One year ago today, I signed up to be a coach for Team Beachbody: “Just for the discount” because “I don’t do sales”. Plus, I certainly “don’t want to be annoying” or lose my credibility with friends.Read More
What ever can go wrong, will go wrong, right?
Yeah, well, it's been a while since I've posted.
This house has been one surprise (and expense...!!!) after another. Mold, plumbing, electrical, septic, leaking skylights, frozen pipes, and on top of it all--husband has been in training 18 hours away for the past 4 weeks (coming home on Saturday!!). I've never missed that man as much as I do right now!!
But the amazing thing about mindset is, you can choose how to face the challenges that you are in front of you. You can choose and practice a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. This concept is mostly applied in education: helping students, teachers, and educational leaders develop resiliency and grit within the crisis of our current educational system. It is incredibly helpful in any situation though.
When you have a growth mindset, all of a sudden, possibilities are endless--seemingly impossible situations become opportunities.
When I pick my head up from the exhaustion, I have so much to be thankful for and so much work to do. I need to make money for my family, to make this house a comfortable home--and I have the ability to do it--and thanks to these challenges, I also have the drive. Although I feel like a single mom right now, I have an amazing husband who provides for us--financially and most importantly, emotionally. And when this house seems like a burden, all I have to do is look out the window at the land, the wildlife, and remember that we have a roof over our heads and warmth and full bellies.
My challenge to you is to apply the growth mindset to something you are struggling with right now. How can shifting your perspective change your life?
It's Thanksgiving week and I thought it would be fun to round up 4 'healthy-ish' recipes for the celebration. Please let me know if you try one!
1. Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad from Creme de la Crumb. This salad is sooo good and it makes a great presentation too! "Doesn’t everybody know that these “leaves” are really just a vehicle for getting loads of really delicious flavor combinations into your mouth?" So true, Tiffany, so true.
2. Skinny Pumpkin Dip from Yummy Healthy Easy. This looks so good, I accidentally pinned it twice! I'm glad it's only 117 calories per serving because when you eat it by the spoonful, you're bound to have more than one serving...!!
3. Clean Eating Pecan Pie from Feeling Great in 8. This dessert is paleo and gluten-free/refined sugar-free, so have a slice (or two!) without guilt. 266 calories per slice.
4. Healthy Cranberry Sauce from Wellness Mama. Cranberry Sauce is my favorite. I haven't bought canned sauce in probably 7 years, since I discovered how easy (and tasty!) it is to make at home. And this recipe uses fruit juices instead of sugar to sweeten it. #win
What is your favorite healthy-ish dish for the holidays? And what do you have to splurge on??
So we are 12 days out. Every day there is some task that needs to be taken care of, whether it's for the mortgage company (secure homeowner's insurance, submit tax documents, sign away your first born--jokes on them, I have twins ;)) or for our current house (packing and cleaning and scrubbing and making sure it passes military standards..) or for our new house (we bought the appliances last week!! Squee!!). We are so ready to move.
One of the things I'm most excited about is that we will have a staircase.
Isn't that silly? Haha, I've been on a staircase pinning spree so one day that picture above can look like this:
Ashley might like this:
And because we'll be in the house in time for the holidays, this:
Oh the possibilities!! I absolutely love our new home. It has so much potential and we will really be able to make it our own with some updates and paint. BUT WE NEED TO GET IN THERE FIRST!!! GAH!
Who or what are some of your favorite sources of Designspiration? Favorite pinners?
- The grand finale is upon us!
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. Tania over at The Gunny Sack shares 3 savory seasonings to use on roasted pumpkin seeds. Are you a sweet or savory person?? Besides tasting great, pumpkin seeds are
- This is mine and Ashley's favorite weather for walks. It's been so crisp and beautiful outside! (And I loooove my Brooks!!!)
- Anthropologie Enmore Embroidered Duvet. I just want to jump into this cozy bed, snuggle in, and have a nespresso. And I just might--it's on sale!
Twenty days left on Laurel street. The packing/purging has slowed down some. I've been trying to motivate myself to study for my upcoming AFAA certification, but I've been binge watching Storage Wars on Hulu instead. And before that it was Pawn Stars..then Flipping Out..oh my, I need help..! I also decided to be productive in other ways, by figuring out our holiday shopping strategy.
Most years, we set a budget, blow it, and end up with a plastic avalanche in February of cheap, broken toy parts. But not this year. Things will be tight with the purchase of our house, so we need to be creative and purposeful with our shopping. And here's how we plan to do it:
1. Make a list! I love the Amazon Wishlist for the kids. You can add the Amazon button to your browser so you can save items from other websites, not just products sold on Amazon. This is a one-stop-shop to help you look at all your gift ideas, price match, and read reviews instead of falling into the impulse buying trap (guilty..) when you go to the stores to shop. They also have this great gift finder tool to help you come up with ideas!
2. Sign up for eBates. SERIOUSLY. Do it. Whenever I shop online, I go through eBates. Basically, you set up an account (you and I will both earn cash if you use this link), search for an online store (Target, Kohl's, Nordstrom...almost every store is in their database!) and you earn cash back via paypal or check when you make a purchase on that website. Many times, they also have coupon codes or deals also. I've earned more than $100 so far from eBates--I'm kicking myself for not using it more consistently!
3. Buy used. Depending on how old the kids are, they probably won't even notice. For instance, my kids want the iPod Touch (they are 8). I don't trust them with a small, $150+ electronic quite yet. They just aren't quite responsible yet. Plus, that's a lot of money for one gift x2! So I've been looking at craigslist and eBay for used, older models for a fraction of the cost. Slap a cool case on them and the kids will never know! Plus, buying used is better for the environment.
4. Price match. Most stores will price match their competitors. Don't be too shy to ask! Many will even price match Amazon or other reputable online marketplaces, so do a quick search on your phone before you buy.
5. Consider non-toy gifts for kids. We are going to put together cookie-kits for the kids and get to baking right after we open presents on Christmas. That gift of quality time will be much more memorable to them than a random remote control car or a Barbie doll, especially when it's done in the moment. You can even make a tradition of it! We are also getting them fun things for their new rooms (perhaps a lava lamp and this Creatov Gun and Target Alarm Clock for example.)
6. Coupons, coupons, coupons. Back in my stay-at-home-mom era, I was a coupon queen. Time to dust off the ol' scissors and get back in the habit! Toys R Us, Target, and many other retailers offer coupons like $10 off a $75 toy purchase around this time of year, which can be combined with manufacturer coupons (found online or in the Sunday paper) and price match discounts as well. So once you have your list and you know what you want to purchase, buying most of your gifts in one spot can give you the most bang for your buck. So keep your eyes open for coupons!
7. Shop local. Sometimes you can't find the best price at local shops vs. big box retailers, but it's usually comparable and you are strengthening the economic base of your community by doing so. You are supporting the future growth of your community when you buy local and that affects your home values and the quality of your town. And local items make very appreciated and unique gifts for out of town relatives and friends.
8. Spending money is NOT saving money. Don't get sucked in by deep discounts if the item is not on your list. Sure, $5 for a $20 item is a great deal, but not if you weren't planning on spending that $5 in the first place!
9. Mark your calendar. These are the best dates for saving money this season:
10. Don't wait until the last minute. When you're rushing around feeling desperate and stressed, you are likely to over spend and impulse buy. Frustration will mount as you wait in long lines with other grumpy last minute shoppers. It really takes away from the fun of the season! So after you've made your list, and checked it twice, start hunting down the deals!
What are some of your shopping survival strategies for this season? And I'm curious what's on your wishlist??
- Nespresso Evoluo Deluxe with Aerocinno Plus. I. Love. This. Machine. I traded in my Keurig 2.0 for this baby and haven't looked back. I look forward to the amazing frothy crema every morning! The Evoluo is a single cup machine that makes both espresso and coffee drinks that rival the best artisan coffee shop in the neighborhood. I have it in the Titan Grey (pictured), but it also comes in black. Make sure to bundle it with the Aerocinno so you can impress your guests with amazing lattes and cappuccinos! (ps, it's on sale!)
- Ipswich in the Fall. My new town <3
- Gorgeous DIY Fall Wreath from Tidbits & Twine. Kim has done a lovely job giving step by step instructions (with pictures!). Wreaths like these easily cost $50+ retail! I can't wait to try out her tutorial!
- Urban Decay Naked Basics. I have the Naked 1-3 palettes also, but the Basics is my go-to, especially for fall. It's neutral, matte colors are soft and not chalky like other matte shadows I've used in the past.
- Hunter Original Short Gloss Boot. My navy Hunter Wellingtons get so much use--I love them! I think they need a red, glossy little sister to keep them company ;)
It's exciting when you learn something new and can't wait to start applying it. That's how I felt at a recent professional development workshop led by Jessica Minahan entitled "Behaviorland: Educational Best Practices for Students with Mental Health Disabilities, Anxiety, and Disruptive Behavior" (her books and info are linked below). Although this workshop was geared towards educators, I believe all parents would benefit from learning the practical solutions she offered, even if your child is typically functioning. Parenting doesn't come with a handbook and many of our children's behaviors are difficult to manage and understand, particularly if they have other things going on like anxiety. Here are some perspectives and advice when dealing with difficult behavior.
View behavior as communication.
What skill is he or she missing that is causing this behavior? What need is he or she trying to get met? What is your child trying to communicate by behaving in this way? What is the function of that behavior? Minahan says to look at behavior from a 'she can't vs. she won't'. Another way to say this is that it isn't lack of will but lack of skill (from Stuart Ablon's Collaborative Problem Solving Approach)... For instance, if your child is throwing herself on the floor screaming when you told her to take a bath, perhaps she is communicating that she can't cope with the transition from playing in her room with her toys (a preferred activity) to taking a bath (a non-preferred activity). So the goal would be to teach her how to deal with transitions instead of punishing her for non-compliance or misbehavior--which just escalates the frustration level in the home! If your child throws a fit when you ask him to clean his room, instead responding to his 'defiance', seek to understand his perspective: perhaps he doesn't know where or how to begin and is feeling overwhelmed (initiating a task). By examining the function of your child's behavior, you are essentially translating his behavior and helping him develop more desirable strategies to cope with situations that are stressful for him or her.
The only behavior you can control is your own.
(AKA don't be a spaz if you want calm children)
You are 50% of the interaction. You can't control your child's behavior, but you can help shape it. You shape it by stepping into and understanding their world for a minute. Minahan used the example we all can relate to: losing your cell phone. Say you're in class, you reach down to check your phone and it isn't there. As your anxiety rises, your ability to focus goes out the window. You can't 'pay attention' or 'do your work;' you are mentally searching for your phone. You lose perspective of the situation as your emotions take over. Someone saying 'calm down' or 'it'll turn up' will probably make things worse. It's not because you aren't smart or lack self-regulation or because you don't want to focus in class. When a child's anxiety rises, or anyone's really, her ability to function rationally goes down. And it isn't a matter of wanting to misbehave, act out, or shut down. Keeping this in mind and staying in control of your own emotions, you can de-escalate the situation. Only when your child is calm can you work on strategies to help her deal with future situations; Minahan recommends against attempting to process the event with your child in the moment.
Predictability is comforting.
Negative attention is more predictable than positive attention. Every, single, time. If your child screams, you will pay attention. If he hurts himself or someone else, you will pay attention. If he's being annoying or making annoying noises..guess what? You will pay attention. And chances are, you will pay attention fast and respond dramatically! But if he's quietly playing in his room? Or he brushed his teeth for a whole 2 minutes without argument? He may, eventually, get a "nice job, Billy!" All kids want..need..attention. And negative attention is easier, quicker, and more predictable, which helps explain why anxiety comes out in some less obvious ways and can be disguised as defiance. So what do you do?
Let me start with what you don't do-- don't ignore unwanted behavior. The behavior will probably escalate until you have no choice but acknowledge the child. This can lead to bigger problems by accidentally reinforcing the extreme or even dangerous behavior.
What you do do is make positive attention and praise as clear and predictable as possible. Tell your child that you will check on his progress in 5 minutes. Set a timer and follow through. Make it a habit to reflect on positive things that happened that day every evening, or schedule quality time with your child in the morning before school. Minahan says to "make positive attention compete better [than negative attention]". The key is to be predictable and consistent. You child needs to know when you will be giving him your attention.
(AKA talking your child into cleaning his or her bedroom)
When you tell your child to clean his or her room, what happens? Groans, arguments, avoidance? First of all, make sure they know exactly what is expected of them: what does a clean room look like? And how do I even start? It may seem like common sense to us, but it may be something super simple that is preventing your child from beginning a task. Minahan suggests three tips that help children start tasks: previewing, giving choices, and helping them get started. She says taping a picture of the clean room to the wall helps your child match what's in the picture. It's a visual aid that your child can refer back to and it clearly shows what is expected from her. Then, make sure the task is broken down into clear, manageable parts. Perhaps tell your child to let you know once she cleared all of the dirty laundry off of the floor. Then ask her to collect the stuffed animals in the bin, and so on. You can also give your child choices: "do you want to gather the laundry off the floor or collect your stuffed animals first?" If she is still struggling, help her get started and then walk away, letting her know specifically when you'll check back in (you want to help without creating dependence.)
Transitioning from one activity to another.
(AKA how to get your child to leave a friend's house without initiating World War III)
Transitions can be difficult, particularly when your are going from a fun (preferred) activity to a not-so-fun (nonpreferred) activity. Minahan offers some great tips to help with these situations. Many of us parents use the count-down method: "We will be leaving in 5 minutes!....3 more minutes until it's time to leave!...All right guys, let's go!" If it works, great! If not, teaching them to find a 'stopping point' can make all the difference. For example, "Find a stopping point in your game, we are leaving in 5 minutes!...Make sure you've locked up the chest, 3 minutes left!...All right guys hit save and let's go!" Doing this teaches them how to find natural stopping points and to prepare mentally for the transition.
But what if this nice warning still causes a breakdown when it's time to go? Graduated transitions might be helpful. What this means is to build in extra steps between the preferred and nonpreferred activity. If your child does not want to go home from her friend's house, what can you do to make the trip home more desirable? Tell her that she can pick the music when you guys get in the car, or she can play with her favorite toy for 10 minutes when you get home. Be creative! This extra step builds 'behavioral momentum' and eases the transition.
Tips on giving demands.
(AKA how to trick your kids into listening to you)
Minahan points out that we are all oppositional when we hear the word 'no'. There are many ways to increase compliance simply by changing our approach and vocabulary. Here are a few of her suggestions:
- Use a neutral tone
- Avoid answering yes/no questions (they are a set up!!) Teach your child to ask "when can I...?" instead of "Can I...?" ("When can I have some candy??" vs "Can I have some candy?")
- Give choices
- Use declarative language. "I notice that your friend would like a turn with that toy" vs "Give Billy a turn now".
- Be indirect.
- Deliver and move. Don't get into a 'back and forth' with your child...deliver your message and leave the room
- Give extended time to comply. Minahan suggests that we don't give kids enough time to comply with our requests--we expect instant action. Give them some time and space to see if they step up to the task on their own!
- Give the rationale before the demand. "I'm worried that I might hurt myself if I trip over that toy..can you please pick it up?" vs "Please pick up that toy; I might hurt myself if I trip over it."
Of course, this a brief overview of Jessica's training that I attended and ways I can see it being super helpful in the home. You can learn more about her approach by checking out her books (linked below) and website, which has a calendar of her upcoming speaking engagements. I'm very interested to hear if any of you have read her books or put her techniques into practice! Let me know in the comments below!
- Madewell Transport Tote. I have been eye-balling this tote ever since I first spotted it on Caroline's blog, Un-fancy (ps, she has a great duplicate!) I love the mix of black and natural leather, and it's large enough for my 'mom needs'.
- Gap Open-Front Mesh Cardigan. This looks so cozy, but still light. Perfect for the fall weather! I'm a huge fan of long cya cardigans. And...it's on sale!
- Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes. I found this recipe from the Little Spice Jar blog. Apple cider donuts are a fall favorite here in New England. Mariza's step-by-step instructions complete with lovely pictures inspire me to give it a try!
- Madewell & Saucony DXN Trainer Sneakers in Flannel Grey. These are so versatile! Perfect for the 'athleisure' lifestyle; these trainers go straight from the gym to the mall..however, I wouldn't risk dirtying them up by running outside!
- Alex and Ani 'Providence' Pull Chain Lotus Necklace. I'm a huge fan of pull chain necklaces. I love being able to change the length for different looks. And this delicate lotus necklace by Alex and Ani is a perfect pairing for the heavier fall fabrics (alliteration win!)
I'm changing the tone a little today. When there is a big life change, such as our upcoming move, lot's of feelings get rustled up. I began thinking about everything and everyone in my life that got me to where I am today. I also started thinking about the things I've had to let go of along the way. With three years of therapy and a dozen graduate level psychology classes under my belt, I wanted to share some of what I've learned along the way about the process, or art, of letting go.
We form dysfunctional attachments to people, things, and ideas out of fear. Fear of what's on the other side: loneliness, emptiness, loss, inadequacy, failure, poverty... In order to really let go and be free, you must face your fears and live in the discomfort of whatever it is that you are hiding from. Some things are easier to let go of then others. Start slow and let go little by little. As you become braver, create more distance between yourself and your unhealthy attachments. Here are 7 things to let go of and steps you can take right now:
1. Perfection. Let's face it, there's no such thing. Perfection is an unattainable, false ideal which sets us up for failure..every single time. One of my favorite quotes reads: You can be the ripest, juiciest peach, and there will always be someone who doesn't like peaches. You are enough, as is. Go back and read that last sentence again. And again. Love yourself, nurture yourself, allow yourself to grow and change towards enlightenment. Flaws and failures make you beautiful and strong. Let go of what ever image you are trying to live up to and just be you. Try this: Look for an opportunity to fail at something this week. John Maxwell says in his book Failing Forward that if you aren't failing multiple times each and every day, you aren't living to your full potential. It could be something as simple as leaving the house with no make up on and interacting with as many people as you can (failing at looking your 'best'). Was it hard? I'm sure. But did you die? ;)
2. Expectations. Much of our distress comes from when our expectations are violated. Sure, some expectations are good: expecting others to treat you well and expecting a lot of yourself. But expectations that look for validation from others and joy from external sources is pretty heavy baggage, for yourself and the people around you. Does it really matter that your husband forgot that you love peonies and got you roses for your birthday instead? When you feel like others around you are constantly letting you down, it's time to do some soul searching. Are you surrounding yourself with people who legitimately bring you down? Or are your expectations of others and situations unrealistic or unreasonable? Try this: Next time you are disappointed, thank the person or situation without sarcasm or frustration. Practice gratitude for even the smallest, seemingly meaningless gestures or lessons.
3. The past. Sure, "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it"--but those who live in the past aren't really living. Identify what the experience or time period taught you, what was beautiful about it, and then let it go and give yourself closure. Focus on how you can enrich your life in the present. Just like you are enough, now is enough too. What skills or interests would you like to develop? What kind of future do you want to create for yourself? Try this: Make a bucket list of things you want to experience in life. Share this list with friends, family, social media. And begin crossing items off. :)
4. Anger. When you hold onto anger, you are the one that suffers the most. Let yourself feel it. Write down your thoughts, cry, scream, talk it out with a trusted friend or therapist. And then release it. It isn't worth it. Try this: Replace resentment with compassion. "Hurt people hurt people." Forgiveness doesn't mean condoning the source of anger or reconciliation. It's a deliberate decision not to let it control you anymore and to allow yourself to heal.
5. Control. This is a tough one for a lot of individuals, particularly women--particularly moms. So much depends on us and 'if you want it done right, you gotta do it yourself'. But what if...you were to check out for a bit? What would happen? Would the world keep turning? Letting go of control is surrendering and letting things get taken care of by others. It's surrendering the idea that we actually have control over the people and events around us in the first place! It's trusting that you will be okay if things don't go your way or get done the way you'd like them to. Try this: Chose one responsibility right now that you can delegate or share with someone: a spouse, a child, a coworker. Don't give detailed instructions, allow the person to do it his or her own way. And experience the discomfort, walk through it, and chances are..you'll survive :)
6. Stuff. A friend of mine told me that she admired her grandparents: they were simple people with not much stuff. She said that they would rather do things than have things. What breeds a richer life experience: being surrounded by stuff or a lifetime of memories?? Instead of buying that cute white t-shirt, put the money you would have spent on it in a travel fund or a bucket list account! (I mean, you have 3 at home in your closet anyways..!!) Try this: Keep items that bring you joy, and discard everything else. Mari Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is an amazing guide. You can read how I incorporated her concepts into our move here.
7. If only's. If only I were wealthy... If only I were skinny... If only I went to college/married a doctor/took that job/had another baby/didn't take that first hit... "If only's" are anchors weighing you down, keeping you from living your life. You are where you are and who you are today. Accept it and move on. Try this: Focus exclusively on things within your power to change. And you can't change something, you can change how you think of it.
Of course, this list is just a brief introduction to the art of letting go. It really is a life long process that requires guidance, introspection, bravery, and an open heart. And it is by no means all inclusive. So tell me, what is holding you back from living up to your full potential? What has been the hardest thing for you to let go of?
35 days left on Laurel Street. We've lived here for five years and this home has been good to us, but it's time for a change. Being a Coast Guard family, that's the longest we've lived in one place. Hopefully, this new (to us) home will allow us to grow some roots.
Since we made the decision to move, I've been restlessly purging, packing, and pinning. So far, I think the total is 3 garbage bags full of trash, one trip to the consignment store, 3 vans to the donation shop, and 6 ads on ebay/craigslist. I've been reading everything I can get my hands on about organization, design, renovations, etc..as our new house isn't that much larger and needs many updates. Naturally, I picked up the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Mari Kondo. I think this book is particularly useful before a life changing event--such as a move or a marriage. For those who haven't read it or heard of it (I know there are some of you out there!), the basic concept is only keeping what brings you true joy, and letting go of everything else. How wonderful would it be to start the next chapter of our lives surrounded only by items that spark joy, instead of stuff and clutter that wear us down?? Everything around us has energy..it's either uplifting or draining..and we get to choose what we want to surround ourselves with.
Normally, when the military would pay move us, I would purge and let go of things after we arrive at our destination as we unpack. But moving ourselves is a different kind of experience. I get to handle each and every item we own before set off. Since reading Kondo's book, I've been taking great care doing so. I've let go of so many things that I've held onto for years, out of guilt or fear, because I know that the piece is no longer doing it's job and it's time to let it go. There were some things that were hard to release, but what I realized was that I was holding onto an idea and an expectation or a memory rather than the beauty of the item itself. For instance, my collection of over 120 Baby-Sitter's Club books: I've been holding onto these since I was a child with the idea of passing them on to my future daughter. When deciding whether to keep these books or to let them go, I asked myself, "do I plan to have any more children? (no) Even if I were, am I sure I'd have a girl? (no) And even if I did, would she be interested in these books--would they bring her as much joy as they had brought me? (maybe?? Probably not.) DO THEY STILL BRING ME JOY? (no. In fact, it's sad to see them sitting in a box, year after year, waiting to be used...)". Of course, I don't have this type of monologue with each item I handle, just the ones that are harder to let go of. Kondo recommends saving mementos for last because they are the hardest--build up some momentum before you tackle those. There were definite tears as I went through the boys' artwork from preschool and kindergarten!
And now, let me share 8 tips while they are fresh in my mind!
1. Start with the easiest to sort through. This is one of Kondo's rules and I completely agree. What's the category of stuff in your home that has the least amount of emotional attachment? Kondo starts off with clothes, but I know that some of us do have an emotional attachment to our clothes (...), so you might want to start with pots and pans, food storage containers, paperwork...it doesn't really matter, just choose a category to go through...and do it! Then move on to the next! I've posted a list of category ideas down below!
2. Sort items into 4 categories: Keep, Trash, Donate, or Sell. For those items you want to sell, list the item right away! Take pictures and put it on eBay or craigslist that day. If it sits for more than a couple days, put it in the back of your vehicle to donate. You don't want it to hang around the house as another project you'll have to get to..
3. Be ruthless with your purging. Is this something you love? Is it still useful to you? Why are you holding on to it? Is it something replaceable or you could find the information electronically (owner's guides, recipes, etc..)? Just let it go so you can start fresh in your new place.
4. Only sort through your own stuff, or the items used by the family that you make the main decisions about. If your partner's the main cook in the house, make sure he or she is present when you start getting rid of stuff. You want this to be a freeing experience, not one that breeds frustration and resentment.
5. Get the kids involved in the process! Set goals with them. Look up kid's bedroom designs on pinterest and let them daydream about what they want their new bedroom(s) to look like. Chances are, the pictures are neat and tidy! When you go to tackle their room, again, start with one category. When we dumped the lego bin, I asked one of my boys to go through and find all of the lego people to put in a separate container and my other son to pull out all of the non-lego items that got mixed in. They had clear and specific instructions!
6. Take breaks. This is especially important when working with the kiddos. Once I noticed my boys fidgeting around or off task, it was time for a snack! Always give them positive feedback ("You guys worked so hard! You earned a 10 minute break!") Let them know that you will continue sorting without them.
7. Use the power of visualization for the things hard to let go of. What do you want your space to look like? What feeling do you want to have in your new space? Do you want it to be energizing, relaxing, peaceful, inspiring? Does this item fit into that vision? You can use visualization for kids, too. Ask them what they want to do in their rooms: have space for crafts, a reading nook, space to build legos or have friends over to play? Look at those pinterest room ideas again. I also liked using the 'pick just your favorite' technique with my boys ("which of these 4 nerf guns is your absolute favorite?" and remind them that in this new space, we only want to have our most favorite things around us--nothing broken or just 'okay')
8. Start packing early. You can find cheap or free boxes on craigslist (we hit the jackpot and found a guy giving away his entire household's worth of moving boxes and packing papers from his recent move!), just check regularly and you're bound to find something. Set up a packing station in the house. We designated our computer room/third bedroom as the place to start stacking boxes. As I sorted, I packed away my 'keep' items that I could live without for the next month or so. Don't wait until the last minute!
I'm curious: Do you find it easier to sort and discard before the move or after? What tips do you have that made your decluttering/discarding more manageable? And how do you include your kids in the process?