What does your pantry look like? Do you know what is in it? Is there anything that is expired or you have no idea what it is for or when you bought it? These are common issues in lots of pantry across the country. Most people have limited amount of space in their kitchen so why waste this prime real estate for unused or expired goods.
The following are tips to help you tackle that often misused space and regain control:
Store like items together, pick categories such as baking needs, lunch items, and large bulk items.
Use expandable shelving units to increase use of space.
Use small containers to store items that do not stand up on their own. Some items include gravy mixes, sauces, spices and oatmeal packages.
Roll out drawers help to access hard to reach areas in the back of cupboards making them usable and limiting the potential for things to get lost in the back.
Using an over the door shoes organizer, Use back of the door if space permit to store spices, teas, items that you want quick access to.
Label shelves to make it easy for ALL family members to know where things go and to make it easier to tell when you are out of an item.
Store children’s snacks and stuff on lower shelves so they can easily access them, they may even get in the habit of putting them away.
Go through pantry every two months to remind yourself what you have and discard any outdated items.
Take some time this week to clean out your pantry and organize it in a user friendly way, it may even inspire you or a family member to cook up a storm this week. Bon Appetit!
Is Getting Organized on your list of New Year Resolutions?
From Google Images
Don’t be embarrassed, you are not alone! It is on the top ten list of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions.
Do you find yourself constantly looking for things you know you own but can’t find? Are you late for appointments because you can’t find your keys or are trying to finish up something you need for the meeting that you will be attending? Do you have spaces in your home or office that you can’t stand to look at so you seldom use that room or never tackle that pile?
Please don’t beat yourself up for having these cluttered areas as you are among the majority of people. Almost everyone has some aspects of their life that are in Kaos and it is nothing to be embarrassed of. The question is – what are you going to do about it?
Do you want to reclaim your space from the Kaos and use your time for more fun things? There are ways to do this with a little effort on your part.
If you have a toilet that isn’t working, what would you do? Some know how to fix it already; Some will get a book and learn how to fix it; Others would use the internet to find the solutions whether on a video or article and fix it; and others would call a plumber because they know there are professionals they can call for help.
Organizing is NO DIFFERENT. Organizing is a learned skill and anyone can do it themselves or they can access professional help. This is NOT an advertisement for our services! You CAN get organized by yourself with a little effort and research if you are willing. It takes time and effort to reclaim your life from Kaos but it can be done.
Just remember to be patient with yourself and realize that you did not get in the mess you are currently experiencing in a day, so it will take some time to get you out and to learn new skills to get organized and stay that way.
There are numerous Videos, books, TV shows, and web sites, as well as seminars and workshops that are dedicated to helping you learn these skills. The knowledge is there for the taking but the questions is: are you ready, willing and able to learn the new skills needed to take back your space and time?
If not, are you ready and willing to hire a professional from Kaos Solutions to help you through this process? (Now THAT, my friends, was an advertisement!) There is no getting back the time we waste shifting through the Kaos and clutter in our live. I promise you that the freedom and peace you find on the other side is well worth the effort and resources!
Take action today and reclaim your time and space! You are worth it!
If getting organized is on your list for New Year’s Resolutions this year then lets get started….
What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
January 5th, 2011 | Category: Uncategorized | Comments are closed
Schools is heading back soon and so is all the kaos of family life with kids trying to catch the bus in the morning, after school activities, play dates and homework. There never seems to be enough time in the day. Kids’ schedules are so hectic that there is rarely time to just relax and be a family. Where are we to find the time?
Keep reading, there is hope at the end of the day.
Mornings are always a difficult time of the day for parents and kids. Everyone is in a hurry and everything needs done NOW. The trick here is to reduce morning Kaos by starting your morning the night before. Things that can be done the night before should be done, I know that it is difficult to make the time but it will be well worth your efforts with the peace you experience in the morning.
Some things that can be done at night include:
Packing book bags with completed homework, permission slips signs, gym clothes.
Lunches can be planned and anything that does not need heated or refrigerated can be packed leaving only quick preparations in the morning because you already know what the kids are having.
Choosing what they will wear the next day and setting it out.
planning afterschool needs- who will drive who, where and when! (see calendars below to help with this)
It is important that parents are involved, however our main goal as parents should be to empower our children to be self sufficient and independent, creating a check list of stuff to do before bed can get kids involved and give them a sense of responsibility.
A weekly menu is another key way to make life run smoothing during the busy school year. The few hours spent making up a menu will save loads of time and frustration in the long run.
The menu can be as simple or as complex as you want, include only lunches and suppers or add morning and afternoon snacks. A menu reduces that after work stress of trying to figure out what you’re going to eat and it makes grocery shopping so much easier. One trip a week with a list in hand can save lots of money as well. A menu is also a great way to get the rest of the family involved, older kids can begin preparations before parents get home at the end of the day and making school lunches becomes a breeze.
A family calendar is a must for any busy family. Keeping ONE calendar in the main traffic area of the house such as the kitchen will save lots of time and energy trying to coordinate everyone’s schedules. The family calendar would include all events and activities that are kid and parent related outside of work hours. To make it more fun you can assign colors to family members and their activities would be written in their color. Keep pens nearby and have it easily accessible when on the phone.
With the busy schedule kids and parents live with today the need to get and stay organized is a necessity to keep the family functioning.
The trick is keep things simple and develop habits that make our lives easier to maneuver. Kids will be kids and keeping themselves organized is NOT at the top of their priority list. This is where parents come in, we must be willing to put the effort into helping our children develop these life long habits.
Taking the time now to teach them will benefit them and the whole family. Their grades and your sanity will thank you.
Question:Clothes coming in, clothes Going out. How do we keep track of all that clothing that kids outgrow and the ones they have not grown into yet?
How fast do kids grow? it seems one minute they are one size and literally the next day they outgrow their stuff. then what do you do with the outgrown clothes? Leave it to clutter up your closets?
Hand me downs are great but what do you do with them if they are too big, where do they go until you need them? Do they make closet organizing impossible?
These two questions I get a lot, with a teenage boy that grows like a weed and a niece that sends copious amounts of hand me downs, I deal with these in my own home often. I have come up with a system that works for us. What an organizer with a system you say, I know that is shocking , Not! The trick with this system is to make it easy for the kids to use so that they can use it too.
We have one closet in our house that has a box or a bag for all the stuff the kids outgrow. the kids know where this closet is and know that when something no longer fits or in the case of a fashionista little girl anything that is no longer deemed ‘Cool’ can go in there. When the pile gets so big the closet door does not want to close it is my reminder that it is time to go through them and decide where they go- boys stuff goes to my nephew, some of the best girls stuff gets kept for my little nieces (even though it will be years until they can wear them I still keep just a few of the better things for them), some get sent to a good friends daughter and the rest gets shipped off to a charity who will distribute them to people in need.
One of the rules we do have is the ‘one in one out’ so when something newer and cooler comes into their closets something has to leave. They have a set amount of hangers and when they are full there is no adding more, they must purge. This may sound hard but believe but they don’t seem to mind, it has become habit that when the hangers are full it is a visual reminder that they have too much stuff cluttering their closet and it is time to organize their closet. I will admit that my daughter is more likely to do this without harping as she has much more interest in what is kept and what goes. For a fun way to get the kids to remember this check out the ‘Closet Hokey Pokey’ we created, it is a fun and silly way to remember how to keep your closet organized.
For all the hand me downs that are too big for my daughter we have a box at the top of her closet that they go in. I make her go through them before they go in the box as she does have a definite opinion on what she does not like and will never wear, these go directly into the donation box. the box is store in a convenient place so when she grows and has NOTHING to wear we can take the box down and go through it.
Alongside the ‘Too Big’ box is also the out of season box, any clothing that is seasonal can go in there when not in use. so sandals, shorts and tees are stored for the winter and pants and long sleeve tees are stored for the summer. makes it easy to find when mother nature surprises up with early snow or early spring!
The box system works for us to keep our closets organized and to keep the kids clothes moving in and out as the grow. Try it and see how it works for you!
Question: how do I control all the clutter that accumulates on my kitchen counters?
Wow this is a loaded question, with no simple answer as it depends on what the clutter is.
If it is dirty dishes and leftover food and such then you need to set up some guidelines for your family to take the time to do the dishes and create expectations for them, in my house whoever cooks does not have to clean, the rest of the family has to do the dishes immediately after supper is done, by working together they get it done fast and it has become a habit for them to not get up and leave the table thinking a maid will come by and clean up for them. It is not always easy and they do try to get out of it but we stick to our rules of what it takes to run this family and we make it a priority that they be part of the upkeep of the house. I like to think we are developing habits that will last them a lifetime.
From my experience the most common kitchen clutter is ‘other stuff’ that gets put there ‘for now’ and then never gets moved or put away. Some of the most popular things that clutter up counter tops is incoming mail, school notices, kids gadgets, keys, and newspapers.
My advice is to create a system where this stuff goes, keep the system simple and put it where logically it will be found. For example if mail is piling up on your counter, is it logical to set up a system in the upstairs office? What are the chances that you will immediately bring the mail up there? Slim to none would be my guess, so logically you need to set up a location on or near the counter so that when you enter the house with the mail it is EASY to place it where it belongs. Forming the habit of opening the mail over the garbage as soon as it enters the house works great. This way you can eliminate the junk and bulky envelops right away, leaving only the mail that requires action or filing.
As for all that stuff that gets placed there by others, creating a space for that stuff can work wonders. It may be a basket system where they each have their own basket and anything that belongs to them goes in it. In my house we have a Junk Drawer- Oh I know all you organizers out there are cringing as this is sacrilege, but my junk drawer is for other peoples junk that gets left on my counter- Yes this is my house, I do the majority of the cooking and I consider the kitchen counter MY space and clutter drives me crazy. So to preserve my sanity, anything that gets left on the counter gets put in the junk drawer, this helps us all, when someone is looking for their stuff they know to look in the junk drawer. One place to gather all that stuff. I do have to purge every few months when it gets overflowing, but my theory is that if they have not cleared it out in that long then whatever is in there must not be important to them. I give them a warning that I am going to clean it out so they all have the chance rescue their stuff.
This system works well for us and keeps my counters neat and tidy most of the time. We do live in our house and have an active family so I do not go for perfection but for function (and sanity ) .
Do have a system that works for your family to keep your counters clear? Leave me a comment and share your ideas.
If you have an organizing question for me, send it my way.
Question: I am looking for some toy storage ideas for our playroom, any suggestions!
Kids toys can sometimes take over a space and you can sometimes feel that you live in a toy store after a hurricane goes through it. The important thing to remember when deciding on storage solutions for kids toys is that it has to be easy for the kids to put their things away. As a former preschool teacher I can tell you that having a dedicated spot for everything and making it easy for the kids to know where that spot is can reduce frustration, time and tears.
Cubbies and containers work well as long as they are well labelled and the containers are large enough to ‘throw’ things into. If the kids have to put all their stuff away in a secret order, like putting a puzzle together in order to get the lid to fit, they are doomed to fail. Look at any reputable daycare center and they are an Organizers DREAM- EVERYTHING has a place of its own and EVERYTHING is labelled, even the scissors have a special stand to go in. there is a reason for this, kids want and need easy to follow directions, they are empowered when they can do things on their own and by creating a space that makes this easy for them you give them power and self confidence. Much better than the constant nagging and occasional loud voices asking- Why won’t you clean up your toys?
I am partial to large Rubbermaid containers with the raise lids, they allow the kids to throw their stuff in and the lid will still go on, they also stack nicely. I have several of these containers, for Barbie stuff, for dress up clothes, for blocks, for Hotwheels, for…well you get my drift. I encourage my kids to only have one of these out at a time, if they are playing Barbies then the Barbie one is out, if they go on to another activity they are expected to clean up the Barbies, cleaning takes about 2 minutes as all they have to do it put it all in one big container, they do have a few smaller containers to hold the tiny little items like Barbie shoes and accessories.
Small cubbies work great as well as long as they are labelled or at least the containers on the cubbies are labelled. We have one that houses all my budding artists creative ‘stuff’. There are lots of different types of cubbies, ours is a metal mesh one that can be reconfigured as our needs change. We got that one at Costco, IKEA has some great ones as well and one of the best kept secrets to buying great kids toy storage solutions is any School Supply stores like Scholars Choice, they have fantastic stuff as that is their business.
Hope this helps, Remember to not be too hard on yourself or your kids, mess happens when they play and we should all embrace the mess DURING play time. By empowering them to be actively involved in the clean up phase you can make it fun and easy so it becomes a natural part of play. Go visit a daycare center and when it is time to clean up you will hear laughter, singing and cooperation. The kids love it almost as much as the playing itself.
Readers Question: How do I deal with all the notices that come home from school and manage my kids schedules, I can never find the papers when they are due back. Please help!
For todays question I am going to refer you to a short video clip from The Organizing Connection- Organizing the Papertrail video (One of my companies). It shows you some great ideas on keeping this stuff organized and keeping the paper off the counter. It is so easy even the kids can help maintain the system.
Here you go:
If you are interested in the whole video set that includes a step by step video, worksheets and an Ebook you can purchase it at www.organizingconnection.com/paper-code. It really is good if I do say so myself!
Do you have any organizing solutions that work for your family? I would love to hear your ideas, leave me a comment!
Let’s Talk about Hoarding, what’s it all about really?
I just finished watching Oprah and the topic of the day was hoarding, in all its retched glory. I found myself fascinated by this show and my heart breaking for those living in this condition. As a Professional Organizer I have seen this stuff in real life, and let me tell you it is REAL, I don’t know how many people live like this, but there are more than you can imagine living in various degrees of this cluttered existence. In my small city of Moncton I have seen my fair share. You may even be one yourself, if so, you are NOT alone!
Why would someone live like this?
How did they let it get so bad?
Can’t they see how disgusting it is?
Why don’t they just clean it up for Pete’s sake?
These may be thoughts that go through your mind if you are on the outside looking in. We are quick to judge things that we cannot relate to or ever imagine living in, but can you for just a little bit try to empathize with those families that are dealing with this, instead of judging.
Most who are living this life already know- as Linda states in the Oprah show how Ugly and Horrid it is. They live daily with the embarrassment and humiliation of not being able to function in their own homes, not being able to ever have anyone over and having NO idea how to stop it.
What is the cause of Hoarding, how do you get to the point where your stuff has taken over you space? Well on the show, Dr. David Tolin gave a few hints to the answer to this. It is a mental illness, an Obsessive Compulsive disorder, an addiction. But whatever the technical terms you want to use it boils down to this- it’s REAL, it’s not about being messy(that is just a symptom) and It’s Affecting a lot of lives. Several of the women on the show state that a major ‘trigger’ for them was the loss of their father, the loss of a ground force in their life.
What can you do, if you think you are a hoarder, is it just about cleaning up you home?
Peter Walsh gave the best insight into this on the show, that there is an underlying cause of the hoarding, just like an addiction, you have to get to the root cause of the hoarding before there can be change and until you start talking about these root causes like loneliness, boredom, and whatever else is a trigger then you will never make the change needed.
In my opinion, he is so correct, when Oprah’s crew was visiting Linda a year and a half After The A & E Hoarders show she was featured on, we could all see the signs of backsliding. She can be defensive and come up with reasons and excuses all she wants but from the outside looking in, she was on her way back to where she started. As Peter said, until she replaces that boredom and loneliness with something else that gives her what she needs in life, then she will continue to slowly move backwards. I was so inspired by her stating she was heading back to school- what courage she has to move forward and to fill the void by doing something instead of buying something. Bravo to her!
My heart goes out to the children living in this situation, we all know from lots of studies that children learn what they live. Dr. David Tolin summed it up by stating that children ‘growing up in this environment leaves a scar, Children of hoarders are PROFOUNDLY affected by their environment’. Is it any different than living in an abusive environment?
On the show Jennifer and Ron took action when they were at risk of losing their kids; that says to me that even the authorities view it as a threat to kids lives. What is in store for these kids as they grow up, my tears started early on in the show when a young boy was running down the driveway upset that they were throwing away his old dirty play house, it is understandable that kids would be upset to see their stuff go away, I know that from my own personal experience with my kids, when they see things, they want to keep them, even if they no longer play with them. The problem with this scene is not that the boy was upset, it was his explanation of why, he stated he was keeping this playhouse for his kids to play in when he grows up, where did that come from: the obvious answer would be- his parents. He is learning what he is living and if things don’t change he could be on the same path.
His parents Ron and Jennifer, can be proud of the steps they have taken to change the way they were living, teaching by example that change is good and working with a Professional like CPO Geralin Thomas is okay. Bravo to them for their courage to act and to ask for the help they needed!
Bravo to all those who have taken steps to regain control of their life and their space.
Here are some take aways:
Everyone has ‘STUFF’ in their life and for Hoarders, Stuff is representing the other ‘Stuff’. This is how their ‘Stuff’ showed up.
Find Your ‘Triggers’ and avoid them when possible.
Find something to fill the void, the loneliness or the ‘buzz’ you may get from shopping. Take a class, take up a hobby, Volunteer, Whatever will make you feel more fulfilled but not make your house more Full and Filled.
Have a place for things BEFORE you bring them into your home
Create Posters and place them around your space to remind you: My Family is More Important Than my Stuff!
YOU CANNOT HELP SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT WANT HELP! You cannot go in and throw everything away and expect something to change. It is not about cleaning up a mess, it is about dealing with the underlying issues. And if someone does not want help, refuses to see they have a problem then you cannot really help them.
Tony Robbins would say- You have to get Disturbed, before major change can happens. In this show Ron and Jennifer got ‘disturbed’ when authorities threatened to take their kids away and they finally got the help they needed in order to save their children.
Let’s keep the conversation going..
If you are in a similar situation and are finally ready to get Disturbed there are resources out there to help you.
Here are just a few places to start- and really just taking the steps to start is a huge leap in the journey to Regain control:
Well Chistmas is over for another year and although there are still lots of festivities going on as we prepare for New Years it is time to think about putting away all our Christmas and Holiday decor. I can tell you from experience that by taking the time now to put away your decorations in an organized way, will save you lots of time and frustration come next year. As a self professed Christmas nut I have 5 trees and loads of decorations that I put up every year and subsequently need to put away. By having lots of Rubbermaid containers and labelling the boxes really well, allows me to be able to easily decorate next year.
The following are a few tips for Un-Decorating this year:
• Take the time this year to put decorations away carefully. A few extra minutes this year can save you hours next year.
• Take pictures before you un-decorate and keep them in your Christmas journal for reference next year.
• Decide on a location to store seasonal decorations, large Rubbermaid containers store lots of decorations and can be stacked to use vertical space.
• Store decorations by room/category- e.g. living room décor, living room tree; Kitchen décor, Christmas baking supplies; Christmas entertaining; Outdoor décor, Outdoor lights.
• LABEL all your boxes, the more detailed the label the better.
• Store individual light sets in plastic bags to keep them from tangling together. This works well for beads and garland as well.
• Store candles in socks or nylons to prevent scratching
• When putting tree ornaments away ensure they are carefully wrapped to prevent breakage. They can be layered in boxes with heavier ones on bottom. If they are very fragile consider storing them in the boxes they came in or invest in Christmas ornament boxes, they are little more money but will safeguard those antique ornaments of your grandmothers that are priceless.
• Store Christmas music with your seasonal stuff, I always make sure the music is on top and easy to access as it is the first thing that come out (Kenny and Dolly are always the first CD to be played while decorating).
Happy Un-Decorating and if you have any suggestions or tips that help you stay organized while Un-Deocrating please leave a comment and share with us.
The Holiday season is in full swing and so is the stress level of preparations for entertaining. I thought I would share my favorite tips and tricks to make any holiday party as stress free as possible. The main thing I want everyone to think about is their reason for entertaining. I find this often gets lost in the preperations and stress of running around worrying if everything is perfect.
As you prepare for the big party (or parties) please keep in mind what your overall goal of entertaining is. If it is to impress people with your cooking abilities you will plan a different party and menu then someone who just wants spend time with friends and not fuss with difficult recipes. There is no right and wrong here just different goals so plan accordingly.
Entertaining Tips and Tricks
• Plan your entertaining and keep it simple. Remember if you are not a gourmet chef keep menu items simple and easy or buy prepared foods.
• Decide what kind of party you are having- full course meal, pot luck, buffet, cocktail party, kids party, etc.
• Make a master list of all details for the party. Include to-do lists, guest list, décor ideas, menu and shopping list.
• Invitations: Save time and call to invite people to party, this can reduce the amount of time spent on writing invites and also normally results in RSVPs. Email can be used as well.
• Include preprinted directions to your home with invite. Have some copies in your purse to be ready when someone asks.
• Pot luck meals- Assign individuals what you want them to bring. This can be as general as assigning appetizers, main dish, veggies, drinks or dessert or you can be more specific such as nachos, cheese plate, chicken wings, and trifle. By being specific you can control a whole meal without having to prepare the whole meal yourself.
• Buffet Style meals work best for large groups and are the easiest to serve.
• If you are a gourmet chef, awesome, know that your party will run differently than a buffet style party and will require more of your time for preparation and take into consideration what your guest will do while you prepare the meal (I wish I could say I was one, but alas I am not)
• Have a drink area where guest can help themselves to refreshments. Have some general drinks like pop and juice and don’t forget water (or Beer and Wine). To add some an easy wow to your party have one specialty drink like a fun martini; this can be a non alcohol martinis as martinis are all about the fun glass or eggnog. click here for some great wet and dry holiday cocktail recipes. • If the goal of the party is to spend time with friends then plan a menu that does not require a lot of prep on the day of the party. Precook everything that can be done before hand. Do as little as possible on the actual day of the party so you can enjoy yourself too.
• Shop several weeks ahead for anything that can be kept long term or frozen to reduce the time spent in pre-Christmas Kaos at the stores.
• Ask for help, everyone likes to be needed so find some friends who want to help and assign them a task.
• Get the kids involved in planning a party that they will be part of. They can help set the table; older kids can cut up vegetables or let them help with the invitations.
• Check out the flylady for tips on crisis cleaning if you runing behind on time on the day of the party.
Hope this helps with all your Holiday entertaining, leave me a comment if you have your own tips to stress free entertaining, I would love to hear new ideas.