Your car: a home away from home
A lot of parents spend A LOT of time in the car. Picking up children, dropping off children, trips to the grocery store, and commuting to work only scratch the surface. So, why not give the same care you give your home to your car? Here are a few tips to keep your home away from home in order and ready for whatever comes next.
Keep it sparse 
Start fresh by emptying everything out of your car. Reintroduce essentials. Then once a month or as needed, take five minutes and remove non-essentials from your car.
Wipes 
Ensure you have them. When messes happen, wipes must be plentiful. Even if you carry wipes in your diaper bag (if you still carry one) keep a container of wipes in the front seat or in the back seat pocket. When one of your children spills (or you spill) it’s important to be able to grab a wipe in seconds.
Supplies on hand 
Snacks, sippy cups, a few toys and books that stay in the car, a first aid kit, jumper cables, cell phone charger, paper/pen, umbrella, ziplock bags, flashlight, blanket, frisbee. This isn’t a complete list, but these are the things that I use most frequently in my car. Keep emergency gear together in a container in the trunk so it never gets misplaced.
Important papers only 
Important paperwork should live in a neat pile or a folder in your glove compartment. This includes your registration, proof of insurance, repair warranty info, owners manual, and if you’d like, the manual for your car seat. You’ll want easy access to all those papers in one place, especially if you get pulled over, a mysterious light on your dash starts to flash, or you get in an accident.
Snacking 
As a rule, try to limit snacking in car.  If it is necessary, consider snacks that aren’t too crumbly or sticky.  For example: water not juice. carrots not crackers.
If you are into car organizers, here are some options for the back seat, seat back, and trunk. Before you make a purchase, measure to be sure the organizer will fit the dimensions of your car. Organizers should only be used for their specific purpose. Be careful not to let them fill with junk! If you want to make your own organizing solutions, you can get creative with things you have around your home. I love this idea from Better Home and Garden to use a plastic cereal container for a car trash can.

Drive Safely!
This also appears on the SPARKBOX Toys blog!

Your car: a home away from home

A lot of parents spend A LOT of time in the car. Picking up children, dropping off children, trips to the grocery store, and commuting to work only scratch the surface. So, why not give the same care you give your home to your car? Here are a few tips to keep your home away from home in order and ready for whatever comes next.

Keep it sparse

Start fresh by emptying everything out of your car. Reintroduce essentials. Then once a month or as needed, take five minutes and remove non-essentials from your car.

Wipes 

Ensure you have them. When messes happen, wipes must be plentiful. Even if you carry wipes in your diaper bag (if you still carry one) keep a container of wipes in the front seat or in the back seat pocket. When one of your children spills (or you spill) it’s important to be able to grab a wipe in seconds.

Supplies on hand 

Snacks, sippy cups, a few toys and books that stay in the car, a first aid kit, jumper cables, cell phone charger, paper/pen, umbrella, ziplock bags, flashlight, blanket, frisbee. This isn’t a complete list, but these are the things that I use most frequently in my car. Keep emergency gear together in a container in the trunk so it never gets misplaced.

Important papers only 

Important paperwork should live in a neat pile or a folder in your glove compartment. This includes your registration, proof of insurance, repair warranty info, owners manual, and if you’d like, the manual for your car seat. You’ll want easy access to all those papers in one place, especially if you get pulled over, a mysterious light on your dash starts to flash, or you get in an accident.

Snacking 

As a rule, try to limit snacking in car.  If it is necessary, consider snacks that aren’t too crumbly or sticky.  For example: water not juice. carrots not crackers.

If you are into car organizers, here are some options for the back seat, seat back, and trunk. Before you make a purchase, measure to be sure the organizer will fit the dimensions of your car. Organizers should only be used for their specific purpose. Be careful not to let them fill with junk! If you want to make your own organizing solutions, you can get creative with things you have around your home. I love this idea from Better Home and Garden to use a plastic cereal container for a car trash can.

Drive Safely!

This also appears on the SPARKBOX Toys blog!

These are brilliant and a great way to keep your kitchen cabinets organized!
http://n.pr/1kP5cOf

These are brilliant and a great way to keep your kitchen cabinets organized!

http://n.pr/1kP5cOf

MANAGING YOUR CHILD’S MASTERPIECES
From the moment children learn to put crayon to paper, we start collecting their creations. It can be difficult (impossible) to decide what to keep and what to throw away. Over the years, paintings, pasta necklaces, dioramas, and pipe cleaner trees can take over your home! Here are a few ways to decide what to keep, how to keep it, and how to let go of the rest.
What to keepWhen your child comes home with a new piece, the first decision is to display it or store it. If you’re not going to display it, put it and others like it temporarily in a cardboard box in an accessible spot. Then every month or so, go through the items in the box, choosing a couple of favorites that you would like to keep. Be sure to label the work with your child’s name and age. Go ahead and review the items on display, too. There might be newer pieces you’d like to choose to replace them.
How to keep it
Store items you want to keep but don’t want to display in acid-free boxes. Place boxes in a temperate location to prevent exposure to insects or excessive moisture. This way they’ll last for ever! Another great way to keep a record of your child’s art without taking out a storage unit is to take photos and create a photobook. There are many websites that make this easy. Artkive is an app that is specifically for creating books of children’s’ artwork. Tell your child you are archiving their artwork in a book like they would at a museum! Framing extra special pieces will also make your child feel special. The DaVinci Frame is a visually clean way to display and store art without taking up too much space.How to get rid of the restAt the end of the school year, (or calendar year if your child is not in school yet) review all remaining art and make your final decisions. Be considerate of your child and discard any pieces you decide aren’t keepers in a bag and throw it out when your child is not around. You will have one unhappy child if they see one of their drawings in the trash.No matter what you decide to keep or discard, make sure you properly store and display the keepers.Alternatively, you could encourage your child to express themselves through song and dance so you don’t have to make these tough decisions. Instead, you’d probably have tons (more) of video, which we’ll save for another day. :)
This also appears on the SPARKBOX Toys blog!

MANAGING YOUR CHILD’S MASTERPIECES

From the moment children learn to put crayon to paper, we start collecting their creations. It can be difficult (impossible) to decide what to keep and what to throw away. Over the years, paintings, pasta necklaces, dioramas, and pipe cleaner trees can take over your home! Here are a few ways to decide what to keep, how to keep it, and how to let go of the rest.

What to keep
When your child comes home with a new piece, the first decision is to display it or store it. If you’re not going to display it, put it and others like it temporarily in a cardboard box in an accessible spot. Then every month or so, go through the items in the box, choosing a couple of favorites that you would like to keep. Be sure to label the work with your child’s name and age. Go ahead and review the items on display, too. There might be newer pieces you’d like to choose to replace them.

How to keep it
Store items you want to keep but don’t want to display in acid-free boxes. Place boxes in a temperate location to prevent exposure to insects or excessive moisture. This way they’ll last for ever! Another great way to keep a record of your child’s art without taking out a storage unit is to take photos and create a photobook. There are many websites that make this easy. Artkive is an app that is specifically for creating books of children’s’ artwork. Tell your child you are archiving their artwork in a book like they would at a museum! Framing extra special pieces will also make your child feel special. The DaVinci Frame is a visually clean way to display and store art without taking up too much space.

How to get rid of the rest
At the end of the school year, (or calendar year if your child is not in school yet) review all remaining art and make your final decisions. Be considerate of your child and discard any pieces you decide aren’t keepers in a bag and throw it out when your child is not around. You will have one unhappy child if they see one of their drawings in the trash.

No matter what you decide to keep or discard, make sure you properly store and display the keepers.

Alternatively, you could encourage your child to express themselves through song and dance so you don’t have to make these tough decisions. Instead, you’d probably have tons (more) of video, which we’ll save for another day. :)

This also appears on the SPARKBOX Toys blog!

Make Your Home Work

There’s never enough time. There are more tasks and activities to experience in a day than there are hours. Maybe keeping organized was difficult when it was just you, but now you have a few other people’s schedules to manage, too. You have a work meeting, your spouse told you that he signed up for a class, and you promised your son to pick him up a new book for bedtime. Sound familiar? Sometimes it can be difficult to keep everyone’s schedules, comings, goings, etc. straight and keep everyone happy.

I’m the last person who wants to bring work home, it’s family. But the reality is that things don’t get done on their own. There’s nothing wrong with applying the same productivity principles you would use at work at home. Here are a few tools and practices borrowed from the workplace that don’t require much time, energy, or money, but will help you keep things from falling through the cracks.

A big family calendar - Depending on your preference, a google calendar or a big paper calendar (or even a chalkboard!) hanging in the kitchen or a frequented hallway can bring a lot of clarity with little pain. Advanced tip: Use a black marker for events that pertain to the whole family and a different color for each family member. You can also use the color system online.

Schedule time on your calendar to get things done. Add family tasks to your calendar like you would a dentist appointment. For example, I needed to book some flights but I had to discuss a few things about them with my husband first. We kept putting it off because other things came up. So, I made a 15 minute appointment on our big family calendar (ours is digital) and it gave us a specific time for the task. Now it’s done!

Family to do list - To do lists can be productivity’s best friend or a stress-inducing reminder of how much you are not getting done. But without a written and up-to-date to do list, your brain has to spend some of its energy just remembering the myriad of tasks to do, taking up precious brainpower that can be spent on actually getting things done. Again, decide if it makes more sense to keep a digital or paper list. If your kids are old enough to contribute, encourage them to add tasks to the list, too. i.e. fix little Max’s broken firetruck toy.

Running your home like a business is good practice, but it has its limits. If you find yourself filling out timesheets you may have gone too far!

This also appears on the SPARKBOX Toys blog!

My first blog post for the fantastic SPARKBOXToys is live…
Before I had a child, I couldn’t understand how otherwise-put-together people accumulated so much stuff at home. It wasn’t long after my son showed up that my minimal and impeccably neat aesthetic became harder and harder to maintain. Toys started to take over one, then two, then three rooms! I certainly purchased some items, but anything that I paid for had to meet a strict set of criteria about usefulness, value, and design. However other things found their way in too, and a lot of them at that. An ever growing collection of toys can make it challenging to keep an organized home. The following are some ways to take back your living room and manage all those wonderful toys.
Encourage gifts to experience and consume. Encourage relatives and friends to give gifts such as tickets to a children’s play, a museum visit, music or dance classes, etc. Always have a few suggestions ready for when someone asks what to get your child. Increasingly, I’ve seen birthday party invites with the words no gifts please, which I think is a more extreme, yet still great idea.
Put it away every day. At the very minimum, straighten up your child’s play space at the end of each play session or the end of the day. Build toy clean up time into your daily routine. Spending five minutes a few times a day can make all the difference. Get your children involved, it will teach them to be organized. If they are old enough to clean up themselves, teach them to do it every time they play. If you come across toys that are broken or missing pieces, toss them. You can’t donate toys unless they are in good condition.
Let your kids do the donating. Is your child turning three? Have them pick three toys to donate before they receive a bunch of new birthday gifts. Holidays coming up? Have them choose some toys to donate, so less fortunate families can enjoy the holidays too.
Any steps you can take to keep toys at bay will help keep your home more organized and maintain some resemblance to a home where adults live. These three are a great place to start!
How have you avoided the toy takeover?

My first blog post for the fantastic SPARKBOXToys is live…

Before I had a child, I couldn’t understand how otherwise-put-together people accumulated so much stuff at home. It wasn’t long after my son showed up that my minimal and impeccably neat aesthetic became harder and harder to maintain. Toys started to take over one, then two, then three rooms! I certainly purchased some items, but anything that I paid for had to meet a strict set of criteria about usefulness, value, and design. However other things found their way in too, and a lot of them at that. An ever growing collection of toys can make it challenging to keep an organized home. The following are some ways to take back your living room and manage all those wonderful toys.

Encourage gifts to experience and consume. Encourage relatives and friends to give gifts such as tickets to a children’s play, a museum visit, music or dance classes, etc. Always have a few suggestions ready for when someone asks what to get your child. Increasingly, I’ve seen birthday party invites with the words no gifts please, which I think is a more extreme, yet still great idea.

Put it away every day. At the very minimum, straighten up your child’s play space at the end of each play session or the end of the day. Build toy clean up time into your daily routine. Spending five minutes a few times a day can make all the difference. Get your children involved, it will teach them to be organized. If they are old enough to clean up themselves, teach them to do it every time they play. If you come across toys that are broken or missing pieces, toss them. You can’t donate toys unless they are in good condition.

Let your kids do the donating. Is your child turning three? Have them pick three toys to donate before they receive a bunch of new birthday gifts. Holidays coming up? Have them choose some toys to donate, so less fortunate families can enjoy the holidays too.

Any steps you can take to keep toys at bay will help keep your home more organized and maintain some resemblance to a home where adults live. These three are a great place to start!

How have you avoided the toy takeover?