The Problem with Paper

The problem with paper isn’t just that there is so much of it. The problem with paper isn’t just that it’s coming into our homes from every direction. The problem with paper isn’t just that there is so much unsolicited paper. The problem with paper is all of these things on top of which we put… not dealing with the paper.

If you take a typical, non-pandemic week during the school year here is just a sampling of what kinds of papers are in a typical home with school-aged children. Junk mail, letters, bills, home work, school announcements, permission slips, craft projects, more junk mail, church bulletins, Sunday School papers, magazines, paper crafts, grocery lists, doodles, sweet notes, drawings, the list could go on.

The way to solve the paper problem is to deal with it. I typically have 2 routes I go with paper. The first is to deal with it right away. The second is to wait until a specific day to deal with it all. Either way, you will be doing just about the same thing.

TIP: Take the time to decide which mailings you want to unsubscribe from. It will be worth it to stop having to deal with those mailings that you just put straight into the trash. Not all mailings can be unsubscribed to but a lot can.

If you are dealing with your papers right away, you will sort into these categories every day. You may choose to also deal with all of your “to do” and “file” papers on the same day as well. Or you may choose to deal with all of those once a week.

If you are dealing with your papers once a week just be sure that nothing that will come into your home has a pressing deadline. Other than that, you will want a place that all paper that comes into the home goes. A bin marked “mail” or “papers” will do nicely. Each and every piece of paper that comes into the home goes there until it is time to be dealt with. Mail? In the bin. School folder papers? In the bin. Worship Guide? In the bin. Receipts? In the bin. Then on the selected day, all the paper comes out and it dealt with. See the categories below.

  1. Trash.
    This is both the easiest and the hardest part of dealing with paper. It’s the easiest because you will be throwing away obvious junk. That packet of coupons you never use, for example. The hardest part is when you have to decide which (if any) of the seven pieces of scribbled on paper you want to keep. Here’s one quick question for you to ask: do I have something that is just about the same or represents the same stage of life?
  2. Shred.
    This is anything that has sensitive information that needs to leave your house. The trash won’t cut it (haha!) it needs to be shredded. This is up to you and your comfort level.
  3. To do.
    Any piece of paper that needs a response (bill, letter, permission slip, homework, etc) goes into this pile.
  4. File.
    Some papers will end up in this pile right away because it just needs to be filed but nothing else needs to be done with it. Other papers will need to be dealt with then filed.

Here’s what it might look like to go through your papers. Sort pile of papers into the 4 categories (trash, shred, to do, file). Put trash in the trash can if not already done. Shred papers to be shred. Work through your to do pile adding papers to the file pile as necessary. File papers. Done! The more often you do this, the less time it will take (depending on the amount of papers, of course) as less papers will have accumulated. Once a week is a good way to do it all at once by making a plan to have time to deal with the “to do” items.

If you are dealing with a large pile or multiple boxes of papers you will do the same sorting and working. Just keep in mind that you will need to set aside time to work on it and get it done. You can do it!

How to Get the Answers to All Your Questions

Last year a new little grocery store chain came to town. There was buzz in my circle of friends because one of them knew this chain from overseas. I was excited to check it out one day, “I’m looking forward to going to Lydl this week.”

Now, how did you just pronounce “Lydl” in your mind? Did you say “lie-dl” or “lee-dl”? When something is just in print and not spoken we use our own grammar rules to come up with how we think words and names are pronounced. Well, our English paradigm is incorrect as this business is pronounced “lee-dl”. How did I know? Well, yes, my friend knew but ultimately, I just called the new grocery store and listened to them say “lee-dl” and then my dad and I continued to go back and forth making puns until it stuck.

We have turned into such a crowd source group of people (I am one for sure!) that we forget that we can actually go straight to the source to find out the answers to a lot of our questions. Is that store open and what are the hours? How do you pronounce that business name? How do I care for this product? How do I get rid of this product? Most of the time we forget that we should go directly to the source to answer our questions.

Want to know what your friend’s favorite meal is? Ask her. Want to know how to make your mother’s famous apple pie? Ask her. Want to know how to say someone’s name? Ask them. Want to know how to care for or dispose of a product? Ask it. Wait, you can’t. So instead, ask the person that made it. Still not quite right. Ask the business that made it.

My clients do a lot of work deciding what they want to keep around their homes which then leaves the things they want to leave their homes. Whether an item stays or goes, there are items that need care or disposal. A stained precious pillow, a broken but probably fixable appliance, unwanted cleaners, and too old paint. While you may be tempted to ask your friends how care for or dispose of these items, it might be more efficient to go to the source.

Purchase of Items
Ever wonder where to buy things and if they are in stock at your favorite stores? You can check with the producer and the store. This allows you to get the exact product you are looking for while still supporting your favorite stores.

Care for Items
A quick internet search will yield many different results on how to clean specialty fabrics, repairs of appliances, and care those plants that you think are dead in the winter. The best way to find the best answer is to do a specific search. Search the product down to the product number if possible.

Disposal of Items
Chemicals, paints, batteries, small appliances, the list could go on. These are the kinds of items that people generally want to know how to properly dispose of. Hint, it’s not throwing them in the trash. And, depending on where you live, each geographical area has different policies. The best way to find the best answer is to check with the producer of your item or the store that sells it and your local authorities.

Here’s another post on where you can dispose of some other common items.

From Here to There: Moving Tips

‘Tis the season for moving! So I thought I would offer up some of my top moving tips. It’s not an exhaustive list but should still be really helpful.

Moving Basket
This little guy is your answer to what do you do with the thing that you need to have on hand the actual day that you move. You may realize you didn’t label that box or the couch legs do need to be removed in order for it to get through the door.

Here are some good items to put in the moving basket:
– scissors
– tape
– paper
– pen, pencil, sharpie
– mini tool kit (tape measure, hammer, phillips and flat head screwdrivers)
– mini first aid kit (bandaids, alcohol wipes, first aid ointment)
– toilet paper (one roll for each new bathroom)
– hand soap
– paper towels
– flashlight
– batteries
– all screws for disassembled furniture (labeled, in baggies)
– rope
– water, water, water, and snacks

Weekend Bags
One of the reasons moving can be stressful is that we think everything needs to be in it’s forever home as soon as you get to your house. That simply is just not realistic in most cases. Giving each person in your home a weekend bag frees up some of that time and sense of urgency. Pack the weekend bag as if you were going away for a weekend and only had those items to access. This way every person will have their most important things within reach and enough clothes to last until either clothes are put in drawers and closets or until you can get a load of laundry done. Remember too that you are going to an empty home, not a hotel. Keep in mind what you will need to keep your kids (whatever age) occupied as well whether they need to be helping with the move (elementary and up) or away from the action (babies – preschoolers).

Here are some good items to pack in the weekend bags:
– enough outfits for 2-3 days (think daytime, nighttime, outerwear, underwear, socks, shoes)
– medications
– lovies (favorite stuffed animals, toys, books, etc)
– toiletries
– makeup
– sheet set, pillow, blanket
– towel, washcloth (and shower liner!)
– alarm clock
– night light

Packing, Moving Day, and Unpacking Tips
1. Use a garbage bag to move hanging clothes. While the clothes are hanging, pull the garbage bag from the bottom up to the top where the hangers are, enclosing the hanging clothes. Tie a bow (resist doing a knot) around the base of the hooks. When you get to your new home, hang the clothes in the bag, untie the bow, and pull down the bag. The bags can be reused as their original purpose of trash bags. No waste! So much time and energy saved!

2. Keep your folded clothes in the drawers. BUT remove the drawers from the dressers before moving the dressers. For those delicate items that you’d rather your friends or movers not see? Put a towel over them or but them in a garbage bag and back into the drawer. The dresser goes to the moving van, the drawers get reinserted. When it’s time to move the dresser from the moving van, take the drawers out again and move the dressers to their rooms. When the dressers are in place, put the drawers back in the dressers. So much time and energy saved!

3. Use dish towels to wrap dishes. Both of these items live in the same room so you can pack them together and unpack them together. You probably don’t have enough dish towels to wrap all your dishes but it does help to use what you have.

4. Inventory any items going to storage. Have a list of things that are in storage including a list of what is in each box. This can be as detailed or general as you would like depending on how you will need to access those items.

5. Label each box with what room they are going to. Then label each room with the same label. Boxes need to go in a place that they will not block furniture.

6. Have one person in charge of directing movers (furniture and boxes) at the new house. Together with the room and box labels, having one person who is in charge of directing traffic and nothing else will go a long way. Be sure this person knows where furniture goes as well. This person should go to the house early to hang signs.

7. Set up beds right away. Use your movers if possible. This allows you and your family to have a place to sleep comfortably from the first night. Good sleep will go a long way in unpacking and settling in.

8. Choose the most important room and unpack it fully first. The kitchen is usually where most people start but choose the room that makes the most sense for your family. Then move one room by room unpacking each room fully until the house is unpacked. Do your best. Put things in places that make sense right now knowing that you have the freedom to move things if it makes more sense later.

9. Don’t rush out to buy things to fill space. Take your time making decisions on pieces that will serve your household. Check prices, quality, and “grow with me” details as well.

10. Put boxes out for FREE porch pick up. List them l social media or just put them on the curb, whichever works best in your area. One of the most important parts of moving is finishing. Part of that means getting your moving supplies out of your house. If you plan to move again in a few years, decided whether or not it is worth hanging on to boxes or if you can just grab some from someone else when the time comes.

Kid Tips
What do you do with your kiddos while you are loading and unloading the moving van? While a lot depends on their ages, here are a few ideas.
– get a sitter
– let them help
– let them color on boxes with crayons (as long as this doesn’t deter from the room label)
– paint with water
– play in the backyard
– hand out waters and snacks
– write notes (thank you notes to movers and helpers, notes to friends they are moving from or toward)
– be sure they have snacks and drinks at the ready

What tips do YOU have? I love learning and although I have moved a ton as an adult each move has brought different learning experiences!

How Many Should I Have?

There are direct questions and there are underlying issues. I get this question as both multiple times a month. Someone will directly ask, “how many bath towels does my family need?” I will also open a linen closet and see bath towels shoved here, there, and everywhere just begging the question, “how many bath towels does this family need?”

Each household runs different. Many times, each individual in a household has different needs. There are even different ways that we may define the word “need.” There are all kinds of needs: physical, emotional, spiritual just to name a few. In this article I will give some questions to ask to help you determine how many of several different kinds of items you may need in your home.

I have a list of general questions that I will sprinkle throughout these specific groups of items. You may see a question under “Movies and Music” that actually helps you with “Towels” or other items.

1. How often do you do laundry? How often would you like to do laundry?
2. How many outfits do you wear between laundry loads?
3. What type of clothing do you need (casual, formal, work, athletic, etc)?
Perhaps… you’d like to pair down your clothing and rewear pieces between washes that aren’t yet dirty.

Undergarments and Socks
1. How often do you do laundry? How often would you like to do laundry?
2. How often do you need a new pair of these items?
Perhaps… you’d like to have a pair for each day between laundry plus a couple of extras.

1. How often do you do laundry? How often would you like to do laundry?
2. How many baths or showers does each person in your household take between loads of laundry?
3. How many times is one towel used between washes?
Perhaps… you’d like to have a specific colored towel for each person in your home that they would be responsible for.

Toilet Paper
1. Do a little experiment. Write down when you start a roll of tp and then right down when that same roll is out. Do this for each place that uses tp. Using that information (or doing this for a few weeks or a month) you should be able to estimate how much tp you need to buy and how often.
Perhaps… you’d like to teach the little ones how much is an appropriate amount of tp to use.

1. What do you actually use? What do you like?
2. What keeps you from using the things that you keep around but don’t use?
Perhaps… you’d like to make up a travel kit ready for you to grab in an emergency to use up some of those items.

1. How many people eat at your house regularly? How often do you host those outside of your family for meals?
2. What dishes are used how often?
Perhaps… you’d like to borrow specific items that you would need for a larger gathering but don’t use regularly.

Sheet Sets
1. How many beds are in your home?
2. How often do you change the sheets on each bed? Do you have any children nighttime potty training?
Perhaps… you’d like to have one spare set of sheets for each bed. Perhaps for the potty training child you would like to have two spare sets of sheets.

1. What value do you put on reading and literacy?
2. Which books do you actually like and know you will read again?
Perhaps… you are ready to let go of the books you know you won’t read again.

Movies and Music
1. If you were to have to repurchase any, which would you repurchase?
2. Which movies do you enjoy watching over and over?
2. Are these same movies and albums available in other forms?
Perhaps… you’d like to take advantage of digital forms of music and movies to free up space on your shelves.

Games and Toys
1. What has your family outgrown?
2. How often are games being played?
Perhaps… you’d like to offer the games and toys that you no longer enjoy to someone else who would enjoy them now.

School Supplies and Office Supplies
1. Do you home school or have a home office?
2. How often do you go through tape, pens, etc? In a year, how many of each do you think you’ll use?
Perhaps… you can get rid of all the pens you don’t like because you only use 3 pens in an entire year instead of 50.

Craft Supplies and Hobby Supplies
1. How many hobbies do you have? How many can you keep up with? How many do you want to keep up with?
2. What supplies are worth keeping?
Perhaps… there are only a select amount of things that are worth keeping for your craft or hobby.

Baby Items
1. Does your family currently have or expecting a baby in the next few years?
2. If yes, how many bottle, blankets, teethers, pacifiers, etc are you using a day in between washes?
Perhaps… you would like to give or loan your baby gear to a friend who can use it now. Perhaps… you would prefer to only keep up with the items you actually use and not the excess.

1. Does each of your electronics have it’s cord with it?
2. Do these devices travel with you?
Perhaps… you would like to keep one extra charging cord for each device for travel while keep a charging station with “permanent” cords for each device.

As you can probably gather from the questions in specific areas, the main questions you can ask yourself are as follows.
1. How many of that items do you use?
2. Are these items useful at this time or in the near future?
3. What do you want to keep up with caring for (cleaning, storing, putting away)?
4. Would you buy this item again if it was lost or damaged?

While there is no magic number of any of these items, the questions provided above should help you make a decisions on a good number for your household.

Appliance Closet

As our homes have gotten bigger so have the the number of different things you can put in them. I am not telling you to go buy a bigger place to store all of the things you own. In fact, I would tell you to go through all of the things you own, keep only the things you want and love… then spread them out giving them (and you) room to breathe.

Today I want to talk with you about one way you can create space for you and your belongings to breathe by helping you to create an Appliance Closet.

I’m big on assigning meaning and purpose to spaces to help you keep things organized and able to find those same things when you want them. For example, in your kitchen you probably already have a silverware drawer. You probably actually have some sort of organizational product inserted to keep your spoons separated from your forks as well. This is one area that people do not generally expand on. You have a set or two of silverware based on the number of people that regularly eat in your home and that it’s it.

Small appliances are another beast. Yes, beast. You have been inundated by infomercials and home parties and door-to-door salesmen. Oh wait, we don’t really have those anymore. Instead of the door-to-door salesmen we have friends who make us feel like we have to buy something to support them. You have the freedom to choose to not give in to peer pressure or people pleasing by purchasing something you don’t need or want. There are other ways to love and support your friends. (A sweet hand written note and a few bucks can go a long way!)

After you have decided what small appliances you want to keep because they work well for your family, you now can decide the best place for them to live based on how and when you use them. Perhaps you have a closet off of your kitchen that isn’t being used as a pantry. This a great place to designate at your Appliance Closet. You can accomplish the same idea with a small bank of cabinets as well. Put your most used items where you can reach them easiest. Chest and hip level and in the front. Put your heavier items that are lesser used closer to the bottom. Your lighter weight and least used higher up.

Do you already have an Appliance Closet? If so, what have you enjoyed about that space? If not, does this make sense for your household and the space that you are working with?