I’m on a mini-sabbatical and have lined up a few posts ahead of time, like this one for first time parents. It’s a bit of a sequel to my guest post for Geralin Thomas about things you should do to baby proof your home. Did you baby proof before or after you brought your little one home?
It’s time for a new 5 Minute Organizing Challenge! What can you do in 5 minutes to gain a little order in your life? You can put a few things back in place or gather your important items. Here’s a new set of five things for you to consider adding to your routine this month. Try them on for size and feel free to suggest a few of your own.
1. Install smoke detectors if you don’t have them already. If you do, test them and/or put in new batteries.
2. While you’re at it, install a carbon monoxide detector, too.
3. Do you have a fire extinguisher in your house? If not, add it to your list of things to buy.
4. Need gates? Put them in off-limit areas, especially those with stairs.
5. Adjust the temperature of your water heater to lower than 120° F to avoid scalding.
6. Be sure that your child’s regular caregiver(s) is healthy and up to date with all his/her shots, like this one.
“Annual vacations cut the risk of heart attacks in men by 30 percent and by 50 percent in women. Leisure and rest build resiliency and it’s much easier to keep a person well, with less medication, than it is to improve a depressive state.”
America Avoids Vacation | HuffingtonPost.com | 7.26.11
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A new year means a new chance to get organized. But when you resolve to get “organized,” what does that really mean and where should you get started? Here are four simple areas of your life to organize for the new year:
1. Get your home in order: The beginning of the year is my favorite time of year to do a big house-wide cleaning. It’s much easier to maintain an organized space when you start with a clean slate – and what time of year is better to get everything in order?
If the holidays brought a whole influx of new items into your home, I suggest getting rid of one item for every new item you got during the holidays. This will help you cut down on clutter. If you received gifts you don’t have space or a use for (or you simply don’t like), get rid of these items now, rather than holding onto them.
While you’re at it, also get rid of stuff around your house that you don’t use, you don’t care for, broken items, and any “just in case” stuff. For more New Year cleaning advice, read my last post 5 Post Holiday Cleaning Tips.
2. Get your schedule in order: I like to keep two calendars: a small planner that I keep in my purse and a large desk calendar. If you buy these after the New Year begins, they’ll probably be significantly discounted.
I write every date that needs to be remembered on both of these calendars, whether it’s an appointment, meeting, birthday, bill due date, etc. When I’m out and about, I use the small planner in my purse to record appointments I make when I’m away from home, and as soon as I get back to the house, I record them on the desk calendar.
My small planner keeps me personally organized, and the desk calendar helps my husband and me sync our schedules and know what’s going on. A lot of people rely on Google Calendars or electronic organization, but for me physically writing something down helps me remember things better.
Related to your calendar, the beginning of the year is a great time to reevaluate your schedule. If your life is hectic and there never seems to be a moment’s peace, perhaps you have too much on your plate and need to gracefully bow out of some activities.
In the same vein, it’s great to have children who are involved in activities, but if every night means running from piano to soccer to dance to basketball, a reevaluation of these activities might be in order. Deciding how many activities your children participate in is really a matter of personal choice, but a night with nothing to do will be welcomed by your whole family.
3. Get your finances in order: Even if you’re not a money or number-minded person, you should know where all your money is going. The beginning of the year is a great time to sit down and write out what you’re spending your money on and how much.
If you’re pinching pennies, find out what areas you could cut back on and set a new budget for these areas. Areas to cut back on could include eating out, clothes and makeup, premium television channels, expensive extracurriculars, and even food if you find yourself buying more than you need.
As you write out your expenses, record on your calendar when each of your bills is due and when your paycheck[s] go through. Even if your bills are paid automatically, write down the dates the bills are processed so you know when exactly money is coming in and out of your home.
4. Get organized at work: When you get back from holiday vacation, use the New Year to get on top of everything at work.
• Start with your desk: go through all those papers sitting around and throw away what you don’t need (shred any documents with sensitive information). Set up your own little filing system for the papers that are left.
• Get a calendar (separate from your home desk calendar and planner) to record meeting dates and deadlines; also use this calendar to document your vacation time so you can keep track of how much you’ve used and have left.
• Get an organizer for your pens, sticky notes, paper clips, etc. You’d be surprised how such fixes can increase productivity.
“83 percent of American adults own some kind of cell phone and…a lot of people find it difficult to switch off once they’re at home.”
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I’m on a mini-sabbatical and will be re-sharing some of my fave OTR articles and re-introducing you to some favorite OTR guest authors, like Helene Segura. She has advice for parents on how they can help their children tackle educational challenges.
It’s a tough job for parents to walk that line between being a non-participant in their child’s education and being overzealous. The latter calls teachers at all hours of the day and night to ask why their child only made an eighty-nine on a homework assignment that they stayed up all night completing for their child.
The former waits until the last week of school to ask what makeup work can be done so their kid can pass – ignoring the twice monthly requests on progress reports and report cards to call to discuss their child’s grades.
You reside somewhere in the middle. You were as supportive as possible, but tried not to pry too much. You kept up with communications from the school and attended all meetings and events in which your child was involved. But when the first semester report card arrived, you were disappointed with and extremely concerned about the results. Either there were one or more failing grades, or the averages had nose-dived by five or more points.
There are a variety of factors that could have caused the changes, many of which you’ve probably mulled over while scratching your head:
1. Does my child have a learning disability that I never before noticed?
2. Are the teachers being unfair?
3. Is my child not telling me everything that’s happening in class?
4. Is my child experiencing some type of emotional or behavioral struggle?
5. Has my child started “hanging out” with the wrong crowd?
One question that is often not asked, however, is “Has my child reached a point where his/her organizational skills no longer meet the challenges s/he faces?”
As adults, we often heap on more commitments and responsibilities and sometimes push ourselves to the breaking point. We’ve managed to develop coping skills because we’ve been doing this for decades. Kids lack the lifelong experience that we have, and we sometimes forget that they need to regroup and recharge more often than we do.
Organizationally, there are many avenues to explore, but the challenges often trace back to two core issues: lack of time management and lack of structure.
To begin addressing these challenges, take a look at:
1. Your child’s extra curricular schedule.
By the time you factor in practice time, commute time, chores and eating, how much time is left for studying and fun? As adults, we tend to deny ourselves of the fun; it’s crucial that kids do not. I typically find with my clients that homework is supposed to be done on the go – in between practices or in the car. Those are not environments that are conducive to uninterrupted study periods. I encourage those clients to set up a specific amount of time at home each night so that their kids can focus. Sometimes that means shelving one of their activities.
2. Your child’s study area.
Do your children have a specific area where they can do their homework? Is there a desk or table where they can write? Are there supplies located there so that your kiddos don’t have to hunt all over the house for what they need? Having a designated spot allows your children to focus on the task of studying instead of killing time trying to find a place to get settled. When it comes to studying, they shouldn’t be nomadic; they need a home base.
3. Your child’s routines.
Even the most creative, right-brained children thrive on routine. Tasks don’t necessarily need to be completed at the exact same time each day, but they should be completed. If necessary, have a task check list in the kitchen, in their bedroom, and/or on the front door to help them remember what needs to be done each day. Whether diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, or nothing at all, my clients who struggle the most with keeping up rely on checklists in multiple places, including their smartphone.
If the report card was not what was expected, it’s time for a sit-down with your child. Depending on the age, this might be while cuddling during Mommy and Me time or in between gaming sessions of Call of Duty. The important thing is to open up the lines of communication.
Discuss the three points above. If it doesn’t solve your child’s issues, it will at least act as a springboard into what is causing their struggles.
About the Author
LivingOrder San Antonio CEO, Helene Segura, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and Certified Productive Environment Specialist™. A former award-winning teacher turned organizing and productivity consultant, Segura’s book, Less Stress for Teachers: More Time & An Organized Classroom, addresses the thinking behind how to overcome “the overwhelm” that teachers feel on a daily basis. It’s a thinking pathway that helps teachers bust through the emotional, psychological and organizational walls that prevent them from utilizing planners and other tools.
I’m on a mini-sabbatical, but before I left, I wrote a guest article for OTR friend and hoarding expert, Geralin Thomas. Here’s a snippet from my guest post…check out my top five baby proofing tips and feel free to share your own.
Everyone wants the best for their children, and as a new parent, your protective instincts will likely kick in well before you meet your new baby. That means getting your home up to snuff for when your little person starts living in what used to be an adult only environment.
There’s a lot to consider like when to baby proof and what exactly you should do. One thing you must do before baby gets home is ensure that the crib is securely put together. A safe and secure sleeping environment is essential.
And, while those bumpers are super cute, they can be a hazard (i.e., cause suffocation), so resist the temptation to use them.
Top Five Baby Proofing Tips
Once it’s time to baby proof, here are five things to consider:
#2 Use magnetic locks for lower cabinets and drawers.
#5 Keep medications high out of reach. Go one step further by putting them in a locked box.
“Orthorexia, though not an official mental disorder, is what some people call an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food. It’s very similar to an obsessive-compulsive disorder only the focus is really food.”
When eating too healthy becomes harmful | Today.com | 8.25.11
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So many people want to get organized for the New Year and January is Get Organized Month. …but if you are on a budget or don’t otherwise have access to hire a professional organizer, I wanted to share with you a great way for you to get on the organizing train at a reduced cost.
Many of you know that I’m one of the featured experts on The Clutter Diet (TCD) and I’m happy to announce a special deal being offered in January. When you use the coupon code“2012win,” you will receive 25% off an Annual membership! This discount is the lowest possible price TCD offers.
Annual memberships are usually $143.40, but with this coupon code your price is 25% off, just $107. This offer expires, Monday, January 16th at midnight (CDT). In other words, it costs you only $8.92/month to have unlimited access to organizing experts for personal consultations online!