Monday, January 26, 2009

Destress: Let It Go..for now

Let me let you in on a major DEstressing mindset that a friend of mine shared with me. It has really helped our home, as it lets me off the hook a bit in my own mind.

I know that I am not the only one who gets eternally frustrated with my inability to keep things straight. The living room in our house is a mess 99.9% of the time. Why? Because kids live here. That is all. NOT because I am a bad housekeeper ..but because they are kids, and because they could make a mess in a room with padded walls and nothing else.

Now, we could stress ourselves out totally and constantly be picking up as every toy hits the floor, or on them every second to clean up after themselves ..but does that sound the worthy stress? I dont think so.

As shared with me, you can have times of the day when you take the time to achieve that "neat" status ..and not worry about it the rest of the time.


Yes. You can. AND, its kinda nice.

Here is what our pickup routine has become ...a pickup midmorning before morning snack, (living room/playroom only), a before-nap pickup (living room and boys room), a before-daddy gets-home pickup (living room only) and a before-bed pickup (living room and boys room).

Each of these may only be 5-10 minutes. But, for that time things are straighter and help usher in the next part of the day on a good note.

As my friend put it, if you have those times that you are committed to picking up, "then you can let it go the rest of the time."

I like that, and it does help me to think at 9am .."its a mess, but in about an hour we are gonna pickup so okay!"

Hope this helps you!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Challenge #2: Paper Clutter

I have found a way to decrease my paper clutter..therefore decreasing my stress in the office area (not eliminating it...the office is a continual area of struggle for me).

I found myself a little file folder holder. Its a stiff cardboard holder, and its cute (that part isnt necessary) with pink and brown polka dots. It hold 9 file holders, a pad of paper and some note cards.

I have it sitting on my kitchen counter, but its easy to put away when I want things more decluttered. It stays in my kitchen, because that is where I bring my mail in from the mailbox.

My paper clutter makes it hard to find stuff I need when I need it, whether I remember I need it or not :) I found a bill a couple of months ago, AFTER it was past due that I hadnt even remember getting. It was time to organize.

In my file folder holder I have labeled the file folders: Current Bills, Important Stuff, Current Projects, Paid Bills, Mommy and Me, Pending Business, Receipts and Finances.

I have found that all my mail can fit into one of these categories or can be thrown away. Its easy to clean out and keep straight.

I like also, because during the times of the month when its time to pay bills or balance my checkbook or budget, I have all the information I need quickly. Also, I like having "important" pieces of info available quickly. I put our trip itinerary last fall, our W2's this month, and some other stuff that I want to keep up with there.

I also like the "Pending Business" file. It has stuff that I need to hold on to because its not ready for the big file cabinet where I keep my permanent files. It helps me keep track of what I need to keep working on, looking into, etc.

So, your #2 challenge for the year ...find a way to organize your paper!

Some tips may be to have your paper organizing system where you "unpack" your mail, shred what you dont need, go through your paper stash often ..the more you let it build up, the more overwhelming it is. Use a cork board or magnetic board to keep things that need attention soon or you dont want to lose. Have a more permanent filing system that you can put those paid bills, old billing statements, bank statments..etc. Its a good idea to keep those types of things for 7 years for IRS purposes...might as well keep them organized for all that time :)

Got better ideas or some suggestions that have worked for you? Share!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Challenge #1: Post-Christmas Toy Excess!

In honor of this time of year, when we are blessed to the point of too much in the toy department ..lets talk about what we will do to destress this mess!

First, and foremost ..make sure there is a spot for every new toy! If it means that you need to get rid of some to make room for it. This is a must to keep order in their space.

Teaching them a balance of giving and receiving is another plus to this necessary task. They need to learn that when we are blessed with new things, it means that we are now supposed to bless others because we have SO much! This is a great topic of conversation on the way to Goodwill :)

A very big biggie for us, working on some organization in the game/puzzle department.

As my kids get older, the big chunky blocks that go in the wagon for the 2-year old are only added to the puzzles and games with small and numerous pieces that my 4-year old has gotten.
While these certainly are necessary for well-rounded educational development, they also add a dimension of stress to the organization of their stuff.

We have developed some helpful habits in our home that I want to pass on, in hopes of destressing this part of your life :)

* We have a Mommy Closet ...its a mommy-only accessible closet or shelf where toys with small pieces live, and only mommy can get them down.

* We have a "when little brother is napping" or "just me and mommy" time for those games and puzzles. In theory, these things can be better controlled when the baby or little brother is not running off with the pieces. It helps that big brother feels important because he gets to play with this toy as a "big boy" lends itself to a high expectation of control of all those parts and pieces, not to mention a chance for some good quality time with mommy or daddy :)

* We put the games, toys and puzzles away ..all parts in place or not. This has been a big help for me. I used to keep them out until I found the pieces or would just give up on that toy because the pieces were all missing. I started putting the toy away, and then over time I ended up finding all or most of the pieces. Because that toy/game/puzzle was put away I knew where to take the newly-found piece so that that item was ready for play the next time it was requested.

Some advantages that I have found to keeping control of these things are:

* A chance to teach about taking care of the things God has given us
* You have a closet of behavior rewards available at all times ...a usually off-limits toy is a great way to reward good choices!
* Better use of resources..what use is spending the money on all that stuff if you arent going to keep up with it?
* More play ..all the pieces and parts means more fun when its played with!
* Toys stay in great shape for when your kids are ready to get rid of them, you can sell them or give them away instead of throw them away because they arent complete
* Because you give the toys to the kids, you know which ones they play with and dont prefer. It makes it really easy with you are cleaning the closet out every few months!
* There are NOT 1,000,000 pieces of those toys all over the place!

So..the first challenge of the year ...

Take 15-30 minutes 2-3 times this week and work on ordering the kids stuff. Give away the old stuff, give a home to the new stuff, and put stuff up that they are too little to keep control of on their own!

If this is a big area for you, check back to another post where there are some different tips on decluttering kids stuff.

Let me know if you have some other ideas to keep our little people's stuff under control, or if you used these tips to destress this area!

A Year of Promise ...

This time of year is one of my favorites, and one of the most difficult at the same time.

Just like most of the rest of the world, I look forward to the possibilities ahead of us. There are so many days and weeks to be better, stronger and closer to who we want to be. Its a great sense of having a "fresh start" and that gives us a sense of "lets go!" ..I love it.

For me, it also is a time of reflection as I get closer to the anniversary of my brothers death, which we will honor for the third time on the 15th of this month. This time of year also causes me to look back on the past years and hold onto those precious memories which bring such peace of heart ..if not a little longing for those sweet moments.

It also is a time when I think alot about how I remember my brother, as well as others who have passed on from our life. I think of how all of this wonderful life could be over so quickly. I think, too, about legacies and what I will be remembered for.

I so long to be thought of now as a person who lives a life of wonderful chaos, who is at peace admidst it all. I want to be remembered as someone who knew what to cherish, and let the small stuff stay in its place. I want to be thought of, and remembered as someone who can looked to for perspective and one who exudes a sense of calm.

I know that I mentioned it before, but I have thought alot about that verse of an old church song, "let our ordered lives confess, the beauty of Your peace."

I want for my life to reflect God's peace. Yes, that is what I want to be remembered for.

For me, I know that that peace reflection starts with my home. It begins with the place where I spend the most of my time, the feeling of security I and my family gets here, the time I spend working toward that, and my perspective on what peace, order and security means for us.

My role in creating peace and order for my family is so important ...and I want to work toward that this year.

Want to do that with me? Good! :)
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