How to Implement a Toy Rotation System

September 30th, 2014

How to get started with a toy rotation system - Tons of practical advice and tips, plus 10 steps to starting a system from scratch (AND a printable checklist).You love your kids.

You want them to be creative, to explore the world, to use their imaginations. You want them to learn, make connections, and grow. You want to encourage their interests, support their passions, and broaden their horizons.

And for many families, the playroom is where it all goes down.

But there’s a problem that happens in playrooms.

It’s the same kind of problem that happens in your own closet if you’re not careful. You know the feeling that you have too many clothes and nothing to wear? Kids get that too, with toys.

When they enter a playroom that’s full of toys, but there are things they’ve outgrown, things they don’t like anymore, and mismatched pieces, it’s pretty overwhelming.

What would make you look at your closet, let out a frustrated groan, and then choose the same yoga-pants-and-tank outfit you usually wear? That’s the same feeling that makes the kids leave their playroom and grab the pots out of the kitchen cabinets to play with.

There’s nothing wrong with wearing yoga pants and a tank top, and there’s nothing wrong with the kids playing with cooking pots. But wouldn’t you rather those things happen on purpose, instead of as the only alternative to an overwhelming number of choices?

Toy rotation is a huge help in those situations, and I’m happy to share with you how to get started.

Read more to find out why parents AND kids will love toy rotation, and how to stat your toy rotation system. Plus, get the printable checklist.

Simple, Bright, Open-Ended Playroom Tour

September 23rd, 2014

You have been asking me to share more of my home with you, so that you can see how the things I homemaking methods and techniques I talk about look in action. I share a bit of this stuff on my Instagram account (say hi on IG if you follow me over there!), but I’m happy to give a more in-depth tour on the blog.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my garage with you. This week, I’m sharing my kids’ playroom. My children share a bedroom, so that we could take advantage of this sun-filled room for playing during the day. We love this room!

The playroom changes a lot. We have simple furniture that’s easy to move, not too many static decorations (just a few things on the walls), and everything that’s “loose” is for playing. The room is totally open-ended, and my kids can exercise their imaginations here.

Here’s the tour of our simple, bright, open-ended playroom.

Simple, bright, open-ended playroom tour.

The little couch and chairs are Guidecraft furniture from my teaching days, and I recovered some of the cushions with fabric from IKEA. My daughter hand-sewed the purple pillow at school, as a Mother’s Day gift to me. I’ve proudly displayed on my bed since then, but recently she “stole” it for her baby doll.

See the rest of the kids’ simple, open-ended playroom tour.

Throw Away Your To-Do List (And What to Use Instead)

September 16th, 2014

break free of your to do list (and what to do instead)Are you a “list person”?

Do you know a “list person”?

I’m a list person, and I used to live by lists. Used to.

I loved Epic Itemized To-Do Lists especially.

I got a thrill when I saw a long page full of activities and tasks that I planned to accomplish. I would sometimes categorize or color-code the items. I drew little boxes beside each one, to check off, or I would highlight or strike through tasks when I finished doing them.

I would write additional things that weren’t on the original list as I completed them, just to get that little tingly feeling when I could strike through the item right away.

At the end of a productive day, I could smile at my long list, my trophy, my badge of honor, and know I had done well.

But not every day was quite so productive.

And often, I was left frustrated at the end of the day, when I had to rewrite lots of tasks onto the next day’s list. Rollover to-dos are no fun.

Read the rest to find out why you should throw away your to do list and what to do instead.

Real-Life Garage Organization Tips & Tricks

September 9th, 2014

Real-Life Garage Organizing IdeasA garage can easily be a Last Holdout. Ours definitely was.

What’s a Last Holdout?

Those are the spaces that stay messy, unsorted, disorganized, basically unusable long after the rest of the house is under control.

Our garage used to be lined with boxes of things to sell at a future yard sale, totes full of stuff from my teaching days and remnants of my craft show days.

I can’t tell you how many rags my husband had for working on the cars. Probably two milk crates full. I think he also had three pairs of “mowing the yard” shoes, too.

There were so many redundant basic tools, yet somehow it was always hard for me to find a hammer when I needed one.

And if I ever wanted to sweep the garage, I had to move tons of stuff around just to reach the cobwebby corners… but I was pretty much afraid to do that, because who knew what would be lurking there. (Seriously, we lived in the Land of Black Widow Spiders.)

So mostly we just left it alone.

Sure, we were able to park in there, but it wasn’t pretty. And getting the stroller out to take the kids for walks was usually a challenge.

Our garage here in Maryland isn’t gorgeous. We don’t have matching brushed metal bins with hand-stamped labels and custom wall shelves. The one finished wall is unpainted, and the others aren’t so glamorous either.

But it works.

We can find the things we need when we need them, and things don’t get in our way when we’re not using them. So I’m pretty pleased with it overall.

Want a peek into our garage? Keep reading!

Decluttering? – 3 *Different* Questions to Ask Yourself

September 2nd, 2014

Decluttering? 3 *Different* Questions to Ask YourselfYou’ve decided to declutter.

You’re ready to go.

The kids are napping, at school, or at the park with their dad. You’ve emptied your drawers or cabinets in whatever room you chose to go through first, and right now all you see is STUFF.

But you’re motivated. Motivated to cut through the crap and only keep the good stuff. The stuff you use regularly.

The stuff you need.

The stuff you love.

You’re letting go of things you were keeping before out of obligation or guilt. Gifts, “family heirlooms” no one else in the family actually wants either, boxes and boxes of kids’ school projects you’ll never look at again (except for a few really special pieces).

But there’s still So. Much. Stuff.

Even after you go through these first steps. And if you feel like there’s still too much, there really is. And you need to keep going before you’ll be able to find the peace you’re looking for.

So what are the next questions to ask yourself?

Keep reading to find out.