Here’s a question I get all the time: Should there be a desk in my child’s room for homework?

Answer: Maybe.

It absolutely depends on
a) your patterns
b) your spaces at home
c) your child and his/her age

If you find that you are all gravitating towards homework at the kitchen or dining room table and that a desk in the bedroom is either too cramped or just a crap collector zone, then you probably don’t need a desk. However, as your child gets older, they may prefer to do their homework in their bedroom so this is something you can keep assessing each year.

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Wherever homework gets done, here are a few tips:

1. Set up a consistent homework friendly area: Space should be well-lit, comfortable and with supplies on hand. I highly recommend making it a regular spot so that kids get used to doing homework in the same space. And this spot may evolve over time. My kids used to do homework on the kitchen counter and now have gravitated toward the dining room table or a desk in their room.

2. Minimize distractions: It’s very true that we are often cooking or cleaning while the kids are doing homework (“how do you conjugate ‘être occupé’ :). However, keeping distractions to a minimum is really important which includes TV, music, phone calls, etc.

3. Monitor and motivate: Again, it really depends on how much help your child may need with homework (and their age too), but I like to think of our role as both one of helping them make a plan and giving encouragement. And now that my son is in high school, I am having a tough time with 7th grade French grammar anyway! In addition, if they are doing homework on screens, it’s best to have them in a central area so you can keep on eye on everything. (Oh wait, I didn’t realize that your homework was to watch soccer youtube videos….)

But the main thing–as always–is to figure out what works best for your child(ren), for your family and for your home!

Where do your kids do their homework? And what are your homework strategies?

#backtoschool #homework #strategies #organizing #school #solvemyspace

Yes, I do have a slight obsession for baskets and bins–both because they are such useful organizational tools BUT also because they can be a decor item at home too.

We use a basket + bin system at home to help manage school items and supplies:

1. Homework: My kids do most of their homework in the kitchen or on the dining room table so we have a caddy that contains school supplies–pencils, pens, erasers, scissors, etc. This avoids looking all over the house for the sharpener and makes for easy clean-up after homework. Everything goes back in the mobile carry-all and it’s ready for the next day.

2. Extra school supplies: I have a transparent bin that contains extra school supplies (stock on when items are on sale) so that we’re always ready when they run out of things at school or lose items (but really, that never ever happens….ahem!)

3. Paperwork: Yikes, especially at the beginning of the year, there’s a lot of this. (I’m not talking about kids’ art–that’s another story). We have a designated school in-box for ONLY school items (not tax bills or mail, just school). Important notices are hung up (see system earlier this week), dates are added to our calendar, forms are filled out and returned to backpacks and everything else is recycled.

4. The “Borrowed” bin: For library books or items that don’t belong to us, we have a basket by the front door to keep everything in one place and easy to return on time.

What are your strategies to avoid the potential pile-up of all the school items in your house!?

#backtoschool #organizing #strategies #baskets #bins #containers #schoolsupplies #paperwork #solvemyspace

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#Backtoschool organization tips! It’s now mid-September and seems to be most families are settling into a groove with school BUT there is always room for figuring out good daily systems + solutions. Creating “stations” for school items is both helpful for the flow but also encourages independence in kids.

A few tips about “stations”:

1. Backpack Station: Designate a consistent spot for kids to store their backpacks after school. Choose whatever works best for you– hooks on a wall (that they can reach), a bench in your entryway or a spot in their room. And best to check backpacks with your kids at night to make sure that everything is in them for the next day. Keeping school stuff together and in the same place makes the mornings less stressful!

2. Snack Station: Whether in a kitchen cabinet, pantry or a part of your fridge, group snacks together so kids can help themselves when they come home from school.

3. Clothes Station: It takes 5 minutes at night but it’s very helpful to everyone in the morning. Encourage your kids to lay out their clothes the night before. This can avoid the “oh wait, I have gym class today” as they are walking out the door wearing high heels (ok, just kidding:)

Homework stations are a larger topic so I’ll cover them in a future post!

#backtoschool #organization #solutions #backpacks #snacks #kidsindependence #solvemyspace Photo by Vivian Doan Photography

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More #Backtoschool organizing tips + tricks. Here’s a quick one to start off the week.

What to do with all the papers, notices and calendars you need to refer throughout the school year? Create a family “command centre” where you organize it all in one place. There are lots of ways to do this but I keep my simple and easy.

I use the inside of a kitchen cabinet and washi tape all the important and current notices. This includes: school calendar, schedule of the pedago days, important phone numbers and weekly events. I also add some of their artwork and other special drawings.

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Important: I do not file papers here or use this space for paperwork to fill out. (systems to be discussed in posts later this week)

This is just for ongoing and reference items. And to have one place where everyone knows things are. My kids can go look at their upcoming pedago days, my husband knows the phone number of their schools (and more!) and I know which days they have field trips or need specific items.

Where do you put all these types of papers? What’s most useful to you?

Lovely sweet bird drawing by Renelde Napoli. Star garland via Flow Magazin #backtoschool #organizing #paperwork #schoolstuff #schedules #helpmypaper

One more post about #backtoschool lunches and next week will focus on #backtoschool organizing strategies. Today’s question: what are your favorite accessories for lunch boxes?
Here are mine:
#1: SISTEMA plastics are my favorite tupperware for storing everything + anything in lunch boxes. Stackable, durable and BPA free, I especially like their colorful latches that snap easily. These are my go-to after trying out lots of brands and they come in a range of sizes and shapes. Made in New Zealand, but available at HomeSense in Canada (and Amazon.ca).

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#2: Hydro Flask for thermoses. Again, we’ve gone through a lot of different brands (Thermos, Fuel, Aladdin) and I’m convinced the Hydro Flask is the best of them all. Super well-made, terrific insulation, great colors + design and they definitely keep food colder.hotter.longer.happier (their words!). The company also gives back 5% of their profitsYes, pricier than other thermoses but they have lasted longer for us and the warranty is solid. Order online at Hydro Flask or check out the stock at MEC.


#3: Water bottles. Don’t even get me started on how many water bottles we (ahem…they!) lose every year. For some reason, the thermos comes home and the water bottles don’t always make it. So I look for BPA-free ones on sale. Yes, hello Dollarama.
#4: Cloth napkins and cutlery. The school encourages Zéro Déchet which is terrific and one very easy way to contribute to this is to use cloth napkins and real cutlery in their lunches. I use older napkins and cutlery I find at yard sales. However, I do love these napkins from K-Style Design via Etsy.
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I know I didn’t cover actual lunch boxes here (Cloth vs. plastic vs. bento vs. old-fashioned paper bags) but eager to hear what are your favorite products and containers for your kids’ lunch boxes!
#backtoschool #lunches #lunchboxes #tupperware #thermos #sistema #hydroflask #organizing #solvemyspace

#Backtoschool means having the creativity to think of WHAT to put in school lunches. Not my strong point. Sometimes I can’t think beyond the leftovers, bagel sandwiches and pasta triangle. Photos not mine (I would love these lunches for myself!) but from a very creative friend.

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So here’s what I do to try to beat the lunchbox blues:

#1: Ask the kids! Not just what they want to eat (and having them come along to grocery shop can be useful…sometimes!) but also what their friends bring for lunches to get ideas. Sometimes I wish I could wear an invisibility cloak and spy on everyone’s lunches at school for inspiration.

#2: Put everyone to work! Similar to having them choose their snacks, kids can also help make their main meal. I know some parents who do this after dinner each night (during the washing dishes and cleaning up, they can supervise their kids making lunches).

#3: Meal planning! This one does help a lot. If we make the time on the weekend to figure out our schedule for the week (and do the shopping in advance), it makes a big difference for our dinners AND lunches. That way, I know I when we’ll do a hot meal (leftovers) and when we’ll go for sandwiches or salads or other combinations.

And when all else fails, I google: “what to put in school lunches when you don’t feel like putting anything in them”

What about you!? #backtoschool #school #lunches #ideas #cooking Photos by Vivian Doan Photography #thanksviv

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#Backtoschool means establishing a good sleep routine. And yikes, I find this very challenging after a summer of later nights and mornings. The kids are either really wired or extra tired during September and getting out of bed in the morning can be a challenge.

Here’s a useful bedtime chart via Good Housekeeping about recommended sleeping times for different ages.

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A few tips:
#1 Pre-bed routine: Start 30-45 minutes in advance of the time your child needs to be in bed.

#2: Screens: Since computers and TV suppress melatonin, no use at least one hour before bed. Reading increases melatonin so a bedtime story or reading alone is ideal.

#3: On the weekends: Bedtime and wake-up is best when kept within 1 hour of the weekday routine so your child doesn’t shift her sleep phase.

Good luck with the bedtime battles! What works best for you to establish a good sleeping routine with your child?#backtoschool #bedtime #glassofwater #onemorestory #but #im #NOT #tired #zzzzzzzzzz

Ok so it is officially back-to-school which means back-to-homework/school lunches/earlier mornings! And yes, being more organized to make sure that things flow as best as possible in your household.

For the month of September, I’ll be doing a range of posts on how to manage the back-to-school transition as well as useful + fun ideas for your family and home.

Please let me know any questions or tips that you are interested in learning about! #backtoschool #organization #schedules #routines #schoolorganization #helpmyhome #solvemyspace

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Spring is definitely in the air and with it comes an instinctual desire to make some changes, clear out spaces and start anew after the long winter. It’s a busy time of year for Solve My Space and I love the range of projects I’m currently working on: redesigning office spaces, creating new paperwork solutions, clearing out clothes + closets, refreshing bedrooms and even managing a home renovation project.

If you have specific home or office needs where you need help OR if you just don’t know where to begin and need help to get started, let me know! I always offer a free phone consultation in advance to assess your needs and goals for your spaces.  Are you ready? Send me a note via my contact form!

 

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Bio and pantry photos via Vivian Doan photography

How many times a day do you interact with the clothes in your closet/storage/dresser? Probably a minimum of twice a day.  So when your clothes feel overwhelming OR you can’t find anything OR you don’t like or use or fit what you own OR things fall on top of you all the time, then it’s probably time to do something about it!

For me, working with a client and their clothes is always fun and interesting.  First, you really gather a sense of someone and their style.  Second, I love helping people figure out exactly what they want/need/use in terms of their clothes and give them the permission to let go of those unhappy-making/guilt-inducing/really not right pieces.  Next, you always stumble across little treasures here and there so it can feel like shopping in your own closet (without spending any more money!).  And finally, having a closet that really reflects who you are and what you like to wear and feel great in is a really good feeling.

Here are some recent examples of closet spaces.  With the before and afters it can be hard to fully capture the amount of progress made with all the sorting, sifting and decision-making. But they will give you a sense of what we can do together–and in just a few hours time!

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Sbaron clothes before after

What if instead of holiday gifts, you gave the gift of decluttering and organizing your home? So that you felt better every single time you walked in the door and you knew exactly where things were and where they belonged?  Wow, now that would be awesome!

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a young couple who asked if I would help them purge + organize their entire home as they wanted to give my services to each other instead of more gifts at Christmas.  Of course, I love this idea and was very happy they contacted me.

We had our first session this week and focused on the dining/living room as well as both of their office spaces.  Below you’ll find some before + afters of some of the areas.  Photos are definitely useful aids to show the progress made but what’s truly important is how people feel in their homes after an intervention.  So a follow-up email from my client that says “The pictures look great but being in the room feels even better!” is for me, a sign of a successful session.

Linnea and Simon before after books + games

Linnea + Simon small bookcase

Here’s part of the donation pile after the first session–the entire car ended up being filled as well as furniture that was left on the street for a lucky person to claim for free.  I’m looking forward to next week’s session where we tackle the bedroom and closets!

Linnea + Simon donations Day 1

And on top of it, both of them have already started working on their homework list, including starting to tackle the entryway to create more organization in their shoe + exercise area.  Here is the after photo of what they did by themselves after we discussed a plan together….I’m so proud of them course!  And the email that accompanied their photo:

“I’m so excited I couldn’t wait for the next session to share this with you, so I’m sending a picture. Look how much bigger the space looks without the yoga and exercise clutter!”

Linnea and Simon before after shoe

Often the emails that I receive from interested clients are ones that contain the words “HELP!” or in this case: “I need help urgently and seriously.” My client was feeling “paralyzed by mess” so that she was unable to work in her office.   After a number of life transitions (including selling her home + moving as well as changing jobs), objects + papers had accumulated into unmanageable piles and being at home created a feeling of dread due to the chaos.

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In one four hour session, we were able to tackle to majority of the office space and whip it back into shape. This included going through all the piles and boxes in the office space, sorting + classifying papers as well as sending things to the recycling and shredding bin.  A new inbox system was created to tackle action items so that they get accomplished.  New home and zones were created on both bookshelves to organize and contain the wide range of work + personal files.

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s baron office before after

As I do after each session, I sent along a “homework” list of items for my client to tackle into between sessions. This included removing the single bookshelf on the wall behind the desk to create a separate space for music.  The end result is a peaceful and inspiring space where creative work will definitely be able to occur!

stephanie baron full office room after

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