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Posts Tagged ‘Helping Around the House’

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Getting Organized—and Staying that Way

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

Your home doesn’t have to be perfect, but it can be organized enough with the right gameplan.

We’re all so busy—working, taking care of kids, trying to have a life outside of work and kids—it’s no wonder that keeping our homes organized sometimes falls to the bottom of the priority list. Yet we know that having a chaotic home just makes everything harder.

I’ve been helping clients—many of them working mothers—get organized in Manhattan for nearly 20 years. I hear it all the time: “I know how to get organized. The challenge is keeping things that way.” Heck, some say, “I don’t even know where to start!”

It’s not as bad as you think. My first piece of advice: Don’t try to do it all in a day. The best strategy is to make a habit of spending small chunks of time tackling a specific area. Even 15 minutes will do.

Here are my best high-impact, low-investment strategies for getting organized, even when you are super-busy.

When you have 15 minutes:

  • Tackle the stack of paper on your kitchen counter (or where ever paper piles grow in your house). As you are sorting and purging, ask yourself why it always ends up there—and how you might avoid the same pile happening again.
  • Run things back to the rooms they belong in. Don’t worry about putting them away, just aim them get everything close to where they belong. If something doesn’t belong anywhere, ask yourself if you even need it.
  • Tackle a bowl, drawer or other catchall full of miscellaneous stuff. Put stuff where it belongs, or purge it. If there’s stuff that doesn’t have a place, make a place: What category (tool, toiletry, office supply) is it? Where you keep that category?
  • Eliminate junk mail. Go through your pile of catalogs and ask to be removed from the mailing list.

When you have 30 minutes:

  • File papers you need to keep, and create folders if you don’t have them already.
  • Arrange to pay bills online.
  • Look through your children’s books to see if you can get rid of ones they’ve outgrown.

When you have an hour:

  • Go through your child’s dresser. Do the contents of the drawers make sense? Does everything fit the child? Does everything fit in the dresser? Does your child need all those clothes?
  • Go through your pantry. Purge old stuff and items you are never going to use. Create zones: Baking, Pasta & Grains, Oils & Vinegars.
  • Go through the coat closet or mudroom. Purge single gloves, too-small boots, equipment for sports your kids no longer play.

Do a little bit a few times a week and things will quickly begin to feel less chaotic. But better than that, by beginning to think about how it gets that way, you are paving the way for the most important part: how to keep it that way. Cultivate these easy to embrace habits to maintain order and keep clutter at bay:

Do a last sweep every night.

Spend five minutes every night restoring order to your common areas: Toss your children’s socks back in their room, stack up the paperwork you were dealing with on the couch and put it on your desk. The idea is to just get your living area and kitchen reasonably tidy (not picture perfect), so when you wake up you are starting from a good place.

Don’t let the mail pile up.

Open all your mail every night. The good news, 90 percent is probably garbage. Toss all the junk, plus the envelopes and useless inserts, right away and what’s left will be much less intimidating.

Nip clutter at the bud.

Most clutter and chaos spring from having too much. We live in a culture of abundance (of stuff, not jobs or health insurance!). Work on bringing less into your home. Say “No” to your kids. Say “No” to yourself. Really justify each purchase, and practice the “something in, something out” method to maintain all that good work.

Once you get in the groove, and tackled the surfaces and the “sticky spots,” you may want to delve deeper into making your systems more coherent. It may occur to you that storing school supplies in three places, or having board games in every room, doesn’t make sense. But don’t just start moving stuff around. If you want to get all the board games into the family room, think about where you will put them. How many board games do you want to bring in, and how will you make space for them in the family room. Maybe you need to get rid of a shelf of books, and that might not take you that long at all.

Organization isn’t brain surgery (thank goodness!). It’s just a way of seeing things and developing habits. You can do this, and by inviting your children into this process you’ll help them grow up with better organizational habits, and that’s a great gift to give.

Amanda Sullivan is a professional organizer in New York City and the author of Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist’s Guide to Getting—and Staying—Organized. Amanda lives in Manhattan with her husband and their three children. To find out more about Amanda or read her blog check out her website, theperfectdaughter.com.

 

This article was written by Amanda Sullivan from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Can You Have the Kids at Home AND a Clean House? My Summer Experiment

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I’ll be honest – while I’m super organized in my work life, my home shows a vastly different side of my personality. I am a piler by nature, and while I do work to keep things clean and sanitary, I’m never going to qualify as a minimalist or even as particularly neat. That being said, I love the feeling I get from a completely clean kitchen counter, or a fresh-smelling and laundry-free bathroom. 

It’s a constant struggle, though, between my desire to have a beautifully clean home and the fact that there are five people actually living here, with work and school and activities and all that those things entail. I love having the house where the kids can spontaneously invite friends for lunch, but they also like to build massive forts and pull out all of the dress-up costumes. The reality of this problem I have is that I’ve seen other people do it and I know it is possible. So my challenge for this summer is to strike a balance between allowing for all the fun that the time off of school can bring while still keeping a house that doesn’t make me cringe every time the doorbell rings out of worry that someone will see my mess. So I’m working on a plan. Tell me what you think. 

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Wake up fresh every morning. 

This one is all about perspective. If I want a fresh start every morning – and I totally do – then I need to plan for that the night before. That means dishes done, counters cleared, and even a spray of some air freshener to ensure a sweet start in the morning. 

Work together as a team

Everyone in our home has chores to do. When we all do them it helps to manage the daily mess and keep things in order. It’s easy with the flexibility of the summer schedule to let things slide, so I’m going to make an effort to keep things on the schedule in order to keep things in line. 

One thing at a time

When my kids were younger I was somewhat good about the idea of introducing one toy or activity at a time. We’re going back to that this summer. So if they want to make slime – my least favorite project ever – fine. But they’re going to clean up every single thing before they go swimming or start reading or whatever else is next in the endless string of summer activities. 

Have the tools in place

One of the keys to getting things done is having the right tools available. That’s why I love the delivery options available through Grove Collaborative. I can choose the cleaning and household products that I need and have them delivered to me each month so that I’m always prepared. Right now new customers can get a free kit with your first order of $20:

  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s hand lotion
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap
  • Grove Collaborative replaceable head dish brush 
  • Free Shipping & 60 Day VIP Trial

I have to say, the Mrs. Meyers soaps are quickly becoming a favorite and their tub and tile cleaner is amazing! 

Set realistic expectations

I know that I can’t expect every day to begin or end perfectly. Some days I might have to do more work so that other days I can deal with the other things that life throws my way. But I’m trying to approach this challenge with a positive outlook and recognizing the benefits that keeping a clean house will have for me and for my family. 

So – all you readers out there who are better at this than I am – I’d love to hear your best tips for maintaining a clean home! 

 

This article was written by EverydayFamily from Everyday Family and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Five Ways to Encourage Children to Help with Chores

Motivating children to help out around the house can be challenging. Here are five ways to encourage them to lend a hand.

  1. Start your child young. Ask your child to help out as soon as she is able to. Making chores a normal part of home life as early as possible can foster helpful behavior.
  2. Keep tasks small. Break up larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. For example, instead of asking your child to help clear the table, ask him to bring each plate over to the sink. Remember to keep each task age appropriate.
  3. Establish a routine. Being consistent can help your child adjust to assisting you with household duties. If you make helping out a regular part of your child’s routine, then she is more likely to do her chores without being asked.
  4. Offer praise. Phrases like “good job” and “you’re so helpful” can be excellent motivators. Try saying, “I can never fold the towels as nicely as you do,” which can make your child feel important and needed. This may inspire him to make it his mission to fold the towels.
  5. Make chores fun. Have a contest to see who can dust the shelves the fastest or who can dry more dishes. You could also put on music and dance around while you clean. The key is to make work enjoyable.