5 Ways to Tame Your Kid Clutter, While Teaching Them Valuable Lessons

Update: this post was updated November 2018.

I don’t know about you, but one of the hardest areas of clutter to tame in my house has to do with the tiny dictator that runs our house. Our four year old somehow has more stuff than my husband and I combined! She just had a birthday, which brought even more stuff. I decided to do a major overhaul of her things recently, and here are some tips that not only helped me, but I’m hoping are teaching her some valuable life lessons as well.

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1.) Get rid of a toy before bringing a new one in: We have a rule where if we buy our daughter a bigger toy (not talking about Happy Meal toys here), that she has to get rid of something before the new toy comes in the house. She is finally getting to the age where she grasps this, and I can usually get her to get rid of a toy by saying it’s a “baby toy” because, hello, she is a BIG KID and doesn’t want baby toys. Ha. Luckily since she is changing so quickly right now, she “outgrows” a lot of her toys so it’s easy to choose something that needs to go.

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Back when things were much more simple…and she was in a crib. ha.

2.) Don’t buy toys every time you go in the store: I know a lot of parents use toys as a reward for good behavior while shopping, or to keep a kid quiet in the cart for a few minutes. However, in my opinion, this is a bad habit that leads to an expectation every time you go into a store. Sure, there are times Emma Kate gets a special toy or treat, but certainly not every time. We avoid the toy aisle, and I make sure she has things that she already owns to keep her occupied while I shop. Not only does this teach a good lesson, but it keeps random toys you weren’t expecting on having from popping up all over your house from impulse buys. Try to give incentives for good behavior that don’t revolve around toys…Like ice cream or a movie date or extra time at the playground.

3.) Find a cause and donate: There are some great organizations out there that will take gently used toys, furniture, books, etc. There may be a family in need in your community that would love to have your child’s toys. Check with a local church or daycare, they may be able to point you in the right direction. Again, this is a great way to teach your kids about families less fortunate than yours, and also get rid of some of the toys they no longer play with. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! I have definitely learned we don’t need “new” toys to have fun!

4.) Have a home for everything: This applies for everything in my house and I discuss it in my book, but I have found when I don’t have a specific “home” for something, I end up just throwing it wherever and that leads to clutter. We use lots of bins and baskets as well as shelves for Emma Kate’s toys. If something doesn’t fit or have a home, we either get rid of things to make room or create another bin/basket so the toy doesn’t just get lumped in with random things.

Related: 7 Amazon Finds to Organize Your Kid’s Room. 

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5.) Teach you kids to enjoy experiences and not things: Emma Kate is still a little young to understand this concept, but we would much rather do something fun with her than buy her things. She loves simple things like the splash pad, zoo, and the playground at Chick-fil-A. These things are entertaining for hours and don’t clutter up your house. Our kids really just want our time and attention anyway, so save yourself some money as well as space in your home, and expose your kids to new experiences. Those memories will last forever!


QOTD: What is your best tip for taming kid clutter?

4 Tips to get you through stomach flu season

Norovirus. The word that sends chills up the spine of any parent. That dreaded note that comes home from school saying a child, or maybe two or three, in your kids’ class has been sent home with the dreaded stomach flu. The problem is, by the time you get the note, your poor child (as well as your entire family) has most likely already been exposed.

My child unfortunately came down with the stomach flu in early spring of last year, and it is not something I want to repeat again this year. Thankfully, I have a new way to help protect my house and my family this year.

While these announcements and notes are panic inducing, there is something you can do at your house to help make sure any germs that are brought in by your kids are swiftly eliminated, and without harsh chemicals.

Check out my top 4 tips for keeping your home and kids a stomach flu free zone during this season.

1.) Lots of hand washing: Your first line of defense, hand washing can help stop the spread of germs to all the surfaces in your house. Make sure you teach your kids proper hand washing techniques, and be sure to get in between those fingers! The CDC recommends that alcohol hand sanitizers be used in addition to hand washing. I like to carry hand sanitizer  in my purse for when hand washing isn’t possible, and we keep a bottle in the car and in the stroller as well.

2.) Change clothes after school: I feel like schools are giant germ factories, despite teachers’ and staff’s best efforts. Last year, we had an entire school here shut down because so many of the students caught Norovirus (my poor child being one of them). One of the ways to cut down on transferring those germs into your house is to have your kids change clothes immediately after they get home from school (as well as having them wash their hands!) Clean hands and clean clothes only in my house!

3.) Keep hands away from face and mouth: My daughter is three so this one is still a struggle for us. I am constantly telling her to keep her hands out of her mouth and away from her face so that she won’t get sick. She is getting much better at it, but it’s still tough some days. I am working on a reward system right now. She really wants me to paint her fingernails but I told her I would only do it if she keeps her hands out of her mouth for a week. Fingers crossed!

4.) Use PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant : My lifesaver, my new favorite disinfecting and cleaning product! I use this on a daily basis in my house. It kills 99.9% of viruses  and bacteria in 30 seconds including cold, flu, strep, salmonella, and yes, norovirus! It’s worry-free around kids, pets and food, and kills germs like bleach but without the harsh chemicals. There is no water rinse required since there are no harmful chemicals, and it’s great to use on surfaces you can’t wash easily like gym bags, car seats, and high chairs. We use it daily to wipe down counters, clean up spills, and wipe off things touched frequently like doorknobs, remote controls, and handles.

Unfortunately, sometimes our kids still get sick despite our best efforts, but it’s good to know that I have done everything in my power at home to help prevent the spread of those icky germs. I love knowing that I am using safe products for myself and my kids—even the furry one!

Tips for a Healthier Holiday

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Purell, however all opinions are my own.

I will be hosting Christmas Eve at my house this year, which means a lot of planning, organizing, and making lists, as well as lots and lots of cleaning. When you have family members flying in from different states that are just coming from the airport, it’s even more important to make sure your house is clean and organized to keep germs at bay.

No one wants to be sick for the holidays, right? Here are five of my best tips for preparing for having a healthier holiday:

1.) Get exercise: The holidays are extra busy, which can make it tough to fit in your regular workouts, but this is something you really shouldn’t skimp on! Exercise can help boost your immune system and in turn may cut down on the amount of colds you get this year.

2.) Get enough sleep: Another tempting thing to skip out on is sleep. With late holiday parties and staying up past your bedtime getting your kids costume ready for the Christmas play, you may find yourself reaching for the snooze (and the coffee!) more often. Aim for 7-8 hours a night to keep your immune system up. Also, infection-fighting antibodies are reduced when you don’t get enough sleep.

3.) Wash your hands/sanitize when often: PURELL® Hand Sanitizer is the #1 selling sanitizer, and they also make soap, too! While washing with soap and water is best, sometimes it’s not possible to get near a sink, so make sure you have PURELL pocket sanitizer in your purse, car, and we like to keep a pump of it by the back door as we come in and out of the house. When you sanitize, make sure to leave your hands wet for 15 seconds!

4.) Disinfect and clean your house: The PURELL® brand has an amazing new Multi Surface Disinfecting spray that I am obsessed with. It kills 99.99% of bacteria and viruses in 30 seconds, is worry free around kids, pets, and food, and there is no water rinse required! It cleans with the power of bleach without harmful chemicals. Here are some common things to make sure you sanitize with your disinfectant spray: Highchairs, soft surfaces you can’t wash, your refrigerator, doorknobs, remotes, counters, light switches, handles on kitchen appliances, computer keyboards, and toys. (YES it’s safe on all of those things!)

5.) Sanitize your kitchen before meal prep: When cooking and preparing in the kitchen, it’s easy to forget about wiping down counters, cutting boards, and water faucets. Make sure to use the PURELL Multi-Surface Disinfectant for meal prep! Don’t worry, it won’t stain clothes or fabric, and is designed to quickly kill the cold and flu viruses.

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It comes in 3 scents: fragrance free, citrus, and fresh (my favorite!) and is available for purchase online at Amazon.com, Jet.com and Walmart.com. In addition, it is available at select grocers: Publix, H-E-B, and Shoprite and at Harris Teeter in January 2018.

Decorating and Organizing a Playroom

Hi! I’m Ashley and I blog over at The Pavement Princess. I’m so excited to be a guest blogger today for Through Heather’s Looking Glass. When I found out I was going to be doing a post for Heather, I was excited because she was looking for some home decorating/ organizational posts. I enjoy styling my house and I’m super organized, so this opportunity was perfect.

When I think of home decorating and organization, I immediately think of how everything should have a place. Throughout each aspect of my house, there is a perfect little space for each and everything. Yes I know it may be crazy to some, but the more organized a space is, the better. One of the biggest challenges I had with decorating and organizing was the playroom. The four walls we’ve designated as my six year olds “man cave” were just blah. There were so many aspects of this playroom that needed to have a place. So we finally have just that…a place for everything.


The Toys

What do you do with all those toys? What starts as a few toys here and there, turns into piles and piles of toys. I have two shelving units that keep everything nice and organized. The IKEA Expedit Shelving Unit (the unit on the left) houses so much stuff. I love all the different shelves. In fact, I own three of these…shh, don’t tell anyone. The smaller shelf (and bins) is from Target. They are from the ClosetMaid Cubeicals collection. This shelf is the perfect height for my son and it turned into a keyboard holder. I’m all about maximizing a space as much as possible.


We were lucky to be given a huge train & track set from friends whose son outgrew them. While we were thrilled at the collection, we had to find a place for all this new “stuff.” This organizer from Target turned out to be great. The height is so kid friendly too. My son has no problem getting things in and out the bins.



The teacher in me is always buying my son more books. Well how many books can one child (and his mother) have? The answer is…A LOT. The first two shelves are mine and the last two are his. Sometimes my son will even color using the bottom shelf as his workspace. He keeps his crayons and coloring books in the drawers.

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Adding some personal touches to a room is a nice way to personalize a space. I’m always looking for ways to display my son’s work and accomplishments. One of the best ideas I’ve come up with is using framed corkboards. We have three of them throughout our home. This is a smaller sized one that we have in the playroom. My son loves to see his work on display and he changes it quite often.


I also have a sign for Playroom Rules with some pillows for lounging. Then there’s a cool personalized sign with my son’s name on it. This is his favorite room in the house, so the sign has all his favorites.

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I hope you enjoyed taking a look at my son’s playroom. It is by far his favorite space and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

QOTD: Do you have a playroom in your house?

What’s one thing you love about it or one thing you would love to change about it?

My Home is Organized Chaos


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Piles of paper, magazines, clothes and fitness gear are nearly everywhere. Sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for, but typically I know where most needed items live.

Husband’s missing belt?

Last I saw it, on the dresser.

Flashlight? No, the backup flashlight. The good one’s broken.

On top of the roll top desk.

Cable bill?

On top of the microwave, next to our theater tickets.

My husband calls me regularly questions like these.(Today he asked where the Windex is kept.) You see, he works from home, which means we have piles of stuff everywhere in our 189-year old farmhouse in upstate New York. Plus, he’s taken over the kitchen and dining room tables as his workspace.

Like I said, piles everywhere.

As a result, I’ve needed to hone my organizational skills. I added shelving and bins to our spare room and his office, I reworked the pantry and laundry room. I introduced underbed bins to make up for the lack of closet space. (We have one closet for 3 bedrooms. And like 6 pegs, thanks 1824 ancestors.)

In the process, I also learned what types of messes I can handle, and more importantly, what I can’t handle.

Using all available dining room chairs as auxiliary tables- for printers, filing systems and laptops? No problem.

Playing an ongoing game of kitchen sink Jenga? Absolutely! I’m all about moving dirty dishes around the sink so I can use the faucet…without washing the dishes.

But ask me to clear off the sofa before I can sit on it and its all over.

Here are a few more tips to save your sanity.

Keep a basket near the bottom and top of the stairs. Toss items in rather than walking them upstairs each time or leaving them on the step (a huge pet peeve of mine and unsafe to boot.) When you DO head up, take the basket with you. When you head back down, don’t forget the upstairs basket

Have specific tasks assigned to each day. Clean off the counters on Sunday, scrub the toilets on Saturday, clean the stove on Tuesday. It’s not as overwhelming if the dreaded tasks are already part of your daily routine. They’re less likely to back up and take over.

Sift through drawers while watching television or on the phone. I often empty desk and kitchen drawers and wade through the contents while catching up on my favorite DVRed show or chatting with my mom. You’d be surprised what builds up when you’re not looking. I also use this tactic on the pantry, where I tend to stockpile canned foods.

Put small trash cans in every room. You’re less likely to leave trash lying around if you have a place to immediately toss it. This goes double for paper trash. Junk mail in our house goes directly into the recycling bin.

Stop by my blog and say hello! http://scootadoot.com/about/meet-vic/

QOTD: What’s your favorite not-traditional tip for clearing clutter and organizing your home?

Family Lunch


Good morning! Did everyone enjoy their Labor day weekend? Great news is that now the work week is only 4 days! yahoo! Bobby and I are actually out dealing with some personal stuff this morning, so if you are a fellow prayer warrior, I would SO appreciate your prayers for wisdom and discernment this morning, it would mean so much to me!

Sunday, my parents braved the weather to come for a visit during our long weekend. The plan was to BBQ and sit outside…yeah….TS Lee had other plans! I cooked a chicken dish and Bobby fried okra, while mom brought her famous mac and cheese. YUM!


my kitchen all ready for fall, and ready for lunch to be cooked!

I let the boys be in charge of the okra while the chicken cooked. The rain was PELTING down, and the wind was wild, so it was nice to have some company during the storm!


And of course, the girls were excited to see grandma and grandpa!

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They knew something was up while we were running around cleaning in preparation. Their sixth sense just trips me out sometimes! They however were NOT thrilled about going potty in the rain. They definitely gave me the stink eye for that one!

My mom and I both love football, this was not planned!

Uh, dad….you need to learn how to center a photo, mmmkk?

It got really really dark out, but we were nice and cozy inside!


I totally took that picture in between the blinds in the kitchen. But, at least I used my real camera and not my cell phone….I am getting a little less lazy everyday!

We ate lots of yummy food, and I even bought a Saints cookie cake for dessert! They left all too quickly, but it was a nice visit! Plus, now my house is nice and clean, which as I have said before, is the great thing about having company come over!

I didn’t get to workout Monday, we were out of town for the day, but I am picking things back up today! Have a great one and count your blessings!

QOTD: Do you enjoy entertaining/having company come over? Are you a holiday decorator like me? Smile

Be Prepared


Catching up? Here are the weekend’s posts:

The Moving Story Part II


Confession time: I ate a TON of crappy food today, and it was totally avoidable if I had done a little planning. This morning my mom and I left to drive three hours up to my old house to give it a good deep clean. Then we drove back all in one day, in the pouring rain. again. It was a very long day on the road (6 hours! I drove all of it!) and I didn’t prepare for food and snacks. I DID bring a small cooler for bottled waters and a couple of breakfast bars…..but that’s as far as it went. Keep in mind I am TOTALLY embarrassed to admit this, but this is what I ate today.

1 cup of coffee with hazelnut creamer

1 breakfast bar

2 Taco Bell tacos and an order of nachos with a coke

a double cheeseburger and fries and a coke icee from Burger King

a cupcake

a small Dairy Queen butterfingers blizzard

a mini cupcake

2 bites of chicken ravioli

a bottle of water.

Oh. my. gosh. I think I am going to be sick. I am so embarrassed!!!! How did this happen? Well, I will TELL you how. I chose to NOT be prepared for a long car trip. I would have let myself have one fast food meal, but two? and a blizzard? with cupcakes?!? Way over my limit. I am angry at myself for allowing this to happen. I KNOW better than this. I could have brought healthy snacks to eat in between my one fast food meal like:

an apple or grapes

string cheese


a sandwich

and I could have chosen to stop somewhere like Subway instead of Taco Bell. I was so worried about remembering all of my cleaning supplies this morning I didn’t even think about food. Please don’t make the same mistake I did. Think ahead when you are going on a long car trip and bring snacks accordingly!

Although I had an eating fiasco today, we DID spend three solid hours cleaning the house and it looks great!






Tomorrow my goals are as follows

1.) Go get groceries

2.) Go for a run

3.) Eat healthy!!!

QOTD: What healthy snacks do you bring with you when you travel?

Light the Fire


Good Morning! It’s another beautiful sunny COLD day here! The high is in the mid 70’s and the low tonight is 39! wow! To think 2 weeks ago it was 95 degrees and I was in a swimsuit. I finally got yesterday’s pictures uploaded so sharing time!

Bobby came home from the gym at nine and brought me a Smoothie King smoothie. How sweet! We went for a quick 3 mile run, and I wore a long sleeved shirt! After that we decided to do some cleaning and reorganizing. See, since we decided to move, we have started packing up boxes of things we don’t need right now and putting them in the garage. Well, we didn’t plan properly and it was all very disorganized and random.

    We had inherited a broken golf cart almost 2 years ago and never had it fixed, and we kind of boxed it in with our packing. Bobby decided to get it fixed so we had to move all the boxes to get it out, so we just decided to repack everything correctly once we got it out.

This is what we started with.  yikes.


The puppies wanted to hang out outside with us.




We finally got the golf cart out of the garage!


Told ya I wore long sleeves!


My girls don’t get along too well, so the fact that they were laying this close to each other make me so happy!


It took awhile, but here is the finished product!



After we got all cleaned up we ran a couple errands including grocery shopping and came home where I made a new chili recipe! (I will post it at some point with a picture.)

After we ate, we decided to do some burning. In our packing and cleaning out we had a ton of old papers with personal info on them we didn’t want to throw away, so we decided it would be a good night to burn them in the fire pit.






I enjoyed it. it was nice because it wasn’t TOO cold outside, but the fire was nice and cozy! We stayed out for about an hour or so until all the paper had burned and it was dark and getting much colder!

Then, this morning, Bobby made us waffles!


They were quite delicious. I added a little pumpkin spice to mine. Yumm-o!

Today we were supposed to go to the gym and do more cleaning at Bobby’s dad’s, but he isn’t feeling well so we are going to stay here, wait for the golf cart people to come pick up the golf cart, and then we have a chiropractor appointment this evening to get together a “game plan”.” I am excited about this because I so want my running to improve!!!

Tomorrow will be 5 miles. Normally it’s a tempo run or speedwork, but since we have the half marathon Saturday it will just be 5 easy miles.

Have a good day all!

QOTD: What is your favorite breakfast food?

Viking Classic Golf Tournament


     Good evening! Today has been quite the busy one! This morning, Bobby and I went to the Viking Classic golf tournament, which is part of the PGA tour. Someone gave us free tickets, so we said “why not?” Sadly, I was told one of a bloggers most dreaded words..”no cameras allowed.” Bummer! So I took some pictures leading up to where we parked just to have something haha! (Also, no cell phones were allowed!)


On the way to the tournament at Annandale Golf club, which is about 5 minutes from our house.



These were taken through the windshield (which is very dirty) I even got a shot of some golfer haha!







I found this quite amusing, and those that love Disney will appreciate it. When we were leaving, a lady stopped and took our picture, then handed us a card and said we could go online and view/buy. I felt like it was Disney’s photopass service, too funny! Here is our picture.


We got back in the car, and had a voicemail from someone wanting to see our house. YIKES! We were starving and planning to stop for lunch, but our house was a MESS. So we ate Mexican really quickly, got home in time for Saints kickoff, and cleaned at commercials and in between plays! They came and went, then we left again because we got a call for someone wanting to look at Bobby’s dad’s house, so we went over there, showed the house, and did about an hours worth of more cleaning, and now we are home and tired, whew! All I can say is at least our house is really clean again!


I hope everyone is having a great weekend. I am not really sore from our run which is good. We took a walk last night and walked a lot at the tournament this morning so I think that has helped. Tomorrow will be an easy recovery run, then 5 miles Wednesday then the half marathon Saturday!