Dollar Tree Helps you Get Organized!

I usually start my new year off with some cleaning, organizing, and purging. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this post detailing my January decluttering challenge.  In addition to clearing out clutter, I’ve needed to pick up some new storage bins to help corral the bottles of cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink.

Dollar Tree to the Rescue!

Depending on your needs and esthetic, Dollar Tree has something for everyone.

I got these blue and white totes for under the kitchen sink. One for trash bags, one for cleaning supplies, and one for sponges, brushes, etc.

I also have cleaned out the front bathroom under the sink area and re-organized it. I have plastic totes like these under the bathroom sink (sans lids- but the lids are in the cupboard) that hold:

  • First Aid Kit (We have a fairly large and extensive first aid kit)
  • Period Supplies
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Bodywash/Scrub/Shaving Supplies

If you have some organizing to do, I recommend that you stop into your local Dollar Tree and check out their storage possibilities.

 

 

Let’s Start Fresh in 2022!

Starting fresh means different things to different friends. For some, it’s New Years Resolutions to Eat Better, Lose Weight, Get Organized, Spend more time on Self-Care. Whatever Starting Fresh means to you, I’m here to help.

For me, Starting Fresh means grabbing new calendars for the kitchen, kid’s rooms, and my room (I have a bulletin board next to my vanity with a wall calendar so I can review each day while I brush my teeth in the morning). I update the calendars each month with appointments, days off school, birthdays, etc. I usually get free calendars in the mail towards the end of the year and use those. For the kitchen, I get a Holiday a Day calendar and use that- It’s a great way to include silly “national” days into the meal plan or weekend plans. Like National Pizza Day (it’s in February) or National Bake Cookies Day (that was yesterday- we’re celebrating today).

Other Ways I Start Fresh Each Year (and keep it going through the year):

  • Inventory my Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry (and donate/share any unwanted still-in-date food). You can buy my inventory sheets here on Etsy.
  • Deep Clean/ Organize one area of the house each week. Start small. I start with the front coat closet.
  • Clean my car out. If you are a parent, you know. I take a laundry basket and a trash bag down to the car, and once the trash is out, and the stuff that needs to go into the house is in the basket (and back upstairs), I take my car to the carwash and pay $20 to have someone else wash and vacuum the car (and clean the windows inside and out).
  • Get rid of stuff that no longer serves you. I like to start in my closet. It’s a great chance to weed out clothes that no longer fit or serve me, and I can donate or share them.  I tend to do one area a month. I work on it for 10-20 minutes a few times a week, so it is not a mental burden.
  • In the same vein, do a toiletry/beauty/makeup purge. Travel-sized/sample-sized toiletries can be donated to homeless or domestic abuse shelters or local rehab/inpatient centers. Makeup and personal care items do expire (check out this article from Insider for more deets). If it smells weird or has a strange texture- toss it!
  • Space out Appointments or other “Adulting” tasks. As someone who had two mental/behavioral health appointments, an IEP Meeting, and a doctor’s appointment last week, I can assure you I was mentally and physically exhausted. As it was the end of the year, provider time was limited, so I didn’t have much of a choice, but going forward, I’m limiting myself to 1-2 “Adulting”/appointments per week. Otherwise, it is overwhelming and everything else, like tasks of daily living, gets pushed aside (shower, what’s that?).
  • Spend time Doing Stuff I Like. Yeah, seems weird? Spend a little time doing something that makes you happy. Play a game on your phone for 10 minutes, read, do a craft, work on a project, play Legos with your kids, go for a walk.

A content creator I really like, Rayna Cohen put it simply, ” Allow yourself to enjoy the new energy of the new year.”

My kid’s school sent out a Kindness Calendar for January. I plan on incorporating some of these RAOK throughout January and beyond.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about how you are Starting Fresh for 2022!

Parents: Give Yourself A Break

DSC06725.JPGA friend posted this article from Motherly this morning about how self-care isn’t enough and parents (especially moms) are burnt out.

I can completely understand. As the mom of a kid with ASD and ADHD, and well as a neurotypical firecracker of a 4-year-old, I feel like I am always going going going. And really, I feel like it’s not enough.

This summer I’ve said NO a lot. No to racing off to an activity each morning, no to lunches out, no to 5 playdates a week, the craft dates, all-day zoo adventures, and sojourns to the beach. Oh, and this would have been just 1 week of summer activities in the past. Imagine that for 8 weeks. Are you tired now?

This is something I want everyone who reads this to take the heart: NO IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE. 

Plus, I still need to do household chores, cook, laundry and make sure the big kid gets to therapy twice a week, I need to exercise at least 4 times a week.

In saying no to all of these activities, the kids are able to relax, which means they are in a better mood, which mommy is in a better mood. We are still doing stuff, but it’s more things that the kids can do at home or in a small group of friends.  We’ve been swimming at our community pool each day in the late afternoon, playing at the local park. We’re going to the YMCA a few times a week in the afternoon so the kids can play while I exercise. Stuff that is low stress.

Why is parenting harder? Why are we burned out? This article gives us some ideas. The increase in activities for kids (If you want to go to an Ivy League school Little Timmy, you need to start your extra-curricular activities at birth!), social media expectations (It’s like Keeping up with the Joneses on crack), the constant barrage of information and data being thrown at us (pics of our kids, nanny/daycare cams being sent to us, text messages, chat apps, always being connected to people and media). It’s overwhelming. It’s tiring. Being expected to be Instagram-ready or Insta -Perfect is frustrating and exhausting.

For special needs parents, it’s harder because, for the most part, our kids aren’t  “like everyone else”, so frequently we are ostracized from activities. It’s the truth, and it sucks. and it hurts. To shield my kids from this hurt and keep myself sane, we’ve stepped back from activities this summer.

I’m not going to give you a list of self-care activities that will help you de-stress. You already know what works for you, your family, your budget.  This is what I do.

What I want you to know, moms and dads that read this post:

You are not alone. There are other parents and caregivers out there that are feeling the same way you do. You don’t have to keep up with everything you see online. You are doing the best you can for your family. YOU ARE ENOUGH!

I found this shirt on Amazon and I had to share it. 

10 Practical Self-Care Tips

63e975223d52308de0881c564b6f5a62.jpg

There are tons of articles about Self-Care on Pinterest and mommy blogs. Having read a bunch of them, I’m lead to believe that all of these people have kids that go to bed on time, never wake up for water, cry out in the night, or may possibly be robots.  Why? Because facials, manicures, pedicures, private yoga sessions, and taking a long quiet bath are usually recommended. I can seldom do any of these after my kids are in bed.

Remember, self-care is more than slapping on a mud masque and shotgunning wine from a can (yes, it exists) on Sunday night while you hide in the bathroom and pray the kids stay in bed. My top ten list is stuff that is practical that will help “refill your cup”- and not with wine from a can.

  1. Go to bed early. Like 9:30pm instead of 11:30pm. It’s all about baby steps.
  2. Drink a glass of water in the morning. Yeah, you are supposed to drink 7 more after that, but, you’ve got at least 10 more waking hours to get that accomplished.
  3. Take your vitamins. They are doing no good in your medicine cabinet. To remind yourself, get an “old person pill case“. My husband and I each have one, and so does Henry. I refill them on Saturday night. I’m such the party animal.
  4. When you are alone in the car each day, do some deep breathing.  I like the Alternate Nostril Breathing (I learned it in yoga- pre-kids). It’s easy to do and just two minutes of it can really help you relax. Bonus: It’s free.
  5. Indulge in a guilty pleasure. Take 30 minutes and do something that you wouldn’t Facebook about- Take a couple Buzzfeed Quizzes, Watch Dr. Pimplepopper videos on YouTube, watch the Kardashians on Hulu. Just disconnect and do something mindless.
  6. Color! I have a bunch of coloring books for adults, but I also like to print off coloring pages too. I have some pinned on my 100 Days of Art Pinterest Board.  Color with what you’ve got on-hand. Crayons, markers, colored pencils. Heck, it’s ok to steal your kids coloring books.
  7. Do a Social Media Purge. I did this at the beginning of January. I unfollowed/unfriended anyone that caused me stress, pain, anxiety, or jealousy. You don’t need to be surrounded with Keeping Up with the Joneses all the time. Your time and family are great the way they are.  Removing these emotions from your daily life will give you relief. It’s liberating.
  8. Enjoy something to eat or drink that brings you joy or is nostalgic. Bonus if it’s something that your kids don’t like/won’t eat. Then there will be no sharing.
  9. Go for a ten minute walk. Outside is best, but a few laps around your office building is ok too. If you are home, grab the kids, the dog, and go outside. Investigate your neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be an Instagram-worthy sunset walk, just get out and stretch your legs!
  10. Power Down- Put down your phone, tablet, turn off the computer for an hour and take a break/nap/shower/bath.

Most of these things can be done with little to no cost. Anyone can do them. How do you make sure that you get enough self-care?

The Annual Toy Purge: Clean up & Help Others!

toys (4).JPG

Each year after Christmas and when the big kiddo is back to school, we go through the house and get rid of the toys that are no longer played with (Duplos), or are broken (So many things), or were taken away and never asked for back (I’m looking at you Nerf Gun). We also weed out the multiples. That way we only have 1 of each kind of train (no one needs 5 Thomas trains!), one of each kind of toy dino/animal in each size, and enough accessories for each Potato Head (but not tons).

IMG_7862We call this the Great Annual Toy Purge.  I enlist the help of my mom (who lives less than a mile away) to come and help me sort through all the toys.  We have toys in bins that are labeled, but sometimes, the toys migrate.

At the same time, we go through the toys. There are three piles:

  • Broken or missing pieces (discard/recycle)
  • In ok/good shape (donate to local thrift store)
  • Great/like new shape (There isn’t a lot in this category- Donate to some places in our local area that needs toys, or give to friends)

Then there is the Big Ol’ Black Trash bag- The trash goes straight in there.

I didn’t get a before picture, but, it was awful. Toys everywhere, junk, empty boxes… You know, kid stuff.

Here is a photo of the after:

IMG_7849IMG_7848 There are still a few more boxes of toys that need to go down to the garage (Stuff that we are saving for the when the Littler One gets bigger), and I vacuumed and we made his bed.

Unwanted toys were moved out of the house yesterday before school pick up. It’s raining right now, so our project is on hold until the rain stops. Next up is Bitty Bird’s room. It’s much smaller and she has less toys, but there are son many small pieces (doll clothes, toy food)- I’ll be stocking up on more 20 quart Sterilite tubs with lids.

Now, there are some toys that live in the living room because they get a lot more play. Mean Animals/Toy Dinos, Guy Men (action figures), and a small tub of Legos. We have them in a 2×2 Kallax Bookshelf from Ikea.

I’m participating in #declutterlikeamother, which is something fellow blogger Allie Casazzara does. A few of my friends are doing it too. While I wouldn’t jump off a cliff if others were doing it, I will definitely get rid of so much clutter and confusion with my friends!

I’ve already cleaned out the hall closet, the kitchen and hall junk drawers, and cleaned out my desk (which was basically just two junk drawers).

We’ve also cleaned out our wardrobes. We donated, recycled, shared hand-me-downs, and prepped bags to take to an upcoming clothing swap.

I encourage everyone to #declutterlikeamother. It’s incredibly liberating not to not feel suffocated by so.much.stuff. It feels so good to let go.