The holidays are about traditions. Some holiday traditions are generic and some are unique to the family, some are old and some new. At some point, the job of passing on these traditions shifts from the grandparents, to parents of young children. It’s not discussed, it just happens that way. Family traditions need repetition in order to carry on, much like good habits need repetition to stick. In our half Jewish family, we do a great job with the traditions surrounding Christmas, but we are lousy about lighting the menorah at Hanukkah. This year we only remembered the first day, shame on us. Actually, shame on my husband and me, because we need to be the ones to carry out these traditions so that they become ingrained in our children’s experience of the holidays. It’s that whole lead by example thing. Something else the kids won’t continue, if we don’t, and that is to properly thank their relatives for gifts received.
It’s easy to open a box under the tree, but someone made an effort to pick the gift out. Maybe they even waited in an irritatingly long line at the post office to mail it. They didn’t do it for the recognition, they did it out of love. In my opinion,
Once the holidays are over, “on average, more than 1 in 4 gifts go unused.” “79% of Americans admit they never use some of their gifts,” found a recent study by Sparefoot.com. That means in a family of five receiving 4 gifts each, every holiday season 5 items would go unused. If these unwanted and unused items remain in the home over 10 years this would be 50 items. 50 boxes taking up space needed for other things. This number is very conservative – many more gifts are given in a typical family. This statistic also doesn’t include gifts received for birthdays and other special days as well. All these potentially unwanted gifts contribute to our clutter, our overstuffed closets, cupboards, and toy chests.
Folks will often tell us: “We should keep it because it was a gift. We may use it one day. We can’t give it away it is brand new. The gift has value. Maybe we’ll re-gift it. Maybe someone in the family will use it.”
When we keep unwanted items eventually our homes become cluttered and this clutter creates stress and anxiety. If the closets are full then it becomes difficult to retrieve what we need. We lose track of where things are. Toys take over several rooms in the house because there is no more space in the children’s bedrooms or playroom. Kitchen counters disappear under unused appliances and gadgets making meal preparation and cleaning difficult. Garages fill up with bins and boxes and cars no longer fit. The home stops being a restful place. Anxiety and stress impacts how the family functions.
Once the receiver thanks the giver warmly, the receiver has no further obligation to the giver. If your children receive a new board game from grandma and show little interest in playing it, snap a picture of the kids playing the game and let it go. If you receive a duplicate on something you already own, consider donating one of the items.
Clutter in our homes has also been linked to poor diet choices. Cluttered kitchens have been linked to increased snacking. Many Americans will make New Year’s Resolutions to eat better or to begin a diet. Many agree that in addition to a food diet they also need a clutter diet.
To keep clutter from growing, utilize the one in one out policy. If you received a holiday gift of a kitchen gadget you are excited about, donate a kitchen gadget from your cupboards that you no longer use. Love your new Nespresso coffee machine? Donate your old coffee maker. This way you will create space for your new gift without increasing the volume of stuff in your home. Utilize this strategy in every room of your home.
Much like eating healthfully, keeping a home clutter free is an ongoing challenge. Both require tenacity. To be successful, sometimes we seek the assistance of a nutritionist and sometimes we seek the support of a professional home organizer! Are you ready to begin your clutter diet in 2017?
I don’t need to write about all the different demands on a mom’s time and energy. You already know all about that. You are deep in it every-single-day-of-your-life, just like all of us. After all, you are the person keeping the family going. Sometimes things go along relatively smoothly. Other times, well, things can get a little crazy.
For example, I left the house today to go to an appointment and two blocks from my house I realized that I had automatically started driving to the kids’ school. A few minutes later I made another wrong turn, my inner autopilot taking over once more. This hasn’t happened before. Sure, I’ve
The day our children make their first scribbles with a crayon we begin collecting and storing their art and other keepsakes. Beginning in preschool the volume of children’s crafts, art projects and first handwriting efforts sent home increases dramatically. By elementary school, your child’s keepsakes can start to become overwhelming.
We recommend storing children’s keepsakes in a clear plastic file box. The Container Store has a great extra-large file tote box. Label the tote box with your child’s name and create a file folder for each grade, starting with preschool. These files will give you a year by year record for your child making it easy to pick out what you would like to include in a scrapbook.
As your child brings schoolwork home, show them where to recycle paper they do not need. Take out items you would like to save and file them. File school and sports photos together with other schoolwork you are keeping. For those oversized art pieces, we like to use a large art portfolio. When you file these art pieces, note if they are labeled with name and date. We recommend cleaning out backpacks during all three-day weekends and holiday breaks.
The end of the school year is a good time to take a close look at what keepsakes you have saved. Lots of paper and projects come home at that time. Keep only the best samples of your child’s best work. Many parents like to display their child’s ceramics for a short time. Take a photo of pieces that you like, but which might be too awkward to store long term. This way you have a record and a memory of your child’s creation.
Storing keepsakes can cut into your available storage space. Store full bins on top shelves in closets, or in the garage. Active bins should be easily accessible. Some children love to hang on to their work. Others may not. Be mindful of how you and your child feel about keepsakes. Ultimately it will be your children who are storing these bins in their homes!
Holiday gift ideas are easy to find for young children. Young children grow quickly and move through various stages of toys they like. The tougher question is, what gifts do you get for the teens and adults on your list? After all, these are the folks who may already have homes full of the latest electronic gadgets and who might not “need” anything.
1. Spring Break or Summer camp enrollment is a great gift for tweens and teens.
2. Cooking classes from PCC or Sur La Table are a wonderful gift for young and old.
3. A gift of lift tickets at a local mountain is appreciated by teens or adults.
4. A photo book of a recent trip is a great gift for grandparents.
5. Airplane tickets for college students or young adults to come home and visit are very appreciated.
6. A gift of a spa day for ladies in your family is always a hit.
7. A Mani/Pedi is a fun gift idea for the tween or teen in your house.
8. Play tickets for two or for the entire family make a memorable gift.
9. Concert Tickets to a favorite artist coming to town are coveted by teens or adults.
10. Create lasting memories by gifting a family photo session with a local photographer.
11. Tweens and teens love music service subscriptions like Spotify, YouTube Red or iTunes.
12. Give the gift of books through Audible. Children can listen to Audible books on their favorite device.
13. Private drum or guitar lessons are a fun gift for the musically curious member of the family. Hot air balloon ride is a great gift for an adventurous couple.
14. A tasty early dinner that you make at home and then a tour through the Bellevue Botanical Holiday lights would be a nice gift for friends and feels quite festive.
15. Make an impact in your community by adopting a family this holiday season.
It is a good idea to include a gift receipt with your present. As you check family members and friends off your list, keep a running total of the amount spent on gifts to stay within budget.
Happy holiday gift shopping to you all!
You may be thinking about holidays, but it is already the season to visit potential private schools and see which may be the best fit for your child. Whether you are considering applying for Kindergarten or Middle School the application process can seem daunting. Following are highlights of the application process:
At professional organizing company Simplify Experts, we attract one type of client over all others – busy families. You know who you are. You and/or your spouse may be juggling long hours at work, volunteering at your child’s school, attending your children’s many weekday and weekend activities, managing home upkeep, and perhaps even handling elder care. You rarely have time for yourself. Over time, clutter in your home builds and builds. You can’t find things. Sometimes, things fall through the cracks – bills don’t get paid on time, tax returns are late, appointments are missed. Despite your best efforts you never seem to catch up. You can no longer host events at your house. The state of your home increases your level of anxiety.
If any of this resonates with you,
My son (who has ADHD) didn’t want to go to the end of school beach party with all his friends. The last day of school assembly and all the end-of-year excitement just wore him out. HE JUST WANTED TO GO HOME. I was torn. He would not see many of his friends next year because they were attending different middle schools. I wanted to enjoy the festivities with the other 5th grade moms. He’ll have fun once we get there, I thought to myself. But to the contrary, my son had been more irritable and anxious lately. He’d had trouble falling asleep. He was argumentative and he picked fights more than usual.
We did not attend the beach party that day. Transitions are tough for kids with ADHD. The end of the school year, moving up to middle school are both huge transitions. My son knew he’d had enough and I am proud of his self-awareness. We went home. A couple of hours later that day, he was bored (of course!) and asked for a playdate (with someone who had gone to the party and was still there). Sigh.
Parenting ADHD kids is tricky terrain in the best of times.
Celebrate the end of the school year and take advantage of this transition period to purge unwanted items, donate old toys, and make your child’s bedroom a welcoming uncluttered environment this summer. Talk to your child and explain that as a reward for completing a successful school year, you would like to help make their bedroom a really nice place for them this summer.