Tag Archives: kids

Two Sisters Get Organized, Decluttered and Moved into Seperate Bedrooms



I recently had the pleasure of helping two girls move into separate rooms.

These 2nd and 4th grade girls had spent their entire lives sharing the same room and now that they are older (and all grown up, they say!) the oldest gets to move into her own separate bedroom.


There were three stages to this project:

1. Sort through clothes

2. Sort through books

3. Sort through toys and papers


STAGE ONE – Clothes Sort

The first step taken to separate the clothes was to figure out:

#1 Whose clothes were whose

#2 See if they still fit the owner

So to start, each girl went through the closet and decided either to keep, toss, donate or handed it off to the other sister so she could proceed with the same process.

After we sorted clothes, we moved the 4th graders clothes down into her new room so I could determine what type of organizing supplies were needed to set up a system within her closet.



Following the same process, we continued into both steps of determining who owned what and eliminating the unloved or unused books from their gigantic collection.

By the time we made it to stage two, the girls were feeling a bit ancy so we decided to up the fun factor and have a book auction!


This is how it went:

I held up a book and each girl could vote for it if she wanted it.

The first hand up – got the book.

If no one raised their hand it went off to charity for some other young child to receive who normally could not afford  new book.

If there was a tie, the girls had to barter among themselves for what was fair and if they could possibly trade out later.

The funniest thing happened during this process! I was holding up what appeared to me to be a great reference book on animals. When neither of the girls raised their hand, I asked will you possibly need this for future class projects? The second grader looks at me in disbelief and says ” there is such a thing as the internets you know!”  I think I will always remember that day!

Kids are truly tuned in, tapped on and hooked automatically into the internet! Isn’t it great? Thinking about it now, I think it is such an advantage for any school report – most of the information in the world is literally at our fingertips x 100,000 or more!

After these two steps, we called it a day and set up our next appointment so we could tackle toys and finish setting up systems within each room.


STAGE THREE – Toys, toys and more toys!

On the first day we did a rough sort of toys and placed each sister’s toys put into boxes and then moved them into each closet so we could sort later.

Now it was time to sort, eliminate and organize all of the other toys throughout the house.

Dad did an amazing job gathering all random toys and setting us up to sort them in the den.

IMG_2203 IMG_2205 To keep it fair and make it more fun, the girls wanted to do another auction – this time with Barbies and all of her accessories. Dad suggested that we use a giant bin for donations and he was definitely correct! with all of the small pieces, shoes, clothes and Barbies, we filled up a giant bin for donations. The girls did a great job!

After sorting, we jumped into containerizing and decide if the toys should live in the bedroom closet or the newly designed toy closet.

IMG_2216 Oila!


In between appointments, he also purchased and installed two new shelves and a rolling cart for mom’s work out equipment so it would fit within the toy closet.



The rolling cart is such a smart idea! When mom wants to work out, she simply rolls it out of the toy closet and all her weights and belts are right there and ready to use!


All in all, this project turned out great and the girls were so much fun to work with, even when they got bored and restless!  They are great sisters who truly love and respect each other.

As an author and lover of books, I am also relieved to see that even with the ‘internets’ they are avid readers of “real” books with covers and actual paper pages inside!




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Garage Playroom Before & After

Garage Before Garage Before

Before: Can you believe 2 little boys can make this much of a mess? Of course you can. These boys had too many toys and they were taking over the garage.


Garage After

After: We needed to create zones to keep the toys and other garage essentials contained. Our zones were: music, bikes and vehicles, working out, lego/trains, and outside toys/sports equipment.

Garage After

We laid down foam squares to mark the lego/train zone and keep it contained. We created 2 bins with each boys’ name for the toys that they don’t share so they are each responsible for their own toys.

We lined up all of the bicycles and vehicles in the front so they can be easily taken outside. We put all of the workout equipment together.

Garage After

In the corner, we set up the drum set and other music equipment from both the garage and other areas of the house. Now all of the music making happens in the garage, and not in the house.

We also corralled all of the balls, bats, etc into a floating basket on wheels which could be wheeled outside to the basketball hoop or yard for sports.

Garage After

Toys are now contained in bins. Nerf guns and their ammo are housed together in a cabinet. The many small parts that we came across were separated out, and we asked the boys what they went to and which were worth keeping.

Anything that did not fit into the zones was put away in another part of the house. Once the rest of the house is organized, there shouldn’t be any temptation to stash things in the garage that don’t belong.

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A Messy Pantry Gets Organized

Pantry Before

Before:  A mother asked for our help when she became fed up with her disorganized pantry. Her 3 kids would make a mess every time they went in there, so we needed to develop a system that everyone would understand and follow.


Pantry After

After:  We created zones and made better use of the can stacking device and lazy susan that were underutilized in the space. The can stacking device, which was pushed in the back of the pantry is now front and center. The lazy susan is in the back corner housing sauces and other liquids, and a quick spin keeps anything from getting lost in the corner.

Pantry After

We also moved all of the kids’ favorite foods to 2 shelves that they can easily reach. The kids’ section is in the back of the pantry rather than right by the door so that if they do make a mess, the rest of the pantry is still accessible. We containerized the kids’ snacks, bread, and sandwich ingredients in clear plastic double shoeboxes. We also put cereal into tall, clear plastic containers. This eliminated stale, unsealed cereal bags and empty boxes from going back on the shelf.

Pantry After

The shelves near the entry of the pantry are now used for Dad’s supplements and bars as well as canned and dry goods that the kids don’t use.

We also made a zone for baking items like sprinkles, food coloring, etc and those are now in a lidded container behind the more often used items, to be pulled out when needed.

Pantry After

We containerized medicines, separated by type so they can easily be found when needed. We also made room for sodas which use to live outside the pantry.  We made sure to keep them in a plastic container as they had leaked in the past.

Finally, we labeled all containers so there is no question as to where things belong. This is a very important step when you need everyone in the family to work together to keep an area organized!

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Want to teach your kids how to save money?

Want to teach your kids how to save money?

Tap into their video game passion and make their playtime pay off. Point them to the Great Piggy Bank Adventure.com. This is a free online game created by Walt Disney Imagineering and T Rowe Price to get families talking about money and to help kids learn budgeting skills.

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Expediting Your Morning Routine When You Have Children

Expediting Your Morning Routine When You Have Children

One of the most difficult aspects of raising children that parents often struggle with is the morning routine of getting kids up and ready for the day. If you have kids that are of school-age then you are aware of how hectic and maddening the morning routine can be. Things become even more stressful when you work outside the home and must get ready yourself and make it to work on time as well.

However, there are a number of ways to simplify your morning routine to reduce stress and preserve your sanity. Getting everyone up and out the door successfully can be made easier by following some of these helpful tips:

  • Stagger kids’ wake-up times
  • Organize clothes and outfits the night before
  • Pack children’s lunches the previous night
  • Provide a grab-and-go style breakfast
  • Offer weekend rewards

Let’s look at each one individually.

Stagger Kids’ Wake-Up Times

First, you should consider staggering your children’s wake-up times.

If you have more than one kid, staggering wake-up times can be a great way to expedite your morning routine. Start by waking up the child who requires the most assistance first as they will take the longest to get up. As you continue to help them, you can start to wake up other children who don’t take as long or need as much help to get up.

You can further speed up this process by providing kids with their own alarm clocks. Often, children will view having their own alarm clock as a privilege and you can remove that privilege if they continuously ignore their alarm clock. Either way, if you do give your kids alarm clocks it is still a good idea to still check on them and provide yourself as a backup alarm.

Also, keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to get up and get ready yourself before waking up any of your kids. This way you are already prepared in case anything falls behind schedule and you can give yourself some extra time if everything runs smoothly!

Organize Clothes and Outfits the Night Before

Another way to reduce some of the madness during the morning is to organize clothes and outfits the night before.

One option is to put a hanging hook on your child’s bedroom or closet door where they can hang up their clothes for the next day. This makes it easy for each kid to wake up, grab the clothes already hanging on their door and get dressed quickly.

You can include your kids in the decision process so they feel like they get to wear what they want, but just enforce a rule that outfits must be finalized before bedtime. It’s possible to plan outfits for the entire week, but due to weather and other fluctuating circumstances it is typically best to just plan day-by-day.

Pack Children’s Lunches the Previous Night

Another way to save some time in the morning is by packing lunches the previous night.

Just like with outfits, lunches can be planned ahead of time and packed the night before. However, unlike outfit decisions, lunch plans can be made for the entire week quite easily. Again, you can include your kids in the decision process and have them help pick out what they want to eat throughout the week. However, make sure to guide them towards more healthy choices and offset any snack food with nutritious options.

Provide a Grab-and-Go Style Breakfast

Another great way to increase your efficiency in the morning is to provide a grab-and-go style breakfast for everyone.

Breakfast can often be one of the most stressful and time-consuming portions of the whole morning routine. Take some of the stress out of breakfast by setting creating a grab-and-go style setting.

Offer various options such as – yogurt, oatmeal cups, cold cereals, etc. so people can simply help themselves. You can even try out a more DIY type of breakfast where kids can make their own breakfasts by using the various options you provide. Of course, the DIY option certainly works better for older children that are more independent.

Offer weekend Rewards

Finally, consider offering some sort of weekend rewards.

Offer some incentives to your kids for successfully following your morning routine during the week. For example, they can have more TV time on the weekend if they effectively follow your routine and are on-time throughout the week.

Not only will this encourage your children to stick to the routine during the week, it will also further impart in them the values of establishing an efficient morning routine.

The mornings before school and work can often be the most hectic and stressful times for parents. Getting yourself up and ready can be hard enough, let alone with multiple kids. However, by following the tips and techniques outlined within this article you can relieve some of the stress and reduce the madness of the morning routine.


Bio: Roxy Barnes is a budding professional organizer with a knack for organizing other’s lives stemming from an ongoing battle in coordinating her own. She has a weakness for the latest fashion trends that manifests itself in a closet containing far too many shoes. Oh, by the way, has anyone seen her keys?

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Dressing for Success – There is Life After Kids

Dressing After Kids

Everyone reaches milestones where their lives change forever. Babies arrive, schedules become hectic and budgets get tight. Dressing yourself becomes low priority, and there is temptation to wear those sweats and pajama tops forever! Having kids can change your body shape drastically, and aging also has its effects. Getting to know the new you and relearning how to dress stylishly can be easier if you follow a few simple rules. Whether you are a stay at home mom or a high powered business woman, you can (more…)

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The addSpace Guide to Ridding Your House of ‘Kid Clutter’

Kids organizing

The kids hit school age, and suddenly everything they own is underfoot. Between extracurricular activities and weekend events, finding the time to keep up with school supplies, sports equipment, shoes and basic clothing items can be difficult. Cut down on wasted time and frustration searching for missing articles by implementing a few simple ideas.

Create a ‘drop zone’ near the entrance of your home. This can be as simple as a row of pegs to hold backpacks and jackets, with a rack below it for muddy footwear. A large basket can catch sport gear or outdoor toys, and a bench with storage under the seat can make all the difference. Don’t forget a hook for keys.

Sort your children’s clothing at the end of each season and donate or discard items that you won’t use the next year. Rotate their off season clothes to the back of the closet, or install a two tiered rod to increase your closet space. A low shelf or rack can hold footwear and a higher one be used for hair ribbons or baseball caps. Use drawer dividers to sort socks, underwear and pajamas, or set up small plastic drawer units for smaller tots.

Utilize labeled boxes and bins with easy to open lids for games, hobby items and toys. Rotate toys regularly to keep a fresh assortment available and cut down on boredom. Consider separate shelves for each child to ensure each one will be responsible for his or her own possessions. For preschoolers, labels with pictures of the appropriate toy or game can be used to mark the spot where it belongs.

Get the whole family involved in charity; designate a box for ‘give away’ items and place it in an accessible place. Ask your children to put an old toy in the box every time they get a new one. You can take them with you to drop the items off at a donation center when it becomes full so that they can see where their items go. Explain how the donation process works, and how others can benefit from their cast-off items.

Use a trunk or hope chest at the foot of each bed to save keepsakes for your children as they grow. If your space and finances are limited, an under-the-bed box will serve the same purpose. Again, let your children take an active role in deciding what to keep throughout the year. Each summer, help them go through the contents and discard those items which have lost their importance. The goal is to have only one box of memories by the end of twelfth grade. When the kids leave the nest, they will love having their childhood treasures intact.

A box or caddy for spare school supplies can make finding any replacement items easy on rushed mornings. Another box can be set up to file school papers throughout the year; review them each summer to identify ‘keepers’ for scrap booking. A shoebox with cardboard dividers can store photos until you can put them in your album.

Prize ribbons can be easily kept in your photo album as well, and photographs taken of victors holding their trophies to keep as a remembrance of past accomplishments. Peel off the placard with their name or achievement to use in your photo album alongside the picture, and donate the trophy itself to a school fundraiser. These are popular items at thrift sales, as children love to dream of their future triumphs and act out winning and receiving their prize.

Once you have your children’s belongings well organized, have them take the responsibility for keeping their rooms clean. Set aside a few hours each weekend to have a ‘family cleanup’; many hands make light work. Once you get in the habit of putting things in their designated places, keeping your house clutter free will be a matter of course.

by Kathi Burns – addSpace To Your Life!TM,
a Professional Organizing and Image Consulting Agency
Want to get better organized and look your best?
Get more quick tips by visiting the addSpace To Your Life!TM website.
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Staying organized during relocation

Dear Kathi
Next month my family will be relocating to Florida for my husband’s new job. I have 2 children and have already begun packing. I read your column a few weeks ago and wanted to ask you for specific advice about packing and staying organized while we relocate.

Maria, San Marcos


There is never a better time to streamline and simplify your life than during a major transition. You are in a golden spot to weed through your possessions and eliminate the items that you don’t really need or love. You deserve to start clean. Alleviate the headaches associated with too many possessions. Create new space in your life and release the old possessions that no longer serve you.

Think about these rules of thumb when deciding what to toss or pack during this process:

• you forgot you had it until you re-found it while packing

• you haven’t used it in the past year

• your children stopped playing with it months ago

• It has seen better days and/or is broken

• you never really liked it but it was a gift from a dear friend or relative

• it no longer reflects your lifestyle

• no one will miss it when it’s gone

• it’s labels indicate that it is expired

• it came with the house

Keep in mind that each item represents time spent packing and unpacking. Even if your move is completely facilitated and subsidized by your husband’s employer, you are still responsible for assigning a space for each possession within your new home.

Gather all kitchen items from around the house including the casserole in the garage, the BBQ set out back and the waffle iron stuffed in your hall closet. Get the picture? As you pack each item, wipe it off, make sure it works and, if it passes all of the rules listed above, pack it for the move.

Collect items from each bathroom and group them together. This provides an opportunity to see the enormity of your collection and will help you decide to pack or purge.

Group, separate and classify your book collection. When your books reach their new home, they will be organized and ready to begin anew in their respective rooms. Pack them into smaller boxes so that you can move them around yourself if necessary.
If you are in charge of packing for the move, pack like a professional. Gather boxes, packing material, packing tape and large felt tip markers. Label each box on the top and sides with the final room destination.

Use large boxes for lightweight items like linens. Use pillows and towels to protect your fragile items within boxes. Place heavier items in the bottom of the box.

Realize that when you move across the US, movers rarely keep pace with your travel agenda. Your furniture often lags behind 3-7 days after you arrive. Pack enough clothes and toys to keep your family comfortable for up to two weeks. You might need to stay a few nights in a hotel or your new home before your furniture arrives.

Pack these items to move with your family (not the moving company):
pillows, a small blanket, a week’s worth of clothing for each family member, books, magazines and games, hearty snack foods, your personal address book, stamps for the kids to mail postcards, pen and notepad, mini-first aid kit and a personal hygiene kit for each family member.

You will have a brand new space when you arrive in Boston. Take advantage of this opportunity to create a fresh look. Give yourself permission to give up the items that no longer fit your taste. Let loose and toss the old shower curtain. Buy new décor after you move. It is invigorating and healthy to create new beginnings. Have fun!

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organizing school papers

Dear Kathi,

I have three children, ages 17 through 26 years. I have school papers, craft projects, tests, newspaper articles, etc. that I’ve kept for over 20 years. They are in storage boxes (not secure, tight boxes though) in the attic. What’s the solution to all this stuff? Laminated top -loading sheet protectors in binders?


Sherree, Lake Hodges


The solution will be based on your ultimate goal, on the reason you kept these items in the attic for so many years. Did you want your children to have keepsakes of their own? Was it simply your motherly duty, or did you keep them as a reminder of your, and their, younger years?

Regardless of the original reason, I would suggest that you pull everything out of the attic and sort by separating each child’s papers.

If you kept them for yourself and now wish to create a memory book for your own satisfaction, divide out the keepsakes you want to incorporate into a book or books. Even if these are for you for now, you might want to create a separate book for each child so that you could pass it on to that child later on. Make sure each book includes a section with a few photos of their siblings.

Laminated top-loading sheet protectors will probably only work for half of the archived papers, as many art projects are larger than the 8.5 x 11-inch format. Large format (11×17) scrapbooks are more fun. You have room for much more creativity on a large canvas.

If you saved these papers for your kids and don’t wish to make scrapbooks, separate each child’s items and place them into individually labeled plastic bins with snap on lids. Plastic bins will preserve the papers for a longer period of time than cardboard boxes. Cardboard is never a long-term archiving solution because insects are attracted to the glue used in the manufacturing process.

Trophies can be dismantled by peeling off the etched plaque, which can be stored in a book or framed with a photo. I have witnessed too many broken and armless trophies to realize that storing them for years is not the answer. Trophies are bulky and not worth their storage space. A better strategy would be to photograph your child holding the trophy while wearing the uniform. Peel the plaque and affix it to the photo in an album.

For readers with school age children, I recommend buying each child an under-the-bed box. Store a box under each child’s bed. Throughout the year, add papers and memories. Every summer, go through the box with your child and decide what they wish to keep and what they want to discard. Make sure to conduct the box evaluation with your child. It is a valuable life lesson for them to learn about memories and possessions.

By the end of their school years, they will have one box of their best childhood memories and not a lot of luggage from the past to tie them down as they forge ahead living their lives in the present moment.

If you are worried that your child will discard the art that is really precious to you, start your own archive box with the truly special pieces. Limit yourself to one under-the-bed box for all children combined! Remember that memories are made from special moments in time, not necessarily from tangible possessions. No one can take a memory from you, nor is a memory contingent on saving a specific item.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Work at home moms, home offices, kids

Dear Kathi,

Do you have any tips for work at home moms? I have a two-year old son
and a home office. Each day I am determined to get more work done but I often get sidetracked with my son, laundry and other household tasks. It is hard to keep my son occupied, disregard household chores and do business at the same time.

Lisa, Cardiff by the Sea


My first recommendation is to implement a very structured and regular
schedule for your son. Once his food, nap and play times are set, you
can work your schedule around his.

For instance, you can begin to plan your outbound phone calls during
his nap time. You could also schedule your meetings during the first
part of his ‘play-alone’ times. He will most likely be self-absorbed as
he discovers the latest toy you have re-found for him.

Every evening, place a different set of toys for the next day in his
designated play area and stow the toys from the day before. Each day
your son will look forward to a new discovery and activity. Keep rotating his toys and he will find new ways to play with each one as it cycles through his playtime.

Keep your son’s play area in the same spot every day, just outside your
work zone. Let him know that he has his own space for play as you do yours for work. Keep these respective zones as separate as possible. If he has his own personal space from the beginning, he will develop a strong sense of it as he grows. Then be constantly respectful of his space throughout the years of his youth.

If he insists on helping you work, set up a mini-desk in his area and
offer him paper and crayons to help with your current project. Give him
one of your real papers and see if he can copy down any of the
information or draw around it in some fashion. Maybe he can look in
books or magazines to find pictures related to your work?

Plan to eat breakfast and lunch together. You both need to eat, and you will be spending time with him as well as paying attention to him at the same time that you are working from home. Lunch is a great time to check in with him to see if he has enough toys to keep him happy after he wakes up form his afternoon nap.

Every week, see if you can swap playtimes with friends who have children. Devoting two days per week for half a day with two kids instead of one will give you entire afternoons undisturbed to tackle your most challenging work. The days you watch the children, take a notepad with you to the park and jot down thoughts about action steps you can implement into your business.

Regarding your household tasks, I recommend that you hire someone to help you with your basic weekly cleaning chores. You will see the money that you spend returned back to you with increased productivity and clarity for your business. At the same time, you will have more energy to take care of the more important parts of your life; your son, your family and your business.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
San Diego Professional Organizer

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