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In honor of the new year, I’m going to start a new section on my blog that focuses on organizing for us parents. Nothing keeps us more in touch with the power of a good system then doing it for ourselves now and again. Like Sensory Organizing Systems, we’re going to focus on small changes that make a BIG impact. With Simply Organized Enough, we’ll look at problem areas / challenging tasks and focus on organizing one small section that will impact the whole space or task as a whole. For me, 2015 is all about doing less but achieving more!
CLOTHES MONSTER IN THE CLOSET
Often, when I’m am working with an organizing client on a problem area, it almost always comes down to one main issue. Like other areas in life, the 80/20 rule applies to organizing problem areas – 20% of the area causes 80% of the problems. If you can find that 20% and adjust it, the whole space will work much more efficiently.
My house is no different. Here’s an example of this 80/20 rule in my own house – the master bedroom closet. My husband wears business clothes to work – some that can be machine washed and some that need to be dry cleaned. Knowing his work clothes could not go in with the everyday clothes in the hamper, he kept them separate but with no definitive home, they all end up mixed up on the closet floor. When it came time to try to figure out what was what – the task took longer, was more frustrating, and was often done at the last minute. This one small area was causing 80% of the challenges with this task.
With Simply Organized Enough, I’m just going to focus on this one small area, use items I already own (if possible), and make a simple yet visual system.
LAUNDRY BAG SYSTEM
Here’s Why It Works:
UTILIZES CURRENT SYSTEM & TAKES ADVANTAGE OF UNUSED SPACE
Working off where the clothes were already piling up (working off the habit that is already in place for my husband), I’m going to use the floor space under his hanging rod. Shoes that were in this space were put on a shoe rack that runs along the back wall of the closet. The front floor and low hanging space here was free game for me to use.
USING WHAT WE HAD & INEXPENSIVE PRODUCTS
Looking at what I already had around that I could use, I found a great Contain Yourself reusable shopping bag from The Container Store (http://www.containerstore.com/shop?productId=10026217&N=&Ntt=reusable+shopping+bag ). It’s significantly bigger than most reusable shopping bags (17-3/4″ x 7″ x 18-1/2″ h), holds up to 30lbs, and it features two sets of handles; two long shoulder straps and two shorter carrying handles. Knowing I needed 2 bags for this systems, it was easy and inexpensive ($1.99 per bag!) to pick-up one more.
VISUAL & SIMPLE SYSTEM
The system was completed with: Two Large Binder Clips for labeling the bag (which I already had). I used large binder clips from Staples ($4.59 for a 12 pack) – http://www.staples.com/Staples-Large-Satin-Silver-Metal-Binder-Clips-2-Size-with-1-Capacity/product_329502 Two laminated labels – one for each bag (using my laminating machine). In my house, labels need to be big and in your face : ) The labels could have also been make with simple luggage tags or paper gift tags that could be attached on one of the carrying handles on the bag. Example of JAM Paper Gift Tags ($8.50 for 6 pack) – http://www.staples.com/product_38422?externalize=certona
The key to this system is the study, portable bags with carrying handles. Once each bag is full, it can be carried either to the car for the dry cleaner or to the washing machine. Visual and portable makes this system a win. Here is a system that is inexpensive (even if you had to purchase the 2 bags and the sturdy paper gift tag labels, the total cost is $12.50), took about 10 minutes to create and install, and reduced 80% of the problem task. A visual, portable system + keeping with up dry cleaning / laundry = BIG Impact to daily life. Here’s to Simply Organized Enough and to small changes for more peaceful days ~
I have a confession to make. I know January 1st brings a New Year with new resolutions and a fresh, new start. Holiday stuff is supposed to be all packed away neatly and the smoothie maker should be running full time – this is especially true at a professional organizer’s house. But at this house, we do things alittle differently and our Christmas Decorations are still up.
As the parent of a child who naturally sees life at the extremes, through all or nothing eyes, I’ve developed some mantras I verbalize from time to time. “Let go of the all or nothing thinking”, “Can we meet in the middle on this one”, “Your way is not necessarily the right way” are a few that come out of my mouth regularly. In the last few years, my kids have learned to recognize when I’m acting in a way that might warrant a few of these mantras turned back on me. One big one was my belief that Christmas ended and the New Year started on January 1.
As I began to look at it through the eyes of a sensory child, I saw what a tough transition January can be. You have a transition back to school (and what a long, academic month January is!), short days and long, dark nights, and to top it all off, all those fun glittery lights and warm holiday decorations get ripped out from underneath you as you brave the cold, dark month ahead.
So here’s why I now give my kids (and myself) an extra week of Christmas Decorations:
- As someone who believes in the power of breaking things down and softening transitions, there is no bigger transition for sensory kids than the one from Holiday break to the January routine.
- Everything looks better at the end of the day with fun, glittery lights – homework, my skin, and the darkness that creeps up at 4pm.
- Writing holiday thank you cards is so much easier sitting by a decorated tree with new toys and gift cards still sitting underneath – nice visual reminders make this chore so much more palatable.
- Sensory kids have a much easier time saying good-bye to the Holidays after they’ve braved their first week back in the routine. They might even help you pack a few things away.
Here’s a New Years Resolution to consider – pay attention to when you are falling into viewing life in the extremes. Have the courage to take your own advice, challenge your old beliefs, and take the softer, gentler way. And bring some fun, glittery lights along for the ride.
The start of the new year can be a great time to create new routines at home for challenging times and difficult tasks especially as our sensory kids are moving into a time of core academic learning at school. Most children do better with predictable schedules / routines and this is especially true for sensory kids – like those with anxiety disorder, sensory integration dysfunction, learning challenges, ADD/ADHD, obsessive/compulsive disorder, high-functioning autism, asperger’s syndrome, or other sensory challenges. Creating some basic schedules and routines at home will support the structure they love and allow your time with your children to be as productive and relaxing as possible.
Start with solid morning and evening routines. These two times of day tend to be consistently hard for sensory kids as they represent big transitions – one moving into school mode and one moving into rest/sleep mode. Pay attention to what time of day is better for your child – if the morning is tougher, then most of the getting ready for school routine should be done the night before (clothes picked out, lunches made, backpack ready to go). Review the morning routine at bedtime to help your child know what to expect. If your child has great morning energy, save a few things to be done in the morning. Creating a picture schedule or checklist to support all or some of these routines will make this process easier and be a great way to teach executive functioning skills.
Tap into school techniques. This can be a great time of year to review the homework / school work organizing plans you have had in place to see what needs to be tweaked. Since teachers do a great job of creating structure and routines for our children at school, look at what sort of systems and visual aids are being used in your child’s classroom. Ask your child’s teacher for their input on strategies and supports that work well for your child and implement some of these techniques at home. By bringing some of those same techniques home, you will be giving your child the consistency that can make the strategy successful in both places.
Build in Downtime. We know many sensory kids need time to decompress and regroup after the school day and this is especially true during an intense period of the school year. Make sure after-school activities give your sensory child a bang for their buck. It should be an activity that will be a good physical release for them, something that allows them to tap into one of their fascinations in a creative, stimulating way, and/or something that makes them feel all around great.
Most importantly, by creating daily routines, tapping into school strategies, and being mindful of activities, you are also showing your sensory child that their way of learning and processing is important and valued – something that will make them feel protected and supported. Start the New Year off by embracing simple sensory systems for more peaceful days.