Paperwork sorting in your Home Office!

 
Filing paperwork is one of the most boring and often stressful home organizing tasks. No wonder we put it off and see growing heaps of paper mixed with trash. The day we need a specific document among the mess, and it’s the worst feeling! Like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Let’s give a present to our future self and start sorting our paperwork now!

  1. Take a paper bin.
  2. Make a pile of your papers and go sit next to your filing cabinet. If you don’t have a filing system yet, read on!
  3. Start at the top, go through each paper.
  4. Purge the easy stuff like junk mail, old magazines, out-dated documents you don’t need to keep (if you don’t know what paperwork you can trash or should keep in France, read this).
  5. File directly in the appropriate folder, (or if you know many more papers e.g. bank slips, are coming make a specific pile for your bank slips you will later put in the bank folder in one go).
  6. Sort your remaining piles. Whether you already have a filing system yet or not, you will notice the following are categories you can file in. Add as many folders as needed:
  • income
  • medical
  • home
  • car
  • things I want to read later (you can put this on your nightstand or another place you like reading in).

7. Clearly label  ,you want to be able to find what you’re looking for immediately.

8. Shred sensitive information you need to get rid of.

9. For important and irreplaceable paperwork like birth and marraiage certificates, it might be worthwhile to buy a safe-deposit box for 25€.

After organizing your home office, you will see your stress go down, and your effeciency go up!

How to Get Everyone in the House to Clean Up the Mess!

clean up© Andrivy Popov/123RF

Struggling to have a clutter-free home on your own, with another adult, or with teens and young kids in your living space?

  • Upgrade your equipment to make chores easier and faster

…because chores are a bore, right? For example, take a robot vacuum cleaner that cleans the whole apartment while you’re away doing something else. I can assure you it’s worth the expense!

clean up© Elnur Amikishiyew/123RF

How to manage with ANOTHER ADULT who doesn’t have the same criteria as you:

  • Take a mental check of what he/she does.

Let’s say you’re thinking of your husband. What does he already do for the family? Take your kids to the park at the weekend, look after the kids so you can have a girlfriends’ evening out, take care of paying the bills? All of this is great! You can do a happy dance for what he already does.

  • If needed, start small, but do ask

If he’s resistant, be patient. First, pick 2 or 3 chores you really want him to do, and ask for him to do those. I hear a lot of men, once their partner is having a breakdown say “Why didn’t you just ask me?” Well, ladies, ask on! You’re a team. Happy wife, happy life – you’re doing him a favor by ensuring no cranky overworked wife lives in his home!

  • Don’t be bossy, criticize his work or play the martyr

This would push anyone away, right? Talk about this subject when he is relaxed and not distracted by something else. Going for a walk together, or sharing a bottle of wine, or beer can help create a relaxing atmosphere. And it will help him come into this with an open and positive mindset!

  • Make a list of tasks

You can list all the tasks that need to be done, and with your partner, each chooses what they prefer to tackle. When possible, delegate the rest to a housekeeper, your children (see advice below), or the nanny (when you hire your nanny, tell her that putting toys away will be part of her job assignment). And if they aren’t as organized in the house as you are, make them visual lists, like: “Empty and fill up the washing machine while you wait for your toast and coffee.”

  • Just don’t do it

Your kid is calling for you in the middle of the night, just don’t move, wait! If your spouse is now awake, he will get up if he thinks you’re sleeping. The same thing with the dishes, I just don’t do them, and never will. I already have so many things on my plate (pun intended!), I won’t budge, I know deep inside, the fact I don’t do it is right. If I take that extra task on, I won’t survive the week, which wouldn’t be of help to anyone, now would it?

  • Recognize and encourage your husband’s efforts

By telling him what a difference it makes (don’t hesitate to do this while you’re around other people, he will be very proud!), or by any other way you choose. And make the effort to put aside time for you as a couple, so he feels this new dynamic is good for him and worth the effort.

How to get your CHILDREN to do chores to lighten your load:

Don’t aim for perfection! Your child’s skills will improve over time. With little ones it’s best to do the work together; they’re keen on sharing activities with their parents. It will take more time, but their participation in the coming years will be precious!

2- 3 year olds

  • collect toys
  • help feed pets
  • put napkins on the table, spoons and tableware that doesn’t break
  • take dirty clothes to the laundry basket
  • wipe the ground or a low piece of furniture with a small cloth

4-5 year olds

  • help make beds
  • set the table
  • water the plants
  • help do the shopping and store groceries away

6-8 year olds

  • declutter toys, and keep their room or their playroom tidy
  • make their bed
  • sort the laundry
  • put clothes away
  • Fold trousers, socks and shirts
  • do simple cooking chores
  • help wash the car

9-10 year olds

  • wash the bathtub and sink
  • help prepare meals
  • wash the dishes
  • load the dishwasher
  • declutter their closet
  • clean the floor with a broom and a mop

11 and older

  • plan meals and prepare certain meals
  • wash the laundry by using the washing machine and the tumble-dryer
  • wash the car and vacuum the inside of the car
  • do the grocery shopping

clean up© Katarzyna Grabowska/Unsplash

How to help your TWEEN/TEENAGERS tidy their room

If you ask adolescents why they don’t sort their room their answer will generally be one or several of these: (Please don’t laugh!)

  • They are worried their room will be in the same state again within a month.
  • They are too tired, stressed from school, homework and sports and just want to relax and rest.
  • They don’t understand why parents care that much, they’re the ones living there.
  • They don’t have enough storage containers.
  • They need privacy.
  • They feel overwhelmed by all their stuff and don’t know where to start.
  • They have a hard time focusing or disciplining or motivating themselves to do it.
  • They don’t want to spend the time doing it.

This is why they need help and clear guidelines!

Declutter! Any teenager can understand that having less stuff means having less to manage. Here is how personal stylist Anélle Coetzee advises you and your child handle her/his wardrobe:

“Ask her/him: Does it fit? Is it in good condition? Have you worn it lately? If you saw it in a shop today would you buy it with your own money? Will you need it again (sportswear/ equipment) and will it then fit?

clean upAuthor’s son selects books to give away and declutter his room. © Laetitia Ronsin

Let them throw out any clothing they don’t like to wear, don’t need, or doesn’t fit as it will only take up space and not get worn!

Is it for this season (summer/winter)? Have storage space allocated for out of season clothing.

Is there anything you need such as your own laundry basket/ better lighting/access to a tall mirror, etc)? Make sure they have appropriate storage: containers/dividers.

Maybes or sentimentals get packed away to be relooked at in 6 months’ time.

How to get everyone involved and keep it up in the long run? Encourage them to determine their own tasks and set up their own timetables, provide storage space where needed and pat everyone on the back for making the effort. Bring in a professional organizer to help you get started if the task is so overwhelming.

A clean home greatly contributes to joy every day! What are you going to do for your Home Sweet Home today?

How decluttering can benefit your life

Have a hard time decluttering unopened mail, clothes and long-forgotten toys?

Here are reasons decluttering is good for you:

1.  You will be more efficient.

Effeciency comes with not having to try too hard to getting things done. Let’s take an example: keeping up with healthy habits. Decluttering your kitchen will often help you to make for enough counter space and well organised cooking wear which will help you prepare meals and eat at home, rather than choosing a processed meal.declutter

2. You will live in a healthier environment.

How can a cluttered surface possibly be wiped clean? In a decluttered home it is easier to remove dust and toxins from the air– which can improve allergy symptoms. It will also prevent you from twisting your ankle rolling on a screwdriver you left behind.

3. It will boost your confidence.

Dr. Robert London, a psychiatrist based in New York City, says decluttering may also help you feel better about yourself because it’s something of an accomplishment.

4. You will unwind and sleep more easily.

A Princeton University Neuroscience Institute study showed that people with a cluttered home felt increased exhaustion as a result of expanding mental energy on stress that’s caused by their messy environment. When you want to relax or sleep, clear your bedroom of projects you need getting done ( laundry that needs sorting, or a document you have to bring back to work tomorrow).

5. It will save you time.

Because you now have less things, and a place for each object in your home, you won’t repeatedly loose 5 minutes looking for your tax document, your child’s medical certificate, your keys, your wallet, your phone (you name it!), and you will be on time more often (your family will thank you for that!). You can then have time and space available for the things you like doing (like listening to a good oldy on the long forgotten disc player).

6. It will save you money.

Too much unopened mail might mean a lost or unpaid bill, which can cost you a lot in the end. And having too much stuff might lead you to buy duplicates, some unusible because past their due date, which adds to the clutter.

7. It will help your social life.

Are you reluctant to let the delivery man get a peep into your home, and don’t dare invite friends and familly over because of the stuff piled up everywhere? Sort and let go, so you can let people back into your life!

Going through your things a little bit at a time, and only keeping what you use and/ or love is well worth it! Write a list of a few things you would like getting done at home. And start with baby steps; every day or every other day tackle a 5 to 15 minute task, like a drawer, checking your first aid kit, or decluttering kitchen counters.

A little bit at a time brings results for joy every day! 😉

Click here if you need help!

 

10 smart and easy cleaning tips for a healthier home

© Lisa870/123RF

Contrary to popular belief, the air you breathe in your home can be more polluted than outside air. Nasty stuff can be found in furniture coverings, insulation, dust mites, household products and the CO2 we breathe. The air we inhale irritates our organs like our lungs and blood, which circulates in our brain and our muscles. The French Ministry of Health and Environment* lists symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, eye, nose, throat and skin irritation, dizziness, allergic manifestations and asthma from living daily in a polluted environment.

For a clean and healthier home, air out rooms regularly and use natural products without pollutants! It is very easy and very cheap.

Three best eco-friendly cleaning products: lemon, baking soda and white vinegar. © Georgrafika/123RF

10 environmentally-friendly cleaning tips to help you have a healthier home:

1. The winning trio

  • white vinegar (vinaigre blanc, you can buy at the supermarket)
  • lemon juice
  • baking soda (bicarbonate de soude, you can also buy at the supermarket, pharmacy or at your local organic store in the food section)

2. Have a blast cleaning your toilets

Sprinkle some baking soda and white vinegar in your toilet, and get ready to be surprised by your first chemical experiment since high school! The slightly abrasive action of baking soda and its deodorizing qualities will give a shot of clean to your toilet!

3. Beauty treatment for the showerhead

Immerse your showerhead in white vinegar inside a plastic bag and fix it with an elastic band. Leave it to soak all night.

Use vinegar for eco-friendly cleaning. © CCO Creative Commons/Pixabay

4. Could your oven need more love?

For conventional ovens, sprinkle vinegar and baking soda inside. Leave for a few hours. Scrape if necessary with a spatula, and wipe with a damp sponge or cloth. For your microwave, put a bowl containing water, a teaspoon of vinegar, and a toothpick inside, close the door and zap it on high for 5 minutes. Leave the door shut for 2 to 3 more minutes to let the steam continue to loosen caked-on bits of food. When you open the door, be careful, the bowl and tray will be hot. Take them out, wipe down the inside of the microwave with a sponge, and wash the tray in the sink. It’s easy, works great and only takes a few minutes!

5. Decalcify your coffee maker

To clean your coffee maker of the buildup inside, fill the tank with 4 tablespoons of vinegar, pass through the machine, empty the carafe and rinse! If you want to get rid of tea or coffee stains on your mugs, let them soak in white vinegar for a few hours. If that’s not enough, rub with baking soda. Vinegar can also replace the softener in your washing machine and the rinsing liquid in your dishwasher!

6. Eliminate an unpleasant smell

Need to eliminate a lingering bad smell, but don’t want to buy a toxic air freshener? To eliminate the smell of vomit, put a bowl of vinegar in the room. It works also for other smells like paint. To eliminate tobacco odors, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 3 glasses of warm water and the juice from the equivalent of 1/4 lemon. Put this mixture in a vaporizer and spray on all your fabrics.

7. Clean the surfaces of the kitchen and the bathroom

Find a sprayer. Try not to buy one — use the empty window washing product you just finished rather than tossing it away. Mix four tablespoons of white vinegar and a glass of water and place in the sprayer. Vinegar will not smell once it’s dry.

When I use lemon juice in a drink or for cooking, I always save the rind with the pulp to spread around the sink like a sponge, then rinse. The sink suddenly shines and is rid of any tartar.

With its slightly abrasive action and its natural deodorizing qualities, baking soda can replace your potentially toxic scouring powder or cream. Use it on a sponge or as a paste (a mixture of water and baking soda). When the dirt is more tenacious, leave the paste for 15 minutes in the bath or shower. For very scaled shower walls, heat the vinegar before you spray it on. Rub and rinse after 10 minutes

8. How to easily clean windows 

Use a microfiber cloth and water to wipe dirty surface or spray the mix of white vinegar and water (see the paragraph above) and wipe the window clean.

9. Maintenance of the pipes

Dirt, soapsuds, and limestone are regularly deposited in our pipes. To avoid clogging and bad odors, pour 20g to 40g of baking soda and hot water down the drain. Leave for two hours or overnight to allow the product to pass through the pipes, then rinse with very hot water.

Give your dishwasher a facelift: place a bowl of vinegar in the top drawer of your empty machine and launch the cycle!

10. Keep le bouquet beautiful

To keep your cut flowers beautiful longer, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Now relax and enjoy your fresh, clean home!

Teens, how to live your best year ever!

Teens : How to live your best year ever!

Being a teenager is a fun, but challenging time, isn’t it? You manage a lot. Through a few easy steps, you will be able to stay on top of your schoolwork, room, friends, social media, sports and ALL of your activities!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all you have on your plate, don’t worry- you’re not alone! Being organized and managing time better are skills that can be learned at any age.

Bedroom:

If your room looks like a tornado hit it, don’t be hard on yourself. Rather than focus on what it looks like, think of how it makes you feel. Are you embarrassed to invite friends over? Are you frustrated because you can’t find what you need? The motivation to change must come from you.

Here are some simple steps to get started. Turn on your favorite music, ask a family member or a friend to come and help. Or play a much loved film or series in the background. Make it fun and the time will fly!

1.Declutter: A little bit at a time (you can set your timer for 15 minutes), or all in one go, go through each of your things and ask yourself: Do I love it? Do I need it? If you answer no to both questions, the item is clutter and needs to go! Consider donating items that can still be used to a younger sibling, a friend, or a local non-profit.

2.Set up zones: Make a list of what you need to do in your room and create zones to meet those needs, for example:

  • SLEEP (Rest Zone- bed, nightstand, clock)
  • HOMEWORK (Study Zone – desk and supplies, chair, lamp, book shelf and books)
  • GET READY FOR SCHOOL (Dressing Zone- dresser, closet, mirror, vanity)
  • EXPRESS YOURSELF /DISPLAY ITEMS (“Me” Zone- posters, photos, trophies)

3.Sort and put away “keep”items: The items you decide to keep should fit into one of your designated zones. Keep like things together in containers so they are easy to find. For items you don’t need to access often, like out of season clothes or accessories, put them in the least accessible places, under your bed or at the very top of your closet for example. So your day to day things are in the easy to get spots!

Time/Schedule:

  1. Determine priorities: What are your priorities- schoolwork, social life, sports, family time? Make a list of your top 5 priorities. Then make sure you’re spending your time according to what’s on your list. If one of your priorities is to improve your maths grade, but you are spending little or no time studying, you’ll need to put more time into your schedule to do so.
  2. Use a planner: To learn to better manage your time, start to think of it as something you can actually see. Set up (on paper or digitally) your typical week including all the activities you have each day in blocks of time, for example: school 8am-4pm, judo practice 7pm-8pm. This will help you visualize when you have free time to slide in other activities you need or want to do.
  3. Have a to do list: Having the ability to see what you need to do takes away the pressure of having to remember everything. List your tasks for the day (homework, chores, etc.). Next to each item in the list, estimate how much time it will take to complete. Find slots of time to schedule your to do items in your planner. You can make it fun by color-coding, green for school items and blue for activities and sports.

Try one or all of these tips. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and will be motivated to do more. I promise you’ll be glad you did it!

 

Homemade mask!

Wearing a homemade mask may sound like a silly idea, but it isn’t! It could help stop the Covid-19 epidemic as shown in these graphs.

Watch the video at the bottom of this article to make your homemade mask from fabric you have at home, and without having to sew!

Researchers from the University of Cambridge tested homemade masks after the aftermath of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic.They were made out of tshirts. Eventhough surgical masks stopped 15% more particles than DIY masks, scientists were surpises by how well coton masks performed. Wearing a mask is better than wearing no mask, they concluded.

Scientists from the Netherlands advise us to wear homemade masks made from dishcloth.

Here is a video to make your own homemade masks with a tea towel. No sewing needed!

Fashion: green is the new black, and how to get there!

maximize your wardrobe
© Adrienne Leonard/Unsplash

Fast and cheaper fashion today means we are tempted to fill our closets with unnecessary items that are hardly worn. It’s hard to not feel a tinge of guilt when environmentalist Greta Thunberg is taking the world by storm with her call for environmental action. CEOs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are known for having worn the same thing every day. Marie Kondo is infiltrating homes and impacting people’s lives on Netflix encouraging them to de-clutter. Everywhere we turn we are being told to live more responsibly and make more sustainable choices.

“Did you know that fast fashion is now the second-largest polluter in the world?” 

The global apparel and footwear industry accounts for 8 percent of the world’s greenhouse emissions. Yet with a bit of effort, it’s possible to help the planet, and find joy in your wardrobe in the process!

Read these four smart and purse-friendly tips to revolutionize your wardrobe!

Reorganize

By going through what you own and putting them into categories, you might notice you have all you need to have fun! Did you forget you had that pretty outfit or those cool boots? The first thing to do is shop in your own wardrobe, and give a new life to some of your items by styling them up or styling them down. Wear that colorful summer dress with your leather jacket and boots to give it an edge. Dress down the party frock with flats, or add heels and a soft shirt to a pair of jeans. The girl in you is going to rock today!

Reuse

When you really need new pieces and want to go planet-friendly, buy second hand or have a clothes swap party with your girlfriends, and their girlfriends, so each of you finds something to love. Mend that cherished outfit where the zipper is broken so you can wear it again.

© WiIl Malott/Unsplash

Repurpose

Are you dying to wear that coat again, but just feel something is off? Maybe just changing the buttons will be what you needed to get rid of its strange dated look. Love that hairpin but don’t dare wear it in your hair? Bring it into your life by clipping it to your sweater, blazer, scarf or bag!

And what if you really don’t like or wear the item? The best solution is to offer it to someone you know will appreciate it, or donate it to a charity. In Paris, Emmaüs, a local woman’s shelter, or a local church will pass it on to someone who needs it and will use it! La Cravate Solidaire  collects office-appropriate clothes, shoes and accessories for men and women to help for job interviews to boost their confidence!

Rethink

When going through your wardrobe or out shopping, ask yourself these simple questions:
– Should I buy this item that I might already have somewhere in my wardrobe?
– Do I love this and will I still wear it for more than a season?
– Does this feel good? Or does it feel too tight, too short or too dull for me?

If you are in the store, and are very tempted to take something, but aren’t 100% sure, then buy it. Keep the price tags on, so you can see if you still like it after a few days. If you just aren’t that pleased with it, bring it back to the store and get your money back. Reclaim your precious closet space! It should be reserved for items you really wear and like!

“Call it eco-fashion if you like. I think it’s just common sense.”
– Livia Firth

We can have fun with our clothes without it being at the expense of the planet. Just tweak a few of your clothing habits and the coming generations will be thankful you did!