by Esperanza DeLaLuz
Organizing is what you do before you do something,
~~ A. A. Milne
Let’s start with this premise: Organizing things does not make you a better mom. But it does make it easier to find the Band-Aids, and for me, being ADHD, I am able to be a better mom when I have inner peace; and my personal inner peace is disturbed by chaos. But I know lots of wonderful mothers, including my own, who love and care exquisitely well, in a state of frequent disorder.
That said, I am a passionate organizer. People actually pay me to come organize their kitchen or garage. There are some basic principles to organizing that might be useful to most people to one extent or another, that I thought I might share:
1 Simplify – there are lots of wonderful systems to encourage us to simplify, but most of them boil down to only keeping things that you need, or use, or enjoy. Less stuff means less clutter and less maintenance. But there is also something to be said for having useful backup supplies like food storage, meds, or craft supplies, for preparedness purposes also. But remember, those things are only useful to you if you can find them when a crisis makes them necessary.
2 Contain things – using baskets, boxes, bags, bottles, tubs, cupboards, drawers, etc., This is probably the most important element of organizing. My grandmother used to say “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” My father used to line his top drawer with all kinds of tiny boxes with places for each thing he kept there: watch, coins, keys, etc. So I come by it naturally. But when things are where they belong, my environment is neater, I can find things I need, and I am aware of how much I have and if I have things I can do without.
It is also helpful to use similar sized and shaped things. For example, having all your dishes or food storage containers the same size makes them stack more neatly. This doesn't have to be expensive -- I actually cut the tops off plastic bleach bottles and used them to stack all my round containers of that size inside them, which kept them from falling over.
3 Put like things together – it continually surprises me when I go to help someone clean or organize, how often I find similar things in several different places. Now, it makes sense to have things in different places when you use them in multiple places. I have scissors in every room, for example, and of course, toothpaste in most every bathroom. But keeping things together that are the same, or that are used together makes sense. And subdividing those grouped things, so that each kind of thing has its own place can be very useful. You will notice if it is missing, for one thing, or if you have more than you need.
4 Label your stuff – I am probably too focused on labels, because I am absent-minded, and my labeler is one of my favorite tools. But labeling things helps us remember where they belong. Labels can help you identify what goes where and if it is missing. Most of the time you can do this subtly; you can have specific colors of towels for each bathroom, for example, or other visual cues that identify where things belong without actual labels. But you can also do them in cute ways, with fancy labels that are part of the décor.
My sister pointed out that using pretty baskets to organize my craft supplies was more appealing, more “Feng Shui” than using my labeled assortment of plastic boxes. She was right! So, over the years I picked up lots of fancy baskets at second hand stores. But then I found that they didn’t look good with labels on them. (But it gave me another fun crafting project to make a lot of cute little wooden plaques to attach to the fronts of the baskets.)
When keeping multiples for utility purposes, labeling which set goes where is very useful. For example, I write on those scissors with a permanent marker which room they belong in, so they don’t end up all in one room when I have used them.
5 Store things where they are used – we keep the dishes in the kitchen naturally, but sometimes don’t apply that same idea to other places in our home. Closets, cupboards or drawers are less likely to become catch-alls, if you limit them to containing only things that are useful in that place. Of course, there are things that get used in multiple places. Some people keep multiples like I do with the scissors, others make a specific cabinet or dresser drawer for all those things. I have a “utility dresser” with drawers for simple household tools, tape, batteries, lightbulbs, and other things that everyone needs to get to often. Some people keep a “junk drawer” for things that have no specific place, but this is a poor idea since it gets crammed full of stuff that does not ever get assigned to its own place.
6 List stuff – Keeping a list, in a notebook, on the back of a cupboard, or on a computer, can be very useful, especially with stored supplies. It also helps keep supplies current. If there is a list on the back of the medicine cabinet mirror of what you plan to keep in that cabinet, you might be more likely to notice you are out of Band-Aids. A list of what goes in each cupboard on the back of the door, or a master list of desired food storage items, or a list of where important documents are stored can be very useful. Just make sure you have a specific place to keep the lists!
7 Put things back! – This is probably the hardest part for most people. We are naturally lazy, and we don’t want to get up and put things away all the time. But a basket on the stairs for things that need to go upstairs, or a defined place in each room to set things that don’t belong in that room, can make it easier to go around and put things back. You can also make a game of it for little children. Some younger children actually think it is fun to go put Daddy’s tie in the bedroom for a few raisins! But you can also set up a pattern of going around gathering and putting things back once a day, if you cannot make yourself put things back right away.
8 A few clever helps – everyone has stuff in their house that other people left there. Setting up a basket by the door for these things not only contains them, but also makes it easier to remember to give them back or return them. A box by the garage door for things that need to go out of your home on errands makes it easier to get those errands done and get those things out of your house. Having a specific shelf for your purse, or for school books and back packs, makes finding them much easier.
Drawer dividers, hook racks, extra shelves inside cabinets, and tote bags can be very useful tools. Having a tote specifically to hold smaller things for organizing (tiny boxes, plastic packets, bags, and such) makes it easier to find something to use to contain and organize things. A place to set things when you first come home, such as a table, bench, or shelf keeps things from getting piled up on the floor.
Setting up a specific rack in which to put outgoing and incoming mail, a key rack, a mirror, the family calendar, and a place to leave notes, all by the front door can be very useful. A hook rack for hat, coats, sunglasses, flashlight, umbrellas, tote bags, sunscreen or other things that are often needed as leaving the house is useful, too, especially if it can be near the door.
I hope that these general principles can make your life a little bit easier!
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing.
~~ Doctrine and Covenants 88:119
by Meagan Waite of My Discovery Destination
I LOVE summer. I love it when the sun comes up early and wakes me. I love flip flops and shorts. I like to be warm (not hot, but warm). I like warm evenings where I can sit outside and talk with friends and family. I do not care for mosquitos (although they LOVE me), but that is what Avon’s Skin So Soft is for. This time of year, the summer, is when I thrive.
Unfortunately, summer can have the opposite effect on school-age children. Two months of reading skills–and if reading skills slip then everything slips–and more than two and a half months of math skills can be lost over the 12-weeks between the end of one school year and the beginning of another. It takes teachers about six weeks to play catchup in the fall. This phenomenon is somewhat- affectionately called the “summer slide,” or summer learning loss. Additionally, there’s the risk of early childhood death during the extended school break–you know it’s imminent when your children say things like, “I’m so bored I’m going to DIE!” The onset of this fatal disease typically occurs in week two of summer vacation.
What is a parent to do?
My Discovery Destination! and the Discovery Family Coalition have the antidote for summer doldrums, and it’s called the Summer Passport Program.
There are well over 100 fun, flexible, FREE Adventures in the main hub that families can do on their own time. There are also mini-hubs for science, arts & crafts, reading and a special PreK hub. Each of the Adventures have the added benefit of keeping kids' bodies active and minds engaged.
Did I mention they are FREE?
They are FREE to families because of generous grants from the Bear River Health Department, the Central Utah Public Health Department, and the Davis County Health Department.
Completing the Summer Passport Program Adventures comes with REWARDS. Families can earn FREE, fun experiences from multiple Family Reward Event Partners in the grant areas, but the biggest rewards are the benefits that come to your family because you are spending time together.
Give your kids a better “shot” at healthy minds and bodies during June, July and August. You cannot hold back the changing of the season. Summer is coming. But, you can avoid the potential retrogression that can accompany it–the Summer Passport Program is the cure.
(Momivate is honored to be part of the Discovery Family Coalition along with My Discovery Destination!)
By Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
One of my favorite things to do while growing up was to visit my grandmother’s homes on both sides of my family. I think everyone enjoyed it! I have to mention that while some people have “cookie” Grandmas, I had TWO "ice cream Grandmas!” My Grandma Durrant always had her freezer stocked with a favorite flavor at a moment’s notice. And my Grandma Tenney would let us sit on her back porch and grind the handle of the old-fashioned ice cream maker with a fresh cream mixture until the ice cream was nice and thick! YUM! So, was it the ice cream factor that made my Grandmas' homes such special places to visit? Being the ice cream lover that I am, I confess my answer to that question: “YES!”
But, of course, there was more -- much more!
In fact, everything in my grandmothers' homes spoke in a special way to my heart:
Don’t we all want that kind of a home? A home filled with warmth and love! Happily, it is something we can all achieve with work, creativity, time, and a whole lot of help from above! One song that describes this loving ambiance we want in our homes is called, “Home,” written by Caroline Eyring Miner:
Home is where the heart is
Where warmth and love abound
Home is where encircling arms
Go all the way around.
--by Caroline Eyring Miner
A home, as we all know, is more than just the furniture and the stuff we own. It is made up of the people who live there – our family! Therefore, in order for a home to have that ambiance of love that we desire, one of the most important things we can do is to prioritize our time to strengthen our relationships with our families.
In families, love is spelled T-I-M-E.
Time spent with our families is a true investment that pays long term dividends. When we spend time with our family, we increase our family’s capacity to feel loved and secure in our home. What we are really saying is, “I have time for you. You are important to me.” Time spent with family doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective, but both quantity as well as quality are important and consistency is key.
How do YOU spell love with your family? What message are you sending with the events on your calendar? Here are a few ways that strong families send their families a little love note to pump up the love-meter in their homes:
1. Set aside a weekly family night – What could be better than a time reserved just for your family each week where you all have a blast together?! Start out with one and build up to planning out a few at a time. Keep it simple or spruce it up. Just make it a night that the whole family looks forward to! It’s a great time to teach your family values as well as life skills. Play games and activities or go on outings! Maybe even work on a project together once in a while! And always – I mean ALWAYS - include a special treat!
2. Set aside a weekly family planning meeting – This is a great time to calendar events, share goals and dreams, and express ideas that will strengthen your family and leave everyone feeling calm and reassured. What can you do to assist them? How can they in turn help the family run more smoothly? You can do this as part of your weekly family night or at dinner. Just find whatever time works best for your family.
3. Individual Attention – One-on-one time with your children can be an effective way to connect with them even if it’s only a few minutes a day. Maybe you do this as you prepare dinner together, go on a short outing, run an errand together, or enjoy a special bedtime routine. Letting them talk about whatever is on their mind and really listening to them without judgment or criticism will help them to feel important and loved.
4. Unplug – In a world that is running at breakneck speed, we don’t want our families to get lost in the shuffle. So be sure to take a little time each day AWAY from phones, computers, television, and so on, not only to benefit yourself, but so that the whole family can really connect. This electronic free time becomes your chance to look each other in the eyes, talk together, laugh together and learn from one another, so don’t let it pass you by!
5. Eat meals together - Even if you can’t do it for every meal of every single day, do what you can to regularly schedule this important time together. Making it a priority to eat together blesses our families tremendously! Children whose families eat together not only develop healthier eating patterns and have better health, but they have a better vocabulary and academic performance, a higher self-esteem, a greater sense of reliance, and a lower risk of depression, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy.
6. Make and keep family traditions – Silly or special, extensive or simple, taking time to infuse family traditions lights a spark of joy and love in families. Some families have a song or a cheer. Some gather for a family prayer and group hug before heading out the door each morning. Some explore a special place each year. It really doesn’t matter what the tradition is, only that you do it and remember to keep doing it. Whether it’s as simple as having green eggs and ham on St. Patrick’s Day, strawberry pancake stacks on Valentine’s, or a treasure hunt on birthdays to find the presents, traditions not only give children something fun to look forward to, but help them to feel emotionally supported.
My grandmothers always had time for their family. They could have done a million other things, but instead they chose us. They turned on the love-meter in their homes by including us in their lives - teaching us how to do ceramics, raking the leaves together, playing a game of cards, going for a walk together to the post office. The ambiance in their homes was more than just physical surroundings, although that was certainly part of it. By opening up their calendars, what they were doing in essence was allowing us the time to open up our hearts to them, time with which they could then use to share their powerful influence for good. Now that’s what I call time well spent!
By Momivate's "Atmosphere" CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
Mom must have been magic!
Really! Everything she touched in the kitchen tasted like gold in your mouth! (well, except for liver and onions – but hey, I’ll forgive her for that!) But seriously - melt-in-your-mouth rolls, warm creamy soups, comforting casseroles, tantalizing roast beef dinner, savory shepherd’s pie…I could go on and on!
Just what is it that made Mom’s cooking so great?! Was it the splendor of eating in a palatial hall on bona fide China? Was it that she served a 7- course meal made purely from scratch? Or was it that she spent the entire day slaving away in the kitchen?
Hardly! Mom was -- and still is -- a fantastic cook and hard worker to boot, but practicality has always been a quality that was surely at the forefront of her mind. You and I both know the real reason for that mouth-watering taste of home: Mom served every meal with a heaping spoonful of her secret ingredient . . . LOVE.
Yep! I knew that she loved me when I ate it. I’m quite sure that I didn’t fully recognize it then -- in fact, I probably underappreciated her efforts. Regardless, her secret was there - sort of an underlying message that would waft through the kitchen and down the hall, whispering for us to keep coming back – back to the kitchen, back to the table, back to the warmth of her influence – sign, sealed, and delivered with a kiss.
So how do WE do that, Moms? How do we, with limited time and means, and sometimes limited skills in the kitchen, infuse as much love into the process so that even if it’s not their favorite dish, our families KNOW that we love them when they eat it?
Here are a few ideas to add to a list of your own fabulous ideas:
Plan ahead – Nothing says “stress” in the kitchen quicker than not having a meal ready when hungry tummies come calling. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the “hangries” and that doesn’t even come close to that warm feeling we are trying to create. So, what can we do to avoid this? Mom took a few minutes each day to prepare the meal – taking the meat from the freezer to the fridge the night before or squeezing in a few minutes in the morning to start the crockpot going. Many moms also plan out meals a week or so in advance so they can add items to the grocery list for a one-stop trip. Let’s see, anything special this week? Andrea’s birthday cake on Friday and the potluck social on Saturday. And of course, we’re really busy on Tuesdays and Thursdays so we need a quick and easy option for those nights. Some families choose to make it simple by assigning a theme to every day – something like: Mondays – Italian, Tuesdays – Taco Tuesdays, Wednesdays – soup or salad, Thursdays – crockpot dinner, Friday – pizza night, Saturday – leftovers, Sunday – sweet and simple. What kind of plan would work best for your family?
Bring along a helper or two – If you’re like just about every mom on the planet, you don’t have a lot of time to spare, so why not engage your mini chefs? That seemed to be the way it was with Mom. We not only felt her love with the delivery of the meal, but she infused an extra sprinkle of love into the meal by including us in the very process. There we were, side by side, where she gave one-on-one instruction on peeling the carrots, shredding the cheese, chopping the bananas, and browning the hamburger, all the while sharing stories and building trust. When my children were small, I tweaked this a little bit. I found it to be more than a little chaotic and unsafe with everyone “helping” in the kitchen all at once. So, I capitalized on their interest and willingness to help at a young age by assigning one child per day to help me with meal prep. With only one child to focus on, I found it was a lot of fun. And if my children made it, they usually ate it too! After a few years, I put them in charge of making one dish for the meal and eventually the entire meal with me there to supervise if there were questions. When time came for them to walk out the door to go to college, they had become great cooks and could really fend for themselves! Now that’s love in your pocket!
Eat together as much as possible – Thinking back to those growing up years with Mom, I realize that it wasn’t so much WHAT we were eating as that we were eating together. Mom not only took time to make it just for us, but then she ate WITH us. That fact helped us feel that we were the most special people in her life. She had time for us. Dinner became a time to linger longer and talk it out. What was funny? What was hard? What did we do when we were little? What did we learn in school? What was important to us now? She learned from us and we in turn learned from her – manners, values, attitudes, beliefs, her life lessons, how to laugh at life, how to get along with each other, and how to tackle the hard stuff that life threw at you.
These are just a few of the little things that strong families are made of and can create a bit of heaven in our homes. In fact, that idea reminds me that one time in her late teens, my youngest sister said, “Do you know what heaven is going to be like? It’s going to be just like this – all of us sitting around a table and visiting and laughing while we enjoy good meals.” Well, I’m all for that – especially if it includes a little homemade pie with ice cream! So, whether it’s a fancy night of chicken cordon bleu or a simple PB&J sandwich, trust that you’ve got that special ingredient right up your sleeve, ready to make any meal a magical memory.
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