the shrink ‘rap: issue 6

the shrink ‘rap: issue 6

In this issue:


New Babies

Organizing for Your New Addition

Now here is a subject that truly excites me! My husband and I
recently welcomed our beautiful daughter into this world. Prior
to her arrival, I was on bedrest for five months. As you can
imagine, I had an itch (some call it nesting) to organize
because I really wanted to be prepared, but there is only so
much you can do from the couch! Now that our baby is here and I
am mobile, I have had several weeks to reorganize my house to
accommodate the little one. Although I have over 19 years of
childcare experience, nothing truly prepared me for the changes
that come with parenthood. With a baby in tow, things seem to
take twice as long to get done. Yes, this is true even if you
are an organized person before the baby arrives. At some point
you just have to relinquish a bit of control and enjoy the time
you have with your new baby. How do you make time to ENJOY your
baby when all you seem to do is feed, burp, bathe and change the
little munchkin? Get organized! Organization can make the
transition into parenthood a little easier. Organizing your life
will simplify your responsibilities at home and with the baby so
you have more time to relish every giggle and smile.

To organize for your little one’s arrival:

Make a list of what you need. If you’re a first time
parent, ask your friends to provide a list of must-have items.
You can also find lists of needed items on the Babies ‘R Us
( or parenting

Don’t stress about purchasing items your child will
not need for several months (i.e. a high chair or bicycle), as
these items will just clutter up your home or pile up in your
basement until they are ready to be used.

Create a folder, binder or notebook for the baby to
record medical information (i.e. all doctor appointments,
medications). Doctors often ask things like how long your baby
sleeps, how much he/she eats per feeding and over the course of
a day etc. This is the type of information I record in my
daughter’s notebook. Things change so quickly, and I want to
make sure I provide the doctors with accurate information.

Start an envelope or folder for coupons for baby
products and portrait offers. You will be amazed how many
“great” offers you will receive once your baby gets here.

Cook and freeze several meals before the baby’s due
You will appreciate a good meal during such a crazy
time. Defrosting and reheating is much easier than cooking a
meal from scratch.

Put together a list of friends and family that are
willing to help once the baby arrives. You might not be too
anxious to let someone stay with your child while you run
errands or clean the house, but there is no reason you can’t ask
someone to help you with errands, cooking, and household chores.
Graciously accept whatever help you are offered.

If you are planning any remodeling projects, have them
completed prior to the baby’s arrival or plan to wait several
months before starting them. You do not want your newborn
exposed to any paint fumes, dust or harsh chemicals.

Install fire alarms in every room and a carbon
monoxide detector on every floor. Remember to check each alarm
once a month.

Start baby-proofing your home before the baby arrives.
The day your child rolls over or crawls might come a lot sooner
than you think.

Install the baby’s car seat a few weeks before the baby is
If you have time, have the seat installation checked by
a qualified technician. Call your local fire department or go to
for a list of locations near you.

Purchase a scrapbook or photo album or box. As soon as
you get film developed or digital prints made, put the pictures
in the book, album or box. Doing so will help you keep the
photos organized and in chronological order. This is a great
activity to do while the baby is taking a cat nap.

Purchase thank-you notes and stamps. You will receive
baby gifts from people you never even met, so stock up now. Set
a goal to write five thank-you notes a day instead of attempting
to write them all out at once.

Seasonal clothing items like hats and gloves should be
kept in the room where you put your child in his/her carseat or
stroller. Struggling with an infant to get him/her into an
infant carrier can be a challenge. Minimize the time needed to
complete this task by having all necessary items readily

Keep your diaper bag packed with diapers, a blanket,
diaper wipes, a pacifier, toys, books, a bottle, and an extra
change of clothes. If your bag is always packed you will be
ready at a moment’s notice and will not have to remember to pack
these items over and over again.

Stock up on diapers and diaper wipes. Make sure you
keep some of each in the rooms or locations where you spend a
lot of time. You don’t want to have to run to the baby’s room
each time he/she needs a diaper change. I keep these items in
the family room, the car, the nursery, and the diaper bag.

Keep all gift receipts in a central location. Your
child may outgrow clothes before he/she has a chance to wear
them. It’s nice to have the option to return things you cannot
use and exhange these items for things you need.

Have a few pop-up totes or hampers with handles
available throughout the house. Babies have so much stuff.
Instead of running yourself ragged returning things to other
parts of the house, throw everything in the tote or hamper and
make one trip, dropping items off in the appropriate rooms as
you go.

Use a mesh laundry bag for the baby’s socks. Put the
socks in the mesh bag as soon as you take them off. Then throw
the mesh bag directly into the washing machine. From there,
throw the entire bag into the dryer. No more lost socks. (Note:
It may take the socks a few minutes longer to dry in the

Door or changing table organizers are perfect for
storing small baby items like lotion, diaper wipes, rattles and
small washcloths. Check out colorful options at Pottery Barn
Kids (

Sort baby clothes by size. You can purchase closet tab
dividers for each size (0-3 months, 3-6 months etc.) online at
One Step Ahead (
Search for “Size It Closet Organizer”.

You may implement some of these organizational solutions and
find that you need to revise them frequently to fit the changing
needs of your baby. One thing I have learned rather quickly is
that being a good parent requires flexibility. Organization
allows for flexibility and saves you time. It’s true what
everyone says; children grow so fast, and they’re only little
once. Get organized so you can focus on what really matters.

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Water Cooler Rap

Simple Tips for Daily Living

Quick Tips for Organizing Instruction Manuals and Warranties

When something in your home needs repair, do you know where to find the instruction manual and/or warranty for that item or appliance? Or would you sooner purchase a replacement because you know that the manual or warranty is lost in a heap of paper somewhere?

Organize your instruction manuals and warranties by implementing one of these simple organizational solutions:

First, staple or paper clip the receipt to each instruction manual and warranty. Most warranties are only guaranteed with a proof of purchase. Keep all receipts, instruction manuals and warranties for appliances, electronics, computer equipment and big ticket items (i.e. furniture) for the lifetime of each item.

Then, group your manuals/warranties alphabetically (air conditioner with the A’s, blender with the B’s etc.) or by room (oven, dishwasher with the kitchen, stereo, computer, scanner with the office etc.).

Once you have sorted all paperwork, insert the manual/warranty for each item in a 3-holed plastic sheet protector. Organize the sheet protectors either alphabetically or by room in a large 3-inch binder. Separate each letter or room by using binder tab inserts. Office supply stores sell sets with blank tabs, or you can purchase a set of 26 alphabet tabs.

If the binder idea does not suit you, accordian files also work well. Some accordian files come with 26 pockets, one for each letter of the alphabet. If you organize by room and cannot find an accordian file with blank tabs, use blank adhesive labels to cover up the printed tab headings on the file and write the appropriate tab names using a permanent marker.

Keep your binder or accordian file in a central location. If you decide to organize by room and find it more convenient, you can opt to have one small binder for each room or floor of your home.

Once a year, review your binder or file and pull out the paperwork for any items you no longer own.

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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 can’t seem to keep my table linens organized. I currently have my napkins and tablecloths folded and piled in drawers, but I seem to wrinkle everything whenever I try to pull something out or put something away. My drawers are really shallow. Other than buying a new buffet or china cabinet for more drawer space, what can I do?
– Amy, Iowa

A: Amy,
I suggest hanging your tablecloths on hangers. Cut a paper towel
roll lengthwise and open it up so that it fits over the bottom
part of the hanger. Fold your table linens over the paper towel
roll just as you would a pair of pants. The paper towel roll
will prevent your linens from creasing. Table linens are often
heavy, so you will need durable hangers. Try wood or heavy duty
plastic hangers. If you are short on closet space, you can get a
multi-tiered pants hanger (Go to and search under
Swing-Arm Slack Hanger for an example).

Fold or roll your napkins (rolling will prevent creasing) and
store them in a canvas box with a lid or a fabric lined basket.
Store this basket in your closet near your tablecloths so
everything is together and can easily be retrieved.

If you have placemats, you can store them in boxes or baskets
just as you would napkins, or you can hang multiple placemats
over one hanger.

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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, Decorating, Filing, Home, Kids, Kitchen, Linens, Paper Organizing, Storage