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home organizing tips

I've always been an aspirational organizer. I love watching spaces transform from drab to fab in mere minutes. But when it comes to me actually organizing, I struggle. Aside from finding the time, I never know exactly what to do, or where to start. When I heard that Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin—the master organizers behind the home organization company The Home Edit—brought their skills to Netflix with a new series titled Get Organized with The Home Edit, I was beyond excited. Finally, I can watch organization hacks over and over again.

While I'm thrilled to watch them conquer clutter with their unique interior styling, practicality and humor, I'm reminded of how their book, The Home Edit, also helped me contain chaos while navigating kids, travel and work.

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I still haven't mastered organization, but I've come a long way. I'm creating labels and even categorizing shoes by color—trust me, the organization Gods are smiling. My top decluttering rule? Set up a system that works for you so you can easily maintain it.

Here's what else I've learned from The Home Edit that helps my family stay organized:


1. ROYGBIV whenever possible.

If it makes sense, line items up according to the rainbow. Many times, this is part of a functional system, but sometimes it's just pure fun.

2. Think in odd numbers.

Three baskets on a shelf look a lot better than four. If you need to fill the space, center the baskets and spread them out evenly.

3. Stack when necessary.

If you can stack, stack. But think about the visual weight and distribution beforehand. You don't want things to look lopsided or top heavy.

4. How to organize baby items:

  • Baby appliances should be moved to the bottom shelf for easy access.
  • Coordinating appliance supplies and small items, like pacifiers and bottle parts, should be organized into adjacent stackable drawers.

5. Corralling art supplies:

  • All messy art supplies should be isolated into their own bins—they don't play well with others, and therefore get no other bin roommates.
  • Craft supplies can be separated into two groups: "better in a canister" and "better in a drawer." There's no right or wrong answer, but if you have different storage options, it's best to use everything available. Canisters can be utilized for larger groups and smaller pieces can be placed in drawers.

6. A sporting goods hack:

Utility racks normally reserved for mops and brooms work great for storing baseball bats.

7. Wellness items:

  • The first step for every wellness cabinet is to determine what wellness means to you. Are the contents part of your daily routine, or an infrequent attempt at making matcha? You don't need to give up valuable real estate to something that's only occasionally used.
  • Sort workout equipment by partner, so everyone has their own sets in labeled bins.

8. Junk drawers are okay:

So what if a drawer holds random items? As long as everything is contained and categorized, and makes sense in your daily routine, it's all that matters.

9. How to organize your fridge:

Transfer as much packaging as possible and opt for reusable containers. Eggs can go in stackable organizers, milk and juice go into glass pitchers, and cut fruit should go into glass food storage containers.

10. Having trouble deciding what to toss or keep? Here are a few things you think you need, but really don't:

  • Pumpkin puree and cans of condensed milk that will expire before next thanksgiving.
  • Souvenir cups from theme parks.
  • Items that have missing parts. You're more than likely not going to repair the item, so just get a new one.
  • Vases that arrived with floral deliveries.

Ready to start organizing? The point is to work at your own pace and create a system that works for your family. And yes, mama—leave the guilt behind when it comes to owning things. It's okay to have stuff as long as you remember that every item has a place.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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