Posts by Myriam Gabriel-Pollock

8 Great Reasons to Downsize Your Home

Is your home still meeting your needs? For most people as they start their adult lives and possibly their families, they start upsizing to larger homes with bonus rooms and big backyards. What happens when the kids move out or your lifestyle changes? The word “downsize” may bring to mind recently retired folks who’ve decided to sell their big family home and opt for a sparkly new condo somewhere sunny, and with a pool a few steps away. While that is definitely one of the ways to do it, there are many more reasons to downsize. You don’t even have to be retired!

1. More Cashflow

The housing market in the Greater Seattle Area has been booming for years, and downsizing is definitely one way to create more cashflow. You could free up more cash with a lower or even no mortgage. With a smaller home you’ll also have lower utility bills and homeowner’s insurance; you may even save more with no more HOA dues or yard maintenance costs. It’s also a viable way to consolidate a lot of debt—and lower financial anxiety. For example, sell your home and with the profits, pay off your home equity loan, college loan, and credit card, then pay off most or all of your mortgage. If you’ve been in your home for at least 10 years and it’s value has gone up significantly, you can use that equity to your advantage.

2. Freedom

A smaller home is much easier to maintain. With our eldest launched, one in college, and one in high school, we no longer needed such a big house and yard. We downsized to a smaller but still spacious home with almost no yard, and with the house being brand new, there is nothing it needs in terms of updating or remodeling. Less to clean and keep up = more time for leisure! I’ve got a friend who is loving the freedom of her downsize from a single-family house to a condo in a doorman building. She calls it a “lock and go” setup because she literally turns one key and she can travel and work remotely from anywhere in the world.

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Ideas for This Year’s Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and this year is decidedly different. If you are not taking part in a traditional gathering, there are still so many wonderful ways to celebrate. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because, unlike Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas, it has not been fully commercialized. The day is all about being grateful. There is always, always something to be grateful for! So brew up some pumpkin spice chai and read on for some ideas on what to do this Thanksgiving Day.

Get Movin’

Take a simple walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the Autumn air and colors. Find a great hike—the trails won’t be crowded today! Walk or bike one of the Seattle’s areas 15 best city trails—how lucky are we to live in such a gorgeous part of the world! If you really want to break a sweat, do a Thanksgiving race. There are several races that have implemented COVID-safety precautions. Seattle has a Turkey Trot with waved starts, Woodinville has a Virtual Turkey Trot, and Issaquah is offering neighborhood-focused Turkey Trots.

Reconnect

Use this day to get in touch with family or friends you haven’t heard from in awhile. Give them a call; who doesn’t love to see their phone light up with a familiar name instead of “Scam Likely”? Write or type out letters/emails if that suits your communication style better—put the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (virtual this year) on the telly to get you into the spirit.

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A Parent’s Guide to Getting Your ADHD Student to Start School On Time

The key to starting remote school on time starts the night before. Since kids with ADHD may have sleep issues, a solid sleep routine can help your child be successful with their morning routine.

Begin the sleep ritual early. Turn off any electronic devices well ahead of bedtime, if possible. We know this is tough when school is currently remote and kids’ laptops and netbooks are their only real connection to their learning environment. It’s also challenging if your student is up late studying, but aim for an early bedtime as much as you can. Try a non-electronic ritual—like reading together or setting out the next day’s outfit—to help ease your child’s transition towards bedtime. Taking a hot shower or bath before bed can help the body get into sleep mode. Some kids with ADHD like to settle down with a book on tape or on Audible, but if that is too stimulating a white noise machine can help your child tune out noise and settle into sleep easier. If possible, try to avoid evening sports or lessons as these may overstimulate your child, making it more difficult for them to fall asleep. Try different strategies until you come up with a sleep routine that works well for your child.

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When Your Empty Nest Refills

Has your empty nest been refilled in light of this year’s unprecedented events? Guess what, you are not alone! According to a recent survey by Country Financial, 1 in 5 parents have had adult kids move back home in 2020. For younger millennials (24-29 year olds), 39% of them are either planning to move back home or have already done so. In some cases a child who was supposed to move out is staying home instead because their university is currently still remote-only. Whatever the reason, having a kid or two at home when you were expecting to be an empty nester is probably a surprise. We’ve got some tips on how to keep things positive and harmonious while enjoying this extra time together.

Set Expectations

Your kiddo is now an adult, and not only should you treat them as such, but they should also behave accordingly. Let them do their own laundry, give them chores, take turns doing groceries and making dinner—you get the idea. Unless you want your house to feel like your adult children’s personal “bed & breakfast,” set these expectations early on. It’s easy for your relationship to regress to the parent-child dynamic, but really try not to let it. Instead, move it towards more of an adult-roommates dynamic.

Communicate Needs

Everyone will have specific needs and these should be addressed and agreed upon. For example, if you and your spouse are accustomed to having dinner at 6pm but your late-working daughter likes to eat at 9pm, work out a compromise involving cooking and heating up leftovers. If your son has a daily 8am call with his boss, move your daily morning treadmill date with Van Halen earlier or later (or get AirPods!). It’s also important to communicate about finances. If your child is working, do you want them to help pay for utilities and groceries? If not, do they need financial support, and how much? Talking about it and clarifying details will make it a bit less stressful for both of you.

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Fall Decluttering: What To Get Rid Of

It’s probably safe to say most people are spending a lot more time at home these days! With Fall coming and the cooler, wetter weather on the horizon, there is even more indoor time to be had. While we’re all looking forward to pumpkin spice lattés, new Netflix shows, and the start of the holiday season, we should also take the opportunity to get rid of stuff. “Stuff” is an excellent catch-all term for items that just seem to accumulate over time and overstay their use and need. I look at the start of every season as a perfect time to clear out certain spaces around the house. These are awesome mini projects that should take no more than 1-2 hours each. Do one or two for a few weekends, and by Halloween you’ll have accomplished quite a lot!

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Put Your Home On An Organization Diet

We’ve all gone on a food diet at some point—changing the way you eat to create a more balanced and healthy body, mind, and lifestyle. Ever think of putting your cluttered and disorganized home on a diet? It’s the same idea, except this time you’re working on changing your household patterns and habits instead. Clearing out the clutter and getting your home more organized is a huge boost to your health, both physical and mental. With more time spent at home than normal, it’s the perfect time to work on your home environment. Enlist your other household members and spend a weekend or two on this new “diet”! Of course, if you don’t have the time or the energy, or if you just feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to bring in a professional organizer.

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Hiking in the Time of Coronavirus

Washington Trails Association
June 2020

Recreating responsibly as lands reopen

Here are the six tips to help you make the best decision for how to get outside right now. Making temporary changes to how you hike right now will help keep everyone healthier. Of course, if you’re sick, please stay home and take care of yourself. We hope you recover quickly.

RECREATE RESPONSIBLY

Know Before You Go: Use WTA’s Hiking Guide to plan your outing. Pick a couple backup trails in case your first pick is crowded.

The Hiking Guide and sidebar here include closures. If the area is closed, don’t go.

Plan Ahead: Head for lesser-traveled trails, and have a couple of alternates in mind if your first-choice is crowded. If your alternates are also packed, use WTA’s Trailblazer app to find another trailhead near you. Be sure to notify whoever you left your hiking itinerary with of the change.

Bring include hand sanitizer and a face covering. Wear it while passing other hikers; covering your face protects other folks from any particles you may be breathing out.

Pack a lunch and any extra treats you will want on the way there and back.

 

Read the entire article at Washington Trails Association.

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What Happens During A Simplify Experts Assessment?

If you’ve been reading our monthly newsletters, following us on social media, or checking out our website, you are probably familiar with Simplify Expert’s amazing offer of a complimentary consultation. Founder Denise Allan visits your home and spends about an hour meeting with you and assessing your organizing needs and goals.

I am a Simplify Experts employee, but I am also a homeowner with current decluttering needs! With one child launched, another off to university in the Fall, and only one teen left living at home, our family will be downsizing to a smaller home in a couple of months. Our current home has 10 years’ worth of accumulation. Going from a fairly large home to a medium-sized home means getting rid of significant pieces of furniture; toys, games, sports equipment, books, and clothes that our older kids no longer need; and all kinds of household items we no longer use.

The closing date for our new home was looming, and the listing date for our current home was moved up. We weren’t quite in “panic mode,” but we did need to speed up our process and get the house ready—fast!—for the video/photo pro, and then to list a few days after that. You’d think after four months of quarantine we would have already completely organized and decluttered the house (as well as learned a new language and kept a sourdough starter alive). Our home wasn’t particularly messy or disorganized, but once we started the process of going through everything, it felt and looked like a small tsunami had hit. My kids took everything out of their closets, shelves, and under-bed storage. My husband and I did the same with our offices, the storage room, rec room, and study. The hallways and larger rooms became depositories of everything and we could barely even walk through! Overwhelmed much?

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5 Simple Ways to Update Your Home That Will Add Value

How long is your home’s to-do list?

Take a moment and think about how many tasks around the house you’ve been putting off. Perhaps a bathroom coated with chipped paint or an outdated carpet has been lurking in the back of your mind. Or, maybe your home requires more serious home renovations like replacing a leaky roof or redeeming some worn down siding.

Whether it’s a major haul or a project you can squeeze into one day and do it yourself, your newfound downtime could be perfect for making some of those updates. Before you set any plans in motion, ask yourself if the project is worth both your time and money. In other words, you shouldn’t make any serious alterations to your home simply for better looks because oftentimes it isn’t guaranteed that your home’s value will increase as a result.

So, which updates are worthwhile? Read on to find out which efforts, from largest to smallest, you can make to improve your home along with some insider tips on being smart with your money.

First, let’s take a look at a couple of bigger renos that are both popular and profitable.

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7 Easy Habits to Keep Your Home (Almost) Germ-Free

While most of us have never dealt with a global pandemic before, we are all widely experienced at cleaning our own homes. It’s not just about using disinfecting cleaners—though it is definitely important to use these regularly to sanitize surfaces. We’re talking about simple things you can do to keep germs from entering and proliferating in your home. If you get your family to make a habit of following these steps, you’ll keep those nasty germs at the minimum (c’mon, you know no one can achieve 100% germ-free status!), for now and for the future.

1. Leave Your Shoes at the Door

According to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shoes may potentially function as carriers for the COVID-19 virus. Think of all the places you go with your shoes (your neighborhood sidewalks, the grocery store, the doctor’s office, etc.). Our shoes are capable of tracking in and spreading germs around our homes. Keep a storage shelf and a bench in your entryway or in the garage, and get everyone in the habit of removing their shoes and then washing their hands. Have comfy slippers or house shoes nearby for an easy transition.

2. Sanitize Your Cleaning Tools

Sponges, mops, dish cloths, dust rags, cleaning cloths—these could all be major breeding grounds for germs. Sponges and dish brushes are easy: pop it into the dishwasher every time you run a load, and regularly replace sponges every few weeks. The other cleaning cloths should be sanitized in between uses with a Hot washer + High dryer cycle, or a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water. Tools with handles, such as brooms, scrubbers, and buckets, can be sanitized by wiping the handles and exteriors down with disinfectant.

3. Put Down The Toilet Lid

The term “toilet plume” is actually as bad as it sounds. It is the undetectable spray your toilet releases upward of 15 feet each time you flush the toilet, dispersing microscopic bacteria that can linger in the air for up to six hours and settling down on any surfaces (including towels) in your bathroom. The no-brainer, easy solution is to put down the lid before you flush. One second of “work” for a pretty big payoff.

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