How to Declutter Your Children’s Toys

Hey RichMama’s – ARE THE TOYS DRIVING YOU CRAZY?  They’re driving me wackoo – they seem to be all over the place.  You walk into your child’s playroom or bedroom and grimace. If you’re lucky you haven’t stepped on anything. It’s a mess and each new toy only makes the mess worse.  I went searching for some of the best tips on keeping kids clutter free.  The good news is that with a few proven tips and strategies you can declutter the toys and enjoy a mess-free space.

#1 Create a Rotation

One of the problems with children’s toys is that they collect them like your floor lamp collects dust. Each day seems to add a new toy to the pile. Chances are your child doesn’t play with all of those toys every day. In fact there are probably some toys that your child hasn’t touched in months.

Create a rotation. Grab a large bin, or two, and fill them with toys your child hasn’t played with recently. Tuck them away in a safe and out of the way space. You don’t want your child digging in the bin and pulling items out. Once a month, pull out a bin and put those toys in your child’s play space. Then refill the bin with the toys your child has been playing with.

Then sit back and watch what happens. They’ll start playing with those tucked-away toys as if they’re brand new. Your child will experience more creative playtime, and you’ll have created a system to reduce the toy clutter in their room.

There will of course be a few treasured toys that never get packed away. However, the majority of the toys should enter this monthly rotation.

#2 Create Storage Systems

Create a place for everything and teach your child to put things away. The largest clutter culprits are often the small toys. Doll clothes, blocks, toy cars and action figures are problematic. Small bins can do the trick. Place a photo or label on the bin so your child knows where to put the toys back when they’re done.

#3 Make Clean-Up Fun

At the end of playtime, have a five minute clean-up session. You might even want to create a clean-up song. Sing the song and require your child to clean up after themselves. Make it a game. Challenge them to clean up in a specified amount of time. If they beat the clock they win a prize.

#4 Repercussions

Sometimes children test their parents. If your child is unwilling to put their toys away, take away all of the toys that aren’t cleaned up. Stick to your word. Don’t be swayed by tears and tantrums. Children can learn at a young age to be responsible for their belongings.

#5 Get Rid of It

Finally, your child will undoubtedly outgrow toys. As they do, create a plan to get rid of them. You can donate the toys to charities. You can also resell them at used toy stores. Just like you clean out their outgrown clothes, also create a system to get rid of the toys they’ve outgrown.

Your home is your sacred space. By teaching your child how to organize their belongings and care for their space, you’re teaching them valuable life lessons. You’re also ensuring your child’s toy room is a safe and clutter-free place to play.

Tweet – Tired of stepping on toys and living in clutter? 5 tips to declutter your child’s toys. LINK

How to Stay Organized As Kids Head Back to School

How Stay Organized as the Kids Head Back to School

Hey everyone – it’s back to school time – and some kids will be heading back in less than two weeks.  That’s why it’s so important to get your game on – so we asked, Megan Brown, Co-founder of HatchedIT.com an online scheduling app for parents to give us her top tips for staing organized this back to school season. Good luck!

As another summer draws to a close and we begin to prepare our kids for the start of a new school year there are several tips we can follow to help stay energized, organized and on track.

1. Turn off the TV
Television time is ok but it should be designated. It is too easy to get sucked in and waste hours in front of the tube. Create a schedule with your kids on when they can watch TV and how much they can watch at a given time.

2. Schedules
With sports, after school activities, homework, play dates and more scheduling can be one of the more stressful tasks during the school year. It is important to be on top of your scheduling by using calendars, online organizers, and reminders to help you keep track of your busy day.

3. Storage
Buy boxes and baskets to help store things around the house like toys and gadgets. Compartmentalizing is great for organization and de-cluttering! They are also the perfect way to help each child know where to put items specific to them like homework assignments, permission slips and after-school activity information. Kids are used to putting things into labeled bins at school – why not let them help you keep organized at home too!
4. Cleaning
“A place for everything and everything in its place” is a great motto to live by. Don’t let the cleaning work pile up; try and disperse chores through the week so that you aren’t overwhelmed.

5. Preparation
Start preparing anything and everything that you can ahead of time. Some examples? Prep your outfit for work before you go to bed, prep dinner meals on the weekend, pack the kids’ lunches the night before and keep them in the fridge. This way everything is ready when you need it to be and you can start the day feeling prepared rather than discombobulated or rushed.
6. To Do Lists
To gain perspective on what needs to be done now and what can be held off – lists are always a great tool. However, sticky notes scattered across the walls of your home are not the best method for list making. Make one list at the start of your day and use it as you get things done throughout the day.

7. Sleep
You may not realize it, but getting adequate rest and having a regular sleep schedule will help you to be more organized throughout your day. Both kids and parents should have a bedtime.
8. Communication
Coordinating is never going to work without communication. Talking it out is also important in any busy family.
9. Stop Buying Things
Seriously! Consider what you actually need versus what you want. Not only will you be saving money, but you will also have less to clean up.
10. Reward Yourselves Give credit where credit is due! If the kids are doing their chores and helping, don’t forget to reinforce their good behavior with compliments and rewards like going out for ice cream or renting a movie. And if the parents have had a great week, treat yourselves to a night out.

The most helpful hint of all- Don’t over stress the start of the school year. If the family supports and loves one another then being organized will happen naturally, especially if you remember to follow the tips!

About Megan Brown:

Megan Brown is the co-founder of HATCHEDit.com, the online organization and collaboration tool for families. She has over a decade’s worth of Wall Street experience spanning both sales trading and Asset Management Sales & Marketing.

How to Spring Clean Your House Fast

Ahh, Spring is in the air.  Really – despite the fact that it was freezing again today I see crocuses starting to push their way up.  And I think I saw chocolate, the resident rabbit poke his (her?) head out.  And so that means it’s time to clean the house.   In honor of spring, here’s a simple checklist for at the super quick and super easy way to Spring Clean.  Because I hate cleaning.  Really I do.   But I love the feeling of shedding stuff.

The beauty of spring cleaning – it’s not just that chemically lemon smell of clean.  It’s because there is less stuff.   For just a little bit, the house is emptier, cleaner and so is the brain, leaving you ready to leap ahead into the new season.

So follow this room by room checklist for an easy way to clean house:

Kitchen

The most used room in the house is probably cleaner than you think.  Why?  Because you probably clean it almost every day.  Or course it’s probably gets dirtier every day – especially if you have a baby who’s experimenting with self feeding.  But never mind:

  • Clean the counters and put any dishes or bowls away that you don’t need.
  • Dust the baseboads (scrub if you need too) and the windowsills
  • Wipe down walls, lights and ceiling fans (you don’t want the shower of dust the first time you turn them on)
  • Get rid of the left over Christmas and Valentine’s decorations.
  • For the brave – move the stove and fridge away from the wall and clean behind them
  • Clean the oven
  • Clean out the cabinets, pantry and fridge, getting rid of old, stale or expired items
  • Sweep and mop the floor

Enjoy for the 22.2 minutes before dinner…and the next mess

Bathroom

  • Remove all items from the counter and shower and clean the counters, tub and shower completely
  • Time for a new shower curtain – that’s fine – don’t skimp
  • Clean the mirror and lights
  • Scrub the toilet
  • Wash or vacuum any area rugs
  • Go through all the cabinets and drawers and throw out, donate and organize.  Replace any expired medicines – check with Poison Control on the right way to get rid of old or expired medications.

Clean Your HouseLiving Room

If the living room doesn’t get used that often, then it may only need a quick once over – remove any outdated decorations, old plants, etc.  The dust and vacuum and you’re set.

The Den/Family Room

Since this is where the family probably lives, this is going to take a little more work.  But spring is an excellent time to declutter.

  • Go through toy bins, art boxes and other repositories and clean out, throw away or donate.
  • Then you can go onto cleaning.  Take pictures down and clean them.
  • Wash your curtains or dust them if you have blinds.
  • Wash down walls and baseboards
  • Clean the rugs
  • Wash any slipcovers or you might want to spring for some upholstery cleaning.

Bedrooms

  • Straighten and Declutter
  • Go through clothes and get rid of the ones that are worn out or don’t fit
  • Pack off-season clothes away in a closet or other storage space
  • Look at the piles of things  –  papers, homework, library books and throw out, return or file permanently
  • Vacuum and then flip the mattress before replacing the linens.
  • Remove the items under the bed and vacuum under it before putting those items back.

Are you overwhelmed yet?  There are a lot of checks on the list, right?  So, just remember that this doesn’t have to be done all in one day.  Pick a room a day (or weekend day) and attack it as a family.   Get the kids to help by giving them the chance to make a little extra cash  – help them run a garage sale with all the things you decide to get rid of.  Or offer to pay them for tasks which would be “extra” – remember you don’t need to pay your kids to make their beds…they should just be doing it.

And now – reward yourself.  Take yourself to your favorite coffee shop and get a latte – and watch other people clean up the spilled coffee and torn sugar wrappers.

Share your favorite tip for making spring cleaning easier and faster below…

Book Review: 44 Things Parents Should Know About Healthy Cooking for Kids

Do your kids eat their vegetables.  Mine don’t.  Seems no matter how hard I try, they still run shrieking from a pea…yet have never covered their eyes in fear at a Scooby Doo movie….beats me.  But here to solve that problem is Chef Rock Harper, the Season 3 winner of “Hell’s Kitchen” and the celebrity chef for the National March of Dimes.  He has a cute – and use that word nicely, because it does have a cute, eye catching design, filled with 44 things you can do to help your kids eat better – and there’s nary a puree recipe in there.  In fact there aren’t too many recipes at all – just sound tips.  Like “Skip Commercials” i.e. fast food restaurants shouldn’t be teaching us how to eat, Get outside – make a healthy picnic, “Move you Butt!” – model healthy behavior for your kids and exercise.  Plus he takes on unhealthy school lunches.

Like I said there aren’t many recipes – which is a good thing.  Chef Rock’s point – if you’re making chocolate chip cookies with bean puree to make them healthy, your kid won’t know that in general, cookies (especially if they aren’t yours) aren’t really healthy at all.  So for all of you who are tired of another mini-me cookbook but want some common (and not so common – they’re were ones I certainly hadn’t thought of before in here) tips and tricks to create a healthier food lifestyle for you, then this is cute little book.  It’s also sassy and non-jedgemental that it makes a great little present to give to that family you think needs a little help.  The book, 44 Things Parents Should Know About Healthy Cooking For Kids is available by clicking here at www.amazon.com

Smooth as Butter Morning Routines

organized-mom-morning-routines

A Smooth Monring Begins with the Night Before

Like every mom you probably feel that there is never enough in the morning.  No matter how early you seem to stat, it always seems like the kids are are running behind and you’re  left a frazzled and stresses out mom before the day has even begun.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  You can use these tips to make your mornings run as smoothly as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  You’ll be feel happier and more in control and best yet, your kids won’t start the day with a picture of an angry you.

The key to your stress free morning routine – Do as much as you can the night before.  This will reduce the amount of time it takes to get everyone ready and there will be far less stress.

– Shower or Bathe – you may rely on your morning shower to feel fresh and revived, but fortunately your children don’t need do.  Have all the kids take their showers or baths the night before.

– Set Out Clothes – Have your children, with or without your help, set out their clothes for the next day the night before. This was you can ensure that you have all the matching pieces and that everything is ironed and in good shape.

– Pack their bag – Look through your child’s backpack when they bring it home each day.  Go over any homework assignments that need to be done, and make sure that completed homework, permission slips and forms make it back into the bag the night before. Then have your child place her backpack in the same place, near the door, so she’s ready to grab it and go in the – morning.

-Keep a Family Calendar – It’s very helpful to have a centralized family calendar that everyone can look at and put their important events on.  Check the calendar the night before and discuss what everyone has going on and the plans for getting them there.  This way your kids will be prepared and you’ll have time to make any extra carpooling arrangements.

– Make Lunches – Make as many components of lunch the night before as you can.  You can even keep lunch bags, packed, in the refrigerator for the whole night to make the morning preparations run more smoothly.

– Set the Breakfast Table – Put out all the breakfast dishes and items the night before.  You can put out bowls, spoons, glasses and plates – even the boxes of cereal, on the table.

By planning ahead and setting up as much as possible the night before you can have a well oiled machine of a routine in the morning.  Just imagine what you could do with all that extra time!