With the school year in full swing, it might seem like kids’ papers and artwork are starting to take over the house, especially if you’ve got a budding Picasso with abundant offerings. You might have been saving things over the years and now that your children are grown you’re wondering, “now what?” No matter your situation, I’ve got a few ideas to help you get it all organized! The most important thing is to keep what feels best for you, and have easy access to your memories for later.
Carve out a space for incoming papers, and set limits on how much to keep.
I’ve suggested a small file box like this one from the Container Store, and where you house it is up to you. It could be near the entryway if your child has their own spot in the mudroom, or near their homework space. Really, the easiest location that makes sense for your family is the way to go. Depending on your child’s age and what they’re bringing home, you can set up 1-3 hanging folders in the box. One for art, one for school work, and the other for permission slips/notices for parents to take a look at. Or no folders at all. The less complicated the system is, the more likely it will be implemented! It’s best to make it part of their routine when arriving home each day. When this small box fills up, it’s time to sort through and make some decisions.
Share it with family and friends: turn art into greeting cards.
Have a birthday, holiday, or other special occasion to celebrate? Your child will likely be more than happy to gift a piece of art. This can be especially fun when going to a classmate’s birthday party. You can encourage them to choose from their collection, with the option to spiff it up some more with a To:/From:, some extra stickers or other fun embellishments. It’s a win/win/win - children feel important when they’re involved, the receiver of the card feels special with a unique card, and it’s one less piece of art you have to deal with later.
Make a digital photo album to share with friends and family.
Keeping the physical copies can feel like a burden, especially if there’s a large volume of art or other projects that you or your child don’t want to throw away. It can be as easy as snapping photos using the Google PhotoScan app, and making a digital album out of the photos. They can be stored in the cloud, shared with loved ones, and your child will still have access to their hard work. Scale up and use a higher quality scanner if you prefer.
Get the papers bound into a book.
This is a good option for people and families who prefer to keep the physical copies. Simply put the projects/art in an order that makes sense to you or your child, and send it off! The fastest and most inexpensive option would be to get the paper spiral bound at Staples, FedEx Office, or even better - your local copy shop. If you’re looking for a hardcover book, 4everbound can bind all your original papers into a beautiful keepsake. Another option is to go with a service like Artkive - you send the pieces in a box, they’re professionally photographed, and turned into a beautiful hardcover book. Artkive is a great option if you’ve got large, bulky pieces like posters and really want to get the volume down. The photos are available digitally as well!
Do you have a child in school? If so, is there a sudden paper overload, or are things under control? What methods do you use to display their masterpieces at home? Share in the comments down below!
Can you believe it’s already the middle of August? Some of us are gearing up for September - back to school shopping, finalizing schedules, and savoring the last moments of summer. It's quite an adjustment going from slower-paced, easygoing days to more regimented schedules full of activities, sports, and other commitments. Getting ready in the morning can sometimes feel like a whirlwind - who’s driving where, what are today’s activities, what to wear, and what’s for lunch? Being prepared with easy-to-pack lunch options saves tons of time in the morning, reduces stress, and helps us get out the door in a breeze!
With a decade as a teacher under my belt, and many years as a student before that, I’ve developed a weekly habit of planning and preparing easy go-to snacks to accompany leftovers, a sandwich, or salad. Please be advised that I am not a nutritionist - therefore, not qualified to give nutritional advice. This routine is what I’ve found works best for myself to fuel my brain and body. I encourage you to figure out what combinations of food work best for you, and I hope you’re able to take a little inspiration to put your own twist on them!
Packing a lunch box in this way requires a bit of advance planning and preparation, but in my opinion, is so worth it. Having one less thing to worry about in the morning leaves time and energy to tend to anything else that might come up. I usually take one day a week to think about the next five days or so. How long will I be out of the house? Am I heading to a fitness class or other activity before coming back home? Then, I’ll plan my grocery shopping trip with the items I’d like to eat to match those activities. Usually, I pick 5-6 different seasonal fruits and vegetables and rotate those throughout the week. When I get home from my shopping trip, I’ll spend 30-60 minutes chopping and organizing the fridge and cupboard for easy packing later.
These snacks and variations of them sure do come in handy mid-morning or mid-afternoon, and help keep my energy levels steady. And the best part? They’re all no-cook, so every morning I just pack and go. I try to stick to a basic formula and make different combinations from there: a fruit or vegetable, some protein, and healthy fat. My job requires physical movement and brain power, and I’ve found this works best for me.
Hummus and Veggies
If you want to feel fancy, we can call this one crudités, which simply means “assorted raw vegetables, which are typically served with a dip.” That dip can be anything you like to dress up those veggies. I love hummus, and that there are seemingly endless flavors offered at the grocery store so I never get bored. Favorite veggies to dip include carrots, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, and snap peas. Feeling like just eating appetizers for lunch? Add cheese and crackers! Having 3-4 of these veggies cut up and ready to go also makes it easy to put together a salad, or all together in a wrap for a fresh, hearty sandwich. I’ve even used the veggies to make a super easy stir fry for dinner when short on time.
This is another option with seemingly endless combinations that I rarely tire of. I typically buy a quart-size container of plain yogurt, no sugar added, so that I can make it any flavor I want via toppings and mix-ins. I like to add combinations of nuts, seeds, granola, berries, mashed ripe banana, a dollop of jam, or maple syrup. I don’t add these all at once, but typically go for a crunchy item with fruit to sweeten it up and round it out to my taste. This could also work if you’re short on time for breakfast, or as a nice dessert.
Apples or Bananas and Peanut Butter
I’m pretty sure I went an entire school year eating this as a mid-morning snack. And for good reason - I find apples and bananas travel well (sometimes bananas get smooshed so be careful), and there’s minimal prep involved besides having them on hand. I’ve found a spoonful of peanut or other nut butter with fruit can really keep my brain and body going with steady energy. Don’t like peanut butter or have an allergy? Try a different kind of seed or nut butter that you prefer. There are times when I switch to almond butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and it’s truly decadent!
If you’re looking for a little bit of lunchbox inspiration, I hope I’ve helped spark some ideas! What are your go-to lunchbox snacks to keep yourself or your family fueled? I’d love to hear from you.
Summer in the northern hemisphere is well under way! For many of us, it’s a time to slow down, enjoy the sunshine, and get together with friends and family. Many people spend quality time together in their homes or cottages on weekends or a weekly vacation. It’s a great way to catch up with loved ones from near and far. This spring, I had several opportunities to help people set up their permanent homes as well as vacation homes for guests. When working on this type of project, I guide people through a few different considerations as we set up the space. If you’re looking for a few ideas to simplify your guest preparations, read on!
A cozy place to sleep
This is, in my opinion, the first and most important thing to consider when hosting guests. If you’re in your permanent home, think about where your guests wouldn’t mind sleeping, and make sure you have enough sheets/blankets/pillows if they’re not bringing their own. Some people will crash anywhere, while others prefer a room of their own. Have a conversation with your guests before they head over, just to make sure they’ll be comfortable in the spots you offer. If you’re renting out an entire house, make sure there are mattress and pillow protectors. It’s not necessary to provide sheets and blankets in this case - most rentals I’ve been in don’t provide them, and guests are responsible for bringing their own.
Coffee, tea, and breakfast options
Personally, I like to wake up with a cup of coffee and breakfast, both at home and while traveling. It feels like a nice way to get ready for the day. If at home, I find it’s polite to offer a light breakfast option, and guests can choose to go out if they want. If renting out your summer home, a coffee maker with filters and tea kettle will do the trick for your guests to enjoy a morning brew. Other than that: a frying pan, toaster, spatula, wooden spoon, and small cooking pot should cover the bases for breakfast cooking supplies.
Setting up bathrooms
There actually isn’t too much preparation involved with setting up a bathroom for guests! Most of the time, travelers bring their own toiletry supplies such as toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, etc. If you’re hosting in your permanent home, you might need to provide towels, especially if guests are flying with just a carry-on. Otherwise, make sure the bathroom is clean, tidy, and stocked with plenty of toilet paper for the duration of their stay. Hooks for toiletry bags and towels are a great idea - they help keep the counters and surfaces uncluttered.
I offer these considerations to people who are renting out their homes. How many people can sleep in the house? If, for example your home can sleep 8, make sure there are enough plates, bowls, mugs, cups, and cutlery to accommodate everyone for a meal. For pots and pans - everything I mentioned above for breakfast plus a larger sauce pan, soup pot, and if you’re hosting in a coastal area - a lobster pot! Providing dish soap, a sponge, brush, paper towels, non toxic cleaner, and trash bags will help your guests keep the kitchen tidy without going overboard. Bonus points for offering a grill outside. A grilled meal tastes like summer, keeps the house cooler, and doesn’t mess up the kitchen so much!
The Living Room
Again, this mostly applies to people who are renting out their homes. Is there enough comfy seating for everyone who is staying over? A deck of cards and a few crowd-pleasing board games can be nice offerings for a family to bond over. The coffee table is where I like to suggest an easy to follow travel guide, such as a little binder of menus to local eateries, activities, and important phone numbers. Some people like to have a TV set up with a DVD player and a few movies for those rainy days.
As I always say, we aren’t striving for perfection! If your guests are staying with you in your home, remember they’re there to see you, and not critique your home. If they’re renting your summer home, they’ll be so happy to be on vacation that they won’t be sweating every single detail.
Are you getting together with family and friends this summer? What are your favorite activities to enjoy together?