Thursday, October 27, 2011

Radical Life Organizing

Organizing has become the new chic cause of late. Everywhere you look, there are cute little boxes meant for papers, lovely fabric covered files to store magazines, high tech looking wire baskets for mittens.

Isn't this missing the true reason to organize?

Isn't all of this causing more clutter in your home?

When did organizing simply for the sake of organizing become in?

When did organizing become a hobby?

I'm the first to admit it - I'm an organized person. But not because I like organizing. Not because I've ever bought a cute fabric covered box. (I haven't).

Organizing should be a tool - a means to an end - a stop on the road to freedom.

Freedom from looking for the same thing over and over. Freedom from picking up my kids stuff. Freedom from the endless cycle of housework.

Freedom to do what I want to when I want to.

Isn't that the goal in life? Aren't we all trying to just have more time to do what we want to do?

Time to take a nap. Time to read a book. Time to write a book. Time to save the world.

Having your home or office organized can give you that gift of time.

And that's why I organize. My cabinets might have cubbies in them, but not for a photo shoot. Simply to make my life easier.

I'm basically very lazy at heart. The systems I've developed help me exploit that laziness. They give me time to be lazy.

Want some systems? Need some systems? Here are some systems worth the time you spend setting them up.




time saving tips:

Need more systems to free up your time? Lots more ideas in my book  - get a free sample obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen. 

be organized.....evelyn

Monday, October 24, 2011

10 Best Organizing Tips for Toys

The toys. The playroom. The bane of our existence. On one hand you want it to be neat & orderly, on the other hand you want the kids to be free to "express" themselves in there. What to do?

Don't worry - with just a bit of planning both can happen. 

So - without fanfare - here's my list of the
 taa daa ( well, maybe a little bit of fanfare!)

    Grid Wire Modular Shelving and Storage Cubes
  1. Install an entire wall of cubbies. Shelves will work, but cubbies work better. Easy & cheap wire cubbies, the kind you can get at Costco or any big box store. They come in flat square grids, you bang them together with a rubber mallet. And you can do it yourself without any help. Buy as many as you think you will need, then buy more. The goal is to get an entire wall covered, floor to ceiling. The beauty of these is that they are easy to move around - and collect NO DUST! 
  2. Big toys - put one in each cubbie. If you want to really go all out, take a photo of the toy, punch holes in the photo & use paperclips to hang the picture on the cubbie. This way your kids and any guests know where everything goes.
  3. As the kids get older, swap out the photos with names of the toys. Helps foster reading skills.
  4. Small toys - put like with like. A plastic bin of blocks, a plastic bin of people. Put one bin per cubbie, and be sure the bin fills up the entire cubbie. Ikea makes some good sized  ones.
  5. Get a large wood box for big, awkward things, like Nerf guns. Then put wheels on the bottom of the box so it can be easily rolled out of the way. Ikea again for this one. 
  6. See the wheels on the bottom?
  7. If you have a closet, install laundry baskets in there like this for large sets like trains, race cars, etc. (Can you tell I have all boys?)  
  8. There are 4 baskets in the closet.
  9. If you have too many toys and not enough cubbies - rotate the toys. Pack up whatever doesn't fit, put into deep storage, and 6 months from now bring them out. It will be like Christmas all over again for your kids. Put the previously stored toys out, pack the old ones up into deep storage. There's no reason that all the toys need to be out at the same time.
  10. Get a drop leaf table for when you need table space for puzzles, etc. Fold it up when you need it, fold it down when you don't.
  11. Get a tall laundry basket, box, something that you can put stick type toys into - hobby horses, extra long Nerf guns, swords etc. into. Put this in a corner so it's easily accessible, but out of the way.
  12. Decorate with your kids art work. Paint funky frames directly on the walls at all different angles, and tape your kids art work inside. Looks great, easy to swap in new pieces, cheap, easy to paint over once the playroom morphs into something else.  click here for more info
  13. The red jagged line & black dashes are painted on the wall. The green & red & white strips are the artwork. It says Tommy in some funky way.
Make it easy for the kids to use, and easy to put things away and you all win!

And if you want to see some of my book now - get a free sample obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen. And I won't bug you. I promise.

 be organized.....evelyn

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Single Best Way To Recharge Your Batteries Before the Holidays Hit!

It is an absolutely GORGEOUS day outside today. The sun is peeking through the clouds, and the leaves are spiraling down from the trees.

The view out my front door!

School has been is session for awhile now, time to get back on track with having your needs fulfilled. 

I was just planning another "Girl's Day Out In The Country", so this earlier post of mine needs a rerunning.......

Today I'm talking about how to spend time with YOUR friends. You do have some right? When was the last time you saw them?

"Energy is the essence of life. Every day
you decide how you're going to use it by 
knowing what you want and what it 
takes to reach that goal, and by 
maintaining focus." - Oprah 

While I'm sure Oprah wasn't intending this quote to be about seizing time for yourself, it certainly applies. 

If you don't refill your gas tank, how can you expect to function?

Quality time in = quality time out.

Organize a day out with your friends. With email, Facebook and Twitter it's easy to contact everyone, without making numerous phone calls.
Your steps:
  1. Pick a day that is completely free for you. If all your kids are in school or camp, pick a weekday, so it feels more decadent. If not, pick a Saturday or Sunday when your hubby can take over child rearing.
  2. Plan some simple, inexpensive fun activities that you never get to do and that you would never do with kids in tow.
  3. Invite all your friends via email, Facebook or whatever works for you.
  4. Pray for sunshine.
  5. Enjoy your day!
Here's a sample of what I call "A Day In The Country" that I plan once a season with my friends.
  • Meet at 8:45 at my house, right after drop off at school Form carpools if you have a crowd..
  • Go to chic french bakery (Coco Luxe is our favorite!) about 1/2 hour away, but plan a road trip that takes you past huge mansions and wonderful scenery. The point is not to get from point A to point B as fast as you can. The point is to slow down and relax. Meander.
  • Have coffee/tea and a pastry. Calories don't count today.
  • Drive to a high end consignment shop that is over the river and through the woods. No highways allowed.  Califon Consignments gets our vote!
  • Have lunch a a cute bistro. Gourmet Expressions is absolutely the best for great food and no stress atmosphere. Located in a 100+ year old general store.......does it get better than that?
  • A quick stop by a home decor/gift shop on the way home (LamingtonGeneral Store) for some much needed browsing, and more relaxing.
  • Home before the kids need to be picked up from school.
And there's only one rule - No talking about your kids. I want to hear about what you've done, not what your kids have done. Today is reserved for you as a person, not you as a mom.

guarentee you will face the next day with a renewed sense of energy and a feeling of well being.....


Crave more organizing tips? Just click to get a free sample of my book, 30 Days to an Organized Home
be organized.....evelyn

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You Need A Nest

The weather is turning brisker, the days are getting shorter - time to nest.

No - not the type of nesting you feel compelled to do right before you have a baby. In my world, those days are long gone. This is nesting for you.

I'm talking about setting up a happy place for you, a safe place, a nest.

I'm talking about outfitting your bed as the sanctuary it needs to be.

I'm talking soothing colors, everything at your fingertips.

Here's a list of what makes my life better - at least more comfy....
  • emptiness. No clutter. No dirty dishes. Just the basics. 
  • a clock with a push light - I wear contacts and can't see a clock across the room, nor do I want a glowing clock right next to me. This works perfectly. I push the button on top when I need the light, perfectly dark when I don't.
  • reading lamp
  • down quilt
  • squishy pillows
  • heated mattress pad. This is one of my all time favorite things. I got it at JC Penny. Instead of an electric blanket, this heats up under you. And it's dual control, so only my side needs to be on. I turn it on before I get into bed, and then it's warm and comfy for me when I get in. And the control is mounted on the side of my night table, you can just see it in the picture. This way when I want to adjust it, I can just reach out my hand. No fumbling in the dark. I attached it with Command Adhesive strips.
  • remote control for the lights. I have one remote that does all the lights in the bedroom. Invaluable for when you are reading in bed and want to turn the lights off. No getting up! I'm going to mount that on the wall also. Right now it sits on the table, but I'm always knocking it down - so to the Command Adhesive I go!
  • a cat - this is optional.
This past weekend I did something I never do - I woke up, made the bed, and then decided that I didn't want to get up. So instead, I postponed the day and spent time just lounging in bed. I wasn't sick, it just felt right.

I suggest you do the same if you possibly can. Makes a world of difference in your outlook on life. One day not being responsible for things evens out the playing field somehow.

be organized.....evelyn

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why When Your Child Says No, It's A Good Thing

This isn't covered in parenting books. Moms don't talk about it at play dates.

You need to teach your child to say no.

No, they don't want to sign up for yet another after school activity.
No they don't want to go to a friend's house after school.
No they don't want to drink/do drugs/hang out at the playground at night.

It all starts when they are young.
You have to give them the power to make their own decisions, and then trust that they are right. You are not living in their body. They are. When they say no, respect the fact that it means no.

No, they don't want to put on a coat just because you're cold.
No, they don't want to share their favorite toy.
Bo, they don't want broccoli for lunch.

You can't expect them to have the NO skill when they are teens if you've never given them the space to practice it before they ARE teens.

Yes, you are setting yourself up for some battles. But choose your battles wisely. Override their no only when it really matters. Use it to teach them they don't always get their way - a good thing to know. But they can't always NOT get their way. Save your overriding no for the really important things.

No, you can't run out into the street.
No, you can't stay up until midnight on a school night.
No, you can't go hang with the kids at the playground. At midnight on a school night. In the street.

Saving your no for when it matters gives it more importance. Letting them say no when they want to gives them self esteem, decision making skills, and they ability to listen to their own intuition.

What type of child do you want to raise - one that thinks their say in the matter counts for nothing, or one that knows their own mind, and knows how to make their own decisions. There is no magic switch that flips this skill on when they turn 14.

It's up to you to give them space to try out their NO skills now, in a safe environment, instead of out in the real world. Doesn't matter if they are 3 or 13, respect their no.

And that NO skill will come in handy once they are adults and volunteering for every committee.......... How To Say No

Want more ideas to simplify your life?  Get a free sample of my book obligation, just click, enter your email, hit send and voila - free tips for your kitchen. And I won't bug you. I

 be organized.....evelyn

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The One Sure Fire Way To Drive Yourself Crazy!

I have had it. I'm done with doing everything at the same time and expected to do all of it well. I am not Wonder Woman. I am not Super Girl. I am mortal. And mortals were designed to do one thing at a time.

And that's why I refuse to multi task anymore. And so should you.

Doing too much all at the same time is turning my brain to mush.  And robbing me of the joy of completion. And making me feel like I'm getting nothing done. And making me tired. And you?

I'm pretty sure I do accomplish something, but since I'm always doing other things AT THE SAME TIME I feel like I'm always behind. And that gets old fast. How about you?

When was the last time you felt the gratification of a job well done?

When was the last time you felt in control?

Time to take back your life.

For now on, if I'm making dinner, I'm only making dinner.

If I'm helping with homework, I'm only helping with homework.

If I'm reading, I'm only reading.

Studies show that multi-tasking is bad for your memory too. (Click here to read the article.)

So - make your life simple. Do only one thing at a time. The world will not spin off its axis. Your family will not move out. Life will continue.

Try it just for one day. See how you feel. You can thank me later.....

 be organized.....evelyn

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sometimes You Just Have To Break The Mom Rules....

It was that kind of morning in my house. no one wanted to rise & shine, but life said we had to. I was up a bit late reading, so when my alarm went off, I snuggled down deeper into the covers.'S
And it was a brisk morning.

And the heat's not on yet.

And it was still dark outside.

Hence, it was hard to get up.

And I've yet to figure out why when I'm the one who works from home (,) I'm the first one up.

And if I'm not up, I'm pretty sure no one would be up.

Is it like that in your house? Why is the mom always the one "driving the bus" in the morning. And I don't mean driving the kids to school, I mean getting the entire household up & out in the morning. Here's my secret mom fantasy - I just ignore the alarm in the morning and see what happens. I'm guessing it would be lunch time before anyone moved. But that's only on weekdays. On weekends the kids are up bright & early........sigh.

Anyway, back to the subject. Sometimes you have to break the mom rules. Here are some examples:

  • We had chocolate cake for breakfast this morning. I had made it last night with whole wheat flour, so I'm working on the theory it's better then a doughnut. Back me up on this. At least it got the kids out of bed. And I didn't have to cook this morning. And everyone had the same thing. Woo hoo!
  • We extended reading time last night. My kids we're actually pleading with me for this. I granted them 15 minutes - but that meant I had 15 minutes extra too. We all won.
  • Sometimes we have dessert first. Especially when it's ice cream. There is no good reason for this. It's just fun.
  • And sometimes we do an entire ice cream day. This means we have ice cream for every meal. Usually on National Ice Cream Day, July 18th. My friends think I'm crazy for doing this. (Hi Amy!).
  • My birthday is next week. To celebrate, we're doing a food tour of south NJ - I've researched the best pretzels, doughnuts, & cream puffs and we're gonna try them all. Topped off by a stop at The Pop Shop one of my faves in Collingwood, NJ. You have got to go there if you can - over 22 different types of grilled cheese -and the owners are fun to boot. They definitely break the mom rules.
So - you get the idea?

It's actually easy to break the mom rules, because not one of us actually likes making the mom rules. We do it because we have to, but we still feel like kids inside. So, when we break the mom rules,  we're getting away with something also. And then we all win.

After all, since we're driving the bus, we make the rules.

Want some more of my wacky words of wisdom? Try my book -

be organized.....evelyn

Monday, October 3, 2011

The 4 Reasons You Should Leave Your Cell Phone at Home

Remember a time when cell phones didn't exist?

It was a quieter time, a gentler time.

A time when you could be unreachable.

friend or foe?
It's time to return to that time. For your own sanity. At least a little bit.

Now I'm not suggesting that cell phones don't have their place. They are a very useful organizing tool. But that's all they are. A tool. They are not your new best friend. So people,
please stop treating them that way. You're missing life.

An example - just recently I was out to lunch at a lovely restaurant. The atmosphere was wonderful. The setting was perfect. The birds were singing. The flowers were blooming. Relaxation at its best.

Every around me was texting. Not one of them noticed the atmosphere, the birds, the flowers. Not one of them was relaxing. They were too busy living in the cyber world to notice what was going on in the real world. They were not living in that moment - they were living in some moment that has yet to come, texting about something that probably hasn't happened yet.  It was comical.

Don't be like them. Notice the real world.

So I present -

The 4 Reasons You Should Leave Your Cell Phone At Home
  1. you are not indispensable. You should not want to be indispensable. Carrying & checking your phone constantly puts your time at everyone elses beck & call. You know what I mean. Your child forgets something - you get a call/text. You drop everything and bring the forgotten item to wherever they are. You loose valuable time, they don't learn to remember whatever they forgot the next time. What you are actually doing is teaching them that there are no consequences when they are irresponsible. Let's see how fun that is when they are adults. 
  2. it's nice to be unreachable. Especially if you are doing something fun. Imagine for a moment you are out at your favorite store, just browsing, enjoying your time. Your phone rings with something trivial, like a reminder of a meeting that don't need to know about right at this moment. Now imagine the same scene but without your phone. You can not be interrupted!!! Isn't that a wonderful thing? No one can find you - you are unreachable. You are in control of your own time. When was the last time you were in control of your own time?
  3. having your phone out while you are with other people is just plain rude. You're implying that you have better things to do, better people to talk to then the ones you are with. And you're not listening to whatever is going on right next to you. You are waiting for the next update from cyberspace. Everyone has to repeat what they said just for you, and no one's happy. 
  4. carrying a cell phone poses health risks. Need proof? Click here for an article from Time Magazine. I'm willing to bet that in the future our children will view cell phones like we view cigarettes today. What once was deemed the cool thing to do will end up being dangerous.
Now, I know what you're saying. "I need my cell in case my kids get sick at school/my parents need me/the world comes to an end." Yes, these are true emergencies, and a cell phone may come in handy then. But face it, how often do these events occur? 

All I'm suggesting is that you should keep your cell phone strictly for emergencies. And that doesn't mean the latest Groupon update. 

Be in charge of your phone. Use it like the tool it is. Keep you calendar on it, use it for notes, use it for directions. Do you need it on every waking moment of every day? Don't be available for whoever wants you at that moment. Put yourself first.

Start small. Try keeping it turned off for an hour. Then two. Then more. Then an entire day. Only turn it on when you need to use it, and only for a few minutes. Be in charge of it instead of the other way around.

And then one day - leave home without it. Show that phone who's in charge.

And enjoy being unreachable.

be organized.....evelyn