Tag Archives: Home Organization

Organizing Paperwork

Organizing Paperwork

Some time last year, I got SO tired of my counters always looking like this:

Paperwork pilesThe amount of paperwork that comes into this house is just insane! I try to follow all the paperwork management rules: touch it once if possible, immediately toss whatever we don’t need, etc. but there is just a certain amount of paperwork that we need to hang onto, either for a short while or for the long-haul.

After thinking it over for a little while, I decided to create a system of file folders and to use one of the doors closest to the counter that is usually the “Hot Spot” for all this paperwork clutter.  This particular door actually goes down to our basement. It’s open most of the time when it’s just the four of us, but if we’re having a party or have more guests in, it’s also an easy door to close and conceal what is behind it.

plastic wall pocket

So, I went to the local office supply store and bought myself some plastic wall pockets; one for each of the major categories of paperwork I felt like I was dealing with. Then, I came home and used some fabric remnants I already had on hand and some Modge Podge (you could use matte or gloss, whichever you prefer) and I covered each box with the fabric. It really didn’t take long at all.  My tips would be: 1) make sure you cut your fabric large enough to wrap around the box, and 2) work slowly and make sure you get the bubbles out.

Organizing Paperwork

It worked best for me to cover the box in stages, so I would do the front, let it dry, then come back and work on the sides, etc. Letting it dry before doing the next step made it easier to pull the fabric taut and get everything smooth.

After the boxes were covered and dry, I added a label (mine are from Staples’ Martha Stewart collection of office supplies). I liked the way the red went with my fabric. You could just as easily print up your own.

Then, I hung them on the door by screwing through the fabric and the pre-drilled holes in the boxes.

Voila! The paperwork definitely didn’t disappear, but it got a lot more manageable, and my counter (mostly) stays clear.

Now . . . next I need to tell you about my plan for eliminating the paperwork altogether! Stay tuned . . .

This post is linked up to:
works for me wednesday at we are that family One Project at a Time Link party - ABFOL Weekend Bloggy Reading  Tending the Home Tuesdays

 

Laundry Organization and Child Labor

Laundry Organization

There are days when I think it would be SO much easier if I just did all the picking up and cleaning, table setting and clearing, and general chore duties around here myself. If I went that route, there would be the following advantages:

  1. It would be done.
  2. It would be done like I want it to be done.
  3. It would be done when I want it to be done.
  4. I can’t bark orders/nag incessantly at myself.

On the other hand, the following things occur to me that outweigh my desire to just get things done now, quickly, and well:

  1. My children are capable . . . often of MUCH more than I give them credit for.
  2. My children are growing up into adults who will eventually have to care for themselves.
  3. My children are here. Almost all the time. They make messes. Almost constantly. Those messes must be cleaned up. I have other things to do. Frankly, I have my own messes to clean up.

Which brings me to the matter at hand – Laundry. The never ending, monotonous cycle of sort, wash, dry, fold, put away, wear, get dirty, repeat. This was challenging enough to deal with when there were just two of us. It became exponentially more challenging during the crazy infant and toddler stages. Now days, it really shouldn’t be so bad. And yet, it is. And did I mention that I have other things to do?

At least twice during the summer, our clean laundry situation got so out of hand that my brilliant husband declared it a “Laundry Party!” We played loud music and gathered together around the mountains of laundry. He threw the kids their clothing as he got to it in the piles and told them to fold it. They did. My 5 year-old asked for guidance. We gave it. He executed with his best effort. It was AMAZING. We folded mountains of laundry in an hour or two and had it all put away. Have I mentioned that my husband is brilliant?

By the second time this happened, I realized a few things:

  1. My kids can actually fold their own clothes and put them away (the later part I already knew. They’ve been putting away some of their things, like socks, underwear, and PJs for a year or two). Now, the clothing is definitely not folded like I like it. Nothing is matched into outfits and placed neatly in a drawer. But things are folded AND put away . . . generally in the right area.
  2. I like things folded and put away. I like it more than I like things folded neatly and matched into outfits.

And so, we began a new laundry system at our house that has now been in place and operational for a few weeks.  I LOVE it!

Laundry Hamper Bag

Here are the basics:

  1. Everyone got their own hamper.  Before this, we used a community hamper in our upstairs hallway. I chose these hampers on Amazon because of their reviews. Our bedrooms are upstairs, our washer and dryer are in the basement, and two steep flights of stairs separate the two. I have a tremendous fear of someone falling down our stairs, so I’m fairly particular about what I ask the kiddos to carry up and down them. Based on the reviews, these bags can be dragged and take a beating. So far, I’m impressed. They’ve done great and the kids can manage them quite well. (I actually LOVE the way these bags are used at this blog, but that set-up just doesn’t work in our home at all.)
  2. Laundry sorterI rearranged the sorting area in the basement to make it more kid-friendly. Before, we had those rolling-type sorting carts. They worked fine, but whenever I asked the kids to help put laundry in the washer, they had to practically stand on their heads to reach the stuff on the bottom, and they weren’t always successful. Plus, I just really didn’t like the way they looked or worked myself, and they were starting to break down and need replacing anyway. So, I ordered two sets of these bins from Amazon.
  3. I set up three containers (using bins we already had) in the laundry area – one for each child, and one for everything else.
  4. I got small bags at Ikea that the kids could put their folded laundry in to carry it back upstairs.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Each child has two laundry days each week, either Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday.
  2. On their laundry day, laundry is one of their morning chores. They carry their hamper downstairs and sort their laundry.
  3. They take whatever is in the dryer and distribute to the bin for whomever it belongs to.
  4. They fold whatever is in their own bin.
  5. The move whatever is in the washer into the dryer and start the dryer.
  6. They choose either Lights or Darks, based on whichever laundry bin has the most laundry. I created magnets and put them on the washer and dryer with the instructions for operating them, but those really weren’t necessary after the first week of the new system.
    Laundry Instructions
  7. They put the detergent in (We make our own and it just goes in with the laundry itself, not into the compartment on our front loader. This was my son’s one disappointment with the new system . . . he really wanted to get to do something with the drawer) and start the washer accordingly. They use the delay function on the washer so that the laundry gets washed in the wee hours of the morning, so it can be ready and waiting for the next day.
  8. They take their clothes (and empty hamper) upstairs and put them away.

It takes all of 15-20 minutes. After the first week, they have really only had 3 or 4 days worth of clothing to fold and put away at a time, so it hasn’t felt like a terrible burden to them at all. A bonus is that they now really think about whether or not something should really go into the hamper for a wash. Before, anytime my daughter changed clothes (which could happen 2 or 3 times a day) it was just easier for her to toss stuff in the hamper rather than put things back in her drawer if they could be worn again. It’s fine now if she does that, but she bears the consequences, not me.  And I can just fold laundry that’s in the bin for me whenever I’m down in that area of the house.

And now, since the kids are using the washer and dryer on THEIR laundry days, I’m more motivated than ever to get the rest of the laundry that needs to be taken care of done on MY laundry days, which are now Wednesday (If I have time. We have busy Wednesdays with our Classical Conversations Community), Saturday and Sunday. This might mean that I do 2 or 3 loads over the weekend, which is more than I would normally do on a weekend, but the whole system has been working so well that I truly do not mind at all.

And, while we’re on the subject of child labor, I think this method for “attacking” the bathrooms with your children, from Red and Honey, is BRILLIANT! I’m definitely trying this next!

 

This post was linked up at:
I was featured at Adventures with Jude

 Tending the Home Tuesdaysworks for me wednesday at we are that family Pin It Link Party

I’m enjoying this blogging experiment! I would enjoy it even more if you would share me with your friends!

 

Menu Plan 10/14/2013

Gluten Free Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins

Muffins, muffins everywhere! Obviously, we enjoy a good muffin around here. Pictured above are the Gluten Free Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins. I’ll share the recipe soon.  It’s just not QUITE perfected. It’s got an endorsement from 50% of the family, but 2 of us are holding out for a little more of a “Wow!” factor.  Hopefully, we’ll get there this week.  We’re also in the mood for the fall flavors of pumpkin, apples, sweet potatoes, and soup around here, but because it’s actually still pretty warm, we’re just not ready to give up the watermelon that’s still showing up at the Farmer’s Market! Plus, when you’ve got a kiddo that really only likes about two raw fresh fruits (apples and watermelon) you tend to serve them year-round regardless of whether they’re in season! Then, you shove as many others as you possibly can into a smoothie. You throw in spinach, chia and the like, thank your lucky stars that he’ll eat nearly anything in that form, and you wait for his tastebuds to get a little more flexible! Here’s the gameplan for feeding people this week:

Monday

Gluten Free Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins
Pasta, Salad, and Melon
Roast Chicken, Green Beans, Acorn Squash

Tuesday

Leftover GF Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins
Roast Beef Wraps, Apples and Grapes
Chicken Carbonara with Spaghetti Squash (Edit: Recipe reviewed HERE)

Wednesday

Peaches and Cream Oatmeal or Cold Cereal
Hummus, Gluten Free Pita Bread, Carrots, Apples and Grapes
Coconut Shrimp Soup with Quinoa Pasta

Thursdsay

Oat Flour Pumpkin Muffins
Roast Beef and Cheese Rolls, Sweet Potatoes, Apples & Bananas
Oven Baked Salmon and Baked Zucchini

Friday

Leftover Oat Flour Pumpkin Muffins
Hummus, Gluten Free Pita, Carrots, Melon and Grapes
Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Chicken, Green Beans

Saturday

Bacon, Eggs, and GF Carrot Zucchini Muffins
Salmon Patties, Carrots, and Melon
Smoothies and Popcorn

Sunday

Leftover GF Carrot and Zucchini Muffins
Lunch out
Breakfast for Dinner

Snacks for the week

Homemade: Super Swim Bars (Granola Bars), Smoothies, Granola, Popcorn, Cinnamon Popped Amaranth (with bananas), Apples/Peanut Butter/Granola Sandwiches
 
Storebought: Fruit PouchesFreeze-dried FruitGranola BarsGluten Free Pretzels
 
If you’re looking for a menu plan template, you are welcome to download this one by clicking on the image below. It’s in Word, so you can edit to your heart’s content.

This Week's Menu

 

This post linked to:

Menu Plan 9/9/2013

It’s going to be another busy week around here and I know that I do better when I actually have a plan (of some sort) for what we’ll be eating for the week!  All things are subject to change, of course . . . but if you live in the real world, you already knew that.

If you’re looking for a menu plan document that works for you, below is the template that I use. You can see it filled out for this upcoming week (the colors are just to remind me of things I need to do, like make something that takes a little preparation or post the recipe here on the blog). If you click on the image below it should allow you to download the blank template for your use. It’s in Word format so that you can alter it to your heart’s content. :-)

This Week's Menu

Monday

Gluten Free Pancakes, Cantaloupe
Hummus and Chips, Baby carrots, Apples and Melon
Roast chicken, Zucchini chips, Roast Carrots

Tuesday

Oatmeal or Cereal
Sandwiches or Wraps, Baby carrots
Baked potatoes in the crock pot

Wednesday

Gluten Free Pancakes
Roast Beef Wraps and fruit
Dinner at church

Thursdsay

Oatmeal or cereal
Hummus and chips
Chicken and Rice casserole, green beans, melon

Friday

Gluten Free Muffins
Sandwiches or wraps
Salmon and rice

Saturday

Gluten Free Muffins
Lunch Out
Burgers, Baked Beans, Oven fries

 

Snacks for the week

Homemade: Super swim bars, Smoothies, Yogurt and Granola, Popcorn
Storebought: Fruit Pouches, Freeze-dried Fruit, Granola Bars, Gluten Free Pretzels