Organizing for School Lunches

September 4, 2015 15:43 by elizabeth

School starts next week in our town and I’ve already been hearing many mom friends lament that it will soon be time for the arduous task of making school lunches. For many this seems to be quite a chore, so here are 9 ways to streamline school lunch-making:

  • Make lunches the night before. This simple change can have a big impact on your family by alleviating some of the morning rush.
  • Or prep for lunches on Sunday. I have a friend who set out baggies or containers on her counter and filled them up assembly-line style for snacks and parts of her boys lunches. Having these containers ready to go helped with the daily lunch making during the rest of the week. Sometimes I do this: if I’m washing berries for lunch I often fill 2 containers, one for today and one for the next day.
  • Get your kids involved with making their own lunch, they may surprise you!  When my daughter was in third grade she asked to start making her own lunch. We set some guidelines (1-2 fruits, 1 veggie, no more than 2 snack-type foods) and away she went. Now I often supervise her lunch-making in the morning and help cut up fruit and veggies, but my girl really owns this process. Not only does my daughter (now in Middle School) know where the fruits and veggies are in the fridge, she’s learned great knife and food prep skills.
  • Use lunchboxes and containers that your kids like! We all use containers more often if we like the way they look. Have your kids pick out their lunch box or containers. We just found this container from Sistema at Target and my daughter loves it. Many parents also love bento-box style containers. Just be sure the container is easy to open and not too complicated.
  • Have your fridge and pantry set up for easy lunch making. Here’s one IMG_5411idea for using clear bins in your fridge. I have a “snack” bin in our pantry; my daughter knows that she can select 1-2 items from the bin for her lunch.  Also have your containers and wraps easily accessible in your kitchen. Here’s my organized food container drawer, which makes it easy to find what we need.
  • Devise an easy “recipe” for school lunches. As I mentioned, we came up with a formula of 2 fruits, 1 veggie, 1-2 snack items + sandwich and a drink. Find a formula that works for your family. You may end up packing nearly the same thing every day and if your child likes it, great!
  • Empty lunchboxes when kids get home from school each afternoon. There is nothing worse than opening a lunchbox or container and finding the smelly remnants of a previous meal. If lunch boxes get emptied and cleaned every day (have your kids do this!) they will be ready for filling that evening or the next day.
  • Have your kids buy lunch at school. This plan saves many families, even if the kids buy lunch only 1-2 days a week. At my house I print out the monthly lunch calendar and my daughter looks ahead and circles the days she wants to buy lunch.
  • Finally, don’t forget to get input from your kids on what they want for lunch. Sometimes my daughter has asked for surprising lunch items based on what she’s seen friends eat at school.

What are your clever solutions for school lunches?

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Laundry List: How to Un-stick Your Laundry Process

June 24, 2015 14:50 by elizabeth

LaundrySignsConfession: I don’t mind doing the laundry. I use it as a “background” task while I’m doing other things around the house. I also enjoy folding and putting it away.

Most people don’t feel this way, and that often the laundry gets stuck at various points in the process. Here are some tips to keep it moving along:

Problem: Hate going into your laundry room? Solution: Clean it out, maybe even give it a fresh coat of paint. Read more in my laundry room essentials post.

Problem: A mountain of clean laundry that never gets put away. Solution: Is the problem where the laundry goes…are dressers and closets over stuffed? Clean them out and make room. Donate or give away those pieces you never, ever wear. Also, be sure you have dressers that open easily—especially critical for kids if you have any hope of them putting their clothes away.

Problem: Sorting laundry takes forever and never seems to end. Solution: Do laundry for each person on a different day. Many families find this works really well. If you are washing and drying one person’s laundry you also avoid the sorting step!  One mom I know uses mesh laundry bags and throws the whole bag into the washer. She uses a shout stain catcher so colors don’t mix.  Another idea: get others in your family to do their own laundry.

Problem: Socks without a mate. And the huge pile of socks to be matched.  Solution #1: Each person gets a zipper mesh bag just for socks. Put dirty socks in the bag, then put the whole bag into the washer. Solution #2: Buy all the same kind/color of sock. Trust me, this works. Solution #3: Try Sock-Locks to keep your socks together before they get washed.

If you can’t face your laundry room or want some new ideas on the process, contact me today. Email elizabeth@thatsneatorganizing.com.

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Spring Checklist

April 13, 2015 15:04 by elizabeth

Today was a huge milestone: I took the ice scraper and other winter gear out of my car! After last winter the warmer spring weather is a very welcome change.

As the weather has improved I keep thinking of more to do’s: take ice scraper out of car, put out patio chairs, sweep porch, spring clean up in the yard, wash the windows. I must have spring fever. I started to write the ideas down on different post it notes around the house, but the notes were multiplying quickly. I then realized I should do what I’d tell my clients: make a checklist.

IMG_4637I created a document with all the Spring/Summer House To Do’s and will turn it into a Google doc to share with my husband (he needs to know what’s on the list, right?). Having a checklist means I don’t have to keep thinking about what to do. When I have time to work on the projects I can consult my handy list.

Do you have checklists for your home? I like creating my own, but if you want pre-made checklists, here are a few to try:

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Quick Ways to Organize Memories

March 31, 2015 13:32 by elizabeth

Have you started a baby book for your child, but never finished it? Or wanted to write a daily diary or journal, but only kept it up for a month?

Last week I gave an organizing talk to a Parents of Multiples group: all the moms in the room had twins, and many had additional kids. We started discussing how to preserve memories and several moms talked about how they had piles of notes and photos for baby books that were never done (and probably never would be done).

This lead to several moms sharing how they keep track of memories. Here are some great ideas:

  • One mom uses the Memento app, which gives her a spot on her phone to jot down quick thoughts. You can also connect the app to your social media accounts to add in more photos, videos and notes.
  • My husband and I keep a shared Google doc of “Funny things” our daughter says. We both have added to the document over the years, and love to go back and read it. (We started this when our daughter was little, before the era of apps!) download
  • Another mom said that instead of creating a baby book, she notes milestones and fun things on her wall calendar. She keeps the calendars and can quickly scan through to see the memories.
  • As an alternative to a traditional journal, try a one-sentence journal. It’s much less daunting to write one sentence a day than a whole entry.

What creative high or low tech ideas do you have to preserve memories?

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2 Favorite Travel Tools

March 2, 2015 11:18 by elizabeth

A friend recently gave me the gift of two of my favorite travel tools: a zippered bag and a list.

PackingListBagShe found this blue zippered pouch by Walker, and knew I would love it. It’s great because it has color, so it stands out in my black purse or black suitcase. It’s mesh so you can see what’s inside, and it is sturdy. I used it on a trip to Florida to hold running gear: my headphones, headband, and my armband cell phone holder.

 

She also gave me a fun book of packing lists. This thorough list covers everything you might need on a trip, from chewing gum to your tuxedo. It includes helpful reminders for key electronic items such as cell phone, headphones, and chargers.

What’s your favorite tool for an organized trip?

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