Week Before Thanksgiving To Do Lists

thanksgiving organizing

 

It’s the week before Thanksgiving and there’s much to do!  Pies to bake, turkey to baste and a table to set are just a few of your responsibilities this week. Setting up a list of lists will make your next week run smoothly. That’s what lists do: get ideas out of your head, get stuff done, help you have more fun and help you stay in the moment with your guest that day. Here are the lists that you need the week before Thanksgiving. These To Do lists will not only help you stay on track, these will also help you have your most organized Thanksgiving!

 

 

Finalize your guest list

Who will you be sitting with during your holiday feast?  It’s time to finalize your guest list and connect with all your guests.  Your guests may request to bring items for your meal so have a list prepared just in case they would like to bring a dish.

 

Gather your gear

Do you need extra linens or will you be eating on eco-friendly plates? Is this the year you will cook your turkey on the grill? Now is the time to purchase what’s needed for your feast. Set out your plates, silverware and other table scape items to be sure you are ready to set the table.

 

Create your shopping list

What’s needed for your feast and the week ahead? What breakfast, lunch and leftovers do you have planned for feeding your guests? Are your guests vegan, gluten free or vegetarian? Nows the time to check special dietary requests.  Checking your list early means you can check on sales at various shops and save money.

 

Beverages and bar options

Even before your big meal, will you be serving special beverages? Research festive holiday drinks and kiddo drinks for your meal.  Be ready with a family friendly punch or adult cocktail station set up before the meal begins.

 

Create a cooking plan

In order to have all your dishes ready at the same time, write a list of when you will prepare, cook and bake your holiday dishes.  Review your recipes to be organized about when to start cooking. Assign cooking responsibilities to friends and family who arrive early that day.

 

Purchase your turkey

Turkeys come in fresh and frozen, big and little. Be ready for your feast by purchasing your turkey ahead of time and holding it in the coldest part of your refrigerator.  Turkey tips are available to be sure your bird is delicious.

 

Thanksgiving Day List

You got this! Stick to your list of lists and you will enjoy your day.  It’s time to put your friends and family in the mix to share the fun in cooking and preparing.

 

More Thanksgiving ideas here!

 

How to Fix Holiday Glitches

how to fix holiday glitches

 

As holidays approach, we’re thinking of twinkling lights and not last year’s dry stuffing.  Even worse, last year we may have spent much time preparing, yet not feeling that holiday joy. Heading into the holidays is the best time to think about the big picture of the holiday season.  It’s time to assess what worked and what did not.

 

Here’s some oops moments that may have happened to you last year.  There’s solutions for you to fix these holiday glitches.

 

Oops! Holiday cure!
There’s so much to do for each holiday. Set aside a planning time in early October.  It’s a meeting for you, your list and your planner.
There’s so many activities and events every night during the holidays. You booked 2 events on the same evening. Start early with your holiday planner and calendar.  Enter every date as you receive each invitation.
You wanted to send holiday cards and you need a family photo and your address list updated. Use a family photo taken during the year. Use multiple photos of faces only.  Update your address list as new holiday cards arrive.
You need to decorate the house and your family is busy with school, sports and choir. Downsize your decorating. Decide if your decorating should be a single tree, indoor decorations only, or another smaller effort this year.
You purchased too many items on Amazon and don’t know what your purchased are or for whom you purchased. Open all the boxes and create an inventory of your purchases. Assign names with post it notes on each item. Assess if you have enough by setting a budget or a number of gifts.
There’s so much to wrap and you must bake, go to church and other things to do. Pay a neighborhood teen or grandkid to be your holiday wrapper.
You want to go to the cookie swap and you need to bake 12 dozen cookies. When do you have the time for that? Through social media, ask for referrals of local bakers, crafters or other small businesses to help you.
The holidays fly by and you feel you have not enjoyed the time together as a family. Host a family meeting with everyone sharing what’s most important to them to celebrate the season. Share what’s most important to you and set aside time for this.

 

As you prepare for this year’s holiday season, keep in mind your level of planning and organization.  Balance your investment in time with your joy for the outcome of that investment. It will lead you to a happier holiday season.

Family Mottos with Meaning

 

Family mottos family values

 

In our 21st century lives, families are transforming daily.  Families are adding members, refashioning who is a family member and reinventing family structure.  Just how do we keep sharing our family values, inviting inclusiveness and minimizing destructive and hurtful conversations?  Having a family motto helps all your family define what’s important.

 

Family mottos not family bickering

It’s all too often we find ourselves saying, keep your hands to yourself and pick up your stuff. We can fashion that into a family motto that shares how we respect each other and take care of our belongings.  It’s more about how we treat each other that we want to convey to our family.

Here’s some family mottos ” Read more

5 Tips to Get Ready for Back to School

Back to school

 

Getting ready for back to school feels like a sprint and a marathon. It’s a myriad of details, appointments, and preparation.  What makes it easier to get ready for back to school?  Here’s five tips that prep you for being back to school.

Have your calendar and your check book ready

At back to school time, there’s two very important tools to have at your fingertips. Your calendar is where all the new dates for school, athletics, worship and more belong. It’s your guide for each day of the next 9 months.  Gather all the dates and times each day and then each evening scribe these.  You want to get ahead of the game by getting all the dates in this early.  Over the next few weeks be sure to have a weekly family  meeting to keep your calendar up to date. Your checkbook is the age old money holder, however now it’s your credit card, Venmo or other financial transaction method.  Back to school is when you register for new activities, pay for books, or pay for supplies.  Be ready and track your expenses.

 

Make appointments and shop early

Here’s a quick list of some of the appointments you might need before school starts.

  • Well check doctors’ or chiropractors appointments
  • Personal care such as haircuts and manicures

Start by assessing what’s in your kids’ drawers and fits. Get caught up on laundry to know what you have and what you need to purchase.  Set aside a time to shop with your kids just for basics to get the year started. There’s easy ways to shop online, however be sure to return what you don’t need and doesn’t fit.

 

Make a lunch, dinner and snack plan

Food makes us all smile! Breakfast can be a quick start or something to take on the road with you. Dinner time is when we gather to share our stories each day.   Make yourself and everyone happy with mindful appreciation for food.  There’s lots of ways to get meals organized, so pick one or a few that are easy for you and your family. Don’t forget healthy snacks too!  Back to school requires lots of energy and food is one of the major ways to fuel ourselves.

 

Set up family routines that work

The best types of organization require routines. It’s what we do repeatedly,  almost automatically.  These are morning, homework, and evening routines.  Morning routines are hopefully minimal and focus on getting out of the house on time.  By creating Homework routines, you are simplifiying getting homework complete and back to school.  In the evening, the goal is to gather for a meal and to get a great night’s rest.  Review your family routines during a family meeting and be sure everyone agrees.  If needed, create a check lis to insure everyone is on board.

 

Ready, set, tech

There’s tech tools that help you with back to school too.  Use a good old fashioned alarm clock to wake each person each morning.  Hang an analog clock where you can see it in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.  Set reminders on  your smart phone to leave early for school in the morning and end your day at work.  Both Quizlet and Studyblue help your student learn more effectively. Use a bank app to deposit checks or check balances to pay bills. All these small tools add up when you are getting ready for back to school.

 

Back to school is an adventure waiting! Jump in with optimism and positivity for a great start for the new school year.

 

More back to school ideas here!

 

Budget Friendly Family Vacation Tips. Book the trip!

budget friendly family vacation tips

This guest post is authored by Becky Drake Conser, Master Trainer for Beachbody LIVE, a National Fitness Presenter, a Mother, and a UNICORN.  After her European vacation, she realized “I spend way less money on three weeks of vacation than one unsupervised Monday at Target!”

 

I wanted to share a couple (well, more than a couple due to being verbose) lessons I have learned on our “Family Vacation!”

1) All you need in your suitcase is lots of socks(hand washing those babies does not get out the stinky feet days of walking), a handful of pairs of undies (women, thongs!! Trust me), and comfy shoes.

2) You never need as much as you think. And you can always find shops that sell what you left behind.

3) Hand wash the clothes the night you wear them so they do not stink up the suitcase. Jeans need 36+ hours to wash so wear them first and hang dry in the shower.

4) The people you meet shape your opinion of the Country and make you fall in love with the location. Talk to everyone.

5) Set no expectations for the day as you never know how it will turn out and being open minded will free up bandwidth and allow JOY to be the emotion.

6) The best time of the year to visit somewhere is whenever you can get there. Don’t over complicate the planning!

7) You do not need to be an expert of the Country before going. Make sure you set up that 1 tour that is “important” to the World but then just google/yelp the things you like when you are there and GET LOST!!!

😎 Nothing tastes as good as the first local meal and beer once you finish a day of travel.

9) Take the train!! It’s way less stressful than the airport and they rarely want you to arrive more than one hour before you leave. In Italy, they laugh if you get there more than 30 minutes prior to leaving the station as the track is not assigned until 5 Minutes before you are set to leave.

10) On trains – upgrade to the business economy so you have the leg room and storage space appropriate for travelers.

11) Sometimes, doing something different in a NEW location is all you need.

12) Trying new foods can change your life and make your kids more adventurous.

13) Kids also love their favorite foods so finding a restaurant that specializes in that is a win. You do not have to eat local everyday.

14) Vacationing abroad can be cheaper than vacationing in the States!

15) Find the locals!! The local beach, the local restaurant, the local gym, the local hangout are always the better choice.

16) Blue badge tour guides are the cream of the crop! You do not skimp on doctors and professionals in the states, so don’t do it when traveling. And hire the private tour with skip the line passes. (You can afford it! Just find a local sandwich shop for lunch and don’t drink alcohol for a couple dinners to save up.)

17) Kids love fancy hotels more than you. Book a couple and enjoy the customer service and that extra bedroom!!

18) Find the swimming pools or beaches in every location and “burn” a day or night letting the kids get out the crazy.

19) Travel days are hard! Nothing goes as planned so breathe and laugh, a lot.

20) Being scared to visit a place because someone told you they did not like it is a big mistake!

21) You have to pay to pee in most countries so be prepared and if you are in a pinch, have the cute kid ask to use the potty.

22) Don’t drink the water from the street vendors. They “recycle” those bottles from the trash cans and the water is from unknown places.

23) Rent the car!!! Our favorite days (minus the learning curve of driving local) were the days we got in a car and drove the countryside!

24) If you find your favorite food, your favorite restaurant, GO back and eat the same thing a second time.

25) If you try to speak the language and very politely ask every person “do you speak English” then EVERY person you meet is super friendly.

26) Uber is available in most countries.

27) Apple Pay is such a convenience!! You always have your phone, and lots of countries are more advanced on their banking.

28) Always have the cash because there is always that one place or one cab driver that does not take anything but cash.

29) Look like a tourist. Do not be ashamed to stand out and have the fanny pack. And carry that paper map with pride.

30) WiFi is sketchy so have one phone that is going to roam and be your point of contact.

31) Take ALL the pictures, but understand that you should not hand your phone to just anybody. That private guide will take the family pictures for you and family selfies can turn out amazing.

32) Cliche to say but sunrises and sunsets are the most amazing times to be out and about.

33) Kids absorb more than you expect so do not concentrate on them looking at the guide or standing in the group. They will surprise you with the things they heard.

34) Walk the city Centre because you will always find the best parks and cool statues and just the things that are missed when others blink.

35) Drink the coffee, everywhere!

36) Your Kids will survive for multiple weeks without electronics. Let them sit on silence.

37) Learn the queuing rules for each country.

38) Don’t be afraid to take a nap in the middle of the day. It’s hot and very few place have AC so take a break and then see the city at night.

39) Eat the gelato. Drink the local drinks. Spend money on eating the food and tipping the waiters. Seriously, a 10 Euro tip makes the biggest difference and the wait staff and manager will spend time talking to you are your children.

40) Booking that vacation is the best money you will ever spend!!

 

As a mom myself of 40 year olds and Gigi to 4 grand kids, the best money spent is on family vacation!  Don’t hold back if your finances are scarce. Be creative and pack your bags!

 

More ideas on organized travel here!

 

When Life Throws You a Curve Ball (Decluttering After A Flood)

#KingwoodStrong

 

When life throws you a curve ball, you learn to organize the balls!  When you are going through a crisis, such as our recent flood, your resilience comes into play. There may be a continuum of coping mechanisms. Your response to the situation can be a range of emotions.  Here’s a bit of what you might be feeling, doing and experiencing when decluttering after an unexpected situation such as recent flooding.   This is a continuation of life in Kingwood after the 2017 flood, better known as #KingwoodStrong.

Going through the initial decluttering experience

When you’re going through a flood, there were most likely people helping you.  People showed up to support and encourage you. However, you’re in such a state of shock and so overwhelmed you may not be aware of what is being let go of.  The goal seems to be to just get rid of things.  There’s a lot of damage to your stuff and your property and you are not sure of what to let go of. Those around you may be more sure in their minds.

 

Sorting and triaging

In this next phase, you’re trying to triage what’s left. You remember you had some things, however you question if these items are still here.  At this point you are assessing what do you have. Your emotions center on a combination of loss and gratitude.  It’s time to organize what you have.  You keep hold of what you have, knowing it’s all you have.

 

Assessing

In this step,  you are wondering about what to keep now that you have less.  Why do I have any keep things even if they’re damaged or broken or stains? Perhaps you think,  “at least I have this.”  You may be packing up your home for repairs and think I still have a lot or I don’t have much.  It’s when real perspective change happens.

 

Final steps

The final steps may occur when your home is complete or you have decided to move to a new home.  The final steps start when you are making plans for your new home.  The refreshing change you make is that you are now looking ahead. It’s time to assess what will be in your new space.  You take a deep breath and are ready to make important decision.  You realize that you can start to let things go again that don’t have a space, don’t serve you well or you are ready for someone else to benefit from the items.

 

Living in a flooded community, if you did not flood

I must add a short passage for those who did not flood and supported others.  Your compassion and empathy make a difference for those who flood. As you support others in this experience, you are learning and assessing as well.  While you did not experience loss, you may feel that now is the best time to declutter given it could have been you.  Seize the opportunity while you are motivated to declutter and donate.

 

It’s a multiple step process in decluttering and organizing after an unexpected situation, such as a flood.  You will learn so much about yourself, your partners, your family and your community.  Stay strong, stay connected and seek support as needed.  In my work with clients throughout the flood saga, our main focus is support.  There’s much work to be done after 6 months post flood.  #KingwoodStrong

 

Want to be prepared just in case? Here’s how to create a home inventory for emergency preparedness.

What Mom REALLY wants for Mother’s Day

Mother's Day

 

Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May. Families celebrate this special day in all different ways.  Before you purchase an extravagant and expensive gift, think about your Mom and what she loves!

 

According to the 5 Love Languages, your mom could be one who loves the sort of gifts related to acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, recieving gifts or physical touch, or a combination of these.

  • Acts of service is doing something for mom, such as vacuuming the living room.
  • Mom may love quality time together such as taking a walk or spending time together. Many Moms want all their chicks together on this day.
  • Words of affirmation are telling mom how amazing she is at a specific task or project.  Moms love to hear that you appreciate a special or every day talent.
  • Mom may like a small gift from you.  It can be homemade with love.
  • A hug may be just what mom wants if she loves physical touch.
  • Any one of these can be shared in a way that keeps clutter minimized.  Which is why a gift may not be what Mom wants.

 

One day is not enough to celebrate Mom!  Once you know her love language, use and apply this throughout the year.  Moms work hard all year long and being appreciated is what is a great gift too!

 

 

 

 

30 Things to Declutter in 30 Days Winter Edition

30 things to declutter in winter

 

Winter brings us time to be indoors and work on our home or office.  It’s a great time to declutter because we realize how much we have and how much we use.  There’s many items that are easy to declutter once we decide that they are well used and ready to move on.  Here’s the winter edition of 30 things to declutter in 30 days.

 

1. Single mittens or gloves

2. Kids’ winter coats that have been outgrown

3. The extra zip in lining of a coat you never zip in

4. Too tight long underwear

5. Turtle neck shirts that are too hot to wear

6. Itchy sweaters

7.  Single slippers or slippers that are beyond repair or use

8. Extra flannel sheets

9. Winter boots that are too small

10. Extra wire or plastic hangers

11. Extra cans of soup or other pantry items

12. Recycling that has built up

13. Extra linens that overload your closet

14. Smalll appliances that have been replaced with a newer model

15. Excessive grocery paper or plastic bags

16. Snowpants that are too small

17. Hoodie attachment you don’t attach

18. Summer clothes you did not wear last summer

19. Stained or torn hoodies or sweatshirts

20. Makeup over a year old

21. Cough or cold medicine that has expired

22. Pots or pans that are scratched, stained or ruined

23. Mugs you seldom or never use

24. Mismatched glasses

25. Too many plastic cups

26. Broken pairs of glasses and sunglasses

27. Freezer foods past their prime

28. Almost empty bottles of cleaning products

29. Extra boxes that are taking up space

30.  Electronics to recycle

 

That’s our round up for this month! Now you are in the decluttering habit! Make this last by taking one category a day to the next step, whether it’s to donate, sell, gift, or trash.  It’s keeping items leaving your home or office that makes for a better organized home or office.

 

Join my email newsletter for more tips and tricks for organizing and productivity.

Morning Routines That Calm The Family Chaos

 


 

Last week we joyfully subbed in for our kids as we got our grand kiddos off to school. While we had this job full time many years ago, it’s a new world currently to keep mornings calm and productive.  It’s takes planning and organization to get the day started with positive energy and organization.  Here’s some tips we learned for morning routines that will calm the family chaos.

 

Do as much as you can the night before

I share this news a lot!  Do as much as you can to prepare the night before. That means setting up a station for making lunch with clean lunch boxes, prepared snacks all set, and your napkin note ready to put in the lunch box.  Backpacks should be completely ready at the back door and all devices charging in a common charging station.  While this may be difficult after a busy and long day, it has huge pay off.

 

Get to bed early

It’s tempting to complete unfinished projects or have “me” time at the end of the day.  The quiet evening helps us feel more productive and less distracted.  It definitely derails the next day if you go to bed late.  The later it gets, the harder it is to get to sleep too.  Be sure to get in bed early so you have a great night’s rest. Morning will come quickly and you need the energy and brain power that getting to bed early offers.

 

Start early

Busy parents benefit from getting an early start. Get up 30 – 60 minutes earlier than your family.  That early start is a positive for you.  You have undistracted time to focus on yourself. Its the time you can devote to exercise, devotionals or your gratitude journal.  It gives you time for yourself and gets you ready for the day both physically and mentally.  You can be dressed and ready and then ready to work with your family.

 

Family huddle

Spend the last few minutes of your time together finalizing all the details of the day and giving encouragement to your family.  Take 5 minutes to go through each kiddos back pack and be sure it’s all together. Spend 5 more mintues sharing how it’s going to be an amazing day, how grateful you are for each kiddos’ gifts, and giving a big hug.  You and your family benefit from a positive send off.

 

It’s a blessing to you and your family as you start the day with positive energy, a calm spirit and a well organized family.   Work at your routines to create easy ways for these 4 tips to be a part of your daily routine. A little organization has a big pay off!

 

 

More family organizing tips here! Join my newsletter!

 

#Grateful

 

#Grateful

 

The holiday season begins with a festival of gratitude. Thanksgiving officially began in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War.  President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.  While this has been a more difficult year than most, Thanksgiving brings families together for food, fun and thoughtful reflection. What are you #grateful for this year?

 

What’s your perspective on gratitude?

In the most troubling of times, it’s good to know your motivations. Knowing what’s at your core and what makes you do what you do,  that’s why you are grateful.  What’s your why, by Simon Sinek, is a strategy to drill down on why, how and what compelling reasons come together to drive your passion and lead others. This is especially important for your family. When you understand what’s most important to you and how it’s a part of your every day life, gratitude jumps out!  See if you can drill down to know these passions in what you do and why you do it.

The Values in Action (VIA) assessment is another tool to find your core.  The VIA assesses values, like honesty, loyal, appreciation of beauty.  To me, these values are essential in shaping our daily life. Our values are put into place in how we work with others, enjoy your physical space and connect with our spirituality.

Why you do what you do, what your values are and how you put these strengths into action is the basis for gratitude. It’s the lense and perspective that you view life.

 

How do you share how #Grateful you are?

There’s so many simple ways to express gratitude. It’s when a car in a fast food line pays it forward for the car behind.  A simple handwritten note expressing gratitude after a loss or because of a gift.  A gratitude journal or morning prayer bring you daily thoughtful thankfulness. Use your strengths to include habits daily that help you  experience the joy of gratitude.

Circling back to your “why”, your family, colleagues and community are places to be a #grateful leader.  Gratitude multiplies when it is shared.  This year I have the privilege and honor of leading my association.  I am grateful for collaboration, connection and communication with my friends and colleagues.  Where can you take the lead for those around you to share gratitude?  Are you ready for your family to experience more gratitude by helping at a community philanthropy?  Is your work ready to share it’s blessings with a community food drive or shared work day? Look around you and find a way to share gratitude with your community.

 

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”