the next day.

3. Organize Your Pantry.

You can replace the word pantry with cupboard, drawer or whatever else you have that houses the majority of your food. See this blog post for ideas. Top tips: Group like items into containers (snacks, breakfast, etc.) and label, label, label!

4. Pare Down Utensils.

Throw out or donate anything that is a duplicate or is broken or stained. There are some seldom used specialty items you’ll want to keep. But, consider storing them separately, in a less accessible place so they’re not taking up prime real estate and overcrowding your space.

5. Go Through Food Storage Sets.

The dreaded missing lids!! Ahhhh! Where they go is a mystery, but today’s the day to toss anything stained, broken or matchless! I’m “team lids on” for storing these containers, as it helps solve the issue of rummaging around for a lid that fits.

6. Edit Your Cookbook Collection.


Where do you get the recipes that you really use? Pinterest? Other online sources? One particular cookbook? Keep only the cookbooks that you use or that have sentimental value.

7. Donate Pots and Pans.

These are often awkward to store and they take up a lot of space. Get creative with where you keep your pans….a wall rack? The drawer under the stove? Nested within each other? Keep only what you need and have space for.

8. Toss Product Packaging.

It’s clutter and it takes up space. Recycle what you can.

9. Tackle the Junk Drawer.

junk drawer supplies

You’ll be surprised what you find! “Oh, that’s where that unused gift card went!”

Go through stray keys to see which ones are house keys or other keys you need to keep. Toss everything else.

Pare down office supplies. A handful of pens should be sufficient. Donate extras to a school.

Add drawer dividers/organizers, as this will be money will spent. Clear acrylic is great, but anything works. Drawer organizers come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Measure your drawer first (including the height, too), then hit up amazon or your local Target or Bed Bath and Beyond.

10. Rethink Your Space.

Your kitchen’s layout could be contributing to clutter. If the kids’ dishes are too high for them to reach, they won’t get put away. Move them to a lower drawer or shelf, if possible. Ensure your food prep items are close to your food prep area to be more inclined to return items to their home.

Many of these tips are small daily habits to incorporate into your life. When you prioritize decluttering your kitchen, this will set the stage for future decluttering efforts. Before you know it, not only the heart of your home, but your whole home, will be running smoothly and contributing to greater peace of mind.

3 Organizing Commitments

I had another blog topic in queue for today, but felt compelled to switch gears – to write about the people side of what it takes to achieve and/or maintain organized spaces.

I’ve often said that an organizing project is typically a decluttering project first. THEN, it’s an organizing project. To expand on this a bit, I believe that organization is equal parts environmental (space/systems) and behavioral (habits/discipline). It’s certainly imperative for everything to have a home, and to have functional systems in place. Yet, equally important is adopting behaviors and habits that….well, take some effort.

I want every client to enjoy long term success with their organization. It brings me a great deal of satisfaction to lighten someone’s load and deliver a functional and beautiful space. But what takes the cake is equipping people with the tools, motivation, and desire for them to take the reins and maintain their spaces for the long haul. This is going to require something, as all worthy endeavors do. It will require commitment. Systems, product, and professions can only take people so far. 

remember why you started so you'll stay motivated

Systems can and should be easy to maintain. But they do not maintain themselves entirely. If we desire to move from a state of disorganization to organization, there are mindset and habit shifts that need to occur. We cannot repeat the same actions that contributed to the clutter, yet expect different result…right? Throwing some tough love out today! But, I guarantee that these shifts are achievable. I guarantee that you can do it! I’m sure you have done much harder things!

Here are 3 organizing commitments you can make today that will help you to achieve and maintain long term organization.

1. Question What You Buy.

You worked SOOOO hard to pare down your possessions to be rid of the excess. Feels great, right? You now own only what you use, love, need or holds special value to you. All those things that have left your home do not need to be replaced!

If you had two pairs of brown boots and donated both of them, that does not necessarily mean you should buy a new pair of brown boots. Evaluate whether there really is a gap in your wardrobe that you want to fill with brown boots. And, only fill it if there is. Clutter has a way of creeping back in if we’re not really vigilant about keeping it at bay. Give yourself a period of time (a week or month) to live without the item and see if you miss it. If so, replace it.

shopping bag

2. Finish What You Start.

We get sidetracked. We have every intention of moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer right when it’s done . Or handling the breakfast dishes before lunch. The accumulation of incomplete projects and tasks generates….you guessed it! Clutter!

Here are some tips to help you finish what you start.

  1. Evaluate how long something will take to finish. If you estimate less than 1 minute, try to handle it right away. This prevents a house full of incomplete tasks that can feel overwhelming.
  2. Set an alarm and stay focused on a task for a short period of time.
  3. Bite off organization in small chunks. Only start what you have the time to finish…1 load of laundry, decluttering 1 room, etc.
  4. Adopting a nighttime routine helps to bring to completion anything that has accumulated throughout the day…handling strewn socks and shoes, finishing dishes, etc. AND helps proactively prepare you for the next day.
  5. Reward yourself. After you’ve finished what you started is a great time to head out for a walk, grab ice cream, or go to the beach or park. Knowing there’s something desirable at the end of the road serves as motivation to finish up!

3. Make Organizing a Priority.


I hear it time and time again. You’re busy and would rather not spend your precious free time or family time organizing. I understand that. And, that’s ok! But, remember, once you get on top of it, clear the excess, and put some routines in place, you will need to do LESS organizing, not more! Then, you can do more living! And you can always enlist the help of a pro to organize and set up helpful systems. Your role would then be to maintain.

But, what happens if we intend to prioritize organizing, but then let it slide? Or forget? Or life gets in the way? Maybe you just don’t feel like it today. That will happen. Just like a nutrition plan, an exercise routine, or a life goal that isn’t progressing like you want, get back on the bus the next day. Give yourself grace. But, keep going. 1 step at a time. It’s never too late to start. And, it’s never too late to re-start. You won’t be sorry!

Clutter to Cash

We all have things around our house that are in good condition, but we no longer use, need, or want. We have a tendency to hold onto them and to justify doing so….because we paid good money for it, because it was a gift, because we might use it someday. But, let’s get real. If you are not using something currently, and do not have immediate plans to do so, there are several great options to free up your physical (and mental) space and bless others in the process.

Assuming the items are in good condition, they could be donated or sold. For lower ticket items, I don’t bother selling them. It’s just not worth the time. I can easily drop by Goodwill or another donation center and someone else can get some good use out of them. Certain items, though, I’ve chosen to sell. Why not turn some clutter into cash?


counting money
  • Price to sell. In our minds, our things are often worth more than the market is willing to pay. If you want to test the market and start off on the higher side, go ahead and see how much interest you generate. Give it a set amount of time (a week?), then lower your price if you haven’t yet sold/generated interest.
  • Be Customer Centric. Be timely with your responses to people’s inquiries. And think of a win-win pricing scenario. 2 for 1 deals, for example, are good for you both. You’re moving your items and the customer gets a discounted rate and is incentivized to purchase.
  • Consignment store pricing. Ask your local consignment store what their pricing policy is. I find they’re pretty consistent from store to store, and fair. To me, it’s worth receiving less per item because I can immediately get things out of my house and not hassle with any further legwork.

Where Should I Sell?

  1. Facebook Marketplace – My go to for most household items
  2. Nextdoor – An online social community for selling and donating.
  3. Deluttr – They’ll buy CDs, DVDs, video games, phones, iPads, etc.
  4. – They buy mainly (not exclusively) college textbooks.
  5. Poshmark – Known for clothing, but also sell home goods.
  6. Craigslist – I sometimes receive spammy responses here, but it’s still a decent option to reach a wide audience.
  7. Consignment Shops – There are some great ones for kids and adults. Note they’ll often only take the current season’s clothes.
  8. Garage Sale – If you have a lot of items, it may be worth the effort to host or co-host a garage sale. Go ahead and donate what doesn’t sell.
  9. Mom to Mom Sale – Great for baby items.

What Should I Sell?

stuff to sell

You know what you use and what you don’t. Some good places to start in search of sellable treasures are…kids closets or storage bins in an attic, basement, or garage. Or, do you have a storage unit? What a great 2020 goal it could be to eliminate the need for one!

20 Items to Consider Selling:

  1. Skis and Gear – Kids gear, in particular, as they grow so quickly!
  2. Purses – Any collecting dust on your top closet shelf?
  3. Toys – How do these multiply so quickly?!
  4. Electronics – Sooner the better, since they get outdated quickly!
  5. Cameras – There’s demand even for older models.
  6. Clothes – No use keeping things that don’t fit or you don’t wear/love.
  7. Furniture – Do an online search to see what similar items sell for.
  8. Bikes – I’ve had success posting on our neighborhood facebook page.
  9. Workout equipment – You got some good years out of that treadmill. If you’re done with it, that’s ok!
  10. Game console/games – There’s a market for these!
  11. Camper – Consider your current season of life and if this fits.
  12. Musical instrument – Commit to using/learning it or move it along.
  13. Books – Some you’ll re-read or pass down to your kids. Some are sentimental or are favorites. Consider donating or selling the rest.
  14. Jewelry – Your style evolves. It’s ok to part with the outgrown.
  15. Sporting Goods – Think cleats, baseball pants, things your kids used for just a season but are in good condition.
  16. Designer Goods – These tend to be in short supply and hot demand, so should move quickly at a consignment shop.
  17. American Girl Dolls/Accessories – These should definitely sell!
  18. Yard Tools – No need for that trimmer if you have a lawn service.
  19. Tires – Winter tires for a vehicle you no longer own?
  20. Collections – stamps, baseball cards, coins. Be sure to look up their value!

Travel Tips and Tricks

*Disclosure: The amazon links included in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Who is taking a getaway trip this winter? Or a summer road trip? Yes?! How’s your packing game? My family has done our share of both road trips and airline travel. There’s no magic wand, and there are certainly elements that are outside of our control. But, there are things we can do to make travel go more smoothly and efficiently, while saving a buck in the process. Here are my top travel tips and tricks:

1. Wear Your Bulkiest Items. If you’re flying, wear your heaviest items (coat, sweater, shoes, etc.) to leave more room in your bags. Also, it’s cold on those flights, so you’ll be prepared if you layer up!

2. Avoid Checking Luggage. If possible (it’s not easy!), bring carry on luggage only. It will be faster at your destination not to have to wait at the baggage carousel. And it’s no fun being away from home without your belongings in the case of missing luggage. A capsule wardrobe helps with packing light. See this post for more information. If you do check bags, include any must have items (contact solution, etc) in your carry on bag.

duffel bag, travel tip to carry on

3. Think Beyond Hotels. There are so many lodging options now, with airbnb and other rentals. It’s worth exploring other options and space configurations to find what works best for you. There’s often a better scenario than your standard 1 room hotel room – particularly with kids. My husband and I have spent plenty of nights in hotel rooms whispering in the dark at 8 pm because the kids are asleep.

It’s great to have access to a small kitchen to give you the option of eating in and simple snack or meal prep. You save money and gain flexibility with your schedule and your meals. It’s helpful to have cereal or other kid’s breakfast food on hand, so if the kiddos are up early, they can go ahead and eat.

4. Use Packing Cubes. These lightweight, multi-colored, multi-sized zipper cases make packing, unpacking, and staying organized at your destination so much easier! They keep like items together and visible. Use them however you like – a cube for workout clothes, shorts, or pajamas. These are the ones I own (*affiliate link).

5. Read Up on Baggage Policies. Look up checked baggage policies ahead of time. If you have to pay for each bag, consider checking a larger suitcase that includes 2 people’s things. This is totally doable – particularly if you use packing cubes (above). Get different color packing cubes for each family member so you can easily separate everything out at your destination.

6. Make a List. And, yep. Check it twice. Include everything you need to bring – even things that seem obvious. It’s best to rely on a list rather than on memory or even habit, as sometimes unusual schedules throw us off our game (early morning flight, anyone?) Do a double check before you leave to make sure you have all the essentials (boarding passes, license, passport, wallet, etc). Subscribe at the bottom of this post to get a free (warm weather!) packing list delivered right to your inbox.

7. Set a Check in Reminder. As soon as you book a flight, add a reminder on your phone for 24 hours prior to your flight time to check in and print boarding passes. Checking in as soon as you can really makes a difference if you’re flying on an airline like Southwest, who determines their boarding queue (and opportunity for prime seat selection!) according to when you checked in.

8. Introduce Something New for Kids. Before a trip that will include long travel days, I like to individually wrap some fun little items for the kids to gradually unwrap while on the road. No need to break the bank. The dollar store or even shopping your own pantry for a treat that the kids don’t often get works well. When the kids get restless on a long car trip, they could unwrap something like an activity book, stickers, or snack. Be sure to pace yourself and distribute them one at a time and when they’re needed most.

9. Pack a Reusable Water Bottle. Airport beverages are pricey, so bringing a reusable water bottle from home saves you money and ensures you’ll always have access to water on those dry airplanes. Make sure it’s empty when you go through security!

reusable water bottle, travel tip

10. Rent Bulky Items. This works especially well with all the baby stuff. We did this several year ago when we traveled to Florida. We found it to be surprisingly affordable (particularly because you’re often avoiding the cost to check these things at the airport). And, it’s soooo much easier than schlepping stuff through the airport and in and out of rental cars.

Many places have companies that provide this service, particularly touristy destinations. They really focus on convenience, typically offering free delivery to wherever you’re staying.

11. Use Travel Programs. Miles, points, and freebies can really add up. Take advantage of hotel programs and credit card airline miles. We’ve been able to use miles for many air trips over the years. There’s lots of good programs out there. Just do a little research.

12. Download Before You Go. WiFi can be unreliable, slow, and expensive when you’re traveling. Plan ahead and download some ebooks, music and movies before you leave.

13. Keep Toiletries Packed. Consider keeping travel size hair and body products packed and ready to go at all times. You’ll still add some items last minute, but at least you’ll know you’re 1/2 way there.

14. Pack an Entertainment Bag for Each Child. I like to have my kids carry their own bags of things that will keep them entertained – always including books, paper and pencil, then whatever else they want, within reason. That way, everything isn’t in mama’s purse!

Kids as young as 2 can carry a small backpack (I know – for two seconds, until they’re over it). But, even for that short amount of time, they’re getting used to being responsible for their own things. So, when they’re older and more capable, they’ll be accustomed to it. I have my kids help pack these bags – of course, guiding them so the bags don’t end up with 1,000 individual legos or the heaviest hardback book they own and nothing else.

kids backpack, travel tip

15. Avoid Jetlag. If you’re traveling to another time zone or perhaps across the world, try to adjust right away to the destination’s time zone. Even if you’re tired at 6pm, try to stay up a few more hours.

16. Charge Your Electronics. Fully charge those electronics before you leave home. If you need some more juice while traveling, bring a backup battery pack like this one.

The Golden Rule of Organizing

There is something known as the Golden Rule of organizing. It is the absolute foundation for establishing and maintaining an organized and efficient household. Here it is. Drumroll please……

A place for everything and everything in its place.

It’s a simple concept, right? Kids can do it! Everyone can! Simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy, in practice. But it is undoubtedly uncomplicated. Let’s dive into it. Why, out of all things, is this the golden rule of organizing? Well, if it was followed, think of how your household would look, feel, and how you would function within it. 

1. You would know where to find things (save TIME)

2. You would not purchase duplicates (save MONEY)

3. You would have a decluttered environment (save SANITY;))

The benefits go on. We all value our time, money and sanity, right?! We like to be able to find things! No-one WANTS to overbuy! Right? We all have challenging areas of the home and we own random things that we just don’t know where to keep. I’m no different. We often just put up with it. But, if we want to make progress in this area (it will be worth it), instead of focusing on the reasons why the golden rule can be tough, let’s instead focus on how to make it a reality. Because it absolutely can be. 

1. Develop Awareness

Become aware of what does not currently have a home. We get accustomed to the status quo, and, at some point, don’t even notice the floating items because we’ve developed habits of dealing with them. When asked where the hammer is we reply “Check the garage. Or the basement. Or that bin of stuff in the hall closet”. 

2. Make Decisions

tools to organize

Take each “homeless” item one by one, and decide where it should live. If you have 4 hammers, collect all 4, determine which ones you will keep, then decide where it/they should call home.  Are there ever instances where it’s ok to have more than one place to keep something? Yes. I do think it’s convenient to have a hammer in the garage and one in a basement storage room, for example. Just beware of letting it become a slippery slope.                               

In deciding where something should live, consider where you use the item, where you have storage space, and don’t be afraid to think differently. It’s logical to keep a hairbrush in the bathroom. But, if you like to do your child’s hair before they walk out the door, it might make sense for you to keep a brush and other hair supplies in a little container by the door. Make it convenient and realistic for your lifestyle. 

3. Containerize

Containing like items is an important step that accomplishes a few things: 1. It keeps the amount we own from getting out of control. If batteries are kept in a shoe box sized container, and that’s sufficient for the common types of batteries that you use, then that’s the space you’re allocating to batteries. Resist the urge to purchase more until that supply has diminished. 2. It gives you a visual cue when something is running low. If you peek in the paper towel container to see that there’s only one left, that’s your trigger to add it to your grocery list. 3. A container gives you something to label. See next step;).

4. Label

This is so so important. It might seem obvious to you what is inside a container, but labeling it helps everyone be on the same page. There’s no question what’s inside when the container is labeled. 

4. Communicate

You get more buy-in from everyone in your household when you involve them in the process. Kids love to use the label maker, or a chalk pen to write on a chalkboard label. They don’t have the best handwriting? That’s ok! If it will be displayed in an area of the home that you can live with a less than perfect label execution, roll with it! Once the system is established, make sure everyone in the home is aware of where things belong and the expectation to put things away when they are finished using them. Not a week later…that’s how clutter develops! 

5. Maintain

For everything new that comes into your home, decide right away where it will live. It’s also a good opportunity to reinforce the expectation to put things away. If this sounds unreasonable with kids, I hear you. But it is possible. They may push back. They may not want to pick up. But, somehow, school aged kiddos are able to do this at school. They can do it at home, too! If the idea of enforcing this is still making your head spin, try: a positive approach (make a game of it), start small, set an example, be consistent, follow through, and celebrate progress! They’ll get there!! As always, the goal is progress, not perfection! 

February Declutter Challenge

How many of you set a New Year’s resolution/goal/intention or chose a token word for the year? Wonderful! I would guess that some of you included getting organized as one of your aspirations for this year. After all, getting organized is one of the top 7 resolutions that people set!

As important as January is to get our momentum going, Feb. is just as critical! Statistically, it’s the month that most resolutions fall apart. So, let’s keep at it with a fun declutter challenge!

What It Is:

For each day in Feb., there’s a small declutter challenge. Every day focuses on a different area of the house. And each is designed to be EASY and QUICK. Think a single drawer or one small category of household items such as vases. Each challenge should take around 10 minutes….no more than 30 min. Here’s the declutter calendar.

How It Works:

  1. Keep the calendar visible – wherever it will capture your attention daily. You could print it out and put in on your refrigerator, keep it electronically, or write each challenge on your existing calendar.
  2. Find a time of day to declutter the area indicated on your calendar. First thing in the morning or after the kids go to bed might work well.
  3. Add a calendar entry on your phone or in your planner each day to remind you to do the challenge. If the topic doesn’t apply, replace it with another clutter zone in your home that’s not on the calendar. Or, you can take that day off! Just get right back to it the next day.
  4. Repeat each day until you’ve completed the month! You’ve formed some great habits in the process. And, the cumulative results of your daily work will make a substantial impact on the amount of clutter in your home – all without spending hours at a time. Great work everyone!