Tag Archives: organization

Tip Tuesday: Making your home kid-friendly

Do you have kids?

That’s Miss Missy….she’s pretty BIG in these parts…she is convinced that she is really a BIG girl stuffed in a little body.

Is your home kid-friendly?

I’m not talking about whether you have child-proof gates on the stairs or all your medicines safely tucked away, I’m talking about making your home a kid-friendly environment.

I have high expectations for my children. They contribute a lot to the general functioning of our family. With that in mind, I need to have my house arranged in a way that caters to them as well.

My house certainly is far from any magazine covers but I like to decorate my house in a way that shows I take pride in what I have. Additionally, my house needs to reflect my parenting philosophy that we are raising saints…not museum exhibits. Our couches are made to sit on…our dishes eaten out of…and our things “touched”…..

Going a step further…

If I want my children to be active participants in the daily activities of our home, I need to make sure that I foster their independence in the way that I set up my home. If you are clueless to what i am saying….it’s late….I might be babbling….but read on…somewhere its bound to make sense….

Here are a couple of tips that have proven effective in our little humble abode:

Have things handy to help with chores.

  •  I keep my kid bowls/plates/cups in a bottom cabinet in our kitchen. I do not want my kids climbing to grab a bowl for breakfast or to get a drink of water. This also makes it much easier to assign them the job of emptying all the “kid dishes” from the dishwasher. blog 1
  • I also purchased one of these nifty broom sets so that I could have the kids take turns sweeping under our table for meals. It has been sooo helpful!!!

http://s7d2.scene7.com/is/image/Starcrest/A75656_DET?$A_detail$

  • I have also found that investing in some of the Swifter products like the wet mop and duster are great tools for my kids as well. I might not want them to mop the breakfast room floor but throwing a wet pad on a swifter after a night of pasta or ice cream cones is a great way to “help” mom.

Keep things accessible for independence.

  • My kids love to snack. In some ways, they really think that the kitchen is a drive-thru and that I’m a short order cook. Well…I try and limit my time in the kitchen and my time spent replenishing my pantry and fridge. I have a set menu for the week but my snacks can be more of an option. The kids can choose some sort of fresh fruit or something in the snack bin. blog 2This little bin, purchased for one dollar at the dollar store and labeled, is filled with any snack I feel that they can have at any time. Its located where all the kids can access it. Miss Missy, due to her current allergies, has her own bin at her height. When I menu plan, I hit the kids up for suggestions on what they would like in their bin. The kids’ snack bin is located next to the red bin in the pantry. Miss Missy’s is the light blue bin on the bottom right. blog 4What about snacks that I am saving or only want my kids to have every once in a while??? Those are kept on the top shelf labeled kids treats in the red bin. That bin is where I store extra candy, granola bars or fruit snacks for their co-op days, or anything that I don’t want them consuming without my knowledge.

blog 3

  • I also don’t want to be a “nag”…constantly repeating myself in regards to the kids’ bathroom behavior and getting ready for the morning. Putting up charts and visual reminders are a great way to assist kids in what is expected. This sign hangs in the kids’ bathroom next to the sink. I seriously, made this a few years ago with Google images and Microsoft Word. The kids love it! Once their bathroom is painted, this little ditty will get a nice frame. checklist 2The second little chart appears right before the children make their way down the front stairs for the morning. It looks like this:checklist 1I often smile to myself as I see the little eyes scan this sheet before they descend the stairs. If I feel like one of them seems to be “forgetting” several of these, I will send them upstairs to “memorize” the sheet. We have had little “forgetting” in this house.
  •  I keep all of the children’s washcloths in a bin on the floor of the linen closet. This allows the kids to easily grab one before they jump in the shower.  I see no need in folding them. I use to fold them and place them neatly on a shelf. Then one of the kids would grab one, and let the rest of them fall to the ground. This little wicker basket has conquered two issues: I don’t have to fold washcloths and the kids can easily locate a washcloth.
  • I also installed a double closet rod in my hall closet to hang the little kids coats for the winter. After adding a few little hangers, it makes it way easier for them to hang their coats and for their siblings to assist as well.

Create spaces for your kids

When my husband and I moved into our new house three years ago, we sacrificed more yard space for a larger house with an open floor plan. I loved how spacious my new house was and was eager to give everything a place. People were often surprised that I had decided to designate a “school room” in my house for my kids. However, it seemed to be necessary for someone who would be schooling four and then five children to have enough space to house all the stuff that that would require. school room 2 school roomAs you can tell, this room is currently “under construction”. However, you get the general idea. The kids have their own “cubbies” and places for stuff. There are plenty of activities to occupy the little tots while I am working with one of the other kids.

As our family grows and our children undergo new developmental stages, the hubs and I will continually look for ways to help them in maintaining their independence.

I would love to hear how you create a kid-friendly environment…anyone want to offer some suggestions??? I’m always looking for some great ideas!!!

God Bless,

Tammi

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Tip Tuesday: Preparing our home….to leave for vacation!!!

Whenever I am leaving for vacation, there is the inevitable packing list and thing to do. (I will blog about both of these later.)

But this post is about all those last minute things we can do to make our house a happier place to return too.

(I will tease you with a shot of where I am…)

Photo: Good Morning!!!!

Outerbanks…2013!!! View from our back deck!!!

Ok….I digress …but this is what I envisioned as I frantically cleaned my house and prepared to move to a new house for a week.

If you haven’t thought about some of these ideas before, try it!

See if it doesn’t make you feel better!

Mentally prepare for breakfast. Have you ever gone away on vacation and you pull into the driveway to remember there is no milk for the baby? The pure exhausion of the trip summons you inside the house and behind the locked door. You are done. The kids can drink soda and lick the chocolate off a few granola bars for all you care….well…until tomorrow morning when you are hating life. haha.  So my advice is grab a few items that you will need that will NOT go bad in a week. I am grabbing some eggs, milk, cheese, butter, apple sauce and bread. I figure my kids can eat some scrambled, cheesy eggs with a slice of toast and a side of apple sauce and be pretty happy til I can grab a few items for lunch and beyond.

Empty every trash bin in the house. Have you ever left your home for a few days and you return and it smells like pee. And then you discovered the baby’s diaper in a trash can or the fish from dinner before you left. Get everything emptied. I go through all the bathrooms and empty everything.

Ask your neighbor to take your trash to the end of the driveway or curb on trash day. Let’s be honest…you don’t want to smell that trash after a week in the sun and neither does your neighbor. Plus, an empty trash can at the curb screams, “We are not home!!” Make sure you also ask him/her to put the trash can back at the end of the day.

Have all the kids make their beds. Then surprise them and put out a little piece of candy on everyone’s pillow for the return. How exciting would this be to walk into your room to a fun little treat??!!! and come on the kids…..they would love it??!! It’s like being in the hotel all over again!

Make sure to empty your washing machine. There are few things as bad as mildewed laundry sitting in your washing machine a few days or a week!!! I try to make my last load, before I head out, dishcloths or washcloths. They are notorious for hanging around the bathroom and kitchen. Make sure you toss these in the dryer before you leave. These don’t need to be folded nor will you worried about them being wrinkled.

Swifter the kitchen floor. I hate a gross floor and I love the smell of febreze swifter pads. So…once you get all those kids strapped in and the car/van is packed. Run back in and do a quick swifter around the kitchen. Trust me…you will be so glad that you did. =)

Clear out your fridge…especially your leftovers, vegetables and fruit.  You might be able to avoid this step if you have done an excellent job with meal planning. I always have some stuff leftover, so….I like to bring over a little bunch of veggies and leftover fruit to my next door neighbor.

Clear out your garden. If you have a summer garden like I do, your tomatoes are still doing well. I had the Fashionista drop a one gallon ziploc bag full of cherry tomatoes off to our neighbor before our left. She was so ecstatic! So great to brighten her day while keeping my garden clean and mushy tomato free.

Well, I’m off to enjoy my vacation here in Corolla!

I will check in with you later for the part two of this post: what to pack!!

God Bless,

Tammi

Tip Tuesday: Laundry sorting!!!

Do you have fears of laundry like this?

or does this look like your laundry?

Do you want a simple solution?

When you have a growing family, it feels like you are always about two days of “no laundry washed” to meet this point…..haha.

Well…I wanted to share with you my “secret” to laundry sorting and piles.

I always promised myself that I wouldn’t have a “laundry room” that you have to close the door when company comes. I wanted my laundry room to be functional and yet clean enough to allow my cleaning ladies in to wipe down the appliances and mop the floor twice a month.

IMG_1341These are my laundry hampers in the hallway upstairs. (You can see the proximity to the laundry room.) Only my husband and I have a hamper in our room. All of the children sort their clothes into these hampers every night/day.

I wanted to find a way that prevented the kids from having tons of clothes in their room; under their bed; or lost socks, etc. I believe that sorting their clothes and keeping them OUT of their room has been the best decision.

IMG_1336I printed up these simple laundry tags using Microsoft word. Coloring in the color clothes that I wanted in each bin made it easier for the kids to figure out how to sort their clothes. After 2-3 “guilty parties” had to be pulled over to the hamper to “check” their mistake and “rectify”, the system has been a huge success.

IMG_1339

light clothes

IMG_1337

white clothes

dark clothes

dark clothes

I wash about 2 loads of laundry a day and place them in the kids respective bins that I posted about here. One of the kids Saturday morning chores is to put away all their clothes in their bin.

IMG_1343When there is an “issue” or some kind of laundry needs special care or is time sensitive, the kids or myself will place them in one of these purple bins on the top of the washer. In the picture below, I placed an outfit that Miss Missy peed in and on the right are wet dishcloths/dishtowels from the kitchen. Granted, if the washer was empty,  these would get placed right in the washer…..but…is not very often empty. haha.

The kids also put their sports uniforms in a different purple bin so that they have everything they need for the next game and we don’t lose a soccer sock or cup strap in the laundry hamper.

IMG_1342I’m not saying its the “perfect solution” but I’m not a consistent person. When I find a system that consistently works for me, I want to share it with others who may have the same need.

IMG_1344Happy Laundering!!!!

God Bless,

Tammi

Tip Tuesday #2: Bags, Bags, and one more bag!!!

This picture shows my bags that hang on the back of the garage door before you enter the kitchen. Everyday I grab these up and head out to start my day. This is that fun blog where you get a “sneak peek” into my bags to see what I deem as “important stuff” to have on hand.

I’m not a super organized person…but I definitely like to be prepared. I thought I would share with you my 3 bag system for running errands with the kids or being out for the day. Is it ideal for everyone? Certainly not. If you read my blog to find out the “right way” to do anything, you clearly are reading the wrong blog! haha. I’m just a simple mom trying to offer you my solutions to problems I have encountered.

the purse

Bag #1:  This is the simplest bag. I purchased this little purse from Ross for about $16. The strap is super long and can be draped over my shoulder. This has a very few items in it, so that it is super light-weight. And if you are thinking Coach wallet?!!! haha. It was an awesome bridesmaid gift from my SIL….and  I LOVE it! My wallet has my debit card, license, cash and all my loyalty cards. No receipts in this bag. It stays super simple. In addition, it has a pair of sunglasses, some lip moisturizer, and my cell phone. I’m obsessed with my iphone. Using my gmail account and google calendar, I can check my blog comments; plan play dates and doctor appts . With my facebook app, I can “check in” on friends and family and post fun shots where we are. This is THE essential bag when I go out. Depending on what I am doing, this bag stores easily inside Bag #2 or Bag #3. This is the perfect bag to pick up to just “run and grab some ice” or when you are with someone else and run into a store to “grab one thing”.

Mom's bag

Mom’s bag

 Bag #2 : Mom’s bag ( the large brown tote): This is the bag that sits next to me in the passenger’s seat. It’s like my personal assistant…hahahaha. No….but seriously. I really need everything in this bag. I found this “gem” at Ross as well. It’s a large Steve Madden brown bag that I paid $30 for. I have used this bag for a carry on at the airport as well. Here is the rundown.

  1. blue makeup bag (I’m a “mascara, lip gloss and go” kinda girl). This has more stuff in it for special occasions as well.
  2. blue pencil case bag filled with receipts/gift cards/checkbook. I hate looking for a receipt or having a bag I’m constantly cleaning out. This little bag eliminates the need to “look” in multiple bags for anything. (This little bag can also get cleaned out when I’m waiting for something.)
  3. baby wipes (I use these as much as the kids)
  4. a pair of headphones and my arm band for using my iphone at the gym
  5. Kidstuff book: this has coupons for all kinds of stores, events, and activities- I often check this out before planning an activity with the kids to see if I can get a discount. Although its called “kidstuff”, it also has great department store coupons as well. These books are primarily used for fundraising in schools and are specific to your area.
  6. a leisure book. I am currently reading “Rapunzel, Let down” by Regina Doman. She’s a friend from college and retells fairy tales in the modern day. So far…its really good. Often times I have my All You Magazine or store magazines as well. When I get Pottery Barn or any home decorating magazines…I throw these in too.
  7. sunglasses
  8. extra tampons/pads that I keep in the pocket
  9. ******my clipboard with my things to do list on top*******This is my biggest tip! Make yourself a Master Thing to Do list for the week/month, then keep it close by in your bag. I have found that once the toddlers fall asleep, I’m not rushing to drive home and wake them up. I will pull up to a park….let the older kids get out and play, and i will tackle some of my list. I prefer the clipboard to a notepad because I can “clip” bills I have to pay, complete with acct numbers or bills I have to call about; or anything I can “handle” while waiting for the kids to nap or waiting for the kids to finish their music or swim lessons
  10. an extra ponytail holder
  11. extra pens
  12. extra bangles/bracelets to make my outfit fun.
  13. the Magnificat – my devotional for the day since most of my prayer time is when i’m out and about.
  14. travel size Alleve pills
  15. 3-4 envelopes with our return address stamped on them. These are perfect if you need to send a bill out while you are on the road.
  16. Not pictured: I often carry a small pack of tissues; stamps for my letters; and a healthy snack like nuts.

Often times, this bag will not leave the van. However, if I am out running errands by myself, especially at the mall, this is the bag I want with me. It’s big enough to throw in a sweater for chilly nights or a bottle of water while I roam.

kids bag

kids bag

Bag #3: The kids bag. I don’t have a baby right now and I’ve never been a fan of a diaper bag. I get lost in all the compartments and don’t get me started with how the husband feels about “compartments”. haha. I decided on this cute LLB tote, also from my SIL for a bridesmaid gift. (Talk about a thoughtful bride!) This tote is neutral so the hubs won’t moan about carrying a “girlie bag”. haha. This bag has helped me through lots of situations. If you really think out situations you encounter, be proactive and create a bag that is helpful for you and your kids.

  1. diapers and wipes for Miss Missy. She has really bad eczema and needs chlorine-free diapers.
  2. an extra outfit for Miss Missy including a hairband and sandals. At that 1-2 yr old phase, they are always taking off their shoes and it’s not helpful if you need them to walk. Miss Missy get a shirt and pants since she likes to itch…I want more material on her.
  3. an extra outfit for Mini Mini (3) with two pairs of underwear.  She is fully potty-trained and rarely has accidents but there is always the chance for a “I fell asleep in the car and peed” or “mommy….I threw up!” I pack a sundress for this occasion, because it takes up less room.
  4. benadryl- essential in allergy season.
  5. nail clippers for those “down times” when you notice your 7yr old is sporting nails longer than wolverine….I exaggerate only slightly…=)
  6. a picture book/ small toys for waiting at the doctors or waiting for your food in a restaurant
  7. small “treats” to bribe them in tough situations. I was glad I had this bag when Miss Missy was having her allergy testing. She was able to suck on a lollipop while they examined her pricks on her back.
  8. a healthy snack (peaches). I usually keep a few granola bars as well.
  9. an extra pacifer for when Miss Missy wants a nap and we can’t locate her pacifer
  10. extra ponytails or bows for the girls
  11. Not pictured:  a small pack of clorox wipes (for restaurant highchairs/seats), an extra sippy cup for Miss Missy when we decide to eat out while running errands; and bandaids.

I love that I can give this bag to the hubs if he is taking the kiddos out for the day. I don’t need to “create a bag”…I can just add more things to it.

Hope this is helpful or a good “jump off” point for you!

God bless, Tammi

Laundry Chaos….

My Laundry…….

One of my least favorite chores is laundry. I do two loads of laundry a day and I have a specific day (Wednesday) that I bang out the majority of it. With a family of seven, there is always something to be washed. I am a stickler for the way I sort my laundry….but that’s for another discussion. (You can imagine how INSANE it was when the stomach flu went through our house……truly INSANE!!!)

Thankfully when I bought my new home, the laundry room was on the second floor. I LOVE this feature. I love that I’m not hauling laundry upstairs or downstairs to help put it away. However, my laundry room is small.

Laundry room

peeking into the laundry room

I’m going to make it one of my weekend projects to give it some charm, probably this summer. It needs paint, some new shelves, baskets, and a few additions.

I love this idea I saw on Pinterest:

laundry baskets

How awesome are these cabinets with the open baskets in the middle??!!! I could easily hide away my baskets of missing socks, laundry detergents, stain sticks, etc. Am I the only person that has a basket to “catch” all the legos and candy, my kids sneak in their pockets????!!!!

What about these….??!!! Don’t they look sooooooo classy.

 How about these bins for putting the kids clothes away??!!! I mean…check out this lady’s laundry room….it is awesome.

I wish my laundry room was this big and could have these beautiful areas. However, it’s not and I’m not moving anytime soon.=)

I am a firm believer in having practical spaces in my home. As much as I love these, they are not practical for my lifestyle. I mean, I can’t imagine my five year old carrying one of these bins into her room to empty her clothes.

And yes, I did say my 5 yr. old.

Do I like clean and neatly folded clothes?? yes!

Do I expect my kids to have their clothes folded neatly in their drawers??? No…….but I do expect their clothes to be in their drawers. I expect THEM to put their clothes away.

With that in mind, I found these great bins at Walmart…..and I LOVE THEM!!!!

clothes bins

How cool are these? They have these great little handles on them for the kids to carry them through the room and when the handles are folded down…..it makes them stackable. They take up a small amount of space and on laundry evening…the whole stack is gone. Each bin sitting patiently by the dresser of each child, awaiting to be emptied the next morning.

There are several reasons that this system works for me:

  1. I sort all my kids laundry into separate bins. I was using small circular baskets from the dollar store but they were pretty beat up and hard to keep neat in the laundry room.
  2. I like a clean laundry room but didn’t want to have any kind of permanent system built into that small room. This system doesn’t require any “built in” shelves or a shelving system. If I find that the system no longer works for my laundry, I will not have made an monetary investment or “renovated” my laundry room to make it happen.
  3.  I don’t keep piles of dirty clothes on the floor of my laundry room. I actually have a whole sorting system for my laundry that I keep in my hallway. I need very little room to store dirty laundry in my laundry room, however, I need more room to fold clothes and put them away.
  4. The bins cost me about $6 each. So, for under $50, I have figured out a new system that lets me fold clothes right at the dryer and sort them into their proper bin.

So…….gotta wrap this up and go fold my last load of laundry for the night.  What about your laundry situation? Do you have a system that you love and want to share? I would LOVE to hear about it!

God bless,

Tammi