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!

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.

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.

New Year, New Wardrobe Outlook

*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.

The new year is a great time to assess your wardrobe and make any needed adjustments. Have you always been intrigued by the concept of a capsule wardrobe, but never quite took the plunge? Or, maybe you’re feeling weighed down by a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. Now is as good of a time as any to clear the clutter. Here are 6 tips for a new wardrobe outlook for the new year.

1. Find Your Go-To Pieces

I love the challenge of finding pieces that I can get the most mileage out of. When you identify what those workhorse pieces are, you’ve built a solid foundation. The items are different for everyone, based on lifestyle, style preference, budget, etc. Try to invest in quality pieces. They’ll last for years. This isn’t a plug to go on a huge shopping spree. It’s about intentionality and establishing some key foundational pieces. You’ll likely find you actually need (and desire) a smaller wardrobe.

Once you’ve identified YOUR basics, have some fun! Supplement with fun accessories, trendier items, or colorful shoes. My go-to’s:

  1. Chambray shirt – my classic go-to for years and years. Dress it up, dress it down, it’s comfortable and versatile. I just feel like myself in it. Here’s my favorite. chambray shirt
  2. Black pants – dressy black pants are great to have on hand, as are a more casual black pair in a denim material. black jeans
  3. White button down shirt – classic. white button down
  4. Dark denim jeans – dark denim is more versatile than light denim, as it can more easily be dressed up with heels and a blazer, for example, or paired with your favorite tennis shoes for a casual look. jeans
  5. White t-shirt – great for layering white tee
  6. Black leggings – It’s crazy how athleisure has taken off in recent years. But, it’s no wonder. Leggings are so comfortable, so why not work out in them and then wear them all day? I’m all for it. There are no rules. Go for it! *Affiliate link.
  7. Blazer – so versatile. Layer it over a cami or button down. Go classic with black or reflect your personality and sense of style by wearing a blazer in your favorite bright or signature color. blazer
  8. Anything leopard or camo – an easy way to elevate an outfit and infuse a little sass. It’s just fashion! Have fun with it! *Affiliate link.

2. Consider a Capsule Wardrobe

There are lots of approaches here. The by the book approach is to select very few items to wear for a season. 33 is a common number. Others just take the spirit of it and condense their wardrobe down to what they wear and love and what mixes and matches well together. I’m more of the latter.

I suggest selecting a few tops and a few bottoms that you wear often. Pull in other items for layering and pops of color, and create outfits. Keep in mind that, though not everything needs to match, the better your items work with each other, the more flexibility you’ll have with creating a variety of looks using the same pieces.

Take pictures of the outfits and keep them handy so that whenever you’re stumped as to what to wear that day – or to pack for a trip – you’ll have inspiration right at your fingertips.

3. Ask Yourself These Questions.

  1. Does my current wardrobe reflect my lifestyle? If you’re a stay-at-home parent with a wardrobe full of pencil skirts and heels, you may want to consider swapping some of those pieces out for some kid friendly options.
  2. Are there any gaps in my current wardrobe? Identify what they are, enter them into your phone so they’ll be with you when you’re out and about. Use it as a rolling list. As you gradually acquire these pieces, you’ll likely identify other gaps as seasons, lifestyle, and interests change and grow. The list also helps to give you focus so you’re not as tempted to reach for whatever’s on sale.
  3. Do I own anything that does not fit me RIGHT NOW? I know, I know. It’s so tempting to hold onto things that used to fit, or that might fit again someday. If you’re in that camp, allow yourself a small amount of space to fill with these things. Let go of everything else.
  4. How do I know what to keep? Keep what you feel good in (you feel most like yourself when wearing it), what fits, and is in good condition. Also, keep what you have the space to keep.
  5. Would I buy this again? If not, it’s not an automatic toss. But, it’s a good gut check question to ask yourself. The money has already been spent, so no use feeling guilty about “wasting” money.
new wardrobe

4. Declutter First, Then Organize.

An organizing project is first a decluttering project. You may get rid of 1 item or 100, but decluttering is always the first step.

Then, when it’s time to organize, see this post. Keep in mind the goals of finding what you’re looking for quickly, knowing what you own, and fitting your wardrobe within the space you have.

5. Find Clothing Sources For YOU

We’re exposed to content on a daily basis that insists THIS jacket is the one you need, THESE pants are a MUST HAVE, etc. We certainly see this in the form of advertisements, but also friends, family, bloggers. This can be really helpful – and it’s fun to step outside your comfort zone to try new things. But, just remember that these things need to work for you – your preferences, lifestyle and budget. No one else’s.

When you find something that fits you well, make note of the style and store. These go-to sources might not be the same as your sisters or your friends, but they work for you. When you need something new, you’ll likely have the most luck if you start your search with one of your tried and true sources.

6. Develop a Maintenance Plan

Go through your wardrobe at least once/quarter, when the seasons change. Add an entry in your calendar/phone for these wardrobe checks. See if there’s anything to declutter. It shouldn’t take much time if done regularly.

Stained/broken clothing is best handled in real time. Anything with a stubborn stain can be downgraded to a dust rag or a “paint shirt” – but be mindful of how many you really need to keep in this category.

Designate a container in your home for donations. As you identify clothes that are in good condition but you no longer need, put them in the donation container. When it’s full (or sooner), swing by your favorite donation center. It’s great to be able to bless others with things we’ve outgrown.

Book Picks for a Simpler Life

*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.

I love a good book. In the past couple of years, now that my kids are older, I’ve carved out more time to hit the pages. I’m particularly drawn to books that reinforce ideas such as – life doesn’t have to be complicated, less is more, you have enough and are enough, and so on.

To that end, here’s a rather eclectic list of books picks – some oldies but goodies, and some more recent ones, that I’ve enjoyed over the years. And, that I own. That says a lot, as I’ve pared my book collection down to no more than 20 books. The ones I keep are the ones I plan to either re-read or reference, or share with someone else.

1. The More of Less, by Joshua Becker

Joshua Becker has been the most influential voice of minimalism for me. His books, social media presence, videos, and overall approach really resonate me. Though I do not consider myself a minimalist, I enjoy being open to new perspectives, and adopting little bits here and there.

This book serves as a great reminder that our stuff often distracts us from living a full life. Minimalism isn’t about deprivation, but enrichment. It leaves people with more freedom, generosity and contentment. Minimize possessions to maximize life. Yes, please!

2. Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

This book was a Christmas gift from my parents years ago, and it’s a goodie. Amazon describes it as “a manifesto for protecting the grace of childhood”.

This book covers topics from why a reduction in the amount of stuff our kids have is desirable, how to establish rhythms, and scaling back on media.

It’s a great resource for how to get back to basics, and what our children really need to thrive and flourish.

3. Love Your Life Not Theirs, by Rachel Cruze

The author, Rachel, is the daughter of Dave Ramsey. They definitely sing from the same hymnal, but I particularly enjoy Rachel’s approach and relatability. Her advice is straightforward, practical, and compassionate.

The focus of her book is on cultivating positive money habits without the unhealthy habit of comparing to the Joneses. She empowers readers to life a life in line with their values – not anyone else’s!

4. Little House on the Prairie series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Okay, perhaps an unexpected choice. Why do I love it? Growing up, these were my favorites. There’s a simplicity to the life that the Ingalls family lived that I find refreshing. And the books contain great timeless messages of hard work and the importance of family and community.

This series is also a good option if you’re looking for books that you can read together as a family, with your kids.

Happy Reading!

How to Stay Organized

There’s nothing like the peace we feel when our space is organized. We have more time, we can find what we need, and we don’t spend money replacing things we already own. Experiencing these benefits often provides the motivation needed to stay organized. Yet, even with the best of intentions, life happens, and organization gradually unravels over time. 

The real truth is that organizing is not a one and done activity. Our homes and lives are dynamic – things come in and go out, and projects, play, and creating occurs. That’s all normal! Don’t despair! There’s no magic wand, but, luckily, no fairy godmother is needed! An organized state CAN become the norm when you employ some simple habits that help you to STAY organized!

Be Vigilant With What Comes In To Your Home

stay organized, guard what comes in the door

The bottom line is that there’s simply less to keep up with when new things never make it into your home in the first place. Birthday party swag, clothes, holiday and birthday gifts, school paperwork, mail, and the latest thing-a-ma-jiggy that was on major sale all creep in, and they all add up. Before you know it, clutter accumulates.

This doesn’t mean we need to adopt a scrooge attitude. Gifts thoughtfully given can be graciously received, kids’ artwork can be admired and displayed, and new clothes purchased and appreciated. The objective here is to bring awareness and intentionality into what we bring into our space.

Try These: 

  1. Discard junk mail immediately – directly into an outdoor recycle bin, if possible, on your walk from the mailbox to your house.
  2. Keep a list of wardrobe needs so that if you come across a sale, you can look for a targeted piece instead of an impulse purchase.
  3. If a gift giver is looking for gift ideas, you could suggest experiences instead of things. 
stay organized, mail pile

Employ the 1-In-1-Out Rule

This tip is an oldie, but a goodie. I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure I will again. For each new item that you welcome in to your home, find 1 thing to move out. That way, you remain in a neutral state rather than one of accretion. This practice also serves as a helpful litmus test when contemplating whether to make a purchase.


  1. This doesn’t need to be like for like. Meaning, if you bring in a new pair of jeans, it doesn’t mean you necessarily should get rid of an old pair of jeans. Just find something that you no longer use, need or want.
  2. This tip works best when your home is already decluttered. If your spaces are currently overflowing, you can modify this to be 1-in-2 (or more) out, so you will free up space over time.

Put Everything In Its Place

The golden rule of organizing….a place for everything and everything in its place. This, of course, doesn’t mean that each object remains in its home 100% of the time. We use our things, as we should! It just means that there is a single place identified where an object lives (home base, if you will). And, once we are done using the object, it goes back where we found it.

Kids can absolutely participate in this, too. It’s a habit. If and when things get cluttered and chaotic throughout the day, they can still be put away as part of a nightly pick up routine. Or, at a particularly point in the day. “Once the legos are picked up, we can go outside to play!” 

stay organized, grand rapids, toy organization

Do a Nightly Reset

This doesn’t take much time, but the payoff is huge. It entails moving quickly from room to room, returning items to their homes, picking up, finishing up the dishes, setting out clothes and resetting your space for the next day. You’re setting yourself up for a smooth morning ahead. No need to carry yesterday’s baggage (clutter, messy dishes, mindset) forward to the next day. 

Use Your Tools

When you’re adopting new behaviors (nightly reset, for example), they won’t feel automatic at first. It takes a few weeks for something to become a habit. So, until this time, build in some steps and accountability to set yourself up for success. Leverage whatever calendar tool you use to set reminders to do these things. Then, at some point, once your new habits are established, you won’t need alerts. The new activities will be integrated into your day, habitually, just like brushing your teeth.

grand rapids, calendar, organization

Identify Pain Points and Solutions

What are those times of the day or circumstances that contribute to clutter or disorganization? A common one is after school, when backpacks and outerwear get dumped, and snacks get pulled out and left out. Or when there’s a morning or afternoon at home and the kids are playing, hopping from activity to activity, leaving a wake behind them.

Each of these has a solution, one that every member in your household can play a part in. Backpacks can be hung up, and kids can play with one thing at a time, for example. Think of how teachers handle classroom management – having systems and expectations in place for kids to pick up as they go, and to be responsible for their own things. These take some consistency to set up, but if young kids can do this at school, they can do it at home, too.

Call a Professional

This is not intended to be a shameless plug! The organizing profession exists for a reason. Organizers can help you stay on track – just like a workout partner or trainer helps you stay on track with an exercise program. We can help with a periodic reset or a full home overhaul – whatever you need to get and STAY organized!


Make Space For Stress Free Holidays

Happy Holidays! They’re officially here! Full of merriment, goodwill, and wonder…right?! Absolutely. However, they can also be accompanied by feelings of stress or overwhelm. For many of us, our holiday traditions include gift giving. This is a joy to participate in, but it’s all too easy for stuffocation to set in, as the items we’re bringing into our homes leave us busting at the seams. But this does not need to be the case! Let’s start off on the right foot with some ideas of how to enjoy a stress free holiday.

4 Ways to De-Stress Your Holidays:

1. Make Space for the New

Yes, there’s a deeper meaning here. As we’re coming up on a new year (and decade!), there’s naturally time for reflection and intention setting. But, what I’d like to focus on here is our physical space. It’s fun to give and receive gifts that support and expand on hobbies and interests. Yet, if we’re bringing in the new, let’s first make space by moving out the old.

  • Where to Start Decluttering: Short answer – it doesn’t really matter. Don’t delay. Do it today. Pick a space, set a timer and get after it, designating things as either donate, sell or trash. Repeat the next day, a little at a time.
  • Go through your pantry. You’ll likely be bringing in more food than usual over the holidays. Maybe you’re hosting. Maybe you’re stocking up on all the seasonal yummies that are only available this time of year. Or, you’re getting extra snacks and food for the kids who will be home from school for awhile. The good news here is that there are plenty of people and organizations that can benefit from your generosity.
baby with toys
  • Do a toy purge. As you welcome new toys into your home, set yourself up to accommodate them by proactively purging now. If your kids are little, I’d recommend doing the purge on your own. If your kids are older, it’s great to involve them in the decisions of what they will keep and what they can bless someone else with.

2. Make a Plan for Gift Giving

app for gift giving

I am using a super helpful app this year called Santa’s Bag. It’s free from the app store and I use it for tracking gifts, recipients, and budgets. You can enter in each recipient, assign a budget for them, and enter in gift ideas by stage (idea, to purchase, to wrap, etc.) It has a few key benefits:

  1. It’s easy to use – even for a non-techy like myself.
  2. Everything is in one place. If one of my kids mentions something they’re interested in, I just quickly open the app and add the idea under their name.
  3. It helps to encourage intentional gifting and helps avoid getting sucked into sales or overspending.

3. Revisit Your Expectations

You will feel a tremendous relief if you let go of trying to craft a picture perfect holiday with magazine worthy decorations and happy smiling children 100% of the time. Let the spirit of the season come through with proudly displaying those homemade crafty ornaments. And, if your holiday meal ends up like the below, that’s life! And, you’re making memories….right?!

christmas dinner gone awry

4. Be Intentional With Your Schedule

  • Hosting – If you’re hosting any meals, you can do a little bit of prep every day. The table can be set ahead of time. You can plan your menu with plenty of time to allow for grocery shopping. And, feel free to ask people to contribute a dish. Just because the gathering will be in your home, that doesn’t mean you need to personally do all the planning, cleaning, and cooking.
  • School Break – Will you be home with the kids for their winter school break? It can get a little chaotic, but try to cherish it! The kids are likely accustomed to a structured school schedule. Though a break from this can be nice, they (and you!) can benefit from some structure in their day. Morning could be time for getting out of the house, then afternoons could be for outside play. Talk with your kids to find some holiday bucket list items. You could bake a special holiday dish, decorate your home together, or see a holiday movie. If you’re working while your kids are off from school, give yourself the permission to do what you need to do – guilt free.
  • Recharging – Don’t run yourself ragged! You don’t need to say yes to everything! You don’t need to entertain your kids all day long! This is a work in progress for me, too, but carving out some time to recharge is important. It could be an evening out, a pedicure, a walk, a bath – whatever you need to do to reclaim your peace and remind you of the true gifts of the holiday season.

The Ultimate Gift Guide

Tis the season for…gift guides! I’m seeing them left and right from bloggers and in magazines. They are fun to browse and there seems to be a gift guide out there for all the hard to buy for people in your life – husband, teacher, nephew, teen, and everyone in-between.

Giving gifts is a way to express our love and appreciation for the people in our life and that’s certainly a worthy endeavor. However, the pressure to find the perfect gift can threaten to add stress to the season, and we’re having none of that this year!

gift guide

I’d like to provide a little twist on how we can approach the gifting season. Following are some gifts of the heart to consider this year. They’re not meant to replace your gift giving traditions, but to supplement and enhance them. And, bonus! They don’t even require a credit card or a trip to the mall. 

The Gift of Forgiveness

Take a minute to consider whether there’s someone that did or said something that you haven’t let go of. Maybe it’s something big. Maybe it’s little. And perhaps you didn’t even realize, until you really thought about it, that it was still with you, weighing you down. It’s time to move forward. No one has the power to steal YOUR joy! Practicing for “gift”ness doesn’t change the past, but it WILL change the future.

The Gift of Time

What would our kids REALLY appreciate? Our TIME! That didn’t make their wish list? Well, I’m going to venture a guess and say that they’ll take our presence over our presents any day! The gift of being in the moment, fully present, is a way we communicate that there’s nowhere else we’d rather be, and that they matter. 1 on 1 time with a child is especially cherished. Set aside any distractions (phone, anyone?) and spend some real quality time together. Take your kiddo out for breakfast, or on a walk. 

gift guide, parent and child, grand rapids

This isn’t limited to the kids in our life, either. Been awhile since you and your spouse have been on a date night? No better time than the present!

The Gift of Experiences

Experiences create memories that last longer than the interest in whatever toy/gadget/possession will last. It can involve a gift that the whole family enjoys together, such as tickets to a sporting event. Or, it can be more personal and tailored, like the gift of swimming lessons for your water loving little fish. When we really care enough to be attentive and to notice what someone enjoys, it’s so gratifying to be able to gift them with something special – just for them! 

The Gift of Gratitude

There’s a reason why gratitude journals and practices are so popular. They remind us of the blessings in our lives. They shift our outlook toward one of joy and contentment. And they have power to change lives.

“Circumstances and opportunities do not create gratitude. Gratitude creates circumstances and opportunities”.

Keith Wommack
gift guide, joy sign, grand rapids

A few ideas:

1. When you tuck your kids in to bed, each of you share 5 things you’re grateful for. 

2. Start your morning jotting down what you’re grateful for in a journal. 

3. Reach out to someone you may not typically interact with, but you appreciate, and write them a card expressing your gratitude. My daughter did this for our mailman one Christmas, and it was such a meaningful experience. My daughter found great joy in this, and the mailman wrote her back to thank her, too!

The things we’re grateful for don’t need to be monumental things. If you’re struggling to see the good, you can start with small nuggets gleaned from mere moments in our day. More often than not, this will provide the momentum to notice and appreciate the bigger things, too.

The Gift of Correspondence

greeting card

It’s easy to let days and years pass by while certain relationships fall to the wayside. So take the opportunity this holiday season to reach out with a card – a good old fashioned card that you put in the good old fashioned mailbox. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money, but can go a long way toward reconnecting. 

I’ll wrap up with a poem I found:

Christmas gift suggestions:
to your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.

Oren Arnold

Make the Most Of Your Space

*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.

Do you know what people identified as the #1 challenge to organizing their homes? The desire for MORE SPACE! 34% of people (Home World Business, 10/18), provided this response. 

It’s an interesting one, too, seeing as though the average home size in the U.S. has increased from 1000 sq. feet years ago to 2,500 sq. feet today. So, if our homes are getting bigger, yet our desire for more space remains an issue, it seems like the problem isn’t really about our space, but about our stuff! Our stuff tends to expand to fill our space! So…here are 2 solutions to the space dilemma:

1. Reduce What You Own.

If you own less, you’ll have less need for storage space, and fewer items to display/maintain/replace. I recommend keeping what you use, love, and find useful, and decluttering the rest.

“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.”

Jackie French Koller

Often, the decluttering happens first. Then, when the benefits of owning less become evident, the “desiring little” kicks in. Here’s a blog post of decluttering tips, to get you started:

2. “Create” More Space.

Besides decluttering, another way to gain space in your home is to get creative about maximizing the space you have.

Think outside the box. Add hooks or shelves to walls, use an over the door storage unit like *this one. The pockets can be used for anything from flip flops to craft supplies.

Get rid of product packaging. This is especially useful in pantries. Packaging takes up space, and the shape and size of it is likely not ideally suited to fit within your space.

make more space

Identify the real issue. Take a step back and analyze your spaces. Do things get lost in the deep recesses of your kitchen’s lazy susan? *These containers are wedge shaped and perfect for tricky spaces. They can help you contain like items in a way that maximizes your space.

Do you have tricky corner shelves? *Turntables are great for increasing the accessibility of items in corner spaces.

OR is your issue that clutter piles up? If that’s the case, designate a single home for everything, including mail, bills, schoolwork or anything that contributes to the clutter. Then, employ systems and habits to deal with those items on a regular basis. For example, handle mail as it comes in, pay bills every Friday, etc.

make more space

Modify your space. Closets are relatively easy to modify – add an elfa system, a hanging bar, or some hooks.

Think broad. If you have inadequate storage in a traditional linen closet, store linens in your bathroom, or allocate a shelf in another closet for them. Another idea is to store bed linens for each bedroom in that respective bedroom. Or, you could use an under the bed storage box like *this to stow them away.

I find one set of backup sheets per bedroom helpful, but you really don’t need more than this. Some people are fine with only 1 set per room total. Once the sheets are out of the wash, they go right back on the bed.

Regardless of your available space, once you get into the habit of decluttering, you’ll likely find that the space you have is more than enough!

11 Time Management Tips

So much to do and so little time, right? We all have 24 hours in a day, so being intentional with that time really makes a difference. This doesn’t mean rigidity. It does mean efficiency – working smarter instead of harder! Here are 11 powerful time management tips to not only keep your ahead above water, but to knock time management out of the park!

1. Plan Ahead.

As part of your nighttime routine, spend 5 minutes reviewing your calendar for the next day as well as the next few days, so nothing catches you off guard.

Do what you can that evening to get the next morning started off on the right foot. Set out breakfast dishes, pick out clothes, pack backpacks, and plan the order of your errands.

2. Outsource.

time management, groceries

Your time is valuable! Outsourcing and delegating are great time management strategies because they free you up to spend time on other priorities or things that match your skill set and interests.

Consider a lawn service, grocery delivery, and help with kid care. If these aren’t in your budget, revisit your budget to see if you can shift anything around to free up funds. If not, get creative! Swap kid care or meals, or delegate things you normally do to other family members to help spread the load. Sometimes we resist asking for help, because we think it makes us weak or incapable. Nope! Just means we’re human, and looking to share responsibilities.

3. Prep and Plan Meals.

time management, meal prep

A couple hours of planning and prep once/week is sooooo worth easing mealtimes for the upcoming week. I don’t full on meal prep every week, but try to at least:

  • get the kids’ lunches made for the week (my daughter makes her own)
  • prep portions of meals, such as the meat or chopping veggies
  • have a few meals identified and the ingredients on hand for them

Depending on your schedule, lifestyle, how often you eat out or have meals planned elsewhere, you likely won’t need a full 7 dinners/week planned. I plan for 3-4 because we eat out once and do leftovers or “this and that” the other days.

“This and that” has become a fun tradition. We put small portions of various foods out on platters – meats, cheeses, baby carrots, fruit – whatever we have on hand. We have this on a weekend or when we’re low key and looking for something easy peasy (when we’re out of ideas!) We’ll eat somewhere other than the kitchen table, just to mix it up. Since it’s out of the norm, it’s viewed as a real treat to the kids who love to spread out a blanket on the family room floor or eat on the couch downstairs.

4. Let Enough Be Enough.

Identify the tasks that need to be done just right and which ones can be done “well enough”. And let that be ok. Moving on…

5. Manage Your Email.

Don’t let your email manage you! Checking and responding to email constantly takes so much time and can pull us away from other things we’re trying to get done. Most emails do not need to be responded to immediately.

Many people have found success with chunking their time – setting aside a few times of day to check email, in the morning, at lunch and in the evening for example.

I, personally, prefer to stay on top of email, at least reading them throughout the day, but not responding to them all. I keep everything that I haven’t responded to yet in my inbox, and file everything else into folders.

6. Prioritize.

Identify THE #1 item on your day’s to-do list that will contribute the most towards accomplishing X (finishing a project, closing a deal, making dinner, meeting a deadline, planning a party, cleaning the house, etc). That is your #1 priority for the deal. Tackle it first.

Many of us have more energy in the morning to put towards the tough stuff. Just get’er done! I find that if I procrastinate, I fill my time with lots of little things that don’t really matter. And at the end of the day I’m less satisfied with what I accomplished – not to mention that the big thing is still there, needing to get done, rolling over to tomorrow’s list. And this is how we get behind. Do what matters!

7. Write it Down.

That grocery list? Phone number? To Do List? Find a place for these things. For example, the grocery list goes on the refrigerator, or you could keep a running list on your phone. Phone numbers go directly into your contact list on your phone. To do list could go on a hard copy calendar or planner, or the calendar in your phone or computer. Find what works for you.

Regardless of how well oiled your systems are, there are inevitably going to be stray papers that accumulate – the ones that you don’t have time to handle right away. Identify a place for them, like a folder or shelf. But be careful! This can easily end up being treated as a permanent solution/home for these things instead of a temporary holding zone. To guard against this and to ensure the pile doesn’t continue to accumulate, set aside a certain time/day every week (put it on your calendar!) to go through and handle everything in the pile.

8. Be Realistic.

It’s so easy to let the to-do lists get overly ambitious. Keep track, for awhile, of what you set out to do compared to what was actually done. This isn’t intended to make you feel badly about what you didn’t do. It’s intended to, judgment free, increase your awareness of what is realistic – for you, in this season. When you have a good sense of this, you can scale your to-do list accordingly, and set yourself up for success.

9. Minimize Distractions.

When my kids were younger, I went through a time when I rarely read. I just found it hard to carve out time for this activity that I really enjoyed. Then, when I started reading more often, I was surprised to find how challenging it was to focus! I could only go a page or two without getting distracted – by things I needed to remember, or adding something quickly to my calendar, or any number of things…not great time management! I needed to practice identifying and minimizing distractions. The more I read, the easier it got. After all, practice makes progress!

Be aware of what your distraction triggers are. If I’m in the middle of something, but then go to lie down, game over. It triggers reaching for the phone or just checking out. If I don’t allow that scenario, the distraction is removed. This doesn’t mean I don’t take breaks. I just try to sit down instead.

time management, read book

10. Break Down Big Tasks.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! It’s no different with time management. If you have a large looming job such as cleaning the garage, spring cleaning, a DIY project, or something that you’ve been trying to set aside an entire day to tackle, try rethinking your approach.

It’s a lot more difficult to clear an entire day than it is to break up the job into manageable chunks of 1 hour or even 30 min, spread over several days. And, you’ll see the results as you go, which will motivate you to start and to stick with it. You got this!

11. Be present.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, strive to be all there. This is so hard! We’re multi-tasking experts! But, if we don’t try to do a million things at once, we’re more likely to finish things to completion, and not leave a bunch of loose ends.

When we’re with the kids, but distracted, they absolutely know it. Then they can get whiny for attention, which in turn triggers us to get frustrated, and you’re on a spiral. Instead, I’ve found that if I give my kids even 15 min. of completely undivided attention, that fills their tanks (and mine) and they’re just fine when I take a break to do something else.

Lastly…Your employer/family/the world will take as much as you are willing to give. Noone is measuring this. It does not determine worth. So, as always, give yourself some grace, do the best you can with time management, and know that it’s enough.