Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Importance of Being On Time

I hate to be late.  The stress and anxiety that accompanies tardiness is something we all could live without.  Sometimes it can not be avoided, but most of the time, with preparation and adequate planning, we should all be on time.

When planning your day, I suggest mapping out your appointments in a calendar.  I use Google Calendar.  This allows for me to add the address and simply click on the map and driving directions that magically pop up on my smart phone.  This app function is a life-saver for me!  It even gives me a ten minute warning before I have to leave to arrive on time!  I try to leave before that and give myself a twenty to thirty minute buffer between appointments.

Why?  Seattle traffic is so unpredictable!  Sometimes I can fly from one part of town to another without any issues, but sometimes I am sitting in traffic for an hour.  Very frustrating!  Another reason to leave early is to find parking.  I am guilty of being late for a meeting, finding a parking spot and not bothering to plug the meter.  I have had a few parking tickets from this unethical decision. I also have been known to get lost - frequently.  Even places that I have been to several times before.  Having a few extra minutes gives me a buffer without looking like a complete idiot.

Another reason I try to leave plenty of time between meetings, to mentally and physically prepare.  I think people try to schedule meetings back-to-back in an effort to be efficient with their time.  I think this is counter-productive.  If we don't allow ourselves to prepare and process information we have received or need to convey, we are ineffective.  We need to give ourselves a few minutes to prepare our thoughts.  Time to review notes, reread emails and jot a few notes for the upcoming meeting.

Being early gives you the chance to think, update your records, return emails, listen to voicemail messages or even take a quick walk around the block or use the bathroom! 

A current goal of mine is to take better care of my health.  When I am working hard with clients and attending several meetings, I tend to not eat regularly or make healthy choices.  I don't make exercise a priority.  Building a bit of time between obligations can ensure time for a walk or a healthy snack. 

Sometimes it also allows for a little treat.
So treat yourself better and allow for more time between obligations.  Get to your next appointment early so you aren't stressed by traffic and parking issues or getting lost.  Give yourself time to think clearly before the meeting starts.  Take time to use the bathroom, walk around the block or get a healthy snack.  The better you are person, the more effective you will be in your meeting.  Get there early and rock more.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Toy Shuffle

Every once in awhile, I go through the boys' toys and purge!  Today was one of those days.  I looked at every toy.  Broken ones were tossed and the ones that are rarely played with were put in a tote with a lid.  I plan to store them for two weeks.  If the kids haven't noticed that they are gone, I'll donate them.

I also moved toys into different storage containers.  We have some rolling drawers that I kept at the foot of Jacob's bed.  As soon as you opened the door to the room, it was directly in front of you.  I didn't like how it made the room feel crowed.  I decided to try these rolling drawers in between their beds as a nightstand.  A box of tissues, their alarm clock and their glasses fit perfectly.  In the drawers are their loveys, stuffed animals and a few random items like their origami.

These stuffed animals are perfect chew toys for our new dog, Shasta.

The toy box was between their beds and contained a jumble of junk.  They had some loveys, some trucks and cars, and whatever else they threw in.  I moved the toy box into their closet for a reading nook.  Now, inside the toy box is their large collection of dress up clothes and toy weapons.  I had been keeping their dress up clothes in a large tote with a lid.  But I noticed they were playing with these toys more and more often.  The tote was overflowing and the lid couldn't latch easily.  It wasn't working well and I hope the toy box will make it easier for the kids to find their toys and clean them up later.

Dress up and pretend clothes are now in the toy box.

Up in the closet, I keep a bin of Legos, a tackle box of little cars and trucks, a bin of race tracks and accessories, and all of the castle toys.  The baskets of knights, armor and horses; the tray of castle blocks and the folding castle itself.  The kids are welcome to use any of these toys, but need to ask for them.  This way I can better monitor the cleanliness of the room.  The more toys that are out, the tougher it is too clean up.  Limiting the number of toys will be much less overwhelming for the kids and give them more space to actually play.

In front of the bookshelf there are two baskets of toys.  One contains wooden blocks and the other large trucks and tractors.  These two were simply too large to fit on the closet shelf.

Finally, under the bed we have another Ikea find.  This under the bed storage drawer with dividers work great for holding little toys like their action figures and little plastic soldiers and animals and their Transformers.  (Update - I've removed the dividers, it was an extra step in clean up to find the correct spot.) These are the toys that the kids play with the most!  I want the boys to find the toys they wanted and be able to clean up quickly.

My cute models!

As you can see, I have used several different storage options for my boys' toys - bins with and without lids, totes, baskets, under the bed containers, plastic drawers and shelves.  As your children grow, their toys will change and their needs for help cleaning their room will change.

Periodically, take inventory of their toys.  Anything need to be tossed or donated?  Have they outgrown anything?  Would they notice if it was gone?  Is there something that they are more interested in, but there is not enough room?  Look at the volume of each type of toy.  Do you need to allot more or less space?  Do your kids have room to play?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Boy's Room Closet

The closet in our boys' room was a mess.  There are ugly mirrored sliding closet drawers that never seemed to slide nicely.  I kept a bin of dress up clothes and wire basket of cars and trucks on the floor.  When I would tidy their room, this area would be pretty manageable, but when the kids cleaned up from a playdate, everything was a jumbled mess.

The shelf held some toys, clothes they hadn't yet grown into and a stack of blankets.

The other side of the closet held their dresser.  Let me tell you the story of this dresser.  It was an old wooden dresser   that used to be in my dad's garage.  I needed something to hold my clothes when I moved out of my parents' house in college.  Dad said I could use it, so I cleaned it up and painted it bright blue.  I used this dresser for about 12 years, then my kids inherited it.  The drawers were a bit of a challenge to open and close, not ideal  for kids, but it worked.  They were bored one day and decided to start peeling the beautiful blue paint off the drawers.  Poor thing was really hit up.

There were several challenges with the closet.  The kids couldn't get their clothes in and out of the dresser easily.  There wasn't enough storage space and the space we did have was not being used efficiently.  The mirrored doors were so ugly!  And worst of all, my boys were scared of the closet.  Too many episodes of Scooby Doo, they were afraid of monsters hiding in there.  It was time for a change!

Here are some before pictures of the room.  Toys on the floor in front of the bookshelves, the ugly doors, my abused dresser!


Dress up bins

Blankets and toys

The first step was to remove the doors.  It looked better immediately!

The next step was to get rid of the dresser.  Adam and I talked about the best way to add more storage and make it easier for the kids to get their clothes independently.  We decided that this dandy shelving unit from Ikea was perfect!

Jacob's has the cubbies on the left.  Reed's are on the right.

I've already changed a few things, this was a picture taken during the organizing.  The top cubby contains the boys' special items,  - treasure boxes, piggy banks, etc.  The second has a bin with underwear, socks and pajamas.  The third has a bin with shirts and the bottom has pants.  I was folding laundry this afternoon.  It was easy for the kids to carry their bins in, tuck their laundry pile in and return it to the cubby.  It was wonderful!!!

Here's an after picture!  The blue toy box was in between the boys' beds, but it felt very crowded.  I've always wanted a little hide-away for the kids to curl up with the book.  Moving the toy box into the closet gives them a place to keep all of their dress up clothes and a spot to relax with a book.

If you look closely at the shelf.  I have folded the blankets on the left.  I put most of the toys up on the shelf.  Legos, toy cars, race tracks, castle blocks and a few other toys are all up there.  This is a better use of space and will hopefully keep the room a bit cleaner.

Ahhh!  It feels so good to tackle this project!  The boys are so excited have a new organized space.  They love the bins and cubbies and the reading nook.  Start to finish, this project took my husband and I two hours.  Removing the doors, moving the dresser out, building the bookshelf and rearranging a few pieces of furniture.  I love the new space for our boys!