Back to school for teens top 5 tipsIt is that time of year again when we are planning for our kids to return to school. Some of you dread this time of year knowing that routines and that dreaded lunch preparation time is at hand. Some of you, of course, are jumping for joy knowing the kids are getting the heck out of your house!

I always found getting teens ready for back to school is a much different process than when they were younger. High School is a different baby all around than middle school from my experience. Mornings in our house were much harder because as teens they stay up too late and getting up in the morning was not their favourite thing to do...especially for ugg school!

Here are my top 5 tips to preparing yourself and your teens for back to school:

#1 Don't overstress about school supplies. I found that they did not need nearly as much as when they were younger especially those first days. some basic supplies of loose leaf paper, a binder, pens, pencil and eraser. Wait until they are a few days in and have been to class a few times, then they will know what they actually need for each class.

#2 Organize your kitchen so they can easily prepare their lunches and snacks for the day. Have all the lunch supplies together in a cupboard or drawer. As well, have a basket in fridge with the regularly used lunch and snack supplies. This not only makes it easy for them to prepare their own lunches (and by preparing I mean for them to throw something together as they run out of the house) but it also makes it easy for you to see what you need when grocery shopping...when the basket is empty you need to refill!

#3 Talk to your teens and include them in decision making...I cannot tell you how often I went ahead and bought stuff or made decisions for my teens only to find out they did not like what I bought, did not need it or resented me not asking their opinion. So we have learned the art of talking to each other, me asking them what they need/want and discussing what is possible and what is not. Sorry no big back to school Iphones in this house even thought they thought that was on the mandatory supply list for survival at school haha, that is something they have had to buy on their own. My youngest had very definite tastes and likes for backpack and clothes, so I would give her a budget and she had to get what she needed with that or add her own funds to it. I am happy to say she is now a high school graduate with exceptional financial skills.

#4 Teach them time management skills. I think this is one of the most important skills we can teach our kids. How to prioritize their time, break things down into manageable bites, How to use a calendar to manage their school, extracurricular time, play time and get themselves organized.

#5 Try to understand the craziness that is going on in their brain. The teenage brain is a fascinating thing, it can feel like they are aliens invading your home. Watch this documentary on Surviving the teenage brain to get a good understanding of why they are so crazy and do the things they do. This helped us survive these years, I am not saying it is easy but at least understanding why helped us to be logical in our guidance and support as they navigated these years. Hold on to your hats and pray! YOU CAN DO THIS! Surviving The Teenage Brain: https://vimeopro.com/user13599767/docs/video/154086074

 

My theory on parenting has always been that my job was to teach my kids how to live without me ,because I don't want them to live with me forever lol. High school is the time to help them learn adulting skills , give them some independence, let them learn to look after themselves and start making decisions for themselves (and sometimes make mistakes too - that is part of life). Talk to them, respect them for where they are in their life right now and help them adapt to the adult world by training them to think and do for themselves with the guidance of you as their 'coach' in this crazy world we live in!

Wishing you all a great school year...may you all survive the teenage brain days!

clear the dumping ground on counters and desks
Is your desk, counter top or kitchen table the dumping ground for lots of junk, paper and stuff? Do you or others comes in and throw things on the pile because you don’t know what else to do with it?

Lots of homes have these dumping grounds, it is a common problem. In our house that dumping ground is my husband’s desk. Not a working desk, he actually NEVER sits at the desk. It is really just a place to dump crap as he comes in. it drives me crazy as it is in the middle of our main floor and can be seen from pretty much all areas of the main floor.

Today, I came up with a solution to save my sanity and maybe my relationship hehe…after 26 years I think I finally figured out how we can both win.

Here are my tips and what I have done:

Get The Right FurnitureGet the right furniture- I finally realized I needed a space he could dump stuff but I did not have to look at it. So a small desk with a hidden compartment and not much flat surface is what I am using. Look for something that you can close up when you don’t want to look at junk.

Containerize – I now have 3 drawers that some of his other crap can go in if he needs the space. If you don’t have room for a new desk, then think about getting containers for people to use to hid the stuff. It may not be perfect but at least it will contain some of the chaos so it is not spreading over all the counters and desk top.

Relax and stop trying to control others…or make them change – change the environment not the person, it is really hard to ‘make’ someone care about being organized or care if things are clear. But most people will respect you for trying to accommodate them and you will feel less stressed when you let go of the control. Trying to create a system that works for both of you is the idea here, not perfection!

I know that blank spaces always fill up with junk, eliminate the blank space by giving it a purpose. Remove the desk if that is not working and use containers…if there is a place to put things most people will try to use it.

If you are struggling with paper chaos and are ready to take action, I have great news for you. I have a new online program that starts March 15th called Calm the Paper Chaos. Check it out here: www.CalmThePaperChaos.com and sign up today.

Happy Decluttering,

Kim

Get your car in your garage this year!

Did you know that your garage was meant for you to put your car in it? 

Do you have a garage that is so full of clutter and chaos that there is no way your car would ever fit in it?  Is your garage a dumping ground for stuff?

Imagine actually driving you car into your garage this winter.  Imagine getting into a nice warm frost free vehicle during a cold winter day.  Imagine using your garage to actually put your car in it!

I have one of the smallest garages around.  Our car barely fits into it even with next to nothing it in, which is not a reality in my life.  We have stuff in our garage including our deepfreeze and my husband’s tools.  That is the only place in the house those will fit.  We spent several years in this house without even trying to fit a car in there, but one year I decided that I was going to do it.  I measured my car and measured the garage and determined it was physically possible but changes had to be made…but I was determined.  I ripped out some built in counters that just piled up with junk and were too big for the space and I cleared out the junk.  After some sweat, tears and determination I did get my car in the garage for the winter.  I do have to reclaim it each fall from the bikes and junk that gathers, but I can tell you the pleasure of getting into a warm car on a cold winter morning is well worth the effort!

So here are the steps you can use to finally get your car IN the garage this year:

1. Decide you want it – The decision is one of the most important steps you will take.  Decide you are going to put your car in the garage (provided it physically will fit) and move forward from there.  Nothing can replace determination!

2. Declutter – okay you knew that one was coming right.  To make room for your vehicle you will have to get rid of the junk that you don’t need or use.  You must be ruthless and determined!

3. Build Up – maximize your space by building up, adding high vertical shelving to store the things that live in your garage will get them off the floor leaving room for the car.

4. Find alternative storage – Where can you put that stuff you don’t want to get rid of but does not need to be in the garage.  Cold rooms, sheds or even possibly offsite – our off season tires get stored at the garage that changes our tires for us. 

5. Drive your car in! 

The myth you just don’t have space is bogus.  If your car physically fits into your garage, then you just have to decide you are going to get it in there and you make it happen.

If you need some help getting it done, contact me and my team and we can coach you through the process!  CONTACT ME

Toy Room OrganizingKids toys can sometimes take over a space and you can feel that you live in a toy store after a hurricane goes through it. The important thing to remember when deciding on storage solutions for kids’ toys is that it has to be easy for the kids to put their things away. As a former preschool teacher I can tell you that having a dedicated spot for everything and making it easy for the kids to know where that spot is can reduce frustration, time and tears.

Cubbies and containers work well as long as they are well labelled and the containers are large enough to ‘throw’ things into. If the kids have to put all their stuff away in a secret order, like putting a puzzle together in order to get the lid to fit, they are doomed to fail. Look at any reputable daycare center and they are an Organizers DREAM- EVERYTHING has a place of its own and EVERYTHING is labelled, even the scissors have a special stand to go in. there is a reason for this, kids want and need easy to follow directions, they are empowered when they can do things on their own and by creating a space that makes this easy for them you give them power and self confidence. Much better than the constant nagging and occasional loud voices saying ‘this place is a pigsty, clean up your toys’

rubbermaid with toys storedI am partial to large Rubbermaid containers with the raise lids, they allow the kids to throw their stuff in and the lid will still go on, they also stack nicely. I had several of these containers when the kids were young, for Barbie stuff, for dress up clothes, for blocks, for Hot wheels, for…well you get my drift. I encouraged my kids to only have one of these out at a time. If they were playing Barbies then the Barbie one is out. If they went on to another activity they were expected to clean up the Barbies, cleaning takes about 2 minutes as all they had to do it put it all in one big container, they did have a few smaller containers to hold the tiny little items like Barbie shoes and accessories but those never actually worked as it was too complicated to maintain.

playroom organizationSmall cubbies work great as well as long as they are labelled or at least the containers on the cubbies are labelled. We had one that houses all my budding artists creative ‘stuff’. There are lots of different types of cubbies, ours is a metal mesh one that can be reconfigured as our needs change. We got that one at Costco. IKEA has some great ones as well and one of the best kept secrets to buying great kids toy storage solutions is any School Supply stores like Scholars Choice, they have fantastic stuff, as that is their business.

Remember to not be too hard on yourself or your kids, mess happens when they play and we should all embrace the mess DURING play time. By empowering them to be actively involved in the clean up phase you can make it fun and easy so it becomes a natural part of play. Go visit a daycare center and when it is time to clean up you will hear laughter, singing and cooperation. The kids love it almost as much as the playing itself.


How do I organize myself when travelling back and forth between the Cottage or trailer and home?

This was a question that I was asked this week, and I think it makes a great topic for today's blog.

Get Organized travelling Back Forth Between cottage2FTrailer and Home This Summer 300x300

This is the time of year that a lot of people are continuously moving back and forth from home to cottage/trailers and it can get quite confusing to keep track of all the things you have at each place, not to mention what you bring back and forth.  Inevitably you will end up at the cottage without that important ingredient for Friday evenings meal because you could have sworn you had some there…but in fact it is in your home kitchen cupboard.

Planning and organizing are key in moving back and forth.  Deciding which location is home base for the summer helps in planning…do you spend more time at the cottage and only occasionally go home?  Or do you spend the week at home and weekend at the cottage?  For the purpose of this blog I am going to concentrate on those that are weekend cottagers/campers.

For starters I suggest that you have a specific spot in your home that is designated as the cottage/trailer ‘to go’ location. Have a cottage bin ready to load in this location, something that is easy for you to just drop things in as you think of them thoughout the week. 

In the Kitchen:

Duplicate - The simple answer is to try and have duplicates of all the basics, most people do this anyway.

Keep a grocery list for each place separately – This is key so you know what you need at each place not just what you need.  As most people have phones now, the ongoing lists can be kept in digital format or use a shopping app, there are thousands out there to choose from.  I personally just keep it simple and use notes on my phone.

Take a picture of your fridge and main pantry at the end of the weekend – taking a picture of the cottage/trailer fridge and main food pantry will help you visually see what is there instead of trying to remember at the end of the week when you are getting ready to get weekend groceries in town.  Between this and your list you should be good to go!

Plan the menu - I always suggest menu planning, that is one of the key ways to stay organized and plan for meals and grocery shopping.  Whether home or cottage having a general menu plan will take a lot of pressure and stress of you when its time to feed everyone. Fro more info on menu planning check out this blog – Menu Planning Made Easy

In the Closet:

Keep it there- Keep the main items that are a must have at the cottage/trailer right there.  Especially things like bathing suites that are not easy to live without if you forget to bring them back.  For the very few must haves get accustom to hand washing them so they don’t have to be taken home to wash and possibly forgotten there. There is nothing as disappointing as getting to the trailer only to realize you have to spend the weekend without a bathing suit.

Travel with a basic wardrobe – If you often find yourself Sunday evening not wanting to go back to town, but then fussing over the fact that you did not bring your work clothes with you…then get in the habit of having at least one back up work outfit on standby for just such an emergency.  But in reality you should ALWAYS plan to not want to go back home Sunday night hehe

Give everyone their own travel bags that go back and forth- keep everyone’s things separate and teach kids the responsibility of packing what they want to bring back and forth (with supervision if they are young).  Keeping everyone's things separate makes it easier to supervise what is being brought back and forth.  Just remember to check younger kids bags for the essentials.  We once went away for a weekend and I mistakenly thought my kids were responsible enough to pack on their own.  My daughter had 3 suitcases all packed and ready go, so I just assumed that she had what she needed…We arrived at our destination only to discover that ALL 3 suitcases were full of stuffed toys and blankets…but not one stich of clothing.   Yup, nothing but the jacket that I had asked if she had before we left haha.  Now maybe this was her ploy to get new clothes, but I can assure you that the lack of stores in the area we were left her with just a few basics for the week J  After that I checked or made a list and made sure she had what she needed before we left each time.

In the Bathroom:

Duplicate - This includes toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps and for all us gals have the basics like face cream and basic make up at each location as the possibility that you will forget your makeup bag some weekend is quite high.

Dedicated Travel Case - For all the stuff you cannot have duplicated,like medications, then make sure you have a travel case with these basics that go everywhere you go-  it becomes like your purse and travels with you back and forth.  

Laundry Essentials:

Separate color laundry basket for cottage/trailer - If your laundry facilities are at home and you are bringing things back and forth, then have laundry baskets that are easily identified as belonging to the cottage.  Keeping the laundry that comes home separate from home laundry and setting it aside in the designated cottage ‘to go’ spot will keep you from forgetting it when heading back to the cottage. Always check the dryer before you leave for the weekend.

The juggling of 2 living spaces throughout the summer can get confusing and frustrating once in awhile but the memories and fun had at these summer getaways are well worth the efforts.  A little planning and organizing can go a long way to make the back and forth a little less crazy!

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to stay organized between your cottage/trailer and home?  If so share them with us in the Kaos Support Facebook Group!

Happy Summering!

Kim