Archive for Home Routine Planning

Moving Students home – Make Home Life Simple


It is a big change in lifestyle when children move home for the summer, for the students and the parents.  Sometimes students think

Share your ideas

What are your expectations?

  • It will be just like before I left
  • I will have the same responsibilities as I did living away from home
  • I am on vacation for 4 months
  • and so on…

Sometimes parents think

  • they have lived on their own so they should have no problem contributing around the home without being asked
  • now I have someone to help with all the work
  •  things have changed and we do things differently now
  • and so on…

Each party in this living situation has different expectations so make a contract with each other so it is clear what the expectation are.  My daughter presented me with some rules when she moved back home for a few months.  She asked me to look at them and see if they were suitable and to add any rules.  It made things very easy and simple because there were less misunderstanding.

Your contract/ agreement might cover the following ideas.

Sharing the car

May I have the car?


  1. Who pays for gas?
  2. When can they use it?
  3. Do they have to ask to use the car or can they just take it?

Food/ Groceries

  1. Who buys the groceries?
  2. Who pays for the groceries?
  3. Do you buy everything on the list?
  4. Do you buy only the things you need from the list when you go shopping?


  1. Who cooks?
  2. Who plans the meals?
  3. Do you cook for everyone or only yourself?

    Where do I start cleaning?

    What needs to be cleaned?


  1. Who cleans up the kitchen?
  2. What needs to  be cleaned,  floors counters, stove, sink?
  3. Who does the dishes?
  4. Who empties the dishwasher?


  1. Do you record your activities  in a specific place, electronic or paper?
  2. Do you need to tell where you are going and when you will be back?
  3. Are there any activities you are expected to attend?


  1. Who is responsible for laundry ?


  1. Who does the cleaning, is it a shared task?

This checklist of ideas makes it seem like working out an agreement will be a lot of work.  The agreement only needs to cover areas that cause conflict, tension or have changed since the student last lived with you.

Our agreement looked like this:


Family agreements about house rules

Make a contract / agreement with everyone in the family to reduce stress and misunderstandings

  • Buy groceries: give Mom the bill,  buy everything on the list
  • Weekday meals:  First one home cooks, Mom will try to plan the meals for the week


  •  Mom will pay for gas


  • Clean and wipe counter and island and stove
  • No dishes in sink or on the counter, put them in the dishwasher before going to bed


  • Record your evening activities and times when you won’t be home for supper on the calendar
  • Politely and conversational let us know where you are going and when you plan on returning. This for safety reason, if you don’t return we need to know where and when to start looking for you

Tell me what items you put on your contract in the comments below.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at

Sage Home Organizing Advice from 1961. Could it possibly work in 2016?



I was given article by Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant that was from 1961 in the Toronto Daily Star.  It is advice to a new bride on how to keep the honeymoon going forever by keeping her home neat and tidy with organization and know how. It was a delight to read.

Here are some highlights

  1. “Because you are working there is little time for housekeeping chores so they must be done consistently.  If you  get in the habit of leaving things until later the apartment will soon be a mess an you’ll be frazzled and bad tempered.”
  2. “Enlist your husband.  With a working wife he will likely be only too glad to pitch in for a few minutes a day”
  3. “Plan a grocery list.  Bridegrooms are usually helpful if you can plan the shopping for Thursday or Friday night or during the day on Saturday.”

Forming habits and sharing responsibilities are good advise for then and now. 

The article continues by describing a way to stay organized.  We can learn a lot from this writer in 1961.

Have a daily cleaning schedule.

It helps to have habits so work gets done without having to put much thought or energy into it.  Making beds, tidying up dirty dishes, clean up messes as they happen.  But do you need to quickly dust , including pictures with a special cloth with the polish already in it, wipe off the stove, refrigerator and counter tops?

Silver had to be polished regularly to keep it looking clean and shiny

Silver had to be polished regularly to keep it looking clean and shiny

The next thing in the article talks about things to take care of every 2-3 days. 

If you have a list of things that need to be done once or twice a week it makes it easier to stay on top of things instead of spending a lot of time on the tasks later.   Do laundry, sweeping/mopping the floor, taking out the trash or recycling.  But do you need to polish several pieces of silver 2 to 3 times a week or clean the bathroom thoroughly?

Scheduling things weekly makes it easy to give others a chance to take responsibility for keeping the home organized.

Planning menus for the next week can make grocery shopping easy and more economical.  Anyone can make supper if the menu is planned and the food is available.  Carpet cleaning companies suggest vacuuming rugs once a week to extend the life of your carpets.  Perhaps doing your laundry is a once a week task.  Checking the refrigerator to see what food needs to be used before it goes bad will also save you money.  But do you have to mend the socks for the man of the house, get the dry cleaning ready, wax the kitchen floor, clean the oven including the racks or change the sheets?

To keep floors shiny they needed to be waxed and you couldn't walk on the floor until the wax was dry.

To keep floors shiny they needed to be waxed and you couldn’t walk on the floor until the wax was dry.

Think about the things that should be done twice a month.

For some people it is grocery shopping, changing the beds, cleaning the house, repairing things that are broken.  Make a list that suits you and keep up with your organizing. But do you need to clean the windows, clean out your appliances or clean out your coffee maker regularly?

What would be good to do once a month? 

Perhaps you would want to do more extensive cleaning in one room each month.  Cleaning walls, window coverings, windows , blankets or furnace filters  .  If you spread out the work over a year, you will have cleaned each room by the end of the year but  you will never have to spend a lot of time all at once.  No need for a spring or fall cleaning blitz that can cause people to procrastinate because the job seems so big and  overwhelming.  Some people like to do food preparations, browning meats, dicing and freezing vegetables and / or baking once a month to make food preparation on a daily basis easier.  You may decide to organize an area of your home each month.   Some of these monthly tasks that may take minutes,  some may take a couple of hours.  Plan what works for you. But do you need to oil the furniture  or take down and wash the fixture?

Furniture needed to be oiled to protected it from drying out and cracking.

Furniture needed to be oiled to protected it from drying out and cracking.

Lastly look at things that only need to be done twice a year. 

Perhaps they are seasonal tasks.  Put way or get out patio furniture, toys, car tires,bikes etc.  But do you need to wash rugs, clean Venetian blinds or take all the clothes out of your closet and give them a good cleaning and airing?

The interesting thing about this article written in 1961 is how much things have not changed.  A lot of things they suggested to do daily, weekly monthly or yearly have not changed. Doing a little each day, week, month or year makes it easier to stay organized.  Having the tasks scheduled makes it easier to avoid procrastination. Although we hardly ever use silver, we have self defrosting refrigerators and self cleaning appliances, we don’t do a lot of ironing, we have now added to our schedules, software and hardware maintenance, cleaning more than one vehicle, pools, lawns, etc.

Cleaning Schedule / Organizing Schedule

When my mom died my sister made a cleaning schedule for my dad.  It was similar to the ideas in this article.  It was based on what needs to be cleaned each week and then one additional thing to clean each week which changed each week, and then a thing to do each month with each month different.  By the end of the year the entire house, walls, drapes, cupboards, baseboards, appliances had been cleaned with only a little extra effort need once a month.

Some of you may sit down and make a list of things to do each day week, month, semi annually and annually.  For others make the lists as you go.  At the end of the year you will have good ideas of how to schedule cleaning and  maintenance tasks to have a life that runs  smoothly and leaves more time for fun, joy and happiness.

What things did your parents or grandparents do, that you still do, to keep your life and home running smoothly?

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at


Solve the Mystery of Laundry Tags

Kiersten Bush is my guest blogger this week.

Laundry is a chore, but there’s no way around it. There is, however, a better way to do laundry, one that will save your clothes, save your appliances, and save your energy. To do that, it’s necessary to get to know your clothes a little bit better by studying the tags.

Tags aren’t just a window into the fabric makeup of your clothing. Every tag has to have certain care information that tells you what temperature water, what wash cycle, and what dry time to care for your clothes. Those same tags also tell you whether or not laundry additives like bleach are appropriate, or whether you should skip self-wash and self-dry altogether and go straight to the dry cleaner. Use this infographic to learn more about the right way to do your laundry. How to read laundry tags

launder-like-a-boss.jpg (770×5128)

Thanks to Kiersten Bush of for writing this article. You can contact her at


Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals.

Back to School – Making Homework Easy

Helping your child to be successful with their homework is about planning.  Plan a time when your child can concentrate and an adult is available to lend support to the task.  Some children will be able to do homework right after they finish school other children will need time to do some physical activity  before they can concentrate and yet other children will need to eat first.

Mother and child and after school homework

Have a quiet area near an adult . Children may need support from an adult at times to be successful


You will need a spot that has limited distractions, minimize stimulation from video screens and phones and reduce loud conversations with other family members in the homework area.

Large projects take more than one night to complete.  Help your child learn how to plan ahead.  Look at the week and weekend and see what time is available to work on the project.  Divide the project into smaller sections that can be completed a little at a time during the week and on the weekend.  At first it takes a lot of discipline from the parent and the child but as the family gets used to planning ahead your child will tell you that they need your help with some homework and the only night you are both home is Wednesday.  It will be great when they take over the time management of homework.

Large projects can be broken down into smaller sections and a little parts can be completed each day.

Teach your child management so they will have enough time to complete large projects.

Each child willbe different, some will like quiet spaces and others will liketo be around people.  Some tasks will need large spaces and others will need hardly any space. Many families have shared custody of children between parents and some families are always on the move taking children to after school events where children need to do homework while they are waiting for siblings to finish an activity.

have supplies on hand that can be taken with you so your child can complete their homework on the move.

Help your child be able to complete their homework quickly

Help your child be prepared so they can complete their homework quickly

Have a portable homework station that can be taken anywhere










Taking into consideration all the variables, homework areas need to be portable.  Children need have a container with all the pens pencils markers erasers ruler stapler tape glue paper calculator etc. they need.  This container can be used in any room in the house allowing for flexibility.  Let your child organize the container since they know what they need.   This container can be put in the car and taken along to activities, babysitters, parent’s homes.  It is important that children have the supplies they need and learn to take care of them so they can get their work done.  If you choose to have one room or area for homework make sure to consult your child about what it should look like so they want to work in that area.

Tales from a Lunch Bag

It is almost time for packing lunches for school.  Are you dreading it?  Children learn better when they are not hungry so the task is to pack food they will eat and not throw out, hide or trade.

1. You know what your child likes and doesn’t like.

Children will food jag, eat the same thing over and over and never get tired of it.  If there is a lunch they like give it to them, a fruit, a vegetable, a protein and a carbohydrate.   When I went to school I would eat a cold chicken sandwich, bread butter and chicken, an apple, a cookie and drink usually milk everyday for months.  My mom couldn’t understand why I didn’t get bored but I just loved it.  Life was easy she made it for me and I enjoyed it.

School lunches made easy

School lunches made easy

2. I hate sandwiches.

Some children don’t like sandwiches so give them leftovers.  Heat up the leftovers and put them in a Thermos.  I had child who hated sandwiches, I would heat up taco meat and send the shell and toppings cold, a baked potato with butter or cheese, soup, stew, home made macaroni and cheese. Pack warm chili with  taco chips, cheese and salsa. When you are cooking make extra and freeze it in individual meals and then you have a supply of lunches in your freezer.


Send warm foods to school in an unbreakable thermos.

3. Get lunches packed after supper when the food is out.

As part of our evening routine, each child would pack the food for their lunch that didn’t need to be refrigerated.  They packed, veggies, pickles, crackers cookies and in the morning I would add a sandwich or hot food to the lunch bag.  If you have more than one child this really makes life easy because you don’t need to remember which child like what.

Lunch bags

Pick a size and shape of lunch bag that makes it easy to pack and send the correct amount of food to school, not too much, not to little

4. Finger foods are great but you might want to send a fork

Some schools have schedules where children eat smaller meals a couple of times a day.  Pack things that your child can eat a few items at a time.  Cut up cheese, meat, bread into cubes .  Send nuts, hard boiled egg, veggies or cut up fruit.  If you have a container with lots of sections they can open one box and see all their choices.  It makes it easier to pack and the child doesn’t have to struggle with lots of container and there is less to wash at the end of the day.  Children are not good at washing their hands before every meal so encourage them to use a fork, send a plastic one in their favourite colour.

Box with finger foods

Send a variety of foods in small quantities for quick snacks throughout the day.

5.  Leftovers lunches – plan differently

When your child brings their lunch home remember it has been unrefrigerated all day, 8 hours, and dirty hands have been in the container touching all the food. Compost the leftovers.  Re-evaluate what you are sending and how much food you are putting in their lunch.

Plastic counter top compost bin

At the end of the day compost leftover to a prevent a mild case of food poisoning.

Don’t use school lunches as a time to introduce new foods or worry about variety in their diet.  Use supper time or weekend meals to introduce them to new foods.  You want them to eat a healthy lunch everyday and since you are not there to supervise them when they are eating, make a plan with your child so you can all be happy.


Work Life Balance Tip

Life consists of Family Career Health and Friends

Work Life Balance

1. The best way to gain/have/maintain work life balance is to schedule everything.  It will seem daunting at first because you need to schedule exercise , work ,your children’s activities, beauty appointments, laundry, grocery, shopping, time off, cleaning, yard work, sports, entertainment etc.  Once you have completed this activity you have a better understanding of what your day is like, how your week will function and what is going on in the month.


2. In order to be successful you must be ridge with yourself and stick to your schedule.  If you allow yourself to give up “life ” time for work you will probably never get it back.  Some people say they can’t be creative if they are scheduled.  Think closely about that argument. Perhaps you don’t know how to schedule your time or maybe you don’t want to have enough time to get everything done .  Remember scheduling allows you to be creative within each block of time and activity.

3. Work life balance is important because it allows you to be functioning at your best.   Your stress is reduced if you can accomplish the things that are important to you, have the relationships you want, and are accountable to those that are depending on you. Happiness and contentment can be yours for the taking.

Shopping Guide

The holiday season is here and Black Friday has come and gone and Cyber Monday is completed. Why talk about shopping now?

Do you need it or want it?

Do you need it or want it?

Developing good shopping habits will save you money.  Now is the time of the year when you can get lots of practice developing good shopping habits.

Buying for the Wrong Reasons

  • It was on sale
  • Too good a bargain to pass up
  • I may find a use for it some day
  • Someone else I know may need it one day
  • It feels good to shop

I am sure we have all experienced these reasons for purchasing items at one time or another.  Usually these types of purchases are items we don’t need, use, want or even like.  They cost us money, not save money.  If you have made a purchase for the wrong reason, you can return it.

How to Buy

  • Shop for things you need not want
  • Shop for things that fit into the space you have
  • Shop for things within your budget
  • Determine how you will use the item
  • Know where you are going to store it or display it
  • When you buy something new, give something away.

Meal Planning Made Easy – Is it Possible?

Meal planning can seem like a difficult chore.  Try making it into a game.            

Shuffle the Deck

Compile recipes for 20 to 30 easy-to-prepare main dishes and the same number of side dishes and desserts. Cut them out of magazines, download them the internet.  Get together with friends and each bring 10 recipes and share them.

1.  Put each recipe on a 5 x 8 card, noting any special ingredients that  require a stop at a speciality shop.

2.  File all the recipe cards in a card box.

Each week:

1. Select your required number of main dishes.

Pasta and Broccoli

Mix and Match side dishes to give each meal a new appearance

2. Mix and match them with side dishes and desserts.

Pita Sandwich

Meal Planning can be easy if you make it into a game


Your menu is complete.


Coupon Tip

Write your shopping list on the back of an envelope, and stuff the envelope with the appropriate coupons.


5 Tips for Keeping Your Vehicle Organized

Vehicles are used as mobile offices, restaurants, entertainment centers, locker rooms and homework stations.  Keeping a car clean can be easy.  Here are 5 tips to help you organize your vehicle.

1. Have a plastic garbage bag in the front and back seats of your vehicle.  It can be hooked on the headrest or armrest.  Make sure all garbage is put in the bag and not all over the floor.  When the bag gets full unhook it and put it in your garbage can on the way into the house.



A plastic garbage bag can be hooked on armrests.

A plastic garbage bag can be hooked on armrests.

Place a garbage bag in the back seat by hanging it over the head rest.

Place a garbage bag in the back seat by hanging it over the head rest.

A garbage bag can be anywhere in the car, just make sure it is used.

A garbage bag can be anywhere in the car, just make sure it is used.










2. If you have a young child keep a backpack ready at the door to take with you in the car.  Fill it with things your child can use to entertain themselves.  When you arrive at home put everything back in the back and bring it in the house.  This prevents toys, papers and video games from being left all over the car.

3. Cup holders are a great invention.  Put a clean tall cup in the holder and use it to hold pens, pencil crayons, small toys, notes, papers, snacks. It will help to keep items confined to a space and prevent them from being lost in the vehicle.


Organize your change to make it easy to get into your hand or to take out of the car.

Use a cup for your change. it will be easier to retrieve your change . Keep the cup in your cup holder.

Organize your snack in you cup holder

Bring snacks from home and keep them in your cup holder

Organize children's toys in cupholders

Use a cup holder for children’s toys










4. If you use your car for an office try using a bin, box, bag to contain all your supplies.  There are a number of portable offices organizers available or make one that is personalized for your situation.


use any container and make a car office organizer

Customize your own portable office for your specific needs

Office organizer for the front seat of the vehicle

This organizer keeps the seat clear for items while organizing your office supplies

Portable office organizer for the car

This office organizer attaches to the seat so it won’t end up on the floor of your vehicle

This is a portable office that can easily be taken with you to the car, meetings, library or hockey arena

This is a portable office that can easily be taken with you to the car, meetings, library or hockey arena

This mobile work station can help to keep your work organized

This mobile work station can help to keep your work organized


5 .Keep disposable wet wipes in the glove compartment for quick clean ups and  always take everything out of the vehicle when you arrive at home.  Use the car door pockets and seat back pockets for items that permanently stay in the car.   If you start with a clean vehicle on every trip it is easier to keep it clean.


Prevent messy build up in your car.

Take everything out of the car each time you arrive at home.

Keep disposable wet wipes for quick clean ups of spilled drinks, and dirty hands.

Keep disposable wet wipes for quick clean ups of spilled drinks, and dirty hands.


Cleaning up after every trip for a few minutes prevents needing lots of time to clean your vehicle later.

Be ready to jump in your car and go and enjoy your trip, short or long

Quick Escape – Organize your Entranceway


Controlling the clutter at the entrance to your home can be a nightmare.

  1. Place hooks low enough that everyone can hang up his or her own coats, sweaters, and jackets.
  2. Establish a space that can be reached without help for each person’s backpack or gym bag.  This could be a shelf, cupboard or hook.
  3.  Have enough space near the entrance for shoes that are used regularly.  Buy stackable shoe racks and use vertical space efficiently.  Footwear worn occasionally should be stored elsewhere and brought out as needed.
  4. Have a place for seasonal hats, gloves and scarves.  A hanging shoe organizer is ideal for this purpose.  Put regularly-worn hats, scarves and pairs of gloves into the pockets, where you can easily see each item and quickly select what you need.   Storing hats, mitts and scarves directly with a jacket also helps to keep everything together.


Use a shoe organizer for hats baseball caps gloves sunglasses

Use a shoe organizer for hats baseball caps gloves sunglasses

Entranceway organzing

Organizing Backpacks

Residential Organizing Services for the Region of Niagara, Hamilton, Halton-Peel and Surrounding Area