3 Simple Organizing Tip to use TODAY (Even with Toddlers!)

I just put some napkins and a tablecloth I ironed away and it actually made my morning!  I promise I am not that kind of woman.  The aforementioned items were  with the rest of the "needs ironing because was left in dryer or laundry basket for a week" pile.   I'm pretty much grinning because I knew where to put it instead of just cramming it in.  I had organized the china cabinet linen area about a month ago and today it paid off.  Neatly folded stacks:  I knew where it went and felt GOOD looking at the tidy cabinets.  WOW.  


I listened to a great video during the MOM Conference yesterday, and the Organization session by Jenny Layton of The Happy Gal Blog was AWESOME.  I realized I had already learned and applied several of these tips....find her and learn from her organizing tips.

In the meantime, here are three tips I have already put into practice, all of which she also mentioned.

Zones
Like a preschool has the 'art zone', the 'dress up zone', the 'blocks bin', so do we!  
If your linens are in the dining room, it makes sense.  If the napkins and table cloth are together and tidy it is MUCH easier to get them out and use them when you need them. (Plus they aren't all rumpled and wrinkled then either.) 

Linen Zone:  I have small and medium table cloths together, and they are separate from the 'all table leaves in' family holiday dinner huge tablecloth!  Simple.  All table runners and placemats are neatly stacked andI don't have to remember where I should stick them, it is labeled for me. (Left hand cabinet, top shelf.)


















Dish Zone: Our dishes go in the kitchen cabinet directly above the dishwasher.  Portia unloads them and stacks 'em on the counter, I put them away in the cabinet.  

Baking Zone: All of the Kitchen Aid attachments are in the same cabinets (above my gorgeous Kitchen Aid Mixer on the counter) with mixing bowls, right next to measuring cups etc. I blogged about organizing the spice cabinet a bit ago.

Craft Zone:  All the kids easy access craft stuff is in matching open bins on a bookshelf where they can reach everything themselves.  AWESOME.  I hide stuff they cannot use without me.


Bins
You should purge stuff you do not use, love or need first.  Release it to bless someone else. You cannot organize clutter.  Then when you know how you want your space, or zone to work, look for containers.  Try to reuse what you already have.  
DVDS:  We used shoeboxes and plastic shoe box bins for DVDs in the entertainment center. The kids do not knock over piles now, they just pullout their tote and leave the rest alone.
LINENS:  I had ten white dollar store dishtubs from my Mary Kay pedicure party days.  Now they hold our linens and look AWESOME.  I had a linen closet stuffed with sheets, but really I was the only one who knew what was where.  I put white dollar store dish tubs in there, put each person's sheets in a separate tub (two sets per bin) and Labeled them.  Now YOU could go into that closet and change everyone's sheets without a word from me.  Will You?  (PLEASE???)

BATHROOM: I found cool maroon baskets in the Target Dollar aisle, they decorate and organize my bathroom.  
CRAFTS:  I bought five small green bins for the kids crafts stuff at the Dollar store...small enough my three year old can get her crayons out...and PUT THEM AWAY easy peasy independently.   
TOYS:  I labeled cloth bins from Target with Martha Stewart Chalkboard labels, so my 3 year old and 5 year old know where "Doll Clothes" , "Small Toys" and "Dress Up " things go.  They can clean up by themselves this way.  I also labeled their multi bin unit in the toy room, but we still have to go over that together.  Kids can help you clean when you give everything a place.  it is nice to have some MISC  Bins so they can just dump stuff in, it still looks better  tumbled together in a tidy bin than on the floor.



Lables
There is no way this won't sound nerdy: Lables are so awesome I asked for a laminator for Christmas.  And had to buy refills yesterday for our label maker my hubby bought.  I have TERRIBLE HANDWRITING and printing off a tidy lettered label means someone other than me can read whatever it says.  You may find that useful.  One of Jenny Layton's tips for labeling is label the bin or tote and also label the shelf where the bin or tote is supposed to go!  That way, if you have a "puzzles' bin and Grandma is baby sitting, she can see it goes on the second shelf of the game closet.  Brilliant.  Warming up the labeler now. After this post I want to label the craft bins and replace my impromptu sticky note labels with pretty printed ones.  

And yes, I do get out much, why do you ask?



There are so many colorful and fun organizing ideas on Pinterest and the Interweb...go find what works for you and start with one trouble spot at  a time.  You may enjoy this post on the Bedroom and organizing it for passionate purposes.  You can also get your paperwork and mind organized with the awesome Mind Organization for Moms I wrote about before.  I'd love to hear your solutions or troubles and offer suggestions...and I'll print labels for you too...you can pay me in booze or cookies, ok?

Ride Your Bike on an Errand Challenge & Giveaway!

What if I was willing to pay you to ride your bike? I want more bike lanes here in Valparaiso and I want them protected, too.  I want to use my bike as a car whenever possible.  It helps my health, reduces pollution and improves my mood.  Just you TRY to be in a bad mood while riding a bicycle.  I wrote about the mood enhancement angle of biking in this earlier post. 

We have had a loooong crummy winter and now is the time we get warm, breezy, actually Springlike Spring days sprinkled into our week.  I have enjoyed biking with my two little girls already this Spring. I also enjoyed getting my bike spiffed up at Buck's Bike Shop here in Valparaiso and then all that happy joy joy got me thinking:  YOU should be doing this too.  I would even pay you do enjoy yourself like this.  I would pay you to ride your bike on an errand.  

That got my wheels turning about how to get you lovely people out on your bikes for MORE than just a pleasure ride around your neighborhoods. You can reduce pollution, reduce fat on your body, increase your endorphins,  improve your mood, connect with your neighbors, appreciate scenery, LIVE your life more fully and teach your family and friends how to do these things too;  just by riding your bike as a vehicle instead of a toy.   

I still smile when I think of the day last Spring when my husband John rode his new used bike to Target on an errand.  He returned and said, "That was great!".*  I grinned, happy to have converted him to my brilliant way of living.  I have friends who think I am nuts to use my bike as a car.  I have other friends who go with me sometimes.   I was scared to take the girls to the pediatrician by bike, but we did it.  We loved it. When I pull up to preschool drop off with my little girls squished together in their bike trailer all grins and bike helmets everyone around us is smiling too.  We are fun.  We are HAVING FUN!

I've gone to Buck's Bike Shop here in town about once a month since I began using my bike instead of our car.  They helped me with a tune up.  Replaced brakes.  Got me a snazzy "I heart my Bike" bell.  Headlamps.  Bike helmets for the little girls.  Fenders to keep said little girls dry and clean if we bike in wetter conditions.  Buck's Bike Shop set me up with a happy red bike basket and someday I will buy panniers from them too.  And maybe a big fat mama fanny bike seat that is more comfy than whatever I have now.   Jeff and Shaun are the best guys. Roger the owner is a nice guy and he gave me a GENEROUS $50.00 gift certificate for one of you fine people to win.  So I'm not going to have to pay you, Buck's Bike Shop will!

How can you win this $50.00 Buck's Bike Shop Gift certificate, you ask?

Hmmmm? I couldn't hear you, the wind was in my hair as I coasted downhill.  (That is untrue, I do not text and ride or text and drive for that matter.)

Ok, here is how you enter to win:  In the next two weeks, take your bike on an errand instead of your car, and get someone to snap a photo of you or show your bike at the errand location.  Post as many pictures as you run errands in the next two weeks.  I will select randomly from the entries, the more errands, the more pictures, the more chances to win. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Good Luck!  I will post the randomly chosen winner and contact them by email  Monday April  21st.  I requested and received a gift certificate from Buck's Gift Shop to give away. I was not compensated in any way for this post.



NOTE:  Here is a great family Bike N Eggs event in June!

* He may have said something like this.  I do remember he had an uncharacteristically joyful summary of his biking for errands adventure, but I cannot swear this is a direct quote.

If you want to hear more about Living Well or you ever say "I'm Bored" read my NPR piece on the subject here.

I'm a Guest at Mothers & More's Sparkly New Blog! AKA Donut Fueled Boot Camp?

Come visit me at the NEW & IMPROVED Mothers & More Website & blog!  I'm writing about Boot Camp and the YMCA, Donut ruled exercise and the super fit woman in front of me I want to tie up & feed donuts.  

Yeah, those are my deep thoughts.  Read more now!

The Parenting Secret Your Kid Should Know


I gave up yelling for Lent.  It's not going so well.  We use Love and Logic and I cannot say enough good things about this technique, but still, we all have our days.  Mostly when my kiddos are going ape I can ask "Do you want a Sweet Mama or a Yelly Mama?" They answer the obvious choice and usually change course.  Sharing the Big Parenting Secret also helped. 

What?  You do not know what The Big Parenting Secret is?  I shared this at church for the Children's Moment after unleashing it at the dinner table to my daughters:  

All Parents Want To Have Fun All Of The Time.  

I went on to explain that there is work to be done, but Mamas and Daddys really do wish we could have fun all the time. I said if our family is unhappy, that is not what we want.  We want to have fun by eating favorite foods, but someone one has to do the work to plan, grocery shop and make the meal.  We like to wear our favorite clothes, but unless someone washes it and folds it and puts it back in the drawer, the fun of wearing it doesn't happen.   Basically all work helps us to have what we want: More Fun!



 I encourage my family to work together to that end as often as possible.  We often sing and play together as we do our house cleaning, AKA Fly Lady's Home Blessing.  We race to see who finishes a task first.  I reward the girls unexpectedly, by calling them to me not for a task, but for a treat.  They get to spray my room freshener in the squirt bottle,  or choose the napkins for a meal, or maybe get a cookie.   Just because it's fun.

Or today I said to Portia, 
    "You know what?  You aren't pestering me and you and Libby are playing so nicely together so I can write this post that I won't ask you to unload the dishwasher right now!"  
She beamed.  She felt appreciated and free from a normal daily task she does. She had fun instead.

I can feel the weight of maturity, marriage and parenthood upon me.  So I follow my husband's lead and throw an impromptu dance party.  We paint polka dots on our finger nails.  We eat donuts for dinner.  I know the Secret of Parenthood, but sometimes I need to be reminded too: All Parents Want to Have Fun All Of The Time.  

We have one life.  Maybe One day.  One family.  One sunbeam to frolic in thisverymoment.  I'm going to dance while I put away clean dishes, thankful for the joy in a clean kitchen and the fun of messing it up again with a family meal.   Then I'm going to get a list of other things done, reminding myself to Find the Fun in the work, and smiling out loud.

What kind of fun can you have today?

Here's a Quickie: Top 3 "Let it Go" covers from Disney's Frozen Movie




I had never heard of Alex Boye' till now.  This gives me CHILLS.









Also these Parents Lip Sync "Let It Go" from the Disney Movie Frozen

(of course it isn't us singing, silly.)

Find even more "Let it Go" versions here at Entertainment Weekly's Top 10 collection...better than mine and we agree on first place!