I have mentioned on the podcast many times before that there is one blog that I read every single day... it is Andrea Dekker's. There is so much great material on her blog andreadekker.com.
Andrea has four children under the age of six and she explains how she manages all their very different requirements, and her own, with a simple "be prepared" mantra. She also shares with us some great advice on selling your unwanted items on Craigslist, something she does often with success.
Both Andrea and I started out with very different blogs. For me, I remember I was going to be this "guru" to help when your kids had food allergies and other things. But then I realized that dealing with that and dealing with everything my kids needed me to do was just too much! That is when in 2012, I launched Organize365.com. Though for Andrea, it was a little different.
Andrea explains on the podcast that she just fell into doing what she does. After finishing college, starting work, and getting married, she realized she hated her job. Her father gave her some great advice when he told her to find out what she enjoyed doing and figure out a way to get paid for doing it. In doing that, she would be successful even if she didn't make a lot of money.
So, a job she really disliked ended up being the springboard to starting her own organizing business, which was essentially her dream job. This was back in 2006. She didn't even have internet in her own house. But eventually she began to write her own blog, and she took some work as a virtual assistant.
One of many things I love about Andrea's blog is her level of consistency. She would post every day at 8am and, just like reading a newspaper, I would sit down to read her blog every morning. I even copied this routine when I started blogging. My posts went up at 8am because Andrea's posts did!
Andrea is good at routine. She takes the normal, everyday tasks and makes them more efficient and functional. She explains during the episode that she doesn't have creative, cool things to share. She just focuses on functionality and frugal solutions.
I was delighted that Andrea was willing to share a couple tips for my Organize 365 listeners. And I can certainly relate to the first tip about constantly evaluating what works and what doesn't work. Take the kids' toys for example... if the toys no longer fit in their space, then something has to go. Don't continue to just accumulate without purging as you go along.
I am a self-confessed consumer, but the kids' toys change as they get older. I find that spreading them out into different rooms, or making them responsible for their own toys in their own space, makes it less overwhelming for you to clean them up again afterwards.
Making the house work for you and your children is key. Since Andrea has four young children, the more she can get them to do for themselves, the more freedom that gives her. For example, making their snow gear readily accessible to them if they want to go outside. When she realized that her 2 year old couldn't reach his stuff, she quickly moved things around so he could get to them himself.
She makes simple, everyday craft supplies available for them, and steps by each sink so they can wash their hands by themselves. She makes her house work for her. It’s almost like a preschool room... the kids can help themselves.
I remember when my children were born, I kept the socks upstairs because that's where you keep socks, right? But we always put socks and shoes on in the family room. So when I moved the socks downstairs, it was like the heavens opened and the angels started singing because I didn't have to go searching for socks anymore. Make your house function for you and your family. It works until it doesn't work. And then when it doesn't work, change it.
The thing about purging and reorganizing is that you end up with a bunch of stuff that I tell you to load in the car, take to Goodwill, drop it all off, and move on. This is where Andrea gives us some great advice as she is so good at selling on Craigslist.
On her website, she has some great articles on this topic where she goes into great detail about how to write the advertisement and what things are most important when selling via Craigslist. Click here to see her "Craigslist 101" posts. And she even has one on how she sold her house on Craigslist – click here to see it. She really is that good at this!
Her best piece of advice is to be honest with yourself. Is it worth your time to take pictures, post the ad, respond to emails, and to sell the item? If not – donate it! If you are going to sell, make sure you take high-quality pictures and list the measurements. The more information you can give, the fewer emails you will get with questions about your item.
Also with pricing, Andrea gives a great tip... Take a look at similar items in your area and price your item a little bit less. Even at just a couple dollars less, people will subconsciously be drawn to your item.
This is where I am so different from Andrea. I have literally given things away that are worth hundreds of dollars just to have them out of the house. In fact, I did that with my daughter's guinea pigs. I gave them away and paid my daughter one hundred dollars before she changed her mind. I'm just not good at selling things. ;) No guilt here if you too are in the survival phase of life and just want the clutter gone!
Having been fully through the accumulation stage (20s and 30s), I am working my way through survival (40-55). I am so pleased do direct those of you struggling with young children and mountains of toys over to Andrea's blog to see how she is thriving during the accumulation years with 4 children under 6.
It was so much fun talking to Andrea and listening to her tips for getting organized. If you want to check out her articles for yourself, you can find her at andreadekker.com or take a look at the links below:
If you want to see the crazy antics I am up to, follow me on Instagram and watch my daily Instagram Stories to see a peek into my life.