3 Steps To Organize Your Home

Inside:  Ready to organize your home?  Learn 3 easy-to-remember steps to an organized space.  It can be used to organize your entire home from the junk drawer to the garage.

Have you ever thought “I need help organizing my house?”  Maybe you’ve watched an organizing show like Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.  Or perhaps you’ve considered hiring a professional organizer to organize your home.

Having an organized space doesn’t have to be complicated or costly.  In fact, using my simple Organized Home Equation I’ve been able to transform my home with small doable projects.

An organized bathrroom drawer with white wash cloths and text 3 steps to an organized home.

What is the Organized Home Equation

The Organized Home Equation is an easy-to-remember formula you can use to organize every space in your home. The steps in this equation will help you love your home even more. They will help you take your home from chaotic to calm.

This simple equation will help you remember the 3 things you need to have in place for an organized home.  It’s not uncommon for people to overcomplicate home organization and decluttering by looking for unique steps to apply to various areas of their house. This formula be used in any room in your home, there’s nothing complicated about it.

Step 1 – How to organize your home with the “Right Stuff”

The first step in the Organized Home Equation is to make sure you’re organizing the right stuff. Right Stuff means only keeping the things you like, need, and or use.

No one wants to waste time on things they no longer want, like, or need.  Having extra things will cost you time and space, and if you never or rarely use them, it’s a big drain on your energy.

In Step 1 of the Organized Home Equation, you want to be ruthless and get rid of as much stuff as possible before moving on to Step 2, Right Place.

Some organizing experts will say that you have decluttered your entire home at once or even an entire bedroom. Others will challenge you to declutter in a weekend. While these approaches can be effective for some, they can be overwhelming for others. They may not be practical for your life situation.

Where to Start When Organizing Spaces

When it comes to decluttering your stuff, I recommend starting with something small that will give you a quick win and help increase your motivation to continue.

You can start organizing spaces as small as a Junk Drawer, bathroom drawer, or even a single bin/shelf in your pantry.

Getting Rid of Unwanted Items

Be sure to quickly get your discarded items out of your house…specifically aim for one week.

You have several options for discarding things. Sell them if they are in reasonably good condition, recycle them if they are unusable, or donate to a charity or family that might be in need. Finally, if there are no other options, you can put them in the garbage. The key is to get rid of the items quickly and by quickly I mean within one week. Otherwise, they just become a clutter trap for the future.

Decluttering and getting rid of things is an important first step to an organized home. Keep the things you like, need, or use, and get rid of the rest.

Step 2 – Organize Your Home by Storing Items in the “Right Place”

Once you have the right stuff, you can move on to step 2 of the Organized Home Equation…Right Place.  Right Place means your items are stored in a location that makes sense for you and your family in a way that makes the most of your space. This is important because you need to have both form and function in your home.

Professional organizers will work with you to understand how your home flows and ultimately store things in close proximity to where they are used most.

Home Organization Tips

Let’s look at specific things you can do right now to help organize your home.

  1. Make sure everything in your home has an assigned home. If there’s nothing defined, it will surely become cluttered and disorganized.
  2. Store things where you use them. You want to keep things close to where you use them.
  3. Don’t buy containers until after you’ve edited, sorted, and measured the space. Determining the right container is both a personal and a functional preference.

Making sure every item has an assigned home helps prevent clutter. Storing things in the right place help your home function properly. Creating zones helps you find things when you need them and keeps an area organized.

Step 3 – Keep Your Home Organized with the “Right Method”

Once you have the right stuff in the right place you can move on to part 3 of the Organized Home Equation…Right Method.  Once you make sure you have the right stuff in the right place, the right method will help you [and your family] maintain your space and keep it in order.

After you’ve organized your house, it’s easy to think “I’ve decluttered, why isn’t my house staying tidy!?!”  The main thing you need to do is put systems and routines in place to maintain your organized home.

Home Organization Systems and Routines

A system is your process for HOW you get things done. Let’s take paperwork for example. Do you keep hard copies and put it in a file cabinet, make it electronic, shred it or put it in the recycle bin?

The routine looks at WHO and WHEN you deal with your paperwork.

System = how paperwork is dealt with within your home

Routine = your process for who and when the paperwork is dealt with.

You could have a system in place, but if you don’t have a routine to support it, the system will fall to the wayside.

You want to create home organization systems for the things that expire, we outgrow, or have a due date.  Paper, clothing, and food are the most common things coming into our homes and being shuffled around our homes.  These are things you should create systems for.

Example systems include labeling baskets or shelves of where items go so that you know where to find or where to return them.

Routines will stem from the systems you put in place.  A few common routines are:

  • An end of the day pick up
  • Clearing off counters and tables
  • Mail sorting
  • Cleaning out expired food

After investing time to declutter and organize, these small steps will protect the hard work you’ve done!

Take Steps To Organize Your House

It’s time for you to take action.  Here is an easy way to start.  Write down your answers to these questions and commit to taking action within the next 30 days.

  1. Right Stuff: What are the 1-3 small areas that you could declutter to get a quick win?
  2. Right Place: What are the things that frequently end up in piles around your home. Assign them a permanent home.
  3. Right Method: What is 1 system you’ll put in place to maintain and optimize your space?

How to Stay Organized at Home

Inside: How to get organized and stay organized at home with organization habits. Creating easy home organization habits will help you keep a tidy space.  Post includes 10 Organization Habits to help you stay organized at home.

The sun warmed my shoulders as I stood and waited for the kids to run out of school.  Briefly, I chatted with another mom and we decided to do a play date the next day…at MY HOUSE!

Wait, what?!?  My house.  This would require some tidying up.

The kitchen counter had once again become a clutter trap.  There were piles of mail, bottles of vitamins, and every electronic device you could imagine plugged into an outlet on the counter.

Kids’ crafts littered the dining room table and toys they had outgrown sat in piles near the couch.

It was tempting to push everything into my office and close the door.

But the reality was, that approach in the end would create double the work and twice the time.

How to Stay Organized at Home

Getting motivated for a big home organization project can be hard.  At times, finding the will and the time to start can be near impossible. So, when you actually get your home organized you want to keep your home organized!

That’s why having systems including routines and habits is essential for staying organized at home.

There are three parts to my Organized Home Equation: Right Stuff, Right Place, and Right Method.

Graphic shows the organized home equation: Right stuff plus right place plus right mentod equals organized home.

If you organize and declutter, but don’t have the right habits in place, it will be hard for your home to stay organized.   It could take weeks or months, but it will go back to the way it was.

Bad Habits To Break

Just like anything, bad habits can unintentionally creep in.  You start the new year off with a bang…eating right, exercising more, but before you know it, you’re eating snacks and sitting too much.

Or, you have a goal to save more money then make a quick trip to the mall and end up with a few impulse purchases you hadn’t planned.

When it comes to organizing your home, habits like tossing the mail on the kitchen counter, piling clothes on a chair in your bedroom, or taking socks off and leaving them in any give space start to happen.  Maybe, like me, you’ve shoved things in your closet to deal with at a “later” time.

Defeating bad habits can feel like an uphill battle, but it can happen and it doesn’t have to be hard!

How to Create New Habits

Habits are like a small rudder on a ship.  They are things we often do without thought.  It has been said that habits dictate how we spend 40-50% of our lives every day.

While habits are most often formed unintentionally, you can also intentionally create or break habits.

This process involves taking what is unconscious and making it conscious.

In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, he shares 4 Laws of Behavior Change to help you create new habits.

  • Make it obvious
  • Make it attractive
  • Make it easy
  • Make it satisfying

He also says, in order to break a bad habit you do the opposite:

  • Make it invisible
  • Make it unattractive
  • Make it difficult
  • Make it unsatisfying

Create New Organization Habits to Stay Organized

When it comes to home organization, you want to identify the habits that are no longer serving you or your home and create ones that will serve you better.

Let’s apply the Laws of Behavior Change to decluttering and home organization systems.  Here are some new home organization habits you could try.

Sorting paper every FridayMake it attractive by bundling the less desirable habit with something you enjoy. For example, only watch your favorite Netflix show when you’re sorting the paper.

Making the bed in the morningMake it easy by simplifying the bed-making process. Remove any decorative pillows and blankets while you are establishing this new habit. So that it’ll take you 2 minutes or less to make your bed.

Clearing the kitchen counter after dinner. Make it satisfying by immediately rewarding yourself after accomplishing the task. For example, have your dessert, only after you clear the counter. Or take a bubble bath after the counter is cleared.

Picture of a woman walking down stairs carrying laundry with post title How to Stay Organized at Home

10 Organization Habits to Help You Stay Organized at Home

It’s been shown that highly organized people consistently practice specific behaviors. There are countless things you could do to help you stay organized at home.  But for starters, check out this list of 10 habits to help you stay organized and keep clutter away.  Consider what you could incorporate into your daily routines. 

1) Make your bed in the morning

2) Decide on a daily designated tidy time

3) Clean out your refrigerator before compost day or before going grocery shopping

4) Identify 1-3 things to discard/declutter before going clothes shopping

5) Leave your keys in the same place when you come into your home

6) Never leave a room empty-handed

7) Immediately toss your junk mail

8) Do a daily load of laundry and sort out clothes that are outgrown or worn out as you fold them

9) Clear off and organize your desk at the end of the day

10) Tidy up a cluttered space while you talk on the phone

Which of the above daily habits will help you stay organized at home?  Are there ways you can make them more obvious, attractive, easy, or satisfying?  Check out James Clear’s book Atomic Habits if you’d like more ideas on how to easily create new habits in your daily life.

Small Change Bit Impact

Small home organization habits help you maintain a tidy and organized home.  They can be as easy as throwing junk mail away, tidying before you go to bed, or making your bed daily.  These routines will help you stay organized at home.  They prevent panic when an unexpected play date comes up or when guests pop by.  It’s counterintuitive, but these small routines create more space in your day and a sense of peace!

While habits are often subconscious, you can be intentional and make new ones.  The key to making new habits stick is to make them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.

 

 

Ideas to Organize Closets – You can do in 30 minutes

Inside: Organize Closet Ideas to help your space have both form and function.  These hacks to organize your closet space will walk you through the exact steps I took to go from being overwhelmed to an organized closet.

I have a dirty little secret.  There’s a space in my house I’ve been avoiding for years.  I was intentionally saving it for last.  I wasn’t ready to make decisions about what to keep and what to discard.  So- I just left it.

But something happened recently that helped me finally have breakthrough and organize my closet.  If you’re looking for ideas on how to organize your closet space, you’re in the right place.

The Cluttered Closet

When I moved from Texas to Canada, I brought an entire summer wardrobe with me.  Because that’s how we dress in Texas.  I had clothes for fun and clothes for work.  Then after marriage, I moved to Canada and started working from home.

I bought warmer clothes and more casual clothes.

Then I had a couple of babies…I bought bigger clothes, then smaller clothes.  Then we went on vacation, and I bought vacation clothes. 

 And just like that, our closet was full of a variety of sizes and types of clothes.  And because life kept changing, I wasn’t ready to make decluttering decisions. 

Messy cluttered closet with bins on the floor and clcothes all over the place.

I got plastic bins to save items…but there they sat in our closet. 

Meanwhile, other clothes collected dust on the top of the hangers.

purses and handbags piled in a mess on the top shelf.

The inadequate system and desire to avoid, allowed for the closet to become messier and messier with things piling up.

And then I had a breakthrough.

Hacks to Organize Your Closet

I silently thought “I AM NOT ORGANIZING THIS ENTIRE CLOSET…but, if I could just get things off the floor and vacuum, it’ll be a whole lot better.” 

Within 30 minutes, I had the floor cleared and vacuumed.  The bins and boxes still had to be decluttered, but the visible progress felt like a victory and encouraged me to go on.

Organized closet with a cleared floor.

Areas to Organize In Your Closet

The way to organize any space without overwhelm is to create smaller doable tasks within the area.  Systematically break down the zones in the closet into bite-sized projects.  All tiny tasks should take less than 30 minutes.  In my closet, I had the following zones:

  1. Clear the Floor
  2. Organize the Handbags
  3. Rearrange the Clothing in Color Coded Sections
  4. Organize the Shoes
  5. Create an organized space for jewelry

Steps to Organize Your Closet Space

You’ll then need to walk through the following steps within each area.

  1. Clear it out
  2. Clean the space (wipe down/vacuum)
  3. Decide how you want to store items
  4. Take measurements and buy any necessary containers/dividers
  5. Organize and store

Organizing Your Closet by Color

Taking a cue from The Home Edit, I arranged things in a rainbow pattern. I started with the purses, then the clothing, then the jewelry. 

Organizing my handbags was an easy and rewarding mini-project.  This tiny task took less than 30 minutes.  I also found these nifty acrylic dividers that gave the space more form and function.  If you have bags that are soft and won’t hold their form on their own, then stuff them with tissue paper to help maintain their shape.

I am a woman that loves purses, so I did have to make some decisions to get rid of a few.  But I am so happy with the end result.

Organizing your closet will bring a smile to your face every time your walk in!  It’s a great way to start the day!!!

Organized closet ideas with handbags organized on the top shelf with acrylic dividers.

Organizing Ideas For Your Clothes In Your Closet

It’s best to sort through and discard clothes as you organize.  But, if you’re like me and don’t have a lot of time, it’s good to remember that progress is better than perfection.  That’s the route I opted for this time.  Just rearranging the clothes and organizing them made a huge impact.  You’ll find that all of your mini-wins put wind in your sail and encourage you to keep going.

Historically, I’ve organized my clothes by season and length, but the change of organizing the closet by color brought new life.

handbags on the top shelf arranged by color and clothes on the second level arraged by color int he organized closet.

Creating a Jewelry Station In Your Closet

Creating a jewelry station in your closet is a practical place to store your everyday jewelry.  It’s not near your vanity where it might get perfume or hairspray on it.  It’s easily accessible for when you get dressed.  And it adds a nice pop of color to the area.  Once again, I found this a great area to organize by color. 

I used an acrylic shelf from Ikea with pillbox inserts to organize my earrings and rings.  Then I hung a bar with hooks from Ikea for my necklaces.  They will never get tangled this way!

DIY Jewelry station with necklaces hanging on a bar and an acrylic shelf to organize earrings and rings in this organized closet.

 

Organize Your Closet Like a Pro

Years ago, I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  She encourages her clients to only keep things that “spark joy.”  And then she pushes them a step further and says if it brings you joy, you shouldn’t hide it away in some storage area, but you should put it out and enjoy it. 

I took her advice to heart.  I had a couple of items I got from my parent’s home decor store.  They no longer had a place in the other rooms in our home, but I still really liked them.  While they don’t totally make sense in our closet, I felt they created warmth in the space and brought in some joy.  So, I added some artwork to the wall and a couple of small chests below the jewelry station.

Jewelry station on th wall, with home decor trunks beneth and a flower painting on the wall.

If you’re ready to take your closet from overwhelmed to organized, pick one small project to start.  The tiny task will create positive momentum to help you get unstuck and organized.  First, choose the area of your closet that’s an easy win and will bring a smile to your face.  Then walk through these organization steps: Clear it out, Clean the space (wipe down/vacuum), Decide how you want to store items, Take measurements and buy any necessary containers/dividers, and Organize and store.

How to Plan and Pack For a Family Vacation – Free Packing List Printable

Inside: Check out this post for practical tips for planning a family vacation.  It includes a free family vacation pdf printable and checklist.

Mom packing suitcase for a family vacation with text how to pack for a family vacation.Ahhh First Class!  I’m reclined in my seat as the flight attendant brings me a glass of Champaign.  It’s another night flight to Santiago, Chile.  This time, my friends would meet me at the airport when I landed and whisk me off for an unknown adventure before I had to go into the office on Monday. 

Early in my career, I traveled all over the world.  Every month I took off to Chile, Peru, England, Canada, or Australia.  It was exciting to see the world and traveling by myself was a breeze.  I traveled so frequently; I could easily throw things together the night before an international escapade.  It also didn’t hurt that my company made the travel arrangements and had a car pick me up to take me to the airport!  It was pretty sweet!

I loved that part of my life, but now I’m on a different adventure!  I come with a party of 4, every day is unpredictable, and I personally arrange all of the travel plans. 

Yep, I am the travel coordinator for our family of four!  The weight is typically on me to finalize the travel destination, pack the kid’s clothes (they are still very young), and make accommodation reservations in advance.  You get the picture, there are a ton of things to look after and details can easily fall through the cracks. A vacation planner and family packing list help ensure I get everything taken care of in advance and that our travel goes as smoothly as possible!

Let’s first talk about some of the things that need to get organized before we talk about how to pack for a family vacation.

Family Vacation Planning Checklist

Family Vacation Planning: Taking Care of Your Home

If you’re going to be gone for any length of time, you need to take care of your home.  Depending on how long you’re gone, you may need to arrange a house sitter or pet care.  If it’s the summer or you live in a warm climate, you may need someone to water the garden or mow the lawn.  Mail and newspapers can easily accumulate and give a sign to strangers that no one’s home. You should arrange for the delivery to be placed on hold or for someone to pick it up until you return.

Vacation Preparation Action Items

  • Housesitter
  • Pet Care
  • Mail / Newspaper
  • Watering the Garden
  • Mowing the Lawn

No need to write these things down, you can grab my free Vacation Planning Guide at the end of this post.

Family Vacation Planning: Road Trip Preparation

Another thing you need to take care of is your transportation and lodging.  Are you doing a road trip, then you may need to get your car inspected beforehand. You’ll need to plan your route in advance (unless you’re going the unplanned adventure way).  You’ll also need to make reservations or secure overnight arrangements while you’re traveling to your destination and once you arrive there.

Vacation Preparation Action Items (included in the guide)

  • Get Car Inspected
  • Plan route on map / smartphone
  • Make reservations or secure arrangements for overnight stay

Family Vacation Planning: By Air

If you’re flying to your destination, you’ll need to buy the tickets well in advance.  Make sure you have travel arrangements to and from your home airport.  Will you drive and park at the airport?  Will you use Uber or a Taxi?  Maybe you’ll have a friend drop you off.

Once you land in your destination, will you need transportation? Consider if you need to rent a car.  Here’s a little tip for you, depending on where you’re going, it could be less expensive to rent a car than it is to take a Taxi or Uber.  I recently traveled to Florida and I got a car through Costco Travel that was less expensive than it would have been for rides to/from the airport with Uber.

Vacation Preparation Action Items (included in the guide)

  • Purchase Airplane Tickets
  • Secure Travel To/From Airport (potentially car reservation)

List of things families need to do before going on vacation

Packing for a Family Vacation: PDF Printable & Checklist

How to Pack for a Family Vacation

Now that we’ve gotten some of the advance prep out of the way, let’s talk about how to pack for a family vacation.  When you are a week or less out from your travel.  It is time to start packing…especially if you’re a mom of littles and you’ll be packing for the family.

Do Laundry

As a first step, it’s always good to do the laundry in advance.  We hang dry most of our laundry, I need to start the process several days in advance so that I’m not trying to hang dry the entire family’s laundry at the same time.

Update Your Family Vacation Checklist with Clothes You Need to Pack

Are you going to a warm or cold destination?  Will you need a bathing suit or ski jacket?  Do you need one or multiple outfits every day?  Use the list at the end of this post as a primer to create your family’s packing list.

Screen shot of packing list ideas for the entire family

Make A List of Any Children’s Items You Need

Since our oldest was born, we have traveled with a small carry-on suitcase dedicated to just children’s gear.

  • Sound Machine – Check
  • Monitor – Check
  • Bottles / Sippy Cup – Check
  • Diapers / Wipes – Check
  • Blue Bear stuffy – Check

It’s also good to put an asterisk * next to anything you need to pack in an easily accessible carry-on bag.  We often carry an extra outfit for each kid, extra food and drink, children’s Tylenol and a thermometer, and a ton of extra diapers.

Don’t forget the Toiletries

Make sure you have the right hair brushes, shampoo, hair bands, etc.  If you’re only taking a carry on, remember the limits on liquids and be sure to get the right sizes.  Where possible, try to use a hair dryer at the location where you’re staying instead of packing one.

Decide on the Entertainment

If you have young kids, you’ll need a wide variety of things to keep them entertained while on the road or in the air.  Books, crayons, iPad, even tic-tac-toe can be super helpful.  Don’t let it be all about the kids though…think about yourself too.  Will you download some podcasts or an audiobook?  Maybe you need a couple of those magazines you’ve been eyeing in the check-out line at the grocery store.  Everyone is happier with things to keep them occupied and their minds engaged while traveling.

Vacation Preparation Action Items (included in the guide)

  • Do Your Laundry
  • Make a list of what you need to pack for the family
  • Decide if you need to bring any food
  • Determine what entertainment you want to take
  • If you’re only taking a carry-on on a plane then make sure you have a travel size toilitries
  • Download movies from Netflix

Final Prep for Planning Your Family Vacation

Create your list of to-do’s that you need to accomplish in the last 48 hours before a trip, confirm flight times, car rentals, and hotel reservations.  Make sure you have all documents in order e.g. Passports, Driver’s License, etc.  Here’s a list of things that are commonly on my last-minute to-do list.

  • Organize Passports
  • If renting a car, double check that your driver’s license isn’t expired (trust me, I speak from experience)
  • Get cash
  • Charge mobile devices, tablets, and extra batteries
  • Check-in (if flying)
  • Confirm rentals and reservations
  • Download movies on a tablet for kids
  • Take care of pet food/water
  • Finalize any last-minute things for work

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Making Travel Sweet Again

While travel may not be as care-free as it once was when I was single, it is still very enjoyable.  We travel about five times a year as a family.  While it requires more effort to get us going, a Vacation Preparation and Packing List helps tremendously.  As you prepare for your next vacation, consider what you need to take care of at home and what reservations you need to make at your destination.  Create a packing list (using the guide provided) and create a last-minute to-do list.  What are you waiting for, your next adventure awaits!!!

 

 

 

 

14 Tips to a Family Friendly Backyard (even if your yard is small)

Inside:  If  you have a small backyard, check out this post for family friendly backyard ideas you can implement.

Our backyard is small…seriously small. From side to side it only measures 36 feet and from the back of our house to the fence, it’s only 20 feet. I grew up in Texas where even modest size houses have ample yard and sprawling trees. That’s not the case here in Calgary and it was something I had to adjust to.

We’ve now lived in our house for over 10 years years and I have fallen in love with our family friendly backyard. In the warm months, it’s a haven for the kids and an oasis for the adults. If you want to have a family friendly backyard where you can capitalize on your time together, welcome friends, and even better, make happy memories, read on for 14 tips to incorporate no matter how big or small your lot is.

Unicorn Sprinker in Famiy Friendly Backyard next to swingset.

 

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliates Disclosure.

Family Friendly Backyard for Adults & Kids

One of the things I love most about our yard is that there is both kid and adult space. There are no hard boundary lines, but there are definitely areas that are focused towards the kids and others where the adults congregate. The adult area lays the foundation for the backyard design. Note: If you’ve been around Our Happy Hive long, you probably already know that my husband is a “Carpenter Bee” – he is very gifted at building things from the ground up. If you don’t have a “Carpenter Bee” in your family, any of these builder projects can be outsourced. Take a look at 7 things that can be done in each area to make it a super family friendly backyard.

Family Friendly Backyard For the Adults

  1. Build a deck

    We built a two-tiered deck with the highest level a few feet off of the ground and the lower level only 8 inches from the ground. The deck easily takes up 1/3 of our green space, but it has been so worth it. We find that we are 100 times more likely to go out and sit on the deck than we were when it was only grass. Having our lower level so close to the ground is nice because our toddler can easily get up and down on his own or we can sit on the edge to be able to more closely interact with the kids.

  2. Invest in outdoor furniture

    So this goes hand in hand with building the deck. Once you have a platform, you need something to put on it. I’m thrifty at heart so I watched for the end of season sales, compared prices, and measured the space to find the perfect arrangement for our deck. We intentionally bought modular furniture so that we could break it up and separate pieces if we ever wanted to rearrange.

    Backyard with flower and vegetable garden and string lights

  3. Build raised beds

    After gaining inspiration from other DIYers, we built two raised garden beds that flank our deck. I can’t tell you how thrilled I’ve been with this decision. The raised beds are approximately 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep by 11 feet long. We put about 12 inches of rock in the bottom and then filled them with soil.

    I love that the raised beds frame our lower deck so that you feel like your sitting in a garden. Because they are off the ground they don’t have as many pests or weeds. I can also control the quality of soil for the vegetable garden. This year I made a special mix of soils and added about 6 inches to the top of our vegetable garden…it has made such a difference in the produce. Most importantly, all of my gardening work can be done while standing and not hunched over. I can plant seeds, prune, and do the minimal weeding that’s required without hunching over.

    Close up of a squarefoot garden with lettuce and marigolds

  4. Plant a square foot garden

    Next, we built a square foot garden in one of the raised beds. Square foot gardens are perfect for small spaces or yards where you don’t want to dedicate a large amount of space to a vegetable garden. You can read about it here.

  5. Use Flowers

    Flowers bring color and beauty to any yard. They can be fragrant, bold, or delicate. We’ve incorporated hanging baskets around the yard and dedicated our second raised bed solely to flowers. It also makes me happy that our flowers are safe for bees and can help encourage the bee population (which is dying off due to pesticides).

    Close up of Flowers

  6. Hang String Lights

    String lights add charm to any outdoor living space. They are functional as the sun goes down and are a fun aesthetic for dinner parties and evenings outside.

  7. Get a Bug Zapper

    Even if you have the most beautiful yard, bugs can be a huge deterrent. We got a machine this year to help minimize the pests and let us enjoy our time outside day or night.

Family Friendly Backyard For Kids

A family friendly backyard wouldn’t be much without things for the kids. While the beauty of a backyard is pretty much lost on the kids, 110% of their focus is on having fun and engaging in a wide variety of activities. Our kids are young, 4 and almost 2 years old, so their attention span is short. We aim to have many different things they can do in order to keep them interested for a morning or afternoon outside. Below are some of our favorite things we’ve done. Some are simple adds, while others take a little more time to build.

  1. Get a water table

    This was one of the first kid toys we bought and 3 years later it is still being utilized. Water facinates kids. They love to pour from cup to cup or transfer from place to place. It gets daily action at our house and is a vital aspect of kid play.

  2. Splash pool

    Another hit is a splash pool. Initially, we bought a small wading pool that was made of a hard plastic, but we found it difficult to store. Now, we have an inflatable pool. It’s convenient to store, but you have to be cautious about getting a hole in it. Either way, the kids love to play in it. Sometimes they get in it completely, but other times, they just splash around or put toys in it.

  3. Sand table

    Our vision for a sand box evolved overtime. Initially, we bought a simple plastic box that sat on the ground and had a lid. The main problem was that it got bugs in it, especially spiders. Next Mr. Carpenter Bee built a sand table. This is our second year with it and it has held up nicely. There are never bugs in it.  Place the lid on top if rain is expected or if you want the kids to use it as a picnic table. I love the fun bold colors too!  You can get the blueprints from MyOutdoorPlans.com.

    DIY Sand TAble and DIY Outdoor Chalkboard with little boy drawing on it.

  4. DIY Chalkboard

    This is our latest addition.  It was built mostly from scrap lumber we have around our house. (Remember, Mr. Bee has had a few projects over the years) This simple project took a few hours to build. Little Miss. E got to help paint it. We hung a bucket from the dollar store beside it to hold the chalk. In the few short weeks, it’s been up, it’s already been a hit with the kids.

  5. Lots of games

    This is an easy one. We’ve bought inexpensive plastic toys from the dollar store and more involved games from Amazon or Walmart. A Few examples are Tether Ball, Lawn sized Tic-Tac-Toe, a giant Connect Four, or little things like plastic bowling pins or golf clubs.

    Unicorn Sprinker in Famiy Friendly Backyard next to swingset.

  6. Sprinkler

    There’s nothing like having some good old-fashioned fun with a water hose or a sprinkler. The kids love it, it’s easy, and you can cross watering the grass off of your To-Do list!  This year, we upped the game with a 6.5 foot unicorn sprinker.  Our daughter is in love with it and our son talks about his horse in the backyard!  Needless to say, it’s been a huge hit!!!

    Play structure with Saucer Swing

  7. Play Structure with a Saucer

    Now this one was more of an investment. After considering purchasing a play structure for a couple of years, we finally bit the bullet and bought one this summer. It was somewhat of an impulse buy because there was a sale that we couldn’t pass up. Initially, we were hesitant to buy one because we questioned if the kids would really use it after the first few weeks. I’m happy to share that they use it daily, multiple times a day. We’ve now had it for a couple of months and they are in love with it. One of the things we added to the set was a round saucer swing. It’s big enough to fit two kids on it and they can sit up or lay down while swinging. Another HUGE hit!


 

Each year I fall more in love with our little backyard. In the evenings it’s a sanctuary for me, in the day time it’s filled with joy and laughter. No matter the size of your lot, you can make it into a family friendly backyard. Having a space that’s appealing to adults as well as kids is essential. Beautiful flowers, vegetable garden, and string lights add to the ambiance while a variety of activities for the kids piques their interest. Don’t let another summer of avoiding your backyard pass you by. Make the most of your greenspace and develop it to help create happy memories as a family.

 

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