Tips For Organizing Your Life: Toddler Toy Edition

546 Organized toddler room

As any parent would tell you, young children accumulate a lot of stuff. All of the toys, books, games, dress up clothes, and stuffed animals that multiply with each passing holiday, birthday, or visit to Grandma and Grandpa can become a little (or a lot) overwhelming. One thing I’ve learned in parenting my three year old is that messiness begets messiness.  The less organized I am, the less likely my daughter is to keep her belongings organized.  I’m slowly trying to change our household habits and I’ve noticed a huge difference in how my toddler treats her belongings. Once I got everything organized, I implemented a standing rule that once she’s doing playing with one toy, book, puzzle, or game she has to put it up before getting something else out. So far, it’s been a total success!

Organizing your toddler's room

When my daughter was an older infant and started actually playing with toys, I kept them in bins and thought I was organized.  Now that she’s older, I realized that’s not going to work for much longer. We were constantly missing puzzle and toy pieces and having a difficult time finding all of the parts to the one puzzle we wanted to work on.

Bins For Toys

I dumped out all of the toys from each bin (one by one) and organized them.  Then I set aside all of the puzzles (I did the same thing for the toys and games) that were missing pieces to organize later when the lost pieces came home. Tips for organizing I only used two of the puzzles for the picture because, honestly, nobody wants to see the ungodly mess that was my daughter’s room the day that I took on this project.

Tips for toddler organizing

Each puzzle went into a gallon size zip lock bag which was labeled with the name of the puzzle, toy, or game, a description, and the number of pieces that are supposed to be included in the bag.

tips for organizing toys

It is so much easier to make sure we have the right amount of pieces for each toy to avoid a meltdown later on.

Tips for organizing toys

Putting them in the labeled bags also helped make it easier to store them in my daughter’s bins. Take a look:

Tips for organizing toddlers

I did the same thing with all of the other toys in her room.  I know it may *seem* like a lot of work but, trust me, I am confident you’ll find that it is totally worth it.

organizing toys

Tips for organizing your toddlers room

toddler toys

Since they don’t fit into gallon size bags (and because it’s not safe to put plastic bags over ‘living’ things) all of her dolls live together in a bin of their very own:

Toy bin ideas for toddlers

The last thing that I did was to create a small reading area in the corner of her room with several books and all of her stuffed animals (which were outgrowing her bed) so that she can relax and read to her favorite monkey, dinosaur, and bear.

Toddler Reading Area

How do you stay organized?

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Let’s Talk About What I Did In First Grade…

When I was in first grade (it might have been kindergarten, I’m not really sure) we lived in Texas and I attended the grade school in our small military town. Not unlike many elementary schools in my day (they probably still do this) we had show and tell. I distinctly remember one day when it was my turn for show and tell and I forgot to bring a special item. The quick thinking six (maybe five) year old that I was, I grabbed the hair brush from my backpack and quickly came up with a story about why that brush was so special. I don’t remember exactly what I said but I remember telling my classmates (and my smiling teacher who undoubtably thought I was ‘imaginative’) that the very hair brush I was holding in my hand could dry your hair while you brushed it. It was ‘magical’ and I was proud of myself for coming up with something on such short notice. Now let’s fast forward a few (okay, several) years to today when I had the television on while I was getting ready and I heard about this:

John Frieda

What is this marvelous contraption, you might ask!? It’s no other than a blow drying hairbrush! Now I’m not saying that the creator, who works for John Frieda, was a classmate of mine back in first grade (or maybe Kindergarten) but if I could go back in time, I would give myself a pat on the back.

Dear Six (or Five) Year Old Self,

You are a genius.

Love,

“Old” (not really that old) Self

PS: XoXoXo

 

Uterus: Vacancy (About Drinking)

wine cellar

I’ll be the first to tell you that I enjoy a nice glass of wine every now and then but I’m really not much of a drinker. When my husband and I first found out we were pregnant in September 2009, I stopped drinking. When we lost that pregnancy, we knew we wanted to start trying again as soon as we were in the clear so regular drinking wasn’t a habit I started up again. I would have a little every once in a while but it really only amounted to one drink a month. After C was born, I was giving her breast milk and so drinking was still not something that was on my radar. To be honest, I was glad for the excuse to turn down drinks when I didn’t want one. Now that C is older (she’ll be 2 in February) and we’re not trying to have another child, I don’t have the built-in excuse for not drinking.

I don’t have a problem with alcohol, I’m not sick, there’s nothing wrong with me…

I just don’t feel like having alcohol most of the time. And that’s okay.

For some reason, when women of childbearing age turn down drinks people automatically assume one thing: P-R-E-G-N-A-N-C-Y. Why?

I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve had someone ask me why I’m not drinking…or give me a smile, or a little wink when I turn down a glass of wine but really, honestly, it has absolutely nothing to do with the state of my uterus (which, as I’ve stated before, is empty). I really and truly just prefer iced tea over alcohol. It’s how I am and it’s what I like and I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

So this message goes to all of you who have friends and family in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties who frequently turn down wine or other drinks: STOP ASSUMING WE’RE PREGNANT. Please and thank you. I’m not holding some big secret and I have nothing to hide. If and (/0r) when we ever get pregnant again, I promise I will tell you…until then, let it go.

Righting The Wrongs of The Past

I was perusing Facebook, my usual pastime, when I happened upon a photo of someone I was once close with in college. She was an incredible friend, a wonderful person, and what happened between us will likely be among the biggest regrets I will have in life. Very long story short, we lived together in a townhouse one summer and I became friends with some of the neighbors who didn’t really get along with my friend. I was young, I was immature, and I ended up siding with the wrong people in a very heated fight (not physical) between my alcoholic neighbor and his wife and my best friend. I said and did things I shouldn’t have and I lost that friendship. It wasn’t until I moved to the Midwest and was able to look at the situation objectively that I realized how very, very in the wrong I was and how unfair I’d been to someone who didn’t deserve to be treated so unfairly. After some time, I can’t remember how long it was, I finally sent her a message apologizing for my actions and the hurt it caused her. I’ve kept up with her on Facebook and saw that she was recently married. We’re grown-ups now and we’ve both moved on with our lives. She seems so happy and I couldn’t be more thrilled for her because she deserves it.

Seeing her picture tonight is what prompted my Facebook status (and now my post). Here’s what I wrote:

One of the biggest tragedies in life is the inability to go back and right the wrongs of the past. The best you can do is reflect, learn, and move forward. If an apology is owed, give it…even if that apology is to yourself.

I think apologies that come from heart are incredibly important not just for the person that has been hurt but also for the person responsible. We all make mistakes, we’re human beings. It’s learning from those mistakes that help us become better, that help us grow. We don’t get do-overs. What we do get, though, is do-better-next-times. I’d like to think I’ve come along way as a human being than I was back then but I still have room to grow. Don’t we all?!

I’ll leave you with this, a picture of something I saw a few months ago that really moved me. I hope you love the concept as much as I do:

 

 

Life & Death…Memories & Legacies

Have you ever had one of those restless nights where your brain just won’t stop over thinking?

That’s where I was last night. I don’t know what time I finally got to sleep, probably around 3:00. I started thinking about life, death, and the legacy you leave behind. I went to a funeral this past week for my grandmother’s best friend, Morris Leo Taylor, who died on September 22nd this year. A World War II veteran, Morris served in the Navy and lived a long and incredible life. The Catholic service was beautiful, followed by a short ceremony at the graveside where two soldiers presented his daughter, Andrea, with an American flag. Morris was 91 when he died. Even though most of us hope that we’ll live as long as Morris did, the sad reality is that death is a natural part of life. Not everyone gets to live into their nineties. I asked a question on my personal Facebook page some time ago about whether or not, if given the opportunity, you would want to know the year and cause of your death (knowing it couldn’t be prevented, no matter what you did). Many people said that they wouldn’t want to know. I get that.

I go back and forth. On one hand, it would be nice to know how much time I have left so that I could better prepare but on the other hand I wonder how it would change things. Would I invest more in relationships? How would it change what kind of parent I am to C? The fact is that it shouldn’t change things. We should always live each day like it could be our last. We should love each day like it could be our last. We should embrace life, enjoy it. And so last night I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about how Andrea must feel now, having lost both her parents and her only (blood related) sibling. I couldn’t stop thinking about how that will be me one day, at my dad’s funeral and how much I dread that day because I don’t want to lose him. I couldn’t stop thinking about C and how she will eventually lose both of us (the husband and me). I couldn’t stop thinking about death. I couldn’t stop thinking about life.

I was thinking last night about what would happen if, god forbid, something happened and I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to my loved ones. C is so young she wouldn’t even remember me. I haven’t been very good about documenting our family life and it’s something I need to get better at. I’ve always been pretty good about taking videos and pictures of C for friends and family who live across the country but I have got to get better at making sure we have family videos and family pictures. I made a vow to myself last night to start taking one video each week of how our family is. It doesn’t have to be a long video and it doesn’t even have to be about anything in particular…I just want to make sure I start documenting our life so that we never lose those moments. I want to start writing C letters that I’ll give to her when she had kids of her own one day, so that she will always have a little part of me with her and so that she can share them with her children, and their children.

It’s been said that we live on through the memories of others…

How do you plan to share those memories?

How do you plan to make those memories?

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
-Henry David Thoreau

“Look Mom, I Showered!” – Mommy Makeover Challenge Day #2

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I’ll be honest, life with a toddler can be tough. I’ve found that’s it’s sometimes difficult to get a good shower in each morning when I wake up and so I usually wait until later in the day, or at night, to clean myself up. Not today. My shower (which was much, much longer than it probably should have been) was glorious and I think it helped to set the tone for the rest of this day. Having said that, day two of the “Mommy Makeover Challenge”, inspired by my friend The Naptown Organizer (she’s on day six today, I’m a little behind), was a success.

Day of the Challenge? Today is my second day of the challenge. It’s Saturday so our schedule isn’t the same as it is when the husband is at work Monday-Friday. This gives me more time to focus on getting ready, which is really nice.
How long did it take you to get ready? I won’t include shower time because, let’s be honest, I spent an unecessary amount of time when I take showers. What can I say, it’s my time to relax. I couldn’t find my brush (the joys of having children in the house) anywhere this morning so I had to blow my hair dry with one of C’s combs. Oddly enough, it worked out since I didn’t end up having to straighten my hair. All in all, sans shower, it took me about twenty minutes to get ready this morning.
What did you do differently than normal? I took my time…something that’s very out of the ordinary for me when it comes to getting ready.
Did you go anywhere outside of the home? We did! We went down to a local consignment sale that I’ve got some items in. Today was the last day of the sale so I was able to score some slipper boots for C for only $1.50. Then we headed over to the mall to shop around (I did my window shopping yesterday, my real shopping today). I’ll be leaving the house here again in a couple of hours so I’m glad I got ready.
Did you feel any differently? This was a pretty typical Saturday for me. I did spend a little more time focusing on ME today, which made me feel more relaxed.
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Feel inspired to join in? You can find all of the information for this Mommy Makeover Challenge here. I’ll be doing mine until October 11th, or longer. Maybe everyday. Always.