Quaranteening: Tips for Quarantine with Teens

My family spent 36 days in quarantine. No, that wasn’t a typo. While not easy for anyone, I think it was most difficult for my teens compared to my younger kids. My teens are 13, 15 and 18 and their younger siblings 5 and 9. I was conversing with someone who said their teen just went into quarantine and asked me if I had any tips. Since my friends have dubbed me a Quarantine Rock Star, here’s what I advised:

  1. Let their friends to drop off treats, sweets, or care packages. My teens got so much joy from knowing their friends were thinking about them. Anything edible is highly valued. One friend delivered a bagel with cream cheese from a popular local eatery, and the recipient of that bagel had a grin a mile wide. One friend brought homemade cookies and another replenished a diminishing stash of chocolate. Other goodies they received were puzzles, craft supplies, and books to borrow.
  2. Allow more time on screens and phones than normally allowed. While it got a little out of control in total daily hours, it did keep them connected to their friends as well as give them time to chillax.
  3. Outdoor time is crucial. If you have a patio, porch or a yard, spend some time outdoors and get some sun and fresh air. Don’t stay cooped up indoors all day. To note, it’s said vitamin D boosts immunity which comes from the sun.
  4. If the teen shares a room, be sure he/she can have “alone time” in their personal space. Consider this point is if the entire family is quarantining together.
  5. Maintain a daily fitness routine. Whether dance, yoga, or other, keep the body moving for all the health benefits exercise provides.

For those inquiring minds as to why we were in quarantine for 36 days, in the most condensed version (which could go on forever in the long version):

We thought our child had a cold, allergies, or strep. We went for a strep test, requested a Corona test, and got denied because the “criteria” weren’t met for testing (no high fever, cough, breathing trouble, or direct exposure to someone positive). The school wouldn’t allow the child back without negative test and until it came to light there had been “an exposure”, only then it became mandatory to do the test and go into quarantine,

When the results came back positive, we were quite honestly surprised. Everyone else got tested and the ones who tested NEGATIVE had an ADDITIONAL 14 DAYS of quarantine AFTER the last person was considered covered (10 days from when the testing occurred, not from the onset of symptoms) resulting in a grand total of 36 days from start to finish.

While our extra-long quarantine was difficult for everyone, I think it was hardest for the teens because they are more independent and want their freedom. Younger kids can play with toys, play in the splash pool, have stories read to them, and will generally think anything to be fun if the parent has a positive attitude and downplays the experience. The teens are in a different stage of life so the more they can stay connected to their peers and the outside world, the better.

May you not need this advice but reference it if you do.

Here are the links to the other posts about my Corona experience

Quaranteening. Tips for Quarantining with Teens

I’m Corona Positive. What they Don’t Tell You and What to Expect: The Story Continues

Post Corona Recovery. How I’m Feeling and What’s Changed

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Body shaming, language shaming, just don’t!

Body shaming has gotten much publicity. It’s hurtful, wrong, and nobody’s business how you look. Today I got shamed by a stranger, not for how I look, but for what I said, or rather for what I didn’t.

For me, acquiring Hebrew has been an uphill struggle. I’ve tried and haven’t given up. After 5000+ correspondences this week of WhatsApp messages and emails, my new best friend is Google Translate. The number of times I had to rely on it indicates there is much room for improvement in my language skills and I’m very aware of my limitations.

Today I was attempting to communicate something with a receptionist using limited vocabulary of a subject matter when an older man in the line, asked how long I’ve been in this country. I reply 10 years and then has the chutzpa to tell me my Hebrew should be better after that duration of time. Often the best response is no response and since I was so stunned from the exchange I had nothing to say except SERIOUSLY??? (said aloud in English) and plenty of things left unsaid.

To note, I had a similar exchange when I had lived in Israel less than a year, so there is something to be observed that the (unrealistic) expectation of native language speakers for new immigrants. As a language teacher of 24 years (Spanish, English, and ESL) I can say with confidence, it takes YEARS to learn a second language. Never-the-less, it still bothers me to the core to be shamed and I should be getting an A+ for effort.

I have a few thoughts over this exchange which reflect themes of this pre-Rosh Hashana time:

  1. Don’t judge. You never know what storms people are walking or have walked through.
  2. Criticism is not helpful. You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.
  3. Shaming someone is like killing them. The Torah says “embarrassing someone in public is considered a serious crime, akin to killing someone.” If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.

In regards to my Hebrew, I’ll be the first to acknowledge I would like to be more proficient. Just like body shaming, the individual already knows what needs to be changed; and it takes time, motivation, and patience. A few years ago I wrote The Unbrag Post on Blog Times of Israel how I had managed to complete a weekly school update and how proud I was. One day, I’ll bid farewell Google, but that day hasn’t arrived.

Learning a new language is difficult and takes time. Children generally pick it up faster than adults, especially since they are immersed in it during school hours. Be encouraging, don’t shame. Now I’m going to ‘declutter’ this experience from my thoughts and carry on with preparing for Shabbos. If you are a new Olah or soon to be making aliyah, my words of wisdom are to go to ulpan, find a buddy to speak with, and just do the best you can because there will also be those blessed souls who will tell you you’re doing just fine.

Thanks for reading,

Karen, The Klutter Koach.

My Post-Quarantine Decluttering Frenzy

Today I went on a decluttering frenzy. It felt fantastic to reclaim the space and get a boost of joy at the same time!  After 34 days in quarantine, it was time to raise the standard from survival mode to reclaiming my space.  Here’s a bullet list of what I accomplished:

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  • Under the bed.  This week’s FlyLady Zone of the Week is the master bedroom so I started there. I removed everything which had been stashed under the beds.  This included a bag of clothes for the seamstress,  giveaway clothing, a basket full of papers, and other random items. The under the bed area is now clean, swept, and washed.
  • Bedroom closet.  My closet is tiny, as in 2 feet of hanging bar and three drawers.  I removed items I no longer wear, took out extra hangers, and organized by color (a home organizer thing…I like my clothes in rainbow order). Now that I’m re-entering the world, I need something to wear besides yoga pants, go-to skirt, and two tops. My closet looks very appealing and will be easy to find something to wear.
  • Bookshelf.  I decided to part with 10 books. My favorite books never get decluttered.  These books were secondhand and cost 5 shekel apiece, hence no guilt on decluttering them. Let someone else enjoy them.
  • Donatable items.  My donation pile has been growing for months.  I finally loaded the pile on to the stroller and strolled over to my favorite second-hand establishments. The corner where they were stashed is now empty.
  • Bags.  We usually shop with reusable bags.  Since we were unable to go to the store we had our groceries delivered, everything comes in paper or plastic (excepting Rami Levi with their hot pink reusable bag).  My ‘bag of bags’ had morphed into multiple bags of bags.  For those of you who save bags, you know what I’m talking about.  The paper bags got recycled and the excess plastic ones got donated.
  • Borrowed items.  We are extremely grateful to friends who lent us things to keep us entertained during our quarantine. Now it’s time to return them.
  • Recycling.  I’m a lucky mama that my kids enjoy making creations with cardboard boxes, egg cartons, etc.  Give them a hot glue gun and some materials for the recycling bin and they are busy for hours.  At this point, enough is enough.  I’m out of space to store the supplies.  But no worries, there will be more soon enough to replenish the supply.
  • Excess toys.  Whether blocks, Lego, or marbles, less is sometimes more.  The kids may disagree, but if my naked toe is about to come in contact with yet another stray piece, it could mean there’s too much to clean up.  I decided to half the excess and it’s going into the machsan (storage room).  I’m going to decrease the volume to see if that facilitates cleanup and reduces clutter.

It feels GREAT to reclaim the space.  Even though our home is small (100 meters), we generally make due with the space.  But it’s like that famous story where the man goes to his rabbi to complain about his small home. The rabbi has the man bring in his chickens, goats, cow, etc. etc. Then the man goes back to the rabbi saying how even more crowded his space is. The wise rabbi says to take out all the livestock and lo and behold, the man thinks his home is quite spacious.  That is the feeling I am experiencing now.

Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

Post-Corona Recovery: How I’m feeling and what’s changed

My family has been in quarantine for 30 days.  Of the seven of us, the four who tested positive have been officially “released” from quarantine and considered “recovered”. The three who tested negative for having been “exposed” to the rest of the family, have 6 days of an additional 14 days left. Don’t ask… I’ll explain why later in the post.

Post Corona Blog post

I appreciate all the well-wishes and virtual love coming my way.  The encouragement is strengthening my spirit and giving me the courage to know this imprisonment of quarantine will be over soon.  A 100 square meter apartment for seven people isn’t enough space to be all together for 24/7 for over a month with no respite.  When the whole world was on lockdown, we were all in the same boat.  But when you’re stuck home and everyone else is out living life, it’s very depressing.

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Thank G-d we had mild cases, it could have been much worse and I can’t compare our experience with anyone else’s challenges.  Noted, in no particular order, is a bullet list of how I’m feeling and what’s different since I came down with Covid-19 in mid-July.

  • Loss of smell. The sense is returning, but there’s no pattern for which things I can detect and which I can’t.  When I had some motivation to make soup. I hardly noticed the chopped onions, yet I was able to notice the aroma of mango in a smoothie.
  • Reduced energy levels. The recovery process is taking more time than it “should” (as compared to a common cold). Since there is so little knowledge about the recovery process, I don’t know what to expect other than hearing it “takes a long time”.
  • Low motivation. I’m not motivated to get things accomplished. There are no “extra activities” in my day, only essentials.
  • Craving nature. Too much time on screens, virtual existence, and time indoors has me craving green space. The kids and I started container gardening and have daily time on the patio caring for our plants. I would love a Beach Day or a getaway among flowers and trees.  I want to be in nature, not indoors.
  • Perception of time. Life outside of quarantine seems to have moved on and I still am incredulous that August is coming to a close.  Wasn’t it just May?  I know the year, but don’t ask me day or month. There was no schedule, no appointments, nowhere to go. The day had a pattern to it, but nothing specific to mark the hours. It was either “not Shabbos” or “Shabbos”.  I’m not in the “back to school” mode because “summer vacation” proceeds back to school and summer hasn’t happened yet (for us).
  • Thirst. I’m very thirsty. I wake in the middle of the night to drink 12 ounces.  When I awake in the morning, I drink the same amount, as my mouth is parched. I drink frequently throughout the day.
  • Reduced hunger.  I have little appetite. Not being hungry should, in theory, have a silver lining of shedding a pound or two…however this hasn’t happened.  I may have lost my sense of smell as well as my appetite, but I didn’t lose my sense of humor.
  • Reduced sugar cravings.  In all the “diets” being promoted, the common denominator is to reduce things like sugar, refined flour, animal products, etc.  By default, this happened.  This isn’t a bad thing, only something to note.
  • Mental health awareness.  All we’ve heard about are physical symptoms of Covid-19, but the mental health challenges aspect of this pandemic has been overlooked.  There is anxiety, loneliness, stress, worry, and frustration. This is a holistic illness, not just a physical one. The nurse would call daily how we were feeling (physically) but nothing in the realm of asking about fears or feelings. It’s a very isolating experience.  Those in the mental health field need to do a media blast of resources available if someone needs support and someone to talk to.
  • Live-in-the-moment attitude. If I want to put on purple lipstick or paint my nails some wild color, I’ll do it.  If a book bored me, I’ll quit and break the “rule” of “finishing what you start”. I don’t care what everyone else is doing, I just want to be me and enjoy my time on this planet. I’ve come to appreciate the attitude of living in the moment because things can change in an instant.
  • Giving it over to G-d.  Whether income, health, or some other challenge, I’ve given up worrying about it (for the most part…).  I pray for the best but I simply don’t have the mental energy to sit and worry about things I thought “I” could control.  I’ve concluded I can only control my attitude and emotions.
  • Social media. In addition to losing my appetite for food, I lost my appetite for social media.  For one thing, scrolling made me ill. Second, I got bored.

To explain the additional days of quarantine:  from the time when the last person was tested, there are 10 days they could be contagious and healthy people could “still come down with symptoms on day 10, so two additional weeks are added.

What’s really maddening is that the last person who tested positive had symptoms for nearly a week before the test administers came to our home.  For my test, I was tested 24 hours after the request was made.  For the other family members, the request was made on the same day but it took 6 DAYS to be tested, which is an additional four days of unnecessary waiting.  The 10-day count started from the test day, not the day the symptoms appeared, as it had previously been done. (Note: My family is on two different health plans, so that is why all the tests were not administered on the same day.)

That’s the update.  This is a process without precedent so we’ll see what happens next and what’s around the corner.

Thanks for reading.

Karen 

I’m Corona positive. What they don’t tell you and what to expect. Part II #TheStoryContinues

My family is on Day 20 of quarantine.  By popular request, I’m writing a follow-up post to I’m Corona positive. What they don’t tell you and what to expect.  Everyone has expressed concern about how I’m doing so here is the update and how I’m managing.

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“How are you?”

After 20 days without leaving the house, it’s not easy.  But, overall, I suppose I’m doing ok.  It could be worse. My outlook and mood change by the minute based on how the kids are interacting, but that’s parenthood in general.  If they are getting along and playing cooperatively without shouting, I can relax and get some well-needed rest.  *Note: two family members had symptoms a week before mine and another tested positive after me, which is why this is the never-ending quarantine.

Here’s how I’m feeling:

  • Loss of smell. If put something up to my nose and take a whiff, I can smell something versus smelling nothing compared to last week, but it’s faint.  Some things I can smell and other things I can’t.  I can smell my tomato plant if I touch the stem and put my hand up to my nose.  I can smell chocolate chips.  I can’t smell cinnamon applesauce cooking on the stove. I can’t smell the spices during havdalah.
  • Nasal discomfort.  This symptom is gone. My doctor recommended a saline spray and Tylenol for when I was having symptoms.
  • Body aches. Gone.
  • Energy level.  Returning but I’m not functioning at full speed. I can manage many household activities but at a slower pace. I’m feeling exponentially better than a week ago which was “I have no motivation and just want to lay here and do nothing”.
  • Fast-moving text. Being able to scroll is also greatly improving, Scrolling on screens still bothers my eyes/head and I prefer letters and images to stay in one place.  I’ve had the desire to cut down on time spent on social media and this has been the perfect opportunity.  I’m not able to scroll longer than a few seconds. I apologize if I’ve missed a birth, simcha, or other lifecycle event that may have been posted on social media as I don’t stay on long enough to find out.
  • Appetite. Returning but still not normal.  I’m simply not hungry.  A side benefit of this whole situation would be nice to shed a pound or two, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. When I do eat, it’s minimal.  In regards to thirst, I don’t realize I’m thirsty until my mouth feels dry. What’s notably unusual is that my sweet tooth has seemingly disappeared,

The Corona Hotel Option

We had the option of going to a Corona hotel. We considered it for about five seconds and decided against it.  The only upside for considering it was to get out of our apartment so the kids could run around and be outdoors.

We have a lovely community of chesed volunteers who run errands for us and deliver food if needed.  We are in our own space with our books, crafts, toys, and favorite foods.  The hotel option has no pool, no beach, and is full of sick people which does not appeal to me. Going to a hotel would NOT be a vacation.  Finally, the family members who are considered recovered would have to spend an additional 14 days in quarantine and I’m not going to do that to them.

When are you getting out of bidud (quarantine)?

I’m out TODAY, as is one child who is considered “recovered”.  The rest of the family is complicated because the regulations for getting out of bidud change faster than the weather in spring.  A certain number of days is counted.  First is was counted from the onset of symptoms, then it was from when the doctor put the request in the computer for testing, and then it was from when the test results came back.  The kids who tested negative are penalized for being healthy and need an extra two weeks than everyone else.  I’m trying to get clarification for the other family members.  #ItsComplicated #OverThis #PatienceGone

How are you holding up?

Mix hot summer weather, frustration, bickering kids, and being stuck in quarantine, it’s the perfect combination for a #MommyMeltdown.  I bet you’ve had at least one yourself since lockdown.  Other than the meltdown I had the other day,  I’m usually a very laid back, easy-going individual who goes with the flow,  This particular day, I simply had “had it.”  If I was out doing my recycling, I would have been smashing glass bottles with such force they would be shattering into millions of pieces. Thankfully pillows were a more convenient appropriate substitute to take out pent up frustration.

Availing myself of empathetic friends and other resource people has been extremely beneficial in the mental wellness aspect of this quarantine.

alone time

What’s Difficult

  • Not getting a break is extremely difficult.  I’m with kids literally 24-7  in a confined space.  I’m someone who needs occasional quiet and I’ve had none. Music helps. My aromatherapy diffuser helps as it has pretty changing colors.  (Everyone else can smell the oils…)
  • Not knowing when the entire household can “get out”. The rules change every five seconds, Not that there is anywhere I want to go and honestly would PREFER to be at home and away from people, but even to go out for a short walk around the block or take out my own trash is an excursion.
  • Not working.  I’ve been doing some freelance editing and resume writing and I really enjoy it. BTW, if you know someone looking for work who needs a resume update or LinkedIn profiles… contact me. (Hey, I can self-promote. It’s my blog).  However, my business as  a home organizer is on hold and I really miss my work and my clients.  

Happiness is a choice

Requests/ How to Help

In no random order

  • Visit.  I can go out on my balcony and can shout down while you shout up (two floors). Social distancing doesn’t have to be social isolation. Besides,  I can show off my tomato plants we’re growing in pots and see a friendly face at the same time.
  • Tell me how you can help. A lot of people ASK what they can do but TELL ME what you can do.  Keep me in mind if you’re at the store ask if there’s anything I need.  If you want to bring us food, tell me what you want to make and when you want to bring it by.  If you want to order takeout in lieu of cooking, suggest it and then order.
  • Message me.  This is a very isolating experience. “Thinking about you” messages, virtual chocolate, and virtual flowers are all fine by me.
  • TLC reminders. Remind me to drink something. Remind me that I should probably take some Vitamin C.

So that’s the update.  Things are progressing in the healing direction. We’ve been blessed to have a mild case. The purpose of this to post as well is the previous one is to show that Corona isn’t only high fever, difficulty breathing, or coughing.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

 

 

I’m Corona positive. What they don’t tell you and what to expect.

I’m Corona positive.  How did it happen?  Who’s to say…the germ found me and invaded.  I’m recovering, thank G-d but I didn’t think it would be like this.  It’s not the horror story of symptoms we’ve been indoctrinated into fearing since lockdown. I was just going to lay low and let it pass, but once I shared the news with my circles I received numerous messages with questions.  As someone who has always been one to disperse knowledge, here’s the scoop about my experience thus far.

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I’ll start by saying that we were uber careful with mask-wearing, hand washing, social distancing, and using good hygiene practices. I believe masks help to stay safe.  I don’t think anything is perfect…like birth control.  There’s always that percent when it just doesn’t work, even when used properly.

One of my kids first came down with symptoms that we presumed were either due to a cold, allergies, or both.  A low fever popped up but never reached above 99F.  During months of lockdown, we were barraged with horror stories of high fevers, coughing, and breathing difficulties. The child complained of a sore throat and a headache, the classic strep-like symptoms my kids get.

A few days passed with no improvement and I thought it wise to get a throat culture. I asked if they would do a Corona test and was told the child “didn’t meet the criteria” to be tested.

After the strep test came back negative and it became known the child had direct contact with someone who tested positive for Corona, the child was tested for Corona and the test came back positive, which quite frankly, was a shock.

Meanwhile, I start not feeling well.  I started having body aches.  It hurt to be touched.  I checked my temperature.  No fever.  I have an oil for tight muscles my acupuncturist gave me. It’s got menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus, and camphor-really powerful stuff you can smell a mile away.  I put some on my tight shoulder muscles (from stress…go figure why I have any stress in my life).  If felt the tingle of the oil, but then it dawned on me I COULDN’T SMELL it.  In addition to all the horror stories we had heard, I also heard that loss of smell is a symptom indicating a high probability of Corona. I held the bottle under my nose and couldn’t smell a darn thing.  Uh oh.  This wasn’t good.

I continued to have body aches and no fever.  I couldn’t smell.  I was very tired.  Not like sleepy tired, but more like when I was pregnant and feeling drained.  I was too awake to fall asleep and too sleepy to want to be awake.  I couldn’t concentrate on the book I was reading and scrolling on the computer bothered me.  I wouldn’t describe it as a headache or feeling dizzy, neither of which is accurate, but more like a feeling of needing to close my eyes because the speed of something moving quickly in front of my eyes bothered me and caused discomfort.

It’s been almost two weeks. I’m still stuffy.  If it were a cold, there’s what to blow into a tissue, but there’s nothing.  It’s like my passages are swollen and it’s really difficult to breathe through my nose.  I’m still tired, but not as that draining exhaustion. Granted, I’m not trying to be supermom, have super low standards to keep my household afloat, but I still have a houseful of active kids who have been cooped up for two weeks so “attempting” to rest is just that, an attempt.  Scrolling on a screen still bothers me.

Today I was able to detect a slight smell to my oil when I wafted the bottle under my nose.  Slight is better than nothing, so I’ve very happy about that.  My doctor says I can use a saline spray to help with the congestion.

One thing that’s stopping me from resting, besides the kids, is the deluge of phone calls from the doctor’s office, Iryiah (local government), and other government organizations.  I have been asked countless times what my symptoms are/were and when they started.  Where have we been in the past two weeks (nowhere).  After we go over the symptoms I’m asked if I need anything:

“How are  you, do I need anything?”

Me: “Well, I need to get out of my house, a maid, fast food delivery, some mint chocolate ice cream, beach sand, some hanging plants, and flowers.”

“Sorry, we can’t help you with that, but we can send you some meals or have someone run errands for you. Let us know. ”

Explaining the same thing over and over again is getting very cumbersome.  The royal treatment of concern for being of the status “Corona Positive” far exceeds any attention I got from my c-sections, regular births, or any other cold or flu in my adult life.

Aside from the symptoms and how I’m feeling, I want to give a shout to all the neighbors, chesed organizations, friends, and community members who are all checking on us, running errands, bringing food, bringing things for the kids.  The virus has proven that people want to help each other and that kindness cannot go unnoticed and unmentioned.  If you do get sick, reach out to those who can help you and it’s a great blessing to have people who are there for you.

I look forward to a returned sense of smell and the ability to leave my house, gifts I never considered gifts until I didn’t have them.

To summarize, the measuring stick of “high fever, cough, and breathing difficulty” aren’t the only symptoms indicating Corona. If you have any questions or concerns, check with a medical practitioner, as I don’t dispense medical advice, I am only sharing my experience.

Stay well, mask yourself in public, support your immune system, and take care.  Thanks for reading.

Karen

 

 

My Career Switch, Aliyah, and The Klutter Koach

There are many conversations and news articles about the effects of Covid 19 aka Corona Virus and its effects on people making aliyah.  The numbers are going up -I say this ambiguously – as it can mean both numbers of Corona cases as well as the deluge of inquiries and applications to organizations like Nefesh B’Nefesh for making Aliyah.

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My passion for working with and advising those making or considering aliyah earned me a shout-out in a recent article called The Great Call in Arutz Sheva Israel National News.

There’s much talk buzzing around Facebook Aliyah groups about people wanting to move to Israel but have concerns regarding what they will do for work.

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Let me share my story of how I switched careers and then became an entrepreneur and starting my business The Klutter Koach.  The story goes back about 30 years.

When I was in high school I wanted to be a massage therapist. My mom has been a lifelong migraine sufferer and I used to ease her pain with massage. I was told I had talent by friends who also wanted some relief of neck and shoulder tension.  With the idealism of a high school student, I wanted to become a massage therapist (never say masseuse) and work on a cruise ship or in a spa.

My parents nixed that idea and insisted I go to college and get a degree.  When I was older I could do what I wanted. So following my parents’ advice, I went to Miami University double majored in Education and Spanish and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education.

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I became a teacher of Spanish and ESL. Some years were great, some were less so, but after two decades of teaching I really wanted to be a massage therapist, so with the encouragement of my husband, I started training.  After completing a 637-hour program at the Baltimore School of Massage I took and passed the Maryland state licensing exams and could now be a practicing therapist.  At this point in time, we were seriously ready to move forward on our aliyah dreams and my plan for work once arriving in Israel was to quit teaching and exclusively do massage.

Just over a year after my retraining (and still teaching part-time) the time was ripe for us to make aliyah. We moved to Karmiel in the North where we stayed for four years.  As they say ‘Man Plans, G-d Laughs’, and instead of doing massage, I found myself teaching English going from school to school for short-term maternity coverages having a rare massage client.  I didn’t have the Hebrew language skills to advertise to the general public outside of our small Anglo community nor did I know Russian which was the second most spoken language.

Covid come home

My husband’s efforts to find employment were even more difficult than mine, and after four years of unimaginable stress, we packed up and headed to Bet Shemesh in Central Israel, a community with many English speakers, situated between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  I had more teaching opportunities but the language barrier of teaching native Israelis was a big challenge and I finally turned in my teacher hat and took a job for an Anglo company doing online research.

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Taking two steps back in the story, prior to retraining in massage I wanted to use my language skills to write. I was interested in writing magazine articles or doing editing work so the advice given to me was that if I wanted to go into writing, I needed writing samples.  From this suggestion, I started my blog.

Another piece of advice that had been given was if you want to earn some extra cash, take something you have talent in and monetize it.  Organizing is something I’ve been doing since 1st grade when I used to circulate the classroom tidying up everyone’s desks. I was constantly rearranging my closet, and always got a thrill of adrenaline in places like the Container Store. I had done some organizing for friends and family for fun plus a few jobs for pay and decided going in the direction of home organizing was something to pursue.

Fast forward, I have left teaching, run my home organizing business, and do some freelance editing on the side. I have an occasional massage client but haven’t done an ad blast to announce that I do it. (..but I could if I wanted to.)  A wise friend said it is economically responsible to have more than one income stream and Hashem will send you what you need when you need it.

So continuing with my story, I work with a variety of people who need my services, whether a senior couple who is downsizing and needs my assistance or a busy mom who needs a hand with decluttering.

One population I service is the Olim population (Olim are people who made aliyah). I love unpacking their newly arrived boxes and setting up their kitchens or other areas of the home in a logical and orderly manner.  I also help those who have been here a bit longer to downsize when they realize they have “too much stuff” regardless of what they got rid of before moving.

Whether a new oleh, or someone more established, if a client has items to give away, one service I provide is freecycling the giveaways within the community.  As they say “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” so in addition to keeping usable items out of the landfill, I “make a shidduch” between one party’s giveaways and another party who can use them.  In many instances, giveaways go to other new Olim, some who come with very little and need to re-acquire things that got rid of before their move.

Aliyah Resources (2)

My blog now complements the business with over 30 posts in a series calledThe Aliyah Files which includes many articles on downsizing and decluttering. The question of what one should do with their “stuff” is a question that comes up all the time and these articles are a good resource on the how-tos.

Since many of the aliyah discussions take place on social media and not everyone hangs out on these platforms, I’m always happy to answer questions about my experience or give advice about things in the jurisdiction of  “your stuff”.  Feel free to message me here.

So that’s the story of my career path and how it evolved.  You need to have a little creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and a positive attitude to explore possibilities you may not have considered.  Also, utilize and broaden your network of contacts because you just never know who may be able to help you in your job search.

Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

 

 

The Aliyah Files #31 Moving Tips on Packing Books for the Jewish Home

 

Bookcase (1)

Jewish homes have lots of books.  Marie Kondo’s suggestion of a 30-book limit just doesn’t work for us, so when it comes to packing up bookcases prior to moving there’s a lot of work to be done.  I highly recommend doing a book purge prior to packing so you are only bringing books you love to your new home, but if you’re ready to pack here are some tips.

Bookcase (3)
Solid or Fun Prints to Denote Rooms

Color code by room.  If you have more than one room with a bookcase and plan to have a similar setup in the new place, use colored stickers or colored duct tape to denote to which room the box belongs. For example living room=green, bedroom #1=blue, bedroom #2=yellow.

Bookcase (4).jpg

Label the side + top of the box.  When the boxes are stacked, you can’t see the labels.

Bookcase (7).jpg

Separate kodesh (holy/religious) and chol (non-religious).   There is a halacha (Jewish law) about not stacking nonreligious books on top of a kodesh (holy) books which I  confirmed this with my rabbi, so I would presume that what applies to stacking would also apply to packing. In practical lingo, keep your Gemorahs and Chumashim in separate boxes from your New York Times bestsellers.

Use small-sized boxes for books. If you are looking for second-hand boxes, ask around to see who has moved recently and offer to take the boxes off their hands.  If you’re hunting around town for boxes, the boxes that the 2-liter soda bottles come in are a nice size. Just don’t use something too big or the box will get really heavy.  Also, if possible, try to keep the boxes approximately the same size.

Bookcase (5)

If you want to be uber-organized, pack by category.  Think of a library and how books are arranged. They are grouped by topic.  Some people already have similar topics grouped together.  If you don’t, no worries, and don’t stress about it.  Just consider organizing your shelves by categories post-move.

Finally, be sure the tape at the bottom of the box is securely reinforced.  There’s nothing worse than a poorly taped box that breaks open.

If you haven’t started packing yet, I suggested doing a book purge. Here’ a post about downsizing your book collection using what I call “the onion analogy”.

Have questions about what to take on Aliyah?  Contact me.

Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

 

 

The Aliyah Files #30 What to Bring on the Plane When Travelling with School-aged Kids

Mazel tov!  August will be my family’s 10-year Aliyahversary, meaning ten years ago we left our life in America and moved to Israel. I can’t believe a decade has passed and it seems like just yesterday we boarded the plane.

Aliyah 2010 welcome ceremony
A sign I drew on the plane.

Speaking of planes, based on the Nefesh B’Nefesh summer flight schedule, it looks like lots of folks will be flying this summer.  Though it’s been many years since we were on that charter flight from JFK to Tel Aviv, I’m going to recommend some things to take on the plane. This list is catered toward families with elementary school-aged children based on my experience with traveling with kids who were aged 3-11.

our aliyah flight
Buckled in ready for take-off

DO travel lightly.  The less you bring, the less you have to shlep. Everything feels heavier when you’re tired.  As a parent, even though my children were “supposed to” be responsible for their own backpacks, I ended up carrying most of them and feeling like a pack mule.

DO bring

  • gum
  • lots of nosh- chips, pretzels, granola.  Be sensitive to items with peanuts or other allergens that could be dangerous to other passengers.
  • special treats- novelty candy, lollypops, etc, These are the items I never buy but they did keep the kids happy and entertained. These are the treats that include a novelty toy like a flashlight or other figit. Amazingly, this kept the kids busy for hours.
  • a neck pillow
  • comfy socks or slippers (if you want to take off shoes)
  • phone or other devices for music + headphones.  I haven’t flown in 10 years so I am not sure what in-flight options are currently.
  • deck of cards
  • a sweater or sweatshirt
  • favorite stuffed animal/comfort item
  • a chapter book for avid readers
  • drawing paper, coloring book, activity book, and coloring utensils
  • journal for older kids who like to write

El Al Airlines has a good article called Flying With Children with additional suggestions on preparing for the flight.

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We’ve landed! Photo from my scrapbook album

Here’s an article from Nefesh B’Nefesh on Aliyah flight luggage guidelines I recommend reading if you are flying in the near future.

Wishing you safe and happy travels and if you have any pre-aliyah questions in the jurisdiction of your “stuff” don’t hesitate to contact me

Karen, The Klutter Koach

Have you missed any of The Aliyah Files?

  1. Housekeeping 101 in Israel
  2. Recommended Cleaning Products to Buy in Israel
  3. No Closets?! Where Do I Keep My Clothes?
  4. Small Appliances: What to Bring and What to Buy
  5. Doors, Light Switches, Toilets, and Other Oddities of Your New Home
  6. Preparing for Pesach in Israel-Time Management, Shopping, and Organizational Strategies
  7. To Bring or Not to Bring, That is the Question
  8. The Illustrated Guide to School Supplies
  9. The First Week of School and What to Expect
  10. Pumpkin-Spiced Latte
  11. America’s got S’Mores. Israel’s got Krembos. Comparison of these 2 Marshmallow Treats
  12. Ideas for adding color to a colorless standard Israeli apartment
  13. Essential Hebrew Part I
  14.  Essential Hebrew Part II
  15. 5 Items to buy the first week after of arriving in Israel
  16. Over-the-Counter-Medication
  17. Ditch the Warehouse Club Mentality
  18. Welcome to Israel!
  19. Healthy Eating on a Budget
  20. The month of Shevat important events: Tu B’Shevat and First Semester Report Cards
  21. The Ultimate in Decluttering Part IV
  22. It’s About Time. A post about being on time, starting on time, and scheduling
  23. Summer is Sizzling. Stay Hydrated!
  24. Helpful solutions for lack of storage space that don’t involve drilling holes in the wall
  25. Best Snacks to Send to School
  26. My home is so dusty! Help!
  27. You’ve finished your stash of Motrin and Tylenol, now what? Here’s the Israeli OTC medication guide for Fever, Aches & Pains
  28. The Aliyah Homemaker: Washing floors the Israeli way
  29. Having Tummy Trouble? What OTC meds can you take for relief?

 

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Does social media cause stress?

Does social media cause stress?  Without any official case studies or further ado, I will wholeheartedly answer in the affirmative. YES, social media can cause stress. I’ll speak for myself.

social media

There’s enough stress in my life and don’t need more.  I can’t control most stressors, but I can empower myself to be in control over this one.  I can change the settings to manage how I interface with the media.

social media (2)

Positive benefits of social media: keeping in touch with friends and family, knowing what’s happening locally, and learning and sharing information in special interest groups.  If there were only positives then this article would end here and we live happily ever after.

However…there’s the downside.

social media (1)

Negative: the temptation to compare yourself to others, exposure to toxic people, trigger topics, negativity, time wasted, etc.

Here are some tips I’ve used to slash social media stress, specifically in the jurisdiction of Facebook.  I practice these tips and it helped me set boundaries and reduce negativity while scrolling the feed.

Snooze, Unfollow, Unfriend, Block

If certain people continually post things that trigger you, annoy you, or otherwise ruffle your feathers you can get them out of your newsfeed.

  • Snooze means you get to take a break from them for 30 days and not see their posts.
  • Unfollow-similar to snooze but for a longer duration than snooze.
  • Unfriend-remove them from your friend list.
  • Block-if you feel harassed, unsafe, or threatened use this one.  Also, use for spammy or annoying people.  Let’s say you’re on a group and certain individuals continually post things that bug you and you’ve reached a point that just seeing their name triggers you, you can stop seeing their posts.

Edit privacy settings on your posts

You can determine who sees your posts.

  •  Public -everyone can see what you write
  • Friends or friends of friends
  • Only you
  • Friends Except (select names of people you don’t want to see the post)

Changing the post privacy is a step that takes half a second and it will save you lots of grief.  This is a great option to use for hot topics like politics or vaccines. Swaying someone to your way of thinking will never happen and if you have a contact who will argue tooth and nail over their point of view then best avoid the confrontation before it happens.

Leave group

Sometime during Marchaprilmay I joined lots of groups: job search groups, Corona parenting groups, and whatever ‘you may be interested in’ that seemed interesting.

Just because you joined a group doesn’t mean you have to stay.  If the group brings no joy or value to your life then click ‘leave group’. If you find that you made a mistake and want to rejoin then click ‘join group’ but most likely you won’t miss it.  I did a huge declutter the other day and it was very freeing to remove all excess.

Also during Marchaprilmay I wrote a poem called I Try.  The first stanza is related to how social media can make your self-worth go down.  I thought I would only share that part, but then I changed my mind and am sharing the poem in its entirety.

Sailboat in the sunset

I Try

My self-worth isn’t based on how many people

Like me

Follow me

Friend me

Thumbs up me

Or share me

My value isn’t based on

My job

My looks

The size of my home

What’s in my wallet

I am a child of G-d

All I can do is try

Be kind

Listen

Do my best

Give 100 percent

Lend a hand

Lend an ear

Listen to that inner voice that whispers 

Try to find clarity during times of uncertainty

Try to focus on the positive

Try to find the joy in the little things

Try to make a difference

And try again

—————————————–

So I try to keep things low-stress and positive.  Do some decluttering and change your settings and see what happens. It cut down my stress. Perhaps the same will happen with yours.

Thanks for reading,

Karen

 

 

 

Come As You Are

Ok, I like this Nirvana song (even if I can’t understand most of the lyrics) but I really love the message of the title.  COME AS YOU ARE.  BE YOURSELF. There are great quotes “Being yourself, everyone else is taken”.  Rabbi Zusha can only be Rabbi Zusha.  They why do I feel so much pressure to be someone I’m not?

With the economy its current state of affairs, its wise to have multiple income streams.  Looking into potential positions, the descriptions for the ideal candidate are all the same.

“Go-getter”. I’m ambitious, but not going to hustle.

“Fast-paced environment”. I don’t like fast-paced. I’m a slow-and-steady wins the race gal.  If I rush, I make careless errors.  But I work efficiently.

“Multi-tasker”. No, I’m not. I like to focus on one thing a time.  This is especially apropos in the kitchen…just ask my husband.  I’ll put up a pot of water to boil and then leave the kitchen to attend to something else…not a good thing.  Timer…set timer. Can’t forget this step.

“Team-player”  Whenever I hear this phrase I think baseball.  I’ve never excelled in sports.  I took dance lessons and karate.  Do I get along with others? Yes.  Can I compromise, negotiate, see another’s point of view? Yes-but it doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.  Do I want to work on a team… it depends if it’s large or small.

“Fast learner”   Eager learner, yes.  Fast-how fast?  Hear it once remember it forever? No, and this isn’t realistic.  Learning a new skill takes time, patience, and practice.  I was a classroom teacher for 24 years.  Present, practice, practice, and practice. Most people seem to have a milli-second attention span…I can’t see how they do it…

“Good communicator”. Yes, can do this. But communication means you should also be able to listen.  I can do this also.

Maybe it’s my age-nearing 50-that I’m not meant for a quick-paced, fast-track, rising star team-playing environment. Maybe it’s just me.  In any event, why do I feel pressure to need to conform to these buzzword descriptors?  I like moderately paced, not slow not fast.  I’m not meant to run at breakneck speed.  “Slow and steady wins the race.”  Do millennials even know who Aesop was?

ee cummings had a quote that I first encountered in 7th grade and have loved it ever since

e.e. cummings i

Be yourself.  Your value comes from being you. Come as you are.

Karen

 

 

IKEA is opening nearby but before you go shopping READ THIS

BIG NEWS. Top news stories change quickly whether it was the great pre-Pesach egg hunt, butter sightings, or news of schools re-opening (in Israel) after Corona lockdown. NOW the exciting news is IKEA is opening near Bet Shemesh.  But before you go rushing off to shop, read this in regards to PURCHASING STORAGE PRODUCTS FOR YOUR HOME from the expert advice of a home organizer.

As I always say, you CAN’T STORE CLUTTER but let’s say you’ve already done some decluttering.

Copy of WordPress banner Aliyah Files

How do you choose a storage solution?

Boxes, baskets, and closets await your purchasing dollar BUT don’t buy anything yet UNTIL you know the size and type of container you need.  This advice is not just for shopping at IKEA but any place selling storage containers. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What material do you want?

  • metal
  • plastic
  • wicker
  • wood
  • cardboard
  • nylon

What size do you need?

  • x-small
  • small
  • medium
  • large
  • x-large
  • xx-large

Type of Storage

  • covered (with a lid)
  • open (without a lid)

Shape

  • square
  • rectangle
  • round
  • oval
  • other

All these decisions are made only AFTER you know what you are storing.  If you buy the wrong tool for the task then the containers themselves can also become clutter.

DO try to keep to a color scheme and when in doubt, use more neutral colors or materials.

DO buy try to buy more than one of the same item which will keep your organizing look neat and consistent.

DO measure the space prior to shopping to ensure you buy the right size.

DO consider maintenance and durability.  For example, metal may rust.  Wicker can get dusty.  Flimsy plastic can crack.

If you know what you want to containerize but don’t know how, have a peruse around my Pinterest board Organizing Ideas For Your Home for some ideas.

If I can be of any assistance in helping you decide what organizing products might work best for you, don’t hesitate to reach out and send me a message.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

 

 

Got Loose change? Declutter & Donate

Do you have lots of loose coins in your purse or wallet? Or money collecting in a jar? Consider DECLUTTERING them as well as DONATING THEM TO A WORTHY CAUSE at the same time.

HATZALA BET SHEMESH SAVED MY HUSBAND’S LIFE.

There is a local organization that is running a Cause-Match Fundraiser called Hatzala. They are EMTs/ first responders to urgent medical situations.

3 years ago my husband, Shmuel, had a heart attack.

heart attack

Though it wasn’t clear initially that my husband was having a heart attack, he was having chest pains and shortness of breath. He was rushed to the hospital where two blockages were discovered. One of the blockages was located in an artery the cardiologist called THE WIDOW MAKER.

I can’t say enough about Hatzala’s professionalism and care from the person who took the phone call to the responders who came on-site.

hatzah responders

Hatzala Bet Shemesh also assisted us when one child had a broken arm, another was dehydrated, and another time for a different medical situation.
If you want to donate to a WORTHY CAUSE, I ENCOURAGE YOU to donate to HATZALA BET SHEMESH. EVERY DOLLAR /SHEKEL COUNTS! While I proposed donating loose change, credit cards and other forms of payment are welcomed.

CAUSE MATCH CAMPAIGN: I Support Hatzala Bet Shemesh

hatzlah

Though the campaign is time-sensitive, a donation can be made at any time.

Regardless if you choose to donate to this cause, I bet there are still loose coins in your bag or purse.  I encourage you to find a local charity to donate them to and can fathom to guess that during these trying times, acts of kindness and charity will be what will save (Hatzala) a life and help others.

Karen

Moving soon, need to pack, and don’t know where to start? Here are some Do-s and Don’ts of Packing

Whether you’re moving cross-town, cross country, or internationally, MOVING IS STRESSFUL.  I’ve moved 8 times in the past 20 years and done all the above.  So here some first-hand tips of DO-S and DON’TS to help with your move in the category of PACKING.

As a Klutter Koach, the first thing I’m suggesting is to DO a DEEP DECLUTTER.  WHY? You will

  • SAVE MONEY because you won’t be paying the movers to shlep items you no longer need, cutting costs for packing materials and labor.
  • SAVE TIME because there will be fewer things to unpack and put away.

With decluttering as a pre-packing goal, DO schedule a thrift store pickup date or drop-off day.  (Note: first check to see which of your local second-hand shops are currently accepting donations).

DO KEEP THINGS THAT SPARK JOY. I suggest using Marie Kondo’s method of  “Does this spark joy?” If you like it and use it then keep it.  Nobody ever said to throw out that ratty old concert t-shirt because you haven’t worn it in a year.  If it gives you fond memories then keep it.

DON’T KEEP THINGS YOU NEVER USE. After months of being home during a global pandemic and economic crisis, you should have a good idea of what you wear/don’t wear/ use/ don’t use / like /don’t like.  If you aren’t already using it, chances are you won’t.  I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule (like any) but the “I might use it someday” moment has arrived.  If you haven’t used it, just because you acquired it doesn’t mean you need to keep it for posterity.

DO START WITH A SMALL AREA.  If you are already overwhelmed, start in a small area like a bathroom, not a garage.  In the bathroom, the decision to chuck old beauty care or hygiene products should be relatively simple. Then separate out what you are currently using with what you aren’t and box up (but not necessarily seal) those items.

DO HAVE COLORED DUCT TAPE OR COLORED STICKERS.  Denote rooms by COLOR-CODING.  For example, all boxes going to the kitchen will be color-coded with a yellow piece of tape or sticker, blue for the master bedroom, green for the living room, etc.   There are some great visuals as well as other packing tips on ONECRAZYHOUSE called Moving Tips to Keep You From Going Insane.

DO TAKE PHOTOS.  Take a picture of both the contents in the box and the outside of the box. This will serve as a reminder as to what’s inside, especially if there will be a long gap between when you pack and when you unpack. For those making an international move or making aliyah, I HIGHLY RECOMMENDED this part of the packing process.

DO CREATE A FILE FOR THE PHOTOS.  After you’ve taken photos, send yourself an email with all the pictures. Next, create a virtual file on your computer and move all the emails into this reference file. The purpose of the photos and the file is to avoid the “Honey, where’s the…???” question post-move.  If you have been following my blog, you know I recommend this same technique for turning over the Pesach kitchen.

DON’T SORT SENTIMENTAL ITEMS. You don’t have the time to reminisce over every item. Now is not the time go head down Memory Lane.  For now, put the items in a box and label the contents.

DO PRACTICE SELF-CARE. Be sure you’re taking time to eat, drink, and BREATHE.

Self-explanatory.  Know your limits.  An injury (G-d forbid) will slow everything down.

DO MAKE AN OPEN FIRST BOX.  These are things you will want to access immediately upon arriving at your new home. These are things like toilet paper (yes..toilet paper is always on the mind these days), trash bags, extension cords.  For a FREE OPEN-FIRST BOX MOVING CHECKLIST PDF contact me and I’ll be happy to send one out to you.

DO OUTSOURCE.  If you find the packing to be too overwhelming or you don’t think you can get it all done on your own, enlist the help of a friend, relative, (a Klutter Koach if you’re in Bet Shemesh) or let the movers finish what you started.  If being home during Corona has taught me any lessons, MENTAL HEALTH is CRUCIAL. Respect your limits and do what you need to do.

May your new home be filled with blessings, good health, and happiness!

Karen

 

4 Tips for Keeping Your Home Organized During Coronavirus

Yesterday, May 14, was my birthday.  Since Corona restrictions are easing up, my exciting birthday outing was to the pharmacy for a prescription refill of allergy medication.  Woo-hoo! Considering pollen abounds and I’ve been miserable without this pill, I was quite excited to hop a bus, albeit be-masked, to run this errand.  A shirt with a disclaimer “I have allergies – may sneeze” would have completed my Corona look along with the blue latex gloves and hand sanitizer, but luckily no sneeze dared happen on my expedition.

Upon returning home, I opened the front door and saw what looked like the aftermath of a tornado.  I won’t recount the details but you can imagine that a houseful of eight people in a three-bedroom, one-floor apartment is a DAILY STRUGGLE to keep on top of.

OK, truth be told, I did leave for the errand with the home in a state of imperfection but upon returning it hadn’t self-cleaned and in fact had gotten worse. (Yes, I enlist kids who created the disarray in the first place but they more often than not get distracted mid-task and aren’t self-motivated to clean up without my watchful eye).

Will I ever live in a clean house again???

Magic 8 Ball

The million-dollar question

Since I’m now 49 and was in the mood for a flashback 1970s fun, I decided to ask the Magic 8 Ball my question.  Since I no longer own a Magic 8 Ball, would you believe there is a website called Ask 8-Ball? (Which I only discovered upon writing this post.)

I asked. It answered. Take note of the reply below.

Magic 8Ball

So there you have it, the Magic 8 Ball said No. My house will NEVER be clean again.  It could have said Maybe or Cannot Predict Now or Outlook Good, but no.  Just NO. Since I’m generally an optimistic soul I didn’t like the reply of gloom and doom, maybe I’ll check with the Ouija board for a second opinion. LOL

But all joking aside, how can one be organized during our Home Stay until Covid-19 has passed and any time thereafter?

4 Tips For Keeping Your Home Organized

  1. Straighten up daily and often. Do chores when you have the most energy.  In the example above I purposely didn’t clean up the previous night because my energy reserves were depleted.  Recognizing it would take twice as long to complete the task, I waited.  Normally, I would have done the straightening first thing but I had to PRIORITIZE in order to complete my errand by a certain time. For curious minds, we did indeed tidy up soon after I got home.
  2. Declutter  This is my FAVORITE TOPIC.  By now I might presume you have a good idea of what items you use/don’t use / wear / don’t wear / like / don’t like.  If you aren’t already using or wearing these things during a global pandemic and economic crisis chances are it’s clutter and you can pass it on. The less clutter there is, the easier it is to put things away, take things out, and find what you need.
  3. Get rid of e-clutter  Delete old emails, Zoom links, WhatsApp messages, PDFs, etc. It frees up your storage as well as reduces stress.  While I can’t provide the scientific data, I have read there is a correlation between clutter and one’s mental outlook.  I can vouch for myself that when my in-box has less than 20 emails I feel more relaxed and have a positive mental outlook. When the number of communications starts soaring I get agitated.   Whatever your number is, keep it below that.
  4. Have routines and a chore schedule   For this I want to introduce you to Martha Cilley, the Flylady.  You start the day with a swish and swipe of the bathroom, a shiny sink in the kitchen, and shoe wearing.  Martha will teach you how to have morning routines, evening routines, how to tackle a Hotspot (a place where clutter accumulates).  It’s not an all or nothing if you use her method but I find it very practical and effective and have been using it for years.

If you’re just so busy / overwhelmed /stressed / can’t multi-task any more, try to incorporate at least one of these tips into your day and see how it goes.

Stay safe. Be well. Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

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A Decluttering Project to do Sitting On Your Derriere: Conquering Inbox Clutter

Ok, this title may not rank me in SEO but I kind of liked it and hope it caught your attention. I don’t know about your email inbox, but mine has been exploding with mail like Gremlins in water.  A cluttered inbox stresses me out so I have to stay on top of it. Here are two TIPS to CONQUERING INBOX CLUTTER.

My attention span is about 5 seconds and maybe yours is, too, so I’ll make this short and sweet.

I recommend setting a timer and working between 5-15 minutes each time you do a declutter session. Challenge yourself to see how many messages you can get out of the inbox. Can you delete or file another 10? another 20? It’s almost like a fitness challenge, you know, can you do one more crunch?  If yes, great.  If no, do another round later.

STEP 1=Delete

See how many emails you can delete.  For example, I’ll easily delete advertisements, old reminders, weekly bulletins, and messages of outdated Zoom meetings.

STEP 2 = Create Files

Just like a paper filing system you need a paperless filing system.  If you have a lot of mail from the same person or category you want to save create a file with that name.  Examples of my files: Work from Teacher Esti,  Correspondence with Dr. G, e-cards from Mom, notes from Dad, photos, Klutter Koach new posts (gotta save those of course!), reference articles for parents of special needs kids, Pesach 2020, etc.  When I want to save anything in these categories, after clicking on the email I click ‘move to (name of the category) and away it goes from my inbox to my files.

My biggest category is called ‘MESSAGES TO KEEP’.  This is a place I send mail that I’m not ready to delete and doesn’t have a specific file.  It can tend to get big but I want my inbox small. This is my proverbial “What if I need it?” space. Periodically I do a big declutter session of what’s no longer relevant.

BONUS TIP

If you have a Facebook account, did you know you can save and file posts?  You make categories and put saved posts there.  This was a recent discovery and it’s been a game-changer.  I love the feature ‘On This Day’ which is what I posted on that date in the past.  I recently created a file called Passover Memories where I’m filing the yearly photos from previous years.  I did the same with Purim and now I have a virtual album of my kids’ Purim costumes from previous years all in one place.  Examples of other files I have are labeled Flowers, Nostalgia, Funny, and Memories.

My newest category is called Corona.  It’s all the reference articles, activities for kids, links to Zoom concerts, funny memes, and positive advice.

When it comes to categories, the sky’s the limit.  Putting posts into categories puts you in control of your time and helps stop endless scrolling.

So just in case you skimmed this article I’ll summarize:  1) Delete 2) Create Files. The end.

Thanks for reading.  Stay in and stay safe.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

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Egg Shortage? No worries – you can still have yummy meals with or without eggs on Passover

There seems to be an egg crisis. Supermarkets are out of eggs and as soon as the eggs are restocked they’re gone in a flash. Cries of panicked ‘Where can I find eggs? Does XYZ grocery have eggs? WHO HAS EGGS? are heard.  If you are one of the concerned then this article is for you!

Here’s our family menu for the next week to give some food for thought (no pun intended) to show there are PLENTY OF OTHER OPTIONS TO EAT BESIDES EGGS. You will notice that there are eggs on my menu but no recipe has more than three eggs and many don’t need at all.

I highly recommend checking out Elana’s Pantry has great recipes for all year round for all kinds of special diets ranging from low-carb to nut-free to keto to candida to egg-free. Elana even has a category for Passover desserts!

Wednesday Night/Yom Tov Night

Seder Plate: 1 egg needed

eggs in saltwater (a minhag we observe) 7 eggs needed for our family (1 per person)

Fish

Chicken Soup w/Matzoh Balls (2-3 eggs needed for the matzah balls)

Roasted Chicken

Apple Kugel (2 eggs needed)

Roasted Potatoes

Steamed Broccoli

Thursday Day/Yom Tov Day

Chicken Schnitzel

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

French Fries

Avocado Salad

Mandarin Orange Salad

Shabbos Night (Friday) Dinner

Lemon Fish

Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls

Chicken in Wine Mushroom Sauce

Asparagus or Zucchini 

Shabbos Lunch 

Crockpot Beef

Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Veggies

Yom Tov Night (Tuesday) Dinner

fish

Onion Soup

Brisket

Carrot Pudding (2 eggs)

Broccoli

Yom Tov Lunch (Wednesday)

Honey Apricot Chicken

Plain Chicken (some of the kids won’t eat anything in a sauce)

Mashed Potatoes

Salad Veggies

lunches:  

matzah pizza, tuna, deli, baked potatoes, french fries, sweet potato fries, turkey breast, fruit & veggies

 breakfasts: 

yogurt, cottage cheese, matzah, and cream cheese, fruit, fruit smoothies

snacks: 

fruit, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, potato chips, cookies, potato crackers, chocolate-raisin-nut “trail mix”

eggs: scrambled, hard-boiled, in matzah brei

Some of my kids are very “selective” eaters (aka picky) and one can’t have dairy so you may notice the options are limited, not because of lack of ideas but this is what my brood will eat.

Also, note that the menu is subject to change depending on the availability of items. I don’t go overboard with side dishes and we make a cake for dessert from one of the pre-made mixes.

Wishing everyone a healthy and chag kasher v’samech.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

Got Kid Memorabilia? Scrapbook it! No Supplies? No worries. Here’s how.

Show me a mom who doesn’t have kid drawings, photos, and other memorabilia piling up somewhere or multiple somewheres around the house. With much certainty, I can presume the majority of this stockpile isn’t organized. Ok, moms if you’re looking for something to do while you stay safe at home, here’s a project for the entire crew of all ages to participate in: Scrapbooking! No official “scrapbook supplies”? No worries. Here’s how.

You need

  • adhesive (glue stick, school glue and/or tape)
  • memorabilia you’ve been saving  (photos, drawings, notes)
  • a pen or marker
  • scissors

For the scrapbook

  • Option 1. Use cardboard, manilla folders cut apart, or heavy drawing paper. Mount the memories on this paper.  To bind: punch holes with a hole punch and use a pipe cleaner, a ribbon, yarn, or twine
  • Option 2.  Use a notebook with metal rings. Use a hole puncher to punch holes
  • Option 3. Use an old workbook or coloring book. Cover the pages with wrapping paper, construction paper, or other fancy paper.  Then adhere the memorabilia onto these pages.  Great if you want to make collages with many small items
  • Option 4. The traditional scrapbook you may have bought and never used or filled to completion.

Optional embellishments. Most moms have a stash of craft supplies.  See what’s in the stash that can be useful such as

  • stickers
  • decals
  • sequins
  • ribbon, buttons, feathers
  • rubber stamps and ink (pad) or markers to color the stamp

The scrapbook does not need to be “perfect”.  There is no such thing.  Some may want their pages in chronological order, and that’s fine.  If a child wants to put things in any order as the spirit moves them, that’s fine too.  Give them OWNERSHIP of the process and let them HAVE FUN.

The most important part of the process is JOURNALING.  WRITE SOMETHING about each item. What is is? How old were you (approximately if you can’t remember specifically)? Why is this special? What is the memory you have attached to this?  What is written about the items is equally if not more significant.  If the child is too young to write, doesn’t like to write, or otherwise doesn’t want to write, ask them the questions and write for them.

Selecting items to put into the scrapbook

As you go through the process, you will be building a memory album to be enjoyed and cherished for many years to come.

The other benefits of this activity are that you’ve tackled a paper pileup and kept everyone (hopefully) engaged in a fun activity.

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Photos, postcards, drawings, pictures from magazines of favorite subjects, student of the week certificate, trading cards

I was going to add more photos to this post but ironically my kids are vying either for my attention or my computer.  As it is said “gam zu la tova” (this too is for the good) perhaps not seeing examples of my scrapbooks will avoid comparisons of what a scrapbook “should” look like.  One shouldn’t compare. There are no “shoulds” because of the uniqueness of them.  I direct you to Pinterest if you need ideas.

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make a cover

For the cover staple, tape, or use pipe cleaners /wire to bind everything together. Enjoy.

Be well. Follow directives. Stay indoors. Stay safe.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

Preparing for Pesach while being Stuck at Home with Kids. The Kitchen Part II

WORD IS the rabbis are saying not to “go crazy” with Pesach cleaning this year.  I can’t quote the sources so check with your L.O.R. (local orthodox rabbi) and what you need to do or not do.  While I never have been one to go overboard there is still what to be done in my kitchen for daily general maintenance.  Here’s Part II of Preparing for Pesach while being Stuck at Home with Kids.

Take note of the to-do list below which has nothing to do with Pesach and feel free to edit the list as you deem necessary.

 

to do list (1)

Here the Pesach to-do list. These are mainly DECISIONS TO BE MADE and FOOD MANAGEMENT DECISIONS. Note that none of these are cleaning tasks.

  • Decide which cabinets will be taped closed and which will have KLP (kosher for Passover) items
  • Pantry Challenge: Create meals with what’s in the freezer and pantry.
  • Eat up the chometz
  • Consolidate items into non KLP cabinets

This is a free stock image. My freezer isn’t this organized LOL

 

KITCHEN CLEANING TASKS

  • Daily Maintenance: dishes, counter wipedowns, sweeping constantly (gotta catch those Cheerios, pretzels, and other crumbs before they get tracked all over the house)  **NOTE** I’m always sweeping my house, just upped my game a notch. Not a rabbinic ruling.  Check with your L.O.R. for specific requirements. For example, I have one darling who refuses to eat bread crust and I don’t want to find them in any unauthorized area.  Sweeping keeps me up on crumb control and makes me feel in control of my environment.
  • Clean Fridge. My fridge needs a “deep cleaning” and I’m going to do it sooner than later.  By the time we get closer to Pesach a quick wipe down should be all that’s necessary.

clean the fridge

One thing to help keep me calm and smiling (usually) is to listen to music.  And wear headphones to block out kids squabbling.  If you haven’t already discovered Spotify I highly recommend checking it out.  Pick a music genre or artist and have a playlist going all day.

Is there a topic you would find helpful to read? Contact me with your idea and time permitting I’ll see what I can write up.

All the best,

Karen, The Klutter Koach