I don’t know about you but I am filled with a great determination to get organized this year! (Maybe it is just coincidence that about 1.2 million other people have this same urge?). Now that my twins are 4 I feel like I am finally coming out of survival mode. I’ve taken a look around the house and wow is it a mess! Well, not that anyone would actually see it as a mess because like everyone else I keep it all hidden in the closets! *wink*
I was hesitant to write about the dirty little secrets I keep behind closed doors. I mean who really cares about MY messes right? Well, we’re all friends here so I think it’s OK to let you take a peek. It will be like the Whatever philosophy expressed in pictures. Alright, only two pictures. I know we’re friends, but let’s not over share.
I was ridiculously overjoyed when I found these little beauties at Sam’s Club:
Yes, that IS twelve clear-plastic, empty shoe boxes for just $9.94! (I admit I have a strange addiction to storage totes and office supplies). But, where to use them? Hmmm…
How about that crazy bathroom closet I CAN NOT keep tidy?! Here we go! My bathroom closet stores all our extra supplies, the kids bath stuff, my hubby’s stuff and just a bunch of stuff. It looks like this:
Every morning I go rummaging around for my deodorant at the bottom of one of these cute baskets I employ to keep me organized. It’s always the wrong basket and I always drop something. No more!
Let there be boxes!!! Glorious see through boxes!! (I won’t tell you how many boxes are just for my products alone). Now when I do my hair I can pull out just the supplies I need without having to rummage around and carry them in my arms. I can have all my make up next to me at once instead of pulling out three different bags. Now to find pretty labels.
~ ~ FAMILY SHOW PORTION ~ ~
I did say this is a family show, so here is how I plan to bring the kiddos in on helping me keep things tidy.
Neither of my girls will stick to a chore chart. I think the longest one has lasted is three days. BUT! They are amazing helpers. Most often I cannot finish a task alone because one of my littles will ask to help. Sometimes I just want to finish MY OWN task (like tearing apart a closet). That’s where these helping hands come in!
I have a love/hate relationship with stickers (as in I hate peeling them off the floor). I was happy when the girls let the sticker charts go. NOTE: If you notice a chair or rug that seems out of place in our house, it is probably there to cover a stubborn sticker that refused to be removed. (Cue my new strange addition: Goo Gone).
Here’s how Helping Hands work:
Trace your child’s hand on a colorful piece of paper. Allow your child to decorate with (cringe) stickers, or jewels, or just color with a crayon.
Write a chore or helpful task on a Popsicle/craft stick.
Glue the decorated hands to the sticks and allow to dry.
Display upright in a pretty vase or jar, or you can stack them in a … clear plastic storage box? [har har]
When my kids want to help, but I need space to do what I need to get done, I ask them, “you know what would really be helpful? Can you pull out a helping hand?” Maybe my kids are weird (Hello apple? Meet tree.), but they really love a good task!
Now, it’s your turn to share a pic of that secret cluttered mess!
Have I shared with all of you how much I love my crock pot? My love affair with slow cooking began a few months after my twins were born. It takes a lot of work to put a hot dinner on the table while adjusting to life with kids! Once I got over the fear of burning down the house and gave my crock pot a try there was just no turning back! In less than one hour a week I prep 5 week night meals and put in the freezer, then I let the crock pot do all the heavy lifting. Now, I’m not juggling the evening dinner rush with prime time tantrums, phone calls and my own end of day melt down.
I am often asked to share some of my favorite recipes. I have collected a bunch over time and have no idea where I picked them up from (somewhere on the great world wide web), and I have my go-to sites to check out new ones. Here are seven “pop and drop” freezer meals I make most often. Pop and drop means there’s no chopping or dicing. You simply add your chicken and pop open a few cans/jars and dump all into one freezer bag. Your prep is complete. I’m guessing you may not want to eat a full week of chicken dinners, but maybe you’ll find one or more to liven up your freezer meal rotation.
NOTE: My kids are picky eaters so I usually make them mac and cheese on the side, but even when they do share our meals there are still plenty of left overs for hubby and I to enjoy for lunch. Even if you do not have kids this is still a pretty awesome system! Imagine not worrying about spending 30 minutes to prepare one meal, or wondering what’s for dinner? I wish I knew about freezer cooking before I even had kids.
A few of my favorite sites to find dinner inspiration:
Every week for nearly the last four years I have proclaimed, “THIS is the week I get organized!” I really mean it when I say this. But, the reality of taking care of the other humans in my home leaves me little time to organize like Martha (as in Stewart). I admit it is disappointing to open the closet to find things spilling out, or open the dresser drawers and see all the mangled clothes. I always feel pressed for time as we race through our mornings before to leaving for school, or getting to a play date. But, Martha doesn’t live here so it’s up to me to make things orderly and accessible.
So, how does a busy twin mom without a moment to spare get organized? Well, first I had to throw away my vision of what organized looks like and really think about what it feels like. Being organized feels less rushed and less like I am behind on tasks. It feels less stressed. So, what stresses me out the most? Snacks, mealtimes and getting my kids dressed. I often forget to give myself a snack, or suddenly a child is melting down because I forgot to feed them. It is stressful pulling out one shirt after another until my kid finds THE ONE she likes. Suddenly it’s 4:30 in the afternoon and I forgot I have to make dinner! Ack!
Here is my “Master plan” to feeling organized:
SNACK TIME PREP
I divided our snacks into kid friendly portions by using Ziploc snack bags. I measured according to serving size, filled bags then I piled them into a clear plastic box and left on a shelf in a cupboard the girls can reach.
Next, I set up a shelf in the fridge with squeezable yogurts, carrot sticks, apple slices and drinks they can just grab and go. This alleviates my stress of preparing snacks on demand and gives my girls a bit more independence.
Don’t forget snacks for the car! This is my back up in case I forget to grab the snack bag!
Total prep time = 20 minutes (maybe 30 if you let the kids help). Time saved = 1.5 hours of prepping or chopping snacks on demand while the kids complain they didn’t want “thaaaat snack.”
DINNER TIME PREP
I have collected over a months worth of freezer crock pot meals my family will actually eat. I make my menu for the week, buy all my groceries and return home to assemble into Ziploc bags and freeze.
Total prep time = 1 hour. Total time saved = 6 hours.
My kids will not pick out their clothes the night before and stick to wearing that outfit by morning. By simply adding one more fold line to our shirts and pants I save a whole lot of space AND my kids can see all their options at once. For shirts I use a modified ‘Gap fold’ (it’s a real thing Google it!) and then I fold in half one more time. THAT’S IT!
This saves me the time (and torture) of watching my kids pull out one shirt at a time to get to the one they want.
Total prep time = mere seconds added to folding time. Total time saved = 40 minutes a week!
So, if you like math here are the numbers: Total Prep Time = 1 hour 20 minutes Total Time Saved = 8 hours 30 minutes
Feeling organized and saving hours of stress = PRICELESS!
What are your time saving secrets to keeping your family organized?