Seasonal

Your Step-by-Step Thanksgiving Guide

When November rolls in, it means the Thanksgiving countdown is on. You’ve got three weeks or so to plan and execute a fabulous Thanksgiving feast. If the mere thought of your Thanksgiving task list makes you cringe, we can help! Thanksgiving is about spending time with your special people and enjoying a traditional meal together. With our step-by-step guide, we can help you focus on that instead of stressing out about all the tasks at hand. Don’t aim to be a Martha Stewart-level hostess; remember, she has dozens of minions doing most of the work behind the scenes!

Early November

  • Finalize your Thanksgiving guest list. Take care of the calls, emails, and texts to nail down who is coming to your house for the big turkey meal. Let your family know who will be joining you for Thanksgiving and let them know you will need everyone’s help in getting your home ready.
  • Haven’t seen your dining room table in awhile? It’s time to clear away the clutter it’s buried under. Enlist your family’s help. As a part of playtime, children can return toys and arts and crafts to their bedrooms. You and your partner can put away items which don’t belong in the dining room. Resist hiding the clutter in a bedroom or closet to be dealt with later. If your dining room (kitchen, pantry, entryway) is buried, and clearing it out seems like an impossible task, don’t hesitate to contact Simplify Experts for help.
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Ho Ho Oh No! Holiday Time Management and ADHD

“I’m so confused!” was my first thought as I walked into Home Depot and saw frightening Halloween decorations for sale positioned right next to dazzling Hanukkah and Christmas delights. My initial reaction was followed by, “Wait, isn’t it a bit early for Christmas decoration sales?”. Then my heart skipped a beat and the panic set in: “Yikes! I need to get started on all that holiday stuff or I’ll never get everything done!” The onset of the holiday season can be both exhilarating and terrifying. This is one time of the year during which time management is crucial. For those struggling with ADHD and/or have loved ones challenged by ADHD, time management during the Fall holidays can be particularly daunting.

Time management encompasses the ability to both “see” and “feel” time. Visual cues are used to observe the passage of time, such as the movement of hands on an analog clock or changing shadow patterns on a sidewalk throughout the day. We feel time as we perceive its passage before, during, and after our experiences. Furthermore, we gauge our behavior using the concept of a time horizon—how near in time something needs to be for someone to be motivated into action. According to psychologist Ari Tuckman, people challenged by ADHD experience a shorter time horizon. That motivation kicks in much closer in time to when the event will take place, greatly affecting time management. Tuckman asserts that those with ADHD recognize two times: now and not now. All this spells trouble when trying to navigate the holiday months amidst deadlines, events, and additional responsibilities. However, there are strategies to help deal with the impact that ADHD plays on time management during the holidays.

Strategy 1: Start Now

Calendars: This is the time of year when the calendar becomes your best friend. That snazzy calendar app on your smartphone is sure handy because it travels with you (assuming you’re like me and take it with you everywhere) and is so versatile. However, I can’t stress enough the importance of a more visual, paper calendar for this time of year. It is much easier to visualize that time horizon as well as your increased commitments if you use a paper calendar, especially one with large day blocks in which to record entries you can readily see. If you are in charge of scheduling for a family, a personal calendar as well as a family calendar is helpful for coordinating everyone’s activities while not losing sight of your own commitments.

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De-Summer and Clean Out Your Car

School is now in full swing, and the long, lazy days of summer have given way to the regularity of school, work, after-school activities, and early bedtimes. You’ve transitioned your home and schedule to autumn’s rhythms. But have you done the same with your car? If it’s still full of July and August’s evidence, then it’s time to de-summer and clean out your car with these five steps.

Step 1: Empty the Car Interior and Trunk

I like to move my car to the driveway so I can work with all the doors wide open. If you’ve got items such as carseats, cargo organizers, sports equipment, beach toys, dog mats, etc., take them out of the car. Create two groups: items that need to go back in, such as carseats, and items that can be stored elsewhere (e.g., beach toys).

Step 2: Take Out the Trash

Take a small garbage bag and pick up all the trash. Inside the car check every door jamb, under the seats (best to move them forward/back to get everything), seat pockets, storage compartments, and the glove box. Chances are you will find all kinds of stuff! Food wrappers, empty ziplock bags, small toys, tickets stubs. You may also find things that were “lost”, such as your teen’s ASB card from last year.

Step 3: Clean It Like You Mean It

Take the mats out of the car. Use a car vac or a regular vacuum with a hose and crevice attachment, and thoroughly vacuum all the seats, floors, and trunk. If the storage compartments and cup holders need it, vacuum them, too. Next, use a damp towel to wipe up any seat stains; use stain remover on upholstered seats if need be. For leather seats I like the Armor All Leather Wipes. Wipe all interior surfaces—dashboard, console, steering wheel, doors—with a damp microfiber cloth. Use another microfiber cloth dampened with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water to wipe all the interior windows and any glass surfaces on your dashboard.

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When Your College Kid Is Home for the Summer

The stacks of boxes and bins, bags of clothes and bedding, and random loose items like lamps and rolled-up posters can mean only one thing: your college kid just got home for summer break! While parents (and maybe the siblings) are thrilled to have all their chicks back in the nest for three months, there is a new family dynamic that will definitely take some getting used to. Your “child” has now experienced nine months of independent living, and any expectations that this summer will be like their high school summers may be quickly dashed.

It’s a new normal in your parent-child relationship—and it is definitely on the positive side. Your student is a young adult now, even if they still have “-teen” as part of their age. They’ve experienced huge personal growth and will likely not be the same person they were last September. Their sense of independence is high right now, and you need to respect that. That being said, they will be living in your home, and they need to respect that. Here are our tips on finding a balance and making this transition smoother for everyone.

Give Them 48 Hours to Decompress

Empathize with them about finals being exhausting, packing and cleaning their place being a pain, and not seeing their college friends all summer being a bummer. Let them sleep in till noon, raid the kitchen, and not unpack or do laundry. For 48 hours. Then give them a good, strong nudge to put away all their stuff and ease themselves into the rhythms of home.

Talk About Expectations

Don’t expect that they’ll be home for dinner every night, or that they’ll be up early having breakfast with you. Assuming they are working, volunteering, or interning during the summer, they will be setting their own schedules. College kids don’t necessarily adhere to a daily routine that you may think makes sense, but if it works for them, let them do it. Clarify that it’s not your job to wake them up to go to work. If they stayed up till 3am bingeing Netflix and slept through their alarm, their being late for work is not your emergency. It’s tough love, but if they expect to be given freedoms then they should be accountable for their schedules.

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15 Summer Essentials to Keep in Your Car

Summer is the best season for spontaneous good times in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The greater Seattle area has a wealth of unique and amazing places to discover, whether you’ve got a detailed day planned out, or you’re going to meander through a park or neighborhood. Keep those spur-of-the-moment trips carefree (and less stressful) by keeping these essentials in your car. More time for sun and fun, and less time running to the store or looking for things.

  1. Sunglasses: Keeping a couple of pairs doesn’t hurt, because someone will always forget theirs.
  2. Sun hat: Keep cool. Sunstroke and a sunburned forehead are not fun.
  3. Sunblock: Protect your skin. Beware of the expiration date and note that sunscreen may degrade faster if kept in a hot car for a long time.
  4. A beach towel: Always handy to wipe off dirty children (or pets), or to be used as a makeshift blanket.
  5. A sweatshirt: Weather can be unpredictable and the nights cool off quickly!
  6. An outdoor blanket: Can be used for picnics, the beach, and to keep warm after the sun goes down.
  7. Reusable shopping bags: They are not just for the grocery store or a stop at a farmer’s market. You can use reusable shopping totes to haul beach toys (anything really) in a pinch. Include an insulated bag for even more versatility.
  8. A BPA-free water bottle and a non-melting snack: Disposable water bottles shouldn’t be stored in a hot car as they can release dangerous chemicals into the water. Granola bars, nuts, or crackers are examples of healthy non-melting snacks.
  9. The Discover Pass: The $35 annual pass allows you access to state parks for two vehicles.
  10. An extra pair of shoes and socks: A hike with children may turn into a dip in a river…
  11. A small first aid kit: Always have some adhesive bandages, anti-bacterial ointment, and pain reliever. An instant ice pack is really handy for bumps and bruises.
  12. An activity book: A coloring book or Sudoku can help pass the time in the car. We also like to have playing cards.
  13. Toilet paper or flushable wipes: Love the hike, don’t love the facilities. Best be prepared. Also stops bloody noses.
  14. Hand sanitizer: See above.
  15. Feminine products: Just in case someone is caught off guard.
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Summer Home Maintenance Projects

summer home maintenance

Summer is THE season for grilling, outdoor activities, icy cold drinks, and…home maintenance. Wait, what? You read that correctly! Take advantage of the long, warm days to do home projects that aren’t viable during the cold, wet months. Besides beautifying your home and adding value and curb appeal, you’ll want to ensure your home’s integrity through the rest of the year. For instance, if you ignore that small leak in your roof or that overflowing gutter, by winter it could become a much bigger—and way more expensive—issue to repair. Summer is also a great time to add a cool and fun new feature to your home (fire pit, anyone?). We’ve got a super list of possible projects—some you can do yourself, while some are best left to professionals.

Outdoors

Roof Repair or Replacement

If you’ve got a leaky roof or missing shingles, or a roof past its lifespan, don’t wait for next summer to repair or replace it. It’s literally the roof over your head! The average lifespan of a roof is 20 to 30 years, although slate, copper, and tile roofs can last more than 50 years. Make the decision to repair or replace, and hire a well-recommended roofing company to do the job.

Power Wash

Your walkways, driveway, and home exterior could likely use a high-power cleaning. Rent a power washer and DIY; be sure to get professional tips on how to do this without causing damage. If you’re not sure, hire a pro.

Replace Siding

How do you know it’s time to replace your home’s siding? When paint is flaking and peeling after only a few years, when there are loose or missing boards, or when any mildew, mold, or rot are clearly visible. Angie’s List has an even more detailed list of telltale signs. This is definitely a big budget project, but it’s not something you want to neglect.

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Keep Your Home Safe When Leaving for the Holidays

If you are heading out of town for the holidays, for a long weekend or for a week, it’s a prudent idea to have a checklist of To-Do’s to ensure your home’s safety. Unfortunately this most wonderful time of year also brings about a rise in theft and burglaries. According to CNN Money burglaries peak during December because would-be thieves know people are on vacation, or are out shopping or visiting all day. Here’s our thorough guide to keeping your home safe and looking “occupied”.

Use these sectioned checklists:

Electronic

  • Put timers on several lights around the house, including your holiday lights and front/back porch lights. Have the timers go on and off at varying times, so an obviously unoccupied, dark home doesn’t suddenly all light up at 4:30pm. Winter hours mean dark mornings–set timers to also turn on 6:00-9:00am.
  • Double-check indoor/outdoor holiday lights and wiring. Don’t leave any fire hazards.
  • Unplug your automatic garage door opener so thieves can’t open it with a universal remote.
  • If you’ve got a security system, a video doorbell, or motion detector lights, check to make sure it’s working properly.

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Winter Driving: Preparing Yourself for the Cold Weather

Winter is a difficult time of year in a number of northern areas in the world, as freezing temperatures cause a variety of problems in occupants’ daily lives. Weather conditions such as freezing rain, sleet, and snow can be especially dangerous and threaten your safety when driving.

Roughly 76,000 people experience a car accident in the snow every year. This statistic underscores the need for safety precautions in order to keep you and your family protected from these risks. Beyond knowing what to do after a car accident, there are several ways to prepare for unexpected weather conditions. Here are some tips to have your car ready to go no matter the situation.

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5 Steps to Make Your Guest Bedroom Ready for Holiday Guests

A guest bedroom

The winter holidays are just around the corner, and I am C-A-L-M. We are getting ready early this year. We know who is coming over for dinner, and who will be staying with us. I know what the menu will be and who is bringing what dish. I’ve even made a shopping list. Bring it on! I admit it, I was feeling in control. Then, last night, one of the kiddos was feeling congested and he wanted the humidifier in his room. Piece of cake, I knew exactly where to look!

A few minutes later, as I am digging around in the guest bedroom closet, unsuccessfully trying to locate the humidifier, a terrible thought occurred to me. Guests will need to sleep in this very room and it looks like a tornado swept through here long ago! My smug holiday mood evaporated pretty quickly.

The door to the guest room is always closed, and for good reason! The bed hasn’t had sheets on it since the last guests stayed here (over the summer). On top of the bed, there are boxes and bags with various purchases needing to be returned to various stores. The Halloween bin is on the floor, empty.

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