‘Get Well’ Gift Baskets

Everyone everywhere around me is sick.

I understand that, statistically, this is not true, but it feels like it.  Having a 3 and 1 year-old and being in a circle of moms with young kids, I feel like every small-talk conversation for the last few weeks has started with “Are you guys staying healthy?”, with most responses being “No.  We’ve had insert-terrible-illness-here”.

A few weeks ago, our family came down with a stomach virus.  My daughter got it first, my son, the next day, me, two days later, and my husband, the day after me.  It was rough.  The first day that I was home with two puking children, I had texted a couple close friends for some advice.  I’m terrible at mothering sick kids for a multitude of reasons, one of them being that I have no idea what ‘protocol’ is.  These friends have elementary-age children and have done this a few more times than I have.  So, they tell me what to do.

They also bless my socks off.  One friend went to two stores to find Pedialyte Popsicles which I didn’t even know were a thing.  She grabbed some other of what I now refer to as ‘Sick Kid Essentials’ –  7-Up, oyster crackers and coffee.  The coffee was for me.  And was necessary.  Another friend left a care package at our door filled with Applesauce pouches, ginger ale, oyster crackers, bananas, chicken noodle soup, craft kits and M&M’s.  My eyes filled with tears as I opened the door.

I was feeling like a terrible mom all day.  I knew that it wasn’t my fault that my kids were puking, but emotion and exhaustion combined to cancel out all rational thought.  I was not prepared at all.  I had nothing in our house for if our kids got sick.  And my amazing friends came to the rescue.

Two days later, I got it.  Bad.  I got it the worst and ended up going into the ER because of dehydration and muscle spasms.  Upon hearing that I was now sick, two friends messaged me and offered to bring an egg casserole and soup.  Both of which were lifesavers.

All of these gestures made some pretty terrible days a little better.  And anything that can make those kinds of days better is a worthy cause.  I decided that I want to be that kind of friend.  To make that difference on those days.  I wrote a little more about it here.

I would assume that I am like most people in that I have a lot of great intentions that don’t become reality.  Bringing stuff to people when they’re sick is always one of those.  When I hear that someone’s sick, I think, “Oh, I should bring them something.” Then I get caught up in what to bring them and when I can’t come up with what the perfect gift basket should contain and look like, I lose ambition.  Add that to the reality of the fact that I’m selfish and don’t want to take the time to go get whatever items that I couldn’t come up, and the intention stays just that.

Being on the receiving end of people who made their intentions the best parts of a few of my hard days changed my perspective.  I resolved that I will no longer be held captive to an expectation that I have put on myself to make these gestures Pinterest-worthy.  Sure, one friend’s gift came in a cute little bin (she’s artsy, so that’s her thing), but another’s came in a Walmart bag.  Guess what?  I didn’t care.  It was the gesture and the supplying of my needs that made the difference.

As I was laying on the couch recovering, I started a list of items that could go in ‘Get Well’ baskets.  I decided that if I think through that now, I can work on stocking up on these items and then have them on hand for when someone needs them.  This is, by no means, an extensive list, but below is a printable of the contents for ‘Get Well’ baskets.

What are some other items that you have received or that you wish you had when you were home sick?

Organizing 101: Create a Free for All Space

Now that we’ve spent the last six weeks going through lots of different ways to tackle some of the piles and messes in our lives, it’s time to take it all back.

Okay, not all.  But I will give you that today’s Tip seems contradictory, but go with me….

Create a Free for All Space.

Think of it like your cheat food when you’re on a diet.  The theory, as I understand it, is that you allow yourself the cheat food so that you’re not completely depriving yourself of all that you want to eat.  And, when you’re craving it, you can eat without feeling guilty, and, most importantly, without negating the progress you’ve made.

It’s the same thing for your Free for All space.  Even I will admit that there are just some things that don’t fit in a category or don’t have natural “homes”.  Remember when I talked about the importance of creating a spot for everything?  Those ‘I-don’t-know-where-to-put-this’ items go in your Free for All space.

You decide what that space is – a bin, a closet, a room – whatever you have space for and you’re okay with being messy and disorganized.  You don’t have to feel bad about it.  Having this “cheat space” gives you the freedom to accomplish what you need everywhere else.


As an over-the-top fan of the TV show Friends, I can’t talk about this without sharing this clip.

Personally, I wouldn’t suggest fill your Free for All space quite that full, but it’s your cheat space.  You decide.

Organizing 101: This Is All An Ongoing Process

Here’s the thing with organizing………  You’re never finished.

That could be incredibly discouraging, but don’t let it be.  It’s freeing.

Any step you take toward making your days more orderly is a step in the right direction.  You can’t be wrong.  Come up with a solution and try it out.  The reality of life is that no matter how a perfect a solution, it will not always be perfect.  Our needs, habits, schedules, and families change every day, and our systems for dealing with all of this needs to change with it in order to remain effective.

Creating something that worked at one time, but no longer does, does not mean that you failed.  It means you live in the real world.

It’s a lot less pressure to approach a project with the mindset of making it work for you for now.  Adding a degree of permanence can easily become one more detractor to making the changes that you need.

Start this week.  Pick one project and ask yourself this question, “What do I need this space to do for me next week?”  Whatever you decide that purpose is, that is your end goal.  More often than not, you’ll find that the solution lasts for longer than you may have initially thought.

Organizing 101: Utilize Vertical Space

Most organizing challenges are due to not having space to put items.  Therefore, the solution to all of your organizing problems is creating space.  NBD.  And when you figure out how to do that, get working on creating time.  Because I could really use some more of that.  Then put them together and make a continuum.  #lamesciencejoke #friendscopycatjoke

Actually, creating space, in the form of surface area, is one of the biggest difference-makers in organizing a space.  When organizing a space, it’s easy to just default to whatever is already in the space as far as shelving, but creating more surface area to put stuff on can be the difference between ‘I’m going to post a picture of my awesome closet on Instagram’ and ‘Don’t open that closet door!’.

The key is to utilize the vertical space.

This is especially true in small areas where you need to really make the space work harder for you.

Start by looking at the entire space.  Find empty wall space.  Take some measurements to figure out what the entire area is that you have to work with.

Putting this idea into practice does often require purchasing and/or building something.  But if you decide going into it what you want the space to do and you know your space constraints, then this is a time when making an organizing purchase is a great idea.

In our new house, the upstairs bathroom is on the small side.  There is small space between the end of the vanity and the side of the toilet.  When we moved in, I put the toilet paper basket in that spot.  This is a basket that has sat next to the toilet in each of my residences for over a decade to store extra rolls of TP.  After living in the house for a few weeks, I started to feel the constraints of the small bathroom, and wanted to make the space work better, but was limited due to space.

My sister-in-law has this stand in her bathroom, and I thought of it immediately.  It is more narrow than my old basket and it uses the vertical space along the wall between the two fixtures.

*Please disregard the towel as window covering.  As previously mentioned, we are in the middle of a remodel and window coverings have not yet been ordered.  In the meantime, extra towels (thus the ugly burnt orange color) serve that purpose.  

The bottom shelf stores the extra toilet paper (twice as much as my old wicker basket), and then I have four more shelves to store stuff as well.  I was able to put small items that had previously been on the bathroom counter on the top shelf, so that freed up counter space, which is huge, because we don’t have much of that.

In addition to adding a lot of practicality to the space, this also allows me to warm up the space by using a little decor.  I haven’t done that yet, because I’m super lame at decorating.  But, someday, I will either see a picture on Pinterest and copy it or one of my friends will come over and do it for me.  Until then, this shelf’s decorating potential is unmet.  But it’s purpose is completely fulfilled.

Organizing 101: Purchase New Storage Systems as a Reward (Not an Incentive)

I was at one of my favorite sporting goods stores a few months ago, eyeing all of the athletic wear and wishing it were in my closet when I ran into someone I knew.  She was holding a shirt in her hand and I commented about finding something.  She explained to me that she has been working out for the last few months as part of a greater goal to be healthier and created an incentive system for herself.  For every ten pounds she loses, she gets to buy a new piece of workout wear.  My first thought was “Genius!”, my second thought was “Shoot.  There’s probably no more need to rehearse my sales pitch to my husband for why I need this new Nike shirt…..”

Every time I go to the store and walk amidst the running clothes, I get inspired to run more.  But, not once in my life has owning new running clothes been the incentive that has made me change my running habits.  I may run the day or two after bringing the new item home, but, never once has it changed my habits.

That’s the key.

I think it’s the same way for our organizational tools.  I get it.  I’ve done it too.  I walk around The Container Store and see all the beautiful bins, containers, baskets, drawers and labels and I get all swept up in the potential of how orderly and beautiful my life could be if I just had these things.  But, the reality is that it just doesn’t work that way.

Instituting order in your life does not mean needing lots of fancy storage systems.  Marketers spend a lot of money to make you believe that, but it’s just not true.  The best way to make storage systems work for you is to purchase them as a reward and not an incentive.

When organizing a space, start with The Big Three: Sort, Purge and Clean.  THEN purchase any necessary storage equipment.

This is more effective for two reasons.  The first is that, more often than not, when we buy new organizing tools as inspiration, they end up just adding to the pre-existing clutter.  It’s easy and exciting to buy new stuff.  It’s not easy or exciting (for most of us) to actually do the hard work of going through our stuff and getting rid of it.  So, what we intend to be the solution ends up compounding the problem.

The second reason buying organizational systems as a reward is more effective is that it allows you to buy for what you know you need versus what you think might work.  After you’ve sorted & purged, you have a blank slate.  And you have gone through and know exactly what items need to be stored.  You know if drawers or baskets would be best.  You know how much space you need.  You know how many shelves you have in that closet that are set aside to store certain items.  You don’t add to the pre-existing clutter with more tools that don’t do the job you need them to do.

Try it.  Tell me if it doesn’t work.  What’s the worst thing that can happen?