Keeping a home clean naturally is a lot easier than I thought it would be.
My interest in natural cleaners didn’t actually start with a desire to be green. While I was pregnant with my second son, I found that the smell of chemical cleaning products left me dizzy and nauseous (more than usual, anyway). If I wanted to keep our home clean, I needed another solution. Hence, my experimentation with natural products began. Now I love using natural products whenever I can. I love that I can save money, help the planet some, and make my home safer for my little ones all at once!
It’s that time of year again! Early January, where everyone has rose-colored glasses looking towards the future and who they’re going to be. Skinnier, more productive, loved, successful, or just plain happier– who doesn’t want to become the best version of themselves? As a member of the World Wide Web, it would be remiss of me to NOT post about my rosy New Year’s Resolutions, wouldn’t it??
Earlier this month, I got to team up with the wonderful Heather from Blissful Intent on a blog post swap! Check out the post she wrote for me (and you!) here about making memories with your kids. Here’s the article I wrote for her, if you missed it: my 31-day plan to declutter and simplify my home in January!
I don’t know about you, but as a parent of small children I have a really hard time staying organized. As hard as I try, piles of useless junk always seem to find their places into our home. That’s why my 2017 resolution is going to be to keep our home more organized (notice I said more organized and not perfectly organized. Maybe someday– when the kids move out. Maybe.) To start off on the right foot, I’m going to take the month of January to complete one decluttering job a day to drastically help our home!
I’m a fan of “one task a day” lists. They help break daunting jobs into manageable segments, so I actually keep up with what I set out to do instead of feeling overwhelmed. Maybe this list can help you start the new year off a little more organized too! Pick one task a day from this list and get to tackling that clutter!
31 Days to Get Organized
- Old magazines. Did you read that one article you were interested in when it came out six months ago? Great. Time to recycle it. The only exception is if you like to keep magazines for kids’ (or not kids’) craft projects– in that case, find a NEAT, designated spot in with craft stuff. At least get them off of your coffee table or wherever they take up space.
- Expired coupons and sale ads. If you’re like me, you probably have a stash of coupons you clip when you get and have every intention of using… and inevitably, some of them go neglected too long. Sort through your stash and throw away the expired ones. (Oh, and NEVER buy something you wouldn’t have bought already just to use a coupon. If you’re saving $0.50 on a $2.50 item, you’re still spending $2.00 more than you would have if you had just passed the item up. Don’t let them get you!)
- Pen Stashes. Whether you have a stash at your office space, in your purse, in a designated junk drawer, or in all of the above, go through the wave of black and blue and test them all out on some scratch paper. If it doesn’t work (or only semi-works), throw it out. Life is too short to have to search for a working pen.
- Email Inbox. This one always feels like a breath of fresh air to me. Do you get all kinds of emails from brands or websites that you don’t actually read or only seldom open? Take some time today to go through your inbox and “Unsubscribe” from email lists that don’t benefit you.
- Socks with holes or without a match. Life is too short to wear holey socks. And if you haven’t seen that stray sock’s match in a month or two, odds are it’s not going to show up. Get rid of it.
- Kids’ Clothes. Did you notice it was getting a little short the last time your kiddo wore that shirt? Time to store it for the next kiddo (hooray for hand-me-downs!) or donate it. Did the stain from spaghetti night never fully come out of those pants? Time to get rid of them (as long as you’ve already tried to get it out with some miracle citrus vinegar!).
- Kid’s Toys. It’s amazing how many toys and things kids acquire over time. Go through the toy box (with the kiddos if they’re old enough, or alone if they’re still munchkins) and take out toys that are broken or have been ignored for a while. (You can either donate the ignored toys, or simply store them away for a while to become a novelty another day–read more here). Replace batteries in those sad electronics that have been slowly dying and give those Lego’s and other water-safe dirty toys a good wash: throw them in a mesh laundry bag and toss them in the dishwasher. Ta-da!
- Tupperware Drawer. Go through your leftover containers and match up lids and bins. Get rid of the extras (or donate them to bath time or the sandbox). Ain’t nobody got time to go searching for a lid that isn’t there.
- Expired OTC medicine. Things like Tylenol and NyQuil aren’t good forever. Go through your medicine cabinet (or cupboard, or drawer) and check the dates on your products. If you feel like your medicine is always a mess, pick up a few storage bins and some labels. I did this and now have mine separated into 5 bins: Pain, First Aid, Stomach/Vitamins, Skin Care, and Cold/Flu/Allergies. This system makes things so much easier to find when I need them!
- Expired or unused hair/beauty products. If you have a mousse or lipstick you only use a few times a year, odds are it’s expired. Did you buy a product you thought you’d like but never use? I’m guilty of keeping those things around because I hate wasting money. But honestly, it’s just taking up space in your bathroom. Throw it out, or give it to someone who might use it. Then find a little cup to keep all of those stray bobby pins, hair ties, and clips somewhere you’ll have them when you need them.
- Pantry Food. Throw away expired food or ingredients you know you won’t use again. Don’t forget to look through your spice rack too! Spices only have a shelf life of about a year.
- Fridge and freezer. Get rid of food that’s bad or expired. Don’t forget to sort through those condiments!
- Electronics. Old phones and cameras that you’ve upgraded and don’t use anymore don’t need to be cluttering up your home. Find a place to donate or sell them and say sayonara.
- DVD’s and CD’s. Go through your entertainment areas and make sure every disc in in its proper case and stored. Determine what you’ll actually use: music can be downloaded onto computers or accessed online so easily that maybe your CD’s are becoming a thing of the past. Consider donating them or selling them on an app like Declutter.
- Old Chargers and Cords. Find all the mystery chargers and connecting cords lying around and figure out what they coincide with. Wrap them up and label them with the device. If one doesn’t go with any device you own anymore, get rid of it.
- Bad Photos and Unused Apps. Clear up memory on your phone by deleting duplicate photos, bad selfies, or screenshots. You can also streamline your home screen by deleting apps you don’t use or need anymore. Not only will these tips help you declutter, but they will also help your phone run more efficiently!
- Front Closet/Mud Room. Go through that stash of winter scarves, hats, and gloves. Donate any coats that aren’t worn. Get rid of gloves that have lost their mate. Put away that pile of shoes that accumulates by the door (that’s not just my house, right??). Tidy up any cleaning supplies or other miscellaneous things you keep here.
- Adult Clothes. If you haven’t worn something in the past year, you probably won’t in the future! Ask yourself if you would still buy the item if you saw it in the store today. If the answer is no, get rid of it!
- Shoes. Same as clothes– if you haven’t worn them in the past year, time to say goodbye.
- Jewelry and Accessories. Decide what you wear and what you don’t. Throw away anything that is broken or missing its match.
- Gifts You Don’t Like/Use. It’s okay to let go of that ugly sweater your Great Aunt Nancy gave you. Really. It’s the thought that counts– so keep the thought and get rid of the hideous thing.
- Greeting Cards. You received them. You read them. Great. They served their purpose. Time to recycle them.
- Garage. This is a big clutter-offender in most houses. Set a timer and see how many things you can get rid of or consolidate in the time you have. Have two large trash bags ready: one for everything that can be tossed, another for everything you can donate.
- Cars. With two kiddos (okay, it’s not just their fault…), my car is constantly cluttered. Have two large bags handy: one for garbage and one for everything that needs to go back in the house. Recycle all of those soda cans and water bottles (that’s not just my car, right?).
- Old Receipts and Paperwork. Record and file away the important stuff; toss or shred the rest. Here’s a good rule of thumb for how long to keep receipts and important paperwork:
- 15-30 days: Receipts for items you may return, bills that need attention, daily expenses
- 1 year: receipts of bills paid, Insurance paperwork, bank statements, expense reimbursements, heath care information
- 3-4 years: tax returns, social security statements
- Craft Supplies. You guys, this one hurts to even write about. I love all things crafty and DIY– and I hate throwing anything away. Hence, my bins and organizers of crafting supplies runneth over. Take some time with me to go through all of those supplies and honestly decide what might get used and what won’t. It might help if you invest in a few bins or other organized containers. What fits in the bins gets to stay. What doesn’t fit, goes. (Wince.)
- Linen closet. Donate anything you don’t use that’s still in decent shape. Throw away (or recycle into cleaning rags) anything worn-out or with holes.
- Under the sinks. Get rid of cleaning supplies you don’t use (or consolidate like products together). If you have the time, get some Dollar Tree bins to organize similar items. And really– do you need all of those mini hotel shampoo bottles?
- Membership/Rewards Cards/Partially-Used Gift Cards. If you don’t shop somewhere anymore, cancel your store credit card or rewards card. Also, go through your wallet or purse and find any gift cards you have that only have a small amount left. Go online to determine the amount and write it on the card. If it’s a small amount, decide if it’s worth keeping it (and spending more money to use it).
- Junk Drawer. Everyone’s got one of these, right? Throw out what you don’t need, and pick up some small organizing bins from your local dollar store (usually 2 or 3 for $1) to keep it organized.
- Organizer’s Choice. Today is for that one area of your house (you know the one) I didn’t mention. Now get to it, you organizing machine!
There you have it, friends. Let’s tackle that clutter together in 2017!
Earlier this month, I shared a post about how much I LOVE reading with my toddler TJ (and some of our favorite titles-check it out here!). I love the idea of investing in what might become a lifelong love of reading and learning together, and it’s a fantastic way to bond with a little one!
Reading books is also a fabulous way to teach little ones about all kinds of things, from numbers and letters to more complex concepts like diversity. Here’s a list I compiled for you of amazing Christmas-related titles you can share with your toddler or preschooler that can teach them about the joy and meaning of Christmas, and they may just become a new favorite! The books range from light and fun to a meaningful version of the true story of Christmas (which, if you’re a sap like me, might make you tear up a little. Fair warning.). Any of these titles would make a great gift and be a treasured addition to your child’s book collection!
I love the tradition of stockings, but I don’t love spending a lot of time stressing over them, or a lot of money filling them. I’ve seen several stocking stuffer gift guides floating around the internet with items that range from $5 to $20– for one thing! I don’t know about you, but that’s not in my Christmas budget!
However, I never like to substitute quality for quantity: I don’t like just buying junk that I know will get thrown away or donated. You see my predicament. However, last year I decided to try filling our stockings with all items from Dollar Tree, and do you know what I found? Everything. Everything I could possibly need to fill all of the stockings I had to fill. Every. Single. Thing.
Today I am so excited to share a post by Heather from the blog Blissful Intent. She’s created a list of ways to connect with your kids and build lifelong memories together! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, Heather!
You may not feeling it right now but you are an amazing mother. What you do day in and day out is nothing short of powerful.
You may be having a moment where you are just overwhelmed with life right now. It may be things around the house that need done, feeding the family or your children.
Life is busy all the time, but being busy and truly living your life with your children are two totally different things. Continue Reading…
There are few things I love more than sitting down with my toddler to read a special book. TJ is rarely not moving at 100 miles an hour (only a slight exaggeration), but he loves getting to sit on Mommy’s lap and picking a few books to flip through (or the same book… over, and over, and over again…). While we don’t always get through every word on the pages, I’m so glad that TJ likes books. He always enjoys the pictures, and we talk about each page as we go. Reading books with a little tyke is an irreplaceable way to teach and bond with them. I’ve always been a bookworm myself, so I’m so happy that TJ already loves the written word. I so cherish our time that we spend reading together and hope to foster that love in TJ (and baby Eli) in the years to come.
With Christmas just around the corner (Eek! Where did the year go?!), I thought I’d share with you some of TJ’s favorite books from this year. Each of them are very different but can keep the attention of my whirlwind toddler for a few minutes each (a monumental achievement in this house!). Any of these special books would make great gifts for the toddler in your life and can become a cherished addition to his or her bookshelf! (And the kiddo’s parents will thank you for NOT adding to the chaos by buying that large and/or loud toy you’re thinking about. Trust me. They will.)
Some days, being at home with my boys is exciting and joyous. I love watching them grow and learn, and I find great fulfillment in my meaningful life as a stay-at-home mom.
Other days, I feel like a slave living in a house-sized empire run by two tiny, screeching tyrants. Between trying to teach consequences to a toddler, feeding two little boys who eat like frat boys, keeping the house clean-ish, and attempting to accomplish any of the dozen things on my to-do list, sometimes the day ends and I’m left feeling just drained. It doesn’t help matters that I’m an extreme introvert.
I love my boys with all of my heart. But as an introvert, I also need some time to recharge when I’m not pouring myself out for them. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Goodness gracious, is that ever true! Since becoming a mother, I’ve learned that I need to make my needs a priority too. The better I care for myself, the better I am able to care for my boys. If you’re in the same boat, here are some tips I’ve implemented that help me not only survive as an introverted stay-at-home mom, but also thrive!