Posts Tagged "toys"

Out with the Old, Make Room for the New

Posted by on Nov 8, 2010 in Embrace the Urge to Purge, Featured, GOPACK Method, Holiday Organization, Mom Moments, MomSources™, Organizing Products, Problem-Solved!, Sanity Savers, What You Need & Where to Put It | 5 comments

Out with the Old, Make Room for the New

Pre-holiday decluttering…

It doesn’t matter if we’ve been naughty or nice, pre-holiday is the best time to declutter to make room for the slew of new stuff. Think of this process as a way to create a space for what’s on your holiday list. If you’ve asked Santa for some new books, consider purging some of what you already have. Or if you’ve asked for new clothing, now is a great time to create a place in your closet where those new pieces will hang. Let go of what you haven’t worn, doesn’t fit and you can’t see putting on again.

Here are some simple strategies for decluttering a few areas of the home:

Purge your books:

  • Donate to a Ronald McDonald House or retirement home. Facilities like the ones mentioned (there are plenty out there!) are always looking for age-appropriate reading materials.
  • Ebay your books—Perhaps you have a Collection of cookbooks or coffee table books that are no longer relevant to your life any longer. Books are heavy, so you may want to consider selling them to a local used bookstore, as opposed to online, especially if they are hard cover. And, put them together in collections, as opposed to posting (if you choose to go online) one book at a time.
  • Pass ‘em on—If it’s children’s books you’re looking to “give away” and your youngest child is older than your bff’s oldest child, offer the books to her. Of course, there will be the “special” books you want to save (I saved Good Night Moon, Oh the Places You’ll Go, and a few other treasured ones!) and you can carefully store those away with other keepsakes.

Make room for new clothes:

  • Donate to Good Will or National Kidney Foundation—This is one of the easiest ways to purge items from your closet! Get a bag, load it up, and drop it off. Done!
  • Consign—Selling items is a great way to fund future purchases, especially if you have a lot of designer clothes in your closet that were pricey to begin with! Find a local consignment shop, establish a relationship with the owner, and consign items regulary.
  • Offer to a friend—Perhaps you’ve put on or lost weight and you have multiple sizes in your closet. If there’s no intention of returning to the “off-sizes,” ask a friend who is one of those of sizes if they’re interested in the clothing pieces. Or gather your gf’s and have a clothing swap party. Perhaps you’ve had your eye on a friend’s dress and maybe she’s ready to part with it. Win-win!

Kids and toys:

Huge issue for parents! Whether we’re buying because our child says “I want” and we don’t want to disappoint or well-intentioned grandparents show up, hands full everytime they visit, ALL new PARENTS wind up with TOO MUCH KID STUFF!!! And, although we may be grateful for all that stuff, the BIG dilemma is: Where to put it all??!!

  • Storage is key and it needs to be effective storage, not where you’re chucking everything into a bottomless pit. You know, the big container full of stuff that your child no longer has any interest in picking through to find a treasure. I’m talking appropriate storage for particular items. For example, action figures need a smaller storage bin so the items don’t become an overwhelming sea of plastic for your child to deal with. Try containers such as crunch can totes, which are 12″ square and they have handles! Attach a tag to each one with the name and a photo (for kids who haven’t started reading yet) and not only can kids help clean up, but they can carry the tote to its rightful home once it’s full.
  • Limit the number of toys and books. I’m a big fan of rotatingtoys. For two reasons:
    1. Kids are overwhelmed when there’s TOO MUCH stuff. Limiting what they have to play with allows them to SEE everything…and allows you to have a place for everything.
    2. It’s like Christmas morning when you take out the toys kids haven’t played with in a while. This is a great on those cold rainy winter days when you’re stuck inside. Just make sure to put toys AWAY (rotate!) when you take out the ones that have been stored. Store toys in large clear containers to easily identify what’s inside. Put like items together. For example, all of the Loving Family Dollhouse accessories or the Power Rangers action figures in one container.

Memories last longer than stuff Consider giving the gift of an experience. We all love to have “stuff” in our hands, but when is enough, enough. Consider taking the family to a movie or a broadway show, skiing if you live in a colder climate, or to the beach if you’re in a warmer climate. Create a memory that doesn’t involve accumulation of more stuff. Take photos and make a memory book, which takes up a lot less space! Kids take their cues from parents. Now is the time to teach them the importance of spending quality time together, which is the key to solid lasting relationships.

Recently, I sent out a tweet asking what’s on everyone’s Holiday gift list…

Best answer…

May your holidays be filled with experiences and lots of happy memories!

Disclaimer: I’m not endorsing the B&W Zeppelin speaker (in fact, I’ve never used it) or any of the companies I’ve linked to in this article. These are only examples of ideas.

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My Whole Life Needs Organization

Posted by on Aug 5, 2008 in Easy Organizing | 0 comments

Dear Stacey,

Organized? What’s that? I’m disorganized from one end of my life to the other. From business, to car-office, home-office, home living space, nursery and space in my brain! I’m suddenly faced with getting everything done and quickly! I don’t even know where to begin! And on top of all of that I’m exhausted! Any and all advice is appreciated! — Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

First off, sit down, close your eyes, and take a deep breathe. There’s nothing worse than feeling scattered and overwhelmed while attempting to get a grasp on where to begin. Once you’ve gained a sense of calm, take out a piece of paper and pen. Begin by jotting down all the things you need to get done. For example, calls that you need to make, notes or emails you need to write, preparation for an upcoming event (when it comes to “projects,” such as preparing for an event, don’t attempt to write the details yet, just the overall topic), organize the house, etc.

Once you’ve got your main list, you can begin to break down each “Project” on separate sheets of paper. This process may feel a little overwhelming, but the idea is to take all the “stuff” that’s running around your head and put it on paper. Believe me, once it’s on paper and you’re not having to carry it around with you, you’ll begin to feel a little relief. Also, you can begin to see what needs to be addressed first. Anything with a deadline or timeframe attached to it should be addressed first. For example, paying bills or phone calls to sign up for a cooking class. Whatever it is, put an asterik next to those items and attempt to accomplish those first.

For the other “Projects,” begin by setting a personal deadline. Organizing is a process, so if that’s on your list, commit to spending just a couple of hours a week (or more if you’ve got it) to get started. Small steps will get you big results. The key is to get moving. Here are some related links to help you in other areas:

Car Organization
This Used to be a Family Room
Kitchen Organization Made Easier
Kids Papers: Where to Put Them

Let me know how you do!

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Get a good quality picture of your baby!

Posted by on Feb 28, 2008 in New Mom, Problem-Solved! | 0 comments


Baby’s First Photo Shoot

You may already have a photographer in mind, but if you don’t, here are suggestions on choosing one:

  • Ask friends for recommendations for reputable photographers whose style you like.
  • Search the Internet for Web sites of local photographers. This way you get to preview their style and offerings.
  • Ask the studio/photographer for references and meet the photographer in advance to be sure you click with his or her personality. You want to be completely comfortable and feel like you can clearly communicate with the photographer.

According to Karen Leach, a professional photographer in Los Angeles, California, a good photographer can get a great photo no matter what. She says that she has never done a shoot where she didn’t get something she and the parents liked. In the end, carefully choosing the photographer determines what you wind up with in the end.

Consider the following when choosing a photographer:

  • Color versus black and white
  • Studio versus natural light
  • Artificial background versus natural environment
  • Is there a location fee?
  • How do they handle an uncooperative baby? This is important in the event baby becomes irritable and needs a break.
  • Can he do mother/baby photos and family photos at the same time?
  • Will the photographer incorporate one of baby’s favorite toys?

Leach also says that it’s important to get baby’s portrait done as soon as possible. In fact, schedule sessions in advance to capture baby at one-month, three-months, six-months, and one-year. The key is to not miss the important shots and keep in mind these photographs will become family heirlooms one day.

Ask the photographer if you can “shadow” them to get a record of Baby’s first photo-shoot. This could be a fun way to record baby’s first photo shoot experience or at least get one or two photos.

Once the photo shoot begins, there is the possibility that baby will become uncooperative, for good reason. She may just need a short break to eat or a diaper change. Take a few minutes and relax, keeping in mind baby takes her cues from mom. Photographers who take baby pictures not only know that this can happen but anticipate it and build extra time into the shoot.

Some babies will naturally be comfortable around unfamiliar faces, and others will scream at the top of their lungs if they don’t recognize the person. If your baby is stuck to you like glue, capturing a professional photograph can be challenging. To maintain your sanity and stable blood pressure, keep expectations low, be willing to go with the flow, and know that the experience you have with the first photo shoot is one that you want to make memorable no matter how frustrated you might get.

Here are some additional tips for making the experience a good one:

  • Schedule the photo shoot just after baby’s naptime or when baby is at her best.
  • Wait until you get to the studio or photo location before dressing baby in her photo-shoot clothing. Also, immediately put a bib on her until it’s time to have the photo taken to avoid spit-up on her outfit.
  • Stay close by so baby is comfortable, but stay out of the shot.

Good Idea! Bring one of baby’s favorite toys for the photographer to hold near the camera to get baby’s attention.

Excerpt from Stacey Crew’s The Organized Mom, available on amazon.com.
Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Photographer, Karen Leach http://www.karenphotographs.com/

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Here Comes Santa Claus…with more toys!

Posted by on Jan 2, 2008 in Easy Organizing, Embrace the Urge to Purge, Room-by-Room, Sanity Savers | 0 comments

Santa has come and gone and you’re likely left with a heap of toys and no where to put them. Well, hopefully not, but if you are, consider the following:

  • Donate or give to a friend the toys that your child(ren) obviously no longer play with
  • Store some items and rotate them with existing toys in a few months. It will feel like Christmas all over again.
  • Consider alternative containers for toys that more easily fit the game pieces
  • Sell gently used toys on ebay or craiglist.com to fund future purchases

Keep in mind that physical organizing is about deciding how much space you will give to a thing.

Have another idea? Send me an email: stacey@gopack.org.

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How Do I Maintain All of These Toys?

Posted by on Oct 8, 2007 in Easy Organizing, Room-by-Room, Sanity Savers, What You Need & Where to Put It | 0 comments

How Do I Maintain All of These Toys?

If you’re like most moms, you overbuy when the first baby comes along and you wind up with enough toys to open a small preschool. When babies are little, maintaining the number of toys can be manageable, but as they grow, it becomes increasingly challenging to know what to keep, when to get rid of something, and how to store it until the next baby comes along.

I do recommend rotating toys. This is a great way to maintain a clutter-free environment and it’s like Christmas when you take a toy out that your child hasn’t seen in a few months.

A great way to make the toy situation feel less overwhelming–and to maintain a little control–store toys in clear containers that are labeled, especially when it comes to blocks, play dough, doll house pieces, etc.
If you’re storing items in an open space like a playroom, consider choosing similar containers to hold toys. Not only does this help with clean up, but it creates a seamless backdrop and appears to be less cluttered even if you are housing enough toys for a playgroup.
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