What makes you feel creative? The last time you created something that brought you joy, what inspired you? What kind of environment were you in?
For me, being inspired enough to actually create (not dinner, or another load of laundry) requires my environment to be in harmony.
If my house is messy and there’s a mountain of laundry, I do not feel compelled to spend my free time whipping up new soap recipes. It’s hard to justify lugging out the sewing machine to do some hemming when there are dishes and a mountain of laundry to wash and put away.
For me, I love creating soooo much that it’s vital that I make time for it. Routines are a great way to save time and make our household flow soooooo much better. We’ve found that just having a plan for how the week is going to go free up a lot of time spent trying to make choices at the last minute.
I’ve found the following ways to be really great ways to create more time:
Take time on this one day of the week to plan out the week ahead. Check everyone’s schedules, activities, and wants (like time for you to work solo) for the week and combine them onto one clear, visible place that everyone sees on a regular basis.
Below is our weekly calendar on the fridge. It’s also the home of our grocery and to-get list.
We sit down with both of these boards every Sunday before our weekly grocery shopping trip so we know exactly what we need for the upcoming week… which brings me to the next time-saving nugget…
When the weeks meals are planned ahead you eliminate those extra trips to the grocery store. You also save a ton of money by not buying items that don’t end up getting used and by not buying extra junk that’s not on the list. Plus, this way everyone in the family gets to pick/cook a meal and will eat dinner at least one night a week. 🙂
It’s best to plan a few very simple staple meals for the week and then fill in with more complicated meals and new recipes for a day or two. Plan the meals you’ll be dining out. Help your kiddos plan their meals and gather what they’ll need to cook them. The earlier the kids get involved in this process the better. Kids develop their critical thinking and decision making skills by practicing.
Laundry never ends. We just have to accept it and move on. Your laundry will never be “done”. This is an every. damn. day. kinda deal. It’s more of a rotation and a habit you get into.
I’ve found that the best way to make it as fast and painless as possible is by adopting the following strategies (which apply to multiple kinds of tasks):
Do small loads. This is best implemented by using small baskets. Quicker to put away and not as overwhelming as a mountain of clothes. Wash when it’s full. Not overflowing.
Wash often. Make changing out a load part of your morning routine. Brush teeth. Change laundry. Rinse, lather, repeat. Do the same at lunch or dinner. Having a set time that you pop a load in and out is easy to remember and steady keeps the laundry train a movin’.
Get everyone involved. Have everyone “put away” their own clothes (which can even mean just having them fling clothes into a low drawer or basket). The little ones feel proud for helping, and though it may take a little bit longer, they are learning responsibility and taking ownership of their items. It will pay off later. If your kids aren’t eager to help out, offer incentives (see next item).
Chore Chart / Everyone’s Opening & Closing Duties / Household Flow Chart
Chore charts are a good visual for everyone to see and serve as a great tool for accountability. Not only are chore charts great for kiddos, but they are also awesome for mom and dad. When the kids see that mom and dad are also checking off their to-dos, it makes them want to participate. Offer exciting rewards for getting chores done (not punishments for not doing them). Also, not calling it a ‘chore chart’ helps reluctant family members get on board a little easier. Make it into a fun game for the family. Teamwork.
Pinterest is an amazing resource to find free, printable charts. You can also check etsy for some really cute and custom chore charts.
All Items Have a Home
Have a designated spot for EVERYTHING. If you have to look for something in more than two or three spots, it’s time to check yo’ self. Keep things with their like-items. Don’t have a bunch of the same things strung about in different places. Keeping everything similar together prevents you from losing things or buying multiples.
Once you feel like your house is in (relative) harmony and you’ve scheduled yourself some proper time in the week, it’s time to make space.
What area of your house makes you feel good to be in? Is there a room or area that is beautifully decorated or home to family pictures that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Or do you love being outside in the breeze and listening to the birds? Go to your nearest favorite place.
It’s important to have a designated creation station. A closet makes a perfect mini artist studio but so does a tote bag or a storage bin. Even if it’s just the corner of the coffee table, clear a space to work.
Make sure you have all of the tools you need. Favorite paper to write on. Favorite utensil to write with. Colored pencils. Paint. Charcoal. Oven. Chainsaw. Whatever. I’m a big proponent of kits. There can be a kit for everything, literally. If I’m working on sewing, I have a sewing kit (plastic bin with all of my sewing supplies). I have an organizing kit that I take to all of my sessions with me. When I was doing cosmetology, I had my hair, skin, and nails kits. A kit is just an itemized list of things that you’ll need for any specific task and then all of those items organized into some area or container. Compile one.
Now that I’ve scheduled the time and made a work space, I’ve found that I have a heck of a lot more energy for creating. I feel more inspired when my mind is less full of lagging chores and looming obligations. When I know that things are operating (at least somewhat) smoothly, I can breathe a big cleansing sigh and open up my heart.
When I create something that I have put my love and energy into, I feel like I’m breathing life into the world and into myself. That’s such an energizing feeling. The more I create, the more energy I have for creating. It’s a snowball effect. Even if you don’t get into a laundry system or plan any meals, the most important part is to just start creating. Just sit down and create something small. Anything. Once you’re in motion, it’s a lot easier to keep going.
I challenge you to make more time, space, and energy for creating by getting your daily routine in check, implementing systems for your daily chores, and crafting that special creation space. Below is a recap of the main ways I’ve found to accomplish that goal. Good luck to you!
- Schedule (damn near) everything. Pick a time for creating and put it on the calendar. Make sure it’s a time that you’ll actually WANT to create, for example, some people like working better at night vs day etc. Be aware of your tendencies.
- Streamline your household chores with routines (meal planning, laundry, cleaning, petcare, etc).
- Everyone participates and has responsibilities. No matter how small, if kids can walk, they can put their clothes in a basket.
- Work in a space in your home that you want to be in, somewhere that makes you feel good.
- Just start creating. The more you create, the easier it becomes.
What tips have you found to help yourself become more creative? Please share in the comments below!
Saturday, March 12th at 1pm
hOMe family holistic center
7927 Floyd St, Overland Park, KS 66204
Start your spring cleaning off right! Kick those toxic cleaners to the curb and clean your home with safe and natural cleaners!
Most of those “green” products found in stores are packed with dyes, fragrances, and carcinogens that are harmful to our bodies and the environment.
At this workshop, learn how to clean your house top to bottom by using just a few common natural ingredients.
Join us to create your own organic cleaning kit with everything you’ll need to clean your entire home safely and naturally. As we compile the cleaning kit, we will talk about each ingredient and some of it’s best cleaning uses. You’ll create a cute caddy of organic cleaning products to use at home, customized by you from a variety of essential oils.
Space is limited to 6 people. Register online here.
I had planned on writing a review of this book when I started reading it after Christmas (I also gave one to my MIL and SIL). This book seemed to be all the rage and, as a professional organizer, I just had to see what all the fuss was about.
It’s a fast, easy read. She gets a little bit “out there” when she talks about items having feelings and preferences, but if you don’t take it too literal, she paints a good picture of what kind of vibe that’s projected by a bunch of stuff balled up and crammed in places.
The main point that I took away from her book (also happens to be the method that I use with my clients) is to physically hold and feel every single item you are organizing. Not only does putting in the hard work of organizing give you an ownership in keeping your place organized, it’s also cathartic to hold items that you haven’t seen for a while to really determine if they are needed in your life. She says that if it doesn’t spark joy than it’s time to say goodbye.
Like Marie, I’m also a big supporter of sorting items by category and not by room. I always get all like-items together in one place. That way you can really see what all you’re working with and you don’t have to keep redundant items.
I also loved her bit about not passing off your unwanted junk to your friends and family. It’s a big one that I don’t think a lot of people think about.
Overall, it’s a quick, light read. I don’t think it’s the absolute best book EVER, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about organizing and looking for somewhere to start!
Even though we are planning on a home birth (more about organizing and preparing for that in the next blog), I am still going to pack a suitcase in the event that we need to transfer to the hospital. When I initially thought about it, I thought that I’d probably just throw a few things in the suitcase and call it good. Boy, was I being naive.
Upon researching it further, there are quiiiiiite a few items that one should pack when having a hospital or birth center delivery. A lot of things that, after talking to some of my mom friends, I didn’t realize I’d really want to have with me.
Birth Plan, Maternity Notes:
These would be things that are really important to you during labor, delivery, and after the birth as well as some of your expectations around pain management. Two examples of what you might include can be found here, here and here. A written birth plan is especially important if the things that you expect are not typical of hospital protocol like delayed cord clamping, keeping the placenta, or not having your baby bathed.
Personally, I haven’t made an official birth plan because my midwife, doula, and husband are all on the same page about what kind of experience we’d like it to be and they will all three be with me for support and as advocates in the event that we have to transfer to the hospital.
The overall jist of the clothing seems pretty straight forward… something loose and comfy to wear while at the hospital and a coming home outfit.
Robe – I’m not sure how many moms said that this single item was a life saver. Robes made it easier for many of them to be covered loosely, yet still easily breastfeed the baby.
Maxi Skirt/Dress – I’ll be packing one of these. There are the most comfortable item of clothing I own, I lounge around in them at home all the time.
Lots of Comfy Underwear – It’s been suggested to either just use the mesh ones provided for you at the hospital or to bring your own over-sized granny panties which are much more tolerable if you have to have a c-section.
Socks, Slippers – Many moms have complained about their feet getting cold (and swelling up) so these helped to keep their tootsies warm. Personally, I hate socks and slippers so I won’t be packing any.
Flip Flops – Great for the shower and nice and easy to walk out of the hospital in especially if your feel are a little swollen.
Nursing Bra or Tank – A bunch of moms said they wish they would’ve brought these with them to the hospital to be able to be a little more covered up yet still nurse their baby.
Going Home Outfit – If you’re expecting to take a ton of pictures on the way out, might be a good idea to bring something you won’t loathe being seen in when you look at the pictures later.
Pillows – Several moms have said that they wished they would’ve brought their own pillows (especially body pillows) because the pillows at the hospital weren’t very good.
Massage Oil – If you want your partner or doula to massage your hips or back during labor, massage or coconut oil could make that experience a whoooole lot better.
Essential Oils for Aromatherapy – Lavender is a great essential oil that will promote relaxation and help relieve pain. Frankincense also helps with relaxation and can also be used to help heal perineal tearing.
Birth Ball (if not provided) – This is great to sit and rock on and will help ease contractions.
Water Spray Bottle & Handheld Fan – Many moms get really hot during labor. Your partner could use these to help keep you cool.
Eye Masks, Ear Plugs – Hospitals can be bright, loud places with people constantly walking through the well lit hallways. Getting enough sleep during labor is essential, so having these items handy might enable you to get a little more shut-eye.
Rice Bags to Heat or Cool – They can be put in the freezer or microwave and can really help out with muscle aches or to cool you down when you’re overheating.
Clothes for Baby – Bring several different outfits and in a couple different sizes since you won’t be totally sure how big your baby will be. Some babies go through a lot of clothing changes, so it’s good to bring a couple different sleepers, onesies, and pairs of socks.
Receiving Blankets – The hospital will provide these for you unless you want to use a different kind. Personally, I prefer the muslin baby blankets, they are breathable (if baby’s face gets covered) and super comfy.
Lots of Diapers (as many as 12 x day), Wipes – Most hospitals provide basic disposable diapers, you will only need to bring your own if you prefer to use a different kind.
Manicure Tools – Most babies come out with those crazy sharp nails. Might want to bring something to cut them with so they don’t scratch their cute little faces.
Boppy Nursing Pillow – One mom said she wished she would’ve brought this along to help her nurse. She said that as a new mom learning how to breastfeed, she had a hard time trying to use the flat hospital pillows for support.
Some hospitals won’t feed you during labor, but you still need to keep up your energy, and a good way to do that is by eating, so be prepared to bring your own favorite snacks that are somewhat mild on the stomach (since there may be vomiting) but packed with enough nutrients to keep you going.
Coconut water – This stuff is packed with electrolytes and potassium which will really aid in keeping you hydrated and having energy through labor.
Fruit & Nut bars
Fruit – dried, fresh, fruit strips
Lollipops – A great way to combat dry mouth!
Mints or Breath Strips – If there’s any vommiting you may want to “freshen up” instead of having to go to the bathroom to brush your teeth.
Take-out Menus – We all know hospital food isn’t the best. It’s a good idea to get a few of these from the nurses station since some of these places will deliver. Your partner needs to eat, too!
Plastic Bags for Soiled Clothes
Toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, Lotion, Deodorant, Body Spray – Bring your favorites, whatever smells you love that make you feel good when they’re on your body. It can make a world of difference.
Toothbrush and Paste, Flossers
Chapstick – This is a BIG one for me. I can’t go anywhere without chapstick, so having this handy at all times is an absolute must.
Hairties, Bobbypins, Comb & Brush – The last thing you want is your hair being in the way hanging down in your sweaty face. Don’t forget something to tie it back with!
Vitamins – You’ll still want to be taking your multi-vitamins during your hospital stay. Also, other supplements that I’ve been suggested are Arnica (for muscle aches to aid in pain relief) and Magnesium (which will help rebuild muscle for recovery).
Contacts/Glasses, Cases, Wipes – When I do sports I generally wear contacts, but I’m not sure what I’d feel like wearing in this case, so I think I’d bring both.
Toilet Paper – Some people want to bring their own soft TP from home because that hospital stuff is paper thin and not exactly comfortable.
Large Towel – For me, I’d prefer to have my own oversized soft towel for after the shower/bath instead of having to piece several of the smaller, scratchy hospital towels all over my body that has a preeeetty decent sized surface area.
Wash Cloths – As my nurse friend pointed out to me, it’s a good idea to bring a few of your own because faces aren’t the only thing other patients wash with the hospital wash cloths.
Phone & Charger
Camera & Charger
Tablet & Charger – During the slow parts of labor you might want to play games or watch some episodes of your favorite Netflix shows and usually the hospitals only provide basic cable.
Extension Cord – Sometimes the plug-ins are far away and you’ll want that access from the comfort of your hospital bed!
Folder or Large Envelope:
This is a great place to keep your insurance documents and any paperwork that the hospital will send home with you without having it all end up crumpled up in the bottom of a bag somewhere.
Cash and Change:
You never know what kind of random cravings you might have for some vending machine items or if you want to purchase something you (gasp!) forgot at the gift shop.
Xtras For Your Partner:
Several Changes of Clothes – It’s better to have more than you need. If your partner runs out, you will not be happy if they have to leave you to go home and get more clothes to wear, because you never know how long you might have to stay at the hospital.
Swimwear – You might want your partner to join you in the pool or shower, and while the hospital will let you do it in your birthday suit, your partner won’t be able to!
Snacks – Usually hospital meals aren’t also provided for your partner. You both need to eat during and after labor and to keep up your energy.
For after the Birth:
Nursing Pads, Soothing Gel Pads, Nipple Balm – Even if you don’t plan on breastfeeding, your will be leaking. While breast feeding you will probably encounter sore nipples and the gel pads and balm can help relieve some of that discomfort.
Large Overnight Maxi Pads – While the hospital provides you with some, you will probably want to bring your own. Several of my mom friends swear by the soothing Padsicles (of the frozen variety) that are pads filled with Witch-hazel and Aloe Vera to help soothe and heal those lady parts! Even while at the hospital, using them unfrozen can help alleviate some of the discomfort.
Extra Bag or Two – You’ll more than likely come home with more than your brought, especially if visitors drop by with gifts. Bring an extra bag or two to help transport this extra stuff home.
Breast Pump, Milk Bags, Permanent Marker (most hospitals will provide these) – If there are any complications and your baby needs to go to the NICU or is unable to stay with you, you will want to pump some of that vital immunity building colostrum for your baby. A good friend of mine was unable to even hold her baby for the first 20 hours after birth so she pumped instead of having them feed her baby formula.
Soap & Microwave Sterilizer Bag – She also noted that trying to get the soap out of the dispenser in the bathroom to wash the pump parts was a huge pain. She said, had she of known, she would’ve brought her own soap and her sterilizer bag.
Familiarize yourselves with how your car seat operates and is installed. It’s a good idea to have this all ready to go and installed leading up to the birth before you even go into labor.
You probably won’t use everything that’s on this list, but it’s better to have it if you need it, than to wish you had. Don’t worry about trying to lug it all in when you check in, just leave it in the car and send your partner out after it after you get all settled in.
A bunch of my mom friends even went the super minimalist route and only took a few items to the hospital and just used mostly what they provided for them. Whatever your preference is, here’s a decent checklist to at least get you started!
Shawna Childers – Owner of Organizing Solutions KC
Lives in Overland Park, KS
What interests you about professional organizing?
I find it fascinating how we as humans have such an affinity for possessions. It’s super interesting to me how we attach our emotions to physical items and through that, they somehow get power over us. I’ve always loved having a place for all of my items which started with losing one of my all-time favorite barbies when I was just a wee little one and having the four year old equivalent of a nervous breakdown. I then decided that they would all be stored in the same place so I’d never have to lose another one again. Even as a teenager, I’d hear a friend complain about not being able to find something in their bedroom and I’d go on a crusade to help them clean their room and keep a better inventory. I love being able to help someone save time and de-stress by being able to keep their items in a manageable system. Life is too short to spend unnecessary time looking for things or to feel bad about how we’re keeping them.
How did you get into professional organizing?
As I said above, I’ve been ‘into’ it for as long as I can remember, except I didn’t know there was actually a career path dedicated to it. I spent my teenage years and most of my twenties working as a nanny. I’d spend a lot of nap times organizing clothing drawers and putting things away in a system that made my job easier. The families always loved the systems I’d implement and they would usually comment on how refreshing it was to have saved some time whether putting things away, or trying to find them. I had heard “you should be a professional organizer” from so many people and in early 2011 I started researching the market. OSI was born in July of 2011 with a simple website and some amazing referrals and it’s been uphill since!
What’s the best part about helping clients get more organized?
Usually when we’re doing our initial consultation and a client is taking me through their space or showing me a project that needs organizing help, they are frowny, frustrated, and feeling pretty overwhelmed. Their energy is dragging and I can tell they aren’t as happy as they could be. The best part about transforming someones space, implementing systems for their business, or just helping them “reset” an area of their home are the end results: lots of smiles, their feelings of relief, and the personal sense of satisfaction and inspiration that radiates from them. When I leave clients homes the energy is completely different. The rooms flow better, the attitudes of the occupants are more positive and uplifting and there’s no longer an air of dread lingering about. I love leaving people to enjoy their space instead of avoiding it or staring at it with discontent. My favorite part is when a client realizes “oh, that wasn’t that bad” and are then able to face other challenging areas of their home or life with a new “can do” attitude.
What’s the biggest challenge in helping clients get more organized?
Hmmm. The biggest challenge is probably encouraging people to get rid of things that are broken or that they no longer use or need without seeming too pushy or that I don’t understand it’s sentimental value. We all have things that we keep around because we cherish them and because there’s an amazing memory attached, but often times we don’t actually need to keep the item just to keep the memory.
I’ve found that taking photographs of sentimental items help a lot with preserving the memory. Instead of Grandma’s huge antique quilting machine taking up a ton of space in your garage, why not have it beautifully photographed and displayed on the wall in your laundry room? Chances are, you’d see it and think of her more often, and you’d have some prime storage real estate for say… parking your car?
What’s the most common question people ask you about organizing?
The first thing people usually ask me is, “So, is your house super organized?” And yeah… it pretty much is. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have more than enough to keep up with like everyone. I don’t always get to vacuum up the never ending whirlpool of dog hair swirling around on my wood floors as often as I’d prefer or give the shower a good scrub down, but I’d say most of our items have a specific home and that home is part of a system that works for us. I don’t like wasting time trying to find things or money on having to buy new ones.
What’s a typical session with you like?
Slightly uncomfortable, fun, and challenging. Ultimately it’s extremely rewarding – for both of us. Most people initially feel a little awkward showing their mess to a stranger, but don’t worry, we won’t judge! After the consultation and we figure out what exactly you’re needing help with we devise a plan of action and dig right in. Depending on the kind of project you have (space, business, unpacking, etc) each session is a little different. Usually it’s a clearing out, categorizing, and replacing with order kind of process. I prefer the atmosphere to not be so serious and stuffy during our sessions, so while we work expect me to throw out some dry humor and unusually lame anecdotes. 🙂
What’s your favorite organizing tool?
It’s probably a toss up between containers and labels. I love containers (especially for small items) because they take what could (or used to be) a crazy mess and package it nicely into one specific area. I love labels because once you put a label on something it’s kind of like you’re making a commitment to only put that kind of item in the container/section which I find reaaaaally helps with not ending up with a crazy random junk drawer or area. Once you decide what that area’s purpose is through a label, it’s a lot easier to think “nope, this doesn’t go here, let me put it where it actually belongs”. It’s putting things away where they actually belong that is a major component of not only getting organized, but staying that way.
What’s the best 10 minute organizing tip that could help someone get a little more organized?
Pick a small area that you use EVERY day. It could be your make-up drawer, the bathroom medicine cabinet, your work space, the silverware drawer… anything.
1. Take out as many of the items as you can.
2. Sort them into 3 piles: use often, use sometimes, use rarely/never.
3. Do a quick wipe down of the space using your favorite smelling cleaner.
4. Get rid of or find another home for the items you rarely/never use. Why keep it around if you aren’t realistically ever going to use it? If it’s because of sentimental value, put it with the rest of the sentimental value items or find a creative way to display it.
5. Replace the remaining items in this order: things you use most – up front, and things you use least in the back.
What do you spend your time doing when you aren’t organizing?
When I’m not organizing I spend a lot of time thinking about organizing. No joke!
I’m kind of an improvement junkie and luckily, so is my amazing husband. We end up having a lot of really interesting abstract conversations about why we do the things we do and how to make our lives better and in turn, those around us. When I’m not swimming to shore in a cloud of theories and ideas, you can usually find me at mommy+baby yoga, doing the nap-time hustle at home, or out on a trail breathing fresh air and soaking up the sunshine.
What’s your favorite household appliance?
Hands down, it’s the Vitamix blender.
I used to do a lot of juicing, but got tired of leaving out that amazing fiber. The Vitamix crushes it all up, making a silky smooth drink out of rind and all. I use it mostly to make green juices because I would so much rather chug down a glass of greens than spend 20 minutes chewing them. It makes me feel the way cows look just chillin’ in a field slowly grinding away on that greenage. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Close runner up: the shark vacuum. We have a middle of the line version and it is completely amazing. Dog hair doesn’t stand a freaking chance.
What are three words that best describe your personality?
perceptive, open, and pro-active
And finally… What are a couple of your favorite online resources for organizing?
bemorewithless.com – I absolutely love how Courtney is focusing her life and doing so through her belongings. Her capsule wardrobe course, Project 333, is revolutionary.
becommingminimalist.com – Joshua has a bunch of amazing pointers on downsizing, living intentionally, and focusing on priorities over possessions.
And finally, pinterest.com (follow me!) – You can find almost any kind of organizing project on there. So many amazing tutorials and blogs about organizing. The internet is a beautiful thing.