July 16, 2012 12:00:00 PM MDT
Potty Training - Try Something New!
Potty Training is ROUGH
After potty training 5 ½ kids, I feel that I know more now than I did the first time, right?
My first boy was in cloth diapers until he got big enough to take the lid off of the diaper pail. When his little brother was born he was given a big box of disposable diapers. Have one in cloth was okay, but having two was so much more work. So I caved, found the money somewhere, and bought the disposable diapers. When I decided it was time to potty train the oldest, I put him back in cloth. That was a lot of work - he could get up and run away! Sometimes I would just let him go. Without the diaper, I spent a lot of time at home. This was no different than normal days, just more stressful. I had towels covering every surface that he might sit on. I don’t remember any great tricks from that time. I just kind of gritted my teeth and cleaned up. A lot.
Trying Something Different
We must have made it, because he started preschool. Then I had another baby and we moved to a bigger home. I had another boy a year later. Soon it was time to worry about preschool for my second son. He has autism so they let him come to preschool in diapers . I still pulled out the cloth diapers. I tried and tried, no luck. I tried no diaper, that didn’t seem to bug him. Plus I could not sit at home - he had to get to preschool. Then when he was almost 4, his other brother needed to get potty trained. That was probably motivated by his cousin who was giving my sister my sister a really rough time to train. So I took them all on, with a renewed sense of determination. I adopted the best idea I had heard yet - We would yell “I NEED TO GO POTTY!!” and then go, wash up and join all the kids at the top of the stairs for a “smarty party.” Everyone got one smarties candy. It was a big hit. It had helped that the oldest was 5 and thought this was great fun. I also helped design Organize It Mom!'s potty charts at this time. I loved the idea of a reminder of all the steps, washing hands, getting dressed, etc. I think it took about a month, and kids were potty trained. All of them, even the baby. So my hair brained idea is to potty train in groups. Sure, it worked right?
Sometimes I would have to add extra incentive for my boys when they would have accidents. I would put a candy bar just out of their reach, out of my reach, but not out of dad’s reach. If they stayed clean all day they got the candy bar from dad. If not, dad ate the candy in front of them. It worked great (and dad really enjoyed it).
Little Girls Go Potty Differently!
Then my little girl came along. Girls were supposed to be easier to potty train, that is what I had always heard.. Potty training time came. I coached the boys to yell again, but my oldest thought that was completely lame and would grouch about it. I still worked with my daughter. I knew she knew what to do but I think she needed a reason. Going to preschool was too abstract. She didn’t have any experience with that.
Trying Something Different...Again.
One day we went to IKEA and the boys went into the playroom at the store while we shopped. That did it. She wanted to go to IKEA and play, but their rules are that you have to be potty trained. She was sold. I told her she had to go a week without diapers. Poof. Magic! I love IKEA for that. It was their rule. Not mine. They were the bad guys. We went to IKEA a week later. I could not believe that it had really worked. It was the best time I ever had there. I was giddy! Thank you IKEA!
Lame, I guess. Although, such a blessing. Try something different. Find something that motivates them. Take them on a play date with a friend. Go to a store with a play place where the friend can play but your child cannot. Huge. I don’t think I did potty training the perfect way. I think that there is no perfect answer, hence all of these blogs and books about potty training. Potty training is hard. My second son and I have a saying: “Hard? I like hard!” Hard things make us strong. Nothing feels better than accomplishing a big goal! You can do it. There is no official time line for when you are supposed to be done. Just enjoy teaching them and discovering the ways your kids learn. Never wish for anything more perfect than now. Enjoy.
May 19, 2012 9:26:25 PM MDT
One of the reasons you are buried under clutter is that you have failed to define parameters for the places you keep your stuff. The old adage, "a place for everything..." really does work but only if you've put a boundary around your places.
This one rule of organizing is so important. If you don’t do this, you’ll constantly find yourself in an organizing cycle. Take your kids’ toys as an example. If you don’t have a designated spot with defined boundaries - this means top bottom and four sides - you’ll find quickly that you are drowning in toys. You’ll spend a Saturday going through them only to find two months later that you need to do it again.
Do yourself a favor and put a lid on it. Going back to the toy example... define a space for the toys to live. Define smaller spaces for secondary homes. For example, use a bookcase in the playroom, and small baskets for other rooms where toys always end up. Watch for patterns of play and make toy-homes in the rooms where toys always land. We have a cupboard in the family room, small baskets in the formal living room and kids rooms and a cupboard shelf in the kitchen for the toys.
When you have a defined space, organizing is so much easier! Watch how this works. Since our son knows the toy parameters, if we’re at the store, tempted to buy a new toy, he has to choose whether he’d really like the new toy because it will mean getting rid of one of his... and if he really wants the new one (and the budget allows, of course), he has to decide which toy to get rid of.
The same principle applies to our stuff too. Sometimes our biggest problem is that we haven’t defined parameters for our stuff. One natural parameter is our home (four sides, a top and a bottom). Still though, is your house so stuffed it’s spilling into the garage and storage sheds? If so, you’re not sticking to your parameter. Don’t buy anything you don’t have a place for!
This is a simple concept that will free you if you can apply it. It will work for your stuff, paper, cyberspace, and even your time. We already saw how it will work with stuff but what about the others?
Did you know research shows that 80 percent of the paper you file is never looked at again? (Organizing Plain and Simple by Donna Smallin) A file cabinet is a great parameter for paper - that’s why it was invented but if you’re like most, it’s probably not a parameter you are taking advantage of. Instead you have piles of paper stacked up all over your house right? Organizing experts all say you should only touch a paper once. If you are that disciplined, congratulations. Most people (including me) find that too high a standard to reach. If you find yourself in that situation a simple solution is to define another parameter - one for the piles. Allow yourself one pile of “to file” papers but make sure that pile has it’s own home with easy access but a definable top so the pile can not exceed a certain height.
Cyberspace is trickier because it’s harder to define. But it can work. Your computer can quickly become littered with all kinds of cyber-garbage. Computers are supposed to simplify life. If you can’t find what you need on yours, then it’s time to set some parameters. You could limit yourself to a certain number of files or file size. It doesn’t make sense to save something you can never find if you need it. Stay on top of your cyberspace with limits - even if you can’t see the top, bottom and four sides, you can still create limits for yourself.
Defining parameters for your time will ensure you are doing what is important to you. If you don’t have time parameters set up, you will find yourself inundated with requests from others. Soon, you’ll be over-committed, running around like a chicken with your head cut off because you failed to define how you would protect your time. You decide what your priorities are and then determine how much time you will spend working your priorities. When interruptions come, you will be able to determine if they take precedence or if what you are doing is more important.
Think about it. How often do you buy more frozen food than will fit in your freezer? My guess is it’s not often because you have trained yourself to know what that parameter is and you stick to it. You can do the same with so many other aspects of your life. Be creative and be the boss of your space, stuff, paper, and time.
May 19, 2012 9:24:34 PM MDT
Before you spend buckets of money on organizing products, look critically and creatively at the things in your home. The best organizing products are the ones you already have. You may be surprised how an old baby food jar can help you get organized. Here are a few ideas:
Let’s start with a toilet paper roll. Besides the obvious and helpful roll it plays in your life (pun intended), it also makes a wonderful toddler toy. But wait, free toddler toys make you and your tot happy but they don’t really help you get organized. Toilet paper rolls are perfect electric chord holders/organizers. Just fold the chord and tuck it in. Use this trick for loose chords or chords attached to appliances.
If you have a tangle of chords, tuck them into separate rolls and label them. If you have chords in a visible place (and can’t stand having a toilet paper roll on your kitchen countertop) disguise it with paint or wrapping paper. Now, this should go without saying, but remember that toilet paper rolls are flammable so do not use this trick with curling irons, clothes irons, or hot griddles that don’t have detachable chords.
Other ideas: Use shower curtain rings hooked together to organize belts or ties in your closet. Use decorative toothbrush holders to hold pens or makeup brushes. You know that shower caddy you have that never gets used? Hang it from a hook in your teenage daughter’s room and put all her hair supplies or jewelry in it. Use see-through pill boxes to hold jewelry, small craft supplies, or nails.
Put towel racks on the back of the door in everyone’s room. You can keep towels from cluttering the bathroom or you can use the racks to hang belts, ties, hats, or shoes. Put spring-bar curtain rods in small children’s closets so they can reach their clothes and you can move up the bar as the child gets taller.
Attach empty baby food jars to a shelf. Screw or nail the lid into the bottom of the shelf. Then simply twist the glass jar on and off when you need it. You can use this idea in your pantry and fill the jars with spices or use it in the garage to store nails and screws.
Use an old book (one you never want to read again) to make a bookshelf. Attach brackets to the book and the wall and then stack books horizontally to cover the brackets. It will give you a floating bookshelf and add a decorative flair to your room.
Think about it. You already know how to do this. Your treadmill already doubles as a laundry sorter - right? The lid of your dishwasher has probably been a finger-painting canvas. Your kitchen table is used for many things besides meals. Your couch and bed make great trampolines (according to your kids). If you simply think outside the toilet paper roll, you can have fun organizing without spending any money at all.
May 19, 2012 9:23:22 PM MDT
Organizing is like dieting: you have to get the junk out of the trunk; then, you have to keep it out. Really though, before you even get to that point, you have to know your weaknesses. Once you know your weaknesses, you can work around them to organize your life and bring balance to your home. Compare organizing to dieting to see where you fit in. Are you an emergency-only organizer, a resolution-maker, a natural, hopefully deluded, or a freak?
An emergency-only dieter starts to diet and exercise when the doctor says, “your life is on the line.” An emergency-only organizer de-junks when her mother-in-law calls to say, “I’m coming to stay for a week.”
You can succeed as and emergency-only organizer if, when the emergency strikes, you call in the troops and make a good plan. Sit down and write out what must be done to get the house mother-in-law-ready and then delegate. If it’s a serious emergency, call in a professional organizer. This is no time to be embarrassed; your mother-in-law is coming for pete’s sake! Go room by room and be ruthless in your elimination process. When you come across something you’re emotionally attached to put it in a labeled box and store it. Whatever you do, don’t open that labeled box again. You’ll be much more able to make an unemotional decision about what to do with it later.
A resolution-maker dieter goes to the gym regularly - for a week in January, a couple of times in April and then again maybe for a week in June. Resolution-maker organizers love to buy organizing supplies - especially when they are on sale (and whether or not she can use them), and then organizes in streaks, either when the mood strikes or when she’s feeling guilty.
If you are a resolution-maker, you need to let yourself off the hook and set and accomplish small goals consistently. Don’t try to organize your whole home at once. Don’t even try to organize a whole room at once. Tackle one task at a time. For example, make a realistic goal to organize your kitchen - maybe it will take a month, maybe two. Then, set weekly goals, one or two cupboards a week or one or two pantry shelves at a time. Do something towards that goal every week and reward yourself so you can stay motivated.
A natural dieter is someone who just stays thin regardless of what they eat and do. A natural organizer’s home and life are magically in order. The truth is a natural dieter has a killer metabolism doing all the work for her and the natural organizer doesn’t exist. You’ve decided your neighbor is a natural organizer so you can compare yourself to her but the fact is, if it actually is effortless for her, someone else is doing the organizing when you are not watching.
Give up on the idea that this is going to be easy and that if you could just be like so-and-so, organizing would be a breeze. It’s hard work. Give yourself and your organized neighbor some credit.
The hopefully deluded dieter just does the best she can, without a real plan and hopes her metabolism will help out. She’s deluded because when she turns 30, her bad habits are going to catch up with her. The hopefully deluded organizer doesn’t realize how her lack of planning is eventually going to lead to disaster.
Things are piling up. Pretty soon, the paper is going to take over and you will be stunned because you never saw it coming. The good news is; it’s not an emergency yet. But if you don’t get a handle on it now, it will be. Look around. Where you see a mess, make a system to deal with it. If the mail is piling up in the same place every day, put a sorter in place of the mess. Notice your trouble areas and be creative about solutions. You’ll be in good shape in no time.
The freak dieter is one whose life is consumed with eating right and exercising. Freak dieters are personal trainers or body-builders. The freak organizer drives her family crazy with a new system every week and actually giggles when she sees a new junk-drawer organizer at the store.
It is okay to love organizing but it’s not okay to drive your family crazy. Branch out and offer to help your emergency-only neighbor and quit moving your husband’s ties for cryin’ out loud.
No matter what kind or organizer you are, the number one way to keep junk from taking over your life is not to allow the junk into your life in the first place! Before you make any purchase, ask yourself, do I really want to dust that? Do I really want to move that? Do I really want to repair that when it breaks? If the answer is no, leave the item at the store and go visit it whenever you’d like but DON’T buy it! Make a commitment to love the things you buy. Reevaluate that commitment as time goes by - do I still want to dust that? Do I still love that? When the answer becomes no, give the item a new home. It will be happier and so will you.
May 19, 2012 9:22:03 PM MDT
When you think of organizing, the first thing on your list is probably not the thing I’m about to suggest. But if you can get this one thing organized, you are going to save so much money on headache medicine! It’s grocery shopping.
Your whole life, your mom has been telling you to make sure you take a list to the store to avoid impulse buys right? Well, hopefully, you listened - it’s going to make the rest of this so much easier if you’re already in that habit.
Roll up your sleeves because this is going to require some work but it will be worth it!
First you need to do a little research. Pick your favorite grocery store and go. Don’t buy anything, just write down the aisle order. Okay, if you must, you can buy that loaf of bread but nothing else - this is serious business! If you want to skip this step, use the following generic order (it will work for most stores): medicine, toiletries, cleaners, dairy, paper/baggies, baking & spices, cereal, canned & jars, condiments, pasta/rice/beans, bakery/bread, snacks, meat & deli, frozen, fruits & veggies, other.
The next step takes place at home. Take inventory of the things you usually buy. What do you have in your pantry, fridge, freezer, and storage right now? Write it all down (categorized in the groups above). Include things you usually buy but may not have right now.
As part of your inventory, take your best guess at what you usually pay for those items, leaving room to prove yourself wrong on your next shopping trip. If you can’t even guess at these prices, don’t despair. Simply track your purchase price for three months and you’ll know what each item should cost.
From now on, every time you write a list, keep it in the same categories above. When you shop, it will save you so much time! Color-coding will make this whole system a thing of beauty.
So, here’s how it works, you’re ready to make your list. You go to your pantry and notice you’re low on oatmeal, so you write it under “cereal” on your list. You write down the other things you are low on or notice you need to replace.
Before you go to the store, check your list against your inventory list. This is vital. One of the biggest shopping problems is that after you write what you think is a comprehensive list; you’ll get to the store later and see something you hadn’t thought of. Checking against an inventory will solve this problem.
If you clip coupons or shop the ads, keep everything together. A three-ring binder is perfect for this. You can keep your coupons in sheet protectors normally used to store baseball cards. Then tuck the ads in back.
Don’t want to do all this work? We’ll do it for you... click here for the Grocery Organizer.
May 19, 2012 9:20:53 PM MDT
You are not going to hear this from any other organizing experts so read carefully. I mean it, lean in - this is good. You don’t have to be a minimalist to be organized! You can be organized and have stuff! Isn’t that great news?
Now, here comes the catch: you have to love your stuff. Organizing your home then becomes a simple matter of deciding what you love most. Once you know what you love, you need to decide how it will function in your home. If you can’t find a function for the thing, you don’t love it enough. Let me repeat that okay? If you can’t find a function for the thing you love, you don’t love it enough to keep it.
For example, I love books. Voracious is the perfect word for the kind of reader I am because sometimes I feel like I’m consuming books instead of just reading them. So, it goes without saying that I have a lot of books. And I’ll get rid of them... when you can pry them from my cold, dead hands. Get the picture? I love books.
As my collection grows, so must my capacity to store them in my home. This means I have to get rid of other things I don’t love as much - like a stuffed animal collection or in my case, a spare bedroom. See how it works? If you love the spare bedroom or the stuffed animals more, then you have to get rid of some books. And let me just say this right now... if you love the books enough to put them in a box and keep them in storage... I’m not sure you really love the books. Get it?
I worked with one client (whose permission I have to share this) who owned a green sequined skirt from her performing days in her high school choir. Say what you want about the craziness of loving a green sequined, 15-year-old skirt. She really loved it. Her problem was finding a function for it in her home. Taking up a hanger and closet space was no longer an option because there were other things she loved more that needed hangers and closet space.
She loved it enough to be creative though and now that green skirt comes out every year as the family Christmas tree skirt. It’s a perfect solution. Green sequins are pretty stunning on a Christmas tree and her choir memories now have a place of honor. As a bonus, she could get rid of that other Christmas tree skirt that she never really liked and certainly never loved.
Another client loved pictures of her family (don’t we all?) but she had an excessive amount of them and didn’t like scrapbooking, or hiding them all in boxes. One of the creative ways she decided to use those pictures was by doing 11x17 layouts and then laminating them. Now she has the coolest placemats in the neighborhood and she still has those pictures she loves.
You can do this. Look around. What are the things you love? How are those things functioning in your home? Organizing will be a breeze now that you know what you love. Be creative about their function and, you’re good to go.