Archive for Moving

Moving students home – Make home life simple


It is a big change in lifestyle when students 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

Last week I wrote about Moving a Student Back Home 

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

3 Tips to organize moving students back home easier?

Moving back for the summer?

Moving back for the summer?

It is that time of year when college and university students are moving back home for 4 months.  If you pack up their items in an organized way it will take some of the work out of moving them back to school in September.

1. Buy bins that stack inside each other when they are not in  use.

It will make them easy to store.   Most of us like to cut costs and use boxes to move students.  Since moving is a ongoing process for the next number of years buy some bins.  They will stack nicely in a truck/van and in a closet or storage area at home.  You will only have to get them once where as with boxes they are usually recycled and you need to find more every time. Bins  are  waterproof.

2.  Before the student begins packing, make a list of items they need at home.  

Make sure those items are packed together.  Label those bins, bedroom.  Other items that they only needed for school can be left in the bins  to be moved back to school in September.  Label them basement, closet where ever they will be kept.  You may need a bins or two labelled laundry.  Some items may need to be washed before they are stored away for the summer, bedding, blankets, winter coats etc. This makes unloading quick and easy.

3.  At home, designate an area where the bins will be stored over the summer.

Clean the area out before you go to pick up your students.  If everything is kept close together or in a limited number of areas when September arrives, you know where everything is.

A little planning can make the move quick and easy.  Next I will talk about how to making the living arrangement at home easy and enjoyable.

Moving to university

Don’t forget anything

What have you done to make moving your child back home easier?  Share a comment 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 

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Learn more about what a professional organizer can do for you


Top tips for a less stressful move

My guest blogger this week is Brooke Faulkner.  She is a mom and writer in the Pacific Northwest . When she’s not wrangling her own kids, she’s writing tips to help other families do the same. You can see more of her writing on twitter, @faulknercreek.  Brooke thanks for sharing your expertise.

As you probably have already experienced, packing and moving to a new location — whether across town or across the country — rank right up there as the the least desirable tasks to tackle in life.

Research has even shown that moving is MORE stressful than a divorce or starting a new job. In a poll of 2,000 adults who have moved in the past three years, almost two in three (61 percent) placed moving at the top of their stress list.

Meanwhile, a crumbling relationship, divorce and a new job were ranked second, with less than half (42 percent) voting those life events as the most stressful.

Fortunately, there are many ways to lessen the burden of packing up your life and starting a new chapter. It can even be an opportunity to take charge and move like a boss.

And once you’re done with the big move, you can slowly unpack your belongings, breathe a sigh of relief, and enjoy your new space.

Here are a few things you can do to make the process easier along the way:

To-Do Lists Are Your Friend

There are so many things to keep track of as you work your way through the transition from the old place to the new house. Create a plan of attack by making a to-do list. It can be organized on a week-by-week basis to make it more manageable and less intimidating as the moving date approaches.

Prioritize all of the important tasks first along with the associated deadlines for each.

You don’t have to make a list of tasks out of thin air. There are many handy moving checklists available to use as a guideline. A good moving checklist includes around-the-house and preparatory tasks like scheduling connections of utilities at the new house, disconnecting utilities at the old place, filing a change of address form with the post office, arranging for cleaning services, reserving a moving truck, and collecting moving and storage boxes, to name a few.

An Opportunity to Downsize

Before you even start packing, you’ll want to get rid of any clutter or unwanted items. This will help you feel more organized from the outset because you’ll only be packing up the things you need or want to take with you.

In a previous Mind Over Clutter blog post, we recommended a book called “Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash” designed to help loved ones move, complete with practical steps and suggestions for downsizing without sacrificing treasured memories. For many people, giving up the family home is comparable to losing a loved one.

At the same time, it’s a pretty freeing feeling to downsize, donate items, and clear out the old to make way for the new. Otherwise it can be frustrating to pack stuff you’re going to get rid of anyway after the move. Give yourself plenty of time to do what needs to be done in order to have a successful move.

Prepare Your Mind

Get ready for the possibility of anxiety that comes with living among boxes and in chaos for a while. But don’t let the stress cause you to procrastinate the items on your moving checklist.

People in general have the tendency to procrastinate. Think of it like packing for a vacation. What happens when you delay packing until the very last minute before you leave? You inevitably forget something you might need or want on your trip.

It’s natural to avoid things you don’t want to do, but uprooting your life is a big deal and deserves your full attention. Even after you’ve done the work, there’s always still more to be done. But it will get done. You got this.

It may take a while to make the space your own. That’s to be expected. You don’t have to do it all in one week. Give yourself and family time to settle into the new environment.

Organize Your Belongings

You’ve likely moved before and found yourself frantically looking for something specific only to find you didn’t pack the item in a box with similar items. When you start shoving things within reach into boxes, you set yourself up for chaos.

It seems like a no-brainer, but mixing and matching kitchen supplies with bedroom supplies, for example, isn’t the most effective way to pack. Socks and spoons don’t go together. Organizing your belongings into categories is a relatively simple step.

Labeling each box with its contents with a sharpie is a good way to go. You’ll have more than one box of kitchen supplies, so when writing on top of the box, make sure to write what’s in the box. Simply writing “kitchen” on each box isn’t very helpful. Writing the specific contents under the kitchen category will not only make it easier for you, but the movers as well.

There are many ways to downgrade the stress levels you may experience during the moving process. You may even look back and think, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad.” Pat yourself on the back, enjoy the moment and, of course, your new home!

Share with us where you donate the items you don’t need any more. 

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

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What does a professional organizer do?

POC Gold Leaf Member

Perhaps you are familiar with the Professional Organizer industry.  It is an unregulated industry.  Anyone can call themselves a Professional Organizer.  Professional Organizers in Canada  (POC) was established about 17 years ago and the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) the American organization is about 30 years old. Look for organizers listed on these directories.  Most Professional Organizers have their own business and specialize in areas of organizing. As you read their websites you will be able to see their years of experience,  type of training and continuing education.

What happens when I call an organizer?

Usually there is some type of conversation over the phone, Skype or email to discover what type of problem you want solved.  It might be to have a spaced organized, help with moving, develop systems to make things function more smoothly, downsizing, coaching or virtual organizing etc. Then there is a description of how the job will be completed. This is about the only common business practice.  Since we all own our own businesses we have varying ways of continuing.

When you contact Mind over  Clutter:

Can I get an estimate on the cost for the work to be completed?

Most times it is hard to estimate how long a job will take during the conversation.  I offer a free one hour assessment to see what the job entails and give you an idea of how long I think it might take and what we will do.   One of the biggest factors on how long a job will take is how easily and quickly you can make decisions on if items stay or go.  The second factor is, sometimes the job expands to include unforeseen work: filing papers, assembling shelving or bookcases, corners and areas not discussed during the assessment. I work on an hourly rate and offer a package of 10 hours at a reduced rate.

How does it work?

80% of my clients work with me to go through items and decide what will stay and what will be donated or recycled.  Then we discuss the best place and way to store the items so they can be easily found and used. Most clients like to learn  the skill of organizing and so working together helps them to learn where start, how to sort, how to decide what stays and what goes, how to store things in containers and where is the best location to store different types of items.

What if I don’t want to help or can’t help?

If you don’t want to help, I can work alone sorting items based on our conversation on what you want to keep and what you want to donate.  Then I create a donate pile  and a garbage pile and recycle pile.  Nothing leaves the house until you have looked through each pile.  If you can’t help you can sit with me and I can bring you things to do and you can answer my questions.

What if I need some guidance but can do all the work myself?

We can work together virtually.  You show me the space to organize over Skype and I send you a plan and you complete the work.  Here is more information about virtual organizing.  Or I can coach you through the process in a conversation in-person or virtually discussing what you want to accomplish and how you can accomplish it.

What happens with donations and recycling?

At the end of each work session I take the donations.  I will drop them at centers that will take your things.  I can take them to the donation center of your choice too.  I take non-curbside recycling at the end of each session. Usually that includes, batteries, paint cans, small electronics , small appliances, textile recycling, medications, and plastic bags.

Why wouldn’t I just do it myself after the one hour free assessment?

Some people do.  They have enough information and can continue with the job.  Most people feel overwhelmed and stressed by doing it on their own.  They find it easier to work with a professional who can guide them through the problem, help solve it and reduce the stress they feel about the situation. Working with someone makes you block time out for the appointment and helps you to stop putting it off.  It is always more fun working with someone than working alone.

Will you give me homework to do?

Only if you want it.  Some people like to keep going with the work and get it done quickly.  Some people don’t want to work alone or would feel bad if they didn’t get the homework done so I don’t that person anything to do.  There are some tasks that are very time consuming and if you can do it on your own it makes it more cost effective for you, sorting paper, going through books, CDs, VHS tapes, clothing.  However those tasks can be difficult to figure out what to keep and what to donate that you might it better for you to do it with me present.

Please post your questions in the comments.

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

 Twitter – @julieorganizer Facebook –  

Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space

8 Ways to sell your stuff before your move

More and more people are downsizing before moving. They may be moving to a smaller place. They may have decided to have a more minimalist  lifestyle. They maybe moving a great distance and choose not to take their stuff with them but furnish their accommodation when they know what they need. Selling your stuff is one way to fund your move.

My guest blogger is Liz Wolf a freelance writer  who wrote this article for

You’re preparing to move and it’s time to declutter. Don’t just trash the stuff you don’t need when you can make some decent money selling it.

In fact, 77 percent of people said they’ve tried to sell belongings before a move, according to a new survey released by

While there are many ways to sell your stuff, it turns out that 78 percent of tech-savvy millennials go online to sell their items, compared with 52 percent of the general public who have ever tried to sell something online. (You can download the full survey results here.)

“I think there’s a technology gap,” said Liana George, owner of Houston area-based By George Organizing Solutions. “That’s how my daughter in college got rid of a lot of stuff, like her bed and bedding, when she moved back home. Millennials are much more digital. That’s how they think.”

Whether you’re tech-savvy or not, there are plenty of ways to unload your extra stuff for cash. Here are the most popular ways people sell their items:

Mature couple putting up sign for Yard Sale

1. Garage Sales

Garage and yard sales actually beat out all other methods with 50 percent of movers saying they’ve hosted a sale, according to SpareFoot.

Research group Statistics Brain reports that garage sales nationally generate a whopping $4.22 million in weekly revenue.

“I’m not surprised because sometimes it’s all people know,” said Donna Smallin Kuper, professional organizer and author of How to De-clutter and Make Money Now. They don’t know that there are other options that are actually much better, that will net more from their sales and be faster. People who have garage sales all complain that they only got pennies on a dollar. Well, that’s because it was a garage sale!”

“I feel garage sales are too time-consuming for small profit unless you have an entire house to get rid of,” added Ellen Limes, owner of Organized by L in Columbus, Ohio. “We do more donating just to get rid of it.”

While garage sales are a ton of work – and “shoppers” can be stingy with their dollars – you do get to pocket all of the proceeds and there are tips for a successful sale.

However, Hazel Thornton, owner of Organized for Life in Albuquerque, NM has a word of advice: “I tell clients, ‘If you do have a garage sale, promise me that whatever doesn’t sell goes straight to donation,’” she said.

2. Word of Mouth

Thirty-five percent of respondents said they have sold items just by word of mouth among friends and family.

“Start by letting your family know and ask them to tell their connections,” advised Julie Stobbe, owner of Mind Over Clutter in Ontario, Canada. “Next send the information to friends and co-workers and groups you might belong to. If you’re dealing with people you know, they’re more likely to show up and buy the item than when you’re dealing with the public.”

An ideal way to sell furniture or appliances is ask the new homebuyer or neighbors if they’re interested.

3. Craigslist

Thirty-two percent of movers have tried selling stuff on

More than 60 million people use this free site each month in the U.S. alone. Craiglist is good for selling larger items like home appliances, bicycles, furniture and yard equipment.

young women shopping through tablet on Ebay

4.  eBay

Looking to reach a bigger audience? Twenty-four percent of movers try eBay to lighten their loads.

eBay is a big e-commerce player with 25 million sellers worldwide. High-end clothing, collectibles and smaller electronics are popular items.

However, some might find eBay’s large, competitive marketplace rather intimidating. Also, eBay charges sellers for listing on the site, whether items sell or not, and takes a commission on the sale.

“Twenty-four percent is surprising, because I find that eBay is a little bit complicated, and there’s so much competition with professional sellers,” Smallin Kuper said. “There are easier ways.”

5. Facebook

Twenty-one percent try hawking their stuff on the popular social networking site. People spend a heckuva lot of time on Facebook, so why not use it to sell your belongings?

Consider offering your Facebook friends the first opportunity to buy your stuff by creating a photo album and labeling it “Online Garage/Yard Sale.”

“We have several Facebook groups just for selling in our master-planned community,” George said. “It’s easier to know somebody three blocks over has something and I can go get it… We do porch pickup where we just leave things on the porch and people put the money under the mat.”

“I sold a washer/dryer to a friend’s son and a bear rug to a friend in California,” Smallin Kuper added.

Or expand your reach and find a Facebook “Yard Sales Group” in your area.  Groups can be very large and many are private, so you must join before you can sell.

 6. Consignment Stores

Just 15 percent of movers try their luck with consignment stores to make some extra money. Consignment stores work well for high-end clothing, purses, home décor and furniture.

“They’re a great way to sell stuff, because people are already going there looking for those items,” Smallin Kuper said. “You split the sale with the seller, but you don’t have to do anything but show up.”

Of course, these shops are picky in what they accept.

“That’s a good thing because they know what sells,” Smallin Kuper added. “If you take it to them and they say, ‘Uhh, we really don’t want these clothes.’ Great. Now you know just donate them. You have to put your ego aside when you go to consignment stores.”

7. Amazon

Fourteen percent of movers try to sell their excess goods on

Amazon offers a large marketplace like eBay, but it’s less expensive to use . You can list on Amazon for free and then it’s $.99 cents per item sold on top of the commission for the sale if you have the basic, individual seller’s account. Books, DVDs and video games are best-selling items.

“It’s such an easy way to sell stuff especially books, but anything that Amazon sells, you can sell,” Smallin Kuper said. “…You’re listed along with other used items and if you want your item to sell fast, just drop the price a little bit and boom! You’ve just sold something and all you have to do is ship it.”

8. Free Apps

Four percent of movers report using other methods to sell their stuff. There are lot of new entrants looking to help people sell their stuff via a variety of marketplaces, mostly in the form of free smartphone apps. Some of the services include: Letgo, OfferUp, VarageSale, Close5 and Decluttr.

You can find this blog post at SpareFoot

What was your most successful way of selling your items before moving?

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

7 Organizing Packing Tips for a Move Across the Country


My son and his wife  told me they would be moving across the country to start new jobs.  They would be leaving in 2 weeks.  Can you help pack Mom?  Long distant moves on a budget require a lot of planning before the packing begins.  Some of you maybe moving for a job or for schooling.  Take a deep breath and relax.

If you are not hiring a moving company

This move involved selling anything and everything people were interested in buying.  Put your ads for the things you are selling on Kijiji or Craigslist.   Don’t forget about neighbourhood swap and sell sites on Facebook.  You may  have multiple sites in your area and it makes scheduling pickups so much easier when you know that they are in your neighbourhood. But don’t forget the most important source for your sales.  Tell your friends and family and ask them to tell their friends, family and co-workers.  One of my readers shared “do an “Internet Garage Sale” where you made a list of items with prices, emailed it to everyone you know, and asked them to share it with others. We were able to sell quite a few of our larger and more valuable items that way.” Don’t be shy.

Smaller items need to be sold too

You may need to sell clothing, jewelry or home decor items.  Take them to consignment stores.

Determine what you will take, store and ship. 

Moving out

In this case they were driving a car across the country.  They would be staying with relatives until they found an apartment.  They knew of a few people who would be flying out to see them in the next few months.  With this information the packing began.  For each item, it had to be decided if it would be packed:

  • in the car
  • in a suitcase for someone to bring next month
  • in a suitcase for someone to bring the following month
  • in a suitcase for someone to bring later
  • in a box because they were items that they might want when they have an apartment
  • in a plastic bin and stored

You never know what you might want shipped 

Knowing what is in every box makes it easy to find what you need

Knowing what is in every box makes it easy to find what you need

As boxes and bins were packed someone was in charge of keeping an inventory of what went in each box and bin and labelling the container with a corresponding number to the list.  We used google docs so later in the week when more things were packed or removed from boxes the list could be changed and a new list doesn’t have to be emailed to anyone.  You don’t have to worry if you are using the most up to date list.  The reason to do an inventory is so you can find items they might want shipped.  The hope is that the whole box will shipped but more likely they will decide on certain items and they might be packed in a number of different boxes.


We started by going through the cupboards and anything that was unopened and not expired was donated to the food bank.  This can be done early in the packing session and it is an easy way to start.  No difficult decisions need to be made.  Some food can be used during the 2 weeks, some disposed of and then  find a friend who will be happy to take your food.


Remember to donate items to charity and not to put them in the garbage.

Remember to donate items to charity and not to put them in the garbage.

As time moved on they found things they didn’t want or need, couldn’t sell or give a way or give back to people.  Donate these items to charity.  It is easy to think no one wants them and start putting them in the garbage but most things can be donated.  It takes just as much time to put them in a garbage bag as in a box or bag to go to a charity.  You will probably be eating out so you can take them to the charity on the way to dinner.

You’re finally finished

You are probably tired and overwhelmed and over stressed.  Just take a big breath.  You did a great job, you are about to start a new adventure .  Focus on that.  Don’t focus on the stuff.  Enjoy the trip and the time off before the new jobs begin.

What is your advise for moving across the country in a car, on a plane or in a train?

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


What are the 2 Most Important Boxes in a Move?

Home interior right after moving in.

Where are those 2 special boxes?

When you are moving pack 2 boxes that has everything you need for moving day and the first night. Keep these 2 boxes with you and not in the moving truck. These boxes should include:

  1. Glasses –  plastic or glass for drinks or water.
  2. A roll of paper towels
  3. A roll of toilet paper for each bathroom
  4. A bar of soap or container of liquid soap for the bathroom
  5. A hand towel in the bathroom
  6. Dishcloth, dish soap and tea towel for cleaning dishes that maybe dusty from moving
  7. Sheets for the bed and pillows so you can go to sleep at the end of a long day moving in
  8. Towels for a shower and basic cosmetics to clean up after the move
  9. Chargers for your phone, tablet and computer

It is handy to pack a pail of basic cleaning supplies so you can do a quick clean before things are unpacked.  Bring:

  1. Cloths
  2. All purpose cleaning supplies
  3. Broom and dust pan
  4. Mop
  5. Pack it all in a pail

With these things easily accessible you can clean up and get a good nights rest before you continue to unpack and make your new place a home.


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