About Melissa Schmalenberger

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Back To School Planning is Key!

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on July 27, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

 

The back to school shopping commercials started before school even let out! Each year I tell myself this will be the year that I will be on top of things. This is the year that I will not find myself in the aisles of Target with crying school age children, or is it the parents that are crying? Last year I bought my youngest son’s school supplies downtown Minneapolis the day before school started because I forgot in the midst of moving my middle son to college. I am here to say that was a big mistake.

 

So learn from my mistakes and use these five easy steps for getting your kids organized for school:
1. School supplies: The stores are now stocked with all the school supplies they’ll be getting in for the season.

  • When to go: Now is the time to go while the selection is the greatest and the sales are hot. Avoid – at all costs – shopping on weekends or weeknights during the supper hour. The best time to go is an hour before the store closes. This forces you to get in and get your shopping done without the hassle of crowds. Another great time to shop is right when the store opens. If you have a kid who must have the latest and greatest, you have to go now – do not delay! Try breaking your child of the habit of always having the latest and greatest because if they always receive the latest and greatest, they come to always expect it. Here’s an idea: how about buying their school folders and notebooks in their favorite color instead of what is trendy?
  • Backpacks: I buy good quality backpacks for my kids at Lands’ End (http://www.landsend.com/), and they last for three to four years or longer. My junior in high school is still using the one I bought him in kindergarten! Granted, I have boys, and they don’t always require the hippest trends, but the backpacks I bought for $50 each haven’t cost me anything for the past ten years because…get this…the backpacks don’t fall apart, they aren’t trendy, in fact they are now seen as retro!
  1. School clothes: When I was a kid, I got my yearly clothes budget at the beginning of the school year, and that was it. I had to make it last unless I picked up extra money babysitting. Now kids are inundated with clothes year around: Christmas, birthdays, Easter, fall clothes, winter clothes, summer clothes…clothes, clothes, clothes! My best advice is to not buy any new pants until at least October. With the way kids grow, you want to make those pants last as long as possible. Until October, most kids can still wear shorts or skirts to school. Buy a handful of new shirts that gives them the feeling of getting new clothes. By waiting to do the majority of your clothes shopping until October, you’ll be able to find those “post back to school” bargains that the stores are trying to get rid of in order to make room for…you guessed…more clothes.
    3. Create a system for the paper clutter now: Do you know where you are going to put the lunch menu, papers you want to keep for their memorabilia box or put in a scrapbook? How about ALL those cute art projects?
  • School menus, treat schedules, team practices and other schedules: Tape them on the inside of a kitchen cupboard. This allows easy access without the clutter on the fridge.
  • Memorabilia box: Purchase a large Rubbermaid container that either can contain one year’s worth of papers or all of the elementary years’ worth of papers. When the keepers come home, you now will know exactly where to put them.
  • Art projects: Have an area of your house where you display the art projects. Keep them on display for a few weeks, and then “rotate” them out, putting in new ones. What to do with the old ones? Either place them in a memorabilia box or purchase a large art portfolio to place them in. Another great idea is to create your own art portfolio out of tag board with three of the ends taped shut. You could create one for every year. Better yet, take pictures and discard!
  • Worksheets and tests: Use this easy test to determine if you should keep the daily papers that your child brings home: if it brings a tear to your eye, keep it; if not, toss it. For example: your child gets an A+ on a spelling test after he/she has been struggling all year to learn the spelling words. This is a keeper! Your child brings home coloring sheets or other busy work that is assigned; toss it. The first time he/she wrote his/her name: that is a keeper. The good news is that by the time they enter middle school, the paper clutter dwindles to a trickle, and then by high school it suddenly becomes nonexistent… and then you wonder if your child is really going to school each day or hanging out at the mall.
  1. Establish a homework zone: Where does your child best study at? As a kid, I liked doing my homework in front of the TV. My mom did not understand that, and we battled constantly on that issue. If your child gets good grades and doesn’t struggle in school, let him/her do homework in front of the TV. Maybe your child needs absolute silence to study. Find a quiet place in the home where homework can be completed without the distractions of siblings and other family members. Maybe your child needs to be moving all the time. Find a good rocking chair or stability ball for him/her to have movement while completing school tasks. Just remember that each child is different, and just because it works for one child does not mean it will work for another. Be flexible and patient so that both you and the child can have a good school year.
  2. Set expectations: Let you kids know now that when they walk in the door, they should hang their coat and backpack up and bring you all of the papers to sort. Do you have a child who needs to do homework as the first thing upon arriving home? How about the child that needs to eat as it seems like school lunches were not that appetizing that day? There is also the child who just needs to let his/her brain unwind by doing nothing but veggin’ in front of the TV. I heard there is also the child who comes in and practices his/her musical instrument every day….I have not seen such a child so I do not believe this to be true. Some children do better waking up early and getting the homework done or practicing the musical instrument in the morning. The key is to figure out what works best for each of your children and then communicate what you expect so that the routine can begin as quickly – and run as smoothly – as possible.

 

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

  1. Simplicity

 

 

Melissa is a Professional Organizer living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things!

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Call Me, Maybe

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on July 21, 2015 in life, Moms |

{going through a client’s received cards came the revelation that her husband liked to buy her the same card}   Recently I was asked if I have ever walked out of a client’s home. The answer is yes. But not for the obvious reasons. The house wasn’t too messy. This wasn’t a hoarding situation. This […]

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Are You Busy?

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on July 14, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

{photo from Kailua Beach, Lanikai, HI at a time I was not busy} One of my favorite authors is  Brené  Brown as she speaks my language in her books “Daring Greatly” and “The Gifts of Imperfection.” She is real. She is raw. She is honest. Her TEDx Houston talk is one of the most viewed in TED history with over […]

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Road Trip Survival Guide

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on July 7, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

When I was a child we did our fair share of family road trips. They usually involved hauling the pop up camper or tent to a location a few hundred miles away. Sometimes these trips extended hundreds of miles through many state lines. Ask anyone who went on a family road trip and they have […]

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Use Summer as a Training Time For Those Kids

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on June 30, 2015 in Family, Food, life, Moms |

I read a blog post last week from a mom who was complaining about her kids during the summer. They never put anything away. They dropped their clothes everywhere. The mom had to drive them to their various activities. I kept waiting for the blogger to say how much she loves having her children around, […]

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Easy Summer Grilling Freezer Meals

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on June 23, 2015 in Family, Food, Moms |

  Summer is the season that I fire up the grill on a daily basis. Our eating out decreases and our eating as a family around the patio table increases. It really is my favorite time of the year. But this does not mean that I am any less busy. I still need easy meals that everyone will eat. I make […]

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Do You Have Enough?

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on June 16, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

At what point in our lives do we find ourselves completely satisfied? At what point do we have enough? If you watch the media we are never satisfied. Want to be thinner, buy this product! Want to be cooler, drive this car! Want to have your children love you more at Christmas, buy them this […]

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The Art of Weeding Out Your Clutter

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on June 9, 2015 in Family, life |

I have been on a minimalism kick and challenging myself to see if I could live in a small space. However, what I want to remind people is this is a lifestyle and it is not made for everyone. When I talk about keeping things that bring me joy or that I find useful, I hear […]

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Let’s Celebarte the Art of Clutter, Really?

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on June 2, 2015 in Family, life |

Recently an article was published in the New York Times celebrating clutter. As I read the article I found myself shaking my head in bewilderment. My son sent me the article and I looked at him and asked if this was meant to be a satirical piece? He didn’t think so but I am not […]

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The 90/90 Rule in Organizing

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on May 26, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Remember me, the rule follower? Well I have another good one for you to implement in your life; the 90/90 rule. This is another rule that I learned from The Minimalists when I heard them speak in LA at my annual organizers’ conference. For my clients to learn to shed excess items they need little […]

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