How Dance Can Benefit Your Child’s Early Development

When the kids were almost three I enrolled them in dance lessons for a myriad of reasons. I’m glad I did as today guest writer, Wendy Dressler, shares the benefits for dance for children.

Children develop at an incredible rate, especially when introduced to stimuli that encourage targeted use of their motor skills and minds. Dance is one of the many extracurricular activities that can assist with early childhood development and perhaps one of the most versatile.

If you’ve been looking for ways to help your child develop and reach their full potential, consider enrolling them in dance classes. Here are a few of the ways dance assists with development.

Social Engagement

While not viewed as a traditional team sport, dance necessitates a combination of both independent development and collaboration. Everything from syncing movements during a choreographed performance to sporting matching accessories for dance from Just for Kix helps your child become an active member of a community of like-minded individuals. The shared effort, passion, and teamwork helps a child develop social skills that will stay with them throughout their lives.

Bring a part of a dance class also teaches social behaviors like respect for authority figures and mutual respect among peers. Dancing helps develop emotional intelligence and the ability to empathize with others.

Physical Wellness

An appreciation for physical health and wellness should be cultivated at an early age, and dance can make that possible. At a base level, dance helps young children develop an awareness of their body and how they fit into the space around them. It assists with developing coordination and balance through the application of gross motor skills, plyometrics, and isometric holds.

As physical fitness is essential for improved cardiovascular health, disease prevention, and the development of muscular strength and endurance, the benefits of starting dance at a young age are immeasurable. This form of art in motion helps counteract the time spent sitting at school or on mobile screens that have become so accessible in recent years. As the disruption caused by blue light becomes more evident, movement and screen-free time is becoming more important for overall health and wellness.

Emotional Intelligence and Expression

Dance is a powerful way to express emotion through movement. Anger, sadness, joy– the whole spectrum of human emotion can be conveyed during the dance. For children, identifying emotions is a learning process. Figuring out how to express them is another task entirely, one that many adults never learn. With dance, children can learn how a certain emotion sounds, feels and looks.

Not only does learning to identify and convey emotions benefit the child as they learn to communicate and interact with the world around them, but it also helps them identify emotions in others. This will help them develop emotional intelligence and empathy.

Learning How to Learn

Dance isn’t always fun and games. Your child will have to learn how to follow directions and focus on the task at hand. This requires listening attentively to their instructor and paying attention to the instructions. In other words, your child will learn how to learn. This valuable skill will carry over to the school and beyond.

Finally, through the process of learning how to learn, your child will learn that perseverance is the key to success. Mistakes will be made, but so will progress. With time and dedication, a seemingly insurmountable task will become routine, and your child’s confidence will blossom.

Dancing benefits both the body and the mind, creating a strong foundation for early childhood development.

About Wendy 
Wendy is a super-connector with Outreachmama who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.

Related Articles

Traveling On A Budget: Family Strategies {Guest Post}

George and I enjoyed traveling together long before we had kids.  We’ve taken road trips on shoestring budgets across the United States and have also traveled abroad.  When the quads were three, we took our first family vacation to the beach.  Since then, we’ve taken a few trips each year.  Seeing the kids explore new places brings us such joy! However, traveling with a family of six can be quite costly.

final-49
20160617_194647

Today, guest blogger, Stephanie, from Military Travel Mama has tips for traveling on a budget with a family.

If you can save more money on trips, you can spend it doing more fun things. It’s difficult to cut costs when you travel, but it’s not impossible. What’s fundamentally necessary is a mindset composed of two parts. The first part should be preventative measures, the second part should be living beneath existing means. Both will be explored here.

Preventative Measures
First, plan your trip out well in advance. How far are you planning to go? If you’ve got a trip that will cost you around $100 in gas one way, and $100 the other, that’s $200 round trip. You’ll probably have at least four trips to the gas station. If you’ve got family, they’ll have to use the restroom, they’ll get hungry, and the young ones will ply you with puppy-dog eyes for candy.

If you get away for $30 in addition to gas for the whole family at four different convenience stores, that’s $320 on the whole trip. Meanwhile, for $20 or $30 spent at the local grocery store beforehand (where you know the specials, have coupons, and have backlogged some discounts) can get you better snacks for the whole trip. Spending $30 to save $120 leaves you sitting $90 better than you would have been otherwise.

You can enjoy the same kind of savings from hotels and restaurants if you are careful to look ahead. Figure out the most cost-effective hotels, and whether booking early will give you a discount. Determine if there are available continental breakfast options, and what sort of entertainment there is.

The kids will love a pool! Look at dining around town, and figure out an ironclad budget beforehand. For less than $500, you can spend a week somewhere comfortably—maybe even longer, if you’ve got relatives with whom you get along.

Living Beneath Existing Means
Your next tactic will be living beneath existing means. Beyond buying things in advance, you, your spouse, and your children should exercise an attitude which doesn’t expend available resources simply because they are there. Money won’t burn a hole in your pocket; you can keep it there for a while!

So maybe you want to have a vacation at some well-known resort, and taking out a loan could get you there. Sure, you’ll be an extra $5k in debt, but at least you had an experience, right? Or, you could book bottom-dollar last-minute flights to exotic locales seldom-traveled, have an off-the-hook adventure, and save thousands of dollars.

Or how about medical tourism? Oftentimes first world countries are encumbered by law and bureaucracy forcing medical institutions into an expensive corner. You might be able to travel somewhere like Taiwan, and save thousands of dollars on a necessary procedure that would have been two or three times as much locally–including travel, dining, and the cost of a hotel.

vw-camper-336606_960_720

See The World Without Breaking The Bank
Vacations are absolutely necessary, even if you don’t go anywhere you’ve never been before. You’ve got to take some time off. Sometimes a staycation is the way to go: you spend next to nothing, and just enjoy your family. Regardless, you don’t have to spend as much money as the jet-setters in your circle of friends to enjoy similar vacations. In fact, you may enjoy them more as you know you’re saving money.

Live beneath your means. Have a preventative mindset, and think outside the box in order to take advantages of opportunities like medical tourism. Tactics like these will expand where you can travel while simultaneously saving you money.

Stop by Military Travel Mama for more travel tips!

hugs,

Amber

P. S. Stay tuned to find out how we managed to fly with four five year olds to the east coast.

#LoveOurLife

 

Before the quads were born, George and I were really into fitness.  We worked with a personal trainer for kickboxing and practiced yoga several times a week.  When I was pregnant with the babies, I was put on strict bed rest but even prior to that my exercising came to a screeching halt.  After the babies made their debut, our priorities obviously changed drastically.  We considered ourselves lucky if we clocked a few hours of sleep and took a shower.  In addition, the pregnancy took a toll on my body.  I had severe diastasis recti, which not only caused me pain, but also restricted my activity levels.  As the babies grew older, we started being better able to care for ourselves.  I found therapeutic exercises to reduce the size of my diastasis and sought chiropractic care to relieve back pain.  I started streaming Yoga Merge from Amazon Prime for exercise a few days per week.  Nonetheless, we were no where near our previous fitness level…until this summer!

Life Time opened near our home and although I didn’t think we could afford it, I asked for a membership quote and an amenities tour.  The price tag wasn’t small, but I was S-O-L-D when I learned about the kid’s enrichment classes.  For less than we paid monthly for any of the kids other extracurricular activities, the six of us could take unlimited classes and enjoy indoor and outdoor pools.  Over the summer, I took the kids swimming several times a week then showered them in posh showers before heading home.  It was so nice I dubbed it our “country club”.   We’ve since developed a habit of going to the gym about three times per week.  While I’m enjoying a yoga class or even time in the spa, the kids have been taking dance, yoga, and other classes in the Kid’s Academy.  Joining the gym has made our family so much healthier!

 

 

Yoga has improved the kids’ balance/ coordination and has helped them learn how to breathe mindfully.  Yoga has so many heath benefits, Cook Children’s Hospital is prescribing it!

 

We don’t go as often as we’d like, but the indoor pool has helped the kids maintain swimming skills in the off season.  In the past, they went to lessons then developed swimming amnesia before summer returned.

 

One of the best perks of the gym is 2.5 hours of childcare per day.  Usually I take a yoga or barre class, BUT it’s also been nice for trips to the salon/ spa (hello, facial!) and kid free time at the pool and café.

img_8882 (1)

On occasion, we’ve taken family Zumba classes with the kids.  I think I worked up more sweat in family Zumba than heated yoga!

Now that the new year has arrived, what healthy habits are you starting or maintaining?

hugs,

 

Amber

 

P. S. Life Time did not solicit a blog post or compensate me for this writing.  I just LOVE Life Time and sharing our fitness story!  However, should you decide to join Life Time (there are locations throughout the United States and Canada) and mention me as a referral, I may earn gift certificates to be used at the salon/ spa (this mama always enjoys that precious time!) Life Time – Amber Shawver referral code

Tried and True Morning Routine

According to Facebook lots of kiddos started school today, but my crew starts in two weeks.  We’re trying to soak up the last bits of summer here, but I’m also gradually preparing the kids to return to our school routine.  Last year when they started kindergarten it was imperative for us to have a solid routine that would help get them to school before the 7:40 am tardy bell.  George leaves for work at 6:30 am so it is my responsibility to make sure everyone is ready and at school on time.   This is a tall order, but we managed with a few tricks.

We start by prepping as much as we can the night before:

  • check the weather then choose clothes and lay them out
  • pack lunches and store in the fridge
  • put folders, books, etc. into backpacks
  • set the table for breakfast

Getting to bed on time is another critical part of the morning routine.  We try very hard for the kids to get at least 10 hours of sleep (see American Academy of Pediatrics Sleep Guidelines.  Sleep is important not only for helping everyone wake up chipper in the morning, but also for optimum learning and behavior throughout the day.  When the kids aren’t in bed on time, they go crazy-hyper-nuts and have a hard time falling asleep.  The next day, they are cranky, short fused and difficult, which I do not want teachers to experience.

As part of our sleep routine, we start dimming lights and shutting curtains shortly after dinner.  We also transition to quieter activities such as coloring, puzzles, or reading.  There is no screen time two hours prior to bedtime because screens stimulate them and discourage sleep.  We wrap up with pajamas, brushing teeth, and then reading a bedtime story before lights are out.  Long summer days put a monkey wrench in our early bedtime routine, but we are working on getting in back in order for school.

Even with a good night’s rest, the girls are slow to rise in the morning, especially when it’s still dark outside.  We started using a sunrise alarm clock“>sunrise alarm clock, which simulates the sunrise in the girls’ room.  A soft light shines thirty minutes before the alarm is set to sound and it gradually brightens.  Pachelbel’s Cannon in D begins to play when it’s time to wake.  This helped tremendously!  I started setting their alarm clock a few weeks back to get them used to waking up early and getting ready.

To foster independence with getting ready (and to free up precious time for myself), we use a simple visual checklist.  It identifies things I expect for the kids to do mostly by themselves.  I make sure everyone is awake and then prompt the kids to “check the list”.  As they complete tasks, they move a color coded magnetic push pin into the box showing it’s done.   If I notice someone is dawdling, I remind them, “check the list”.  As an incentive for kids to get ready quickly, if there is spare time, they can use their Kindle to read or play a game until we leave.


48B7FCD5-0C5C-4E05-B892-CDCD11903A8D

I laminated the checklist and hung it on the side of our refrigerator where the kids can easily reach it.

2FA385E5-E697-4243-94FC-F5B300284EB5

Once everyone is ready, we have the challenge of loading the car and buckling all of the five point harnesses.  At the start of kindergarten, the kids could not fully buckle or unbuckle their seats, which meant extra steps for me.  OYE!  As the year progressed, they began practicing buckling and unbuckling their seats and by the end they could manage them.  Hooray!  If you have a new kindergartener, I highly recommend practicing this handy skill.

Do you have any hacks for getting kids to school on time?

Hugs!

Amber

Must Haves for Back to School

As far as consumable school supplies, I have it relatively easy.  The kids’ school sells classroom supply kits, which I order online and have delivered directly to the classrooms.  The supply packs aren’t overpriced and it saves me the hassle of searching all over town for specific items like red pocket folders with brads.  However, in addition to school supplies, last year we invested in well made personal supplies.  Everything I bought last summer for kindergarten lasted all year and will be used for first grade if not longer.  If you’re on the hunt for school supplies, check out our list:

img_6261

 

  1. Pottery Barn Fairfax Back Pack & Lunch Bag

During a 60% off sale, I snagged each child a Fairfax backpack and lunch bag for about $30, which rivaled even Target’s prices.  Pottery Barn is currently running the same sale with different patterns.  I ordered the kids size small backpacks and they were big enough for  their daily folder, library books, and lunch bags to fit inside.  Anything bigger would’ve been too large for their tiny bodies.  Mid way through the year, I learned that both backpacks and lunch bags are machine washable and they came out of the wash looking new.

2. Ty Clip on Mini Beanie Baby

The kids loved choosing their own mini beanie baby to clip onto their backpacks to personalize them.  These are all the rage in elementary school!  Throughout the year, the kids collected a few more of these little cuties.

3. Easy Lunchboxes, 3 compartment container

While the kids thought it was really cool to buy tray lunches, and it was sure easy, it was also costly for us.  I packed lunches most of the time and found easy lunchboxes were perfect for dividing food, not wasting baggies, and for the kids to quickly/ easily open during their short lunch break.  Silicone baking cups helped further divide the larger compartment, and made everything look festive.

4. Thermos Funtainer water bottle and food jar

It’s H-O-T in Texas most of the year, especially when school starts in August.  I knew our old favorite Contigo water bottles wouldn’t keep water cold so I replaced them with Thermos stainless steel water bottles.  The kids were allowed to keep them in the classroom for hydration and refill from the water fountain, which was great.  They kept ice cold during the school day and were sturdy.  A few times, the kids chewed the silicone straw too much, but I was able to easily replace them.  The kids also liked an occasional hot lunch (e.g. macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, fried rice) in the Thermos food jar.

5. Bentgo Ice Packs

To keep lunches cold, we used Bentgo ice packs, which fit right under the easy lunchboxes.  These were still cool even at dismissal.

6. Mabel’s Labels Mabel’s Labels

Before the kids were born, I ordered each of them a set of skinny labels from Mabel’s labels to keep bottles sorted.  Guess what-  We still have them!  These labels were perfect for labeling water bottles, lunchboxes, containers, etc. as they are waterproof, dishwasher, and microwave safe.  The kids’ school has a massive lost and found, which is often stocked with Thermos water bottles among other items.  If students or parents don’t find their own things, the student council returns labeled items to classrooms at the end of every six weeks (cool service project!!)

 

Happy back to school shopping!

 

Amber

 

I Sent Five Year Olds to Kindergarten

It’s mid-July and as much as I hate to admit it….back to school is just around the corner.  Swimsuits and  beach toys are being marked down while school supplies and uniforms are filling the shelves at Target and Walmart.  For many families it’ll be the first time sending kids off to kindergarten.  Last summer, that was us.  The kids were turning five in July and  were already registered for kindergarten.  I had done my best to prepare them for school, was familiar with research, and had 12 years of experience practicing school psychology in public schools.  They were going to kindergarten.  Yet, I questioned my once certain decision to send the kids to kindergarten at five instead of waiting another year.  Many people assumed with the summer birthday I’d hold the kids back.  I kept hearing friends, neighbors, and acquaintances on the internet saying they kept their summer birthday kids home until they were six.  I didn’t realize that there was such a debate about whether to send kids to kindergarten at five or six years old, but it is apparently a thing.  I began to wonder, “WHO sends a five year old to school?!?!” and started seriously questioning myself, and then worrying and maybe panicking a little.  It wasn’t good, ya’ll.

I worried that no matter how much we prepared, they’d be too little.  After all, they barely made it on the growth charts and still wore toddler sized clothes.  I worried that there wouldn’t be any other kids who were barely five in their class.  Most of all, I worried that they’d struggle and fail at life because I sent them to school at five instead of six.  Again, I thought, “WHO sends a five year old to school?!?!”  Nonetheless, I stood by my instinct and the kids started kindergarten in August.

©FourtoAdore

They were itty bitty kindergarteners. See that red mark on Rylin’s red check? It was a huge mommy kiss.

A year later, I do not regret my decision.  Yes, the kids were small compared to their peers.  Some kids towered over them by at least five or six inches.  There were kids in their class that turned seven, but guess what?!?!  These six and seven year olds didn’t bully my babies or run circles around them academically.  They were simply older peers in the class.  Not such a big deal as I anticipated.  I was also pleasantly surprised at how many other young five kindergarteners were in the kids classes, and how many other petite kids were at school.  It was reassuring knowing mine weren’t the lone five year olds in kindergarten.

In the end, the kids learned how to function in a classroom, the school rules, respect of school staff,  navigate a large building, be independent, make friends, to read and write, count to 100, and so much more.  They finished kindergarten loving school and their teachers.  Of course they had rough patches, tears and failures, but that’s part of life isn’t it?  Kids have to experience the bitter taste of defeat to persevere and to one day become independent adults and good humans.  So, mamas of summer babies who will start kindergarten at five, I know it’s hard, but it will be okay!  You’ll both learn and grow so much this year.  Trust your gut, and have fun buying school supplies and clothes.   If you’re five year old is staying home another year, that’s okay too!  You do you.  🙂

last day of kinder

These four were so sad to say good bye to their beloved kindergarten teachers.  Rylin is really hoping she’s in the first grade class adjacent to her old kindergarten teacher’s room.

 

IMG_7181

I’m most proud of the kids’ behavior at school.  I was concerned about a few of them before they started, but school staff was nothing but complimentary about them.  One day all four kids earned a “blue” meaning their behavior was exceptionally good!

 

hugs,

 

Amber

 

P. S. Stay tuned for a list of our favorite school supplies.

One Massive Challenge

As a mom of quadruplets, I’m accustomed to questions from curious a passersby, friends, and co workers.  I think I’ve heard or  been asked *almost everything.  Many people marvel at the amazing aspects of having quads, “One and done!” and “They always have a friend”.  This is all true!  Parenting quadruplets is wonderful, and we enjoy these perks.  Most people also anticipate the obvious challenges inherent with raising quads: what it was like caring for four infants, diapering four infants, the expenses, etc.  These all challenges we face, but there really is one massive challenge we face: being first time parents to four children at the same time.  There is no learning curve for us, we have to figure everything out for four children simultaneously.  For us, the first time is also our last time.  With each stage, we learn new things, conquering new challenges, and feeling confident in our parenting skills.  But, almost as soon as we figure it out, that stage is gone.  Just. Like. That.

Tomorrow these sweet babies will graduate from kindergarten and this phase too is gone.  I’m oh so proud of these once itty bitty preemies who can now read, write, and count to 100, but it is bittersweet indeed.   Please excuse me while I ugly cry.

Way to go, Rylin, Harper, Sydney, and Mason!

 

©FourtoAdore

 

 

 

 

 

A Quick Konmari How-To

I am obsessed with organization.  Scroll through my Pinterest account and you’ll find hundreds of organization hacks and clever storage ideas.  I’ve been organizing (and reorganizing) my belongings since I was a child.  Over the years, I always went about it in the same way: go area by area (e.g. closet, cabinet, room), take everything out, chuck what you don’t want, then put it back in a more organized way.  It tended to work in the short term, but wasn’t ever really effective.  This was frustrating.

The Konmari method is different from my previous ways of organizing (and any other method I’ve ever seen).   It’s NOT just another decluttering method or quick fix to be completed in a weekend, 30 days, or any set amount of time.  Rather it’s a shift in thinking you develop.  Yes, it takes a lot of time and effort, but I assure you it’s worthwhile once you commit.  It has been life-changing for our family.  Seriously, when I come home from work, it looks like a maid tidied up except we don’t have a maid.  We leave our house regularly by 7:20 am with our things (mostly) in order.  It is a breath of fresh air! If you’re serious about shifting your mindset and want to tackle your home, Konmari style, you’ll get your hands on her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

If you want a preview, or just need a quick tutorial to get you started, keep reading:

  1. Determine what you DO want

Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, Konmari suggests focusing on what “sparks joy”.  In other words, keep what you love!  She places a lot of emphasis on touching items to decide whether they “spark joy” and honing your instinct to choose.  When you really touch and examine your possessions you start viewing then differently.  Only when you know what you do want can you discard (e.g. literally throw away, donate, or gift) unwanted items.

2. Go in order!

Rather than tackling items by location, Konmari is strict about going in order: clothes, books, papers, komono (pretty much anything else, which I sorted into smaller categories such as personal care items, cleaning supplies, kitchen, toys, sporting goods, and outdoor toys/ tools), and sentimental items.  The order seems arbitrary, but it is quite important.  You start with items that are easiest to discern whether they spark joy and finish with the most difficult because you develop the skill.

When you begin a category, it is imperative that you take ALL items of the category and pile them up together, especially if they are stored in several areas.  This allows you to see EVERYTHING in the category.  Yes, it’s daunting, ya’ll.  When you make a massive pile of stuff it is totally overwhelming and you’ll want to bail.  Don’t.  This is part of the process, and only when you go through it this way can you take stock in what you own to decide what you really want.

This was just ONE box of clothes stored under my bed…the actual pile of clothes from my closets, dresser, and under bed was enormous.  I don’t have a picture of it, I think partially because I was getting engrossed in the process, but also partially out of shame.  There were clothes in my house that went to college with me!

IMG_4568

I mean, when you start pulling all of your clothes out…the excess becomes embarrassingly apparent.  We found gems among our things, which were begging to find new homes.

IMG_5396

IMG_5395

I thought “books” as a category seemed trite, until I actually started piling our books together.  We love literacy and reading, especially with the children, but I had no idea we were book hoarders!

“Remember you are not choosing what to discard but rather what to keep.  Keep only those things that bring you joy.” -Marie Kondo

IMG_5635

These books were from the shelf in the playroom.  Children’s books also lined shelves in our upstairs den and each of the kids’ rooms.  In addition to children’s books, we had a personal library of our own adult fiction and non fiction books.  Once I identified our most treasured books, we amassed TWELVE large reusable grocery sized bags stuffed with books, which I donated to our local library.  When I heaved these bags in, the librarian was confused and asked if I was returning materials.  When I explained that I was making a donation, she was awestruck.  What’s even crazier, is that if you toured my house you’d have no idea a single book was gone.  We still have plenty of books to line our shelves and entertain our family.  The difference is that we can easily locate certain books and treasure our stash.

3. Put Everything Away

Once you’ve chosen all the items that bring joy, it’s time to put them away- in their category.  If you start storing things all over your home again, you’ll rebound without a doubt because you’ll never know what you have.  It’s important to store things so you can see them, and they look attractive to you and it’s easy for you to maintain.  Before Konmari, we were infamous for packing closets and cabinets so full that we’d have to empty them to get to items in the back.  We likened it to a game of Tetris.  What a waste of time and energy!  I found the illustrations in Spark Joy extremely helpful for this phase in the process.

Before you put away any clothes, please watch Konmari folding clothes and learn from the master.

http://on.today.com/2xadj6U

I thought I knew how to fold clothes, and when I first watched her folding I thought it seemed 1. impossible 2. ridiculous.  Then I tried it.  After some sloppy work, I mastered her technique and stored my clothes using it.  Afterwards, I marveled at how much space it created, and how easy it was to find things.  When I folded my pajamas according  to this method, I emptied an entire drawer, which now houses things that used to litter my nightstand (e.g. books, sleep mask, and journals).  The beautiful wood of my nightstand now shines in it’s glory, and it gets dusted regularly because it’s not covered in stuff.  If you fail to fully implement the Konmari method, please do yourself a favor and learn how to properly fold and store clothes (even if you *think you know how already).  I promise, you are worth it.

Check out this beauty and it’s contents:

Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have a real “before” picture.  In fact, I’ve gotten pretty new lamps and a new alarm clock since I tackled my night stand.  Please settle for this staged version so you can see how I used to clutter my nightstand.

Fake before:

“If you don’t change your way of thinking, you’ll rebound.” – Marie Kondo

Those of you who are beginning the process of Konmari, good luck- you can do it!

hugs,

Amber

How I Began the Konmari Journey

After Christmas, and before the New Year, I typically start feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Why?!?!? STUFF.   There’s so. much. stuff.  At that point, we still have Christmas décor up and we’ve received lovely gifts.  Although I enjoy Christmas décor and appreciate receiving gifts, it all just becomes too much.  I start feeling weighed down and claustrophobic.

Last year, I went on a purging rampage thanks to a 30-day declutter challenge I was following.   According to this particular challenge we didn’t need much stuff and should get things down to a bare minimum.  I ravaged through the house room by room, as the challenge prescribed, sacking things for Goodwill donations.  We had less stuff, but it wasn’t working for our family.  At one point, the challenge leader suggested having only enough plates for your family, which meant keeping a measly six plates. What if we had company over??!?!  What if I didn’t wash and dry the dishes immediately after each meal?!?!  What if we broke one?!?! It wasn’t long before I realized this was for minimalists, and minimalism wasn’t our style.  Yet, we did have far too much stuff.  That’s when I was introduced the Konmari method, and it was life changing.

I used a free app from our public library (Overdrive) to listen toThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing during my commute to work.  Then I borrowed the companion e-book  Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up to better understand the method visually and get started on our home.

It took us about six or seven months to get the majority of our house done using this method, and we’re still working on the last bits.  In this process, I realized several things about our stuff:

  1. I kept things for “just in case” moments that never came.  You know things such as, “I’ll keep this dress in case I’m invited to a theme party” or “I’ll hang onto this in case I lose five pounds”.
  2. I kept things because someone gave them to me.
  3. Even when we bought replacement items, we kept the old item if it was still usable.
  4. We bought things because they were a “good deal” even if we didn’t need them.
  5. We had so much stuff that we didn’t know what we actually had, and sometimes bought duplicates.
  6. Our things were unnecessarily time consuming.

When I told people we were doing a serious declutter of our home using the Konmari method many were shocked saying things like, “but your house is so organized” or “your things are so tidy already.”  Yes, we kept things looking tidy and for the most part they were organized, but the sheer quantity of things was overwhelming.  I spent ridiculous amounts of time working to keep things in order and keep track of things because there was a lot of it.

Here’s what my closet looked like before Konmari:

IMG_5921

The matching hangers and items sorted by type made it seem tidy, but notice how much is in there.  I couldn’t find things and really didn’t know what all was in my closet either.  In addition to what was in my closet, my drawers were jam packed, and I had under the bed storage boxes loaded with out of season clothing.  I didn’t do a good job of showing what junk was resting on the shelves above my clothes.  It was a mess, ya’ll!

Here’s what my closet looks like now:

IMG_5922

The changes are subtle.  There’s still a lot of clothing in there, but notice the spaces between the hangers.  I no longer have out of season clothes tucked away and I can easily see what I have, which means easy access and no more buying duplicates by mistake.  The bed linens aren’t stuffed under my shirts, they have a new home in a pretty sea grass basket.  As a result, it is more pleasing to the eye when I enter my closet.

Imagine such little changes throughout your entire home, and even life!  Stay tuned and I’ll explain how Konmari is different from other methods of organization I’ve used over the years, and what benefits we’re enjoying.  You can pop over to our Facebook page for a quick video tour of our house on a typical afternoon.

https://www.facebook.com/FourToAdore/?ref=bookmarks

If you relate to any of my sentiments of having too much stuff, you may want to snag (or borrow) a copy of these books.  A few disclaimers for the books: the author, Marie Kondo, is Japanese and therefore her books have been translated from Japanese.  Some things don’t translate perfectly into English.  Also there are differences in Asian culture and Western culture that you’ll notice.  That said, I enjoyed both books and found them very helpful.

 

hugs!

 

Amber

Back to School

When I was growing up, back to school shopping always helped ease the sting of summer’s end.  As I prepared to send my own kids off to school for the first time, back to school shopping helped spark enthusiasm for all of us.  Of course, things are different than when I was a kid.  We did very little traditional shopping and instead went online for almost everything, including school supplies.  In fact, the kids’ school supplies were delivered directly to their school.  It was a cinch!

Shopping for back to school clothes in Texas can be a bit tricky given our weather.  It can still be rather hot until Halloween, but classrooms can be chilly and school dress codes aren’t conducive to summer clothing.  The girls and I had fun perusing the DollBaby Back to School collection at La Bella Flora Children’s Boutique.  Considering a transition to fall, we chose the Back to School Floral Top with Leggings for Girls in Navy. These pieces are ideal for fall weather in Texas.  The 3/4 length sleeves are perfect for a crisp walk to school, but aren’t too warm for the afternoon or during recess.

Both pieces are available in sizes 2T to 10 girls.  I love that the entire Back to School line features the same on trend floral pattern with pops of burgundy and olive.   The pieces within the collection are easy to coordinate for different looks or for multiples who don’t want to be matchy matchy.

img_6313

Whenever I buy new clothes for Sydney, I hold my breath, hoping and praying she will approve of the fabric texture and fit.  She’s extremely sensitive to anything she deems “not right”, which typically means slightly scratchy or too stiff.  Despite having lace embellishments and buttons, the fabric is extremely soft and comfortable, which earned Sydney’s stamp of approval even prior to washing.  Speaking of washing, these outfits are no fuss.  I washed them with the kids’ normal laundry and tumble dried them on medium.  The dark hues did not bleed onto other light colored clothing.  They came out looking exactly the way they did beforehand. There was no fading, pilling, and they were wrinkle free.

The girls were comfortable for a day at the Cowgirl Museum, which included plenty of walking and exploration.  The clothes fit true to size when compared to other high end children’s clothing and boutique brands.  Rylin is wearing a 4T (she’s about 39″ tall and 32 pounds) and Sydney is wearing a 3T (she’s 38″ tall and 26 pounds).  Both girls have some growing room, but the waist band still fit comfortably.

20170910_15343420170910_152624gallery_export_1505701952_1505702029

Does back to school shopping help you bid summer farewell?


Disclaimer: I would like extend a special thanks to La Bella Flora Children’s Boutique for providing product samples for us to try for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was received, and all thoughts/ opinions are 100% my own.  


For more from Four to Adore, connect with us via FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.  We often share pictures, life hacks, activities, recipes, and more via social media.