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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.


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.

Alarm clock rings, time to start the day! You crawl out of bed…stagger into the kids room and poke them awake…make your way back to your room and start to get ready for the day…go

back into kids room and poke again… a bit harder as this time you really mean they need to get up! Then the day begins for real. “Mom? Where are my pants? I can’t find any clean socks! What’s for lunch? I need $10 for a field trip! Where’s the permission slip?” and the litany goes on.

Does this sound familiar to you? Most parents have had days like this and I know that for a lot of you this type of day happens all too often. Days full of frustration, chaos and tears! Are you ready to calm this chaos and create a routine for a smooth weekday morning transitions?

The answer to having a calm morning begins the night before! Creating an evening routine that includes planning for the next morning will deal with most of these issues, stop the tears, and end the frustration.

Here are some solutions to avoid Morning Madness days:

1. Plan lunches during the clean-up period after supper. Pre-package anything that can be prepared ahead of time and pack all non-refrigerated items in lunch bags at that time. Create a designated place on your kitchen counter for lunch bags. Getting the kids involved in helping pack their lunch bags and ready to go for the morning will allow them to make a few choices that they’ll be happy to eat the next day. All that should be left to do the next morning is to take things out of the fridge and heat up any hot items to go into their lunch bags.

2. Get all school paperwork signed before bed and check your main calendar to see if there are any special activities planned for the next day.

3. Pack school bags with any special needs for the next day such as gym clothes, sports equipment needed for after school activities and any signed paperwork (see #2).

4. Pick out your children’s school clothing for the next day, dealing with any laundry issues before bed. (You know, “But Mom, those aren’t my favourite jeans!” drama). Better to discover that the night before than at 7:00 am the next morning!

5. Plan breakfast the night before, ensuring everyone gets a good start to their day. Even if they will be eating on the run, plan what they will eat and have it ready to prepare so they get something into their tummy before school! I have one kid who does not do mornings very well. We have had to learn to accommodate her natural “I hate morning” behaviour by being prepared to give her something to eat as she gets dressed, otherwise she would not eat anything at all. (She just will not sit and eat breakfast as it takes away from that extra minute of sleep she feels she needs! LOL)

Dealing with the root causes of the dreaded Morning Madness Syndromes the night before can ease morning chaos and can make for a much less stressful and more peaceful start to the day!