My first step at decluttering my son’s toys

A few ways I started to declutter all the toys in our houseIt’s a new year, and if you are on social media, it’s hard to miss that resolutions are in full swing. In my feed, everyone is decluttering. There are so many tips and tricks out there that I am having trouble decluttering the decluttering process!

However, I decided to take some of this advice to heart. ZJ’s toys were taking over our living space to a point where we were all a bit unhappy. I definitely had enough.

I would like to think we have an average number of toys — more than some and less than others. My two-year old was still a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of play choices, and they were poorly organized.

How I started to declutter my son's toys!

Help! I am surrounded!

In addition, we were constantly picking up after him. He does understand how to clean, but we can’t expect him to if there is no clear place where to stow his toys.

Since he is still young, we decided it was a good time to clean out the toys.

Here is what I did:

1. We have a toy storage bench in the living room. It works great but we let the toys flow out and take over the living room. I chose his favorite toys and found a place in the bins. Once the bins were full, that was it (for the most part).

Decluttering toddler toys Decluttering toys!

2. I put the leftover toys in a large plastic tub, and brought it to the basement. We also have a few toys in his room. He gets to enjoy them when we are downstairs or upstairs. Every few weeks, we’ll rotate the toys.

3. We put away the toys he has outgrown, or will soon outgrown, or that I simply didn’t like. This includes very loud electronic toys. These are marked to either be used again if we have another child or to be donated or given away.

This isn’t rocket science and this idea is not new. But in the few days since we did this, I can already see results.

ZJ can more easily focus on his toys. I can see a difference in his play and he has a new interest in toys that he hasn’t touched in a long time.

He is even happier and plays better on his own.

We are all happier that our living room is less cluttered.

Everyone has a different philosophy toward children and toys in the house. I’ve seen minimalism work quite well and I’ve seen families work with toys in every corner of the house. We didn’t go gung-ho with this process and kept a lot. We will regularly assess when a toy needs to leave circulation.

But we will keep out only what we have room for.

This one small step is showing us how curating the toys — even just a little — is working for us. And I got part of my living room back!

I found some good tips in these articles:

From one of my favorite bloggers, Janet Lansbury: Play Space Inspiration

Tame the toys: 5 great ways to manage the messes

Kitchen hack: Clean your blender faster!

Clean your blender faster! #momhack

I love using my blender but sometimes the thought of cleaning it afterwards stops me in my tracks. No, it’s not that difficult to clean, but it does take a little extra effort.

And sometimes that extra effort needs to go toward a spirited toddler who is resisting his bath!

Recently I experimented with a green smoothie recipe and I was inspired to hack my blender cleaning. Why not let your blender clean itself?

After whipping up salad dressing or a smoothie, quickly rinse out your blender. Then add warm water and dishwashing soap to your blender.

Turn your blender on again, and voila! Perfectly clean. I can’t believe I never thought of this before.

(Caution: You will have suds on your counter if you fill your blender too high with water and soap. I speak from experience.)


6 surprising ways to clean crayon off your walls

6 surprising walls to clean crayon off walls

My toddler son is starting to figure out that he can make a permanent artistic addition to our house. He has already colored blue scribbles on a white pillow sham and on our arm chair. No walls yet but I imagine that’s next.

It made me think: What’s most effective in cleaning up crayon markings?

I remember my mother scrubbing our walls furiously when my younger siblings would color on them. There’s gotta be a better way, right?

I did some digging and found some simple and surprising solutions to cleaning crayons off your walls.

1. Cucumber: Keep the peel on and just rub the outside of the cucumber on your wall. Seems crazy, right? I haven’t tried this yet but I will.

2. WD-40: Rumor has it that it will also clean crayons and markers off of furniture and appliances too.

3. Toothpaste: Make sure you use the regular paste. I don’t think the Spongebob Squarepants gel will work very well! (I’d also caution you to test this out somewhere first so you don’t ruin your walls or wallpaper.)

4. Mayonnaise: Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping off.

5. Goo Gone: Some mothers swear by this!

6. Blow dryer and dish soap: Heat up the crayon markings first with a hair dryer and then clean your walls with soap.

Of course, there are more common ways of removing crayon markings. The Magic Eraser sponge has supernatural properties and so do pencil erasers.

Our hope is that we took adequate preventative measures: Our living room walls are a darker blue, which we hope deters our budding artist!

Here are some more resources:

3 Ways To Get Crayon Stains Off Walls
21 Crayon Busters: How To Remove Scribbles From Walls
How to Get Crayon Off the Wall: 7 Speedy Solutions

Power drill cleaning: That’s what I’m talking about!

It's so much fun to clean with a power drill!

Do you ever run across a cleaning project that needs more elbow grease than you can muster? This pretty much describes my life!

We live in a house built in the 1940s. It has wonderful charm but also many of its original fixtures, which attract grime a lot quicker. Or at least it feels that way.

Use your power drill to get a deep clean!Recently I bought a brush attachment for our power drill. It’s a round bristled brush and it attaches to your drill just like a bit. It was relatively inexpensive — only $7 from Amazon.

And boy is this fun! Just turn the drill on and you have a crazy-strong cleaning machine.

I had a spot in my bathroom that I needed to attack. I loaded the drill, and applied the cleaning solution to the spot. I saw progress on grime that I’ve been working on for years!

I should warn you of two things:

  1. Depending on your drill, there can be some kick-back when cleaning. You are dealing with a powerful tool, mind you. You may have to adjust the settings so the brush doesn’t rotate as fast or as forcefully.
  2. Not all surfaces can take this kind of pressure. You should test an area first, or at least be very mindful. I would be ultra careful on surfaces like a bathtub, which may have a more delicate coating.

Even if you don’t need extra power, adding a drill to your cleaning routine makes it a lot more fun!

Clean your shower curtain liner effortlessly. Yes, this hack works!

Easiest way to clean your shower curtain liner

The easiest way to clean your shower curtain liner is to throw it out and buy a new one.

I used to do this all the time. Until I ran across this hack.

Just throw your liner in the washing machine, add detergent and push start. No pre-scrubbing is needed! You will want to add a few small towels to balance the load. After the wash and spin cycle, the liner will look brand new.  Then just re-hang it in your shower to let it air dry.

I was so happy that I didn’t have to scrub, or better yet, replace my liners anymore.

One small step in making bathroom cleaning easier!

Clean your shower curtain liner


Scummy liners no more!


Easiest way to clean your shower curtain liner

Microwave hacks, part 1: sponges and oatmeal cookies

Until recently, I had no idea what power my microwave truly had. I am quickly learning that heating up leftovers is just the tip of the iceberg.

A microwave can clean, soften or re-energize many things. It can also cook entire meals. Apparently I am not letting my microwave reach its full potential!

I am familiar with the anti-microwave movement, which I understand and respect. Frankly, I would love to go microwave free. As a working mom, or anyone with an overscheduled life, it’s just to hard to let go.

Since I am holding on, it’s time to experiment.  I’ve started with two basic hacks:

Microwave Hacks part 1, cleaning a sponge

1. The dirty (and smelly and overused) sponge.

My husband has a favorite brand of sponge, and it’s often difficult to find in stores. This sponge is at the end of it’s life. It’s dirty, smelly, and I had already stopped using it.

While reading a post on Kids Activities Blog, I ran across advice on how to clean a sponge in the microwave. Just nuke the sponge for 2 minutes. Before placing it in the microwave. I soaked it in water and vineagar.

Microwave Hacks part 1, cleaning a sponge


The verdict: After two minutes in the microwave,  not surprisingly, the sponge smelled like vinegar. However, it was clean and sanitized, and I feel comfortable using it again. Score one for the microwave!


Microwave hacks, part 1: Dirty sponges and oatmeal cookies


2. Bake a cookie in a coffee mug.

This growing trend of making baked goods in a microwave fascinates me, and I wanted to try an oatmeal cookie. I found a relatively easy one on Greatist:  “31 Healthy and Portable High-Protein Snacks.”

One evening, I mixed the ingredients together:

1/4 cup of oats
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp flour of choice
1 egg white
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp raisins

I poured the mixture into a ceramic coffee mug and put it the microwave for 45 seconds.
Microwave hacks, part 1: disenfecting sponges and oatmeal cookies

The verdict: It looked good, and the rise was nice. However, the taste was lacking.  It’s healthy but rather bland. It could be the recipe itself and it may be worth trying again with different ingredients. However, the cookie rates “high” on the fun-to-make scale. I will probably stick to the oven for cookies.

I’ll continue to be on the look-out for good microwave hacks and will report back. In the meantime, check out the following links:

Stay tuned for more hacks!