Coffee Break #43
Happy June, friends! In this month’s Coffee Break, I’m chatting about why I don’t really “plan” our home projects; how I manage aaaaall our little boy clothes; and a bunch of things I really don’t do well! So take a break, and catch up with me!
How I Plan Our Home Projects
I received this great question from a reader:
Q: I would love to hear about how you plan your project time both from broad view and daily. For example, how do you decide which project to work on? Do you have a running list for the year? The season? The month? How do you take that project list and map out your month/week/day? Thanks!
A: And the quick and easy answer is…I don’t!
I really wish I could say I have a pretty little project planner filled with precisely-mapped out details of what I’ll do and when. And while I am incredibly systematic and routined in many aspects of my life, my projects (and therefor, what you see here on the blog) is very much where my pragmatic brain shuts down and my creativity fully takes over.
I’ve learned over the years that I cannot tackle a space or project until I’m fully ready to do so. And being “ready” is a bit more than just shopping for supplies. What I consider “ready” is an imprecise, morpheus combination of vision, method, concept, supplies, know how, time, and opportunity.
I sum this all up in one word, by simply saying it “clicks.”
Once a project “clicks” for me, I’m usually ready to start. And then it’s all energy and focus and excitement until it’s done!
I’d be lying if I say I wait for the “click” before starting anything. Indeed, there are times…whether it’s because of a blog deadline or I just want a particular eye soar dealt with…that I jump into a project pre-“click.” Sometimes things work out. But more often than not, I’m unhappy with the results and usually end up re-doing it…eventually.
This “going where the creativity leads me” translates to my blog schedule too. I do…in fact…plan out a blog schedule of the projects I *want* to get to (usually one month at a time). But in 10+ years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve EVER fully accomplished 100% of my monthly plan.
Without fail, I get a hair-brained idea or something unexpected finally “clicks” (there’s that word again!), and I’m off and running in a different direction, no matter what my blog schedule says.
This is precisely why it sometimes seems like I have sooooo much to share here….and then days or weeks with nothing to share at all.
The most recent example is our laundry room. For almost a year, I’ve stared at our messy laundry room with a distasteful eye. Yes, I hated the clutter. Yes, I wanted it to look better. Yes, I REALLY wanted it off my To Do List. But I just didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do.
So I placed it on the “back burner” and have been instead working in the downstairs powder room and in the kitchen pantry and in the garage, where ideas have been humming away.
But then about 2 weeks ago, a bunch of random ideas came together (“click!); and as I sit here right now, the entire laundry room is 3 (very) small projects away from being complete. (Yes…that means the garage organization projects came to an immediate halt. Whoops!)
Did I want to get to the laundry room 6 months ago? Oh yes, I did. But had I stuck to a schedule instead of letting my ideas lead me, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t love the laundry room nearly as much as I do now.
It’s actually taken me a long time to accept that this is my process (and every now and then, I still fight it). My Type A, organized brain REALLY wants that color-coded schedule with matching checklist and boxes to actually check off.
But in this particular area, I guess I’m more “artist” than “scientist” and slowly-but-surely bring my “vision” to life by literally “feeling” my way through it.
Your Kids’ Clothing Questions Answered!
I’ve gotten quite a few questions over the last year about how I shop, sell, donate, and/or store our kids’ clothes (three boys currently ages 12, 6, and 3). In general, we’re not really a fashion-focused family and don’t tend to buy super nice things (see my Capsule Wardrobe as an example); but here are my thoughts on some of your questions!
Q: I would love to know your thoughts on kids clothing: how you shop, store and pass on when done. I only have 2 kids and always feel like I’m drowning in kids clothes yet nothing ever fits them!
A: Admittedly, almost everything my 6 year old and 3 year old wear has been handed down by their older brother (with very few exceptions). Sure, every now and then we buy fresh Christmas jammies or Easter shirts, but we generally do very little clothing shopping for the younger two. Since my oldest doesn’t have hand-me-downs, I usually take him out once or twice a year, mainly when everything starts to look small.
It took me YEARS to figure out a storage system that works for kids’ clothes. But last year, I finally did and it’s been a total game-changer. If you haven’t seen what I do now, you can find all the details here: How to REALLY Store Outgrown Kid & Baby Clothes (and yes, I STILL love it!)
Q: Do your kids put away their clothes? Do you fold? I’m always looking for ways to improve my process (such as it is, ha!)
A: We do all the laundry on Sundays. Yep, all of it. (How I Do Our Entire Family’s Laundry in 1 Day (Without Losing My Mind!) Everyone works together to get all the loads pushed through the washer/dryer, but I fold everything. After bath/showers on Sunday night, we all put laundry away at the same time. Our oldest is 100% on his own. My two little guys still need supervision but are doing much better thanks to these helpful labels!
Q: How do you shop for kids’ shoes online?
A: We currently live in a fairly small town with limited selections at the local Wal-Mart, Target, JCPenny, and base Exchange. So for better selection and convenience, I will often go online instead. We rely heavily on reviews (and the kids pick by looks, of course!) and usually size up one from their current shoe size. We always ensure the shoes have free returns so we can exchange as necessary.
Q: Do you ever sell your children’s items at consignment? I would love to hear your take on organizing, prepping, storing, etc. your items for children’s consignment sales.
A: Unfortunately, I don’t. By the time my littlest is done with the clothes, most are ready for the trash due to fading, holes, and stretching. Anything that is newer or still wearable usually just gets donated.
Q: I have heard of families color-coding their kids things (all child #1 things are red, #2 is blue, etc.). Do you do this with your family?
A: We don’t. I love the idea, but our kiddos aren’t so close in age that we’ve ever needed to.
5 Areas of My Life I Do NOT Have Under Control
Sometimes when I read comments, emails, or the “Ask Megan” submissions, there seems to be a sense that I’m good at everything home, life, and organization related. And while I’m sure you guys know that any one person is not good at everything, I thought you all would appreciate an honest-to-goodness self-roasting of some things that I…in fact…am NOT very good at…at all.
- I’m very good at adding things to our calendars, but VERY bad at checking them. So I tend to casually make plans or commit to things not realizing we have a conflict…or several conflicts.
- Anything that requires an envelope and a stamp and a walk to the mailbox is tough for me. I never send birthday cards (or any cards for that matter), and my kids’ Christmas thank you notes are literally sitting in a pile right next to me as I type this.
- Scheduling my own dental cleanings, eye exams, skin checks, hair cuts, and other important “health maintenance” items tend to get pushed, skipped, or forgotten until I reach crisis levels (ummmm…I JUST got my hair trimmed for the first time in 18 months).
- School-related signups and special events…oh boy! Did I order the yearbook late and have to pay a special fee? Yep. Did I forget to send in two of the five “Teacher Appreciation Day” gifts? You betcha. Did my son miss the color run because I forgot to sign him up? Uh huh. In my defense, the school emails (with all the information) come out on Friday afternoons when I am 100% CHECKED OUT. But I must get into a habit of reading the emails come Monday morning.
- I’m chronically late. Not really late…more like 1-3 minutes late…to pretty much everything. It’s usually because of two reasons: 1) I think I can squeeze one more thing in before I have to leave…and I really can’t. Or 2) The time it takes for the kids to get in/out of the car makes us late because I cut our departure window just a smidge too tight for them. I’m never so late that you’d really notice, but the stress and hurry getting to places always leaves me feeling a bit frazzled.
Hmmmm…seems like most of these things would resolve if I got back into the solid habit of using a planner?!?
You guys always ask the greatest questions, and I love answering them! If you have any topics or questions you’d love to see me cover, submit them via the (anonymous) form below. Then keep an eye out for answers in upcoming Coffee Breaks!
That’s it for me this month! Thanks for taking a break with me!