Posts tagged as:

decluttering

Preparing Your Home For The Holidays: The Kids’ Rooms

by Tara Kuczykowski on November 16, 2010 · 13 comments

Mandi of Life... Your Way and I have teamed up to bring you a special series over the next two weeks called Preparing Your Home for the Holidays.

We're on the final section of the house today, the kids' rooms -- yay! Since we live in a 4-bedroom house with five kids, our oldest two boys and our girls each share a room. Our youngest has his own room, albeit the very small room that I used to call my office.

Shared and small spaces both require a little creativity in keeping the clutter to a minimum, so instead of talking about cleaning their rooms, today I thought I'd share some of the fun and kid-friendly ways we've used to corral the large number of toys and such that are part of the territory when you have a large family.

Tactics we use:

  • We rotate toys in and out of the crawl space we have in our basement. This is especially effective with our older boys since they have large collections of G.I. Joe toys and Transformers.
  • We have a designated home for all of their toys that's age appropriate. For example, we expect our older children to put toys away in totes and put the totes in their closet. However, our younger children are encouraged to put their play food into a toy shopping cart next to their play kitchen.
  • Bedtime is at 9:00pm; however, we all head upstairs at 8:30pm for showers/baths and to straighten up any messes from the day. Well, ideally this is what we'd do, but we're still working on making it a nightly ritual. We're making progress though!

Creative storage ideas for kids:

This has to be one of my favorite solutions for repurposing an item we already had. When our boys outgrew their wooden train table, we were getting ready to donate it. I really wanted to get them a Lego table, but all of the ones I found online were very small and super expensive.

While walking through Toys R Us, I noticed that they had the square Lego base pieces, and it occurred to me that we could just convert their old train table into a huge Lego table. So we purchased several of the squares and screwed them down right onto the existing train table, and now it's the perfect place to spread their Legos out and build their creations.

This shelf was originally part of our starter furniture in the living room of our first apartment. It has definitely seen better days, but we sanded it lightly and painted it, and now it serves as a bookshelf in our oldest boys' room.

I found this great locker bed on Amazon for our youngest boy. The drawers are perfect for housing toys in his very tiny room, and I loved that it came with a variety of colors so that we could match them to the decor.

We got this shelf with bins for our girls at Target for a real steal. The one thing we were unhappy with is the kids were emptying the bins, stacking them up, and using them as step stools. Gotta love those creative little minds! So my husband screwed the bins directly into the base, solving that issue since they can no longer be removed, and actually it works better since they can't just pull out a whole bin and dump it at once. Now it's a great way to sort their Barbies, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, and Disney Princess dolls.

Be sure to check out Mandi's printable checklist for kids' rooms for more tips on cleaning, decluttering, and keeping them organized! Thank you all so much following along with us over the past few weeks -- I greatly appreciate the encouragement you've all given.

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Mandi of Life... Your Way and I have teamed up to bring you a special series over the next two weeks called Preparing Your Home for the Holidays.

On any given fall Saturday afternoon, you're bound to find our family tailgating in our garage, watching the Ohio State Buckeyes play football with friends and neighbors while the kids play out back. This has been an ongoing tradition, so we actually overhauled our garage back at the end of the summer.

And we really did overhaul it then. Our garage was full of miscellaneous empty boxes and just plain junk that wasn't worth donating. We considered renting a dumpster, but then I stumbled across this new service called The Bagster. It's basically a dumpster service on a smaller scale -- you just purchase a bag from Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. for about $30, and then you schedule a pickup when you have it filled!

We didn't really need a huge dumpster, and The Bagster was less than half the price we would have paid for one even including the pickup fee.

So how about a quick tour of our garage now?

This is my stockpile shelving and our extra refrigerator and deep freezer. I'm not sure how we managed without the refrigerator previously -- we probably made far too many trips to the store because these kids go through milk like crazy!

This is one of my favorite features that my handy husband built. We had a ton of unused space above our garage door, so he installed shelving for items that we don't need access to frequently, like our Christmas lights, snow blower, pressure washer, etc.

I also especially love these hooks that he installed for the kids' bikes. Five bikes can really eat up a lot of space in a garage, so this is a convenient way to keep them out of the way but still accessible for when they get the itch to ride.

Rubbermaid makes some fantastic garage organization solutions, including this track that has many different hangers. The ball storage unit is awesome, and it's great to be able to hang tools exactly where you need them.

Keeping our garage in this condition has actually been pretty easy. Once everything has a home created for it, it's just a matter of ensuring that you return it to its proper place when you use it. Just a quick sweep, and our garage was photo ready!

You can join us in Preparing Your Home For The Holidays over the next couple of weeks by using the handy printable checklists that Mandi has created for each room of the house! And of course we'd love to hear your tips and tricks for getting your home ready for the holiday season.

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Preparing Your Home For The Holidays: Tackling The Kitchen

by Tara Kuczykowski on November 6, 2010 · 25 comments

Mandi of Life... Your Way and I have teamed up to bring you a special series over the next two weeks called Preparing Your Home for the Holidays.

As I'm sure it is for many of you, our kitchen is the hub of our home. It's not only where we prepare food; it's also where we do homework, eat our meals, and just hang out in general.

As such, it's an area that I struggle to keep clean. Our island seems to accumulate miscellaneous "stuff", and it feels like every time I finish doing the dishes, the sink is piled high just a short time later. Our children do help with the chores, but there are still some tasks that slide far too long, so the real challenge for this room will be the maintenance.

Areas I focused on in the kitchen:

  • The area under our sink was very cluttered with unused cleaning products.
  • The pantry was relatively clean but needed tweaking.
  • I hadn't cleaned out my spice cabinet in ages.
  • My coffee zone needed a once over.

I have to give a big thanks to my hubby who wiped down the cabinets and all of the baseboards for me while I was cleaning up my trouble zones. What a guy!

:: Under the Sink

Since we've recently moved to using more natural cleaners and microfiber cloths for the bulk of our cleaning needs, my cleaning products stockpile has become kind of unruly and the area under our sink was filled with products that we no longer use. So I took this opportunity to tidy this area up, disposing of anything that wasn't worth passing on and moving unopened products to our donate box. The storage caddy is great for organizing the small odds and ends that were otherwise just strewn about the cabinet.

:: Straightening the Pantry

My pantry was in relatively good shape since I did a big overhaul a few months ago, so all I needed to do was move things around a bit. I did find a few items that I could donate, so that freed up a little space. And we recently moved several items, like our soups, canned beans, and applesauce, out to our stockpile shelving that's in the garage to alleviate some of the crowding we were experiencing.

I discovered that one of my little monkeys has apparently been using my potato and onion bins as a step stool and cracked them, so I need to replace those ASAP.

:: Spice Cabinet Overhaul

My spice cabinet was in quite a state. As you can see, I could really use either a tiered shelf or perhaps one of those round spinning caddies to make better use of this space.

I was surprised to find a number of outdated baking ingredients and spices in the back, so this is definitely an area that I need to stay on top of more. I have an idea for using up some old pumpkin pie spices, but does anyone have a suggestion for what I can do with a very large old bottle of pure vanilla extract? I hate to just toss it out...

Lesson learned -- we'd been buying a lot of spices and baking ingredients in bulk at Sam's Club because the prices were hard to pass up, but we're not using them all at a rate that justifies the purchase. We'll be more conscientious about what we should buy in bulk and what we should buy smaller in the future.

:: Cleaning the Coffee Zone

I was pleased to see that one of Mandi's suggestions for organizing a kitchen is to create zones for areas in a way that makes sense for your needs. This is something I had already implemented in our kitchen with the coffee zone that I created. It's so handy to have everything I need right above my coffee maker, and this space is also ideally located within arm's length of our refrigerator so I can easily grab my cream!

As I mentioned earlier, the real challenge for me is going to be in the maintenance. I recognize what my hot spots are, and we'll be ensuring that these areas are cleaned up nightly before we all head to bed. Wish me luck!

You can join us in Preparing Your Home For The Holidays over the next couple of weeks by using the handy printable checklists that Mandi has created for each room of the house! And of course we'd love to hear your tips and tricks for getting your home ready for the holiday season.

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Mandi of Life... Your Way and I have teamed up to bring you a special series over the next two weeks called Preparing Your Home for the Holidays.

In my quest for a saner and less hectic holiday season, I've now turned my attention on the bathrooms. Well, to be honest, I focused on our guest bathroom for this post as I only had enough time to finish that one to completion before leaving for Boston for an event, but it's the most important one as far as guests go, and I'm planning to tackle the other two this weekend.

As you can see, our guest bathroom is quite small, without a lot of storage space. My biggest challenges in this space are:

  • This is a high traffic area for us that needs maintenance cleaning multiple times per week and some deep cleaning once per week.
  • The pedestal sink, though lovely, creates storage issues for necessities.

:: Keeping the Bathroom Clean

I quickly assessed the state of the bathroom using Mandi's handy printable checklist, and right away I could see that there were some things I could toss out or find a new home. I trashed the Glade plugin that was completely used up, and found a new home for the wipes container that we no longer need on a regular basis (yay for being diaper free!!!) and also the toilet plunger which was just an eyesore and not often used.

Though relatively clean, there were some areas that I've been neglecting in this space. I pulled out my handy microfiber cloth once again to surface dust, and then again I used it damp to wipe down the baseboards, the grimey doorhandles, light switch covers, and the walls. I think I forgot to mention the other day how fantastic these are for cleaning walls! They really work well without stripping the paint like the Mr. Clean Erasers have a tendency to do.

I also noticed that my flower arrangement was extremely dusty. The microfiber cloth didn't seem to do much as far as removing the deeper dust, so I pulled out my Dyson Handheld Vacuum (pricey, yes, but I literally use this several times a day) and used it to pull the dust off each individual flower. I was surprised to find that my arrangement looked almost brand new when I was done!

And then of course I cleaned the sink, making sure to wipe down the pedestal, the toilet, and the floor around the toilet -- blech. You moms with young boys know what I'm talking about here.

:: Creative Bathroom Storage

As storage is at a premium in our guest bathroom, I've needed to get a little creative here.

I picked up this medicine chest at Target many years ago, and I love that it's both attractive and decorative, while also being functional. The drawers on the front are perfect for storing feminine needs, as well as cleaning cloths and toilet scrubber tips.

And this is my creative toilet paper storage solution. I just stick it inside of a tissue holder on the back of the toilet. We don't really use tissues in the bathroom, so this works perfectly for us.

Going forward I just need to stay on top of wiping everything down weekly, following Mandi's maintenance tips. Oh, and reminder to self, I need to purchase some new hand towels because we're down to only one, and that's just not cutting it.

You can join us in Preparing Your Home For The Holidays over the next couple of weeks by using the handy printable checklists that Mandi has created for each room of the house! And of course we'd love to hear your tips and tricks for getting your home ready for the holiday season.

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Mandi of Life... Your Way and I have teamed up to bring you a special series over the next two weeks called Preparing Your Home for the Holidays.

I've mentioned several times over the past month that I do not want this to be a last-minute Christmas for us, so we're getting proactive this year in all areas, including getting our home ready for holiday guests room by room. An expert in decluttering, today Mandi's helping me take my living room from playroom to more of a family-friendly gathering area.

Unfortunately I don't have any before photos because my dear husband decided to get started without me (not complaining at. all.), but I can share with you our major issues:

  • Video game equipment was out of control and scattered throughout the space.
  • We had little storage space which meant toys were often piled around the perimeter.
  • Our couch has seen better days, but we're not ready to purchase a new one.
  • I've neglected some of the deep cleaning over the past few months when our kids were heavily into sports.

:: Corralling the Clutter

Kids and clutter just seem to go hand-in-hand, don't they? And when you have five kids...well, that's five times the clutter, and our living room seems to bear the brunt of it.

I'm sure you've heard this before, but baskets are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to contain clutter. I picked up two of these huge baskets at Target last year at half price because they were part of the holiday clearance. It turned out that they're perfect for holding all of our video game equipment on either side of our entertainment center.

:: Giving the Toys A Home

Toys are my nemesis. They're scattered throughout our house, and it seems nearly impossible to find a home for all of them. We're working on a more permanent play area for the kids to stretch our living space, but in the meantime I found an awesome solution at IKEA.

Again, baskets are my friend here. They're the perfect size for the toys my kids play with most, and they're easily accessible in the shelf. All together, the shelf and baskets were priced at under $150 -- well worth it for me to maintain my sanity.

:: Making Do With What You Have

Our poor couch... It was a beautiful couch when we purchased it at 80% off from the seconds store of a major furniture retailer 11 years ago. It had one very small scratch on the leather that was barely noticeable with the light cream color. Fast forward through two dogs and five kids, and this is the end result:

Gosh, I'm so embarrassed to show you that! I often think about how nice it would be to just go out and get a new couch, but it's still solid (and we still have two dogs and five young kids), so we opted to purchase an inexpensive slipcover from Walmart.

No, it's not perfect, but it's certainly prettier and it will do for now.

We also refinished this beautiful cedar chest that belonged to my husband's grandmother. It's now our coffee table, as well as additional storage space. We keep lots of throws crocheted by my mother-in-law in it for those chilly winter days ahead.

:: Getting the Grime Out

I've been a bit of a slacker the past few months when it comes to deep cleaning. We were running six days a week for sports, so something had to give. So today I whipped out my favorite deep cleaning assistant -- a simple microfiber cloth. A package of these costs next to nothing, lasts forever, and is a very versatile cleaning tool.

I used it dry to surface dust everything and to brush the dust that accumulates on the lampshades off. Then I used it damp to wipe down our leather chair, ottoman, and all of the baseboards (a task that I often forget about).

I took our throw pillows outside for a shake and left them to air out while I was cleaning, and I wiped down all of the glass tables and windows with my favorite Method Mint spray glass cleaner.

Now my living room is clean and sparkling! You've noticed that we don't have a lot of knick-knacks. We tend to keep them to a minimum for the most part with the kids, and I also removed a few things to make room for our holiday decorations later this month.

You can join us in Preparing Your Home For The Holidays over the next couple of weeks by using the handy printable checklists that Mandi has created for each room of the house! And of course we'd love to hear your tips and tricks for getting your home ready for the holiday season.

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