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Spring Cleaning: Clothing Clean-Out

Kids grow. There are very few times where your kid is going to fit in the same item of clothing they wore frequently a year prior. That’s why every spring (and fall) we usually do a huge ‘Clothing Clean-Out’, where we dig through closets, dressers, hampers, baskets, and the far corners of the laundry room where we never dared trek before. Then go through our 8 step process to getting rid of everything we really don’t need to store any longer.

Is it stained, torn, fraying, or damaged in some way?
Kids wear clothes out. If the item in your hand is irreparably damaged (or you don’t plan on repairing it), it’s time to toss it. Check over every item for bad stains, holes, fraying (especially in the bottoms of pants), and loose seams.

Does it have it’s matching set?
Some items, like socks, shoes, mittens, and gloves require two items in order to be worn. Your kiddo can’t wear one glove to school. If you can’t find the matching pair to a certain item, it’s probably time to throw the lone one left, away.

Can they fit it?
If that pair of pants you’re holding look more like capris when your child puts them on, it’s probably time to get rid of them. If your child can grow into the item, hold onto it. But anything they’re too big for has no use being held onto any longer. They’re not going to get any smaller, are they?

Do they wear it?
You know that suit your son wore 3 months ago to your cousin’s wedding when he was the ring bearer? It’s adorable, isn’t it? But is he truly ever going to wear that suit again? If he hasn’t worn it in three months and you don’t foresee another occasion to put it on in the near future- it’s time to store it or donate it. This also goes for other dress clothes, specialty wear (like sports uniforms, recital outfits, and clothes that only get worn on vacation).

Do they like it?
We as parents have a wonderful habit of buying clothes –we- like for our children. But if our kids don’t like it, and hence don’t wear it, it’s only cluttering up space in their closet drawer. Whether the tag is too itchy, your kid doesn’t like the color, or the style just doesn’t fit their “I’m only wearing pink now” phase, it’s best to kick that clutter to the curb.

Can it be passed down to a younger child?
Before you totally get rid of any wearable item, consider your younger kiddos. Can the item you have be passed onto them? Clothing for very young kids (children newborn to 1 year) typically only gets worn a couple of times before your baby outgrows it. If the item is still in great shape, it may be worth holding on to.
Will that child wear it?
But before you decide to hang onto items your older kids have outgrown you need to do a quick reality check with yourself. Will the child you’re saving this item for, actually wear it? Your older child may be tall and thin, where as your younger kid is a bit rounder around the midsection. Are all of the items from your older kiddo going to appropriately fit your younger kid? If not, they probably won’t actually end up wearing their older siblings clothing.
Does that child like it?
If your kid is old enough to decide for themselves about clothing, get their opinion on an item before you pass it along to them. Do they like the item? Are they actually going to want to wear it? If they seem genuinely excited about the item, great- give it to them. If not, maybe it’s best not to have it still taking up space, just in a new and different area.

Clearing Out Clutter: The ‘Do You Use It’ Toy Challenge

If you’re like me you believe play is a huge part of a child’s ability to grow, learn, and prosper. So we have a lot of toys. It’s hard for me, as a mom who thinks everything holds sentimental value, to purge out the toy box from time to time. But every year my family does a ‘Do You Use It’ Toy Challenge- where we attempt to get rid of everything that isn’t being played with.

Let child choose which toys they’d like to get rid of.
First things first, I let my child decide what toys they want to get rid of. As kids grow they often go through a ‘this is for babies’ phase- where specific toys just aren’t worth keeping any more. We donate our toys to families in need through religious foundations, orphanage / foster care donations, and family shelters. My children are always made aware of the fact that their toys will be going to kids who will love and treasure them.

Throw out all broken / worn toys.
Don’t save that toy that you think you’ll fix someday. Don’t save the doll who’s had her left arm missing for at least 3 months now (and we’re fairly sure it’s never going to be found). Toys that are too dirty to ever be clean again, missing parts, or are somehow broken are probably ready to be put in the trash.

Keep all sentimental toys.
Yes- it is totally fine to keep sentimental toys. But be realistic about what ‘sentimental’ actually is. A toy that your child slept with for most of their childhood? Yes- that’s sentimental. But a race car that they trucked through the mud for one summer probably isn’t going to hold a ton of value compared to the 10 other race cars that they also played with.

Place all toys in bins outside of child’s room.
Once you’ve gone through all of the toys, place every single toy you’ve kept in a bin outside of the child’s room. Yes- every toy (except the sentimental ones that you are absolutely sure you want to keep).
As child uses toys they remove them from the bin and place them back where they keep them
Explain to your child that they can take any toy they want from the bin if they are going to play with it. Then, if they play with that toy- they can put it back where it’s supposed to be stored in their room when they are finished. Then; let them play.

After three weeks all unused toys can be donated.
Once three weeks have gone by you will be able to look into the bin and see all of the toys your child has chosen not to touch. Some toys you may know your child will want to play with in the future- those can be taken out. Some toys may also be better suited for a sibling- those toys can also be taken out. Everything left in the bin can be donated, as it isn’t being used.

Tips For Running Your Own Business As A Stay At Home Mom

I am blessed to be able to stay home with my children and work from the comfort of my living room… or kitchen… or bedroom. But sometimes staying home with the kiddos AND working can become immensely overwhelming. I still struggle with time management, and the best way to get better is simply to practice effectively. So here are a few of my best tips (through trial and error) for the moms who work from home.
HAVE A SEPARATE PRIVATE WORK SPACE
One thing I struggle with is constantly catering to the kids. I am lucky to have an entire spare bedroom that I use as my office and work space. There is a child gate near the door that keeps the little ones out. The bedroom overlooks the living room where my kiddos can safely play while I work. Even just having a child gate zoning off a small portion of your kitchen where you can sit and work really does help eliminate distractors and allow you to focus. If you have a specific place where you always work, you’ll be more organized and more inclined to actually focus on work when you’re in that place.
MAKE A SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT
Schedules mean everything for stay at home moms. We all have hectic lives. Between school, extra curriculars, medical appointments, and day-to-day fun stuff it can be really hard to actually make time to sit down and work. That’s why having a schedule is so important. Have specific times set aside throughout your day for certain tasks. Then DO those tasks during that time. Time to work. Time to clean. Time specifically to meet the children’s needs.
WORK WHILE THEY SLEEP
When the kids are asleep the house is at peace… sometimes. But quiet can help anyone focus. Wake up an hour early to check emails, update social media, or make phone calls. And stay up an hour or two after the kids have fallen asleep to work on finishing projects and interacting with customers. Those few hours when your children are in bed are completely absent of distractions and a great time to focus on activities that require a lot of attention.
HAVE PRE-PLANNED ACTIVITES FOR INDEPDENDANT PLAY
Each Sunday I sit down and get together 2 activities each day that I can give my kids to keep them independently entertained. I’m not a huge fan of TV and try to avoid movies (although they are a great way to keep the kids still for a minute). I’ll print out coloring pages, get craft kits and science kits together, look up fun recipes they can do on their own, and even buy small toys, games, and books. Then, when they are “bored” and I desperately need a minute to finish something- I can give them a quick activity and have a moment to focus on my business.
SIGN THE KIDS UP FOR OUT-OF-THE-HOUSE ACTIVITIES
Sports, clubs, classes, and volunteering opportunities are all great ways to keep your kids constructively entertained AND give you time to work. Let your children choose activities that they personally are passionate about or interested in learning. Then sign em’ up. It’s a win win for everyone involved. Your kids get to do something they enjoy- and you get an hour or two to focus on your business.
LET THE KIDDOS HELP
I allow my children to help with tasks depending on their age. And yep- I pay them too. They can earn money helping me, just like they would earning money for chores. Help is entirely optional, but if a child expresses interest in helping I don’t turn them down. My younger kids can help pack and put sticky labels on products and packages. My older kids can read through my emails and delete spam- or weigh packages and print shipping labels.