Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

How To Spend Your Free Time Decluttering Your Home

Jul 24, 2018

Professional Home Organizer in Raleigh, NC

It’s about that time; your children will be heading back to their regularly scheduled schooling soon. That means you’ll most likely have more free time on your hands than you did during the Summer. How can you spend it most effectively?

Dorm Room Sanity

Aug 07, 2016

Get ready – ready for your local Target store to be sold out of the most basic of items, because it is almost that time of year! Not just time for kids to go back to school, but time for kids to go off to college and move into dorms. In a Black Friday-esque stampede, moms rush the stores in an attempt to get everything their babies will need to survive away from home…and maybe some things they don’t need.

If you’re one of those moms this year, let me help you out. Though my own kids still have a couple years before they flee the nest, I have moved my fair share of friends and family members into dorms and there is definitely a strategy to survive and be successful amidst the chaos.

New Years: Resolutions and Reality – by Ann Goulian

Jul 13, 2016

It was the end of 2015, when Sane Jane proposed her New Year’s challenge to me: Every day of January get rid of one more thing from your house. On January 1st get rid of one thing, on January 2nd get rid of two things, and by the end of the month I should have freed myself of over 600 things.

A few details first — my name is Ann Goulian and at the time of this experiment I was 13 years old. I had shared with Sane Jane the state of increasing disorder in my room and she helped me understand how a chaotic, messy room could affect my school work and ability to relax. Her plan seemed drastic, but I was up for the task.

I began this challenge with enthusiasm, eager to organize and declutter my room, but when it came time to part with the many useless tschotchkes that I have accumulated over the years, I did so reluctantly. Everything suddenly seemed to have some sort of sentimental value or hidden purpose. But you know what they say “new year, new me”, and so, with only a brief bout of second-guessing, I parted with an old pair of sunglasses on January 1st, thus beginning the most productive month of my life.

The first 16 days of the challenge passed smoothly, in fact I had a list of things that I planned to get rid of over the next days. I was ahead of the game. Old trophies, gone. Ratty sweatshirts, out. Dull pencils and weak pens, bye-bye. Small clothes, good riddance!!!

Finally the hardest decision so far, what to do with my collection of American Girl Dolls? My parents had a small fortune wrapped up in those things, and I only played with them once in a blue moon… and that was years ago. I had delayed giving these away off, telling myself that someday my children would love to play with these “chic, vintage” dolls. After much deliberation, I packed up some 100 items and took them up to Asheville for my little cousins. My decision to say goodbye to Kit and Ruth and all their belongings was good for a couple of reasons. First, I do not miss them at all… and why would I, I was never attached to them. Second, it cleared up closet space, and an entire storage ottoman, perfect space to become a dumping ground for many other things!! And third, my little cousins were so excited to get a whole new set of dolls to add to their collection. That made everyone (except my cousins’ mom) including me,very happy.

So, where’s the catch you ask. This challenge cannot possibly be so easy. Welllll, you’re right. I was KILLING the challenge for the first week and a half but after that things started to slow down. I would scour my room searching for something to toss. After much deliberation I usually turned up something I could part with. Apparently, these items had such little purpose in my life, that I can’t even remember what they were.

Since I completed Sane Jane’s challenge almost six months ago now, I’ve had time to reflect on the experience and also see whether I’m able to stay on top of the clutter as it tries to reaccumulate in my space.

In retrospect, the positives of this challenge terrifically outweighed the negatives. While it is undeniably hard to say goodbye to things that have little memories or sentiment wrapped up in them, saying goodbye is an important part of life. Having more than one souvenir from my trip two summers ago, is unnecessary. Life is a never ending cycle of friends, jokes, adventures, and memories, but in order to have room for the new things in your life you have to clear out some of the old ones. This clearing is done mentally, but was greatly helped by the physical removal of old things weighing me down. Once my room was empty on January 31, I had plenty of space to fill with the souvenirs I knew I’d be collecting over this year. I look forward to repeating this process next January, to start 2017 on a clean (literally) foot.


Does Your Family Argue Over Taking Each Others Chargers?

Feb 24, 2016

There is a war going on in households all across America. It is a new war, caused by the rise of technology and innovation. If you have kids, chances are, you are fighting this war. For lack of a better term, we shall call it the iWar.

We have all been there. You are sitting at home, on the couch, looking at your phone, when that pesky little warning sign appears: low battery! You become frantic, running around the house trying to capture a charger before the screen goes black and all is lost. But alas, your charger is nowhere to be found. In a moment of perhaps not your best parenting, you yell at the kids, accusing them, for the millionth time, of stealing your charger. As a last resort, you end up taking the life source that is your child’s charger. So begins the battle.
I have learned that the iWar is a never-ending series of battles in most people’s homes today. Everyone is always losing their chargers, stealing each other’s, or accusing each other of taking them.

If you can relate to this, you are not alone. Almost all of my clients that have children have expressed that they are constantly fighting this war too. As parents, we end up stooping down to the kids’ level when fighting and accusing of each other of stealing chargers. And while it seems like such a silly thing to get mad at each other about, it is the focal point of most arguments in so many households.

Do not think the war is limited to chargers, either. The battlegrounds also extend to earbuds. I used to find rocks in the dryer (it was kind of cute), now I find earbuds (not so cute and more costly than rocks). The kids can’t find their earbuds, or just do not want to go out of their way to look for them, so they take the most convenient pair. Even when people color code them, it does not seem to deter others from taking them.

How and when will this war end? Will the United Nations need get involved and have peace talks? What is the ultimate solution to the iWar? I’m surely no Secretary of State, but I can suggest ordering a bunch of knock offs as extras and having them around the house as neutral options. If that doesn’t work, try patience, understanding that there are certainly worse problems we could have, and realize that though our battle fronts may look different, we are all in this war together.

Try these sights to stock up on some extras:

Officials blame the latest power failure on too many cell phones being recharged at once.

Organizing Children – Raleigh, NC

Dec 20, 2015

Put plainly, my children’s sanity is synonymous to my own sanity. I am sure many parents can relate to this feeling of personal well-being, being so heavily tied to the well-being of your offspring. My youngest son and I recently went through the process of cleaning out and organizing his four inch school binder. What a task. Sitting at our dining room table, papers strewn everywhere, we balled up scraps and threw them across the room in an act of playful productivity. We got rid of unnecessary papers, organized papers that he still needed with new dividers, and went through over 200 paper reinforcements. When he came home the following day from school he was ecstatic, exclaiming how much lighter he felt as a result of having the binder be so organized. On top of that, he said he felt much more productive in school as he was able to easily find everything he needed, and had a specific place to put all of his schoolwork. He was efficient and productive – All the result of his newly implemented system. Now I know this sounds like a cheesy advertisement for binder organizing, but it is not. Rather, this is a story of how such a simple organizing task can bring so much happiness and productivity to my son…and consequently, to me. I equated my son’s decluttering experience to the feeling I get when I clean out the refrigerator. The cleansing of crumpled paper with bent edges and torn holes, old assignments, scraps stuffed into the binder’s pockets, and cracked plastic dividers, similar to ridding the fridge of old condiments, sticky shelves, dead lightbulbs and rotten fruits and veggies. When I clear out the fridge I feel a sense of accomplishment, as well as clarity, knowing how simple prepping and cooking will be as a result. With this, I can empathize with and connect to my son. Though our organizing projects may be different, the resulting feeling is shared.                                



Less Things Equals More Happiness

Aug 05, 2015

I recently saw a quote that said “you can’t organize clutter”—what truth those words hold! Before you can make any organizing progress, you must get rid of the excess trash, and nonessential clutter. In the work that I do, it is apparent that people’s attachments to things are so extreme, it can often get in the way of living a healthy and productive life. When it comes down to it, however, things are just things, and they are not the source of our greatest pleasures in life. According to research done at Cornell University, spending money on experiences, as opposed to things, creates more happiness in one’s life. So, as the popular children’s movie, “Frozen”, has told us time and time again, “let it go!” Say goodbye to the old t-shirt from high school that has all the holes in it; say goodbye to the happy meal figurines; say goodbye to the stacks of paper you swear are essential, but that you haven’t looked at in a year. As you say goodbye to these material items, take this little remaining sliver of summer vacation and time home with the kids to declutter the house and make way for an organized fall season. Use this time to make memories with the family. Because in the long run, it will be the memories that you cherish, not the McDonalds Happy Meal.

Less Things Equals More Happiness


Summer Sanity – Stay Organized

Jun 20, 2015

It is finally summer time, and we all know what that means. Besides the excruciating heat and having the kids out of school, it means it is time for those long awaited summer vacations! And what do summer vacations typically mean, besides visiting in-laws, spending too much money, and lengthy road trips with the family?  It means spending time away from work and spending time away from the demands of daily life. While some of the appeal of vacation time is that one does not have to follow any rigorous schedule, when the majority of one’s time is spent following a certain routine, disconnecting from that can often become overwhelming and cause a sense of disorganization.

Thus, it is imperative to recognize that organization is more than a tangible practice or goal — it is also a state of mind. This summer you can stay mentally organized by following a few simple Sane Jane steps:

  1. Use a checklist. Put everything you need to buy, fish out of the attic, or pack on the list and check items off as you go — that way nothing is forgotten.
  2. Use a planner! Whether it’s an app on your phone or an actual book, organizing your schedule to see what is going on before, during, and after your vacation, can help you keep peace of mind.
  3. Commit to getting everything necessary done before vacation so that your plate at work/home/socially/etc. is clear and you can be worry free. After all, nothing is worse than being on your phone or in a separate space mentally, while on vacation.
  4. Schedule activities, but also schedule free-time. Make sure your days include some structured fun that keeps everyone occupied and out of your hair, but also leave time for creative exploration or just plain relaxation. The structured time will ward against that typically inevitable “Mom, I’m so bored”, while the unstructured time will give you a chance to say “go play with your friends, mom is drinking a glass of wine.”
  5. Plan a night out – nothing eases the mind more than a romantic night out with a significant other. If you don’t have anyone currently in the picture try going out with your girls…you never know what you might find 😉
  6. Enjoy. Before you know it, you will be back at work, the kids will be back at school, and everyone will be back to their usual routine. This is a time for worry free fun and bonding. Organize ahead of time so you can live in, and enjoy, the moment.



Sane Jane Summertime Blog

Summertime Sanity –


Forming New Habits…Or Kicking Old Ones

Mar 22, 2015


Picture this: You’re making a trip to the supermarket, kids in tow, cell phone ringing, a lot on your mind. Though you had great intentions, in the midst of the craziness, you forgot your reusable shopping bags in the car. It’s just this one time though, and will never happen again. False. You are probably in the habit of using the store’s plastic bags and thus commonly forget your reusable ones…it will happen again, but it does not have to.

Habits. Everyone has them. Whether you bite your nails, stress eat, leaving your towel on the floor after you shower, I am sure there is a behavior you would like to change or get rid of…so why don’t you? Most likely it is because you do not know how, you think your habits are impossible to break, or you think they will take too long to break. That’s where you’re wrong. According to recent research it takes around 21 days to form a new, or break an old, habit. Of course, not everyone is alike, and it might take some people a bit more time, and others less time. Still, 21 days is no time – that’s three weeks, less time than the time in between your monthly cell phone payments, and I know that doesn’t seem long at all.

Breaking habits can be easier and less time consuming than you think. If I forget to bring my reusable bags to the store, I “punish” myself by either going back out to the car to get them, or limiting what I buy so that I can carry my items out in my arms without using any bags or the cart. In three week’s time it will be a habit for me to bring my reusable bags into the store. Heck, I’ll be bringing them into places where I don’t even need them! Though this is just one example, this concept can truly apply to anything. Whatever bad habit you want to kick, or good habit you want to form, do not be hesitant to start. After all, 21 days is no time at all to change your life.

Getting in Shape…for School

Aug 02, 2012


Summer, Summer, Summertime

Jul 02, 2012

          While the main things on most of our minds are Fourth of July plans, trips to the beach, barbeques, and the best way to enjoy summer with our family and friends, the last thing on our minds is going back to school. And why should we be thinking about school? It’s barely a week into July. However, it’s never too early to start thinking about getting organized for the upcoming school year. By taking small steps to get organized throughout the summer, the transition from summer to school mode can be a lot smoother.

For families like mine, who have one child that attends a modified year round school and another that is on a traditional school year it can be tricky.  We struggle to balance having one child in school while another is still enjoying their summer vacation. Not only is this difficult for the child who has to wake up early for school while their sibling is in the middle of their summer, but it can be stressful for parents as well. Parents can ease this stress by doing small things before it’s too late. For example, contact your school to see if the school supply lists have been released. This allows you to avoid the chaos that stores become the week before school starts when everyone who has waited until the last minute to buy their supplies frantically rush to buy supplies. Additionally, you avoid the risk of getting to a store to find out there are no more #2 pencils! Rainy days are another perfect opportunity to get things done; take an hour out of the day and sort through the previous years supplies to see if they can be re-used or sort through old papers and school-projects-keeping only the best of the best.

            There are also ways to be kind to the environment while getting organized for school. In addition to traditional recycling methods, there are some alternative steps you can take to re-use school supplies from the previous year. Although kids love to have brand new folders and binders, often times we throw away perfectly good school supplies for the tradition of fresh purchases. If you have folders or binders that are still in good condition think about taking these steps to remain environmentally friendly while making your kids happy about new school supplies:

  • Have a “school supply trade”: Get together with kids in the neighborhood, friends, or other classmates and have the kids swap their old folders for fun new ones
  • For plain folders, purchase decorating supplies and have an arts and crafts day where your kids can decorate their old folders and binders. 


By no means am I implying that the beginning of July means it is time to trade the pool floaties for backpacks and go into all-out school mode. There is still plenty of time to enjoy backyard barbeques, sleeping in late and lounging by the pool all day. However, keep in mind that the school year is approaching and planning ahead is the best way to avoid the stress that accompanies going back to school.