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.

Squatters or Residents: Why it can be so difficult to let things go

If you’ve been around for a while you’ve noticed that I like a good analogy. I find it easier for people to understand what you are saying if they have a category to put it in. As with any analogy, sometimes you can’t carry them over one-to-one but the spirit is what we’re going for. When helping people see that they get to choose what stays in their homes and what leaves their homes this might be a good way for you to think about it.

Are the items in your home Squatters or Residents?

A few months ago my family got a notice that there had been squatters on property near ours. No one knew them, they had just set up a temporary home and were living on property that didn’t belong to them without having any permission. We wouldn’t have even known they were there since they had set up camp in a location that we didn’t see. To our knowledge they weren’t doing any harm. But it is illegal so they had to go. As residents in the area, those who own property and houses, we belong there. We have a known purpose, are paying to be there, and are active in the community.

Items as Residents
This part is simple. The items in your home that belong there as residents have purpose, are beautiful or functional. You have chosen for them to take up space in your space. You know what they are, where they are, and how you use them.

Items as Squatters
You probably have a lot of stuff in your house that you don’t even know is there. It’s living in the back of cabinets behind another pile of things. It’s living under the bed or in a box that has started to fall apart. It’s in the bottom of your purse or sock drawer.

But, it’s not doing any harm, right? Well, maybe not that you know of. But what if what you don’t know is there is actually something you could use and have been looking for. Harm might be a strong term or it might not be.

A few ways these squatter-items can bring harm.
1. Taking up valuable space that can be used for things you know and find useful or beautiful.
2. Taking up space in your mind or time in your thought process that can be spent on something else.
3. If it is something you could use but you don’t know it’s there, it is now time, money, and energy being spent looking for it or repurchasing it.

Are the things in your house squatters or residents? Do you know these items? Do they belong there? Do they serve a good purpose for you, your family, and the way you want your household to run?

You are the home owner so you get to decide if something is truly a squatter or resident. But until then, those items you don’t see and don’t know are there… they are just squatting on your property.

I hope you had fun with this analogy and that these terms helped you make a connection with letting go of things that don’t belong in your home.

Not Your Usual Suspects

During the month of April I ran a series on social media using #covidcleanout in which I posted a different area to focus on cleaning, decluttering, or organizing each weekday. They were not meant as a challenge but prompts for those who were looking to get some things done and just couldn’t figure out where to work next.

Instead of a month of prompts, I decided to do a list for you of things that you might not think to do or things that don’t get done very often. I divided them into categories for you. To clean, to repair, to change, and miscellaneous.

To Clean
trash cans – Bag up the trash and get right on in there. Sometimes a good garden hose can do the trick and sometimes you need to scrub it.
gutters – I did mine six weeks ago and they need cleaning out again already.
pots/pans – A little Bar Keeper’s Friend or something similar helps to shine up most pots and pans. Be sure to read all instructions for safety.
vacuum – If you have any hair in your home you’ll want to clean it out of your vacuum head. Grab a screw driver and some scissors because you might need to do some disassembling.
furniture – Vacuum, shampoo, spot clean.
walls & cabinets – A simple damp wipe will do most times.
ceiling fans – Whether you use a pillow case, a duster, or a vacuum, now is a great time to clean your ceiling fan blades and lights. While you’re at it, switch the direction for the summer.
oven – A lemon half and some baking soda make a quick and easy cleaner for an oven.
dishwasher – Get those crevices where gunk can build up.
washer and dryer – More crevices, get in there and clean them out.
your email – Create filters, unsubscribe, and delete, delete, delete.

To Repair
rug pulls – A needle and thread are going to be your best friend. Thread those pulls back into the rug if you can. Cut only if you can’t figure out a better way.
jewelry – Untangle knots with the help of a sewing needle, find a video to help you repair what you can DIY, and take the rest to the jeweler for professional help especially on those prized pieces.
clothes, throw pillows, bags, furniture, stuffed animals – replace buttons, tie up loose threads, repair holes, replace accessories and zippers
shoes – Re-glue soles, replace broken or worn out shoe laces, give a good shine, and take the others to the cobbler that you aren’t able to do on your own.

To Change
rekey your lockbox – It might be time to update that code for your lockbox. Make it memorable and give the new code to people who need it.
switch fan direction for summer – Counterclockwise for summer, pushing air down.
air filters, water filters, vacuum filters, any filters – Be sure to check on your not-often-changed filters to see if it’s time to change them.
smoke detector batteries – It’s a good idea to check these once a month and change them once or twice a year. A good time to do that is when we change the clocks. Go ahead and give your detectors a check.

trim and repot plants – Making sure to check the specific plants you are caring for, give them the proper care for this time of year.
tighten screws in door handles, drawer pulls, and face plates – Believe it or not, those screws that were perfectly tight when you installed them can loosen with use. Grab a screw driver and tighten them up.
level oven – I’ve lived at my home for years with an uneven oven. I think I tried to level it at one point but I couldn’t get it to work. So this might just be me. 😉
secure drawer liners and inserts – Drawer liners that do not have an adhesive can bunch up causing more frustration that they are worth. Be sure to secure them so that they can provide maximum protection and beauty.
shred – Plug up that shredder and go to town!
make a tax guide for 2020 based on 2019 tax filing – The IRS gave us an extension this year. Take some of that time to make a list of things that you need to keep up with for your 2020 taxes so that you aren’t scrambling next March to gather all your documents.
touch up paint – Grab your touch up paint and touch up!

What are some unusual things that you did with your free time during the pandemic?*

*I fully recognize that there were plenty of people who have the same amount of time or less time during the pandemic. Also, time does not equal capacity.

Covid Cleanout

Hey, hey!

While we are staying home for the good of our friends, family, and neighbors let’s take some time to clean out our spaces. That can look like whatever you want it to look like.

Need to declutter?

Need to actually clean?

Need to reorganize?

Need some structure?

I’ve got you covered. For each weekday (M-F) in the month of April I will post a graphic like this one on Little Red Stool Organizing’s Instagram and Facebook accounts. It will simply be an area in your home as a suggested area to work in. In the caption of the post I will list a few simple spaces within that area if you need a smaller space. Leave a comment on Facebook or DM me on Instagram with a photo of your finished spaces! #covidcleanout

Let’s cheer each other on and have some fun in our very own spaces!

Here is the complete list, as promised, complete with dates.

April 1 – home office
April 2 – linen closet
April 3 – coat closet

April 6 – master bath
April 7 – master bed
April 8 – master closet
April 9 – entryway
April 10 – junk drawer

April 13 – guest/kid bath
April 14 – guest/kid closet
April 15 – guest/kid room
April 16 – dining room
April 17 – garage

April 20 – play room
April 21 – sunroom/porch
April 22 – family room/den
April 23 – car
April 24 – attic/basement

April 27 – pantry
April 28 – fridge/freezer
April 29 – kitchen
April 30 – laundry

Meal Planning Template Bundle

Take a trip in your mind back to January 2020. Everything was fresh. All things were possible. Perhaps you made a list of things you wanted to do this year. Some goals or trips or ideas. I made a list as well. One of those things was to provide a Meal Planning Template for you!

Meal Planning is a simple task that can make or break your week!

Here’s a little jingle I like to use:

Plan what you eat
Buy what you plan
Eat what you buy

On those busy weeks when I don’t want to have to even make dinner, much less have to think of something to make, a meal plan has come to the rescue. I just look over at my list and see what’s for dinner. Done!

In this meal planning bundle I’m providing 4 pages.

Weekly Meal Planning Sheet (bonus sample sheet)
Weekly On Hand and To Buy Sheet
Meal Ideas Sheet

Weekly Meal Planning Sheet
This sheet has spaces for you to fill in breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for each day of the week in chart form. Some of you are new to this whole meal planning thing so I’ve also provided a sample of how to use the weekly template.

Weekly On Hand and To Buy Sheet
This sheet lets you write down in one space what you already have on hand. Writing these things down can help in two ways.
1) You can write down what you have and do some meal planning from that list. For example, if you have a lot of pasta on hand and some tomato sauce you may want to make a baked ziti.
2) You can write down what you have that your meals call for. For example, if you found a recipe for herb crusted chicken and zucchini boats, you would write down everything you already have for those recipes.
That leaves the rest of the sheet for you to write down what you need to buy that you don’t already have on hand.

Meal Ideas Sheet
Do you find that you frequently eat the same meals? Get into a meal rut? Want to try new things but just keep forgetting? The Meal Ideas Sheet provides a space for you to write down your favorite meals as well as meals you want to try. Use this sheet to refer to when planning your meals for the week. For example, your family loves baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans but would also like to try Tikki Masala. Writing both of those in their respective spaces on this sheet will remind you to try Tikki Masala.

Click here for the meal planning bundle I promised.