May 27, 2012

New Baby? Time to Get Organized!

I'm not sure what happened in the universe nine months ago, but it seems as if everyone is having babies this spring. I have bought a bunch of baby gifts over the past few weeks and my mother just took three pink and blue packages to the post office.

It's raining babies!

Babies are cute and sweet and smell great but they come with A LOT of stuff--A LOT of stuff that needs organizing! Clothes, toys, gadgets, and equipment are only the tip of the baby-belongings iceberg. Papers, feeding/sleeping schedules, and the baby gift/thank you note list need to be organized, too.

Whether you're expecting or your bundle of joy has already arrived, what parent can't use a few baby organizing tips?

With that in mind, I’d like to offer a few valuable pre-baby organizing tips and “can’t-live-without-them” organizing products to assist in creating a clutter-free environment for you and your new arrival.

Pre-Baby Organizing Tips

Sort and Purge—your own stuff
Get rid of the old to make room for ‘the new’ (your little one needs a lot of room!). Sort and purge through your own clutter in your:


Discard or donate any clothes no longer worn or usable. The clothes in your closet (whether they’re maternity or regular-sized clothes) should fit and flatter you and be easily accessible. There’s no time to pull together an outfit when your baby is crying in the next room. In addition, if there’s stuff in the closet that is designated for your child, sort and purge that one, too.

Kitchen cabinets
Clear out items such as old containers and expired food and relocate anything you use once a year to make room for bottles, baby food and sippy cups.

Linen closet or bathroom

Toss expired medicine and remove worn out linens to make room for baby’s linens and medical supplies.

Create lists

Whether your ‘womb-mate’ is depleting you of your brain cells or not, you still have plenty to remember. Write down everything you need to recall. Make lists. Here are a few examples of lists you may wish to create prior to your due date:

To-Do List

There’s so much to do! Register for necessities, write thank you notes, interview pediatricians, look at baby furniture and keep up with the rest of your life at the same time. Keeping a to-do list will help keep you focused on what must get accomplished before baby arrives.

Gift list

Unless you have many enemies, your child will receive gifts. It’s important to have a ‘gift’ list ready so keeping track of who gave you what and writing thank you notes will be a less chaotic task. Create the gift list on a legal pad or on the computer. Designate one place to store it so can find it when the UPS guy rings your doorbell.

Birth announcement list 
If you’re planning on sending out a birth announcement, generate an address list of people you’d like to send an announcement to. The addressing of the envelopes is a perfect task to delegate. When friends and relatives ask how they can help you—hand them a pen!

Guest list
If you’re having a religious or non-religious post-birth celebration create a list of people you wish to invite along with their contact information.

Set up a filing system for your child’s papers
You’re probably thinking—papers? For a baby? Yes, not only do babies create a lot of dirty diapers they also create a lot of paperwork. These papers need a home so they’re not cluttering up your desk or kitchen counter. Their home could be a space in your file cabinet or a separate file box.

Examples of files for new baby are:
Birth certificate/Social Security card
Medical records/Pediatrician notes
Bank account/College savings account information
Baby equipment instruction booklets (yes—you should keep them…)
Gift list

Buy bins/tubs
Purchase a minimum of 5-7 bins large enough for ample storage but small enough for you to lift if necessary (to an attic space or to stack in your basement). My personal favorite are the Rubbermaid Roughneck bins. Label them as follows 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12 months.

People are going to give your child clothing as a gift, You may also receive ‘hand-me-downs’ from friends or relatives with older children. If the clothes you receive don’t fit your newborn yet, place them into the bin marked with the appropriate size for future use. Also, designate a bin for maternity clothes storage. As you drop the baby weight, drop the maternity clothes in the bin.

If you don’t have the space for bins/tubs, use Ziploc brand L-XXL bags for storage. They can be easily stored under a bed or at the top or bottom of your child’s closet.

A Few “Can’t-Live-Without-Them” Organizing Products:

Diaper Organizer
You’d be surprised to discover how many different products need to be handy while your baby is on the changing table. Depending upon what type of changing table you have, either one of these diaper organizers will work for you:

Prince Lionheart Dresser Top Diaper Depot Organizer sits on top of a changing table or dresser converted to a dressing table

Prince Lionheart Diaper Depot Organizer attaches to side of changing table

Baby Briefcase

If you have no time or desire to set up a filing system for your baby, check out the Baby Briefcase. It is a baby paperwork organizer created by a mom amazed by the amount of documents her new baby generated.

Bottle Drying Rack
Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, a bottle drying rack comes in very handy. It helps to keep all of your baby’s bottles, nipples and breast pump supplies in one place post-cleaning. As your child gets older, it can be used for kiddie plates, spoons and sippy cups.

Getting organized is essential as you prepare for the arrival of a new baby. You’ll want to be able to find what you need when you need it—quickly—and sometimes in the dark! After your first sleepless night, you’ll be glad you took the time to create an organized environment you and your new bundle of joy.

Share this with someone who is about to have a baby or just had one. Knowledge makes a great gift...

May 16, 2012

Downsizing and Freedom

Thinking about moving to a smaller home? Maybe you just want to live with less? Today, I'm hosting guest blogger Moreen Torpy of De-Clutter Coach who is on a Virtual Book Tour with her book, "Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In." Read on and learn how downsizing can be a positive and freeing experience.

How do you view the concept of downsizing? Does it bring positive thoughts and feelings or shudders of fear? Have you considered it an opportunity?

It can actually be the opportunity for you to approach the rest of your life with freedom. The opportunity to decide yourself what happens to your belongings. Of course, some will need to be kept, but others can be passed on now to family and friends who value them as much as you do.

Consider inviting family to tell you what they would like from your estate “someday”. Tell them you’re not planning on going anywhere, just planning ahead. You might be surprised that each person values something different, and not necessarily what you believe they will.

If you can live without these items, give them to the recipient now as part of your downsizing process. If you still need them, be sure to indicate who should receive them when the time comes. You might add a codicil to your Will to this effect and attach a photo of the item so there will be no confusion in the future.

This can be the first big step, the key to your downsizing journey. Think carefully about what you will really need in the future. Will you really be hosting big family dinners? If you do, you could borrow the serving pieces or have the new owner bring a contribution to the meal using that dish.

If your plans are to move to a smaller home, apartment or condo, your storage space will shrink accordingly. This might be motivation to reduce the quantity of china, crystal, serving dishes, cookware and other related items such as the tablecloth for the large table that won’t fit into your new place.

Downsizing can be an exciting journey when you look to the future and how you can create new memories, enjoy new experiences, make new friends, and live without the heaviness of owning a large quantity of material goods. There is a great freedom to this. Use the golden key to open the door to your future and enjoy every minute of it.

What will you do to begin your downsizing journey? When will you begin?
© Moreen Torpy

We would be honored for you to reprint this article. If you do, please include the resource box below with the hyperlinks intact.
Moreen Torpy is the De-Clutter Coach, a Trained Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker. Her new book is Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In. See for more about the book including where to purchase it, and to learn about her organizing services.

May 10, 2012

Blog Carnival - no Ferris Wheel or Funnel Cakes

A Blog Carnival? You may be asking, 'What is that?'

Like I said above, at this carnival there is no ferris wheel, funnel cake, or way to win an oversized teddy bear.

A Blog Carnival is a recurring, theme-driven publication which congregates content from many sources in one place online. (Thank you for this definition...)

I am thrilled to be a part of my first Blog Carnival!

Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant has created a space for Professional Organizer bloggers to share their knowledge with each other and the online world. Each month, blog posts are contributed based on a different theme. This month's theme is Organizing for Families.

I'm honored to be one of sixteen Professional Organizer bloggers helping families get organized. I contributed my recent post, Best Products for Organizing Your Car, but to read posts written by my colleagues, head straight to the carnival. No tickets necessary!

May 1, 2012

A Professional Organizer Makes an Appointment With Herself to Get Organized

In March of 2010, I wrote a blog post called, "Ready for Spring Cleaning?" In that post, I talked about a basic organizing principle: Make an Appointment With Yourself to Get Organized.

The process of getting organized can be overwhelming. Most people are unsure as to where or how to begin. Making an appointment with yourself to get organized is a starting point. Carving out that time to chip away at a pile of papers or sort through your sock drawer is a necessary step towards de-cluttering your home and reaching your organizing goals.

A few weeks ago,  I got an email from my friend, Deb--the subject line said 'Photo Albums.' The email stated that she was blocking out some time one night to work on her photo albums--did anyone want to bring theirs and join her at her dining room table?

I read that email and later responded, "I'll be there..."

You know the phrase, 'The shoemaker's son has no shoes?' Well, sometimes Professional Organizers spend so much time organizing others, that projects of their own fall by the wayside. In my case, it would be photos and photo albums.

I have two small children and I take a ton of pictures and videos of them on my camera and iPhone. I download them but haven't always kept up with the ordering of pictures and placing them in albums. My relatives are constantly asking me for pictures of my kids. I've bought picture frames but don't have the pictures to put in them. The signs were there--it was time to make an appointment with myself to organize my photos and albums.

A few days before the photo album gathering I took inventory of what I had:

• one broken photo album (wear and tear from 2 kids flipping pages)
• two new photo albums (ordered months ago and still in the box they shipped in)
• pictures I had printed but not put in albums yet (already separated by child)

To prepare for 'Photo Night', I removed all the pictures from the broken album and sorted through and purged a few out. I removed all pictures from my first child's second album, too. I loaded all my photo albums and pictures into a large shopping bag and was ready to go.

I only worked on my albums for an hour and a half but got a lot accomplished. I managed to put all pictures from birth to two years old in the albums designated for my eldest child. Making this appointment with myself motivated me to keep working on this important project. The next night at my own dining room table, I finished putting the pictures of my oldest child in his albums.

My next steps are to:

• Sort and purge through pictures of my youngest child.
• Put them in chronological order
• Place them in the designated album
• Check the end of each album to see the last pictures I ordered. Go on iPhoto and order copies for relatives and the albums
• Give out pictures and place the rest in albums

My goal is to finish this project by the end of May. I will be making an appointment with myself each week to make that happen and I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Thanks, Deb for giving me the jumpstart I needed to organize my photos!