I love when people share simple, little tips that are practical and making a big difference in their own everyday lives. In the nature of sharing, I thought I might offer you some of my own, ones that we’ve found have bettered our day-to-day living in simple ways.
Buying each person a notebook instead of cards for each occasion. Instead of having to go out a buy a birthday card, a father’s day, valentine’s day card, we create a little message on the next page of the notebook. For instance, for Father’s Day, each of my kids took a page to write a simple message or use all the glue, coloured paper and markers in the drawer to make a masterpiece for my husband. After Father’s day, the notebook is there, at the ready for reminiscing and/or for Christmas, Valentine’s Day or his birthday. My hope is that, especially for our children, it will be a way for them to keep track of passing memorable moments and also as a keepsake, to help bolster them during those really rough periods that childhood, adolescence and adulthood bring us.
Having a rolling cart in our front closet. We use this one from IKEA. We have three kids. The cart has three small shelves. Each kid has a shelf. There is room for one set of good quality mittens, a neckie, a toque and a set of work mittens/gloves. We’ve found this system makes it easier to find mittens and toques in the morning rush for the bus, helps the kids keep track of their own items and creates a sense of responsibility and keeps the closet tidier. The cart rolls out in the morning and can be easily rolled back in after everyone is dressed. In the spring, the shelves hold a pair of splash pants for when ski pants are too warm. In the summer, the mittens and toque are replaced by a hat. We’ve tried bins of things, with lots of mittens and hats. Our thought was better to have back-ups in the case of not being able to find the one pair you were looking for. I was finding I’d have to literally pick up armloads and stuff them back into the bins after a harried school morning where three children were madly running about trying to find enough to dress themselves with. We do still have a back up bin but it’s much smaller and not easily accessible. Mornings have become easier, especially as the kids have gotten used to the system and our default answer of saying their mittens, toque, etc should be where it belongs. There’s much less of a feel of throwaway or castaway mittens. I’m likely jinxing it all but we’ve gotten through four months of not losing a glove, mitten or toque. Knocking on all the wood!!!
MATCHING STUFF TO THE SPACE
For us, one of the key ways we manifest this is by keeping the children’s toys in their rooms. If the toys are starting to takeover the room, it’s time for a discussion about how each of us only has so much space and therefore can only have so many toys. And that it’s important to have enough space to properly enjoy the toys we do have.
Yes, these discussions can be difficult, and yes, it can be hard for our kids to move on from some toys. I’ve learned that nostalgia begins in childhood. I remember going through my daughter’s closet and she kept hesitating at giving up what were clearly toys designed for younger children. It suddenly clicked! Ah, she was feeling a bit lost, and loved the feeling of stability and safety being younger meant. When she was younger, we helped her with more. There was less space and distance between us. We helped her with eating, dressing , cleaning, pretty much every aspect of her life. And now, as she was older, she was expected to do more of that. And also there were more pressures at school to assert independence, be with friends, adopt what friends were interested in and doing. She felt a bit overwhelmed. So we put the younger toys in a box, where she could still have them but we also had a chat about how she was feeling, how we could create other forms of connection as parents and child, where and how she could create areas of feeling safe and stable. We talked about how friends are an important piece of her life and that it was normal to feel a bit unsteady and a little scared about growing up But, we also assured her, that we would continue to be her safe place as she begins to navigate her independence.
I digress though, and back to my original point, our feeling is that toys kept in rooms help children realize there are limits to resources, including space and time and that priorities are an important piece of keeping a self-directed and focused life with space for fun and meaningful activities.
MULTIFUNCTIONAL ITEMS ARE WHERE FURNITURE IS AT
Try to keep items as multi-functional as possible. As an example, we have side tables that we’ve made from short ends from locally sourced timbers. They measure, roughly, 10” by 10” by about 18-20” high. You might have seen them on my Instagram?? They are sturdy side tables, can be stools in a pinch at the dinner table if we’ve guests and can also be tipped on their side as a stool for reaching places up high in cupboards and closets. We’ve been know to take them outside onto our screened porch for side tables there too.
Another multi-functional go-to are our long benches. We have a few scattered through our house. In our front porch, they are great for putting on footwear, seating as the kids wait for the bus and, admittedly, a good place to put things that need to be taken outside. I’m currently staring at an extension cord and my husband’s logging helmet (an awesome piece of PPE I personally endorse if you are ever inclined to use a chainsaw) that need to be taken out to the workshop next time one of us heads out that way. Other places, we use them to place blankets and throws. But the benches shining moment often comes at large family gatherings when we have a dozen children running about and needing to find a seat at the dinner table.
GROCERY SHOPPING APPS
And the last little thing is something I’ve just discovered in the past few days. And I realize I’m likely very, very late to the game! However, I think it might be worth the share! And that one thing is, is grocery shopping apps. The premise is you can create a grocery list, place all the items into a cart, including fruits and veg and dairy, select a time for pickup and have your vehicle loaded up with the items. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure about meat as we grow all of our own or have friends who raise what we don’t (ie. turkeys, lamb and sometimes chicken). But I would think it would be available too. We do a lot of our shopping at our tiny, village grocery store but there are some items, such as eggplant, that are not carried locally. So, I’ll be using these types of apps, very likely the Superstore app, when I do make the rather long trip into bigger centres as it will save on time and also money. No longer will I be tempted by a bunch of things I suddenly didn’t know I was wanting or needing. And a disclaimer, Superstore has no idea who I am, this post in no way is sponsored! I just love this concept as a time and money saver!