It’s May! Is Your Head Spinning, Too?

Hooooo boy, it’s May!

May seems like the busiest month of the year for us. Until a few years ago, I thought this was only my opinion, until a wise mom whose children are a little older than mine made the same observation to me.

May brings school picnics and field trips, weddings, graduations, concerts and end-of-the-school-year award events.  The school year is wrapping up, but we still have finals!  And as some activities wind down, others are gaining speed!
We have family members gearing up for house sales and moving.  We’re looking at camps and activities, and making summer travel plans with a college reunion, work conference, house guests, and weekends away.

And all this on top of – Oh Right! – the activities of daily living.

So, if you feel like your head is spinning this month, too – and it’s only the first week! – take a few moments today or tomorrow to make some plans, take care of business and set yourself up to have a great and busy May!

Here are a few ways to succeed:

  • Maintain your healthy habits.  When we are the busiest and want to skip our daily exercise,good night’s sleep or healthy eating is just when we need most to keep up!
  • Grab your calendar, pull up a seat and make a plan. Make sure all your events and responsibilities are listed.  Look ahead and take care of scheduling snags now instead of waiting until later!  (For example, 3 cars for 4 drivers and the teenager has job training this Thursday.  Time to get creative, now instead of Thursday!)
  • Pare Down. Review your To-Do list, and move everything that doesn’t absolutely have to be done right now to a different day, week or month .  Make notes for next month, when the schedule loosens up.
  • Review your upcoming events or responsibilities, and note the details and the other follow-up steps!  Jot down place and time of course, but the other steps, too!  For example, we received an invitation to a graduation party out of town and we will be unable to attend.  You and I know our job is not done when we RSVP – there is a card and gift to purchase and mail.  Add those shopping items and errands-to-run to the Master To-Do List so we don’t forget!
  • Run through the wardrobe options with EVERYONE!  Graduation? First Communion?  End of Year Concert?  Make sure NOW that the dress shoes still fit, the suit jacket isn’t stained, the favorite tie is back from the cleaner, etc.
  • Hooray, You Did It!” x 10!  Remember Christmas?  And how you have a few extra hostess gifts stashed, or generic greeting cards and gift cards?  Same idea, stock up on some gender neutral “Hooray, You Did It!” cards, gift cards, and bottles of wine for Just In Case.
  • Be Grateful, too.    In addition to the congratulations cards, grab a handful of Thank You Notes for teachers, car-pool buddies, coaches, etc.
  • Reach Out and Touch Someone.  Go ahead and make your appointments:  hair cuts, carpet cleaning, cholesterol screening, camp physical, summer dentist appointments – the list is endless.  Make the calls this week (before everyone else does), and note the events on your calendar.
  • Enjoy! The whole point of this super busy month is to celebrate all of life’s events!  Celebrate!

Did You Start That Other List Yet? The After-Christmas List?

As I write this, I have tea and cinnamon muffins next to me and Christmas carols on the speaker.  We shopped today, went out to lunch and I even caught a short winter’s nap.

And I started my After-Christmas list.

This is not your “Resolutions List”, this is the “hey, here is a great idea but I won’t have time to act on it until after the Holidays” list.

You see, I have ideas all the time about new ways to do things or make things better, but I don’t always have time to act on those ideas.  And time is an even more scarce and precious commodity during the holiday season, especially this last week before Christmas.

So, as I deck the halls and wrap the gifts and do my daily tasks and work with clients, I also make notes of things I want to do but NOT RIGHT NOW.

For example, current tasks and projects on the After-Christmas List include but are not limited to:

  • Move all my personal emails from my old email address to the new gmail address (I expect this to take a while!!);
  • Unsubscribe from almost every retailer email campaign;
  • Send out my business New Years Cards (don’t have to go out until next week!);
  • Review and cull my reading pile;
  • Reorganize the laundry room, after all the Christmas gifts are out of it!;
  • Wrap the gifts for my side of our extended family (we’re celebrating with them the end of the month); and
  • Teach my teenager how to do his laundry.

All of these ideas are really good ideas.  Important ideas.  Ideas I want to implement.  But NOT THIS WEEK.   This week, there are parties to attend, cookies to bake (and eat), White Christmas waiting for me on the DVR (I’ve never seen it!!!), and more fun, friends and family to appreciate.

So, this week, I challenge you to:

  • Focus on Christmas and your holidays, and not get distracted!;
  • Take note of the new ideas that occur to you; but
  • Prioritize your activities, taking care of the tasks that need to be done this week, and putting the other ones on your After-Christmas List!

Merry Christmas to All, and to all a good night.

564 Words About Gift Cards (and some special skills)

I, like all of you, have skills.  In addition to organizing,

  • I can quote movies and song lyrics from a range of decades and genres;
  • I can roll my tongue, and wink with either eye (my 12 year old’s suggestions);
  • I can read upside down, and I know the number equivalent of each letter of the alphabet, so writing in code is a piece of 3-1-11-5 (cake); and
  • For today’s purposes, I know way more about gift cards than most people.  (There are more skills, of course, but that’s enough for now!)

gift_card_holder_2lWhy do I know about gift cards?  In addition to giving and receiving gift cards like most people, I help administer a gift card-based tuition reimbursement program at my son’s high school, so I spend a lot of time working with gift cards.  To help you this Holiday Season, I thought I would drop some knowledge on how to use and give these handy items!

Here are some tips to help you manage your Gift Cards:

  • Gift cards are money.  Therefore:
    • They are meant to be spent, and
    • They need to be managed (management is defined as getting the most out of our resources).
  • Know where your gift cards are, and what you have in stock.  Have a single safe place at home to keep them, in one drawer or on your desk (Not all over the house!).
  • If you just don’t know how much a gift card is worth, call the customer service number on the back, or go to the website.  If a card has been used, the company can usually track exactly when and where the balance was used. Grab a sharpie,  and jot the date and current balance on the front of the card.  Keep a small sharpie with you, to jot the new balance on a card if you only use part of the value. This one clicks on a key ring!  minimarker_black
  • If you received gift cards for a certain store or restaurant, sign-up online or via an app or social media (FB, Twitter) for special offer notifications.  Use your gift cards along with those special promotions to get a bigger bang for your buck.  For example, I have a Starbucks Gold Card, and with my on-line account I receive special offers and can add money or gift cards to the balance.
  • Carry the gift cards you plan to use with you, but certainly not all the cards you have. Carrying all of them could be cumbersome and you risk losing them! (There are apps like Slide to manage and digitize your gift cards.)
  • And yet, you don’t have to take your gift cards with you.  If you receive gift cards for on-line retailers like Amazon.com or ITunes, redeem the gift cards and add to your online account balance when you receive them, and then toss the redeemed cards away.
  • USE YOUR GIFT CARDS!  They are money, but some can lose value over time, or merchants may go out of business.
  • If you have gift cards that you don’t ever plan on using, you can sell your cards.  There’s Craig’s List or Facebook groups dedicated to buying / selling, plus other websites or apps just a quick google search away.

This week, collect those gift cards from all the spots you’ve stashed them, and turn them around for more gifts, a nice dinner out or maybe some $$ for Christmas Shopping!

Right Now, What’s The Right Thing To Do? (a.k.a. Don’t aggravate your loved ones)

Last week in my newsletter, I stated:a755a998abbfc3e4597f01a9ba15e829

“Let me recommend – focus on the most used areas of your home.  For a Thanksgiving event, those areas would be:

  • the entryway / coat closet; 
  • kitchen; 
  • dining room; 
  • family rooms; and 
  • guest bathrooms. 

“Now is NOT the time to pull out everything from the attic, garage, or basement storage room.  Restore order and touch up those public spaces this week, and leave the other projects until after Thanksgiving!”

 

Apparently, this statement resonated with a number of my readers, thanks for your comments.  One readers specifically asked if I had grown up in her home, as her dad would take the day off before Thanksgiving every year to “help”, and would instead start a huge and messy project , driving her mother crazy.

Every.

Year.

We all want to help, we all want to act.  But we all need Priorities, Focus, Big-Picture planning and we don’t always have it!

My to-do list is long.  I may never complete it,  since I add more tasks all the time.  But since I always have tasks and to-dos to complete, I have to decide   “RIGHT NOW, What’s The Right Thing To Do?”

I think this happens to us all, to some extent.  We have so many tasks and to-dos and ideas that we want to act upon, we could ACT all day but still not get to our important work.

So here’s how to figure out What’s The Right Thing to Do Right Now.

Write Things Down!  Write down, either on paper or digitally, ideas and tasks and to-dos.  Don’t edit them, just write them down.  Your busy brain will thank you.

Not All Actions Are Created Equal.  It’s often difficult to know what the next step is.  Sometimes we feel like we should be doing SOMETHING, but we don’t want to think through the process, so we just dive into a project or task and end up making a bigger mess.  THINK first, and Act Well.

Often, it’s the simplest thing.  We tend to over-think things.  Sometimes the best thing to do is to shower, put some clothes on, get a drink of water, make a phone call, make dinner, leave the house, send the email.

Pick Today’s List.  Look at the to-do list, and choose.  Last week, a client asked if we could come up with a plan for our 3 hours together and talk through the planning process.  So, on her dry erase board, we:

  • wrote down all the tasks that were on her mind to complete that day;
  • asked how long each task typically takes, and how long to allot for it (finish tagging files – 20 minutes; file receipts – 30 minutes; hang art in home office – 45 minutes, etc.);
  • determined if any of them were attached to a specific time (like a 3 o’clock conference call, or starting the crock pot to warm dinner 2 hours before dinner time);
  • and finally, ordered the list by attaching a number to each item (#1, #2, #3, etc., and moved a few things to the next day’s list).
  • This was an interesting exercise.  We ended up adding other tasks in, and we ran over a few time estimates, but we certainly learned a lot about the process and the client.


Group Similar Tasks.  
A class participant explained how her home seemed to be full of distractions and asked me how to keep focus.  We talked about a couple of strategies, and she chose “set aside a half an hour for house tasks, then a half an hour for paying bills, a half an hour for cooking and cleaning up the kitchen” etc., instead of hopping from task to task without ever feeling like she had completed a project.


What tasks on your list only need elapsed time?
 Start the laundry, start the crock pot, send out the emails and ask for responses by a certain day this week.  And then ignore the results until the next time you need to check in.


Ask.  Communicate with the folks around you, whether at home or at work.  
You may feel some tasks and your part of the overall plan are high priority, but some one else may see other tasks and other parts as higher priority.  You both may be correct, but communication will help everyone get the right things done.


Make an “After Thanksgiving” or “January” list now.
 Looking at all the tasks and to-dos on the Master list, determine which ones can wait.   Today, I was reminded that I need to make an annual doctor appointment for February or March, but I waiting until January to make that call. I wrote it down, so I won’t forget, and will worry about it later.
Manage your time and yourself better by asking often “Right Now, What’s The Right Thing To Do?”.
To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
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What Do You Want to Clear Out This Week?

downloadBaseball season’s over (Go Cubs!), the clocks have Fallen back, and this election year ard2015-logo-noborderwill soon be one for the history books.  The leaves are flying around the yard today, with a chilly wind.  It feels like November!  And November is a great time to de-clutter, clear the decks, close the door on summer and open up the flannel sheets and hot chocolate.  Conveniently, with November comes America Recycles Day on November 15th!

America Recycles Day, https://americarecyclesday.org/ , is a national initiative of Keep America Beautiful.  Follow the link, then click Attend an Event and plug in your zip code to search for recycling events in your neighborhood.

Looking for more ideas?  Here are 5 things to purge / recycle / donate / re-purpose / etc. this week, to get ready for colder weather and the holidays!

Shoes!  Go through that pile by the door.  Yes, THAT pile.  
Purge the icky shoes (those 4 pairs of old sneakers someone keeps around for “yardwork”?) and the singles (ah, flip flops, missing either a flip or a flop). Donate the too-small ones or never-again ones, and, as it’s November, friends, put the rest of the warm weather shoes away in each owners’ closet.
If you are looking for places to recycle your shoes, just google “shoe recycling”.  There are lots of options out there (for example, Nike recycles shoes to create running tracks and playgrounds).  Locally, check out http://shareyoursoles.org/, a great not-for-profit that shares shoes with under-served populations.
And, won’t it be nice to not trip over shoes every time you come in the door?!

Put Away the Halloween Decor (and the summer stuff, too, if it’s still lingering on).  
November 8th, friends.  Purge the summer and Halloween decor.  Box it up, label it well, put it AWAY with your other seasonal stuff.  Do not spend your cold weather months tripping over off-season stuff.
Enjoy clean and uncluttered surfaces for a few weeks, before the Christmas stuff starts creeping out!

Catalogs and Magazines.  
I recently had an epiphany, and decided to cut myself some slack when it comes to my burgeoning reading pile.  There are days and stages of our lives when we read voraciously, and there are days and stages when reading books or magazines regularly just isn’t meant to be.  My life is currently in the latter stage and the reading pile grows quickly out of control.  Last week, I reviewed my catalog and magazine backlog, and – considering it’s November – I tossed anything from October or before.
You can recycle them, of course, or you can share the magazines with a local doctor or dentist office, or senior centers and nursing homes.

Cardboard.
Ah, yes, cardboard.  Now is the time to purge cardboard.  I don’t know why We (and I mean a global “We” and not just the Klimczaks) all seem to hold on to cardboard boxes longer than necessary.  If you have to keep boxes, break down the tape and store the boxes flat so they take up less space.
We are coming into Christmas season, however, which could be sub-titled “Amazon Prime is awesome and UPS drops off boxes often” season.  As soon as I start our Christmas shopping, more boxes will come.  So, I would challenge you to part with most, if not all, of your cardboard boxes, safe in the knowledge that more will arrive soon.  Break it down flat, and send it out with the recycling this week!

Expectations.
Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
I’ll rarely tell you that you Should Do Something, or Must Do Something else.
We’ve got just a couple months left of 2016.  It’s time to take a look at our current status, look ahead at the next 8 weeks or so, decide…
What Needs to Happen: friends, family, wellness, Holidays, faith, professional efforts?
And
What Does Not Need to Happen: ???
Last week, I completed some long-suffering tasks on my to-do list.  It felt so good to finally complete them and cross them off for good!  What else can go?  Completed tasks, yet, but also unrealistic or unnecessary expectations for yourself or others?

So, embrace America Recycles Day, check out events in your area, and let go of some clutter this week!

Spiders, Mice, Many-legged Things and Christmas Decor (a.k.a., Our Crawl Space)

We tackled the crawl space this weekend.  Yes, the organizer dives into weekend organizing rubbermaidprojects!  The crawl space is under the addition to our home  (both were here before we got here).   It is great storage space, but gets a little grubby and needs our attention about once a year, and this was the weekend!

We can all learn from every experience, so what lessons do I want to share with all of you from this project?

We often spend more time and energy dreading or avoiding a project than the chore actually takes to complete.
For a month, I’ve been thinking that we needed to get to the crawl space, and I would get frustrated whenever I thought about going in there for something.  And then,  we completed the project in under an hour.  So silly to worry so much!

Relatedly, Bugs and creepy crawlies aren’t really that creepy.  
Come on, people, they’re not that big of a deal.

Working on and completing projects often create more ideas or tasks to complete, though small ones in this case.
Keep a notebook with you, as you work, to jot down ideas.   As we cleaned out the crawl space, I realized a number of further tasks needed to be added to my to-do list:

  • As of October 1, I will list the extra Halloween Costumes on Facebook;
  • As of October 1, if the baby items we found have not been picked up, I will drop them off at the Courage Program at St. Germaine Parish in  Oak Lawn;
  • As of November 1, I will check the Christmas light sales, as we need new ones this year; and
  • As of January 1, we need to review and purge excess Christmas decorations!
  • All of these were added to my to-do list, and I’m pondering a few more ideas, too!

Keep your smartphone with you.
We texted a family member about some baby items we were still storing, plus I posted on Facebook that we had free baby items to be picked up (the bassinet is already gone!)

Sometimes, it’s just really helpful to remind yourself of what you have.
The crawl space wasn’t actually disorganized, we just needed to review things and make sure they were stored well.  We pulled the often-accessed items to the front, made sure everything was well labeled and grouped, and cleaned out the spiderwebs, dead bugs and mice droppings. (another note, put out more mice bait).

Completing Organizing Projects feels Great!
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so.  I am so glad we spent time on the crawl space, definitely a worthwhile investment for my Peace of Mind. Now, on to the garage!

When The Party Is Over… (A Plan For Your Party Clean-Up)

I was surprised to find that, in 6 years of blogging, I have not written a Post Party Clean-Up article.  So on the tail of a weekend full of parties, let me share my favorite tips for Post Party Clean-Up with you!

I know it’s tempting to leave your clean-up tasks until later or tomorrow, but an hour on clean-up today makes tomorrow so much brighter!  Consider, too, if your event is not at your home, you may need to clean up before you can leave, so it’s best to learn how to clean up-quickly and efficiently.

In addition to your other party prep steps (more on party prep here), make sure

  • the dishwasher is empty, and
  • you have take-home containers on hand to send leftovers home with your guests.

At the end of your event, here is your plan:

1.  Revel for a moment in the end-of-party glow, appreciating the awesome friends and family members that graced your home and / or event.

2.  Drink a very large glass of water, to stay hydrated and fend off any potential early hangover headache (just saying).

3.  If you haven’t eaten, put together a little plate now and grab a bite.  Maybe it’s just me, but I often forget to eat at our events, as I’m busy chatting and taking care of things.

4.  Take 2 minutes to change into something more suitable for an hour of cleaning, if you’re really dressed up.  Just DO NOT GET TOO COMFY!!

Now, roll up your sleeves and get to work!  Food and Floors are the biggest clean-up tasks.

5.  Empty the trash and recycling bins, and start fresh.

6.  Move all food and beverages to the kitchen!  Trash goes in the bin, recycling gets rinsed and goes to the bin, too.  We’ll get to food storage in a minute.

7.  Once the food and beverages are in the kitchen, restore order to the rest of your home:

  • Blow out all candles;
  • wipe down surfaces, clean the wine off the lamp shade (still just me?);
  • put the furniture away (folding chairs and tables), or back where it belongs; and
  • vacuum and run a quick mop if needed.
  • With a team approach, I usually handle the Restoring Order step, while my husband starts the kitchen tasks.
8.  Kitchen Clean-Up, tasks including: 
  • pack up left overs;
  • clean serving dishes;
  • load the dishwasher;
  • wipe down the counters; and
  • make sure everything is turned off before turning in.

9.  Day-After tasks may include:  

  • Empty the coolers;
  • put away the large serving items; and
  • take it easy and eat party left-overs (one of my favorite perks of hosting parties!).

With the next season of parties – First Communion, Mother’s Day, Graduations, etc. – upon us, keep these tips in mind the next time you host an event!

6 Organizing Steps To Take This Week for Spring!

It is indeed SPRING, despite the indecisive April weather here in Chicago!  Or so say the calendar and longer day light hours.  And we may be getting the itch to clean up and clear up for Spring!

Open the windows (or at least the blinds), let in some sunlight and fresh air, and energize you and your home this week with these 6 steps:

 

1.  Start with the EASY.  Look around your house for items you have already decided to purge or pass along, and send those items on their way.
  • drop off bags of charitable donations;
  • drop off your EWaste at your local drop-box;
  • take out all the trash and recycling;
  • do the laundry and put it all away;
  • drop off your dry cleaning (the heavy coats and bedding) to your favorite cleaners.

2.  Get a car wash, and splurge for the interior wash, too.  Nothing perks up our outlook for Spring like a clean car, inside and out.

3. Make and Prioritize Your Spring Project List:  Grab your clipboard, and walk around your home and yard.  Note all the projects or areas of concern, and also all the areas that you love just the way they are.

4.  Plan a Taking-Care-of-Business Saturday, even if its just the morning or afternoon, to tackle the big projects or the ones that require assistance (heavy lifting or group decision making).  Personally, Earth Day is a Saturday, and is looking promising…

5.  I always encourage de-cluttering, but this week, I Challenge you to de-furnish (which is de-cluttering on a big scale)!  Non-functional furniture?  Too many of any one type of items (usually small chairs and tables, I’ve noticed!)? Small kitschy items that block the flow of traffic and energy? Yup, all of these can / should go away.

6.  Create accountability around getting your projects moving. Make your appointments: Call and reserve the dumpster or the carpet cleaner, or plan a party!  Often, a deadline can motivate us!  One of my spring organizing projects is our furnace room, and we always have the HVAC fella out in April to check over the furnace and air conditioner.  If I book the appointment, I am sure to get the furnace room cleaned out before he gets here!

Try one (or all!) of these steps and lighten up, freshen up and re-energize this week to get organized for Spring!

Leap Day! What to Do With An Extra, Bonus, Cherry-On-Top Day?

Leap Day!  I’m publishing this blog today because I can!  We only get this opportunity once every 4 years, so I’m taking it!

Turns out, it takes we Earth Dwellers 365 and a quarter-ish days ( 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 47 seconds to be precise) to fully orbit the sun, so every 4 years we need to add a day to catch up with those quarters.  We’ve known this for 2000+ years now, though Leap Day has moved around within the year at the whim of various leaders over the last 20 centuries.  Time really is relative, and a human construct.   This is the ultimate Time Management Blog!

2016 is a Leap Year, today is a Leap Day.  I know it still feels like a Monday,  and may look like every other day except on the page of your calendar, but today is a Gift.

My question to you is:  What Can You Do With An Extra Day? An added bonus, cherry-on-top day?

I asked myself – If I had a day all to myself, an added bonus, cherry-on-top day, what would I do?

And it turns out, I would probably spend it doing the things I already love.

  • I’d get up early, like always.  Not because I had to, but because it helps me be my best self.
  • I would talk with loved ones, and spend time with my husband and sons.  Time with them would be essential to making an added bonus, cherry-on-top day the best day it could be.
  • I would prepare and share and eat really delicious food.
  • I would still organize, though perhaps just my own home or time or brain for that day.
  • I would still be productive because, honestly, I don’t find sloth enjoyable.  I get pleasure out of getting things done, so my added bonus, cherry-on-top day would still be productive.
  • I would read, go to Mass, go out in nature, take a nap and watch a really great movie.
  • I would drink tea and eat girl scout cookies and write, just like I’m doing right now.
  • I would be surrounded by music of my choosing.
  • I would live in a clean, uncluttered space, and still clean up after myself, because a added bonus, cherry-on-top day, and every other day, deserves that respect, as do I.
  • So long as no one was getting hurt, I would let those around me do what they choose, too.Here’s what I would not do:
  • I would not argue with anyone.
  • I would not talk on the phone.
  • I would not watch the news.
  • I would not shop, or spend much money.
  • I wouldn’t hear about people shooting each other over sneakers in a Mall, or how some crazy guy killed people in my beloved hometown of Kalamazoo, because those things wouldn’t happen.I realized, as I pondered this whimsy, that every day is a gift, an added bonus, cherry-on-top day, whether its a Leap Day or any other day.  Imagine how powerful this blog and every day could be if I changed the “I would’s” to “I will”.

    So, to repeat my earlier question,

    What Would You Do With A Gift Day? An added bonus, cherry-on-top day?

    And what is keeping you from treating every day like that Gift?

    Intentionally spending your time how you want, with whom you want, and in the productive endeavors that suit you best?

A Seasoned Mom’s Tips for Adventures with Kids

I love living in Chicago, with it’s great opportunities for field trips and adventures!   We had a great day at the Museum of Science and Industry yesterday, and as we wound our way through the awesome exhibits, I was reminded of some of the truths I’ve learned by experience over the years.

  1. Go early.  Check out your destination’s website, and find out how early you can enter (for example, MSI opened at 9:30 and we hit the door soon after).  Trust me, early is always better. Parking is quicker, lines are shorter, crowds are smaller.  Go Early.
  2. Plan ahead.  Check out the website for times, parking and logistics, or get the app if your destination offers one.  Buy tickets online, to avoid admission lines when you arrive.  Pick up a map right away, if it’s a new destination for you (and map reading is a great skill for your kids to learn).
  3. Ask for Memberships as gifts.  In 18 years of parenting, we’ve had annual memberships to Brookfield Zoo, the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, receiving many of these as gifts for Christmas.  Just one trip to one of these locations can make the membership worth the price, and any additional visits through the year show how valuable that membership can be, with “free” admission, food and parking discounts, special events, etc.
  4. Don’t expect to experience the whole destination in one day.  Expecting to spend 10 hours at a zoo / museum / destination with small children is delusional, sorry to say.   I’m an adult, and I will admit to being fried after 5 or 6 hours.  By about 2 pm yesterday, we all were ready to head home.  2 pm was when all the exhibits got really crowded, so we didn’t mind leaving.  When my kids were younger, that 5 or 6 hour time limit usually had us hitting nap time on the drive home, which worked out for everyone (and having a membership means you can go back multiple times to explore).
  5. Pack a lunch. This is not just a money saving tactic, though it certainly will save money. Packing a lunch ensures there is food your child will actually eat; helps avoid long lines at lunch time; and enables occasional snacking when everyone starts to get a little hungry. Leave yourself a cooler in the car, for the ride home, too, with water bottles and more healthy snacks.
  6. Mandatory potty breaks from everyone.   When one person has to go, everyone goes.  And scout out those restrooms when you arrive.
  7. Review Rules of Conduct.  There was a lost little boy at the museum yesterday who just broke my heart.  Happily, he was found just moments after I first saw him, but he was so upset.  His mom did all the right things, though, hugging and calming first, then reminding of the rules.  So, what are your rules (and know that rules will change as your children age)? There are always the “Be Polite, Take Turns, Listen for Directions, etc”, but on adventures, we add: Don’t range too far ahead; check in occasionally; don’t leave an exhibit until you find me; if we get separated, stay where you are and ask for help, etc..
  8. Have your children memorize your cell phone number, or put a business card in their pocket.   Make sure they can say their own full name, your full name and cell phone number, in case they get separated from you.

Happy Adventures!!