The Four Stages of Moving

Moving on from talking about moving… here are some tips that should save you some serious money

  1. De clutter and organise as soon as you know the date of moving. (or even if you are not moving, always a good idea in my books!)

This is the most cost saving tip I can think of – every item you decide to de clutter now will not be packed into boxes and will not cost you any further money!
De clutter: get rid of everything you don’t need any more or won’t need in the new house. Store like with like and label like crazy!

  1. Everything you don’t need in the next 6 month

Start packing everything you won’t need in the next 6 month: seasonal decorating, unseasonal clothing, sentimental value, kids toys and clothes for the future, Christmas crockery, rarely used board games…
number your boxes, clearly state the content, clearly state which room/area of the new house they will be going into. Store in the front of the garage till you feel you are done with that part of the move.
If you have the space, store them in the front of the garage, if not hire a storage space for 6 month. (When filling that space be aware, that what you put in first will come out last!)

  1. This should leave everything you need in the next 6 month in your house.

Keep sorting and purging, putting like with like. The more organised you live now, the more organised your move will be – because it will be easy for the removalist to pack your categories. Leave stickers and notes around the house, specifically on furniture, stating where they are going in the new house or if they are coming with you at all. This should leave a clear playing field for the removalist come moving day… You could even book a day at the spa or treat the family to a night in a hotel! You deserve it after all that preparation you have done; you can afford it with all the clutter you got rid off that you don’t have to pay being packed and moved!

  1. Everything you need on the moving day and first day in the new home

Think of it like a holiday; pack a suitcase with your most important documents  (Grab and Run File) some snacks and treats, something for the kids to do on their own when parents get stressed and busy, important phone numbers, chargers, two or three changes of clothes, bed linen…
Place it in a designated area and communicate to everyone what this is and that its NOT going to be packed under any circumstances. The car works well for this!
A friend of mine moved the whole family overseas, with two kids under six. The removalist accidently packed the bag with very important documents, including the passport! We tried to get emergency passport parallel to unpacking the whole container at the depot. The bag was found in the end, but the stress was huge!

Kitchen de clutter – continuing

de cluttered your  kitchen? Retrofitting idea

This is a good option to utilize the full depth of your cupboards. Once you organise like with like: pasta with pasta, spices with spices, ready made meal ingredients…  Store them in these longish containers and when you look for something just take the whole container out onto the kitchen bench or rest on the ledge of the shelf!
(Also available in a wide version.)

Howard’s Storage
Amalie Pullout Organiser – Narrow

$9.95pull out drawer

I get the Shits!!

I personally organise when I get the shits!!

How often should I….go through my pantry… de clutter my wardrobe?
How much … memorabilia…office supplies… pots should I keep?
It s a simple question, but there is no simple answer. Everyone is different and everyone has to set their own standards.
I personally work like this: I do it when it gives me the shits!
We are having guests tonight and I am seeing a client this afternoon, so I dedicated the morning to cooking.  When I opened my pantry, it looked like this… too messy for me.
 I get the shits and just start; pull everything out, give the cupboard a wipe, de clutter, de canter and re organise.
Took me half an hour and now I am off to cooking Osso Bucco with homemade German egg noodles (Spaetzle).

How to De Clutter your Kitchen – 5 min at a time

A step-by-step guide to de cluttering the most used room in the house.
by Helena Tosello

You’re always in there waiting for something boil, cool down, or deciding what to feed the kids. Use those snatches of time to do a bit of de cluttering and give yourself a lift.

Day 1 – baby steps – Cutlery drawer
can’t find something? Take a few minutes to put everything where it should be and quickly (this is the key) remove the items you never use quickly (that word again) decide whether to keep the removed items in a more practical place or throw/donate them.

Day 2 – that’s not so hard – Utensil drawer
same as above but should be quicker as it should be more obvious which tools are used more than others. Are the spatulas getting tangled with the whisks and wooden spoons? Consider moving serving utensils to the cutlery drawer as you mostly use them for meals or moving the baking items to a compartment in the cupboard with the baking trays and pans. Or place some items the opposite way to others so they get caught on each other.

Day 3 – getting the hang of it-  Pantry
when you’re next preparing a meal and have a few minutes while something simmers take a look at the condiments, oils, herbs and spices. Quickly take out all the bottles and jars and toss items past their use by date unless you have a plan to use it that day. Wipe the bottom of everything and wipe out the shelf where they live. Put everything back where they are easy to reach.

Day 4 – do a little bit every day – Fridge
this will probably take a few bursts but you never know, you might get carried away and do the whole thing in one go! This is easiest to manage when a shelf becomes bare or has only a few items. Just before the big grocery shop or after an event are good opportunities. As soon as you can see half a shelf or rack empty in the fridge, take a moment to remove the rest of the items from the area. Toss out expired items; wipe the top and bottom of the shelf and the bottom of anything you return to the fridge. Plan when you are going to use up anything close to its expiry date.

When do I find these 5 minute bursts you ask?
While the kids are finishing breakfast and getting ready to leave for school.
While you wait for something to start boiling or finish simmering.
When you check which items need to be purchased on a trip to the supermarket (though you should keep a running list of items as they run out. Will save you time when making your shopping list)
Waiting for the kettle to boil or the coffee plunger to plunge or the coffee machine to warm up
Waiting for the tea bag/leaves to steep. (Twinings recommend 3-5 minutes.)
Helena  is a mum in the middle of everything trying to regain the center stage of her own life. She lives in inner west Sydney with two boys and a fly in-fly out husband. She enjoys coffee with friends, being organised, researching, sharing, and working on her fledging blog. You can follow her at   or

Angel Gowns

Not everyone is a mother, not everyone wants to be.
But there are far too many out there that have lost a baby. Angle Gown is a charity that collects your donated wedding gown and has volunteer seamstresses craft tiny little Angel gowns out of them – for “little Angels that grew their wings”. Check out their website and consider letting go of your wedding dress or if you love sewing, become one of their seamstresses.

Happy Mother’s Day

Duplicate Finder

Peter Walsh always says, that de cluttering is not about the stuff. It’s about you changing your attitude. Every item you own is a point on your to do list and occupies a space in your mind!
This applies to non physical stuff,too. All the things we have on our computers!
I have written about de cluttering your e mails, but this is better and bigger; it’s about de cluttering your whole computer.

A colleague of mine found this online program and posted it on our Facebook group  (an AAPO members only group on Facebook). Lots of POs tried it and because we are all into de cluttering we all got a real buzz out of it.
I started the search at night – it took a good 45 min to get the list with results. The next morning, I started deleting files, still in my PJs and didn’t stop till lunch… that’s how exciting it is!
Give it a go:
This is is a screenshot of my results and rather than just pressing ‘delete’ I went over it and found whole folders that could be deleted, some of them so big, the recycling bin didn’t have space in it.
Don’t forget to empty your recycling bin afterwards (or even in between)
I got so inspired I went through my whole private inbox and deleted another 1200 e mails.

There is something similar for devices and mobiles, like Duplicate manager (android).
The whole exercise inspired not just me, but hubby had a go at all the German movies we have downloaded over the last 5 years.
He took a different approach and moved all movies to one external hard drive and then I had the privilege to run the duplicate finder and deleted all doubles , and a fair bit of crap– now we are down to just one hard drive for our videos.

A Cupboard for all Occasions? Or Conservation Collecting gone wild?

When my first child started kindergarten, a note came home after a couple of weeks asking for
donations of household items for art and craft. Things like empty egg cartons, tissue boxes, yoghurt
containers, card board rolls from paper towels, bits of string and spare office paper.
That's where the trouble began.
Being a middle class parent wanting to do the best job of mothering my first-born I took to
this task with gusto. I knew you shouldn't do your child's homework but also that parents involved
and engaged with their child's education encouraged the best in school outcomes.
I proudly sent him to school with an egg carton. Then he told me that Lucy and Stevie* didn't have a carton
as they didn't eat eggs or their mother (shock horror) forgot. I started collecting things in anticipation of homework projects and the second child who would follow three years later.
But now I have a problem. My youngest child is now in year 6, admittedly the last year when home sourced
craft materials will be required, requested or indeed, desired. In fact the ubiquitous $2 shops
mean any manner of previously homemade items (cards, Easter egg collecting baskets, toy binoculars
- my own favorite from the Play School “Useful Box”) can be purchased with a minimum outlay of
time and money and the added cache of having something new and trendy to take to school.
“Emma's mum bought her shiny, sparkly poms poms! I don’t want to take the crooked ones you cut
from crepe paper even though you stayed up half the night cutting them.” You and I both know
that Emma’s mum probably spent less than I did - have you seen the price of crepe paper lately?
No more Easter hat parades or Book Week costumes or home-based projects of any magnitude (our
school heavily encouraged these items be made from "found" items - a nicely worded re-branding of
“rubbish”? )
I will have to start culling. But no, my inner conservation warrior protests, there are so many presents
I could make myself! Yes me. So I have started to collect recipes and articles on making jams and bath salts to fill
up my many glass jars, re-fashioned nice boxes and perfume packaging into holders of pencils and
make-up brushes. My boys have matching Lindt chocolate containers in the bathroom.
I now collect all sorts of packaging simply because it looks nice and/or useful.
But it’s getting out of control and taking over my kitchen. After long spilling out of the
kids crafts cupboard (where I’m still storing fabric scraps, cardboard, interesting plastic
tubs, origami paper and millions of stickers accumulated over the years), it's now
spread to the hard to reach cupboard above the range hood in the kitchen. Glass
bottles and jars of every size, ice cream containers, large yoghurt containers and
anything else that looks too useful to throw out. I can’t, and don’t want, to make jam
and bath salts all the time.
That's where I seem to have come unstuck. I see a use in just about everything now.
Well, if I'm not collecting for my own use then it's for others. For my niece’s daycare;
for the ladies at church and school who make craft items for fetes; for other people
making jam for fetes. Thank God for fetes!
I got addicted to that self-satisfied feeling when, at the last minute, I was able to
produce a small perfectly shaped plastic cap for Ned Kelly's helmet in a school project.
I had the perfect item. I was the perfect mother.
I think I might have a problem.
(*Names changed to protect the forgetful.)

Helena Tosello is a mum in the middle of everything trying to regain the centre stage of her own life. She lives in inner west Sydney with two boys and a fly in-fly out husband. She enjoys coffee with friends, being organised, researching, sharing, and working on her fledging blog. You can follow her at

How to time manage – cleaning your house

Nine ways to get it done! (if you have more, please share)
We might be living in the 21st century and have equal rights for men and women – but more than 50% of households I know don’t have a paid cleaner.
And I am sorry to say, it’s mostly the male partners in the equation that vote against that expense.
For different reasons, but one still is going along these lines:” my mum raised 5 kids and cooked everything from scratch, made jam and we had home baked goodies every day after school…. And she didn’t have a cleaner or any household help!”
That might be true, but lifestyle expectations have changed, for mums, dads and the kids. So let’s explore how you could manage to clean your house:
A: paid help:
1.       Hire a cleaner every week, tidy up beforehand so the cleaner just does the cleaning
2.       Hire a cleaner every second week, tidy up beforehand so the cleaner just does the cleaning
3.       Hire a cleaner to do the tidy and clean, every week, every day ???
4.       Have a concierge that organises the cleaning, tidying and shopping and runs errands.

B: do it yourself
5.       Tidy and clean one area of the house every day – one after the other
6.       Tidy and clean in one big go – all by yourself
7.       Tidy and clean in one day: get the family to do the tidying
8.       Tidy and clean in one go  – everyone in the household helps
C: mix it up
9.       Have a cleaner every second week and do one of B the other week

Have a look through all the options! Are there more? How do you do it?
And be aware that as your life changes, kids get bigger or more members of the family arrive, partners get promotions or need to work interstate – these arrangements have to be reviewed and should change.
This is what has happened in the LessMess household in the last 15 years.
With one child I did pretty much do No.5. Worked, but was a bit frustrating because you do end up cleaning every day!
When pregnant with child number 2, I was so sick, that we hired a cleaner to come every week.
That got reduced to every two weeks once the child was born and I felt better. Same happened for the third pregnancy.
10 years down the track, with the same lovely lady coming reliably every two weeks, she
just left us to learn English(!!!) and I decided that we would try to save that expense. As our kids are 15,13 and 10 we are doing it all together.
Everyone tidies up their area/mess.
Once that is done (and approved by me!!!!) everyone has to clean for a solid one hour in one week, ½ hour in the alternating.
With five of us in the house, that is a lot of cleaning done in a small timeframe. I actually sit down and make a list upfront, so I am prepared to give them new jobs when they come asking. I also make sure that tasks rotate, so if something doesn’t get cleaned that thoroughly by a 10 year old one week, an adult gets that job next and hopefully does a better job.
This is a good learning curve for the kids and a lesson in letting go for me!!

Why is this topic an organising one? Because any of the options above will be either less work or cheaper if you have an organised household, simple as that!!