the shrink ‘rap: issue 4

the shrink ‘rap: issue 4

In this issue:


Spring Cleaning

Organizing your home maintenance schedule

Spring is here! It’s that time…time to open the windows and breathe
in the fresh air. It’s also time for SPRING CLEANING! If you’re lucky,
you have the option of hiring someone to do your spring cleaning for
you. If not, the task falls on your shoulders. Hopefully the decent
weather and sunshine will provide you with enough motivation to forge
ahead and tackle every necessary task. Regardless of your home’s
size, there’s a lot to be done.

Follow these simple tips to make your spring cleaning extravaganza a
bit more manageable:

  • Don’t try to do all of your spring cleaning at once or even in one
    Give yourself a few weeks to get through the entire process.
    Use whatever time you have available to conquer your spring cleaning
    to-do list, even if you only have 15 minutes every now and then.
  • Make a list of all repairs that need to be done to your home’s interior
    and exterior.
    If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person, look at your
    calendar and pick a weekend or day to accomplish each task. Schedule a
    specific block of time to tackle each repair (i.e. Saturday from 9-1pm).

    Purchase all necessary supplies before your target work date. If
    you’re not going to make the repairs yourself, start collecting
    estimates from various contractors for each job.

  • Make one or two trips to a discount store like Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, or
    Costco for your all of your cleaning supplies. Buy in bulk to save
    money and time.
  • Inspect the areas of your home that are frequently neglected – air
    conditioning filters, dryer vents, gutters, and tile grout and caulk.
    Tighten bolts on cabinets, doors and toilets. Run your air conditioner
    BEFORE the weather gets too hot to make sure it works.
  • Stock up on flashlights, candles, batteries and bottled water. Warmer
    weather often brings severe thunderstorms. If your power goes out, you
    want to have the essentials on hand.
  • Clean and organize one room at a time, and finish each room before
    moving on to the next. A task list for each room should include
    dusting, vacuuming, clearing cobwebs, laundering or dusting the curtains
    and/or blinds, polishing the furniture, wiping off switchplates and
    outlets, replacing lightbulbs, wiping down the inside of each cabinet,
    and cleaning appliances. Use a lint roller to dust lampshades.
  • DECLUTTER – Go through each drawer, shelf, closet etc. and get rid of
    anything you don’t use or love.
  • Use time-saving products to minimize your cleaning efforts. A Swiffer
    is a must-have household item!
  • Switch the screens in your storm door and windows.
  • Clean all lawn equipment and grills. Stock up on gas, oil and charcoal
    if needed.
  • Keep your eyes open for bugs. They tend to move inside as the weather
    gets warmer. Stock up on ant killer, RAID, or any other pest control
    spray. Have your home inspected or treated for carpenter ants and
  • Check windows and doors to insure that they are properly insulated.
  • Have upholstered furniture and carpets professionally cleaned if needed.
  • Launder all fall and winter clothing before storing it for the summer.
    Send winter coats, blankets and comforters to the dry cleaners.
  • Clean up any leaves and lawn debris before fertilizing and weeding your
    lawn. Plant some colorful flowers or trees.
  • Always clean from top to bottom so the dirt from the ceiling falls to
    the ground.
  • Create a lost and found box. As you clean and organize each room, stick
    any “mystery” items that you find in a small box. Small toy parts,
    lonely socks and wires are some items that might end up in your lost and
    found box. (Note: lonely socks make great dusting rags.)
  • Schedule a time to have a charity pick up the items you want to donate.
    Or, plan a yard sale.
  • Replace shower liners and use Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser to help eliminate
    some of the soap scum build-up in your tub. I have found that this
    product works great on glass shower doors too.
  • Use baking soda to deodorize carpets, sinks and your garbage disposal.
    Club soda is a great spot remover for carpets, and it’s cheap!
  • Wipe out the track of each window (between the window and the screen)
    and don’t forget to wipe down your doors.
  • Invest in some rubber gloves to keep your hands safe from harsh

Take it one step at a time. Turn on some music and sing at the top of
your lungs. Dance with your mop. Do whatever you can to make spring
cleaning more enjoyable. In the end, you’ll feel a sense of
accomplishment and your home will be ready for summer barbeques and

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Precious Memories

What to Keep and How to Store Precious Memorabilia

We all have things we want to keep – reminders of our first date, art
made by our precious children, heirlooms passed down by our relatives.
But how do we go about storing all of this memorabilia safely?

First, we must ask ourselves why we are keeping what we are keeping. Do
these items genuinely remind us of good times and happy memories? Do we
have a use for each item or at least a way to display it? If all of us
kept everything that we ever had a sentimental attachment to, we would
all be living in complete chaos. It’s impossible to store everything
“sentimental”. So, we must carefully pick and choose the items that mean
the most to us and then give those things a place of honor in our homes
and our hearts.

What we want to avoid is taking a cherished item and stashing it
inappropriately in some dark corner. If you’re storing a quilt your
grandmother made you under a dusty bed, I have to ask you how much you
really value that quilt. Do you even remember that it’s there most of
the time? Is your grandmother’s hard work and memory being honored by
treating her quilt with such disregard?

Find the things in your home that you love and cherish and put them to
use or display them appropriately. Knowing that you don’t probably won’t
have the space (or time, money and energy to clean and maintain every
sentimental item) will help you figure out which items to donate or
sell. Always consider giving family heirlooms to other family members
who may appreciate them. (Please note: This does not mean that you
should offload everything you don’t want on your children. Allow them to
choose the items they’re interested in, and donate the rest to charity.
Your children might not have room for these items either!)

How to store the things that mean the most to you:

  • When storing papers or photographs of any sort, be sure to use
    acid-free, archival safe photo albums, scrapbooks, envelopes or storage
    boxes. Otherwise, the documents will turn yellow and disintegrate.
    Separate pieces of paper with acid-free tissue. Unfold all documents
    before storing. Do not store valuable documents in plastic or cardboard,
    as these materials release gases that destroy paper over time.
  • Store fabric, dolls and stuffed animals in bags or boxes made of
    archival safe materials. Don’t fold clothing unless you have to and make
    sure to leave enough space between each doll or stuffed animal.
  • Use a shadow box with an archival paper backing to display valuable
    items like sports memorabilia, ballet slippers, a special baby outfit,
    photographs, dried flowers etc.
  • Organize your child’s artwork by asking him/her to make a giant collage
    using all of the artwork you have collected over the year. Have your
    child stand in the middle of the collage. Stand on a chair and take a
    picture of your child and the art. Have the picture developed and
    enlarged. Now you have a document of your child’s artistic talents and
    can discard the artwork. Frame a collage from each school year and start
    an art gallery for your child, adding a new picture each year.
  • Have a quilt made out of pieces of fabric from old baby clothing or
    concert t-shirts.
  • Display a quilt by turning it into a wall tapestry.
  • Record a display of your favorite memories/items on a DVD or VHS tape.
    Then you’ll have a permanent reminder of the things that are important
    to you and won’t feel the need to keep everything in your house. I have
    suggested this to many mothers who have difficulty parting with their
    kids’ stuffed animals and toys. After the toys are tossed or donated,
    moms can enjoy more space and children can look at their toys on TV.
  • Read old letters out loud and record them on an audio cassette tape.
  • Repurpose an old suitcase or a stack of large, hard covered books and
    use as end tables.
  • Turn game boards into display shelves for small items by mounting them
    to the wall with L brackets. Attach one of side of the board to the wall
    so the playing side is visible if you’re looking straight ahead. The
    fold of the game board should rest against the wall with the second half
    of the board’s playing side jutting out perpendicular to the wall and
    resting on the brackets.
  • Store photo albums and scrapbooks upright to prevent warmping.
  • Keep paper out of direct sunlight, and store all memorabilia in a
    humidity controlled environment. Avoid storing items in locations with
    extreme temperatures (i.e. an attic).
  • Get an insurance policy for valuable collectibles and keep all receipts
    for each purchase.

If you need archival safe storage containers, check out,,, and

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Water Cooler Rap – Simple Tips for Daily Living

Quick Tips for Dealing with Voicemail

Schedule specific times of the day to check and respond to your
voicemail. Checking your voicemail multiple times per day (i.e. every
time you see the voicemail light blinking) causes you to lose focus and
waste time. Checking voicemail 3-4 times per day will usually suffice
unless you are waiting for a specific message from a client, prospect

When leaving a voicemail message, be concise. State your name, number
and the purpose of your call. Doing so will give the person you are
calling an opportunity to gather the information you require before
returning the call (i.e. the address of the restaurant where you’re
supposed to meet for dinner). Also state when you will be available, so
the person does not call back only to receive your voicemail.

Your outgoing voicemail message should ask callers to state the best
time to return their call. If they do, you’ll know when to call them
back and can avoid playing phone tag.

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Ask the Organizer

We’re excited to include another submission to The ‘Shrink Rap’s “Ask
the Organizer” section. Please continue to submit your questions by
e-mailing them to
Every submitted question related to organizing will be included in a
future issue of The ‘Shrink Rap.

Q: I have lots of baby clothes that I want to save (for future
children). However, I need a creative way to store them. I don’t want to
just put them in a box labeled baby clothes because when I do take them
out for the next child I would like to do so by age/size. Could you
please suggest something for me? I would like it to be something nice
for storing (not a cardboard box) and also easy to take out and then put
away again as needed. Thank you for your help.
– Alisha in FL

A: Alisha,
You’re definitely wise not to store clothing in cardboard boxes, as
cardboard does not provide adequate protection from extreme temperatures
and humidity. Additionally, bugs are attracted to the glue that holds
the boxes together. If you were storing adult clothing, I would
recommend purchasing hanging garment bags, storing the clothes in a
garment bag on a hanging rod, and organizing the clothes by size and
season. However, because children’s clothing is so small, using hanging
garment bags would be a waste of space and money. Instead, I would
suggest clear plastic storage containers (like Rubbermaid or Sterilite)
or airtight space saving bags (
The plastic storage containers are stackable, providing easy access. The space
saving bags can be stored in closets or under beds and obviously help to
conserve space.

After you decide which option will work better for you, sort the
clothing by size to figure out how many containers or bags you will
need. If you have different clothing for boys and girls, create a
separate pile for each (i.e. Boys/3-6 months, Girls/3-6 months). Seeing
how much you have in each size will also help you determine what size
containers or bags you require. Make sure that all clothes are laundered
before putting them in storage, as the human scent attracts rodents and
insects. If clothing is stained or torn, it’s probably best just to get
rid of it. Fold all clothing from each size neatly and store it in its
own container. Using a label maker, computer labels or tape, label each
box to indicate its contents. Store the containers or bags with the
smallest sizes in the most accessible place since you will need those
first when you have your next child.

Note: If you have a cherished piece of clothing, like the baby’s coming
home outfit, and you want to keep it for memorabilia purposes, refer to
the article above for safe storage options.

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Need more help getting organized? Call Cluttershrink® for more information on receiving hands-on assistance organizing your home, office or relocation. Phone consultations, customized seminars, mentoring for new organizers and gift certificates are also available. Call 215.431.0590 or e-mail Crystal Sabalaske at

Posted in Ask the Organizer, Business, Cleaning, Clothing, Home, Kids, Mail, Organizing, Storage, Storage bins, To-Do's