Posts tagged ‘nesting’

September 19, 2012

Lessons from a Nesting Mom: Organizing Your Pictures, Memories, and Home

This is my third pregnancy, and my third time experiencing nesting.  “Nesting” is the term coined to describe that intense need most pregnant woman have to put everything in order before their baby arrives.  For some reason, this third time around was by far my most intense nesting experience.  This time my nesting period lasted a good 3 months, and I hardly came up for air.  Yes I was pregnant and growing a baby, but I would gladly sacrifice hours and hours of sleep to get through those bathroom cupboards, or to go through my girls’ clothes to make enough room for fall clothes at 3:00 a.m. (because that is when I happened to wake up).

Before deciding to stay home with my children, I was a process and strategy consultant.  I can’t shake the habit of analyzing processes to figure out the best way to do something.  Throughout this nesting period I realized there were some things I was doing right and things I was doing wrong.  I want to divide these “lessons learned” into three parts–organizing your pictures, memories, and home.

Part 1: Organizing Your Pictures

* Download all of your pictures at the same time. This includes not just your camera, but your phone (and your husband’s, for that matter).

* Store your pictures under the year, and then the month of that year (with a number before the month).  Organizing your pictures like this will make it much easier if you go back and make a photo book, try and locate a specific picture, or try to remember when something happened.  When you are assigning the month file a name,  start with the month’s number, for example ‘1 – January 2012’, or ‘2 – February 2012’.  That way the files will visually be in order when you click on that particular year, because months’ names are not in alphabetical order, but by using a number they will be in order.

* Go through all the downloaded pictures and only keep the best. Digital cameras are a blessing, but we typically take four pictures of the same thing.  Figure out the best shot, and delete the other three.

* Back up your pictures. This can be to your hard drive, your online photo system, or whatever you use, just be sure to back them up.  If saving to an online system, use an informative title with the year, month, and description, like ‘2012 September Starting School’.

* Delete the pictures off your camera and phone and start anew. That way, you won’t keep downloading the same pictures again and agian.

Simple, right?  We all know that it is not.  But taking these extra steps when you download your pictures will save you hours and hours of time in the future.  I know my ‘photo -nesting’ would have been over a lot sooner if I would have followed these ideas.

Part 2: Recording Memories & Quotes

You know when your kids say something cute and you don’t want to forget it?  Or what about when your Mom gives you great advice, or if you go on a trip and learn some awesome facts on a tour?  How do you remember all these things?  After 8 years, I think I have fine-tuned my system.

* Write them down in a non-perfect way in a place that takes seconds to locate.  A phrase or something with enough words that will remind you of that situation will do.  Most of these great quotes happen when you are in the middle of something, and you need a system that will only take a few seconds.  You could use a scrap piece of paper on the fridge, your calendar, your notepad on your phone, or a combination of a few places.

* Record the memories in a Word document every few weeks or months. Pull out your memory notes, and write out a complete description.  Recording these memories really does not take very long, and it is an enjoyable thing to relive those happy moments of the past.

* Don’t be overly verbose with descriptions of your memories. Usually just a few lines will do.  You have a long life to live, and you will be much more likely to review your past with your children and yourself if your description reads quickly rather than if it is a novel.  What you do with your memories is up to you.  I like to add them to my annual family photo book, so that my photos and memories are together for the year.

* Save the Word document under the “Pictures” file for that year. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that a Word document can be saved in the Pictures section of your computer.  Why not keep your memories with the pictures of the same time period of life?  Also, if you are constantly backing up your pictures, your memories will be backed up as well.

* A side note about organizing artwork: Besides organizing my photos and recording memories, I went through my girls’ artwork from the last year.  While doing this, it became apparent to me that this is one pile that should sit a few months before you go through it, or you will keep everything.  The only thing you should do with the artwork before taping it up or setting it in that pile is date it (in the corner or on the back) and add a note if applicable, like how they described the drawing, or rewriting what they wrote because it is not quite legible. Then about 3 times a year, I go through their art and keep about 15% of their work…and let me tell you it is still plenty.  Make sure your children do not see their art in the recycling bin–time to be sneaky.

How to organize that artwork once you have gone through it is up to you.  Some like to file it, some scan it or take pictures.  I like to put it in a binder in page protectors so my girls can look through it periodically.

Part 3: Organizing Your Home

My family lives in a space with less than 1300 square feet, so keeping it organized is somewhat of a necessity.  And with my neurotic ways (which I am sure you have picked up on in Parts 1 and 2), you can probably imagine that it needs to stay clean or I am not going to be able to enjoy life.  Here are a few lessons learned when organizing my home:

*Organize your cupboards and drawers in a way that is easily maintained. If you have to place something behind or under something else, it will not get put away.  I have two drawers in my girls’ bathroom where you literally can do a sweeping motion with your hand into the drawer to keep the counter clean.  The only way to do this is to have less in your cupboards, which leads to my next point…

* Throw lots and lots of things away (or recycle, or give them to Goodwill).  If you have not used it or your kids have not played with it in a year, it is time to get rid of it.  When going through your clothes, ask yourself, “Do I look forward to wearing this particular piece of clothing?” Better to have a wardrobe with 5 shirts you love, instead of 20 you kind of like.  Also, have a Goodwill bag ready to go, so that you have a consistent place to put these items whenever you come by them.

* When getting rid of things, you will always come to regret 2 to 3 items.  Expect this. However, the cleanliness you will experience in your day-to-day life will far outweigh the feeling of, “Darn, I should have held on to that” or the cost of the extra storage space you paid for.

I know this goes without saying, but these are just my opinions and you should do what works for you.  But hopefully you might find a few ideas to make your life easier in my lessons learned during this fierce nesting period. Because after all, you can’t get pregnant every time you want to get your life in order.