Sunday, January 13, 2019

Tidying Up for Busy Parents

I am not much of a TV viewer.  In a given week, I may only spend an hour or two watching TV, usually a single movie or a few episodes of something on Netflix.  But overall, I'm not one to sit in front of the TV for long periods of time, mostly because I just can't sit still or I start thinking of all the other things I could be doing.

I've been hearing a lot about the show on Netflix, Tidying Up, with Marie Kondo.  A few years ago, I actually started reading the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  I didn't finish it because, while it sounds completely cathartic to get things in order and tidy, it just didn't apply to my home and lifestyle.  Not that my house is in complete disarray and disgusting, but that we actually already have purging and tidying routines in place at our house.

So this weekend our area got hit with a huge snowstorm and we got something like 12 inches of snow in a 24 hour period.  After doing all our normal weekend errands (in 12 inches of snow) and chores, I had a few free minutes.  I decided to check out the Tidying Up show.  I watched just the first episode and it was ok.  I learned a few new ideas that Marie Kondo suggests, like how modeling tidying behaviors in front of the children and having them take part in the tidying can get them into a good habit.  I also learned how to fold and organize items in upright position so that you can see your things in, what I called it, a catalog fashion.

Many of the steps, we already follow, loosely, but we try.  So I was thinking about how parents with  children can carve out time and energy to tidy and organize WITH the children.  Here's what I came up with:

Purge the Clothes
This the first step in Marie's process.  She suggests clearing out an area: closet, dresser, etc. so that all the items are out and in a big pile.  Then start sorting out what, as she calls it, sparks joy in you.  Those items you keep.  Those items that don't, you get rid of.  Seems pretty easy, right?  But what if you are trying to wrestle small children while purging a closet?

Here's MY suggestion: once every 6 months, go through the closet and dresser items.  Pile up what doesn't fit, isn't seasonably appropriate, or no longer brings joy.  Everything else can stay.

When my kids were little, we cleaned out clothes every 3-4 months or with the changing of seasons.  I would sometimes purge clothes as I did their laundry.  Those pants looked a little tight when my daughter wore them the other day? That shirt looked a little short?  Those pants starting to look a little more like capris? Toss them in the "donate box." Oh, that leads me to another good point.

Donate Box
We always have a donate box going in our house.  Sometimes we keep it in the bottom of the coat closet, sometimes by the front door, sometimes it's smack in the middle of the hallway.

My kids have gotten used to just adding items to the donate box as they come across clothes that are still in good condition but no longer fit.  We have been doing this for so long that it is just second nature to them.  Once every couple months, we take our items to a local shelter or organization. I recently found a local shelter that not only accepts gently used clothes, but also unused toiletries, household items, towels, blankets, etc.  It's like a great big one-stop drop off for our purging!

Linen Closet/Bathroom
I usually clear out the linen closet and bathroom closet about once a year.  I just did this over Christmas break.  I did the bathroom closet in about 30 minutes.  I went through all the towels, washcloths, hand towels, etc. and sorted out all the ones that needed replaced.  I cleared out and organized all the toiletries and added some unused items to the donate box.

Likewise, I usually clear out the linen closet once a year and purge out all the sheets that need replaced, match all the bedding together, and sort out all the blankets and such that we no longer use.  Those items usually go in the donate box, unless they are torn or too worn to donate.  In that case, they go in the trash.

I admit that the pantry is the one that gets the least amount of attention.  I, admittedly, only clear out the pantry items about once a year.  Sure, I shuffle things around and rotate food items on a weekly basis.  But going through each individual item on a regular basis? No, I'm guilty of letting that one go.

I did do this one over Christmas break too.  I took me about 15 minutes.  I threw out a handful of outdated items and found a few things that I forgot we three partially used bags of white rice in ziploc bags.  They were still good though, but I had forgotten that we already had opened ones in the pantry.  So it was good to sort it all out, toss, and organize.

Change the Way You Do Laundry

This was the biggest thing that really changed how we keep things from cluttering up the bedrooms.  Here's what we have found to be helpful in tackling the laundry situation.

Everyone in our house has their own hamper.  The kids each have their own in their room.  Dalai Dad and I have a 4 bin laundry sorter in our room. One for whites, one for delicates/dress cloths, and two for misc. colored clothes.

Everyone in my house does their own laundry.  I know you are probably gasping and clutching your necklace, ladies, but yes, my children do their own laundry.  And they have been since they were about 8 years old. Here's how I did it...

When they were about 4-5 years old I started it.  I convinced them that folding warm washcloths and hand towels was WAY fun.  So they learned by starting out folding small items. They also learned how to put the kitchen towels and cloths away properly.

When they were 5-6 years old, I taught them how to put away their own laundry.  I would wash, dry, fold and hang up their things and then I would call them to put it all away.  They quickly learned that if they crumpled up folded things in the drawer, they would be the ones to re-fold them.  (I had high expectations but it worked.)

When they were about 6-7 years old, I taught them to fold and hang up their own clothes.  So I would wash and dry their clothes, in a separate load so it was only their things, and they would fold, hang up and put their own clothes away.

At 7 years old, I taught them how to transfer their clothes from the washing machine to the dryer.  Then they were in charge of taking things out, folding and hanging, and putting away their things.

By 8 years old, I taught them all about the settings on the washer, the soap, and the do's and don'ts of washing and drying.  And they started doing the whole process by themselves.  We started out with guided support but within a few weeks they could do it themselves.

So there you have it.  We all do laundry on the weekends.  They have figured out how to coordinate the usage of the washer and dryer between the two of them.  Dalai Dad and I do all of our laundry on the weekends too.  Having everyone in charge of their own laundry is the biggest time saver in our house.

Overall, I think the one thing that I take away from Tidying Up and Marie Kondo's way of tidying is getting everyone involved.  The work load doesn't have to just fall on mom's shoulders.  Having everyone in the house tackling an area and minding their own things really makes that task less daunting.

Additionally, you don't have to make it a huge undertaking.  You can make a list of the areas that need attention and just start by doing one area.  Get that spot looking good and next week pick another spot.  You don't have to do it all in one day and no one expects you to!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Expect the Unexpected

Over the last few months I have been trying my hardest to get back into the groove of writing, blogging, and just thinking more creatively.  Sometimes, I sit in front of the computer screen and just stare at it mulling over all the things that I want to write. What I want to say.  What I need to say.

The past two days I spent some time just going back and rereading a lot of my own work.  Sometimes I laughed at my own jokes, got teary-eyed over my own words and felt embarrassed at my failed attempts at a piece.  As I looked back I noticed that my writing has so many facets.  Sometimes I write things that are weighing on my mind, like serious stuff.  Other times I write about observations and overheard conversations I have encountered.  I've even been known to write a few procedural step-by-step guides.  As you can see, Dalai Mama is a real hodgepodge of things and if you're new here I have to warn you to expect the unexpected.

I've been writing since I was in junior high when I wrote a lot of poetry and won my first writing contest.  Imagine the excitement of a 13 year-old who wrote something that was actually acknowledged and displayed for public viewing and listening.  From that moment I learned that things that I have to say matter.  The things that I write matter.  I started this blog in 2010 when my future career was unknown.  My small business had just folded, I had a baby, and went back to school to finish my Bachelors degree all in one year.  When I graduated I wasn't sure if I would get a job right away, so I started writing.

Looking back at my older posts I can see my writing evolve.  I went through stages when I just wrote about what was going on in my life.  Then I progressed into funny posts.  Then I shifted into retrospective pieces with more emotion and real feelings. I gained the courage to submit some of my work for publication and had my first experiences with rejection, being published and public critique.

I did notice though that about 5 years ago my writing slowed down.  It was about that time that I started graduate school.  I worked on writing, but in other ways, during that time.  Scholarly work.  Lots of reading and writing and talking about the learning process, educational systems and becoming a mentor teacher.  After I finished grad school, I decided to try my talents at writing a novel.  I have been working on the same novel for a little over two years now.  It has proven to be a much more tedious task than I initially expected.

While I will continue working on the novel, I am going to make a valid effort to get back into my writing groove.  I renewed my domain address for for two years and I also purchased my pen name URL for two years, in hopes that someday when I finish my book I will have my website reserved. I put my writing notebook back in my purse.  I have found that carrying writing tools with me on the daily basis helps me generate ideas, notating thoughts and keeping track of possible blog posts.  I have reengaged my social media sites: Facebook and Twitter.  Be patient while I figure out Instagram. Here's to getting back on track in 2019, creating more, and thinking more creatively!

Please know that I appreciate the continued support from my friends, family and followers more than you would ever know! Cheers Dalai friends!  Write on!

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