PART TWO: THIS YEAR’S PAPERS…
Let me start by saying I would like to pass legislation stating anything that comes home from school and needs my attention should be allowed to be returned to school the next day. It is usually the active papers that are the problem and having a guideline on what is active, what is reference and what is archive is crucial. Getting clarity on this from teachers and students will make all the difference. You will be able to have a streamlined system and you can help your child with this skill. Many times kids are paralyzed with paper too and tend to carry everything in oversized backpacks and overstuffed desks and lockers because they don’t want to be embarrassed by not having what the teacher wants and inevitably this creates a situation that papers get lost in. This skill takes time and support not just verbal instruction. Do it together to build better habits.
Every home needs a LAUNCH PAD or CONTROL CENTER for school papers.
Here are some components for a good launch pad:
- A one step space for EACH child’s backpack
This will save the day for you. Have a place to hang that backpack and create a procedure for going through it after school. Make sure it’s loaded for the next day and many stresses will disappear with putting that one step into place.
- A place for important ACTIVE papers
Use a red folder for active papers, I think of them as HOT. Everyone in my house knows where the HOT file is and that it is important and things that belong there are typically safe and not lost!
- A work space for HOMEWORK
I am a big believer in the dining room table homework area. I like to have that activity under my nose because I have found it’s easier for me to answer questions and keep things on track if they are centralized in the home rather than hiding in a bedroom. So many parents think the answer to a distracted student is a desk in their room but 9 out of 10 times that desk is on Craigslist a year later because it becomes a clutter catcher and not a work space. Using the dining room or kitchen table has other added benefits, it helps to get homework done before dinner because things have to get put away in order to eat. I realize this won’t work for everyone, but take the ideas to your home and see what does work.
- A place for SCHEDULES and INVITES
Along with the HOT folder I have a folder for soccer schedules the directory and invites. This is one clear plastic wall pocket that I nicknamed ”my brain” because when stuff gets in there I don’t have to remember it all. I put important info in my phone or on the calendar but I keep the details there until the event is over then I toss it.
- ONE family calendar
Our family calendar hung above the wall pocket (my brain) and everyone could see it in my kitchen. It is where all the info resided for everyone. If you want your activity to be counted, it better be on there. I delegated a bit here because frankly I couldn’t keep it all straight.
As time went on smart phones came into play so the calendar on my phone was THE calendar and everyone entered info on that. I can remember the kids asking if they could do something and passing the phone to them so they could see if there was time available and what was going on that day. Like the HOT file, the calendar gets respect because if it’s not on there I can’t really get it scheduled or done, so everyone quickly knew to get on board and get their events in the calendar.
- Night time routine for readiness
When you get this in place you will be a rock star! It is so easy to do, but so easy not to do. Think of it as PEACE for you and your students. Just take ten minutes to go over what needed to be completed that day, what is needed for the next day and put it away or where it needs to be for the next day. It will calm everyone down, and set the stage for a more relaxing evening or bedtime as well as a smooth morning exit.
For examples of launch pads or family control centers, check our Back to School board on Pinterest!
Are you shuddering to think about those back to school papers? Is your child’s back pack from last year sitting exactly where they put it on the last day of school? If so, you need make a plan for handling the deluge of paper that is about to start flowing into your home again. Here are some ideas on how to get ready for the upcoming school year.
PART ONE: LAST YEAR’S PAPERS….
What to keep:
- Report cards and official documents
Of course you need to keep report cards and official documents from school and they should be filed with your family documents for easy retrieval.
- Academic paperwork
Keep things that show development. When you look at everything and notice papers showing an important highlight or lowlight, hang on to it. Keep personal writing, especially when it is about them, or about family. Ask your children what is important to them. It is a lifelong skill they need to develop and leaving them out of the process takes away an important learning opportunity. Listen to them! Generally toss spelling tests, worksheets and papers that seem repetitive or less student oriented.
Keep what is pretty and makes you happy. Look for developmental leaps and write the child’s name, date and any other notes, like why you kept it on the back. Look at previous items you kept and pull out what doesn’t seem important now. Have kids go through it too, sometimes they can identify items they truly engaged in rather than pre-cut crafty projects that teachers really did most of the work for them.
Where do I put all this stuff?
Decide what enough is. I like to use under the bed bins for art and a file box for papers. I keep it in the attic and I add to it through out the school year. At the end of the year I invite my children to look at all the stuff that is saved from previous years and add what is “worthy” from the current year. I am often surprised that the lid goes on those two boxes when we are done because we naturally get rid of things that just seem less relevant as time goes on. We then find things to scan, frame, toss, or give as gifts and it seems to work.
TIP: Both of my children took two AP art course in High School and the art got bigger and better as time went on. I often scan larger projects and frame the reduced versions to hang on an art wall I created for my kids work. I could recreate them in black and white and even hang similar project they each did side by side.
For examples of launch pads or family control centers, check our Back to School board on Pinterest!
Welcome to May! With May comes many things, but one in particular is Garage sales! I was asked to talk to the crew from the KDKA Radio morning show early this morning about garage sales and I wanted to share a few more tips with you here. Whether you’re shopping or selling, here are a few things to help you along the way.
If you are looking for sales in your neighborhood good places to start are The Pittsburgh Post Gazette classifieds, the Pennysaver newspaper, and Craigslist. You can also search sites such as Oodle, which syndicates its garage sale listings with a handful of other social networking websites and newspapers, as well as Garage Sales Tracker’s Pittsburgh area garage sales section.
If you are already on the road then no need to worry since there are smartphone applications for finding a local sale. A service called Garage Sale App is available for 99 cents. The app mines data from Craigslist to show you what local sales are in your area. If you want a free app then Garage Sales Tracker also has a free app you can use to map out which sales in the area you want to go to that day and the best route. Another fantastic app is iGarageSale where you can search sales for specific items. It’s available on both iPhone and Android smartphones.
Now that you know how to find all of the sales, here are some tips for holding your own garage sale:
- Determine when to have the sale. Summertime and spring are naturally the best times, and being an early bird pays off!
- If you have a lot of stuff, you may want to break the sale down into 2 days.
- Advertising is very important. Utilize the resources mentioned above as well as signage that you can pick up at any local hardware store. Or you can design your own sign. Just make sure you include the address, put the arrows in the right direction, and mention the date of the sale and time.
- Be prepared with supplies, such as balloons on the mail box, proper change, tables, and tags for pricing.
- Placing the person in charge of the cashbox in the back of the sale makes people walk through the whole sale, and increases the chance that they may buy something else as they make their way through.
- Make price tags big and place them on the TOP of the items.
Most of all, Have FUN!
Leslie was featured on KDKA Pittsburgh Today Live this week! Watch her interview here to learn more about some of the best new organizing items!
As we continue through our three part series about working with couples, please see part one about Organizing With Couples. In part two I thought it might be interesting to share some thoughts with you about working with new parents and how organizing yourself and your new roles as a new family is so important as you welcome a brand new member to the family.
I love working with new parents, they are fun because they’re full of possibility and are engaging in a really positive process and are usually very open to new ideas and systems. If you were slightly disorganized prior to becoming a parent, it is really important to acknowledge that and see the need to have systems for your new needs in order to make it work. Otherwise, that new little bundle can swiftly amplify the problem.
New parents are really looking for an answer and it’s a really good time to find these new systems because they haven’t really established the rules yet. It’s nice to help them make those rule together so that one person doesn’t end up doing it all only because they are the one who put the system in place.
When talking about roles for couples, there are a lot of different things that happen within a family that need attention like daily money managing, long-term financial estate planning and insurance. When a couple decides on who is responsible for these items it is important to consider which person might be better suited for the day-to-day finances verses who might be better working with the long-term planning and insurance. You might be surprised to find one person may not fit both roles. The same process should be used for deciding who would be better at keeping the family social calendars or making travel plans. Think about who is in charge of what duty and clearly establish the roles.
Historical Roles – Do They Still Work?
We typically fall into similar roles that our parents were responsible for. But it’s important to take a step back and question those roles.
Ask yourself these questions:
Does this work for me in my current position in life?
Can I do what my dad did?
Does that makes sense?
Does the role my mom played work for the life I’m are leading now with the job I have outside of the home?
I think for the most part this is the first generation where previous roles really do not work like they used to. I tell new mothers that you have no role model for this. This is new territory so you need to organize it and think about how you want it to happen because it’s not going to come from the seat of your pants.
Add a little clean up time before meals instead of before bed. It’s almost time for dinner, your children are smelling your meal and it’s the perfect time to get them to think about cleaning up before they eat. I’ve found that waiting to clean up at bedtime usually means they want to take their time because they don’t want to go to bed. But EVERYONE wants to eat right? And they usually want that right now (at least I know my kids do)!
Give it time, 15 minutes before dinner is served, direct a quick clean up of a certain area, toys, entry, laundry. Suggestions like “Let’s just take care of this and when you’re finished dinner will be ready.” Remember to let them do it. As soon as they finish, it’s time to set the table and sit down. Everyone is ready to eat and you’ve got a mostly tidy home. Can’t beat that!
Everyone loves the idea of a household list or planner, but what is it? Basically, it’s an easily accessible collection of information about what’s going on in your house and family. You can separate and arrange this information into different categories. Here are some good ideas of what kind of categories you can organize in your own household binder:
- Planner – Here you can insert yearly, monthly, or weekly calendars and/or lists. In here you can map out any upcoming appointments, assignments, projects, vacations, etc. that are upcoming in your life and your family’s life.
- Home – You can begin this section with a table of contents. Following the T.O.C., you can have various sub sections, such as seasonal projects (spring cleaning, anyone?), cleaning, shopping, chore, and home improvement lists.
- Family – You can store each family member’s individual information, such as any medical or allergy information. You can also keep instructions for or the schedule of your babysitters.
- Contact Info – In addition to keeping the contacts of family members and friends, you can also keep the contact information of vendors, restaurants, and even service providers – like your favorite plumber.
- Meal Binder – Collect your favorite recipes.
- Holiday Binder – Keep track your favorite crafts, ideas, traditions, recipes, wish lists, etc.
Putting together a household binder is not only simple to do, it is also a very fun and rewarding way to stay organized.
Check out some list templates to help you start:
If you are a real list lover – go to : www.listplanit.com
I must admit, I was the mess on graduation day. I was really busy with work and had set aside the day to catch up on calls and emails and several projects that I really needed to do. Typically when everyone else is busy and I can get busy, but on that day everyone was off and available and I was trying to work. On another day that might have been fine, but it happened to be my son’s graduation day and I am looking at an empty nest in late August. I tried to plow through and I was stressing out because my heart was not in it. I wasn’t able to concentrate and I kept getting less and less efficient.
It didn’t take long for my husband to notice I was upset and he had the wisdom to step in and give me permission to step away from the office and take the day off. It sounds simple! I make a living helping people find efficiency while aligning with their goals, values and needs but I didn’t see it.
Once I made that shift in perspective the whole weight was lifted and I moved through the rest of the day like a champ. I had fun with my family goofing around with no agenda and enjoyed a memorable evening with family and friends. Interestingly, when I returned to work I was refreshed and ready to go.
1. It is a privilege to work for myself and have flexibility and I need to step up and pay attention to that freedom and do what is important.
2. Marry a smart man how can see what you need when you can’t!
Actually, applying that “summer factor” thinking to all of your decision making might help you “edit” things out that are less desirable and lead you more purposeful living. Remember every time you say �YES� to something, you are saying “NO”to another.
Many times we find our selves making “life additions” with out making any �life subtractions�. You may have been a very busy mother of one child, and had a full plate. As time goes on, you add more children, their activities, committees, more friends, more family and you feel overwhelmed. There are lots of life additions, but where is the subtraction?
I always say “You can only do ten things well—pick your Top 10″. Say no to anything that falls below that line until you catch up on those ten! Knowing what is important makes everyday more meaningful, now insert sunshine into your decision making to help you focus on what’s important!
Well, it wasn’t the biggest headline in Pittsburgh, post superbowl…but it was fun to make an appearance as the first Certified Family Manager Coach in PA. Check out the video at www.kdka.com