Got 5 Minutes?

Time timerTime is our most precious commodity. If we don’t use it, we lose it and it is one thing we can never get back. Sure, we can try to pack more into a day but often that leaves us feeling overworked, exhausted or stressed. Ever feel cheated that you didn’t get to do what you REALLY wanted or needed to do?

Instead of cramming more into our day, look for a few spaces between tasks, errands or transitions. I am sure there are several five-minute blocks somewhere in your day. For today, let’s assume you found 3 blocks of 5 minutes = 15 minutes total. You decide what works for you. Just don’t overdo it  trying to get one more thing done and make yourself late.

Now how will you use those 5-minute blocks? You can decide your three big categories, and then list ideas under each. My three categories are listed below with some ideas to help get you started. Use your imagination and make it work for you. I have seen how having a specific time limit can help motivate us for unpleasant tasks every week during Work It Wednesday when we use 3, 25-minute blocks to get things done (contact me for zoom link to join us at 10am ET). Let’s use these blocks to improve our lives.

Self-Care

  • Drink a glass of water
  • Go outside and breathe
  • Stretch my muscles
  • Call or text a friend
  • Meditate (yes, even 5 minutes is beneficial)

Declutter/Organize

  • Put away the winter jackets and boots
  • Clean out and organize a drawer
  • Remove 5+ things no longer needed or wanted
  • Toss/recycle today’s junk mail and catalogs
  • Declutter a shelf or clear a counter of all non-essentials

Family

  • Spend 5 minutes with each child and listen
  • Plan a family activity for the weekend
  • Make a meal plan for the week
  • Go outside (take a walk, shoot hoops, swing, etc.)
  • Do a 5 minute (maybe longer) reset to be ready for tomorrow

Creating routines and habits that keep the family organized impacts the level of stress in your home. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish in five minutes. Feel free to build onto the momentum as we have seen how clutter and disorganization can impact mood, weight, stress and health.

Let me know what you are most proud of doing in your 5 minutes over on my Facebook page. Let’s get a conversation going.

Is it a Routine or a Struggle?

Routines not struggleThere are numerous theories about how the brain works, but what I have come to believe is that we can think of the brain as having three parts or personalities. They are the “robot”, the “Yoda” and the “monkey” brain.

The monkey brain is the emotional part of the brain, it is what happens when our self-control is gone and our emotions take control.  It is the brain that doesn’t think before acting and is often full of movement and impulsivity.

The Yoda brain is the brain we use for learning and making decisions (when emotions are not involved), it is the rational, thinking brain.

And lastly, the robot brain is the brain that controls our habits and routines. It is preprogrammed to do things automatically with little or no thought involved. The robot brain does not create habits on its own, especially if ADHD is involved. It takes training and practicing and often some tweaking before a set of actions can become a habit. Once there is a habit, the brain can relax and just follow through the motions without having to use up its decision-making energy.

Routines that use the “robot” brain can save you time and brain energy. When a habit or series of steps becomes automatic, you no longer have to think about what to do next. You probably already have several routines that you do each day.

ROUTINES

  • Does your morning start the same way each day?
  • How about your evening, does it have a routine?
  • Does your work day have a routine?
  • Bill paying?
  • Dinner routine?
  • Tax routine (Quarterly taxes or April 15)
  • Laundry routine?
  • Weekly reset routine?
  • Planning routine for the week?

You get the idea. There are plenty of opportunities to create a routine that helps you get through your day without using up valuable brain bandwidth.

Where Could You Use A Routine to Save Time and Energy?

  • Are you frequently late for work or appointments?
  • Do you need to get groceries before you can cook dinner?
  • Have you ever missed a bill payment or paid a late fee?
  • Is your home cluttered and/or disorganized?

If you answered “yes” to even one of the questions above, then a routine can help.

Create a Routine

First, pick a problem to solve. Why is that a problem? Now, think about what it would be like if that was no longer a problem. How would your life be different?

Next, pick three steps (yes, just three) that you think are important for this new routine you are creating. It may not be the entire routine, but it is the 3 most basic steps to get you started. Now close your eyes and run through those steps in your mind. Does it flow smoothly or should you do the steps in a different order?

An ADHD brain can struggle to remember the order of steps which makes each day a new pattern. This doesn’t help create a routine and actually uses MORE brain power and decision-making energy. The idea of the routine is that when it is automatic, you are saving brain power and energy because there is no thinking involved.

Finally, find the order of steps that works best and “practice” doing it until it becomes a habit. Then you can slowly add more steps to the routine, making sure it works for you and the way you think.

It has been suggested that linking a new habit with an already established habit can make an effective “trigger” to start the new habit. Is there something you already do that you can link this new routine to?

Once you feel the first routine is working you can either expand it (although don’t make it complicated) or you can start to develop another routine to help yourself solve another challenge.

Habits are tricky things but once they are established – the benefits far outweigh the struggle at the beginning. Keep at it. We are here if you would like some coaching to help you design and navigate establishing new habits and routines.

Calm or Chaotic…What is Your Choice?

As soon as you wake up, what do you see? Is your bedroom space a sanctuary from the stress of daily life where you can easily and calmly start your day or is it a cluttered reminder of all you’re not taking care of and making you feel overwhelmed and frustrated each and every morning?

Now, think about how you would like your master bedroom to function. Do you need it to be a “home office” space as well? Is it a TV room where your kids can go or do you pile the clean laundry on the bed with the hopes of folding it and putting it away? Or is it a place to “hold” your clutter so it is not in the rest of the house? What do you want it to be?

Clutter and Disorganization can:

  • Make getting dressed a hassle
  • Impact your sleep
  • Interfere with romance
  • Waste time
  • Increase your stress
  • Make things harder and/or take longer

What is the impact?

The truth is we cannot expand our spaces to fit all of our things so we need to either reduce how much we own or redefine what is really important to us. By removing those things that you no longer want, need or use or that do not belong, you can begin to free up some space. In the master bedroom, both parties need to share their hopes for the space. In a child’s room, they need to have input as well.

Biggest impact in a master bedroom….electronics! The TV, the ipad and even the phones all impact your sleep cycles and serve to distract you from the true priorities of that room. “A new study from Brigham Young University examined how technology interferes with relationships. The researchers concluded that “technoference” can be damaging not just to a relationship but to your psychological health as well.”

Clutter and disorganization can also interfere with your morning and evening routines. Those routines that are supposed to help you calmly end your day and prepare yourself for sleep can be totally thrown off if you happen to step on a lego. (You know what I mean)

Various studies also mention the effects of clutter on children. Everything from scoring lower on tests of cognitive ability and self-regulation to learned helplessness and withdrawing from academic challenges. Also, being overwhelmed by the number of options can prevent kids from using their time creatively.

Ideas to Help

  • Declutter – seriously….declutter
  • Reduce your clothing so that it fits in your storage spaces when all the laundry is done (dressers and closets)
  • Organize by grouping like things together
  • Hooks for tomorrow’s outfit and things that can be worn again
  • Bins inside drawers to hold things you don’t need to fold (pjs, socks, etc.)
  • Clear off all flat surfaces so only the necessities are there
  • Remove extra pillows and décor
  • Label clear bins in kids’ rooms to help with organization
  • Make the master bedroom inviting (and not kid friendly😊)

And lastly, when you get up in the morning, make your bed. It changes the way you think about your room and gives you an automatic win for the day. So, calm or chaotic – the choice is yours.

Photo by Steven Ungermann on Unsplash

Planning for the ADHD Brain

There once was a Mama Bear who felt like she was part “day planner, authoritarian, and task master.” Every day she would go through the calendar and the to do list. She would gently remind the little bears what activities they had or what they needed to “get done” and also prompt the Papa Bear of what he needed to remember too. Often the Mama Bear would mention a task or problem that needed fixing, and unless it was urgent, or Papa Bear had free time at that moment….it often went undone. This continued for years until the Mama Bear realized she was doing all the remembering and everyone was depending on her to think for them and still things were not getting done.
So, Mama Bear, being the “organized” one decided to teach the big bear and the little bears how to plan for themselves.
Here’s what I learned from her:
            • Create a list of all the tasks you want/need to remember. Often our brain will wake us up in the middle of the night because it doesn’t want us to forget something. Often, we think we will remember in the morning, but we don’t. List everything you can think of. Yes, I know it can be overwhelming, but your brain is trying to hold onto all of it anyway so, why not help it. This is commonly called a “brain dump.” Don’t let the undone to do’s keep you up.
            • Put everything on it, even that project you “hope” to get to someday but make sure that it is in the form of the smallest action you can take. Redo the dining room is too big of a project, so you should write down the steps that are involved. (Helpful apps: color noteEvernoteTrellotodoist, etc.)
            • Write down any deadlines or due dates and be sure to highlight those things that need to be done in the current month.
            • Estimate how long those things will take – be realistic.
            • Pick the three top things you want or must do tomorrow
            • Now either add them into your calendar or set aside a “block” of time (preferably each day) that you will tackle those tasks.
            •  Create a planning habit where you look ahead at your week, add in any appointments and then pick 3 tasks off of this master list. Don’t cross them off your master to do list unless you ACTUALLY complete them. Don’t add more than 3. When you do complete them you can go for more but 3 is a successful day.
            • Celebrate your successes. Remember you will always have a list – just make sure it has what is important to you. Life will get in the way….so start each day fresh and don’t carry things over from the previous day unless you really have to.
            • Pick the important things to do and not the “easy” things if you want to really work your plan and not just engage in “Procrastivity”.
Papa Bear now has his own master list, and he and Mama Bear discuss the upcoming week (and the to dos) each Sunday over breakfast. And that makes Mama Bear very happy:-)
If you struggle with task management and completion, give coaching a try. You guide the process. Baby steps in the right direction will still get you there. Good luck!
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Look Back Before You Leap Forward in 2022

Farewell 2021 – Although I would like to say I am happy to see you go, the reality is that I don’t remember much of what happened in 2021. What do you remember from 2021?
I took some time to go through my journal from last year and skimmed through the photos on my phone in order to bring it all back into focus. Don’t you just love it when Google reminds you of what happened last year on this date?
The more often we recall those events, the more likely they are to stay in our memories. My planner is another place I look for past events, ideas and recurring themes. You get the idea. I searched for the high and low points of last year and the special moments that occurred and noticed some of the challenges that were sprinkled throughout.

For me, those covid added pounds and blurry work boundaries showed up throughout. For you, it might be disorganization, financial stress or negative self-talk or any number of other concerns. Whatever your top two are, I’m suggesting that you not make a resolution or a complex plan to tackle it this year. We know resolutions don’t work and we end up with more negativity and feelings of failure for something that we “feel” we should be able to do.

Let’s take another approach. It is a fact that the brain tends to focus on the negative rather than the positive side of things (it’s genetic, to protect us). Now let’s add in this new thing called, “Covid/Pandemic Fatigue” which is, according to an article on Healthline, completely natural, yet leads to being “demotivated and exhausted with the demands of life during the Covid crisis.” You don’t need me to tell you that there is more fatigue and negativity all around us – why should we promote it if we don’t have to?

New “rule” for 2022, let’s focus on the positives! Change just one thing- your approach to each day. There are lots of options, which ones resonate with you?
• Ask yourself, “What can I do today to be more positive or that will add to my day?”
• What can I do today to take better care of myself?
• Keep track of your successes with a Victory List
• What one thing can I organize today? (You know I had to put that in)
• Keep out the ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) that creep in
• Take a photo to capture a positive in your day
• Read an uplifting quote
• Start a gratitude journal
• Go to bed on time!
• Walk away from your work – keep clear boundaries
• Turn off your screens and tune into those around you

If you do have something you want to improve or work on this year, then do it in a positive way and 2022 just may be your best year yet!

 

Graphic thanks to: ‘https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background’>Background vector created by BiZkettE1 – www.freepik.com</a>

Three Keys to an Extraordinary Year

Each year we start out with the best of intentions. Sometimes though, those intentions can turn out to be so much extra work that we quickly give up. Let’s take a look at three things you can do to make sure you are doing things for the right reasons.

First up, create some boundaries (borders or limits) so you can make logical choices for you and your family. A family meeting is a great way to hear what is important about the year from each person’s perspective.

Also:
• Decide if “x” is worth your time, energy or effort before you say yes. Sure, you may want to do it all but at what price?
• What is fun for each person? Can you incorporate that into a plan?
• Handle or prevent those interruptions and obligations that you can control and find a way to limit or cut short those that have you at the mercy of someone else.
• Turn off your alerts and decide when you will be available.
• Get everyone involved and listen to their input. They will be more invested in the outcomes.

Taking care of yourself is the next key. It’s hard to let go of our own expectations sometimes but it is extra important to stay well this year. Self-care means making the time to exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, socialize and do the things that lower your stress level. Being organized makes your life easier too, why do things the hard way when you don’t have to?

Self-Care keys:
• Create morning and evening routines that serve you that include a specific bedtime and wake up time.
• Set aside some time for yourself. (Sometimes that means locking the bathroom door – do whatever it takes).
• Choose wisely grasshopper, as you are trading away time that can never be regained.
• What helps you feel recharged? Can you fit that in somewhere?

Lastly, Planning and Prioritizing are important. Prioritizing will keep the important things on the top of the list and having a plan will keep you on track. By creating an action list the night before, you have time to think about how important those tasks are to you. Without a plan your day can go in any direction but with a plan you are in charge of where it goes.

Ways to Plan and Prioritize:
• It’s okay to not be able to do it all – some things should never be done, and some can easily be put off as long as you are the one that decides. Get the family to pitch in too.
• Schedule in even the tiniest tasks, don’t list a project with multiple steps on the list just the next step.
• Estimate how long you think a task will take and then time yourself. Don’t forget to include travel time, prep time and clean up time.
• Be realistic in the amount you can accomplish in one day. Start small and build your momentum by getting the higher priorities or the more distasteful (but important) ones done
early.

Keeping these three keys in mind will help you focus on what is really important this year and hopefully it will help you feel less stressed-and that’s my hope for you.

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Do You Suffer From Procrastivity?

Stickies everywhereProcrastivity is part procrastination and part activity. We all know that procrastination is not a good thing. It means putting off things that you know you really should be doing. However, procrastivity is when you “put off” (procrastinate) on what you REALLY should be doing in favor of another activity that also needs to be done but is less brain taxing. Sure, the (less important) task needs to be done and you want to feel some sense of accomplishment – but, should it be the priority? Probably not. You will feel the cost of it later when the real priority is due. For example, doing laundry instead of the taxes.

Do you procrastinate, because….
• You don’t understand what you need to do?
• It is a boring task?
• It is too hard or complex?
• It takes “too much time” or you just don’t know how long it will take?
• It has too many steps?

So instead, Russell Ramsey, Ph.D., notes in his article in Psychology Today, that when you surrender to procrastivity, it may be because the activity is maybe more hands-on, or has a routine to it that you don’t really need to think about. It is often an activity where you can see the progress and know what the end point looks like. For example, you know when the laundry is done but not necessarily how long it will take for the taxes to be done (which usually feels like forever!).

What can help?
It is important that at some time you complete the task that you have been procrastinating on. If you have ADHD it might be when the deadline gets closer and you use that adrenaline/anxiety push to get you through it. But what does that cost you? Stressing yourself out to get something accomplished can have all kinds of serious effects – think stress, high blood pressure, fatigue, lack of sleep, weight gain (from feeding that cortisol monster) etc. That’s a high price! So, what can you do instead?
First of all, be careful what you put on that “to do” list. Make sure that you are listing tasks and not projects. A project is anything with multiple steps. That’s why kids can never “clean their room” because it is really a number of separate things to do and not just one thing. Keep that in mind when you want to write “do taxes” when you really mean, collect documents for taxes. Sure, it might make your list look longer but I would encourage you to only put down 3-5 tasks for the day. The rest of the list can “live” somewhere else and you can pick from it each day but don’t overwhelm yourself by listing everything you wish you could do today.

Ramsey also suggests making the task more manual or action oriented to get started. It may be collecting what you need to start the task and putting them where you will be working. Then decide what the next step should be. Once you get the task rolling you might see that it is not as bad as you thought and you’ll keep working. Be careful though, make sure you know the minimal amount of time you are willing to commit to the task. Then if you go over – hurray! If you don’t – at least you did what you promised yourself. Take pleasure in that.

If you are suffering from overwhelm and feel that you will get to the task after you do “x” or “y”, or when you feel better – I have to tell you it doesn’t work that way. You can’t wait until you feel better or get “x” done – so you should just set a day and time where you will commit to working on it. Then keep that promise.

Getting started or task initiation is one of the executive function skills that those with ADHD find the most challenging. Often the first thing that happens is that the “planning monster” takes over. Creating a long, but beautiful to do list doesn’t help you get to the action piece. It may in fact overwhelm and paralyze you. Breaking it down into its smallest steps and lowering your expectations to completing 3-5 tasks rather than 25 will help you build that action muscle. You might also discover that the feeling of accomplishment helps you complete more.

Is Your Kitchen a Dream or a Nightmare?

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we cook, we eat and we connect with our loved ones. Special occasions will find friends and family gathering there too. Shouldn’t it be an organized, peaceful place?

Working from home over the past 18 months and having to make 3 meals a day, has had me in the kitchen much more often. How about you?

Do you feel like your kitchen is organized and functional or do you hate to cook because of all the work it takes to find things? Are things easy to grab or do you need to move other things that you rarely use in order to reach them?

  • Is this set up working for me?
  • Am I using all the appliances and gadgets that are stored here?
  • Can I quickly find what I need?
  • Do I have enough space to work?
  • How often do I use that roasting pan and why is it taking up valuable space?

Here are 5 things you can do to make your kitchen more functional and less of a nightmare:

  1. Remove those things that are only used for holidays and special occasions. Move them somewhere else that you can still get to easily but out of the kitchen.
  2. Reduce the number of mismatched dishes, mugs, and glasses down to what you really need. Clear out all the old tupperware and saved plastic containers – they are not healthy to use. Save enough dishes, etc. to not have to wash them daily. Dishtowels, cleansers and cooking utensils, what’s reasonable?
  3. Clear the countertops- less is better. What do you really use daily or at least weekly? Coffee makers and large kitchenaid mixers can probably stay but canisters, appliances you rarely use can be stored off of the counters.
  4. Create a “work zone”. Where do you usually prep for cooking? Make sure you have what you’ll need within arm’s reach such as knives, cutting boards, spices and utensils. Creating zones for serving and cooking can also be helpful.
  5. Organize cabinets and drawers so things are easy to reach and you don’t need to move A to get to B. Racks, hooks and pull out shelves are easy to install. Group spices, oils and vinegars together near your cooking zone. Group food together too.   

By making your kitchen more functional, you may find you enjoy being in it more and that meal prep is less stressful. Having a meal plan can help and regular cleaning routines so that dishes don’t pile up can make a big difference in how you feel when you walk into the kitchen.

 

Clothing, Closets and Drawers, Oh My!

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Are you overwhelmed by the decisions around what to wear today? When was the last time you said, “I have nothing to wear?” Yet, are your dresser drawers and closets overflowing? Let’s talk about taking care of all that “inventory” and how you can make it less stressful.

Clothing and taking care of it can often be a pleasure and a pain. “The average family of 4 completes 8-10 loads of laundry per week. Depending on how often the wash is done, the time spent will vary, but, on average at least 8-hours will be spent on washing, drying, and folding clothes”. If you or your kids have more than a load of laundry each, twice a week then you might want to reconsider your options.

How much is enough? Only you can decide. If you like spending your time doing laundry and all the clothes can fit in their storage spaces, then don’t worry. If, however, you can’t fit all the clean laundry in their storage spaces or you find yourself constantly with a backlog of laundry – then maybe you have too many clothes. I once had a client that complained about always being behind on the laundry. She found it difficult to “catch up” because that meant 6 loads of her clothes and many more for her husband and children and the household (sheets, towels, etc.). If the laundry was able to be completely caught up, she would not have had space to put it either.

Marie Kondo suggests collecting all your clothes in one pile and then deciding whether to keep it or not (does it spark joy?) Since we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time – why are you allowing the other 60-80% to clutter up your life? How frustrating is it to look in the closet and not find anything you WANT to wear?

Adults

  • Do I wear it?
  • Do I like how I feel and look when I wear it?
  • How many do I have?
  • Do I have space to store it?

If you hesitate to pass it along, then store it for a few months out of your closet but still somewhere where you can access it. If it is out of sight, it is not stressing you out or making your decisions more difficult when you are trying to get dressed in a hurry.

If you are not ready to tackle your own closet….

Kids grow fast. Why not start easily with clearing out what no longer fits or what your child does not wear. For younger kids, be sure to ask if it is easy to put on and take off. (As an educator I saw many students struggle with a stiff jean button when racing to the bathroom).

Kids probably need about two weeks’ worth of every day clothing. That way they have enough to change during the day if necessary and still be able to make it longer than a week before laundry needs to be done.  Kids want to be able to see what they want to wear quickly and easily – here’s where the Marie Kondo method of folding can be helpful. All shirts can be seen at once and pulling one shirt out does not mess up the rest of them. Rolling is another option that can also be helpful.

Drawers are complicated. There are too many steps for them to put clothes away or even to grab clothes to put on. Often, you’ll find the drawers stay open and the pile of shirts is a mess from where they pulled out the shirt on the bottom. The same thing applies to the closet. Do you know how many steps are involved in hanging something up?

Also, a hamper filled with clean clothes often does not get put away and ends up becoming the laundry hamper again – and the cycle continues (except that this is unnecessary “do-over” work and added wear and tear on the clothes).

Kids

  • Do they fit?
  • Does my child wear them (Easy to put on?)
  • Does my child like them?
  • Is there storage space for all their clothes?
  • How much do they really need?

Once you are able to reduce the “inventory” you will see that the workload decreases as well. What would it feel like to start the week with all the laundry done? Then it may be a matter of doing a load of laundry here and there throughout the week in order to have just a bit to finish up on the weekend. Some organizers suggest a load of laundry a day – but I know somedays are busier than other days. Trying to get the load all the way to finished (meaning put away) can be a challenge. Pick days and times you know you can get it all the way to completed before you start. Also, do you know how long it actually takes for your washer to complete a cycle? Figure that out and you can plan better – same for the dryer.

Clothing is one of the more challenging things to organize and maintain. You may have noticed during this past year+ of pandemic that you tend to wear the same things. Take advantage and cut down your inventory and you may find you have more to wear than you thought.

Reduce the Stress in Your Home TODAY!

Monthly vlogs and blogs on what to declutter seem to be “trending” these days so let’s talk about what you can do in September. Now that the kids are back in school it is important to put structure and routines in place to reduce the stress of this transition. No matter what your “pandemic” situation has been, this is a chance to get back some normalcy. That often starts with decluttering.

Where did this clutter come from? Was it impulsive buying for that quick shot of dopamine – felt good in the moment and now you trip over it every day? Was that what you wanted? Or was it to quiet the kids you had to take to the grocery store? Look around – what is this costing you? And I don’t mean moneywise, but emotionally, socially, psychologically, physically and in your relationships with your loved ones. Clutter makes you grumpy.

WebMD says, “Researchers have found that being around disorganization makes it harder for your brain to focus. It can be especially tough for people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).” “Some people who live in cluttered homes have a poorer “working memory,” according to research. Your brain is wired to be able to keep track of only a few details at once for a short period, so it can get overloaded when there’s too much going on.”

Clutter causes stress and conflict and undermines the lessons you want to be teaching your children and worst of all it takes up your time and mental bandwidth even if you do nothing about it. Constant stress reduces your lifespan according to researchers at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare by 2.8 years.

More research: Children who live in homes that are “chaotic,” that are noisy, overcrowded and have a lack of order, have significantly more challenges than kids who don’t.  Research has found that kids who had homes like this, “tend to score lower on tests of cognitive ability and self-regulatory capabilities, have poorer language abilities, and score higher on measures of problem behaviors and learned helplessness than do children raised in less chaotic environments” (Jaffee, S., Hanscombe, K., Haworth, A., Davis, P., and Plomin, R., 2012).  They also have, “lower expectations, a lack of persistence and a tendency to withdraw from academic challenge” (Hanscombe, K., Haworth, C., Davis, O., Jaffee, S., and Plomin, R., 2011).

So, can we agree clutter is bad?

Let’s start by clearing one category of toys – baby toys. By baby toys I mean all those toys, books and games that are no longer age appropriate for your children. Electronic toys that make sounds or have lights but otherwise don’t do much were meant to help stimulate a baby’s brain while it was in its early developmental stage.  It is through play that children learn, explore, use their imagination and problem solve. (If you don’t have kids, then look around at your own “toys” and hobbies – what have you outgrown?)

Start collecting the baby toys and those odd little things that have been randomly picked up while out or only served their purpose for a short time. Anything that your children played with before kindergarten and no longer play with REGULARLY. Things that are not really toys but mementos from events. Really how many foam fingers and blown-up superheroes do you need? Push or beginner ride on toys, chubby crayons, finger paints and stuffed animals are in this category as well. Legos and building blocks are not.

Are all the pieces together? (Puzzles, games, stacking rings, etc.)
Is it in good shape to donate? (Cradles to Crayons, Big Brother Big Sister)
Was it a gift? (No obligation to keep it)
Is it sentimental? (Create a time capsule to save it out of the mainstream)
Is it broken?
Can it be recycled?
Is it really just trash?

Once you have collected all of these and decided what you are going to do with them – get them out of the house. Not in a closet or in your trunk but delivered to their final destination. According to Joshua Becker of becomingminimalist.com, with fewer toys your kids may ” learn to be more creative, develop longer attention spans, establish better social skills, learn to take better care of things, become more resourceful, and less selfish. He also says, “True joy and contentment will never be found in the aisles of a toy store. Kids who have been raised to think the answer to their desires can be bought with money have believed the same lie as their parents.”

Wouldn’t you rather spend time playing a game, then clearing a space to play?

  • Collect and remove all age-inappropriate toys
  • Trash, recycle, repurpose or pass on
  • STOP the inflow of new toys and trinkets
  • Spend more time with your children
  • Help children put toys away before bed
  • Make a space for storing like toys together
  • Contain what you can