by Melanie

9 Spring Cleaning Tips and Tricks

March 28, 2015 in Linen Closet by Melanie

I’m not gonna lie. I hate cleaning. Really, really, really hate cleaning. But I do love having things clean and organized, and somebody’s got to do it.

Spring seemed like the perfect time to try to get a little more organized. It is called Spring Cleaning after all. We’ll call it a fresh start for the house and the homemaker.

I rounded up 9 cleaning and organizing tips and tricks to help me get started.

spring-cleaning-roundup


6 Tips for Organizing Closets • Mommy Envy

Household Cleaning Tips and Tricks • xo, lauren & jane

Organizing Your Kitchen Cabinets • Stuffed Suitcase

The Cleaning Benefits of Vinegar – 7 Ways I Use Vinegar to Clean • A Vision to Remember

How to Clean a White Seat • Crafting in the Rain

How to Keep Your House Clean All Year Long • The Things I L♥ve Most

Stress Free Spring Cleaning • For What It’s Worth

Organization Tip: Tackling the Corded Mess Under Your Computer • Creations by Kara

Spring Cleaning Family Style • Organized Island

 

Here are a few more cleaning and organization tips you should take a look at!

My kids really struggle to keep their rooms clean. Oh, let’s be real here – so do I. This simple chart full of pictures helps my kiddos get the job done without getting overwhelmed by the mess in the room! I should make one for me.

clean-your-room-chart

Organize your kids’ school clothes like this and make your mornings run a lot smoother. No more mad dash to get out the door!

school-clothes

Do you have any great cleaning or organizing tips for me? I need some help!

by Melanie

Managing the Morning Madness

September 15, 2014 in Linen Closet by Melanie

morning-rush


I am generally not a first day of school crier. I remember shedding a few tears when Chuck started kindergarten. My baby started school! That’s the ONE time in all of the first days of school over the past 12 years that these cheeks have been wet, until today… oh my, did I shed a tear or two.

Steve and I learned about a K-8 school in our community that sounded like the perfect fit for our girls, so we got on the waiting list and waited. Last week the call came that a spot was open for each of them! We got all of the paper work turned in, said goodbye to the old school, and this morning was The First Day of School: Take 2 for Babs, Joy, and Chuck.

They’re going from a regular public school to a charter school with some different rules. One of those new rules is the requirement to wear school uniforms! We spent the weekend trying to find just the right clothes to meet the uniform guidelines and help the girls feel cute and confident.

uniforms confidence

Just look at those cute, confident kids. Have you ever tried shopping for an entire school uniform wardrobe 3 weeks after school has already started? For 3 kids? In 2 days? During soccer season? We had about 2 hours on Thursday night and some time on Saturday, and not a single store we needed to visit was in town. The uniform sections of every store we visited were picked over and hardly had anything available in the sizes we needed.

Somehow we ended up with enough outfits to make it from laundry day to laundry day for each kid. Tender mercies and blessings. That’s the only way we got it done. We even got some funky Old Navy pricing that helped a lot with the budget – shirts for a penny and the jumper Joy fell in love with for 97 cents!

school bell clock

Another big change with the new school is the starting time. It works out perfectly for Steve to take them to school on his way to work (hooray!!!!), but since they start earlier and have to drop off Bree at junior high on their way, they have to leave an hour earlier than they are used to.

There are some mornings that they barely get out the door on time as it is, but now we’re cutting off an entire hour every morning. There really is no reason why getting ready should take them so long. Most of their time is spent lollygagging and playing with the toys they find while searching for their shoes. Which means most of my morning is spent reminding, nagging, and eventually yelling. Not exactly how I like to send my kids off to school every morning.

And don’t even get me started on our issues with shoes. I can’t even begin to count how many hours of my life I have spent searching for lost shoes, but I’m pretty sure if I could get all of that time back, I could write the great American novel… or 7. But there’s no time for shoe hunting anymore – or shirt hunting, or underwear hunting, or “Mom, where is the sock basket???” or “I can’t find any pants without holes!”

I know it sounds like we never do laundry, but I do! Unfortunately, they don’t feel any need to put those piles of clean clothes away… We’ll work on that issue another day.

Basically, if we’re going to make this new schedule work, we are going to need some help. So here’s my brilliant idea to make the mornings run smoother.

closet-organizer

So simple, and I am so in love with it already. I picked up a 6-shelf hanging closet organizer and  labeled each shelf with a day of the week. The labels are simple and straight forward – days of the week printed on cardstock, different colors so it’s easy for the girls who share a closet to keep it straight. I folded the top of each word strip over and used duct tape to attach them to the shelves. There is probably a fancier way to do it, but I’m trying to stop making my life more complicated than it needs to be. (HA!)

Since shoes are the bane of my motherly existence, I made the sixth shelf for shoes. It’s empty right now because the shoes are on those cute little feet at school. Hallelujah!

On laundry day, the girls put together 5 outfits – including everything they need to get dressed and ready that day (underwear, socks, hair clips, etc.) – and put one outfit on each shelf. When they wake up in the morning, they don’t even have to think about it or search for anything. They cheerfully get out of bed (right???), hop on over to the closet, and put on the clothes on that day’s shelf. Voila! Instant morning awesomeness.

This morning they were completely dressed even before family scripture study. Usually they’re still half asleep and wearing half of their bedding because they dragged it with them when they dragged themselves out of bed. I know the first day of school excitement will wear off, but this simple system will keep on helping our mornings run smoothly and our sweet little students get out the door on time. I wish I had thought of it 12 years ago. Just think of all of the time I could have spent *not* searching for clothes and shoes every school morning and all of those mornings I could have sent my cuties off to school without being nagged out the door.

How do you improve the morning rush?
school-clothes


by Melanie

Go Clean Your Room: Help for Young Kids

September 3, 2014 in Linen Closet by Melanie

clean-your-room-chart


Do you ever walk into a room you know you need to clean, take a look around, and get completely overwhelmed? You have no idea where to start or how to get organized, and you feel like you can’t possibly get it done.

Right now I’m dreading the storage room I know I need to clean out and organize. Help!

Now imagine you’re 4 years old. Mom says to clean your room, but you take a look around and get completely overwhelmed. You have no idea where to start and feel like you can’t possibly get it all done. And it’s probably all someone else’s mess anyway.

I have to admit, there have been times when I have sent my kids to clean their room just so the house would be quiet for awhile. I know they’re just in there playing with their toys while the mess gets bigger, but I’m totally okay with that. Am I the only one?

When my kids got overwhelmed about cleaning their rooms, I made some checklists to help them make it manageable. “First, clean off your bed so you have a place to sleep tonight, then take care of the laundry so you can see the floor…” That sort of thing.

But I still had a problem to solve. The younger kids really had no idea what they were doing and they couldn’t read the checklists. Clip art to the rescue!

clean-room-chart



They needed some extra help, so I put together this nifty little chart to help my pre-readers follow the steps to clean their room.

Here’s how it works:

  • Print on cardstock
  • Laminate (mostly because I’m completely addicted to my laminator)
  • Attach to clipboard because my kids feel cool when they get to use a clipboard
  • Attach a whiteboard marker

Mark off the steps as you go and Voila! The room is clean.

Click here or on either image to download the chart and see your kids’ bedrooms get cleaner in no time.

Do your kids clean their own rooms?

 

by Melanie

A No-Nagging Solution for Screen Time Sanity

May 6, 2014 in Linen Closet by Melanie

Get the kids to finish their work before turning on the electronics with no nagging required? Count me in!


Yesterday when my kids walked in the door after school, they went straight to the TV. All 5 of them! No kisses for Mom. No telling me about their day. Not even a snack. Straight to the TV.

Please tell me I’m not the only one whose kids have days when they would rather watch a movie than download their day to Mom.

It’s not that we don’t have rules about screen time. They just choose to “forget” about them until I start nagging.

I hate nagging.

My expectations really aren’t a big mystery. The rules are the same every day. You finish your homework, jobs, and piano before you can turn on a screen. Simple.

Kids & Technology Toolkit

The only exception is when you need to use the computer for your homework. Hey, I’m not completely unreasonable.

I don’t think I’m asking too much.

  • Homework includes whatever the teacher assigned that day and reading for 20 minutes.
  • Jobs include 1 kitchen job (like unloading the dishwasher or sweeping the kitchen floor), 1 daily job (like taking out the trash or cleaning a bathroom), and straightening their bedrooms (just a quick pick things up and put them away so it doesn’t get out of control).
  • Piano practice is playing each song in their lesson assignment 3 times.

 

If they drag their feet and complain about it for awhile, it still takes less than an hour to get it all done – on the harder job days.

But it still doesn’t get done. Grrrr.

Have I mentioned that I really, really hate nagging?

So in an effort to avoid the nagging and still get what I want – and ultimately what is best for our family – I made this handy little sign.

Get the kids to finish their work before turning on the electronics with no nagging required? Count me in!

 

It hangs next to the TV and the computer. Now all my little screen-addicted children need to do is ask themselves those 7 questions before they turn on those electronics and everyone is happy!

Well, mostly me. But some day they will thank me.

I’m sure of it.

Do you need to stop the screen time nagging, too? Just click on this link or the image above to get to the full printable version of my screen-time sign.

Do you have screen-time rules?

by Melanie

Meal Planning Made Easy

March 14, 2014 in Kitchen, Linen Closet by Melanie

printables-weekIt’s the final day of Free Printables Week! We will definitely have to do this again because I LOVE printables. Sweet little love notes and cute signs and tags are definitely on my list of faves.

Eating is another one. Definitely a fave.

I really love to cook, but even something you love can get tedious when it’s every day. every day. every day. many times every day. For some reason my family keeps expecting to find food on the table day after day. The nerve.

Meal planning will be so much easier with this #printable menu planner and grocery list. I won't have to run to the store every night.



I think the hardest part of cooking for a family is deciding what to make every night. You want it to be healthy, something people will eat, not the same thing you just ate a few days ago, simple and quick to prepare….

My grandma solved the problem by having a weekly menu that never changed. Monday was chicken casserole. Tuesday was bean night. Wednesday was tacos. She didn’t mind cooking for her family of 10, but she didn’t want to have to figure out what to serve. So she assigned a meal to a day and served the same thing every week for years and years. My dad loved it and wished my mom would do the same thing. I’m glad she didn’t.

One time I decided I would simplify my life by making a 2-month menu. I printed out 2 blank month calendars and filled them full of dinner plans, leaving a few blank days for trying a new recipe or being lazy eating leftovers. I got all the way through two tasty months, but when it was time to start back at the beginning of my fabulous menu, I just couldn’t do it. Even after 2 months I felt like we had just eaten those meals and needed to try something new.

You just have to find a solution that works for you, right? Well, here’s what works for me.

Meal planning will be so much easier with this #printable menu planner and grocery list. I won't have to run to the store every night.



Instead of repeating the same menu, I deal with menu planning by making it one of my weekly chores. Every Monday I plan our meals for the week, and every Tuesday I do the grocery shopping. I hang the menu on our family whiteboard so the family has an idea what to expect – although I admit it we don’t always stick to the plan – at least they have a clue as to what they can expect to see on the table.

I print these out every week, so they don’t have a lot of colors or extra frills. They’re just basic and straightforward. First, the menu planner.

Meal planning will be so much easier with this #printable menu planner and grocery list. I won't have to run to the store every night.Simple, eh? I write in the dates at the top and down the side under the days of the week. And then it’s time to go to town. I gather cookbooks and and click around on Pinterest and my favorite blogs to fill in the meals.


I confess, quite a few of those boxes are filled with “self serve” – especially on the weekends. At least they know to expect to fend for themselves, right?

Sometimes we have theme nights or try to plan our meals around a holiday. One summer we assigned a land of Disneyland to each week and ate meals we might find there. It was our “we can’t go to Disneyland this summer and we’re having Disney withdrawals” summer. Some weeks we eat a lot of scrambled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches, but we almost always manage to get dinner on the table.

I’m old school, so I print it out and fill it in with pencil – always with pencil because I move things around a lot before the final version is complete. I always make sure to make a note of where the recipe came from so I know where to find it when it’s time to cook.

While I have the recipes in front of me, I pull out the grocery list page and fill it in as I go.

Meal planning will be so much easier with this #printable menu planner and grocery list. I won't have to run to the store every night.

The unmarked section is for another store I need to visit that week. Lately that means Costco. We keep a running list on the board where everyone is supposed to write down what we’re out of when they used the last of it, so I pull list out to finish up the grocery list,and then I’m ready to shop.

When I first started meal planning, I would just plan dinners. I bought food for breakfast and lunch, but it wasn’t planned and we ended up buying more than we needed and wasting food. When I decided to add breakfast, lunch, and after-school snacks to the weekly menu, I thought we would spend more money. I was planning more meals, after all. But I was surprised – and happy – when we actually spent LESS. When I planned all of our meals and shopped with a list, I ended up only buying what we actually needed that week, which ended up saving us money. We waste a lot less food now, too!

I still have to cook every day – until my family decides they’re okay not eating for awhile – but it makes my life easier when I only have to spend one day coming up with the fabulous ideas of what to feed them. You can get your own menu planner and grocery list when you click on the images to get to the download page. Or here • menu plannergrocery list.

How do you handle meal planning at your house?

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