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5 Tips For Keeping Life Simple for Families

Posted on Jan 19, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch


Today’s families are innundated with a seemingly endless array of choices, opportunities and physical belongings (aka “stuff”).  While it is good to have options, attempting to manage a life full of too many possibilities can certainly make daily living challenging and complicated.  If we’re not careful, we can easily lose sight of what is most important to us, including one another.

To help you overcome some of these challenges and complexities, here are some practical tips for keeping life simple for families.

1. Declutter Daily and Purge Periodically

Too much clutter can often lead to chaos and stress.  Before you and your family retire for the evening, take the time to clear floors and counter surfaces of items that do not belong where they’ve been left and return them to where they do belong.  Doing this on a regular basis can help keep the clutter to a minimum and help you and your family maintain a greater sense of peace.

When clutter starts to accumulate, set aside time to sort through your items and eliminate the things your family no longer wants or needs.  Devise a system that works best for your family.  For example, while a massive purge right before Christmas or at the end of the school year might work for some families, a room-by-room purge over time might be more effective for others.

2. Cut Down on Screen Time

Too much screen time can lead to overstimulation and information overload.  Exchange screen time for other worthwhile activities, such as reading, exercising, conversing face-to-face with one another and praying.

3. Leave Space

When purging and decluttering, be sure to leave extra space in drawers, on shelves and in closets.  This will allow your family to better manage clutter and will leave a little room for new items when necessary.

Take the time to create space in your schedule as well.  Leave margins between activities to reduce stress and make room for the unexpected.  Build downtime into your schedule and protect it to allow your family the time necessary to rest and re-energize.

keep life simple for families

4. Plan Ahead

Another way to minimize stress and prepare for the unexpected is to plan ahead.  For example, identify things you can do the night before to prepare for the day ahead and incorporate those activities into your evening routine.  This can help simplify your mornings and reduce the amount of hassle typically involved when trying getting everyone out the door on time.

5. Say Yes Less

Define your priorities as a family and make an effort to focus on the things that are most important to you.  If an invitation, request or activity does not align with your priorities, think twice before saying yes.

The practice of simplicity is intentional and takes effort. However, the work you do up front can lead to less stress and more joy for you and your family.

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A Post-Holiday Recovery Plan for Families

Posted on Jan 5, 2016 3:30:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

post holiday blues

After months of anticipation and weeks of celebration during the holidays, the season’s end can be a let-down for parents and children alike.  Here are some suggestions for a post-holiday recovery plan for families to help minimize the post-season blues and ease the transition back into the regular routine.

Re-establish Boundaries

During the holidays, schedules become more relaxed.  Children tend to stay up later and eat more treats, meal times fluctuate, and homework goes on hiatus during break.  Re-establishing your normal routine as soon as you can will provide the structure and familiarity needed to help overcome the post-holiday blues.

Stay Connected

Because of all the special events and activities that take place, families typically spend more time together over the holidays.  The fact that the holiday season has ended shouldn’t put an end to your family time.  Since spending time together can be a mood lifter, continue to stay connected.  Make it a point to continue to do things together and keep the lines of communication open.

Declutter Your Physical Space

Piles of clutter can be a source of stress and anxiety any time of year and may have the potential to heighten the post-holiday blues.  Work together as a family to come up with a plan to declutter your household.  Find homes for the new gifts you received and consider gifting items you no longer want or need to charity.  Giving to others can be a spirit-lifting experience.

calendar declutter

Declutter Your Mental Space

Just as a cluttered physical space can be the source of stress, so can a cluttered mental space.  The start of the new year is a great time to take stock of your current circumstances and make positive changes where needed.  Review your family’s calendar to determine what activities are still worthwhile and which ones might need to be cut from the schedule.  This will help to both lighten the mental load as well as your mood.

Continue the Celebration

Maintain a sense of excitement by planning things to look forward to as a family.  Schedule a fun outing.  Make a special dinner together at home.  Start the planning process for your summer vacation.

Most of all, take the time to remember the fun times you had over the holidays.  Those memories will carry you through until you are able to create even more fond memories next holiday season!

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Summer Clothing Storage Tips for Families

Posted on Sep 19, 2015 6:00:00 AM by Kim Schlauch

Flip Flops

With the kids back in school and the days getting shorter, the time has come to begin the transition from flip flops and shorts for snow boots and mittens.  While living in a geographic location that enjoys four seasons has its advantages, keeping up with wardrobe transitions necessitated by the changing temperatures can be a bit challenging.

Here are five summer clothing storage tips that can help the transition go a bit more smoothly:1. Prepare for Storage

Storing off-season items in a separate location helps free up closet and drawer space for more seasonal clothing.  In addition, it limits what your children have access to, thus minimizing the mess they can make, the amount of laundry that could accumulate, and, if they are not available to him, can prevent the battle between you and your little one over wearing that favorite pair of shorts out in sub-freezing weather.

If you do not already have a separate storage area, identify one and obtain packaging to fit that location, such as plastic boxes for under the bed or sturdy resealable bags to store on closet shelves.

Storage Bin

2. Be Realistic About What to Keep

At the rate at which children develop, it is much more likely that your child will outgrow an item before it wears out.  With that in mind, before you decide what to hold on to, be realistic about what your child will actually fit into when the time comes to pull out the clothing again.  Set aside anything that might already be too tight or too short and determine which items might have enough wiggle room to get another season’s use out of.

Once you’ve weeded out clothing based on size, take a good look at what’s left and decide which items are truly worth keeping.  Are there items that have rarely or never been worn?  If so, the chances of them being worn next season are pretty slim.  On the other hand, some items might be too well-worn and might not make it through another season.

3. Determine What to Give Away and What to Throw Away

Once you’ve set aside what you plan on keeping, sort through the discard pile.  Items that are in decent shape might make great hand-me-downs for siblings, friends, or those in need.  Divide them accordingly and devise a game plan for preparing (e.g. cleaning) and distributing these items.

If the clothing is no longer wearable or if it is stained or damaged beyond repair, be kind and throw away or turn into rags instead of passing it along to others to deal with.

4. Clean and Mend Items Before Storing

Nothing is more disheartening than opening a box of clothing at the beginning of the season and expecting an item to be ready to wear, only to discover a missing button or a stain.  A little work up front can save you a lot of time and frustration down the road if you clean and mend items before you store them away.

Washing clothing and making sure it is dry before storing it has other advantages as well.  One dirty or damp item will affect all the other items, especially in an air-tight container.  Helpful Hint: place a scented dryer sheet in the bin before you close it to keep the items smelling fresh.

5. Plan for Off-Season Needs

There will be times, both expected or unexpected, throughout the winter months that you might have need for summer clothing.  For example, the planned Christmastime trip to a warmer climate or the unexpected indoor pool party in February.  With that in mind, leave some essentials in an accessible location, such as on the top of the pile in the storage bin or in a separate “emergency” pack.

What is a favorite summer clothing storage tip of yours?

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Home Storage Tip #121 For Parents and Students: One Box, Many Uses

Posted on Aug 16, 2014 6:00:00 AM by Kim Schlauch

plastic storage units 

I am always very appreciative of those parents who have blazed the trail ahead of me and were kind enough to share insights based on their experiences.  As a “thank you” to those trailblazers, I would like to take this opportunity to share an insight with you based on my experiences as a mother. 

12 Quart Plastic Storage Container

In my efforts throughout the years to stay organized and manage clutter, I have experimented with a number of different storage solutions.  While there are many good storage options out there, I have to say that my favorite by far is the simple and inexpensive 12-quart plastic storage container.  Here are just a few ways they have benefitted me around the house: 

Schoolwork Storage

When cleaning out my kids’ school folders in their first few years of grade school, I was never sure what to hold on to and what to toss.  As a result, I purchased a 12-quart plastic storage container for each child.  After unpacking their folders and reviewing their completed work, I’d place the papers in their respective bins.  At the end of the school year, as I went through each bin, it was fun to see the progress each child had made throughout the school year.  Better yet, looking at all the work at once gave me the perspective necessary to identify what should be kept as a keepsake and what could be sent to the “circular file.”  This practice to hold on to my kids’ work for a time has paid off on several occasions, specifically when we have been able to easily locate documents that have been labeled as “missing” in the classroom grade book.

Archival Storage

You may be wondering what I did with the kids’ school paperwork I decided to keep.  I simply purchased another 12 quart container for each child and put the prized paperwork there.  After several years when the bins were full, I went back through the paperwork to see if I could do any more paper weeding.  I must admit that I eventually broke down and purchased a second 12-quart archival container for each child.  This practice paid off as well, especially when my younger child was assigned activities I remembered my older child completing.  As it was helpful to be able to refer back to my older child’s work as a frame of reference.


When my children were old enough to start making their own school lunches, I set up two 12-quart containers: one that holds side dish items (e.g. small packages of pretzels, crackers or baked chips) and one that contains dessert items (e.g. single serve packages of cookies or cereal bars).  This has eased the stress of lunch making and empowers them by giving them a choice in deciding what to include in their daily lunches.  Once they add the main dish, fruit and drink, they have a complete and well-rounded meal.

family with cartoon house

What special insight do you have to share based on your experiences as a parent?