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Where’s Heather?

| January 1, 2014 | 1 Comments

Heather BurkePlease be advised that I am no longer taking clients, but I hope you’ll visit me on my new website!

If you are a subscriber you will automatically receive posts from HeatherBurke.ca. You are of course welcome to unsubscribe if you do not wish to receive them.

You can search for a professional organizer at any of the following websites:

Professional Organizers in Canada

POC members are organizing professionals from all sectors of the industry, comprising residential and office organizers, time management and goal setting professionals, estate organizing experts and many, many more.

National Association of Professional Organizers

NAPO’s automated Professional Organizer Directory is an easy way for consumers to find professional organizers in their local area. This online directory includes organizers who specialize in a variety of services for both residential and business clients.

Institute for Challenging Disorganization

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) provides assistance with locating professional organizers and related professionals who are knowledgeable about chronic disorganization (CD) issues.

For tips on finding the organizer who’s right for you, read this:

Architecture, interior design, and more ?Before starting a bathroom remodel, search for bathroom ideas and interesting products, including one-of-a-kind bathtubs, vanities and bathroom sinks.
For small bathroom ideas, browse photos of space-saving bathroom vanities and clever hidden recessed medicine cabinets.
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A Daily Routine for School Kids

| September 11, 2013 | 0 Comments

backpackOriginally Published January 7th, 2013

 

Kids are back to school and it’s time to get them back in a routine or system for emptying backpacks, homework, food containers, and notes from the teacher and newsletters.

Decide together where backpacks are to go every day, whether it’s in the mudroom, in the hall, the kitchen or up to the bedroom.

Create a system that’s clear for the child to follow. Photos work well for this to make sure all steps are done, and so does a small checklist. Here’s a sample:

  1. Backpack gets emptied and put on your hook.
  2. Let parent know if any paperwork needs to be signed.
  3. Check agenda to see if there are any newsletters, upcoming field trips or activities your parents need to know about.
  4. Place homework and projects to complete in the study area.
  5. Empty lunch container. Put dishes in dishwasher or beside the sink.
  6. Dirty clothes (gym) go in laundry hamper.
  7. Anything else routinely carried in the back pack.
  8. Can you think of anything else to add?

You may want to create your list and put it in a page protector or laminate the list for a easy reminder (and you don’t have to nag).

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Organizing Toys for Toddlers

| September 10, 2013 | 2 Comments

Originally published January 20, 2013

 

We are now two-thirds of the way through Get Organized Month!

I’ve been blogging like crazy this month to give you one task per day to help you be better organized and more productive – how are you making out?

I’m ready for a break, so today I’m turning things over to Hanna Anderson from FullTimeNanny.com, with some great tips for organizing toys, whether you’re a nanny or a mom.

10 Ways Nannies Can Organize a Toddler’s Toysorganizing toys

Part of a nanny’s regular duties include keeping their charge’s rooms, play areas and the family’s common living areas clear of clutter. This is no easy feat when today’s toddler accumulates such a staggering array of toys. Harried parents, especially those that work extended hours, may not have time to work out an organizational system to keep disorder to a minimum. For nannies who find themselves swimming in a sea of toddler toys, here are 10 tips for storing toys in a functional manner.

  1. Keep it Low – Unless you want to spend your day fetching toys for your pint-sized charges, make sure that the bulk of your storage system is engineered for their short stature. Vertical storage may be great for older kids, but it just creates frustration in toddlers and can inspire them to embark on unsafe climbing expeditions for the things they want but can’t reach.
  2. Use Bins and Baskets – While the number of toys your charges have acquired may have outgrown their toy box, you may not have the option of purging older items without your employer’s consent. Rather than risk overstepping your boundaries by putting older toys aside as new toys come in, arrange a series of bins and baskets to contain the overflow.
  3. Store Like With Like – Keeping toy trucks in one container and blocks in another helps a toddler find exactly what he’s looking for without emptying each and every bin of its contents during his search. This method also makes clean up easier for both you and your  charges when playtime ends.
  4. Keep Shelves Safe – Even low-slung shelves can present a tipping hazard if they’re pulled on with enough force, which can easily happen when a toddler attempts to climb them. Anchoring shelves to make them safe and to prevent injuries as a result of a top-heavy tip-over is an essential part of organizing kids’ rooms.
  5. Make Favorites Easy to Find – Most children, even at the toddler stage, have a few favorite toys that see far more action than the others. Keeping these perennial favorites in easy reach makes her less likely to take out several toys that don’t quite live up to her expectations simply because her old faithfuls are nowhere to be found.
  6. Store Special Occasion Toys Out of Sight – Modeling dough, bubble solution and any other messy toys that must be used with close supervision are best stored out of sight to help reduce the temptation to pull them out before you’re prepared to deal with the ensuing mess. By keeping these toys stowed away, you can also generate a ton of excitement when you do present them.
  7. Make Clean Up Part of Your Routine Together – Children thrive when they have a relatively stable daily routine; making clean-up a regular part of your day and working together to put everything away helps toddlers understand that cleaning up is part of playing and that he’s partially responsible for helping to accomplish that task.
  8. Designate Containers For Toys in Common Areas – If your employers allow their children to play with toys in common areas like the living or family rooms, designating one bin or container per child is an effective way of corralling toys while still keeping them separated. Color-coding containers helps kids who aren’t reading pick out their own bin as they get a bit older as well.
  9. Hammocks For Stuffed Animals – Most toddlers have already amassed an impressive collection of stuffed animals and plush toys, but probably only have one or two favorites. Toy hammocks are a great solution because they are easy to put up and can accommodate several toys safely. Make sure, however, that hammocks are placed in a manner that doesn’t encourage scaling furniture in order to reach the toys inside.
  10. Labels Are Your Friend – While your toddler-aged charges might not be able to read, labels are still among the most useful organizational tool at your disposal. You’re not likely to remember which bin is designated for each kind of toy without a clue; labeling containers helps you keep track of them and makes clean-up time as short as possible.  Labels that have both pictures and words can also promote word recognition.

Before you get carried away with grand organizing plans, make sure that you clear your ideas with your employer. In most cases, busy parents are more than happy to consider your plans objectively in order to cut down on the toy-filled clutter of their homes, so don’t hesitate to present your ideas in a respectful manner. Remember, without the participation of your employers, your system will only be effective while you’re on the clock and enforcing the cleanup rules.

Reprinted with permission from FullTimeNanny.com

For more ideas, follow my Organize – Toys board on Pinterest!

Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Heather Burke

Tuesday Tip – Stop Right There!

| September 9, 2013 | 0 Comments

I asked this question last week on my Facebook page:

“Which shelves, drawers and/or flat surfaces such as counters are clutter magnets in your home?”

Here are the answers I received:

  • All of them
  • The kitchen island.
  • All of them!
  • The kitchen table. The minute I get it clean, the kids start piling stuff on it again.
  • Kitchen counter

So it seems like it’s the flat surfaces that collect the most clutter.

One way to “Stop” the clutter is to copy some STOP signs to put on counters and other flat spaces that collect clutter and the stuff of daily life. This is a great visual reminder not to put stuff on the flat surface.

stop clutter

Another solution is to find permanent homes for the items so you can put them away instead of just putting them down.

Setting up a mail centre would be another, especially since a lot of the clutter that ends up on flat surfaces is paper.

How do you stop from putting stuff on flat surfaces (including the floor)?

 

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Making An Entrance

| September 7, 2013 | 0 Comments

free standing shelfIs your entrance ready for all the activities of fall?

Do you still have piles of sandals and other items of summer taking over the space?

To make your entrance welcoming, start by assessing your needs and thinking about all the activities that happen in this space.

Is your entrance or mud room working for you?  Do you remember what went right and what went so very wrong last September? Did shoes and bags get lost in the shuffle?

How many functions does this space have to fulfill?

 

Sort out what needs to be in that space and what belongs elsewhere. Think about having family members keeping only one pair of footwear at the entrance.

Here are the basics you’ll need to make your front hall more functional and beautiful:

  • A colour that you like, either dramatic or muted, greeting you as you walk through the front door.
  • Good lighting: overhead sufficient to light the entire space, closet lighting and accent lighting if the space is large enough, and perhaps a dimmer for those nights when you’re entertaining guests or bringing home a sleeping child.
  • A mirror for taking that last look before you step outside – it will also reflect light into your space.
  • Something to sit on while putting your shoes on or dressing your child.
  • A clock to keep everyone on time.
  • A landing zone where you can drop your mail, keys, and sunglasses. Having a designated home for your keys means you can find them every time you need them. A cabinet or dresser with doors or drawers is ideal because it provides space for storing small items, but if you don’t have room for a piece of furniture, a free standing shelf as pictured here will tuck in nicely behind the door.

Some tips to help organize your front entry would be

  • Hang a shoe bag on the inside of your closet door for mittens, scarves and hats. I use the one from closet max (giveaway on my blog in June)
  • Organizing your closet.

  • If you don’t have a hall closet, keep your coats on hooks, put hooks lower down for kids to be able to hang their own jackets and backpacks.
  • DECIDE where backpacks are to be kept! Do they need to be at the front door or can they be hung up in the kitchen or moved to the bedroom.
  • You may want to use a bench or cube with a lid for further storage.
  • 3 cube storage bin, You can place backpacks or baskets/bins in each slot.

  • The trick is to keep everything off the floor.
  • A simple bookcase with labeled baskets is an inexpensive solution to keep small items organized.  Fill it with labeled baskets to avoid searching for items you need.
  • Add extra shelves to your top shelf. In this case a shoe rack was added for hats
  • Place a decorative dish for your keys and your incoming mail on the top of the hall cabinet.
  • Oh, and that hanger trick about reversing the hangers, it works well in the front closet as well. You can see what coats are not being worn and find out why they are not being worn.

Do you step over a pile of backpacks, shoes, coats, and other items in your pathway? Designate a permanent home for these items so they don’t just get dumped in your entryway, and take five minutes to tidy at the end of each day.

 

Add a weekly calendar to the door as you exit to remind you of special events happening that week.

 

When everything you need is in its place, your entrance becomes a launching pad for daily essentials and makes getting out the door in the morning go more smoothly.

Here is to happy mornings!

NST3K4PHXAPN

 

Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2012-2013 Heather Burke

10 Things To Do Before School Starts

| August 2, 2013 | 4 Comments

Originally published one year ago.

 

Here are 10 quick tips to help you prepare for the upcoming school year. You may already do most of these things, or you may have some suggestions of your own!

back to school

© Stefano Lunardi – iStockPhoto.com

Regardless of whether your children are going to Kindergarten, or in my case, their first year of university, these are just some simple suggestions to make that transition a smooth one.

  1. Make medical, dental or eye appointments in the coming month.
  2. Ensure all vaccinations are up to date.
  3. Stock up on school supplies and replace shabby or broken backpacks and lunch kits.
  4. Sort through clothing and shoes, determine what needs to be replaced, donated or handed down to other families.
  5. Prepare your calendar for the months ahead. Some dates to note are September 4th – first day of school – and October 5th, a PD day, making it an extra long weekend (Thanksgiving).
  6. Create a space where children can concentrate on their homework. Keep it well supplied with things such as pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, etc.
  7. If college or university is in your child’s future, check their websites for suggestion of needed items when staying in the dorm.
  8. This is a good time to stock up on your medicinal and first aid items. Some items to make sure you have on hand might be Band-Aids, antibiotic creams, children’s Tylenol/Advil, and cough and cold medicine.
  9. Start stocking up on healthy lunch and snack items, as well as items such as batteries.
  10. Give your children time to adjust to a new sleep routine – start at least a week ahead of the first day of school.
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School’s Out for Summer!

| June 18, 2013 | 1 Comments

end of school year clutterSummer is just around the corner which means it’s that time again, the end of the school year. Most students will be coming home on the last day of school with backpacks stuffed with papers, books and possibly some “lost” clothing uncovered in the lost and found or locker. All of that is going to be moved from the school into your home.

Whatcha gonna do, Whatcha gonna do when the stuff comes home?

Have a plan or strategy

If you can, accompany your student to school on clear-out day or the last day of school so you can help them empty their desk or locker. For some reason, Grade 5s and 7s generally have the most loose paper in their lockers or desks at the end of the school year.

Here’s an easy step-by-step plan:

  1. Before anything is brought home from school, decide with the student where the items are going to be sorted and stored until next year.
  2. Send a canvas bag or other strong bag to school explicitly for desk or locker clean-out. It makes it a little easier on everyone to have everything in one place.
  3. Ask the child if they want help sorting all or some of the items. Some kids will try to sneak in that “lost” jacket or iPod, and then they want help.
  4. Dump everything out into one big pile for each student.
  5. Sort – you knew I was going to say sort, didn’t you? Before you start, give everyone a drink and a snack – a little something to make the process a celebration, not a “chore.”
  6. Sort like with like. Make it a game: beat the clock, best sort, etc.

a. clothing
b. school supplies

i.        crayons
ii.       pencil crayons
iii.      ruler(s)
iv.      calculators
v.       unused paper
vi.      doutangs/folders/binders
vii.     stapler
viii.    glue
ix.      erasers
x.       math sets
xi.      you get the idea…

c. school work
d. awards
e. crafts
f. food containers
g. toys
h. electronics
i. sports gear
j. backpacks
k. any other category

  1. You may need another snack break at this point.
  2. Review items to see if they will be good for the next school year, are ready for craft supplies, or just plain garbage.
  3. Put supplies that will be returning to school next year where you will find them in August or September, so you don’t spend money on things you won’t need.
  4. Choose with the student as to what school work and crafts they want to keep. For large projects you may wish to take a photo with the student holding the project.

(See also Treasures –Children’s Artwork)

student posing for a photo of her school projectTake a photo of the child holding the artwork and store the photo digitally. You can then make a digital scrapbook at the end of the year which can include school field trips, events and ceremonies.

  1. Think about the last time you looked at your old school work. That might help you decide what to keep for the long term.
  2. Keep a few things that show the student’s progress or character.
  3. Look at the condition of the backpack or school bag and determine whether it will be good enough for the next school year or as a take-along bag for summer trips.

Keep the process fun. If it’s a sunny day, you may want to do it outside. The different steps might be taken over a few days, depending on how much stuff is brought home. Take a before and after picture to see the difference.

Even teenagers and university students might appreciate the company and perhaps the help.

Take this as an opportunity to review the successes of the school year with the student.

Enjoy your summer!

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Tuesday Tip – Simple Solutions

| April 30, 2013 | 1 Comments

I like to keep things simple and inexpensive for my organizing clients. Starting out in the organizing process (oh, this is a process!), I don’t want anybody investing in organizing products they may not need down the line. This week, I’m featuring the many uses for shoe holders/organizers. They’re not just for shoes!

Organizing Toys

Toys can overwhelm a space faster than anything I know, especially those with small pieces. If the toys are put into clear shoe organizers, it’s easy to see what is there, as opposed to dumping the toys all over the place.

 

Some examples are:                                         A sample for action figures for easy access:

toys organized in shoe organizeraction figures in shoe organizer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Kim’s Crazy Corner                                           Source: Organize Your Stuff Now

 

This is for Barbie or similar sized dolls: barbies in shoe organizer

Source: Container Store

I really like the above organizer from the Container Store. Made from recycled plastic bottles, the 20-Pocket Eco-Fabric Overdoor Shoe Bag is an earth-friendly way to organize your shoes, toys, and pantry items. A steel hanging bar provides added support and prevents sagging. And smaller toys: small plush toys in a shoe organizer

Source: Right At Home

And now for something completely different for shoe organizers…

Gardening

A shoe pocket garden:                                            This one shows how to start plants:

                                           shoe pocket gardenshoe planter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Apartment Therapy                                                    Source: Branch Habitat

Around the house

In the pantry, the organizer holds snacks: shoe organizer for snacks

Source: Mom on Timeout

Organizing the Baby’s Room

shoe organizer for baby items

Source: The Frugal Free Gal

Organizing Personal Care Items in the Bathroom

personal care items organizer

Source: Mom on Timeout

Organizing the Home Office

Cable Management:                                             Office Supplies

storing cables in a shoe organizeroffice supplies in a shoe organizer

Source: Ginger Meyer at Pinterest

 

 

Source: I Heart Organizing

 

Organizing Outdoors

For BBQ’s or camping: camping items organizer

Source: News 24

Organizing School Supplies

 

And for supplies in the classroom:

 school supplies shoe organizerclassroom items shoe organizer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: I Can Teach My Child

 

Source: I Can Teach My Child

Organizing Craft Supplies

Punches for scrapbooking or card making

Skeins of wool can be placed in the shoe organizer, as can fabric, beads, paints.

art supplies organizer

Source: Memories by Bee

An Advent Calendar

advent calendar in a shoe organizerSource: Eighteen 25

Shoe organizers can also be used to organize the back seat of the car, cleaning products, and water bottles; as well as scarves, hats and mittens in the winter.

How else could you use a shoe organizer?

Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Heather Burke

Tuesday Tip – Communication Centres

| April 23, 2013 | 0 Comments

launch-pad-in-use1

 

We all have busy lives and can easily forget simple dates for events. Whether you call it a communication centre, Message Centre, command central, a Command Centre, Master Calendar with notes, or a Scheduling Centre, we all need to have one to keep everyone on track and organized.

FAMILY MANAGEMENT CENTRE

FAMILY MANAGEMENT CENTRE

Have you ever walked out the door assuming that everyone knows where they have to be and when? Or forgotten a critical appointment? Or forgotten sports or dance or swim clothing or equipment? You just might need a central place for all this information.

One doesn’t have to be a family to need a master calendar; this works for everyone: families, singles, and even those that have roomies.

The calendar is the most important piece of the message centre as it let’s all  and you to see what is going on this week and int the future. I usually recommend a paper calendar with big blocks for each date so that everything for that day can be written down. For families, I really like this calendar from

 

16 months for tracking all events, meal planner and more.

16 months for tracking all events, meal planner and more.

http://www.moretimemoms.ca/ especially as it starts in September and goes to the follow December encompassing the school year and more.

The A message centre may comprise of a paper calendar or a virtual calendar like Google calendar. The ideas is that everyone must be able to access the calendar and put their schedule on the calendars, and everyone can see what is on the schedule and that it doesn’t become too packed with events, sports, education, social activities, birthdays and any other event that you want to remember.

One of my favourite family message centres comes from The Caldwell Project.

message centre with mail slots and calendar

I like how there is a spot for everyone to leave messages, mail and the all-important calendar.

Here is another great centre that even includes a spot for things that come in the mail that require shredding.

communication centre with shredding slot

Source: One Creative Housewife

A very simple message centre for the week uses a large multi-photo frame and scrapbook paper. You use a dry erase pen to write on the glass.

message centre with each day of the week

Source: Paula Foster

 

A message centre should be located in a central place that everyone can access; that usually tends to be the kitchen. It can encompass a calendar, meal plan, grocery list, important numbers, school calendar with PA days marked, and a whiteboard, cork or chalkboard for making notes.

This centre is located beside the fridge and accessible to all members of the family.

message centre located in a central location

Source: the Inspired Room

If you don’t like the centre on display, you can locate it inside a cupboard door.

communication centre on inside of cupboard door

Magnetic wipe board. Removable magnetic pen/pencil holder and 4 key hooks.

Source Lowes.com

or

message centre inside cupboard door

Source unknown

You can also use a roll of blackboard contact paper, wallies peel and stick paper or magnetic paint inside a cupboard.

If you use a mudroom or other entrance way with younger kids, this one from The Inspired Room is great as it contains everything you need, including a space for backpacks.

communication centre at home entrance

For busy families this is a great message centre with a space for just about everything to stay organized.

message centre with to keep you organized

Source: A Bowl full of Lemons

 

For older kids, I like this idea of having files for kids’ papers right by their backpacks.

papers filed with backpacks

Source: unknown. If you know the source please let me know.

or this:

communication boards with backpacks

Source: Delightful Order

If you prefer to have a digital centre there is Google Calendar or Cozi. Cozi helps you keep track of everything from school schedules to sports activities, grocery lists, meals and chores — all in one place accessible by every member of the family and from any computer or mobile device.

You can find more ideas on my Pinterest page.

What sort of communication centre would work for you?

Henry Kissinger once said “There cannot be a crisis today, my schedule is already full.”

Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Heather Burke

Tuesday Tips – Ice Cube Trays, let me count the ways.

| April 2, 2013 | 8 Comments

Spring weather should be arriving soon, at least that’s what it says on my calendar.

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” ~ Mark Twain

How many changes in weather have you witnessed this week?

I do know that the days are getting longer and there are signs of birds and squirrels in my backyard.

ice cubesSome of you may have been doing some spring clearing and have found that you have duplicates of some items. Before you toss out the extras, consider some new uses for old things.

For example, the mild and meek mannered ice cube tray has many uses, other than just holding ice cubes.

This covered Ice cube tray by OXO keeps flavours both in and out. It can also keep small things, such as earrings, from falling out.

 

For kids

It can a become a meal tray for toddlers for different colours and textures.

meals for toddlers

Organizing Healthy snacks for after school

healthy after school snacks

For everyone

Fruit and berries can be blended with fresh juice and frozen for making Smoothies.

As the Magic Fridge taught me: freeze homemade stock or sauces, and add to the pot whenever you need a boost of flavor in your Stocks, Sauces or Soups.

Use the ice cube to have iced aloe on hand for those nasty summer burns.

ice cube tray aloe

 

Children’s crafts

ice cube tray paints

An ice cube tray can be used as a paint pallet or tray!

You can also freeze water and food colouring to make “paint.”

IceCubePaintingIce cube trays can also be used for beading and other arts and crafts.

 

Freezing fresh herbs, pesto, or tomato paste

 

Freeze 1-2 TBSP tomato paste per cube; this way you know how many cubes you will need for a recipe. Diced up Parsley looks the same as when fresh picked, even after freezing.

 

Baby Food

Ice cube trays are great for home made baby food or for those with difficulty swallowing.

Drinks

Freeze leftover coffee for iced coffee, freeze fruit for summer drinks, and make ice cubes with the juice or lemonade that you are making so when the ice melts it does not dilute the drink.

freezing fruit for summer drinks

 

Herbal ice cubes are a lovely alternative to plain ice for ice tea and other summer drinks.

Ice cube trays can be used to keep things sorted such as jewellery for rings and earrings.

 

Rather than buying a bigger box than you need for a small project, use an ice cube tray to keep all the parts together, especially when hanging photographs and pictures.

Source: alejandra.tv via Lauri on Pinterest

 

It can also be used for office supplies.

 

Ice cube desserts

ice cube tray dessert

What other uses can you think of for the lowly ice cube tray?

 

Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Heather Burke