December 14, 2016
We’ve all been there. I left the house stressed out but brimming with hunter-gatherer confidence, poised to bring home every item on the shopping list. My spouse would be leaving for work in two hours and the kids were hungry; everyone was counting on me.
When I stepped out of my car in the store parking lot, I realized that I had forgotten the list. I decided to wing it, which was basically a perfect plan, except that it has never worked for anyone in the history of ever. Sure enough, I came home without the milk, the main reason I had made the trip in the first place.
As the forlorn kids crunched away on their dry cereal, I thought, running a household can be stressful business.
Getting It Together
In the wake of that epic failure, I discovered some exciting new organizational techniques that I know you will love. It only took a few simple purchases and a little creativity to have me feeling a new sense of clarity. It’s easier to remember things and my various lists all but jump up and grab onto my coat as I’m walking out the door.
Colorful Notes Stimulate Memory Functioning
I remember learning “Every Good Boy Does Fine” in band class, a phrase that helps beginning musicians to recall the notes on a musical staff. A tricky combination of letters, numbers, or symbols becomes easier to remember when the mind can associate the combination with a catchy phrase or colorful image. Psychologists call the phrase or image a mnemonic device, a handy fact to know if you happen to be studying for SAT or a spelling bee.
There are people who are so creative that they can instantly dream up a verbal memory device to remember their grocery or to-do list, but most of us aren’t such word wizards. With liquid chalk markers, however, we can all tap into the memory-aiding power of vibrant colors. Chalkboard calendars, labels, and lists that catch your eye from across the room can come to the rescue of our overworked brains.
Here are some of my favorite projects so far.
The new and improved shopping list is born.
The last time I pulled out the refrigerator while cleaning, I found a dusty sticky note on the floor underneath it with an important phone number on it. Well, it would have been important if I had been able to find it several months earlier when I needed it. I have now installed a stick-on wipeable surface, ideal for those erasable wonders known as liquid chalk markers. I love the way words and numbers pop out from the black background.
I could actually write my snappy new list right on the refrigerator. Liquid chalk markers would wipe right off the non-porous, stainless steel surface. I like the way the chalkboard contact paper forces me to keep my list making contained within a consistent space, however. I might just turn the kids loose to decorate the blank space on the fridge doors however they choose.
Securely mounted with an adhesive backing, my new, improved list won’t slip off and defeat me at hide-and-seek like the sticky note did. And even if it tries to make an escape, thanks to the lasting impression its vivid colors leave on my mind every day, I will instantly notice that it’s gone! I take a quick snapshot of the list with my cell phone before I leave for the store. What I found really interesting was that last time out, I didn’t even need to look at the snapshot as I shopped. Those glowing words were etched into my brain. I remembered the milk.
Turning financial planning into a fun project.
The win in the kitchen set me on a search for ways to improve our organization all over the house. I discovered a clever idea to help keep finances in order called a budget envelope system, a great project if you and your kids like to get crafty. I enlisted the help of my younger daughter to create a colorful poster with imaginatively labeled envelopes to save up money for specific goals, such as the dog’s pricey flea medicine or the ever-growing cell phone bill. It’s a great way to encourage good decision-making and positive thinking, while keeping the emphasis on creativity and fun.
Canning jars are inexpensive and come in sets.
Next, I moved on to the pantry. I like to purchase spices, herbs and teas in bulk to save money. To keep my dry goods fresh, I use mason-style canning jars, which can be purchased at a grocery or hardware store in various sizes. I previously wrote on the jars with a permanent marker, but a change in my shopping habits meant either ugly crossing out or a wasted jar. With my new liquid chalk markers in hand, I was ready for a pantry makeover. Since I like to put the jars at eye level and above, I use pre-made labels. But there are also nifty lids that are ideal if you have a slide-out drawer or low shelf. Once again, to label or not to label is a matter of preference, because chalk markers are easily erasable on glass or metal surfaces.
Art supplies don’t organize themselves—but now they almost do.
Now that everyone in the family was rolling with colorful projects to bring order to household chaos, the only problem left was what to do with all the art supplies. The liquid chalk markers, the glue, the scissors, and the pens and pencils all needed a home. And it had better be a home we can all actually find, because those scissors will be in high demand any day now for wrapping presents. The junk drawer was already full and impossible to open, and I wasn’t ready to take on that project yet.
I grabbed some wooden boxes that we would have otherwise tossed out, cut some small pieces of the chalkboard contact paper I’d used on the fridge, and began labeling. All the tools of our trade are now nicely organized on a shelf, with no risk of an art supply avalanche when the little ones reach a little too high for that favorite marker. Mason jars or canisters would work great for this purpose as well, and remember, with glass or metal, you can skip the label altogether and write directly on the surface if you choose.
You Can Now Use “Household Organization” and “Fun” in the Same Sentence!
Reorganizing and revitalizing my home with these fun projects has given my brain a break and calmed my nerves. Art is fuel for the spirit; art that helps you remember all the important details of the daily routine is fuel with a turbo boost. A supply of liquid chalk markers and accessories will open the door to fun activities that engage the whole family and make life easier in the long run. Your tension will melt away and your spirit will rise as you make your first bold and brilliant strokes towards a more efficient lifestyle.