Category: GET ORGANIZED

The Ultimate Disney Packing List

If you are headed to Disney World anytime soon, you absolutely must start with a packing list. A trip to Disney World is not cheap, and you don’t want to make it any more expensive than it has to be. Be sure to check out all the ways you can save on your next trip to Disney World. This is where the Disney packing list becomes essential.

With the Essential Walt Disney World Packing List, you can save time, money and sanity while you prepare to “relax” on your next vacation.

My husband, Brian, and I have been to Disney World five times together, and three of those trips included small children. You can print out our Disney packing list and start checking things off your list, or you can read on to find out why some items were included.

Just because it is on this list does not mean you need to bring it. Your needs and wants may be different than ours. Our Disney packing list printable is a starting point and will hopefully prevent you from forgetting something important and having to purchase it while on vacation.

I break our Disney packing list into categories because that is how my brain works to organize all the stuff we need. There is a checkbox to check once an item is placed in the packing zone. For certain things, especially clothing, I designate how many of each item we need to pack for each person.

Once you are ready to pack everything you need for your trip, be sure to check out the “6 Steps for Vacation Packing Success.”

Clothing

Obviously, you need to pack clothes for your trip and what you pack depends significantly on what time of year you go to Disney World. We have gone several times at the end of July, which is HOT. On those days we have been known to switch shirts and underwear when we go back to our room for an S afternoon rest.

If you want to pack fewer clothes, you can always pack laundry supplies and do laundry one evening.

girls in princess costumes

For footwear, we always bring each person a pair of sandals or crocs for the pool or waterpark days and two pairs of tennis shoes for all of the walking. This is important if you get caught in one of the many afternoon rain showers. It takes awhile for wet tennis shoes to dry (put newspaper in them, it helps), and no one wants to wear wet shoes. The one exception would be a little child who will most likely be in the stroller for the walking portions of the day.

crocs

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Summer Schedule for Kids and Moms Who Need Structure

For a person who craves structure, the lazy, free days of summer scare me.

I know myself, and I know that the less structured my day is, the less I get done and the worse I feel. That is why this summer I developed a summer schedule for kids to better organize our days.

This is not to say that every day has to be productive, but I feel much better if, at the end of most days, I can feel like I accomplished something. Last summer was my first summer off with my children, so I am new to this whole 2+ month off thing.

kids walking to the beach
I am not complaining that I have these months off, not at all. In fact, getting this time off was one of the main catalysts for switching jobs, even though it meant a pay cut.

If you are like me and need some structure to your summer, you have come to the right place.

I will share how I am handling summer planning to better structure our summer. This is a new plan, so we do not know how it will work out in the end. I’ll be sure to recap in August whether creating a simple, summer schedule was successful or not.

My oldest, Cassidy, is similar to me and craves structure. In fact, for the second summer in a row, she has asked that we have summer school.  If I left it up to her, we would have a set schedule that we follow every single day down to the minute. We agree to compromise because I think some flexibility and laziness is important as well.

In the spring I started a  folder titled “Summer” in our HOPE file. Anytime I saw something relevant to summer planning such as camps, classes, fun activities, summer learning or a place we might like to visit, I put the information in that folder.

In the middle of May, I had Cassidy look through the folder and pick out which places and things she would like to do this summer.  

This was the start of our summer bucket list.

Next summer Amelia, who is only three now, will be old enough to give feedback as well, but we know this year she would say the pool and the park which are both automatically on the list.

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Avoid extra trips around the store: make your grocery list work

Have you ever gotten all done shopping just to discover that you forgot something on your grocery list? Perhaps it was written in small print at the bottom of the list. Or maybe in your excitement to cross items off you accidentally crossed the wrong thing off your list.

Then you are left with a decision. Is the item that important that you have to go back through the store to find it or can you just wait until the next time you go shopping.

I cannot count the number of times I have to go back and forth in the grocery store because I forget something. It is so frustrating and time-consuming. The only thing that makes this worse is when you have small children along with you. If they aren’t losing their mind from the boredom of grocery shopping, then they are trying to convince you of all the food items you “need.” I bet more than once you’ve spent extra money at the store just because you had to walk by items more than once. The second or third time by you were convinced to buy something you didn’t need up.

There is a solution to this problem.

Well, there are several solutions, but one that I think is the most practical and economical.

The solution is all about how you make your list. This is assuming that you use a list at all. If you don’t yet use a list, well that’s a great place to start. For those already using lists (paper or electronic) and still struggling with this problem then you’ve come to the right place.

I’m sure you’re going to be shocked to hear me say you need an organized list! (queue the sarcasm)

Yes, it may take an extra 2 minutes when preparing your list.However, it will likely save you time, headache, and expense when you are in the store.

Quickly jot down what you need to get at the store on a scratch piece of paper. Then transfer it to the organized shopping list.

GROCERY SHOPPING LIST

I have several blank copies of my organized shopping list in my Sunday basket. They are easy to access, and it takes me 1-2 minutes to transfer my jotted down list onto.

You could also have the organized list on the refrigerator where everyone can write down the items they need as they think of them. If you are an electronic list maker, just make these same categories on your electronic list.

My list is organized by categories of items we frequently shop for at the store. Yours may be different.

The key is to keep like items that are found at the store together. Then you won’t forget to pick one up.

Another variation on this list is to put more specific categories. Put these in the order in which you find them in the store. I prefer just general categories because I tend to shop at two different stores and the stores are organized differently.

If you shop at multiple stores, you can also indicate which store to buy at or the price at one store to compare which store is better to buy at.

This is your list you can make it as detailed or simple as you want.

Try organizing your list and see if it helps you avoid extra trips around the store and extra money spent on items you weren’t planning to buy.

If you have little ones and grocery shopping is your one break from the chaos at home, try saving time with this list. Then use that extra time for yourself. There is no harm in pretending it took you the normal 1-2 hours to grocery shop and sitting in your car to read. It’s one more way to find time to read.

Good luck on your next shopping trip. May you not have to walk through the store multiple times to find what you need.

Why and How We Store Toys Without Using Toy Boxes

One of the biggest conundrums of every parent – how do you store toys?

The landscape of your house changes drastically when you welcome children into your home and continues to change with every year they live there.

From playmats, jump-a-roos and exersaucers to Legos, Shopkins and ride along toys there is never a shortage of things to trip over, step on or clean up day after day.

No matter how hard we have tried to keep our floors clear of toys, it is inevitable that they will clutter our spaces for years to come. I know, I know, someday I will miss it.  I don’t doubt the truth in that sentiment, but it doesn’t help to make it less annoying in the moment.

How in the world do little people make such a big, dangerous mess in mere minutes left alone?

 We have many different ways to store toys in our house, but we do not have any traditional toy boxes. This is not to say we didn’t ever have them, because we did. In fact, at one time we had traditional toy boxes in two rooms of our house. A year or two ago we eliminated these toy boxes from our house for one big reason – they weren’t practical.

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5 Biggest Challenges to Decluttering and How to Solve Them

You’ve decided to declutter and organize the hardest room in your house. Maybe it’s your basement, maybe it’s your storage closet. For me, it’s the office. This is the room in the house where paperwork goes to die — I mean be filed. Sometimes it feels like the challenges to decluttering outweigh the benefits, but I have solutions.

challenges to decluttering

It’s no secret I love to organize, but that doesn’t mean that everything I have is organized or that all of my spaces are organized. It simply means I love the process of organizing and even more so I LOVE the feeling of being organized.

Ever since I made the move to work from home I knew that our office needed to be organized so that I could be more productive. Hence my 2018 SMART goal.

Now the time has come to begin and I am overwhelmed just like so many of you. In fact, I am having complete paralysis of where to start. I want to help all of us overcome this paralysis and get started on our biggest clutter challenges.

If you, like me, are struggling with where and how to start, it’s okay. You are not alone, even lovers of organization struggle sometimes.

the office: a declutter challenge

How to Overcome the Challenges to Decluttering:

Challenge: I don’t have enough time to devote to complete the project.

Solution: You are not alone. Most of us cannot dedicate an entire weekend to one organization project, and even if you could, you may not want to. The solution is to devote just 15 minutes a day to the project. I know it doesn’t seem like you can get much done in 15 minutes, but you’ll be surprised. Set a timer, turn on some music, and get to work. Stop after 15 minutes and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

 

Challenge: I don’t have the space to empty everything out of the room to get started.

Solution: You don’t have to. Yes, it does seem ideal to empty out the room and slowly put only the items that you need and/or want back in. However, that’s just not feasible for most of us. Instead, you need to declutter first, which will make it look much messier at first. Then, reassemble the room in sections. Be sure you have your donation station set-up to make this process even easier.

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How to Completely Organize Your Home in One Year, and not feel overwhelmed

There is no end to organizing.

I know it’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth.

Just like there is no end to cleaning or laundry or making meals. As long as you live there will always be more to do.

You will find more peace in your life the sooner you accept this as a fact.

While there is no end, it doesn’t mean we can’t strive for more organization in our lives. Says the woman who loves to organize.

organized home in 12 months

For 2018, I have decided to try a new tactic for my organizing so that I don’t feel overwhelmed. I am going to tackle one room/area each month. Some are going to take a lot less time than others, so I will plan those accordingly.

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Declutter before Christmas

The holidays are coming, and it is the perfect time to declutter before Christmas. Out with the old and in with the new!

Any holiday that means gifts are coming into your house is a great time to assess what you have and what you don’t need anymore.

If you are like me, being asked what you or your children want for Christmas queues anxiety to kick in. My immediate thoughts are, what could any of us possibly need, and more importantly, where will I put all the “stuff.”

I know, I know, gift gifting at Christmas isn’t really about what we need, but what we want or what would be fun. As a person who wants to simplify her life and home, acquiring more “stuff” is the opposite of what I want.

4 things to declutter before Christmas

I know it’s not fair to my children to put my values on them. Plus both of my daughters LOVE their “stuff” and think of it all as treasures. Yes, even the ridiculous McDonald’s toys are treasured by both of them.

There is a way to find a happy medium and keep my anxiety in check – at least a little bit.

4 Things to Declutter Before Christmas

  1. Toys

Big shocker to see this one on the list. You know that new toys will be coming into your house, so it’s the perfect time to declutter toys. Have your children go through their toys and make some decisions on what they want to donate. If you have children like mine, who treasure everything, be sure to check out, “How to help a pack-rat get organized.” The tips will work great for decluttering with your children.

toy declutter before Christmas

When we declutter toys, we have the girls decide which ones they don’t play with any more. Toys that are being decluttered will be donated, sold (they get to keep the money), or put away in storage for future grandchildren. Only our absolute favorites are put away for future grandchildren and then kept in the attic.

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How To Organize Games and Puzzles


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How do you organize games and puzzles?

Wait, you’ve never thought about it?

Take a moment and imagine all the games and puzzles your kids have and the boxes them come in.

I bet you are thinking about all of the space they take up.

Now if you were to open the box of most kids games you will realize there is a lot of space.

 Did you know there is no rule that says you must keep those items in their original boxes?

Unless you are really worried about the resale value, then it’s time to think about repackaging puzzles and games so they can be organized better and take up less space.

Let’s start with puzzles.

At our house, the girls and I LOVE putting together puzzles and we have quite a few of them.

Our big, Melissa and Doug puzzles, get to stay in their boxes. They stay in their boxes because they are the huge floor puzzles and they store best in their boxes. If you haven’t tried a Melissa and Doug puzzle, you are really missing out. They are fun because of how big they are, and the quality is second to none. Seriously, I have never been disappointed with any Melissa and Doug product.

Smaller puzzles get put into Ziploc or Hefty zipper bags. (Side note: get a great price on these after Holidays) Then the small image is cut off the box and affixed with packing tape on the front. T

his allows me to put several puzzles into a Sterilite drawer, which fits nicely on a shelf in my daughter’s closet.

It’s much easier for kids to put the puzzles away, even easier if you go with slider bags. Have you ever watched a small child try to put the lid on a box for a game or puzzle? Inevitably, you end up having to tape and reconstruct the box because of how they try to shove the lid on and the corners break.

The puzzles also take up less room when put in bags and placed in drawers.

Alright onto games.

Some of our games do stay in their boxes because it makes sense. However, many do not.

We are a game family. Therefore the number of games we have on hand may be substantially larger than your collection.

 

Another option for storage is stackable baskets. With a simple label you can organize all of those different card games or small games (Barrel of Monkeys, Yahtzee, etc)

stackable baskets

Perhaps storage of games is not an issue in every home, but if it is I hope these ideas have helped you.

Take a couple of hours on a Saturday and get the kids to help and you can completely reorganize your kid’s games and puzzles. They will be easier for the kids to get out and they will take up less room.

Three Simple Solutions for Clutter

Why do you have clutter?

The million dollar question, right?

No, not really.  There is a simple answer.

You have clutter because you put off making decisions and you don’t have good systems in place.

I bet it’s not because you actually like clutter, and if it is then stop reading. You don’t need my help.

Think about it.

That pile of papers and miscellaneous items in your kitchen, what is all that?

I bet it is all papers that you put there because you didn’t know what to do with them.

Maybe some require action be taken, and you didn’t have time to do the action right away. Maybe some you weren’t sure if you should keep and others, well, you simply got distracted. You set them down and never returned to figure out what they were or where they were going.

If you are not a successful minimalist – and I argue some of them still struggle too – you will always have clutter.

It is what and how you deal with the clutter that will determine how messy and unorganized your home is.

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Set Up a Donation and Resale Station

Every home should have a donation and possibly resale station.

Why?

Because every home has excess stuff that needs to be dealt with.

No matter how often we declutter our homes and donate items, it is a never-ending process.

There will always be things your family “outgrows,” whether it is clothes, toys or items around the house. Our tastes and needs change over time.

The sooner you recognize and accept this, the sooner you deal with your household clutter.

You need to set up a donation/resale station in your home.

This is a spot where all items that you are donating or selling (varage sale, Craigslist, LetGo, eBay, etc.) are stored.

Technically, it is probably two separate areas: one for donations and one for items you are selling.

Some of you may decide that it is not worth it for you to sell items and you just want them out of your house as fast as you can. Another factor in determining whether you should have a resale station is the amount of free space you have in your home.

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