Amy Beth

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tidying Up: Kids’ Clothes

Ugh.

tidying up kids' clothes

After coming off my high from tidying and basically emptying my closet, this category was not so magical. I didn’t uncover new empty areas of my home or feel a great weight lifted from my shoulders. But it’s done and I think I have a few thoughts and tips to help anyone else out there trying to tidy up their home with little kids in tow.

First off, the KonMari method says that you should only tidy your own things. If you live with other family members you have to let them decide for themselves what sparks joy, and you can’t very well force someone to think about that. This is why I am basically ignoring my husband’s office. But I consider tiny children to be an exception to that rule. After all, the person who is most often dealing with their stuff is me. So I think that means I get to decide what to do with it.

Second, the KonMari method doesn’t really address the issue of practicality or future planning or little people who basically need a new wardrobe every season because they grow and change so fast. Going through their clothes and asking what sparks joy sounds like an awful lot of work for clothes that are all going to be outgrown in a few months anyway. So here’s how I addressed the whole issue of kid’s clothes.

Ask “What can he/she wear now.

These are the only things you need to have out taking up space in your drawers. I found many things sitting in drawers and closets that were either too small or too big. These things need to find another home.

Use the KonMari folding method as much as possible.

The KonMari folding method really does save space and make it easier to see the clothes you have to choose from. But kid’s clothes can be tiny and are not always worth folding into rectangles. So fold the shirts and pants and PJs. But skip the underwear and socks. It’s impossible.

Have a plan for what to do with outgrown clothes.

This is a the kicker that can really trip people up when it comes to kid’s clothes. Your plan could be to just load them up and take them to a thrift store because you know you are done. If you know you won’t be having future kiddos and are feeling particularly sentimental about certain items I recommend putting them aside in a box or bin to deal with when you get to the sentimental items category. Right now is just about clearing the clutter, not necessarily going through a whirlwind of emotions. Just make sure you don’t feel sentimental about everything.

Another good plan could be to hand down clothes to a family member or friend. While Mari Kondo advises against passing your belongings on to another person only to clutter up their life, I think kid’s clothes are a good exception. Hand-me-downs are legitimately useful to many people. As you’re preparing clothes for handing off, it would be kind to sort according to size, gender, and possibly season if you have that many items. It’s time consuming, but your friends will thank you. This is a good time to discard anything that has really seen better days. If there are items with impossible to remove stains, tears, or are otherwise not in immediately wearable condition, just toss them. Nobody wants hand me downs that they have to spend a lot of time trying to fix.

And another plan could be to keep them for future use. If this is your plan you definitely want to make sure you have good storage containers and a place to keep said storage containers. This is what has caused me problems in the past. I may have known I needed to clear out a bunch of outgrown clothes, but I had no boxes to put them in. When that happens you either end up with overcrowded drawers or piles of kid’s clothes in other areas of your house. To remedy this I bought several extra of the type of container I like to use so I will have one readily available the next time one of my kids grows a size. Sorting by size and gender again is a given. Be kind to your future self.

Our plan for outgrown clothes is actually a combination of the last two. We figure we may have another kid eventually, but in the meantime, a family member who is expecting a baby soon is taking the bins of the sizes she needs right now. When her kid outgrows them, she’ll pass them back to us.

These boxes of outgrown clothes may not spark a lot of joy right now, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be very joyful when the next baby comes along and all I have to do to dress him is pull a box out of the garage.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Peek at my Planner – Get to Work Book

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent much of my adult life searching for THE ONE. The one that can help me achieve my dreams. Be a better person. Support me through stressful times and forgive me when I just can’t do it all. The one that I can pour my life into and receive clarity and purpose in return. I’m talking, of course, of the perfect planner.

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As I’ve grown though, I’ve slowly become more accepting of the fact that I can’t expect the planner to fulfill my every need. I have to be willing to do the work to get the most out of the relationship. I need to be willing to commit. To buckle down and work out our issues and see what good can come out on the other side rather than just run off to a newer, prettier planner at the first sign of trouble. As you can see, planners are a very personal issue for me.

So when one of my favorite bloggers and people on the internet that I most admire in terms of her “get it done-ness” launched a new business that sells planners I decided to give it a try. I had been without a long-term planner for a while. I’d just been casually flirting with different lists and notebooks but I could feel it was time for me to settle down. So I bought it. It’s charming and unassuming. It gives me guidance and focus when I need it, but it never pushes. It allows me space to be me. It’s a planner, and I’m going to stop with this extended metaphor now.

The planner is called the Get to Work Book and it is made by Elise at Elisejoy.com. The next edition of the planners for the 2016 calendar year is available for pre-order now, so I thought it would be a good time to give a little peek at how I’ve used mine for the past few months. You can check out the Get to Work Book website for photos and videos that show each of the different page designs in more detail.

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As a reminder that I want to be more creative and crafty in my daily life, I decorated the cover page with some watercolor. It turns out decorating planners is a thing that people really get into, and this planner is the perfect blank canvas for some serious artistic flair. Just take a look at the Get to Work Book instagram or search on pinterest for “planner decorating” and you’ll see what I mean. Like Whoa.

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brainstorming space decorated with washi tape
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project planning page

One of the things I love about this planner is the amount of brainstorming space that is included. I’m a person who thinks and plans best on paper, but other planners I’ve had have never really included a lot of space for this. I always had to find other notebooks or scraps of paper which inevitably got lost or forgotten. This planner allows me to keep all of my ideas and brainstorms right there with the nitty gritty details of the day. It has several sheets of blank graph paper before each monthly spread and more in the back of the book. It also has some handy project planning sheets for those projects that need to be broken down and given a bit more structure.

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weekly spread

I also like how open ended the weekly spreads feel. If you wanted to write out a schedule for the day, you could do that. If you wanted to just make a big to-do list for each day you could do that too. Or you could be like me and combine a few tasks with a shopping list with a note with details about an upcoming event with an inventory of the fridge for meal planning. The grayscale design gives enough structure to help you keep things organized but is subtle enough to ignore if you need the space.

The fact that I have used this planner for three months and haven’t yet thought about switching it up and trying something new is a big deal, as my husband will attest. Maybe it’s the planner. Or maybe it’s just me finally being ready to commit. But I feel like even if I come up with new ways to organize or categorize my life, this planner will be flexible enough to change with me. We’ll see. But I think maybe, just maybe, I’ve found the one.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Coat Closet Makeover

Way back before I had a baby, I mentioned in this post how I had big plans for our tiny hall coat closet. I actually managed to accomplish most of those plans before the baby came along, but a few last details were left undone. Until today! I banged out the few remaining tasks during nap time today and can finally share my coat closet makeover with you!

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So here’s the deal on the coat closet. It’s tiny. Like a foot and a half square. It’s also just as deep as it is wide, so even what little space we had wasn’t used very efficiently with just a single hanging rod to go across it. I wanted to come up with a way to use the space from front to back as well as side to side.

So I did some measuring, some shopping, some drilling and screwing and I made a coat closet that feels a lot more functional.

First I took out the hanging rod. Instead I got several hooks and attached them to the three sides of the closet. From these we can hang coats, purses, keys and umbrellas. Already it was a lot more functional than the hanging rod. I even made sure to add a couple of hooks low down on the wall so Charlie can hang up his own coat (in theory, at least).

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Then I got three nice storage boxes and screwed them onto the back wall. These hold all our scarves, mittens, and hats for winter.

The final touch was the addition of a low shelf to set bags on. I’ve learned that the number of bags you need in your life increases exponentially when you have children. So we needed a place to put the bags.

Did you know you can get wood boards cut to whatever size you need at Lowe’s? Super handy. I don’t have a saw, nor do I see myself needing one often enough to invest in such a tool, so this service is just what I needed to get this little project done.

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Under the shelf is a basket for shoes. Now our closet can hold everything we need to head out the door!

Here’s a “styled” picture to show you how everything has a place.

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And here’s real life. It’s stuffed to the brim, but it’s a lot more useful than the before.

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It even still fits a small child!

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Super small space storage

As a part of my quest to get to the house ready for a new baby, I realized that making some of our closet and storage areas more functional would be a key component. When you live in a small space, you really have to use what you have wisely.

So this past weekend I made some plans and got some supplies to fix a few of these areas in our home. One space on the agenda is our hall coat closet.

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Here it is right now. I have big plans for this tiny space, but first I had to do a little something with an even tinier space. You may notice that on the floor of our coat closet sits the parts to a vacuum cleaner. I have a Dyson Digital slim, which I love. It transforms easily from a floor vacuum to a handheld and runs on a battery so I never have to mess with a cord while I’m using it. But it comes with several attachments that just get thrown in the bottom of the coat closet, simply because I don’t really have a better place for them. Until now…

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Here’s our hot water heater closet. This is right off the kitchen in the middle of the house. It would be a convenient place to store things if it wasn’t full of a hot water heater. But as it is the door rarely even gets opened. When I was assessing our storage situation I realized that I might be able to make this tiny space useful after all. So I did!

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I managed to squeeze in just enough storage to hold my vacuum and all it’s little attachments. I can finally keep my vacuum off the floor! I can finally devote my coat closet to only coats! So exciting!

Here’s how it went down.

First I measured. That was essential. It really is a tiny space so I knew I would have to be careful to get supplies that could actually squeeze in there.

Then I went shopping. I bought 3 plastic bins, some shelf brackets, and some screws with washers and nuts (A big thanks goes out to the helpful Lowe’s worker who helped me pick out the right screws. Who knew there were so many overwhelming options?)

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Along with those new supplies I needed a drill, a screwdriver, and a measuring tape.

Then I measured again, this time knowing the size of my bins and brackets. I made marks on the wall of where each screw should go for my brackets so the bins would be spaced nicely apart.

Then I drilled. I made pilot holes for each of the screws to make everything go in a bit easier.

Then I screwed the brackets in place. By far the most difficult part of this project was maneuvering around the hot water heater to get the screws in the right place. If you do a similar project in space where you can actually stand in front of the wall you’re working on, I guarantee it will go much more quickly for you.

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Once all the brackets were in place it was time to attach the bins. Since these bins were transparent I could just sit them on top of the brackets and make a mark for where each of the screws should go. Easy!

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I then used my drill again to make holes in the bins where the screws would go. Then I fastened the bins to the brackets using the screws, washers, and nuts.

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Even though these bins are pretty cheap and slightly flimsy feeling, the brackets provide plenty of support so I feel confident that they will be able to hold anything I need them to. My vacuum cleaner is thoroughly enjoying having a tiny space of it’s very own.

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