5 Things I did to make Packing for a Family Vacation Easier

5 Things I did to make Packing for a Family Vacation Easier

I always look forward to family vacations. As much as it is stressful and packing for four people is extremely hard, I love the feeling of having that family bonding and just being away from the everyday hustle of life. I think it is the only time that I actually get a time out from doing house chores. I love that feeling that once in a while I could sit early in the morning and only think about  going out.

But before we head off to the fun part there is always the preparation part that bugs me for months. A lot of times I work before my vacation and there is this dreadful feeling of packing and not bringing enough things when we leave the house. Since I have packed so many times, I learned a few tricks that made things easier for me this time.

1. Make a list

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I know this is old school but many times we take for granted sitting down and just writing everything to remind ourselves and free our minds of worries. I love to write everything but there are times that I wrote so many things that I get disorganized and I don’t know where to find things that  I previously wrote. So, this time I got a really nice notebook that is just a right size. The very first thing I do is I write my main to do list in no particular order and just add on things as  I remember it. Then, I break it down to different categories with details, like what outfits to wear, the activities and things to bring.

2. Pack Ahead

Yes, this is very important. I remember I had so many vacations that I did not sleep the night before because I am still packing frantically. Although this is still a struggle for me, I actually start packing days before our trip. I don’t think rushing on the last minute packing for four people is a very good idea.

3. Use Luggage organizers

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I became a big fan of organizers when I had kids. Their stuff are too small that you can easily misplace it and even worse you tried packing everything perfectly and end up in a mess as soon as you get to your destination. So, to save me from tears and stress I use luggage organizer cubes and put my kids outfits on separate cubes with labels in it if I cannot see what is inside. I usually use the mesh materials so it is easier to find things. When we get to our hotel, I just take it out and load it in the drawers.

4. Make space for Mommy Stuff

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This is just me having a “me” space in the luggage. I think I am more efficient when I can find my things right away. It just saves me so much time when I can get ready for the day without fussing on where I put my clothes or night creams without unpacking everybody’s things. What I did is set one side of the luggage for my clothes and essentials instead of splitting it into two different locations. As I have said I just want a quiet  morning and be ready for the day when I am in vacation.

5. Be Flexible

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I know there are times that no matter how hard I plan our outfits and things to bring there are just moments that everything does not fit in the luggage. It is a struggle because I am obsess about being prepared, I always have this fear inside of me that I am not ready enough. But this time, I embrace that worry and just decided to be flexible. I declared to myself that I am not bringing 5 large bags with 2 kids and a stroller. I just accepted that not having too much is enough. If everything fails there is always laundry. If I forget something, there is always a store to buy it if I really need to.

It sounds crazy that I am packing for everyone but for me I am more at peace when I am prepared. But this does not mean that I will do this forever, one of my dreams as a parent is to teach my kids to be independent and my wish is someday when they are old enough I hope they can pack on their own. Or at least be able to choose their clothes and what they need to bring. Although it’s amazing how my older son participated on choosing his outfits and helped me put things together. I think that is a good start. With all this, I still think that we should not forget what is important and that is family vacation is a time to be together and have fun.

 

5 Things I love about My Planner

5 Things I love about My Planner

I have always been a big planner fan. Although I would have to say I never truly use it. I would fill out a few pages and that is the end of it. Probably because they are too cute and you do look like a more organize person when you have one (ha!). But now that I think about it most of the planners that I choose, does not really match what I am looking for. There are times that I stare on this piece of paper not having enough space to squeeze my schedule or I just end up using another notebook to spell out my day or my projects. In the end, I just let it go. I end up relying on an empty paper, spilling my thoughts and rewriting my calendar.

Then, here comes motherhood. It’s amazing what a mom needs to accomplish in a day. I see myself as a mom trap in a routine of house work, kids time, family time and appointments. The list could go on, but I think you get what I mean. It is so overwhelming that sometimes I wonder where do I squeeze my time for myself.

But I think what makes a mom a super woman is she understands that there is a power behind time management and setting priorities. Every mom seems to give that impression that anything can be done, of course with hardwork and lots of patience. For the past 3 years that I have been a mom, my planner has been my partner. I am grateful that I have found the right one for me. Here are the 5 things that I love about my planner.

 

 

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The Monthly Calendar

This is a basic feature of every planner. Although I put my appointments in my phone so I could coordinate better with my husband. I use my monthly calendar more for house work that I need to keep up with. I have been breaking my chores into small task and this part of my planner helps me keep track of what I have done. This is also a good place to right things that you want to accomplish every month, whether to make a birthday album or plan the next vacation.

 

Weekly Planner and Goal setting

Aside from being able to fully see my busy week, the time blocking feature allows me to plan my time for every item I have on my to do list. Being able to see how much time I have for my appointments or family time, allows me to set time not only for the rest of my I-need-to-finish-list but also it gives me a clear picture to see where I can have some me time. The goal setting page that allows you to write your top tasks for the week gives you focus on what has to be done first.

Journal

Being able to breathe and reflect seems to be impossible when being a mom means an endless run towards the finish line with two kids hanging on my waist. But being able to sit every night and have a space to write my struggles and memories gives me a more positive outlook about my life. It allows me to step back and see what is more important amidst all the challenges that I have to go through everyday.

Project Planner

Yes. A page that goes down into details whether you are planning to organize a part of the house or a birthday party for the third time this year. Having everything in one place allows you to see what needs a follow up by setting your due date and even a space for budgeting to keep an eye on your expenses.

Habit Tracker

On this page I focus on two things that I need the most, sleep and exercise. Being able to cross out how many times I slept early or went to the gym encourages me to do more and keep up with it. It is a constant reminder that it is possible to improve and be healthier in the process.

I know that we have our own ways of getting things done whether it could be with a planner or without it, but let’s not forget that it is possible not to drown from all our life challenges. If life gets overwhelming, let’s do something about it. A simple planner can be a baby step that you need to keep things in order. As I have said before, there are far more important things in life than our to do list. If we can manage things little by little, maybe we can finally sit down and appreciate more what we have in our lives. Be a little more organize, be a little more happier everyday.

 

PS. If you like this planner and you want to get more advise on being a mom with a passion visit this website: http://www.brilliantbusinessmoms.com

 

 

 

Organizing my extra Party supplies

Having a party brings a lot of memories to me. It reminded me that life should be celebrated no matter what. It could be a simple dinner or a really expensive gathering if budget permits. But no matter what, it takes love and dedication to make things fall into place. I always remember that laughter and sometimes tears while we share stories and life experiences that helped us connect with each other. Although there will be times that a party is not as perfect as you expected it to be, it taught me that being together with family and people who are special to you is the most important thing in the end.

After all the preparation, the decorations and food. Cleaning up is one of the hardest thing to do. Who wants to clean up, right? Definitely, do not hesitate to ask for help. I am always obsess with utensils and most of the time I end misplacing it and buying more for the next party only to find out that I have tons of utensils and paper plates hiding somewhere. So this time I decided to make space for it in our kitchen cabinet. Here’s what I did and hope it will inspire you to do the same. It truly saves you a lot of time and money for your next event.

 

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Label it!

Label it!

How to organize? Declutter. Decide what to keep, donate, throw away. Choose the right place or storage. Then what? Sometimes, we are too busy putting away things that we actually forget where it is or what is in that box. This happened to me so many times that I end up going back to my clutter as I focus on putting away things and not really knowing the purpose of my space or storage boxes.

Labeling made it easier. Saves me time finding things and it is a constant reminder that everything has a home. Knowing the purpose of my space encourages me to keep up with my organizing and of course, clean up is faster especially when half the time I am chasing my 2-year-old around the room.

Here are my favorite labels in action.

  1. Although I bought this Label Maker even before I had kids, I never really used it until now. It is very handy in the kitchen and it saves me from writing on my son’s lunch box or water bottle that he brings in school. You can even get it wet several times. It has different styles and fonts too.

 

2. Chalk labels are both functional and stylish. Use a chalk marker to save yourself from the mess and whatever your handwriting looks like, it’s  still amazing with this style.

 

3. Metal Bin labels became my friend as I use storage bins more. It gives a more classic feel.

 

4. This self-adhesive Whiteboard Label is my favorite for large plastic bins in our home supply cabinet. You can easily rewrite your label if needed and it creates a cleaner look.

 

How about you what is your favorite label style?

How I organized my desk

How I organized my desk

My desk is probably the busiest place in the house maybe sometimes in the world. Everything happens in this small space, from phones being charged, laptop/tablet being used to mails that need attention. Although there are other places I can put my own workstation ( I call it that way because I do so much on it) other than our kitchen/dining area, this is the place that I spend most of my time to get things done and be able to multitask.

For the most part, my desk had been functional until the growing needs of our family left me overwhelmed and there are times that I found myself staring in space as I try to figure out how to finish my long to-do list. I love to write everything down as I have mentioned before, that is one of the reasons I have a physical planner and a mobile one, I also have multiple notebooks that keeps piling up as I go through different planning and events (I love my notebooks). In addition to that, we have mails and all kinds of paperwork that needs to be filed, which ends up adding to the pile on my desk or hidden in my storage box. Sometimes I don’t even want to open my storage box just so I can avoid dealing with the mess I created.

With that in mind, I decided it is time for a change. I need a desk that is more accommodating to what I really need to do and keep my mind at peace to the chaos I am experiencing inside my head. It is exhausting both physically and emotionally. My desk is not really big but there is enough space to hold a hanging file holder which solves my problem of procrastinating over a pile of papers and mails, and a clear file box for my planners and notebooks. Here are the new additions to my desk and if ever you like this style, everything is from Target. I have to keep everything within a budget of course.

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How about you? How do you organize your desk? Don’t hesitate to share in the comment section below. Thanks in advance.

 

3 Steps to Creating a Play area when Space is Limited

3 Steps to Creating a Play area when Space is Limited

Every child should have a space to play and express themselves. Whether it is a large room dedicated for play or a small sitting area. For our case it is our multitasking Living room where Movie night, welcoming a guest and play happens. With all these activities happening in one small room, our living room end up being cramped and filled with plastic containers for organizing toys. It is a scene where my son will be looking for a certain toy and we end up opening all the containers just to find what he is looking for. But there is a time in your life where you say let’s do change and make life easier. I did just that.

I wanted an area where my son can freely choose what he wants to do and let his imagination fly. I want him to learn independent play where he learns to entertain himself and practice walking the world, well atleast for my 2 year old “the Legoland”. Since I decided to dedicate 30 to 45 minutes a day just to sit down with my son with no phone, TV and laptop (yes! it’s hard)having a place that allows him to take the lead is essential . As for my 4 month old, I am starting to be more present and not giving him only half of my attention.

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Now, let’s get to it, here are my 3 steps to creating a play area when space is limited

Step 1: Declutter

I think this is the hardest step because you have to decide what you have to throw away, donate or keep. Kids have alot of toys, I know I am not alone on this. Just thinking of going through everything is a nightmare. But take that step, tie up your hair, get comfy, be brave and dive in. After everything is placed on their designated boxes, I went through the toys we want to keep one more time and see which one my 2 year old plays the most then store the rest in another room or the garage. Don’t forget to label everything. This will also make rotation of toys easy and not buying new ones all the time. I also have a drawer in the garage where I put new toys, we don’t open everything at the same time. The word “surprise” seems to bring so much joy to him when we have to open a new toy or simply reunite with a singing caterpillar that we have not seen for a long time.

Step 2: Categorize

By putting things that are the same, organizing will be easier. So I put Legos, books, musical instruments and toy cars together. It gives a clean look and finding things will be easier that way. I am a big fan of wooden toys, they are fun to play with and at the same time very attractive when used as a decor.

Step 3: Use what you have before buying new stuff

Since I want things to be more accessible to my kids and have clean up time faster. I decided to get a cubby and wire baskets for more visibility. But the rest are from home. I reuse our wooden crate and just labeled it for his lego. I placed his oversized cars and bridges in the wire baskets, which makes putting it away easier.

For his musical instruments and art boards, I use our dish/baking tray organizer. Really, it was just lying around not serving it’s purpose, now it has a new job. You can buy a wooden one if your budget allows. Now, my son could just grab what he wants to use at the moment and just return it when he is done.

For the rest of his toys, I reuse our plastic containers but everything is categorized and labeled.

When you play area is ready, take a picture and enjoy it. It does not last long as the exploring begins, but the good thing is you have a play area where your child can grow and learn. Clean up will be a breeze (not all the time), since you have a place for everything. I always keep in mind that everything has a home, it is a reminder that you have to put things back. Another rule we follow is the one toy at a time so the mess will not build up. In the end., the most important thing is you and your child learning together and about each other. How fun it is to have a place to bloom as a child and also as a parent with alot to share. No matter what look you choose as long as there is joy, kindness and love everything else is just a plus.

PS. If you need help creating or organizing your kids playroom feel free to snap a picture and contact me. We will work together on making things better for you and your child with no charge just patience and an open mind. Hope to hear from you soon.

Our dining room story

Our dining room story

 

Once upon a time our dining room is not really my priority. I believe that whatever we have I should make it work and just go on with life. Until two princes came and that totally change my vision on how I want to live, well not only in our dining room but the whole of me. But let me start with this favorite room of mine. The room that taught me to be more organize and focus on what is more important in life.

Before and After

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Allow me to say that I am no interior decorating expert, so I am very thankful when I was able to work with Angela from Purple wall.com (unfortunately, the site is no longer available but you can still reach Angela www.AsDesignedInteriors.com). But I am proud to say that organizing is my favorite thing to do, just hard to keep up when you are drowning with responsibilities. This is one of the reason I asked for change, I want a room that is both functional and beautiful. Here’s why I fell in love with my dining room.

The command center.

Believe me when I say I love to write everything from my to do list, grocery list, how my day goes,to what we spend. My mini command center allowed me to view my list and schedules easily. Also, my cubby is within reach to organize everything whether my mails or my son’s art work. No activity will be forgotten or keys misplaced.

A place for creativity and play

This is the busiest place in the house as it is connected to our kitchen. I realize that I can’t keep running back and fourth to the living room while cooking (no, I am not a good cook) or while cleaning the kitchen. I wanted a place where that kids can play or color while I concentrate on following a step on a recipe. Truly, the new dining set was a great help it serves as our coloring table and Lego area. With the bench and long table, our dining room became more spacious and at the same time created alot of opportunities for me and my son to do things. It is easy to clean too.

A place to sit together and create memories

One of my favorite thing to do is to sit on the bench with my son. It allows us to be closer in a way that we can give each other endless hugs. Now that I am older I want to share to my kids one of the most precious memory that I have as a kid and that is eating together with the family. No matter how hard your day is when we talk about it everything seems to be better.

Truly, change is one of the hardest thing to do. Either too much work or just impossible. But with enough motivation and help there is no such thing as impossible. Whatever you have on your checklist or wishlist you can do it, love it, embrace it.