How to Simplify Back to School Transition

 

Back to school transition

 

Back. to. school. It’s time when we reset, organize, plan and set new routines.  It’s a transition from lots of free time to structure and deadlines.  Maybe transition is more difficult for you and your family?  We can simplify this transition with these tips.

 

Simple calendars and planners

Families + school time = dates and deadlines. Make it easy for you and your family and a calendar everyone can access. Google calendar is available on all devices to connect families to what’s due when, what needs to be purchased, and when will the parents be available.  Encourage your family to all populate the calendar during your family meeting.

 

Simple labels

Stuff gets lost and families don’t know where stuff goes. Make it easy with a label.  Label school binders, devices, lunch boxes and clothes. Label your pantry where lunch fixings are found.

 

Simple bedtime routines

The age old question of preparation for a shift in bedtimes. Parent ask, “do we start a week out with earlier bedtime or just have the kids crash the first week of school from exhaustion?” Only you know the kiddos in your home best. Take care of yourself with your own earlier bedtime the week before school starts. If you are well rested, everything will be better!

 

Simple laundry

Whittle down the loads this year with fewer clothes for everyone. Laundry and closet organizing work best with less.  How many items for each of you?  Start with just 7 sets of clothes that coordinate through a capsule wardrobe. It will save money and time!

 

Simple mornings

  • Family has been getting up later and later all summer. This transition is one of the biggest!  Getting up on time for school starts with everyone having an alarm clock.  Be sure these are set correctly the first few weeks of school, then practice getting up just a smidge earlier than you think.  Make morning simple by getting lunch and what you are wearing together the night before.
  • Place analog clocks in transition spots throughout your home. An analog clock helps you see time elapsing and helps you be on time.  Clocks are best in bathrooms, bedrooms, and by the exit and entry doors.
  • Use music to keep everyone energized and positive.  A morning playlist can be played at a low volume.

 

All transitions take time.  Celebrate the first day of school success!   Give yourself the opportunity to create a positive transition by scheduling less on the first weekends school is open. This extra time translates to more rest and more time like summer with less structure.  Keep spirits and energy high with family fun bike rides, ice cream sundae parties or family game night. Expect a few tears and set aside time to acknowledge the toughness of the first few weeks of school because of this transition.

 

More ideas on ADHD here in my newsletter.

How to Tackle Organizing your Photos

Organizing photos

 

When asked about what we must take with us in an emergency, we all say our photos!  Our photos are our most precious stuff.  We have them on our smart phones, cameras, social media online and in print.  It’s easy to over snap and not come back.  It can be overwhelming after a birthday party or family event to gather them together. Our photos are our way of capturing the magic of the moment.  Organizing your photos means you will truly enjoy them.

 

The best solution for organizing photos follows a routine that works well with your routine.  Allow time once a month or immediately after a family event to work with your photos. We jump back into life and don’t get the opportunity to reflect and enjoy our photos. It helps to set a time to work with these.  Summer can be a great time to reminisce, review and organize your photos.

 

Start with a plan.

How will you group your photos? With paper or digital photos, we can group chronologically, by events like holidays, birthdays or trips, or by family member.  Keep in mind your family will be growing, like adding grandkids and partners.   Write out your plan and then create folders online to capture the photos as you consolidate them. If you are working with paper photos, you can use photo boxes.  Make a plan and test it with sorting.  Remember, you can delete photos as you work to keep only the best photos.

 

Begin consolidating.

Get all your digital photos together in one place. For me that’s on my computer.  I email them to myself from my smart phone, download from Facebook, and move them from my camera with a cord.  There are many services that automate consolidating to get all your phots in one place such as GooglePhotos, Dropbox and AmazonPhotos.  Keeping all your photos in one place makes it easy to know what you have.

 

Always backup your photos.

There are lots of ways to do this.  I use Carbonite to back up all the time. Highest recommendations are for for GooglePhotos, Dropbox, Smugmug and Shutterfly.  Each allows a certain amount of space with additional space for a fee. Scanning is the way to back up your paper photos. There are options for you to scan yourself or services to delegate.

 

Taking the next step is the fun part.

Decide what photos you want to print, create a digital photo album, or create a gift.   I keep framed pictures of grand kids throughout my home. I know the frame sizes so each season I print out an updated photo.

  • If you are just starting a photo grouping in a hallway or on a desk top, choose the frames first, then purchase the pictures.
  • My daughter in law does a birthday book for each child. The book consists of 5- 8 printed pictures from each birthday, placed in sequence in a photo album. The kids love looking through these each year.
  • Other options include digital scrapbooks from Shutterfly and even Walgreens.com.
  • For Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or birthdays, gifts like mouse pad, calendar or mug are wonderful ways to share photos.
  • Remember to give yourself plenty of time to choose the photos you want to share.

 

Keep your most precious items safe with backing up and organizing digital and paper photos.

11 Summer Routines

 

summer organizing routines

 

 

It’s summer and we love the lack of routines. There are some days we can stay in pajamas all day and play unlimited. The change of seasons is best when you create new routines that suit the season itself. Summer routines makes the season more fun! Check out these 11 routines that make life better.

 

1. Set a bedtime.

Even in the summer it’s best when everyone gets a great night’s rest. When everyone is in bed, parents can shut off their lights early too.

 

2. Start or end the day with a bike ride or a walk.

Get moving this summer with time for exercise. The days are longer so you can take advantage of the cooler summer dusk to get outside.

 

3. Set tech limits.

It’s easier to set limits at the beginning than nag all summer. Your limits can include using a timer so when the bell rings, it’s time to get started on something else.

 

 

4. Eat 3 fruits and veggies each day.

Summer brings lots of great vegetables in season. Try something new like a mango or kiwi. Pick your own blueberries or strawberries.

 

 

5. Brain boost with flash card, a workbook, or tech games.

It takes up to 2 weeks to review when school begins.  Keep your kids brains fresh all summer. Join the fun by learning too!

 

 

6. Read every day. It can be a book, a blog, or a magazine.

Read together as a family so you all spend time together. Talk about what you read to share information of all types.

 

 

7. Set aside weekly down time.

Summer is our time to unwind. Intentionally plan time to do nothing. You will be surprised how refreshed you feel and less stressed too. Mark off those days on your calendar to be sure they stay open.

 

 

8. Establish ways your family can help around the house.

Helping prep and cook dinner, taking out the trash, and laundry are ways kids can be more involved during the summer. There’s fewer school responsibilities so add in a few for your home.

 

9. Declutter a little at a time.

Just 15 minutes to declutter drawers, under the sink, and other small spots around the house. Have your kids declutter their own rooms. It’s a time your kids can assess what’s most important to them and share their blessings with others. This is especially helpful if there are summer birthdays in your home.

 

10. Play games and do puzzles.

Hopscotch, Monopoly, Bingo, Old Maid and many other games are great family fun. Our kids don’t always know there are other games besides technology.

 

11. Practice gratitude together.

Gather together each day to share what you are grateful for. It can be through a conversation at dinner or a gratitude journal. Knowing that we are blessed by our family and friends helps us all be more positive.

 

BONUS!

Keep hydrated with plenty of water. Have a camelback water thermos for each kid and yourself. Keep it refilled all day long and carry it with you. We all need lots of hydration during the summer.

 

 

Your summer routines add a little structure to busy days. When everyone shares the routines in their home, life runs more smoothly. What routines can you start this week at your family meeting for summer?

 

What summer routines are in place at your home?

 

Join me on Facebook for more summer fun!

 

5 Ways to Make Mother’s Day Extra Special (and last beyond that one day)

Mother's Day. Extra Special Experiences

 

Mother’s Day is here and you may have already purchased your mom the best gift ever! Or you may have plans with her to make her breakfast in bed and bring her flowers.  Celebrating Mom should likely last more than a day.  There’s ways that you and your mom can create lasting memories together.  Here’s ways to show you care that make for special times together. The best part is that Mother’s Day lasts throughout the year with these ideas.

 

Create a Mother-Child Bucket list together

You and your mom can noodle about and decide on an activities list.  The list can include going on a road trip together, cooking a family recipe, or learning a new hobby.  Add dates to when you want to plan your activities to be sure you get these checked off.

 

Volunteer for a cause together

Your mom and you both have generous spirits and are passionate about making a difference. Choose a way to give back together that makes a difference locally or globally.  It can be one big volunteer experience or a routine activity.

 

Read the same book at the same time

Want to be in the best book club?  Join a book club together or create one of your own.  It’s twice as fun to read and review together.  You can also listen to the book on Audible.

 

Meet for lunch monthly

A gift of time can be the best gift.  Set a time each month to meet for lunch without any distractions or additional guests.  Alone time with Mom is precious.

 

Organize photos together

Mom has buckets, drawers and boxes of photos. She may be overwhelmed by them all. It’s more fun to organize together!  Gather up supplies for paper photos and grab your devices for digital photos. Guaranteed you will not only have fun, you will learn a lot about family memories!

 

Create a memory for Mom

There are many of us without a mom.  Even without Mom here, we can create a memory about her. For our family, that memory often includes eating a special food Mom loved or lighting a candle in her memory.   Choose a way to honor your family members who have passed. It’s a memory you create for all of your family.

 

More ways to celebrate Mom and share the love here!

19 Ways to be More Organized in 15 minutes

19  ways to be more organized  in 15 minutes or less

 

Busy schedules required small time increments to make a difference in your life.  We just don’t have a lot of time to get organized because of all we do each day.  Here’s some baby step, 15 minutes steps you can take to have a more organized home, work and life.

Start with yourself and getting your stuff together.

  1. Gather your favorite clothes and hang them at the front of your closet.
  2. Use ziploks or small zipper bags to gather like items together in your purse or man bag.
  3. Group your exercise clothes together and place one set in a gym bag in  your car.
  4. Use an online app to purchase your groceries. Set up a reminder to do this every Saturday morning for delivery later that afternoon.
  5. Purchase online a small alarm clock for your bedroom to get a great night’s rest.

 

Move on to your family and home.

6. Place a donation bag for easy access to drop items in as they are ready to go to Goodwill.

7. Every time you go into a drawer in your kitchen, assess what’s not used and add it to the donation bag.

8. Grab a pile of paper and recycle or shred for 15 minutes.

9. Head to your bookshelf and add books to your donation bag you have not read or will not read again.

10. Walk around your home and gather school and office supplies together to know what you have.

 

Add in tech organizing

11. Spend 15 minutes in your email folders organizing by category. Think big and think about the ways to group your email rather than by alphabetical single folders. Organize only what you need rather than every email.

12. Delete photos you don’t need from your phone. Move photos to a consolidated cloud based access tool.

13. In email detach documents and save these in your documents folder. Rename these with an easy, consistent naming process.

14. In 15 minute slots, delete what you don’t need from email. Rearrange by subject and sender to make it easier to decide what to delete.

 

Finish up with routines

15. Take 15 minutes each evening to “reset” and get life back together.

16. Take 15 minutes each evening to prep for tomorrow with your clothes, nutrition and stuff.

17. On Sunday evening, add a weekly 15 minutes to review your calendar for the next week ahead.

18. Write up a weekly meal plan for you and your family. Post it or capture it digitally to repeat in 3 weeks.

19. Spend 15 minutes sitting, relaxing, rejuvenating, reading a magazine or taking time to reflect on all you are grateful for each day.

 

Congrats! You have made organizing simple, fast and easy! You are more organized in 15 minutes. Now repeat again next week, and again the following week.

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!