Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Better Playroom!

Hey everybody! Welcome back to another blog from me, Evelyn Cucchiara of The Hopeful Life. My goal is to make your life easier. Better, more fun. All that stuff.

Speaking of stuff - raise your hand if you’re drowning in stuff. Yup, I bet your hand is raised. Stuff seems to creep up when you’re not looking, and if you don’t do something to tame it, before you know it, it’s taken over your life. Or your child’s life. 

Which brings us to today’s topic. Playrooms.

Doesn’t it seem like there’s never any playing going on in there? Time to take it back, make it simple, and make it work. Here are the easy ways to do just that......

Let’s Put The Play Back in Playroom!

I bet your playroom is a mess right now. Time to end that. You’re going to make the playroom work for you, not against you. It’s time to put a bit of structure in there. 

Otherwise, you might as well call it what it really is – a giant closet.

Just adding or subtracting a few things will make a world of difference. The playroom will suddenly become a place that the kids actually want to play in. And it will almost clean itself! (I’m not kidding.)

Here are the super secret shortcuts:

  1. Install an entire wall of cubbies. Shelves will work, but cubbies work better. Easy & cheap wire cubbies work great, and you can get them at Costco or any big box store. They come in flat square grids, and you bang them together with a rubber mallet. Best part, you can do it yourself without waiting for someone 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!

  1. Big toys – put one in each cubbie. And label them by taking 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. As the kids get older, swap out the photos with names of the toys to help build reading skills.

  1. 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. Put picture labels on the cubbies also.

  1. 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 if you need to store it in front of something like a closet. Ikea again for this one.

  1. ONLY PUT ONE TOY OR BIN IN EACH CUBBIE! 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. It’s confusing for the kids and just makes a bigger mess.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

The idea is to make it fun for the kids to put stuff away. If each toy has a designated home, it’s easy to put back. No time is spent looking for an empty place to put it. Make it a game. Set a timer for 5 minutes and see how many things can be put away! I’m a big fan of the photo/names of the toys as a label, and labels on the cubbies. Works like a charm!

Do you know one of the basic rules for keeping a place neat and organized? Make it harder to get something out then to put away. When your child wants a particular toy, they’re motivated to work a bit to get it. When they are done with it, all motivation is gone, so you have to make it really easy to put it away. So, no lids, no covers, just big bins/baskets that pieces can be tossed into.

Make the playroom easy for the kids to use, and you all win!

In case you ended up here in some back door way, and you’re not already a fan, I’m Evelyn Cucchiara from The Hopeful Life - showing you shortcuts to make your life happy, organized, peaceful, efficient & full of fun. And save you tons of time to boot. Hop over to my site and grab a free gift to make your life easier! Just click here!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who's Cooler? - Part 2

I’m back again. I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath to find out how to make the inside of your fridge great. A sight to behold. A wonder of the kitchen. Or at least how to make it work for you, instead of against you.

Good news. Your wait is over. Yay!

Here are the easy shortcuts, the super simple step by steps. How to be happy in a nutshell. At least when it comes to your fridge!

Today's topic - Part 2 of shortcuts for refrigerators - the inside. 

The fridge. the last place you probably want to spend any time on. But I promise you, these shortcuts I’ve listed below WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER. And easier. So you have more time. For other things. That are more fun.

Set the fridge up once, and it will reward you with time over and over again.

Ready? It’s time to turn your fridge into a lean, mean, cooling machine.   

  1. 1.take everything out. (have you noticed that's always the first step of any reorganizing job?)

  1. 2.toss anything that is past its expiration date, or anything you just never use.

  1. 3.wipe down the shelves with a cleaning cloth and a food safe cleaner (vinegar and water, baking soda, whatever strikes your fancy)

  1. 4.line the produce drawers with newspaper (my drawers are the exact size of a regular newspaper section, go figure!) and a paper towel. This makes it easy to clean the next time - you just toss or recycle the whole bit.

  1. 5.get a small plastic turntable that you put on a short shelf. This is used for all of your condiments. Put it on a shelf and fill it up with all those small things that like to lurk on the back of the shelf. Spin it around when you need to get to something. See how cool that is? Here’s one at Amazon.

  1. 6.designate a leftover shelf. Anything that needs to be used up and/or is free range for snacking goes here.

  1. 7.give each family member their own reusable water bottle. Label them. Store these on the door. Family members can grab it easily and not use a glass. (run it through the dishwasher once a week.)

  1. 8.if you want to get fancy, put plastic place mats, cut to size on the shelves. These are easier to wipe off then the actual shelf because they are easy to remove. Just keep in mind they need to be replaced fairly often, due to wear & tear.

  1. 9.consider getting a milkman. Lots of areas have them now. Fresh milk, eggs, & juice delivered right to your door. Costs a bit more, but you're worth it. And it eliminates last-minute runs to the store and all those impulse buys. Have had mine for over 15 years! Just google "milkman" and your state to see what's available.

  1. 10.designate a bread shelf so all the bread products don't end up smooshed in the back of the fridge.

  1. fresh washed lettuce directly in the salad spinner you washed it in. Perfect atmosphere for lettuce - not too wet, not too dry.

  1. 12.put everything else back.

13. enjoy you're newly designed, better functioning fridge!

That’s it. You now have a happy fridge. And going forth, more time to do the fun things in life.

I’m Evelyn Cucchiara from The Hopeful Life - showing you shortcuts to make your life happy, organized, peaceful, efficient & full of fun. And save you tons of time to boot.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who's cooler - you or your fridge?

Hey there! I'm back again to make your life easier and show you how to be happy. Really.

So - how's your refrigerator looking these days?

Crammed full? Inside and out? Doesn’t have to be like that. In fact, it shouldn’t be like that. 

Here’s how to make it better.

This week we start with the outside. Next week - we tackle the inside.

Time to rock & roll. Time to make it better. 

1. Remove anything you've stuck to it. Like calendars, shopping lists, vacation photos, magnets, coupons.There are better places for these things. Utilitarian calendars and notes - the best place for these are on the inside of your kitchen cabinets. Why not? It's empty space that no one has to see but you. Easy to access, easy to hide. Need to consult your calendar? Open the cabinet. Don't need it? Close the cabinet. Perfect. Post your calendar, shopping lists, whatever inside your cabinets and free up the front of your fridge. Now you can see them when necessary, but everyone isn't subjected to them. Now, how about those photos and magnets? Just more visual clutter that fills your mind up every day. Put the photos in frames or albums or recycling, get rid of last years holiday photo from people whose kids you don't even recognize, and lose most of the magnets. Now you should be looking at a clean slate, otherwise known as your fridge.

2. Next step? Give the surface a good cleaning with your favorite spray cleaner. Or just use a mixture of eco-friendly white vinegar and water. Any lingering smell of vinegar will dissipate, so no worries.

3. Now, put something on the fridge that makes you smile. One magnet - fine. 400 magnets - not so fine. Clutter stuck to your fridge is just as bad as clutter on your table. It all effects your state of mind and clogs your head up with useless stuff. Why not put something unique on the fridge? I have three small framed oil paintings - I found them at a garage sale and just glued magnetic tape on the back of the frames. Looks great - and I'm probably the only one on the block with that on the fridge! Different huh? Use your imagination - a favorite greeting card, a drawing from your child, Maybe a postcard from your brother who's traveling cross country....again. (Just saying.) The point is to use the space for something uplifting and fun, not just another clutter center. Kind of makes you see your fridge in a new way, right? Kind of shows you how to be happy, anywhere, anytime.

How's the outside of the fridge looking? Calmer? Happier? Making your world better?

Next week we talk about the inside. I've got great shortcuts for making the inside of the fridge work for you, not against you. 

Time for a reward. Go set a timer for 15 minutes and go read, sit in the sun, take a power nap, whatever floats your boat. Take some time for yourself, you've earned it.

Congrats! You've made a part of your world just a little bit better!

Want to see more? Just click here The Hopeful Life