Ahhhh, summer! Time for sunscreen, beach towels, and taking to the open road. Family road trips can be full of adventure and exploration - you have flexibility to discover places off the beaten path, you are able to see the landscape change as you drive, and you are able to observe the subtle details of the towns you drive through. Whether it’s a couple of days, or a couple of weeks, a family road trip can be the most memorable part of your summer!
Having several people living out of a small space, however, can make a mess of things quickly. Being organized during a road trip can save time and prevent lots of headaches. Before you pack up the kids and head off, we’ve got a few tips for staying organized on the road.
Packing: Assuming that all family members are old enough, we find it easiest if everyone has their own suitcase. Even young children are able to pull a rolling suitcase in and out of hotels. It’s also helpful if each person has their own backpack of “Extras” (books, stuffed animals, water bottles, etc.). With this set up, it’s easy for each family member to grab their respective bags and get moving.
Collapsible bins: We’ve said this before, but these bins are awesome. They spend all their time in our car, whether we’re at home or not… and they are especially helpful on a road trip. They stay small and stacked when not in use, and can be used for so many different things!
Food: Everyone is different when it comes to food planning. If you like eating out for every meal, you won’t need to plan and organize your space quite as much. We try to pack our own food for breakfasts, snacks, and some lunches, in order to stretch the dining budget and maximize flexibility. We stop at grocery stores as needed along the way, keeping our cooler and a collapsible bin easily accessible from the tailgate. Keeping snacks in a smaller bin in the second row for easy access, along with napkins and baby wipes for messy hands and faces is helpful. Take a little time to make a lunch food bin, supplied with a rolled up table cloth, napkins and baby wipes, a small cutting board and knife, utensils, plates, and non-cooler lunch food (ex: bread, chips, peanut butter, etc.). The lunch bin will have everything you need and is easy to grab when you stop for a picnic at a beautiful spot. Having a second food bin is also helpful, for storing all other non-cooler food that does not go in the lunch bin (ex: dry cereal, extra juice boxes, raisins, bagels, etc.). This keeps the lunch bin lighter and more mobile. If you are not planning on using disposable dishes/utensils, be sure to throw in a small sponge, drying towel, and a small bottle of dish detergent in a baggie in the bin for easy clean up. Thinking ahead for all the little things makes the entire trip easier and more time efficient.
Extra Backpacks: We mentioned “backpack of extras” at the beginning – this allows each child to pick a few items they want to take. These items can include toys, coloring supplies, books, and stuffed animals. It’s really helpful on road trips for each person to also have a second, lightweight, day pack. The day pack can be filled with only the items you would need for that day. For example, if you plan on stopping to get out and explore or take a hike, you might pack a hat, sunglasses, camera, water bottle, notebook, pencil, and travel guide. Each person can choose their own items, but has to carry their own bag!
Laundry: After lots of trial and error, we discovered an on-the-go laundry system that works for us…. We hope this might give you a few ideas! We keep a small drawstring laundry bag in a suitcase to use for dirty clothes each night. Each morning as we load the car, the contents of that small bag are put in a larger drawstring laundry bag kept in the car. We keep a gallon ziplock bag with our “laundry kit” in the bottom of the larger laundry bag. This kit contains several dryer sheets, laundry detergent pods, a stain stick, and a roll of quarters. This saves a lot of hassle (and money) when we get to a hotel laundry room or laundromat. A collapsible bin serves as a laundry basket for carrying clean, folded laundry back to suitcases. This system keeps everything contained, organized, and ready to go when we need to do laundry on the road.
Plastic bin for shoes: If your road trips involve hiking, exploring, and nature type activities, you will inevitably end up with dirty, wet, or muddy shoes. A plastic bin (the under the bed type), stored in the back of the car makes for an easy and contained dumping area for messy shoes. The lid can be put on, and other bins can be stacked on top to save space. The entire bin can easily be taken out of the car and used to clean the shoes, if needed. This saves the floorboards from getting too messy, and protects blankets, stuffed animals, and other items that end up by your feet.
Drying rope: Since exploring frequently involves pools, beaches, rain, or water, it usually means you will be back on the road before clothing items are dry. Tying a small rope across the back of the car (above the packed items), creates a place to drape these items. And speaking of being wet – a second under-the-bed type bin can be kept in the back (stacked neatly under all the other bins) with raincoats, umbrellas, and beach towels.
Kid’s Basket: “mom, do you have a napkin?” “Mom, my hands are sticky.” “Mom, can you throw this away?” “Mom, do you have a Kleenex?” :-) Before each road trip, take time to create a back seat basket, with a box of Kleenex, a roll of paper towels, a pouch of baby wipes, hand sanitizer, and a cereal Tupperware container (the kind with a pour lid that opens) lined with a grocery store bag to use as a garbage can. This allows the kids to be a bit more self-sufficient and gives them easy access to those much needed items.
Road Trippers App: Have you all seen this app? It’s so much fun! You can plan your entire trip on it; routes, stops, hotels… and you can share it with your family so everyone can follow along and participate. It also shows you “things to see” along the way, in case you’re passing by something you didn’t know was there but would be neat to see. It shows you popular places of interest, quick picnic areas, or restaurant and fuel stops. It can help plan for some interesting and fun places to stop – check it out!
Ziplock Baggies: Okay, this may sound a little crazy, but really – baggies are so useful! They come in handy for leftovers, toys, items collected along the way, a dry place to keep your cell phone when it’s raining… you name it! Trust us, ziplock baggies are essential on the road!
We hope these few suggestions are helpful as you set out on your road trips this summer. Stay tuned… our next blog post, ‘Summer Road Trips: Kid’s version’, will have tons of suggestions when traveling with kids. And please, if you have any suggestions that have been helpful for you on road trips, leave us a message. We’d love to hear what works for you!
For those of us who live near the coast, June is more than just the beginning of sun-filled summer days. June also means it is the beginning of hurricane season. While we hope it is never needed, it is important to be organized and ready with hurricane supplies in the event a big storm heads your way.
As hurricane season begins, it is always a good idea to check your emergency kits and restock/replenish as needed (don’t forget to check expiration dates)…or if you don’t have an emergency kit already – now is the time to put one together! By planning ahead, you will save yourself some serious headaches and worry when the time comes. Every emergency kit might look slightly different based on your family’s needs, but we’ve put together a list of some things we always make sure to include in our emergency kits.
Emergency Kit Supplies
With hurricanes, you generally have the benefit of knowing a big storm is likely heading your way. When sheltering at home, these steps can help protect you and your family while you weather the storm and its impact on your area:
In the event you decide to leave town quickly/must evacuate when a big storm is heading your way, it is always a good idea to have a “go-bag” packed ahead of time. When it is time to quickly get out of town, you will be prepared and won’t have to worry about remembering all your necessities during stressful decision making moments.
Items to consider packing in your “Go Bag”
Living near the Gulf of Mexico, our emergency preparedness tends to focus on hurricanes, but these emergency kits/supplies/tips are good to consider for anyone who might find themselves facing an emergency situation.
Remember, as Benjamin Franklin once said, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure!
Jen and Emily
When I was a kid, I was fascinated with rainbows…I drew them CONSTANTLY. Anytime I was given a piece of paper and a few colored crayons, pencils, or pens…a rainbow would quickly appear. I loved how the colors of the rainbow blended together in perfect harmony. It always gave me such a feeling of happiness…contentment. As an adult, I still love to create the rainbow when organizing. There really is something almost magical about ROYGBIV. For those of you unfamiliar with that acronym, I’m talking about RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, INDIGO, and VIOLET…the beautiful colors of the rainbow!
You might ask why ROYGIBIV organizing is so great…let me share a few reasons why I love it so much!
The ROYGBIV color pattern still leaves me with the same sense of happiness and contentment that I experienced as a child. Try it out for yourself and see what happens!
Finding what I’m looking for is so much easier when I’m guided by color. It saves time and frustration.
Just about anyone, young and old, can follow this organizing system. If you know your colors, you can maintain this type of system!!
Color coordination is automatic…you don’t have to think twice about where something belongs – just find the matching color.
ROYGBIV organizing can be applied to almost any type of item….books, clothing, files, food, your daily calendar/schedule, office supplies...the list is endless.
It just looks PRETTY! If an organized space can be functional AND pleasing to the eye, you’ve hit a homerun in the organizing world.
The next time you decide to do some organizing, try and create a few rainbows of your own!
Jen and Emily
Fall…with it comes all things pumpkin spice, cooler weather, festivals and parties galore! Halloween kicks the fall season into gear….and then you are often left with an over abundance of candy and Halloween costumes come November 1. Never fear…we have a few simple suggestions on how to keep things under control!
First, let’s talk about ALL. THE. CANDY! It always amazes us that our children come home with their weight in candy after a night of trick or treating. While your sweet tooth might enjoy some of it, your dentist will probably not be happy if you have too much!! So, what do you do????
1 - Separate all of the chocolate from the other types of candy and place in bags to freeze. Throughout the year, you can pull the candy out in smaller serving sizes to enjoy! When separating the chocolate, put all the Hershey bars in the same bag and you will be ready the next time you want to make s’mores!!
2 - Donate to the Troops!!! There are several non-profit organizations that accept candy and then mail it off in care packages. Check out these organizations if you are looking to send some to our troops!
3 - Frequently, local businesses and dentist offices will serve as a collection point for the candy and will mail it in for you. Be sure to check your community for any drop off spots!
4 - Keep a little for yourself! Endulge your sweet tooth and enjoy!
Once you have the candy under control, what do you do with all the costumes and dress up accessories? Don’t worry – we have a few ideas for you!
1 - Sell the costumes. Make a little money from your old costumes by selling them at a local consignment store or on an online resale site. Even though Halloween has come and gone, people are frequently looking for costumes for other reasons.
2 - Create a dress up box for your kids to enjoy throughout the year. It is amazing the creative and imaginative play that takes place when little ones have dress up clothes to play with. Having extra dress up clothes can also come in very handy when special days at school show up on the calendar…now you will be ready for Storybook Parade Day, Alphabet Parade Day, 50’s Day, and more!
3 - Pass on favorite costumes that no longer fit to younger siblings or neighbors/friends so others can enjoy them!
4 - Check with your local church, schools, daycares….they often have dress up areas for the little ones and would gladly accept donations to add to their costume selections.
With these simple ideas, you no longer have to be spooked by all the Halloween excess and can keep on top of your organization!
Jen and Emily
Y’all…we are both ‘pen and paper planner’ kind of girls. Don’t get us wrong, we love our technology and appreciate the many reminders our phones send us on a daily basis, but when it comes to “holding down the fort” kind of control over our daily schedules (for ourselves, for our families, and for our business), we stand by the tried and true paper planner.
With that being said, we have tried out about a billion and one different planners over the years. Some are total duds, some have good qualities, but none of them compare to our current favorite planner….The Simplified Planner (created by Emily Ley).
A few of the reasons we LOVE The Simplified Planner are:
Serious quality paper. No need to worry about your pen bleeding through the paper - this stuff is thick and durable.
Hourly Daily Schedule. Each weekday has an hourly schedule that runs from 6am-9pm (because we all know that life extends way beyond the normal ‘8 to 5’).
Two Different Format Options. Choose from either the Academic Yearly Format that runs August-July (Jen’s preference) or the Traditional Yearly Format that runs from January-December (Emily’s favorite). Pick the format that works best for you and your life!
The Yearly Bucket List. We all have big dreams and even bigger goals. There is something about actually taking the time to write them down that helps your dreams and goals turn into realities.
Extra Designated Space for “To-Dos” and “Notes”. The daily “To-Dos” and “Notes” sections help you stay on top of all your responsibilities and keep you on track.
If you find yourself wanting to try a pen and paper planner for the first time or if you are simply wanting to change your current planner, we think The Simplified Planner is a great one to check out (and no, we aren’t being compensated in any way – we just really love this planner).
Jen & Emily
Ask The Organizer –Part 1
You asked...and we listened! Here are a few of the questions that we have recently been asked:
“If I hire you to help me organize, are you going to make me get rid of all my belongings?”
No, we will never make you get rid of anything you do not want to part with. Our goal is to help you realize what items you use/want to keep and organize them in a way that is most beneficial to you. We also want to educate you on how you can maintain your new organizational system so you are successful in maintaining your space.
“What is the best way to organize kitchen drawers?”Kitchen drawers are notorious for becoming over run with duplicates of various kitchen gadgets….who REALLY needs 6 spatulas? It often helps to organize same size items together and then contain them in a basket/bin within in the drawer. Once your items are organized, you have a better idea of what you have and don’t have (and you can finally open and close your drawer easily). By making sure everything has a specific place, you are less likely to place random items/duplicates in the drawer and can continue to keep the drawer organized over time.
“How do I keep my kids’ playroom organized?”
It is never too early to learn how to be organized and it is a skill that will prove beneficial throughout life. Even the smallest of children can begin to learn how to stay organized – the trick is finding the right system that works for them. Generally, for a children’s playroom, different bins and buckets are ideal for helping your children get and stay organized. For the readers out there, you can label what goes in each bin/bucket. If your children are too young to read, simple pictures of toy cars, play food, dolls, and other toys will help your little ones know how to sort their toys. You can also have a specific color bin/basket for each child for them to keep their “special” toys that are theirs alone. At the end of each day, every toy needs to find their proper “home” so your children will know right where to find them the next day!
“I don’t want people to know how “messy” my house has become. Do you talk about your clients to other people?”
ABSOLUTELY NOT!! We take what we do very seriously and we appreciate each and every person who trusts us to come into their home and allows us to help them. We always keep all work we do confidential.
“I’m overwhelmed and I feel like my entire house needs to be organized. How do I even know where to start?”
We completely understand and are happy to help you with all your needs. We can assess all the areas you would like organized and assist with prioritizing what rooms/areas would benefit you most from being organized first. Whether you are wanting to tackle your entire house at once or gradually organize one room at a time, we are here to help you at your pace.
“I’m embarrassed about how cluttered and disorganized my home is. What will you think of me if you see my home like this?”We are busy, working moms ourselves and we completely understand what it feels like to be overwhelmed….we have all been there and completely understand the variety of feelings that often come along with the clutter and disorganization. We do not want anyone to ever feel embarrassed or ashamed and we approach every project with an open mind and a non-judgmental attitude. Our goal is to offer help and get you to a position where you feel in control of your surroundings once again.
Keep the questions coming! We love to help you in any way we can!
Jen and Emily
A big part of organizing is learning to say ‘good-bye’ to those items we no longer use or want.
“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that
have outlived their purpose.” -Marie Kondo
So, what do we do with those things we are getting rid of? While some items need to be thrown away, many of our belongings can be given a new life through donation or recycling.
There are a number of different organizations that accept donations. Some organizations will only take certain items, while others will take most anything. Some sites require that you drop off items yourself, while others will send a truck to your home for ‘pick ups’. Take the time to research some of the donation centers in your area to find out what items they will take and who will be benefitting from your donated items.
A few donation sites we like to use include:
When books are no longer needed or used, the library is always a great place to start…. They accept books and magazines, as well as CDs, DVD’s and books on tape. For children’s books, consider donating them to local schools. Books are always needed at schools, both in the library and in the classroom.
Baby, toddler, and young children’s toys are always needed at local church nurseries, daycares, and preschools. It’s easy to call the one nearest you to find out how to donate. Public schools usually have play areas for Kindergarten and 1st grade, and they could use gently used toy and craft items as well.
A few tips/tricks about donations:
For items that cannot be donated, be sure to check and see if they can be recycled before tossing them in the trash. You would be surprised at the number of items that can be recycled these days. Contact your local recycling center to see what specific items they do and do not take.
While we realize it is often difficult to initially part with your items, you will be amazed at the amount of new found freedom and organization you can achieve by decluttering. Through this process, you can also help others by giving new life to your old things!
Jen and Emily
Whether you are a family with 5 busy children or you are a household of 2 empty nesters, it can be difficult to keep up with the different schedules of each member of your family. I know there are days when I have trouble keeping up with just myself!!!
Each member of the family may have their own app, day planner, or other organizational tool, but having a central calendar with everyone’s activities located in one place can help your family run more smoothly and efficiently. We all learn differently and have different preferences, so the trick is finding what type of central command calendar works best for you and your family.
A few methods that have worked for us over the years include:
The Dry Erase Calendar
This is a great option because every member of your family can see it and know what is going to be happening over the coming days/weeks. Post the dry erase calendar in a common area of the home where everyone will see it. You can make changes to the calendar quickly and easily if your plans change, too!
The Printed Calendar
This is another excellent option that allows everyone in the family to see what is on the schedule – no electronic devices needed! Simply print the week(s) you want to display (print for free from your computer’s calendar), fill in all of your important dates and appointments, and hang it in a central location in your home. The weekly printed calendar can allow for a lot of extra information….color code your calendar by using a special color ink for each family member or write the meal plan for the week at the bottom of each day….and never have to answer the question “What’s for dinner?” again!
Family Organizing Apps
Apps require all family members to have their own phone in order to see the family calendar as a whole. It’s probably a perfect choice for a family with teenagers! There are many different apps out there that can work for the family that prefers to use an electronic form of schedule keeping. One that I like is called the Cozi Family Organizing App. The Cozi App has the following features: shared family calendar, color coded calendar, shopping lists, to-do lists, family journal, recipe box, and more if you opt for the paid version of the app.
A perpetual calendar is a great idea for those special dates that happen every year (like birthdays and anniversaries). This is a calendar that is intended to be kept over time. Simply fill in the important events on the calendar and then refer to it year after year – adding new dates to it as you need to. You will amaze all of your friends and family by always remembering to say “Happy Birthday” and you don’t have to worry about transferring the dates from one calendar to the next year after year!
Life gets busy and our brains can only hold so much information – right?!?! Hopefully one of these suggestions will help you and your family stay on top of everything!
~ Emily & Jen
You know the song from The Sound of Music – right… ”…brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things!”??? We know how much everyone loves “favorite things” and we wanted to share a few of our favorites with you!
We have several stores we love to shop at when hunting for that perfect organizing item, but one of our very favorite places is The Container Store (we could spend hours there) and these are 5 of our favorite products.
These items can serve multiple purposes in just about any room of your house….so don’t be afraid to get a little creative when getting organized!
These are just a few of the items we love and frequently use when organizing. Just remember, there is never a wrong way to use a product. If it works for you and helps keep your life more organized – you have found a winner!
Back to School time….when I was a kid, this was one of my favorite times of year. Call me crazy, but I loved all the freshly sharpened pencils, the untouched notebooks, and the brand new box of crayons just waiting for me to create my next masterpiece. Back to school time….as a mom….is not necessarily my favorite time of year any more.
After a fun filled and relaxing summer, it seems that my kids have lost all understanding of a schedule or routine. The late nights and lazy mornings of summer are long gone, and that 6am (or sometimes even earlier) alarm is now our worst enemy! Instead of easing into the school year calm, cool, and collected, I end up always in a rush, nagging my children about EVERYTHING, and finding that I am never on time.
But I’ve discovered that it doesn’t really have to be that difficult.
They would probably never admit it, but my kids do much better and are much happier when they are following a routine or schedule. Whether we are 5 years old or 95 years old, we all function better when we know what is expected of us – right?!?!?!
Having a simple checklist for the morning and evening routines has helped my family run more smoothly. Everyoneknows what is expected of them and instead of me telling and begging them to do something a million times, they look at their checklist and get things done. This has allowed our mornings to be more enjoyable with less stress and we actually get out the door on time (if not a few minutes early). At night, my kids are getting to bed on time and actually getting the sleep they need to start the next day refreshed and ready to go!
The importance of sleep is not lost on me…that is the time when their little brains have time to rest and grow and it is SO very important. In order to promote optimal health, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:
These simple checklists can really work for almost any age child. For the little ones who are not yet reading, picture charts work great. Check out this one you can find and print for free on the CDC website:
For the older kids, a simple laminated list will do the trick. You can also attach a dry erase marker if you have a child that likes to check things off as they are completed. It is easy to add tasks to your list to tailor it and make it specific for your family, but some basic ones you might want to include are:
Like any new habit, it will take a few days to get into the groove of your routine, but before you know it, your mornings and nights will be much more relaxing!
Hope you find your way to sweet dreams and peaceful mornings soon!!