organization

How to Declutter Your Child’s School Papers

**Thank you to Amanda from Jasper & Willow for guest-posting today**

Before you get started on organizing kid’s school papers you need to clear the clutter first. And whoa mama can there be a lot of paper clutter! Learn how to declutter kid’s school papers the easy way by asking yourself these 3 simple questions.

As Summer approaches your home is probably drowning in papers from your child’s school. You already receive a ton of artwork and forms throughout the year.

Somehow, the last month of school seems to involve a whirlwind of paper and events.

All those papers can be really overwhelming. And, leave you feeling like you simply don’t know where to start.

You can also become paralyzed with the thought of throwing away the wrong item, and not get rid of anything. Right?

But, you desperately want to declutter your child’s school papers. And know that you need to get started.

Let’s tackle that overwhelm right now, and make decluttering easy. With these 3 simple questions to declutter your child’s school papers.

How to get started decluttering kid’s papers

Before you get started on decluttering your child’s papers, you will need a few tools.

  • Trashbag or box

For any papers that can be trashed or recycled. Think multiples of a drawing, forms that are no longer needed, or monthly calendars for school.

  • Put Away box

You do not need anything fancy for your Put Away box. This is simply a box or basket to store the papers in that will be filed later when you organize your child’s papers.

  • Fun tunes

Life is always better with an impromptu dance party. So boogie down while decluttering. I promise it makes it way more fun!

How do you decide what papers to keep?

Now that you have everything you need to get started decluttering. Let’s move on to which papers to keep.

  • Necessary Forms

Sometimes you need to run a copy of a birth certificate or another important document to your child’s school. If for any reason you happened to forget and left it out, be sure to hang onto it.

  • Sentimental Items

Sentimental items can be a really tough area to declutter. Especially when it comes to our children’s artwork, journals, and letters.

I will absolutely leave this one up to you. But I think it is fair to say that any items or ornaments with handprints and footprints are pretty sentimental. And, of course, special letters and journal entries should be kept as well.

I do encourage you to be realistic with this area of decluttering though. And, get really clear on what actually needs to be kept.

Questions to ask when decluttering kid’s school papers

The easiest way to get those school papers decluttered once and for all is by asking yourself 3 simple questions.

  • Is there more than one?

You know the drill. Several of the same flower, truck, or house drawing. Sticker sheets that pretty much all look the same. Or, maybe it is several programs form a child’s performance.

You simply do not need every single copy of every single thing. You may not even need one of that paper either. 😉

An easy way to get papers decluttered fast is to eliminate extras.

  • Could you get it again?

When looking at your child’s school papers. Decide if you could get them again if you needed it.

This will be more in line with forms, immunization records, and report cards.

The truth is you probably don’t need to be holding onto all of those items. And, if you did get rid of them you can probably get copies of those items again.

Let me share an example.

My in-laws recently moved. And that meant some boxes, filled with items from my husband’s childhood, were headed our way.

One of the boxes was filled with school papers. And a big chunk of those papers was a massive stack of report cards. I bet you can guess where those report cards are now. Spoiler alert: In the shredder.

Now, I cannot possibly imagine any scenario in which we would need those report cards again. But, I bet we could get them if we did.

And, I feel confident you could definitely get copies of your children’s too. It may take a phone call or email, but wouldn’t you rather deal with that than a mountain of paper?

  • What is the worst thing that could happen?

It can be really tough decluttering your child’s artwork and other sentimental items from the school. You can feel stuck, and really unclear on if it is okay to let something go.

A great question to ask yourself if you are feeling stuck is: what is the worst that could happen?

Dig deep with this one.

Because the truth is, probably nothing. Tossing out a hand drawn picture of your home, or a form where they traced their name will not cause your world to crash.

So, breathe through it. And get really clear on what to keep. Because eliminating all that paper clutter is really freeing, and I do not want you to be weighed down.

Pro Tip: Take pictures of your child’s artwork, and create a collage photo book. This way you have a nice book filled with all of your child’s artwork from the school year. Instead of a ton of papers.

Wrap Up

You now know how to declutter your child’s papers, and are feeling less overwhelmed by the whole process. And are clear on what questions to ask to get you started, or if you are feeling stuck.

You totally got this mama. I am right behind you cheering you on each step of the way!

If you are looking for another great project to get things organized before the Summer break. Be sure to check out how to get all of those outdoor toys organized with this simple garage toy organization set up.

 

 

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You might also like –
How to Organize School Papers
DIY Closet Toy Organization
Garage Toy Organization
Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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DIY Garage Toy Organization

Our garage is a workhorse year-round!  My mantra is, everything we own has a place of its own so that everyone knows where it goes.  This eliminates mom doing all the work of picking up.  So, we needed some kid-friendly garage organization.
Before

Garage Toy Organization Problem

We had this extra plastic shelf (similar) we weren’t using anymore now that we have built-in basement storage, see that here).  So I claimed it for kids outdoor toys.  However, a shelf in and of itself doesn’t make an organized space!
When the kids picked up, they just tossed stuff in its general direction with no rhyme or reason, which drove me crazy since we were inevitably digging around for a rogue baseball!

3 Goals for Garage Toy Organization

 

  1. Organize the space so that the kids could easily access and put away their toys independently
  2. When I drove in my garage it would be a more appealing site
  3. Do the project with things I already had on hand so I spent no money

DIY Garage Toy Bins

 
With those goals in mind, I got to work!  I evaluated what toys we had and came up with logical storage categories like basketball, baseball, water toys, etc.  Then, I dusted off my Silhouette Cameo and made some vinyl letters for each category to adhere to matching clear storage bins I had in the basement.   So far I had both the vinyl and storage tubs so my total was $0.
After I cut the vinyl out, I removed the excess vinyl around the letters.  Then Vera helped me by placing a contact paper over the letters and scratching hard so that the letters could be transferred to the bins.

 

Then we placed the contact paper with letters on to the storage bins and scratched again to adhere them to the bins.  Then we peeled back the contact paper to reveal the letters.  If they were pesky, we just scratched a little as we went slowly.

As you can see I had some little hands helping me the entire time.  I love when my kids help because it gives them ownership over the project and they are more inclined to use and care for what they helped make.

 

 

Sorting the Toys into Bins

After we got all of the vinyl letters adhered to the bins, it was time to take them outside and begin sorting.   We laid out all the bins and then I called the troops to help me sort.  We purged any broken items and placed balls that needed air on dad’s workbench!
The kids then thought of logical locations for each of the buckets.  They decided it was best to keep the bubbles out of Lucy’s hands since that could be a big mess!  The water toys aren’t accessed as often so those were designated to the top shelf along with a basket of my gardening items.
When we finished up organizing, I looked over at those steps and thought those need face-lift!  We had worked so hard on the toys, the steps looked sad!  So what always happens at our house, one project leads to another.  Anyone else?

One Project Always Leads to Another

So I ventured to the basement storeroom to see what paint we had on hand.  While the kids were at VBS that night, I painted the steps and trim with our trim paint, neither had ever been painted since we moved in 4 years ago.  Then, I gave the door a good scrub with my microfiber cloth!  What a huge difference it made!

The Final Touch for the Door

I knew we were close but I just thought the door could use a little pizzaz so I went back to my Silhouette Cameo and whipped up a welcome home vinyl sign for the door and followed the same steps I did for the storage tubs!  Then I grabbed a little magnet clip to affix a wreath I had in storage!  I love the way it turned out.  What do you think?

 

 

To recap our goals, I wanted a space for the kids to be able to independently organize and store their toys, I wanted it to be more appealing to the eye when we drove in and I wanted to spend NO MONEY.  I am happy to report we met all of those goals!

Update –

We have had this toy organization for almost two years and I am happy to report, it’s still functioning great for us.  We occasionally have to clean out the totes but overall the kids can put away items independently which makes this mom happy!
We did add a screen door to the back door which we love.  I can see the kids playing while I cook dinner and it lets in a nice cross breeze in case the bacon burns (all.the.time).  The screen door kit was about $60 at Home Depot and took under an hour to install!

How do you organize your outdoor toys?

In full disclosure, I didn’t show you our 3rd stall garage because that’s full of pedal toys and bikes!  I haven’t found a cute way to store those yet!  I hang them up and then the kids want them so for now, they are all there. It might just be the season of life we are in!  How do you store bikes and pedal toys?


 

Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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How to Organize Kid’s School Papers

Every day my kids come home from school and one of their first jobs as part of their after-school routine (read more about that here) is to empty their school folders.  Some days my entire kitchen island is chock-full of school papers.  So, how do you organize your kid’s school papers?  What do you keep?  Where do you keep it?  And the most popular one – Is it okay to toss school work in the trash?

It’s important to have a plan so you can know confidently what to do, what to keep and toss without guilt.  Now you know me, It can’t be too complicated or I won’t follow through.  It must be simple and purposeful.   I am going to share with you the simple way we have found to tame the school paper monster and store the special papers as keepsakes!

 

How do you organize your kid’s school papers?

Sort The Papers Daily

Every day after school I go through my kid’s paper.  Inevitably, there’s a math paper, a cut and paste paper, possibly a writing assignment and occasionally an art project although the majority of art projects come home at the end of the year for us!  I look over everything and then determine items I might want to save long-term.

Things I like to keep include –

A funny or meaningful story

A special art or craft project

Math test or work the demonstrates grade-level learning

End of the year report cards

School Pictures

Awards

If you are not sure you should keep it or save it (within reason, you don’t need to save everything) go ahead and keep it for now.  You will have another opportunity to pare down later!  I toss whatever I don’t want to keep in the trash or recycling bin.  It’s okay to not keep everything, let that be my encouragement to you!

 

 

Record Date & Name on Papers Before You Store Them

This is key!  I have mom brain and I think I will remember what grade level and child this work belongs to but inevitably in the early years before I did this I forgot.  So, when you sort a paper you want to keep, write the child’s name, grade level and current date on the back or top corner of the paper.

 

 

Store the Papers in A School Bin

I place all the kid’s paperwork into these plastic hanging file folder boxes.  We now are the proud owners of 4 boxes!  As I collect things throughout the year, I just pop them into the corresponding hanging folder.  You can store these totes in your basement, closet or pantry.

The important thing is not so much the location but the boxes need to be accessible so you can easily stow papers away.  You don’t want have to get out a ladder or go to lots of trouble or you won’t do it, or maybe that’s just me.

 

 

What do you need for your bin?

**Click the link, to shop now**

Hanging File Folders (pack of 20) 

Simple Purposeful LIving DIY School Organization Accessory Kit (SHOP HERE)

File Box (I suggest the bigger size – 18.5 x 14 x 11)

 

Once a Year, Pare Down

You will have an influx of paperwork at the end of the year.  You can do a quick sort as we talked about above but often times I can be very sentimental when I am close to something so I like to wait until mid-summer when I am emotionally removed from the situation so I can objectively pare down further what I want to keep.

I re-sort the folder for that grade level and possibly the previous grade levels, only keeping my very favorites.  I am only keeping one bin per child for all school paperwork so I need to save room.  Ultimately, I know as an adult that’s all I wanted when my mom gave me all my things when I got my big girl house ;)!

 

What about their artwork?

We also have an art gallery made out of these Ikea curtain rods that we clip artwork on.  Our kids, as I said, bring all their artwork home at the end of the year so I ask them which ones are their favorites and we display those for the next year on our gallery wall.  After that year, then I pick a favorite or two to keep on the wall or store in their school bins.

My mom has framed 3 of our art pieces that were her favorites and they are displayed in the grandkid’s bunk room at the lake.  I hope to do the same as my kids get older and favorites emerge!

 

 

What about school pictures, sports photos, and other photographs?

We display the current year’s school photos as well as their current year’s sports photos.  All previous years, I pull out when I put the new one in the frame. I make sure to record their name, date and grade level and then save those in their school bins as well.

Sometimes, I will print pictures or kids bring home photographs from a school year and I’ll store those as well.

 

 

What about odd-sized artifacts?

We display some of the items like trophies, medals, pottery pieces in our kid’s bedrooms on their dressers.  As that area fills up, we transition the item to be stored in a bin in the top of their closet (since we don’t access it as often).  This bin houses items from when they were born (like what they wore home from the hospital) and other keepsakes they were given that don’t fit in the school bin.

As they age and the box fills up, we will get input from our children as to what to keep and what to toss but so far there’s still plenty of room!

 

What about special papers they have given to you?

Scott and I each have a special drawer in our bedside tables that we store special gifts, cards, and items our kids want to gift us.  As the drawer gets full, we sort out our favorites.

What about electronic items?

As your kids grow, more and more will be stored online.  You can create a file for each child on your computer and save a copy of that file.  Make sure you name it something specific and date it just like you would a paper copy.  You can also print a copy and store in the file system.  We have printed special emails and stored the paper copy.

Just Remember…

Keep it simple.  If you aren’t sure, save it for now and pare down at the end of the year or as your child ages and you need to make room.  It is okay though to throw things away.  Remember, your child won’t want everything.  Save the highlights.  When your child gets ready to graduate, you can simply pull out items to display at their graduation!


Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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Simple Kids Art Supply Storage Solution – Create an Art Cart

Do you have tiny artists and a whole lot of art supplies?  Do you want a simple art supply storage solution that your child can maintain independently?  If you answered yes, you need an art cart.

The problem we kept running into was that she would pull out all the supplies and it would be strewn across the table and then at the end of the day we would have to put it all away and it kind of became a daily battle. Does this sound familiar?  We needed a simple solution to store all the art supplies in one spot when they weren’t in use and allow our daughter to access them independently when creativity struck.

Finding an Art Cart for Art Supply Storage

I found our art cart at Target for $30 (SHOP HERE) which is similar to this one from Ikea (which you can get on Amazon).  All our daughter would have to do was it wheel it out of the pantry in our kitchen and pull it up to the table.  In no time flat she could get to work.
Once we got the cart home, the assembly was pretty straight forward.  After we built the cart together in about 20 minutes time, we got to work organizing each of the shelves.  We gathered all the supplies our daughter normally uses and sorted into like categories.  We created a little basket of crayons, one for stamps and stamp pads, another for markers, etc.

Organizing the Art Cart for Art Supply Storage

We designated the top shelf to hold all her most used supplies.  We got to work using dollar store containers to house all of her different supplies from glue, to her favorite pencils, markers, fun scissors, and favorite crayons.
The 2nd shelf held more supplies but things she didn’t use as often.  Things like stickers, beads, dot paints, stamps, and stamp pads as well as other crafty type supplies.
The bottom shelf then housed her coloring books, paint books and craft kids like this fashion one.

Storing the Art Cart

All in all, it was a fun project to work on with her and she could not have been more excited!  We have lived with the cart for over a year and she is still as in love with it as the day we set it up.  We taught her to pull it out while creating art cart and then to store away her supplies correctly and push the cart back into its special spot in our pantry.  She can do it all independently which is huge.
I know not everyone has a walk-in pantry, a local friend houses hers in her front coat closet.  Another friend stores it in the corner of their kitchen.  Is there a space out of the way that you could put it?  Sometimes, we just have to think outside the box and find an under-utilized space that could work harder.

Maintaining the Art Cart

Occasionally, the art cart needs a little cleaning.  Art projects get stacked up, markers get old and crayons get broken.  When the art cart starts to overflow, it’s a good sign we need to tidy it up.  It’s a good opportunity to sit with our daughter and teach her how to organize and tidy her space.  We grab a garbage bag and get rid of things that no longer work, relocate art projects to other places and make sure everything is in its rightful home.

Create an Art Cart Today

If you have a budding artist in your life, I highly suggest an art cart for your home.  Not only is it a functional project but so fun to work on together.  This would make a great present for a little artist in your life!  Where do you stow your art supplies for your kids?  Do you have a budding artist at your house?

Check out these Art Cart Supplies


Need Some Art and Activity Inspiration?  Check out these posts!

Simple Spring Activities + Spring Bucket List Printable

Simple Indoor Activities 

 

Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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Create A Toy Closet to Organize Your Toys

If you have kids, you have toys.  I have 3 kids so pretty much I could swim in toys especially with all the doting relatives that just brought armloads of gifts through our doors this holiday but I don’t.  Toys are a fact for this season of my life but we have made peace with the toys and created simple toy organization solutions.

So, how do you organize toys?

Create a space for toys like a toy closet.

Look around your house and determine a logical place you could create toy storage.  Do you have some cabinets you can clean out in your family room or kitchen?  In both of the homes we lived in, I decided to turn our main floor coat closet into a toy closet.  When we have guests over we invite them to hang their coats on a coat rack (like this one).

Look around your home, there has to be a space.  If you there’s a will, there’s a way.  You just have to decide what’s most important to you in this season of life. For me, it was finding a home for the toys!

Once you have a space designated for your toys, prepare it for toy storage.  We added more shelving to our toy closet to maximize the space and storage.  Don’t buy cute bins just yet!

Gather your toys and sort.

This is the most important step in the process.  Do not organize toys you don’t need.  Grab all the toys you want to store in the new space.  Grab 2 bins and a garbage bag.  It’s time to sort your toys into 3 categories.  Keep, sell/donate and toss.

By far, this is the most challenging part of the process for me, maybe you too.  Either you or someone you love spent good money on these toys and it’s hard to let go.  However, you know your kids don’t play with certain toys.  Make room for the toys they do play with.  You can either donate unwanted toys to a local charity, church, or family friend.  You can consign them as well.

You can invite your children into the process and ask them what they want to let go.  Letting go and purging is an important life skill you can teach your child now.

If you don’t want to get rid of a whole set of toys like barbies or baby dolls, thin it out.

toys sorted into clear plastic storage bins

Organize Toys into Logical Categories.

Now, that you have thinned out your toys, sort them into logical categories.  Once you determine the amount of each item, choose a toy organization tool.  Clear plastic tubs (like these) work great because everyone can see what’s inside.  Kids can easily ask for that toy and when a missing toy is found, it’s easy to put it inside the right tub.

Create Toy Organization that is Logical.

Above all, you want this to be functional long-term and for the kids to be able to pick-up independently so make the organization easy enough your child can put a toy away.  You will not keep up the organization system if it’s tedious, no matter how cute it starts out.  Trust me, I have made that error.

Place organized toys into toy closet or designated space.

Now it’s time to load up your toy closet.  Make sure to place items kids frequently request in a place that is easiest to access.  Place items that you want to help with, items with tiny pieces, up higher.

How do get your kids to clean up their toys?

Once toys are organized, your kids can grab a bin and play for a while.  When they are done, they can clean up and put that bin away.  Sometimes, we even set a timer for 5 minutes and try to beat the timer as we clean-up!  Clean-up is part of the process.  Another life skill we can teach our kids.

Toy Organization Over Time

In our home, we have two toy closets.  Rotating toys to different levels bring new vibrancy to toys that kids have become bored with.  Just the other day, I rotated the girls’ dollhouse to the basement and it was a brand-new toy again.  Storing toys in tubs means when you pull out a new tub, it’s new fun!

Toys are constantly coming into our homes.  Make sure you are consistently taking stock and decluttering old toys as you can.  If a toy bin can’t close, it’s time to thin it out.  Toys are a fact of our life but it’s possible to make peace with them and find them a functional home!


Now, tell me where you store your toys?  How do you store them?

You might also like –

DIY Garage Toy Organization

Shared Kids Closet Organization System

10 Steps to Clean Out Your Clothes Closet

 

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Simple Tips to Organize After Christmas

Tips to organize after Christmas
How is Christmas over already?  Now that it is, I want a nap.  Then, it’s time to tackle cleaning up!   Taking a little extra time and organizing after Christmas will help set us up for success for next year.  Take some time now and thank yourself later!  Trust me!

Fix it Before You Put it Away & Buy Replacement Items

If you want to finish up a craft, laminate an activity or fix a broken ornament — do it now.  I always think I will remember or have time next year and that’s never the case.
After Christmas is the perfect time to take advantage of season clearance and stock up on replacement items like lights and artificial trees.  I was so happy to see replacement lights for our tree that had partially distinguished last year.  No need to run to the store and disrupt our decorating!

Stow Away Christmas Cards & Update Addresses

I love them and hate to just toss them at the end of the season SO we punch a hole in the corner and tuck them onto a little metal ring like these.  My kids love to flip through the cards throughout the year.  We place our card on top and we have years worth of photo cards!
Update addresses in your address book or on your compute.  Some years if I am in a time crunch I can print them off since it’s in an address template.  I have also used the list for baby announcements and invitations.  It seems people move and I add to my list annually so that way I know exactly where to start next year and how many cards to order.

Label Your Totes

When I pack away my Christmas gear, I label what’s inside and each year I re-label if need be.  You would be surprised when you need something random in the middle of the year and the last thing you want to do is dig through every box.  This year I forgot to label which box our elf was in and guess who made a premature appearance.  Label the box your elf is in, take it from me.

 Place Like Things Together

I have one box for all of my Christmas tree decor.  My ribbons, lights, tree skirt and star plus some ornaments.  Then, I have a box just for my stair garland.
We store all of our Christmas decorations in Rubbermaid totes.  We built custom shelves that fit these totes 3 across perfectly.  I love that everything is in plastic so heaven forbid there’s heavy rain and our basement has water, everything is safe!  We also hang our wreaths in front of the totes on nails so they don’t get damaged.

Make a Donate Bin & Label

Place any items you didn’t use this year in a separately labeled tote so that you can donate or consign at the beginning of the Christmas season next year.  Most places will not take Christmas items now so it pays to be organized and ready!

Organize Presents

Find every gift a home.  You can read more about how I organize toys in this post.

Clean & Redecorate 

Now, last but not least a house can look sparse when all the Christmas decor disappears.  It’s the perfect opportunity to do a quick deep clean.  Then, redecorate with your everyday decor!

All Ready for Next Year

Pat yourself on the back, you did it!  As sad as it is to leave Christmas behind for the year, it feels so good to organize, purge and prepare for the upcoming year.  When we do it right now, we will be so thankful next Christmas!

Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple, purposeful life!
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10 Frequently Asked Questions about Meal Planning

When I tell people I meal plan for our family, they always want to know how I do it.  I shared how I meal plan in this post, read here.  Then, after I explain how I do it they have lots of questions.  So, I thought I would answer a few of the most frequently asked questions I get pertaining to meal planning today!

Download your free meal idea printable here.

1. How do you think of meals to make your family?

1. Ask your family for suggestions.

2. Create a list of your favorites.  Read this post for 25 go-to meals our family loves.  

3. Make a  board on Pinterest for main dish ideas, here is mine!

4. Go through the main food types – Italian, Mexican, all-American, soups, meat & side, within each of those categories you will come up with several ideas.  For example for Mexican cuisine, you can make fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas to start.

2. Do your kids eat everything you make?

No!  However, I only make one meal at dinner so the rule of thumb at our house is they have to eat the same number of bites as their age.  So, my 3-year-old has to eat 3 bites of each food item to be excused from the table.  I do ask my kids for any meal suggestions and they are always excited when their request is granted. #tacos #alwaystacos

3. How do you come up with new meal ideas and not get stuck in a rut?

I try to incorporate a new recipe one time every week or every other week, depending on our schedule.  New meals take more time to prep so I might save that recipe for the weekend.  Some new recipes are winners and some are losers.  With the Simple Purposeful Living Meal Planner, I will circle ones we like and cross out ones we don’t!

I also can flip back in the 52-week meal planner and see what foods we have been eating a lot and which ones we haven’t had in a while!

You can download my free meal idea printable full of more than 50 meal ideas to help you get started.  Sign up here to get your download.

4. What do you do for breakfast?

My family has a few basic choices and I make sure to check my pantry for what we need when I make my grocery list.  My husband loves cereal and orange juice so I just ask him what kind of cereal he wants next and order that for him.  The kids usually go between frozen pancakes & waffles, cereal, bagels, and toast.  I usually just do a Lara Bar with my coffee!

5. What do you do for lunch?

Once again, I just make sure my kids have items they like to take in their lunches.  They are creatures of habit so they like to take peanut butter sandwiches or meat and crackers with raw veggie, fruit and a small dessert.

My husband takes leftovers every day to work so I make sure to make more than I think we will eat of most meals.  Lucy and I either eat leftovers or she eats what the big kids pack in their lunches.  I sometimes like to eat those bagged salad mixes too!

Buy your meal planner here.

6. How often do you meal plan?

I like to meal plan once a week.  It works well for our family so that our meal plan matches our schedule.   If you are just starting out, I would suggest meal planning once a week so you don’t get overwhelmed.

7. Why do you meal plan?

I hate that feeling of not knowing what to make for dinner and then not having the right ingredients on hand to make something.  We don’t have the budget to eat out very often, so meal planning helps me to make simple meals that match our busy schedule without a headache.  A little planning ahead makes my world go round.

8. How often do you go to the store?

Once a week.  Once I meal plan, I order all my groceries online and pick them up usually on Mondays’ for the week.  Occasionally, I forget something or something comes up I didn’t account for and then either my husband or I will run to grab that item but that’s rare!

9. Do you use coupons or shop at different stores?

I don’t.  I online grocery shop.  Not being in the store, I am not as tempted by all those things not on my list.  I save a substantial amount of money and stay under our weekly grocery budget ($125) almost every week!

10.  What tools do you use to meal plan?

I use the Simple Purposeful Living 52-week meal planner.  You can create your meal plan and jot down your grocery list on the adjacent perforated grocery list.  When I get stuck on what to make, I can flip back and see what I have made in the past.  You can buy yours here.

You can download my free meal idea printable full of more than 50 meal ideas to help you get started.  Sign up here to get your download.

Need some more help?

I have you covered, check these resources out!

52 Week Meal Planner

7 Steps to Create a Weekly Meal Plan

10 Frequently Asked Questions about Meal Planning

25 Simple Meal Ideas + Free Meal Ideas Printable

How do you meal plan?  What questions do you still have about meal planning?  Make sure to leave them in the comments and I will answer them!  Don’t forget to head over to the Simple Purposeful Living shop and check out our new products!  They make perfect Christmas gifts.  Give the gift of simple and purposeful living this holiday season!

 

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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At Home School Supplies Organization – A Homework Drawer

Ready or not, back to school time is upon us!  Homework often accompanies school so I thought I would share a simple change I made that has made all the difference with homework! We affectionately refer to it as the homework drawer.  The homework drawer houses all the necessities my kids need to complete homework besides brain power and desire!

We have established a nice little routine to come in the door, stow away backpacks, unpack lunch boxes and take care of any homework.  Since we established the homework drawer, they don’t have to waste any time looking for a pencil or other tool and can get the job done so they can move on with the rest of the day!

We had a skinny kitchen drawer adjacent to our island and dining table that was just collecting junk so it was a logical choice and would better serve to stow homework supplies.  I picked up a few drawer organizing baskets (here and here) and collected all the supplies they tend to need, had the kids sharpen the pencils in our electric pencil sharpener and now it’s ready to go for all those afternoon homework sessions!

 Drawer Before Organization 🙂

I grabbed all the school supply essentials my kids needed so they would be handy and then sorted them into logical categories and placed them in these plastic baskets.  I found mine at Dollar Tree but you can find some similar ones here.

homework drawer full of office supplies

Our Homework Drawer Contains –

Calculator

Coin Money Assortment

Measuring Tape

Manual Pencil Sharpener

Glue Sticks

Pencils (We use those special ones they get from school & parties)

Tape

Erasers

Scissors

Brush (for before school last-minute hair brushing)

 

The rest of our art supplies like crayons, markers and colored pencils are housed in the art cart (read more about the art cart here) located in our pantry right next to our kitchen!

Ready or not, another school year is coming soon!  It’s always bittersweet waving goodbye to summer but it’s so fun to watch our kids grow and learn all year long.  Here’s to another great school year and more organized and efficient homework sessions with a simple addition of a homework drawer.  How are your preparing and organizing for the back to school season?

 

More Back to School Reads —
12 Back to School Picture Books to Read to your Kids
Best Ways to Beat the Back to School Jitters
10 Back to School Essentials
15 Money Saving Tips for Back to School Shopping
DSM Register Guest Feature — 20 Back to School Savings Tips from Moms Who Blog
Creating an Art Cart


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Linking up with Andrea and Becky – check out their blogs for more fun!

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Shared Kids Closet DIY Organization System

Last weekend, we completed several to-do list items for the adoption.  We worked hard on our dossier paperwork and also did a little closet organization, so our girls can start sharing a room. (Read more about our adoption here).

Vera’s closet before was the builder basic installation with just one hanging rod.  We added a simple bookshelf and it worked fine for her but I knew this space had a lot more organization potential and I was going to need to find it because it will house two little fashionista’s wardrobes ;)!

Before

I knew I wanted to divide the closet in half so that each sister had their own area to organize clothing and accessories,  room to stow books, keepsakes and extra bedding.  I searched Pinterest to gain some inspiration and found this idea.  Then, I tweaked the idea based on our needs.  Once I had the idea solidified in my mind, it was off to our local home improvement store to find the necessary pieces for the job.  This project is perfect for a weekend!

 

Project Materials

3 Cube Bookshelves (44 inches each) x 2

Metal Closet Shelves (size dependent on space & cut to size)

Wall-Shelf Brackets (2 per shelf)

L Brackets (to brace bookshelf to wall for safety – secure on both sides on top & bottom)

Level 

Drill

Jig saw to cut shelves to correct dimensions

Screws (4 to screw to shelves together and 2 per L bracket)

 

The Process

We bought two 3 cube shelves (like these).  Our closet is 96 inches tall (standard 8 foot ceilings) so placing two cubes together would be 88 inches tall.  Once we assembled the shelves, we measured and placed them in the middle of the closet, then stacked them and screwed them together.  For safety, we secured them to the wall with L brackets on both the bottom and the top so they wouldn’t topple over!

shelves screwed in closet organization

We then measured for 2 shelves on either side. We wanted both shelves to be 40 inches apart.  So, the first shelf would be 40 inches off the ground and then the next would be 80 inches off the ground.  That measurement mirrored our two shelves in our adult closet, so there’s room for the girls clothing to grow as they do!

We re-used the existing shelf and brackets as well bought two additional Rubbermaid brand 48-inch shelves, cutting each to the custom size needed.  He used brackets to affix them to the wall.  Scott used a hand level to make sure the shelves were level!

Installing shelves in closet organization

To finish up, he patched and painted the holes from the previous shelf placement.   By then, I was ready to organize the closet!  My favorite part of a project ;)!

So far, we have all of Vera’s clothes in there and everything fits.  Everyday in-season clothes will go on the bottom racks so the girls can easily access their outfit choices for the day and then less used pieces like dresses and out of season clothes can go on the top rack!

After

Lucy is ready to move in!  As you can see even longer maxi style dresses have room to hang comfortably!

 

Before and After

 

We also gave Solon’s closet a quick makeover in anticipation of him needing more floor space.  He is giving the girls his bunk beds and taking Vera’s queen bed.  We moved his bookshelf into his closet so he could still display his legos and books.  He doesn’t have as many hanging clothes so he still has plenty of space and more storage for his coveted collectibles ;)!

 

 

Before we tackled these projects, we decluttered the kids closets (read more about my closet decluttering tips here).  It was much easier making these changes with a clutter-free space!  Now the girls can’t wait to move in together.  I better start planning the rest of the transition!  Have a great weekend!

 

 

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Linking up with Andrea and Becky – check out their blogs for more fun!

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Kid-Friendly Way to Organize Kid Dishes

Kid Dish Organization that Promotes Independence

With 3 kids, the amount of times someone needs a drink is too many to count. Someone is always thirsty and they have a strong opinion on their glass type and color, amen?   So, I asked myself this question, “Is there a spot in the kitchen that the kids can easily access and can store their dishes?” 

Setting up an organizational system to promote independence in the kitchen is important.  They can get their own drinks and help with household chores.  Double win!  My kids have a few daily chores and that includes setting and clearing the table as well as unloading the dishwasher.  In order to do that successfully, their dishes had to be accessible so they could independently take care of the tasks.

In our home, we have a kitchen island with a couple of large drawers.  The middle drawer houses all of our towels.  This is important because there are plenty of spills around here (just us?) and they can quickly run and find a towel.  The bottom drawer was a perfect place to store all the plastic dishes, glasses and water bottles my kids used.  In addition, I placed the kid silverware in the front of a drawer where they could easily see and grab what they needed.  Now, not only our own kids, but our tiniest guests know what to do when they are thirsty.

Kitchen Chores

When they set the table, I usually set out the adult plates and glasses they will need on the counter.  They grab their own dishes, fill all the glasses with water and add napkins (or folded up paper towels 😉 to the table.  When we are finished with dinner, they know to put their dishes by the sink,  push in their chairs and wash their hands before dashing off to play!  Once they learned the routine, it became second nature to them, most of the time ;)!

When they unload the dishwasher, they stack anything that they can’t reach on to the counter right below where it belongs.  Then, all I have to do is open the cabinet and quickly put the item away to finish the job.  Lucy (2) happily assists with the silverware and kids dishes.  I always make sure to grab anything sharp and stow that before they begin!

How do you store your kid dishes?  How does your family help you with kitchen chores?  Around here, it’s all hands on deck to keep this ship sailing smoothly!  I remember unloading the dishwasher as a kid and setting the table.  I have always remembered the silverware are set in alphabetical order – fork, knife and spoon and that the fork goes on the left because it has 4 letters like left and the knife and spoon go on the right because they have 5 letters like the word right!

Here are our favorite Kid Dishes —

Plates, Bowls & Silverware

Picky Eater Rewards Plate

Read this post for more of our favorite kid lunches and kid kitchen products

 

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Linking up with Lindsay – check out her blog!

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