Get Your Kids to De-Clutter

Guest contributor Lorraine Brock shares some innovative ways to get your children to help your family get organized!
thumbnailCAJZV45O.jpgDo you often find yourself unmotivated or unsure of where to start when it comes to organizing? You look at your cluttered garage or those piles of papers and you freeze in your tracks.
Part of getting organized is delegating responsibilities to others in your family. Then, you have the time to do some clutter reduction. Often the women of the home seem to bear the burden of being the CPO – Chief Purchasing Officer, caterer, gardener, chef, chauffer, teacher, and the list goes on. Unless you don’t require any sleep, something has to give!
I find time to stay organized by handing off some of the basic responsibilities of my home to my kids. It not only helps me, but it teaches my boys some much-needed domestic skills their future wives will appreciate.
Kids can start learning age appropriate chores by the time they are 2 and 3 years old. Things like helping to make their bed, picking up toys/books, taking dirty clothes to the laundry room, feeding pets, and dusting with a sock on their hands.
thumbnailCAY9AQA5.jpgIf you are extremely overwhelmed and unorganized, you might consider having a professional organizer work in your home bi-weekly or monthly. Instead of just surface cleaning like a cleaning service would do; maintenance organizing consists of filing your piles of papers, cleaning, clearing off, and re-organizing clutter behind doors and on your counter tops. Organizers work to insure that everything has a proper place.
Maybe you have projects that go undone, kids that don’t contribute to household responsibilities, or a spouse that creates clutter. No matter what your particular situation, delegating responsibilities will free up some of your time. Then you can use that extra time to get organized.
If you’re interested in receiving a list of Age Appropriate Chores for your kids, contact me via email at Lorraine@getorganized.ws. These are just a few ideas that will get your mind thinking of other responsibilities around the home. Each home is uniquely different and there are many ways each person in your household can help.
Check back in two weeks for my next “Get Organized” blog. I will help you prioritize and schedule the chores you have decided to share with others in your household.
Happy Choring!
IMG_3957_retouched.jpgLorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and founder and owner of “Get Organized!” “Get Organized!” is a professional organizing company in the Dallas, Texas area. “Get Organized!” specializes in organizing and de-cluttering homes as well as implementing systems in the home for better family management.
A popular media guest, Lorraine has appeared on Dallas’ two top morning television shows: Good Morning Texas and Good Day Fox, and has been featured on various radio outlets. She has been hallmarked in many local, regional, and national print and online magazines, such as the Dallas Morning News, The North Texas Kids Magazine, SheKnows.com, and Daily Candy Kids. To get more helpful advice from Lorraine, visit her blog Get Organized!

The Bracelet: Bittersweet Back to School Memory

As my kids get ready to start middle school and third grade, I decided to share a story I wrote a few years back when my little man started kindergarten. Get ready to grab a tissue…
2ctdibrinwhg1.jpegI would have written earlier this week about my kids’ first day back to school but I managed to get myself involved in so many projects with my new company, that my musings about daily life weren’t that funny this week. In fact, on my son’s very first day of kindergarten, he shocked both my husband and I when he was the only kid in the class to start bawling when we both attempted to leave the classroom.
There is nothing more heartbreaking than watching your five year old wail when you attempt to drop him off at a new school. All I kept thinking was he’s never going to let me leave – I will never be able to go to work again. I’m going to be parked outside of the classroom until the leaves start changing. I don’t know what happened that he’s gotten so attached to me, but every single morning he asks the same question. “Mommy, are you going to work today?” For the last five years, I’ve had to tell him, yes, I’m going to work today. But now, I’m the owner of my own business and work is wherever I want it to be. But yet, as my son gets more and more stressed when I tell him I’m heading into Manhattan for a meeting, I’m starting to realize that no matter what I do, I need to be there to take him to school, or be at home when he walks in the door.
I’m not saying I’m packing it in for SAHM status – I am a career woman at heart – but I do want to be there for both of my kids. I even contemplated volunteering to be a class mother and then thought better of it since I pretty much stink in that arena, failing miserably at bake offs, carnivals and plant sales (I bought the plants, just killed them all). What I do know is that when a kid is five, they remember everything. I remember when I accidentally got left at after school when I was his age and I vowed never to do that either of them – no kid gets left behind – except of course when you think they’re supposed to be in school for a full day but it’s really only a half day, but I digress…
Getting back to kindergarten – while my son held on to my arm for dear life that first day, the little boy next to him broke the ice with some sage advice. He looked straight at my left wrist and said, “Why don’t you leave something special with him like your bracelet and then he’ll know you have to come back for him?” A very wise thought, except I wasn’t about about to slip off my 10th anniversary gift as collatoral just so my son would stop his crying jag. So instead of parting with my tennis bracelet, I fished in my purse and handed him the sherrif’s badge we picked out at Rocking Horse ranch last week when he begged me to get him a pair of handcuffs. He still kept crying but eventually, after we gave him the slip, he finally stopped and picked up a marker to draw a picture of himself missing his mommy and daddy.
Thankfully for me, day two was a complete cinch. He marched right in, gave me a kiss and off he went to sit with his new friends. And me – I raced off to catch the 8:48am train, missed my morning coffee, but caught up with my closest gal pals on Metronorth. And then, I raced home early to see how his day went. And thankfully, he had a wonderful time. So while I adjust to starting a new business and Dylan adjusts to being a kindergartener, something tells me that while both of us may have bumps along the way, everything is going to turn out just fine.

Tweens will Flip for “Flipped”

If you’re looking for great family films this Labor Day Weekend, then check out “Flipped.” Get the inside scoop on the film from director Rob Reiner and actress Penelope Ann Miller.

Well, the clock is ticking and we are days away from the summer being officially over. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun with your family. Sure your bags are finally unpacked and the kids are either back in school or pestering you to pick up supplies (I would be the latter), but before you dive into homework, projects and pressure, check out “Flipped,” a coming of age film set in the 1950’s that is told from the perspective of a boy and girl. Think “Stand By Me” meets “My Girl” and listen in to Rob and Penelope share why Flipped is the perfect film for families with tweens and teens.

Plus, Rob Reiner reminisces about his first love and if you’d like to share your first love story, upload a video to the Flipped Movie page on YouTube!

Pedestrian Safety: Meet the Mom Behind Elle’s Law

She almost died for a parking space.jpegListen in to our latest Blog Talk Radio interview with Heather Vandenberghe, a marketing executive who lives in New York City with her daughters Lila (6) and Elle (4). After young Elle was struck down on the way to pre-school by a reckless driver, Heather successfully campaigned for the passage of Elle’s Law,which raised the penalties for drivers who pedestrians while violating traffic laws. The story of Elle’s Law has been reported in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and on Glamour.com; more information about the campaign can be found at EllesLaw.org.

Listen to internet radio with Role Mommy on Blog Talk Radio

Heading Home with Your Newborn: Book Excerpt


HH REVISED COVER_1.JPGPediatricians, moms and authors, Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAP and Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP offer a wealth of “parent-tested, pediatrician-approved” advice in Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality, Second Edition (American Academy of Pediatrics, September 2010). Available on the American Academy of Pediatrics official Web site for parents, HealthyChildren.org. Also available in bookstores nationwide.
The following are excerpts to help you navigate those first crucial weeks of parenthood and caring for a newborn:
Following the Rules: Parenting by the Book
Nowadays it seems you can find well-defined rules about everything from feeding and sleeping schedules to dressing, diapering, and discipline. As convenient as it may seem to have someone write out for you an exact recipe for parenting success, we believe that there is not just one right way to do things. As with diapers and baby clothes, we are convinced that parenting techniques are not simply one size fits all. Our goal is to help famil- iarize you with the basics of baby care, and even more importantly to build your confidence as a parent right from the beginning during what many consider to be an overwhelming time–the newborn period. With a little knowledge and a positive attitude, you will find that you are very capable of anticipating and reasoning your way through even the most challenging aspects of what lies ahead. It’s a great feeling to find yourself comfortable enough in your parenting abilities that you don’t have to live life with a quick reference guide–ours or anyone else’s–tucked in your back pocket.
Breastfeeding Advice
What’s “Natural” Doesn’t Always Come Naturally
Yes, the act of breastfeeding is “natural,” but the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t always come naturally. All too often, new parents expect to be handed a newborn who gracefully latches on, nurses no more than 15 minutes on each breast every 3 hours, and delights in a plentiful supply of breast milk within a few short days. While we can only wish this scenario on all of you, clinging to this idealistic picture of breastfeeding bliss is all but guaranteed to set most of you up for perceived failure. If, however, you prepare yourself for the distinct possibility that your newborn may lack interest or sucking stamina, that each feeding may be different, and your nipples may be a little worse for wear early on, well then you only stand to be pleasantly surprised. The most likely scenario: Breastfeeding may be natural, but expect it to be a learning process for you and your baby. Some babies are quick learners, while others take their own sweet time.

Progressive Production
The changeover from colostrum to transitional and then mature milk is an important one. It gives you and your baby’s doctor reassurance that all is going well. Because the actual transition is not always so clear-cut, as some women notice very little change in their breasts as their milk supply increases, it is useful to be aware of several other clues that can help you figure out that everything is moving ahead as planned. They include:
* Your breast milk is white instead of yellow in color and appears thinner or clearer.
* Your baby makes more obvious gulping and swallowing noises when nursing.
* Your baby begins to pee and poop much more frequently
* Your baby no longer is losing weight or just holding steady, but instead has begun to gain weight relatively noticeably both on and off the scale.
Formula and Bottle Feeding Advice
We admit it. In many ways, feeding your baby formula may seem much easier than breastfeeding, especially in the beginning weeks. After all, you don’t have to worry about having enough of a supply, it’s rather painless (if you don’t count the sleep deprivation that comes with round-the-clock feeding), and it’s easy to monitor your baby’s intake. Granted, formula can be costly, you have to wash your supplies, and on occasion a baby will be finicky about which nipple and formula she is willing to accept, but at some point during their child’s first year, most of today’s parents end up using formula. With that in mind, we intend to give you a practical approach to formula, buying and cleaning bottles and nipples, and troubleshooting for newborns who don’t seem to play by the rules.

The Model Bottle: We’ve found that in reality, most babies go along with their parent’s taste in Bottles and there really isn’t such a thing as a single “model bottle” – one that outshines the rest. Nevertheless, we have found the following considerations to serve bottle-buying parents well:
* In general, a transparent (ie, not colored) 4-ounce bottle is the most practical choice for newborns.
* Larger (6 or 8 ounce) bottles are fine if you don’t mind using them half-full until your baby is bigger.
* Angled bottles and those with disposable nurser bags, built-in vents, or flow and control systems are said to help decrease the amount of air your baby swallows (although regular bottles held at the proper angle will also).
* Disposable bags have the added benefit of, well, being disposable; you only have to wash the nipples after each feeding.
A Bit About BPA
BPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical used in many hard plastic products, including some baby bottles, and the plastic lining used in cans of ready- to-feed formula. What’s the concern? Studies have shown that this potentially toxic chemical can leach out into food and pose a potential health risk–especially to infants and young children. The likelihood of BPA contamination is thought to be greatest when BPA-containing plastics are scratched or heated, contain warm liquids or food, or are washed with harsh detergents. While the use of BPA is not yet banned in the United States, several cities and states are considering or have already prohibited its use.
The advice we have for parents? Minimize your baby’s exposure to BPA by purchasing baby bottles that are labelled “BPA-free” and consider avoid- ing plastics with a #3 or #7 recycling symbol on the bottom (since these recycling categories may sometimes include BPA-containing plastics). And lastly, check for labels that state “dishwasher safe” or “microwave safe” before placing plastic containers in the dishwasher or microwave.
*Book excerpts from Heading Home with Your Newborn (Second Edition/Copyright 2010/American Academy of Pediatrics).

The Heading Home with Your Newborn excerpts are sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer’s Network.

Donating Pre-Loved Stuffed Animals

Screen shot 2010-09-02 at 8.19.09 AM.png
Guest Post By Lisa Novick, Co-Founder of www.yeskidzcan.com, a do-good company dedicated to bringing giving experiences into young kids’ lives.

A stuffed animal menagerie lives in my daughter’s room. Animals of all species and shapes which are lovingly jammed inside a wooden trunk at the end of her bed. Stuffed animals carry such significance for children – each with its own story and memory. There’s the sad looking dog she won at a boardwalk game at the beach. There’s the manatee her Miami-residing aunt sent her for a birthday present to remind her of Florida. There’s the first animal her dad got her on the day she was born. She sleeps with this raccoon every night. And there is even the first stuffed animal I received as a child that I passed on to her because I couldn’t bear to give it away.
My father gave me – of all things – a llama which I creatively named, “Llama.” It stands one foot tall with orange-brown glass eyes, a tuft of white bangs, and a surprising noise maker in its chest. One push creates a startling bleating sound that sends any dog in the vicinity into a frenzy. “Llama” is now very old. Its legs are bowed and a few metal supports jut out here and there. (Don’t worry, they are blunt and won’t hurt anybody.) This one stuffed animal has followed me from childhood to college to my first apartment and now – to my daughter.
So you can imagine my surprise when just the other day, my daughter announced that it was time to pass along a large selection of her stuffed animals to kids who needed them more than she did. I have been trying to get her to do this for a while. Not because I am a cruel mom, looking to break her spirit by separating her from her animals and all their furry memories. She simply has so many of them from friends and relatives and birthday party favors that it seems – well – excessive.
I suggested that she divide the animals into three piles:
1) Definite giveaways
2) Definite keepers
3) Undecided
To my shock, she quickly created a huge pile of giveaways, a modest pile of keepers, and an understandable amount of undecided’s. A quick conversation about each of the “undecided’s” helped put them in their rightful spot.
Our next decision was to research where to donate the critters. (A decent number of groups exist that take stuffed animals. However, it important to note that many organizations request only new ones.)
We got online together and found two groups that my daughter liked that take pre-loved animals:
Project Smile: This group provides police officers with gently used stuffed animals for them to give to children who have experienced tragedy or trauma.
Loving Hugs: This group sends stuffed animals to children living in war zones, refugee camps, orphanages, and hospitals or medical facilities around the world.
You do have to cover shipping costs if the group you choose does not have a drop-off location near you. (Loving Hugs helps you save on shipping costs by accessing their UPS account and taking advantage of any volume rate reduction that may apply.)
With our donation game plan in place, my daughter had one more idea. Since she was donating so many of her animals, she was wondering if she could buy one new animal for herself that had meaning. Every parent will have a different response to this, I’m sure. I decided that this was okay by me. Donating her animals was her idea in the first place. She happily selected a treasure trove of creatures to make others happy. And stuffed animals – whether old or new — carry a lot of sentimentality. Just ask “Llama” which – you will be relieved to know — remains safely in its rightful home – in the trunk at the end of my daughter’s bed.
To hear about more great deeds from kids and how you can get your own children involved in the giving spirit, visit YesKidzCan.