June 14, 2012

Organizing A Fun Family Summer

Some families panic at the thought of being home with the kids all summer.  However, with a little planning and ingenuity your togetherness can be lots of fun.

To begin, gather brochures and community events to begin planning your ‘outings’.  Use your local Town’s resources, ballgame schedules, children’s summer class schedules, vacation books, etc.   If you have different age children, plan on doing something different from day to day based on the age group.  If each child knows that they are going to get to choose their special day, then they should, with a little coaxing, be able to tolerate the activities geared for their younger or older sibling.  Rather than make children of different ages wait a whole day until it’s their activity day, perhaps you can break up a day so that everyone gets a little of what they want to do.

When considering activities, you and your spouse should meet first to discuss and determine your budget for the summer.  You should also work with a calendar and find out which days each of you can take off from work to be the ‘counselor’ for the day.   It can be very exciting for the children if busy “Dad” takes off a day here and there to take the kids on a ‘surprise’ trip, or out to lunch.  Talk about which activities you both agree on for your children.  Consider your children’s interests, your work schedule and be sure to ‘assess’ each individual child’s needs. Keep the schedule flexible in the event something doesn’t go as planned.  This is a great time to schedule your kids for swimming lessons, sport lessons or enrichment classes.

You should always consider the home activities, crafts, treasure hunts, water games (using the sprinkler and water guns), academic games, races, board games, etc.  With a little ingenuity you can come up with a long list of things to do with the kids at home.  There are many different ways to divide up a week’s worth of activities.  If you have young children that need to nap, you can do the ‘home activities’ with the older children until the younger set is ready to get out and go.  Try to do all day home activities only on rainy days.  It’s best to get the kids out every day, but try to keep to a similar daily routine so that everyone knows what to expect.

Have all the kids participate in the preparation for a day’s outing.  If lunch has to be made, do it the night before and let all the kids do what they can to help make the sandwiches or pack the snacks.  The older kids can help wash the fruit or get the drinks prepared.  They can also help you pack up the car.  Include the kids in the preparation and clean-up, but be aware when the kids are getting too tired.  Cranky kids can truly turn a good day into a very challenging day.  Try to remain calm despite your exhaustion, and try to use humor to diffuse the fighting and the crankiness.  If you know that you don’t have enough energy to face an entire summer with the kids alone, then hire a responsible teenager to help you out.

If you get ‘stuck in’ unexpectedly for a day, whether it is for either weather reasons or one of the kids gets sick, use that day to order lunch in.  Try to maintain a constant sense of excitement throughout the week.

Use some of the days to visit relatives. Or plan days to do volunteer work with your children.  If your children can handle 30 minutes at a nursing home, take them to visit senior communities.  Afterwards, try to encourage your children to discuss how they felt visiting the elderly.

Living on Long Island gives you an advantage of having access to boat rentals. Take your kids fishing one morning, before it gets too hot.  Take bicycles to the boardwalk before dinner, when it’s cooler, and let the kids have the fun of biking or roller skating along the beach. Tell the kids that when they get home they can help you put together a BBQ.  Keep it fun and exciting.

Consider giving each of your kids a ‘throw away’ camera, and let them take pictures of their visits with family or when you are on an outing.  At the end of each week provide time for each child to work on a personal scrap book to capture all that they did in the summer. Encourage the older kids to help their younger siblings put the scrap book together.

Speak to friends who are planning the same type of summer vacation with their family, and arrange days to swap kids.   Each week let one child invite a friend to spend a day with him/her, while another one of your children spends the day with another family.  At the end of the day, let your children play a game to guess what their sibling did with the other family.  They can play charades or choose another way to ‘act out’ what they did so the other siblings (and Mommy) can guess what they did without the use of words.

There are some great activities going on this summer on Long Island.  Look into the activities at Old Bethpage Restoration. Remember that old-fashioned picnics, visiting parks and playing ball is a good way to give the kids physical activity without spending money on an activity.

If you are going to be in the car for long periods of time, be prepared to play car games so that the kids don’t get bored or tired on the way.  You can also prepare special snacks for the car rides when you know the trip will be exceptionally long.  Let the kids take turns being ‘DJ’s’ and choose the music played in the car, as long as the music is acceptable to you.

Decide if you can have a family vacation away from home at the end of the summer and talk it up so that everyone looks forward to it.

Last, but not least, have the kids finish their summer scrap books, which they can take to school so they can ‘show off’ what they did during their summer vacation.

Debbie Ginsberg, cSMM and Frady Moskowitz, LMSW are partners in Uncluttered Domain Inc We are Professional Organizers and Move Managers.  Our services include all-inclusive moving assistance with a special focus on senior relocation services in addition to providing room by room organization.  We welcome comments and questions and can be reached at Info@UnclutteredDomain.com.  Please visit our website at www.UnclutteredDomain.com.


May 23, 2012

Do You Know Your Organizing IQ?

We’d like to invite you to a special presentation on June 14, 2012.  We will be presenting tips on how to organize your home as well as tips on proper packing and preparing for a move.  Please see details below.

This event is free to attend and we welcome you to bring your family, friends, & colleagues.  We hope you can join us!

Home Depot Presentation

May 17, 2012

You’re Invited to a Special Presentation

Please join us on Thursday, June 7, 2012 for a special presentation at the Atria Cutter Mill.  We will be speaking about a topic that will be especially helpful for seniors and their adult children. Please see details below.

This event is free to attend and we welcome you to bring your friends/clients.   Hope to see you there!

Atria Cutter Mill Presentation

If you have any questions, please email us at: info [at] uncluttereddomain [dot] com OR contact us here.

April 26, 2012

Who Needs the Clutter?

Uncluttering a home, especially prior to a move, is a feel-good, yet strenuous process for most. Concentrating on the benefits of this process will help you achieve your goal. Uncluttering for the sake of downsizing belongings helps create open space in a home. This can be achieved by sorting, donating, distributing and discarding unneeded or unnecessary items. If you need help with making sorting decisions call on an educated and trained Professional Organizer for assistance by going to www.napo.net.

Instead of showing my before and after pictures of uncluttering jobs, I should really show you the before and after pictures of my client’s faces.

Here are some basic tips on how to start the purging process:

  1. Start in one area of your house – Pick a corner or begin in the closet. Look at each of your belongings and ask, do I really need this? Is this item in the right place? If you don’t need it, toss it. If you need it, but it’s in the wrong place, put it in a box and label it “looking for a place”. At the end of your uncluttering, you can place each item where it belongs.
  2. Donate clothing that hasn’t been worn in more than a year. If it’s a size issue, let’s get real. By the time you might fit back into an old size, is the clothing still going to be in style? Let’s be honest, do you ever wear that blouse or those pants? Purging belongings can be tough for some, but when you see that floor you haven’t seen in a while, you will feel so much better.
  3. Make some money from your unwanted items. You don’t have to donate everything. I once sold my husband’s ties and socks from my driveway, and made hundreds of dollars. I have to tell you, I was one happy woman! My husband doesn’t buy much, but he does love the challenge that comes with buying ties and socks on sale. Each time he buys from those sales I see dollar signs. Make sense? No, but I can’t wait for my next sale. One day he’ll figure it out.
  4. Get rid of those newspapers! I am no different than the next guy. I like keeping papers around so that if I don’t have time today I can read the paper tomorrow. Here’s the reality. Tomorrow’s paper arrives, and I still haven’t read yesterday’s paper. Now what I am going to do, read both papers in one day? I don’t think so. Did you find an article or a recipe you like? Clip it and place in a binder with protective sheet covers. Keep the recipe, but get rid of those newspapers…I’ll give you a week!
  5. To shred or not to shred, that is the question. What are you going to do with the stacks and stacks of paper you keep promising yourself you’ll look at one day? Do you drink coffee? Okay, here’s your chance to take a minute and go get a cup! As Nike says, “Just Do It!” Of course, if you can’t do things without someone with you, you can call a very good and understanding friend and ask them if they don’t mind sitting with you while you sift through your papers. Tell them they can knit or read a book while you sort your papers.
    •  Make time and call your accountant and investment broker and ask them what tax papers or investment statements you need to keep and what you don’t need.
    • How much correspondence do you need to keep anyway?
    • If it’s an important document, file it in a ‘forever’ file or in a ‘vital record keeper’.
    • If it’s a bill, for goodness sake, pay it.
    • Keep a record of, not the paper with all your credit card, bank and pertinent contact information and account numbers.
    • Create a computer spreadsheet to store this information.
    • Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance – make a date with yourself to regularly go through your piles of accumulated paperwork. It may be a cheap date, but it may be the one you remember the most.

Happy Uncluttering!

-Debbie Ginsberg

Debbie Ginsberg is the Vice-President of Uncluttered Domain Inc. Together with her business partner, Frady Moskowitz, LMSW, they are trained and educated Professional Organizers and Pre-Moving Specialists, with a special focus on hoarders and on helping Seniors move. Debbie welcomes comments and questions and can be reached at Debbie@UnclutteredDomain.com. Their website address is www.UnclutteredDomain.com.

March 20, 2012

New Beginnings

Spring is here!

Soon, we will be seeing people outdoors sprucing up their lawns and adorning their properties with petunias and impatiens. Last Spring, I potted about six plants myself and I was pleased that most of them bloomed well.  Not bad for a new green thumb! Unfortunately, my Hibiscus plants did not do as well.  If any of my readers have a suggestion as to how to keep the buds blooming, I would appreciate the input.  Houses definitely look so much better with the fresh growth of greens and colorful flowers.

With the weather getting nicer, many of us are using this time to whip our homes back into shape.  If you are planning on selling your house, you may want to make minimal changes to make the house more appealing to the buyer.  With the tough economic situation not everyone considers redecorating just to make a sale.  However, thought must be given to how to make the house look more presentable and unique.   The new buzz word used today is called “staging”.  Staging a property gives a makeover to a home with the least amount of minimal expense.   With a few little tweaks and changes, your house can look great.  The first thing you should do is walk outside, face the front of your house take a good look at it as objectively as you can.    How would your house look to a new pair of eyes? Does it look a little shop worn or does it look like you’ve kept up with the maintenance of your home?  Here’s a fast tip.  Many houses show wear and tear on their front door, especially a home with lots of kids.  Go to your local hardware store when you have ascertained whether you have a wood, aluminum or metal door.  Pick up a few color swatches from the selection of outdoor paint for your type of door.   Ask a good friend, (with a good eye for color) to help you choose the right color for your door.  A fresh coat of paint does wonders.  Make sure you do the same to your handrail if it also needs a freshened look.  Remember that a first impression is made when someone sees the front of your home, and you only have one chance to make that first good impression!

I am not selling my house, but I often walk out into the street and face my home to think of inexpensive ways to make the front of my house look better. It’s a wonder I haven’t been run over as I concentrate so hard envisioning a new look. I saw a sore point and decided to paint my front door a green gray to match a new handrail we installed. Voila! Whether it was my imagination or not, it seemed as if drivers were driving more slowly in front of my house to take a longer look at my front door.  When I began receiving compliments from my neighbors I knew that my little trick worked.  While admiring the new look I noticed the falling paint from my brick work. It’s time to call the handyman!

Debbie Ginsberg, cSMM and Frady Moskowitz, LMSW are partners in Uncluttered Domain Inc.  They are Professional Organizers and Pre-Moving Specialists, with a special focus on helping Seniors move. They welcome comments and questions and can be reached via the comment field below or e-mail: info@UnclutteredDomain.com. Find out more at www.UnclutteredDomain.com.

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