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Top Ten Tuesday: Get Organized!


Anyone wish they were a little more organized? Unsure of how to keep your house together once you get it just the way you like it? I think many of us fall into the trap of organizing and purging a few times a year, then feeling overwhelmed when everything falls to pieces again. Here at FredParent, we’ve collected a few sage pieces of organizing advice that we think anyone can implement into their daily lives. Let’s do this! 

Top Ten Tips For Getting Organized!


1Have a “Donate” and a “Needs Sorting” box that's easily accessible. Let’s be honest. We don’t always have time to do large scale closet or toy editing sessions when they’re needed. However, we can toss an unused toy or sweater into a “Donate” box on our way out the door. We may not always have time to find a place for items that need to be stored or organized. Instead of leaving them on a table or countertop, toss them into the “Needs Sorting” box.

2That being said, make donating a habit. We keep the “Donate” box and “Needs Sorting” box next to front the door. Once the "Donate" box is full, one of us will eventually grab it and do a quick drop off at Goodwill. If you plan on deducting the donations from your taxes, make sure to get a receipt and keep a list of what you’re donating. Ask a tax professional about the best way to keep tabs on your donations. We are NOT tax professionals.

3Where do you open the mail? Paper clutter gets out of control so quickly! Take a few days to watch where your family habitually opens the mail. Once you figure that out, set out baskets for mail to be shredded, recycled, filed, added to the calendar (then recycled!), and for bills to be paid. Get a head start on tackling paper clutter by going digital; pay bills online, get statements emailed to you, have doctors text you appointment reminders, use Facebook and evites to organize small, informal parties. Make sure to keep the calendar near where you open mail! It just makes life easier.

4Edit and purge routinely. Know thyself. This can mean 10 minutes a day making decisions on what you actually use and need, or it could mean an hour of editing on Sunday. Do what works best for you and the family, and be honest! Just because you like something doesn't mean you will ever actually use it.

5Know your hot spots. Is the area in front of your door always covered in shoes? Is the kitchen table a hot mess by the end of the day? Does the bathroom floor look like your hamper exploded? Pick one area this week and tackle it! Start with checking on it every so often while you’re home. Get the family involved, too. Soon, you will discover why it is so hard to keep that area clean. You may just need a new organizational method. Pinterest is full of ideas! After awhile, keeping that area tidy will become habitual. Once you’re at that point, tackle another hot spot.

Make closets and drawers easy to access. Sometimes the front door is littered with shoes because you can’t open the closet without a landslide of stored items knocking you over (been there!). Maybe the kitchen counter is piling up because the kitchen drawers are full of unsorted, loose items. If storage areas are easy to access and use, people will be more apt to use them. So simple, right? Check out our Pinterest boards, our resident organizational blogger, and even Ikea for ideas on how to utilize storage in these areas.

7On that note, keep seasonal, hardly used items high and everyday items low. The items you need to get to regularly need to be easily accessible. Keep everything else neatly tucked away.

8Label what you can. This makes it easier for everyone in the family to remember where things go. No more guessing! Use pictures if you have family members that are too little to read.

9There’s an app for that. You can find loads of free apps for organizing lists, calendars, and even pictures! Most of these apps can be used by multiple family members, as well. We love Cozi and Evernote.

10Get everyone on board! This may be the MOST IMPORTANT tip we share. Before implementing any sort of organizational methodology, make sure everyone is on board. Ask your kids where they want to keep their shoes and backpacks. Where are they most comfortable doing homework? Where does your partner like to decompress? What is driving everyone crazy? What do they think is working or not working? What charity do they want to donate their used clothes and toys to? Be honest and don’t point fingers. Getting everyone on board is crucial to staying organized.

11 *BONUS!* Be flexible. Your life and home are evolving every single day. So should your organizational methods. What works now may need to be tweaked or even tossed next month. That’s OKAY. That doesn't’t mean your method was a failure or that you are a failure. It means your home has simply outgrown the method you were using. Time to move on to a new one!


What organizational tips work best for you? Have any you’d like to share? What part of your home needs the most love?


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Top Ten Tuesday: Tips for Back to School Shopping


It's the most wonderful time of the year! Time for new pencils, crisp new clothes, and new backpacks to replace the ones that barely crawled into the end of the school year in June. (See tip #7 for this one. FredParent's webmaster did this last week when she bought an Eddie Bauer backpack for her high school junior that comes with a lifetime warranty. She figured that spending $70 once was better than spending $40 twice or three times or more.)

Here's a great list of tips to help you organize your back-to-school shopping strategy to get the most bang for your buck.

This article was originally posted in The Learning Zone's blog here on the FredParent website. Thanks to Nina Parrish for letting us share!

Take an Inventory, Reuse, and Recycle

Look to see what’s left over from last year. It is likely that there are many binders, pencils, pens, calculators, and other supplies that can be reused. Let kids use stickers or paper to decorate and add a personal touch to reused binders or notebooks to make them seem new again.

Make a list

After you have figured out what you already have. Make a list of what items still need to be purchased. Each school has a list of recommended or required supplies by teacher or grade level. Often this list is posted on the school website. If it is not, contact your child’s school to find out what supplies will be required for your child’s grade level.

Avoid Gimmicks

Help your child to sort out wants from needs by sticking to the recommended list. Buy basic supplies instead of fancy or flashy versions. They are more likely to break or cause a distraction. Definitely avoid anything that lights up, makes a noise, or could be distracting to your student or others.

Back-to-School Swap

Get together with a group of parents and host a back-to-school swap where kids trade school supplies and clothes that they are tired of or have outgrown for ones that are new to them.

Consider Color-Coding by Class

Buy a binder, notebook, book cover, and folder that are the same color for each subject. It will make it easier for your student to grab the correct items quickly from their locker.

Shop Smart

Browse the circulars before you leave to check out deals at local stores. Many stores offer price matching like: Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, and Walmart, where you can show them a sale price from another store, and they will match that price. No time to plan ahead? Use your smartphone and an app like the ShopSavvy app to compare prices in the store and ensure that you are getting the best deal.

Buy Backpacks with a Warranty

Companies like L.L. Bean offer a 100% warranty on backpacks. If it wears out, they will replace it. You can save a lot of money by not having to buy a new backpack for each kid every year.

Buy Basic Supplies in Bulk

Basic supplies like loose-leaf paper, pencils, and pens should be bought in bulk when they are on sale. This will make it much cheaper in the long-run than buying small quantities when your kids need them.

Shop on Tax Free Weekend

Tax Free Weekend is coming up August 1st-3rd. To see what is and is not tax-free check here: In addition to products being tax-free, many stores also offer additional discounts on school supplies and clothing during this weekend.

Help your Community

Many local organizations have school supply drives this time of year. While you are out shopping, pick up a few extra supplies for kids who otherwise would not have any on their first day.

Parrish Learning Zone and Spotsylvania County Public Schools are having a Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive on Friday August 1st from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at the Southpoint Walmart. Please drop by to shop and donate some school supplies that will go to the Spotsylvania County Treasure House which provides supplies for homeless and needy students in Spotsylvania County.

Visit The Learning Zone blog or their website.

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Pouches' Community Corner

Trains, Planes and Automobiles Kids' Race Series


From a small beginning, Cathy Weise of the Ron Rosner YMCA has developed an ambitious three-race series for kids for this summer, with the help of The Great Train Race, Shannon Airport, Dominion Raceway & Entertainment, the Fredericksburg Area Service League and Race Timing Unlimited.

Great Train Race Director Jennifer Taylor was one of the first on board.