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Holiday Décor (Oh Joy!)

Holiday Décor (Oh Joy!)

Few things bring domestic chaos to the surface, like the holiday season: the gatherings, the cooking, the decorations – Holiday Décor (Oh Joy!). The cold weather makes us stay closer inside, and our environment’s stability is tested like at no other time of the year during the holidays.

Some live in a mess, yet they get preoccupied with seasonal décor, gift-giving, entertaining, and baking. But I wonder if that is a defense mechanism to avoid seeing the elephant in the room. What sense does it make to decorate a house in total disarray?

What Home Should Feel Like

Some might seem oblivious to the underlying disorganization of their environment. However, whether we notice it or not, a chaotic environment affects us all. Clutter drains our energy.

But if only we could experience a different way, what would happen? How many possibilities would open up? How much more efficient could we become? How much more relaxed and joyful?

Rather than being a roadblock in life, your home environment should be your support and bring you joy. That joy starts with having an organized and optimized space.

Then, the whole family can have a wonderful time decorating, sharing, cooking, and eating together instead of fighting about the dusty boxes, the decorations they can’t find, or just being in a bad mood because the house is a mess.

What Makes The Difference

Having an “exit strategy” is equally important. How you close your holiday season will directly impact next year’s celebrations. 

If holiday decorations are a mess, this is a good starting point. Decide to mindfully and purposefully store your seasonal décor to preserve it and keep it accessible for the following year. 

Commit to putting your home environment in order. You will feel the difference!

Stop fighting your environment. Make it work for you instead. 

Want a joyful holiday season? Get your domain in order first. 

If you feel overwhelmed by the task, you don’t have to do this alone. Contact My Space Reclaimed! Let’s set a time to chat and see how we can walk that road together. 

Designing The Perfect Kids’ Playroom

Designing The Perfect Kids’ Playroom

Note: This is a guest post by Kevin Connors of Inspired Organizers in Phoenix, Arizona

Creating the Perfect Kids’ Playroom

When envisioning well-organized spaces in your home, the kids’ playroom may not be the first that comes to mind. However, creating that ideal place  for your children can foster their creativity, exploration, and joy.  It also makes it easier for parents to maintain order and encourage imaginative play.

In this guide, we’ll explore the best practices for organizing a kids’ playroom. Striking the perfect balance between fun and functionality creates a space that nurtures learning and enjoyment.

First, Declutter and Organize

The initial step in organizing a kids’ playroom is decluttering the space. Begin by sorting toys, games, and other items into specific categories, such as puzzles, building blocks, stuffed animals, art supplies, and board games. Discard broken or unused items. Consider donating toys your children have outgrown to make room for new experiences.

Investing in proper storage solutions is crucial for maintaining a tidy playroom. Combine open shelving, closed cabinets, bins, and baskets to store toys and belongings effectively. Open shelving allows easy access to frequently used toys, while closed cabinets can safely store items that might be hazardous to younger children. Clear bins and labeled baskets help children identify where to return toys after playtime. This encourages them to participate in the cleanup process.

Activity Zones Ideas

Organize the playroom into different activity zones to stimulate specific types of play and learning. Here are some ideas:

  • Reading Nook: Designate a cozy corner with a bookshelf or bookcase, soft cushions, and good lighting to create a welcoming reading space.
  • Art and Craft Area: Set up a table with art supplies, drawing paper, coloring books, and washable markers to ensure ample space for creative exploration.
  • Building and Construction Zone: Utilize open shelves or storage units for items like LEGO, building blocks, and magnetic tiles. This inspires engineering and imaginative play.
  • Pretend Play Corner: Arrange a play kitchen, dolls, action figures, dress-up costumes, and accessories for imaginative play.
  • Transform the playroom into an excellent environment for learning. Introduce educational elements like a whiteboard for drawing and practicing writing skills. Consider adding a map, alphabet chart, or numbers display to make learning fun and accessible.

Additional Considerations

Consider implementing a toy rotation system to keep things fresh and avoid toy fatigue. Store some toys away and rotate them periodically. This method reduces clutter and reignites children’s interest in toys they last saw a while ago.

Safety is paramount in a kids’ playroom. Anchor large furniture to the wall to prevent tipping, cover electrical outlets, and use cord holders to manage wires. Keep small items or toys with small parts away from younger children to avoid choking hazards.

Flexibility is vital as children’s interests evolve, and their playroom should grow their interests.

Kid's Playroom by Inspired Organizers Arizona

Designing an organized kids’ playroom is a fulfilling investment in your child’s development and happiness. You can build a space that encourages creativity, imagination, and joyful play by decluttering, employing smart storage solutions, creating purposeful activity zones, emphasizing safety, and incorporating learning elements.

With some planning and effort, you can create a magical haven where your child can explore, learn, and make unforgettable memories.

About the Author: Kevin Connors owns Inspired Organizers in Phoenix, AZ, and serves as the Director of Membership of the NAPO Arizona Chapter.

Organizing Kids’ Memories

Organizing Kids’ Memories

All those school projects, papers, and awards are everywhere, and you can’t find it in your heart to let them go.

Organizing kids’ memories lets you declutter your life and enjoy those mementos better. I will show you how.

First, gather all your children’s projects, artwork, school papers, trophies, awards, and the like. Go through every space, drawer, closet, and room in your home. Leave no space unchecked. Take all this kid-related stuff to a single place in your home to collect them together.

However, stay hyper-focused during this gathering process. Don’t get distracted by other things you might find. Your focus is crucial! Getting distracted is what trips people through this process, and then they get confused and can’t finish half the job.

You will have many miscellaneous items once this material is in one place. Now subdivide this big pile by child (if you have two or more children).

After having a separate pile for each of your children, sort each one by year.

When you can’t recall the year of this creation, assign some chronological order as best as you can.

You will have several groups of items per each of your children. Now follow the steps described below for each year per child. You must work on one group (year or stage) for one child at a time.

Horseshoe child's art creation

Photograph Non-Scannable Items

Take good pictures of everything other than paper, like artwork pieces, medals, trophies, etc. As you take each photo, include a post-it note with the child’s name and the item’s date.

Place this post note at the bottom of each article so you can crop it out of the picture later.

Then, when ready to work on a project with these pictures (like a photo book or scrapbook), crop the note out if you can tag or caption the image.

If taking pictures of these items suffice, you can let go of the physical object.

When dealing with trophies, medals, and awards that are necessary keeps, find a suitable location in the home where you can gather and display these items in a cohesive, aesthetic way. You want these things to look intentional within your home..

The Written Work 

Group items related to written work like stories, poems, analyses, and the like. The idea for these is to make binders or books later on. But, for now, organize the material to create these books later.

The “Warm & Fuzzy” Box

Regardless of your most ruthless efforts to eliminate clutter, there might be a few (a few) small items that you or your child can’t simply let go of, even when you have them in digital form as well. That’s where the “Warm & Fuzzy” box comes in.

Everyone should have a “warm & fuzzy” box, by the way. This is a nice-looking box, basket, or container with a lid that includes items we keep forever. Those items take us back in time, making us laugh and cry every time.

Therefore, it is crucial to be selective with what we include here. Not everything makes it to the coveted “warm & fuzzy” box material status. Remember that!Kid's art

Paper and Flat Media

Loose papers, awards, recognitions, messages, etc., on paper, are scannable media. As you do this, name the electronic file with the child’s name and the year they made it. This process is equivalent to the Post-it notes you applied to items photographed.
Scan everything using your printer/scanner, iPhone, or any equipment you might have or can purchase. This equipment is not that expensive anymore. However, having a reliable scanner at home would be an excellent investment.
Stories, poems, essays, and other items you put together to make binders or books (step 3) should be digitized, ensuring a safe record. If you do, ensure that pages of the same item remain together in sequential order.
You will manage the scanned material like you did with the pictures. So, think of each scanned paper or project as a digital image comparable to the photos.

Rinse and Repeat

Once you finish working with all the mementos of a child’s years, repeat the process with each of your other children, working a year or a stage at a time.

In my case, we have three children, and for each one, I divided their electronic files into four main stages: infancy, elementary school, middle school, and high school.

Note that pictures or souvenirs from extra-curricular activities and summers get included in one of these four stages, depending on the year.

Create Digital Files

Download all the photos you took of non-scannable items into an electronic file. You could name this file “Kids’ Projects” or something like that.

Then, create a file folder per child and move every picture related to a particular child into their electronic folder. After this, you may subdivide each child’s electronic folder into years, stages, or any way you want to do this.

Remember to add all images from your scanning process to your digital folders.

From Now On

When you gather all those projects, awards, and papers from around the home, consider it a clean slate and a new beginning. Pay attention to how you manage your children’s documents, projects, and awards. The key is to stay on top of things. Here’s how you do that.

Every day, when kids come home from school or extra-curricular activities

  • Note important dates and deadlines and place those dates on the family calendar.
  • Post any school reminders for your children on a magnetic or chalkboard where they can see them every morning. 
  • Discard those notes or papers. Those are the miscellaneous papers you tossed in Step 1 above.

The Artwork

When children bring home artwork pieces, trophies, medals, and other non-flat items:

  • Photograph these as soon as they get home (so they look their best and you don’t forget to do this). 
  • Save these pictures in the child’s electronic file. Name the file with the child’s name and year. 
  • Add subsequent art projects during that year to that same file.
  • Create a new file with the child’s name and year every year. 

You or your child might want to display such an item for a while. That’s great! Just ensure you place this item in that particular location you designated for this kind of thing. But, again, you don’t want their projects to look or feel like clutter.

In any case, taking those pictures early on gives you and your kids the freedom to let go of the item after displaying it for some time.

The Paper

Scan all paper items and flat media such as report cards, academic evaluations, school pictures, stories, essays, and poems as soon as they come home.

If you can’t process these items immediately, park these papers in a bin close to the scanner and assign a day of the week or the month in your calendar (yes, do it now!) to periodically scan them. Of course, discard originals as soon as you digitize them. But should you need to keep it, place it in a file with the child’s name in your filing cabinet.

Now You Tell The Story

It’s a lot of work, I know. But consider that all this work needs to be done just at the beginning of the project because you did not have a method to deal with all this stuff. So, once you follow the initial process, you only need to stay on top of it. 

But why do all of this in the first place? First, this solves the overwhelming number of papers and artifacts cluttering our home space. Second, this process allows you to have all that worth-keeping material organized and ready to create meaningful stories of each stage of your children’s lives. 

Telling a story is the real purpose of keeping all these projects, pictures, and awards. Having all those papers and items with no order all over the house does not tell any story nor inspire anyone to create one. This material is meaningless when scattered around or carelessly stored in a bin somewhere. 

On the other hand, memories in book form, like photo books, are easy to keep neatly on a shelf or library and are a joy to share. Our children will be able to see and enjoy their path through life and share this fantastic legacy with friends, family, and their children.

Also, imagine the storage space you will recover when you let go of physical items and original papers! However, you might think throwing all that away is what you do not want to do. But how often has anybody enjoyed those things since you put them away? Is there space in your home to display them all? Are they all worth exhibiting? Do you want your home to look like a kindergarten classroom? 

When your child created a project, you displayed it for about a week. But eventually, that project and so many others started cluttering your home and your life. So, this way of purposely and intentionally working with your children’s stuff will take you where you want to be.

Looking Beneath Your Need to Keep the Stuff

If you feel it is too hard to let go of those physical objects and original papers, even when they are safely digitized, what you are trying to keep is the feelings they evoke. It is not about the item itself.

Images of these items can still satisfy those feelings without drowning you in “stuff.” Instead, having these memories accessibly organized enables everyone to enjoy and share them for many years.

Professional Organizer Vs. Mari Kondo

Professional Organizer Vs. Mari Kondo

It has taken me an excessive amount of time to write this piece. I had allowed the cloud of dust to settle. In the meantime, I have been learning about the subject, filling in the information gaps where I deem appropriate. So here is what I’ve got on Professional Organizer Vs. Mari Kondo.

The way I see it, Mari Kondo helps you eliminate the clutter and teaches you how to fold your shirts and underwear in a particular way. Still, her method is not about professional organization. Some KonMari-certified consultants are Professional Organizers. But more than following the KonMari process is needed to call someone a Professional Organizer.

The Need That Each Serves

Please do not take me wrong. I’m not at war with Mari Kondo. On the contrary. She brings a lot of attention and value to our industry. But having said that, she serves a specific portion of the market. What she does is different from what a Professional Organizer does.

Choose the KonMari method or a Professional Organizer if you need to declutter your space. However, you need a professional organizer to find the root cause of disorganization and implement systems that maintain order. Unfortunately, Mari Kondo can’t help you there.

Let me present a couple of criteria to compare how the KonMari method differs from the Professional Organizer’s approach.

Scope and Focus

Organizers typically follow a method that involves evaluating, classifying, purging, allocating, containerizing, and labeling spaces. As part of this process, they emphasize improving the client’s productivity and the space’s efficiency. To achieve that, Organizers implement systems and processes. 

On the other hand, the KonMari method focuses on decluttering the home using the classification of items. Her process does not address the organizing details. Indeed, Mari Kondo does not focus on systems or methods to enhance the efficiency of the space or maintain the order achieved.

Ideal Clientele

Mari Kondo does not address the root cause of disorganization in a home or a person’s life. Therefore, it is logical to presume that her process does not work for people whose clutter problem is “not about the stuff.” Should these individuals follow the KonMari method, the chances are that shortly after, they will be back on square one. 

Organizers train in a wide variety of areas to help their clients best. Therefore, looking for an Organizer best suited to each person’s needs is essential. A good Professional Organizer seeks to find out the root cause of the problem, transfers skills, and designs systems to make their client’s life easier.

Aesthetic Value and Design

The KonMari method emphasizes reusing what the client has available to organize and containerize the client’s items after decluttering. The process expressly avoids the purchase of containers and systems. Not buying additional equipment or supplies could be advantageous when considering project costs. However, things have recently changed with the merger between Mari Kondo and The Container Store. 

Nevertheless, as humans, we are more inclined to maintain the organization of areas that look neat and that are pleasing to the eye. An organized place should be decluttered and functional but also aesthetically pleasing. An organizing design does not need expensive organizing products to look fantastic. However, it requires careful consideration of style and form. And random repurposed containers might not achieve great-looking results.

Room by Room Vs. Categories

One of the fundamental KonMari principles is organizing the whole house using a process based on categories, placing together all items from the same type to evaluate them simultaneously. Some see this method as more definite, fast, and conclusive than organizing room by room.

But Professional Organizers agree with the organizing by categories! One hundred percent! We all want to place similar items together before the client decides what to keep. The difference lies in what happens next with each category once the client has decided what to keep. 

Organizers Go Further

Organizers take it a step further, clarifying the purpose of each room to assign items to their logical place. But yes, we completely agree that it should be a whole-house approach. 

And the whole-house approach is inevitable anyway. People love to spread their things all over the home, regardless of item type or home space purpose. So, we must search the whole house to combine all items in the various categories.

Once And For All?

As they say, the KonMari process is a “once-and-for-all solution.” But organizing is a life skill. Habits must be learned and exercised throughout life to keep an organized space. 

The order does not magically happen “once and for all.” People change, fail, recover, let go, and come back. We are more complex than “once and for all.” Without addressing disorganization’s root causes and the human condition, how can anyone sustain the “once and for all” claim?

When clients work with a Professional Organizer who shows them how much easier life can be by using the “logical place for things” and the “one home per category of items” approach, they usually adopt new habits.

In Conclusion

We are not opposed to the KonMari method – it works in specific situations and for a particular type of client. However, people should understand the fundamental differences between the KonMari way and what Professional Organizers do. 

It is time that people needing organization services stop thinking they don’t need a Professional Organizer because they read the KonMari book. Those requiring a Professional Organizer will see no progress with the KonMari method. On the other hand, people who do not grapple with disorganization or any underlying clutter situation will be happy, experiencing joy with what they keep and gratefully saying goodbye to their discards.