Archive for the ‘Organization’ Category

This month’s Chalk Talk with Coach Mom newsletter we heard from teachers: how parents can help their children succeed, how we can best help them, and their favorite ways to be shown appreciation.

 Gift cards came in as the #1 gift idea, and many teachers commented that small acts of thoughtfulness sometimes were as meaningful as anything. How can we know specifically what means the most to each teacher? Just ask!

Following are some questions I bet your child’s teacher would be more than happy to answer:

  • When is your birthday? Anniversary?
  • What is your favorite color?
  • List 3 favorite restaurants.
  • Favorite movie theatre?
  • List 3 favorite snacks.
  • Favorite drink?
  • Are you a coffee drinker? Favorite kind?
  • Do you have any pets? (Name/type)
  • What are your hobbies and interests?
  • Favorite fast food meals?
  • Favorite meals for your family?

After the teachers fill in their answers, photocopy the sheets so that everyone in each class has the chance to get to know the teachers.  Then as you study the answers, make your plan…

  • Organize a “surprise the teacher with a treat” (a favorite snack, drink, or lunch) twice a month for the school year.
  • Organize a gift card tree for the teacher’s birthday and ask students to bring $5 gift cards. Punch holes in them (strategically) and tie them with ribbons on a plant or branch “planted” in a pot.
  • Organize the class to provide meals for the teacher’s family on nights requiring a late stay, such as open house or meet-the-teacher nights.
  • Have all the children bring encouraging notes on the same day and tape them to the door.
  • Go together with other families to give the teacher gift cards to favorite restaurants.
  • For her birthday, bring a place setting from home and set up the teacher’s special lunch in the teacher’s lounge. (Do it on “half-birthdays” if your teacher has a summer birthday.)

And if you have time to spread “a little more love”…

 Write notes to former teachers thanking them for their impact on your child’s life, recalling a special memory in their class, and updating them on the latest news about your child.


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The piles that laid around the house were evidence of the projects I started during Spring Break: stacks of clothes to give away or pack into storage boxes, copies of pictures used as handouts in drawing classes, paints and paintbrushes, a few garage sale “treasures”, baskets filled with laundry in progress, newspaper coupon sections stacked and in need of cutting and filing, wet snow pants and gloves from unexpected snow (and beach towels from the day before!), and baseball tournament coolers and chairs awaiting their return to the attic. Obviously, we had shared a lot of fun experiences as a family, but the stuff had to be dealt with.

My energy drained as my eyes panned back and forth across the room on the stacks of stuff. Where do I start? Then my eyes stopped and focused on a positive feature…who was sitting and watching television. Nine-year-old Micah. That’s it – Micah and I can tackle this thing together! He might like to earn some extra money and I would sure like the help! I saw a window of time before me — a little more than an hour, in fact — before everyone would gather back at home.

When I proposed this great idea to Micah, he didn’t show a lot of interest, even when I mentioned I was paying $1 for every 20 minutes of help. After persuading him to at least go the first 20 minute round with me, we began.

We set the timer and off we went – we started in the family room, sprinting from here to there to get things in their places. The timer rang and he said we should go another round. After the third 20-minute segment we took a break and got something to drink, but he said he wasn’t ready to stop yet. The last 30 minutes he handed up lawn chairs and coolers and other items that needed to go to the attic, and we finished by organizing and sweeping out the garage.

Done! We finished by lighting a fire in the fireplace and some candles in the kitchen. I handed Micah his $5 with a big hug and thank you, and we talked about how amazed we were with all that we got done in a short amount of time.  Not only was the house clean, but I realized that even as I had expended energy, I had gained it back. Then I realized I was not only energetic, I was synergetic.

Synergy (n.), synergetic (adj.) – The working together of two or more people…especially when the result is greater than the sum of their individual effects or capabilities.

I think I would like to add something else to this definition: synergetic – the lively, happy feeling moms get when others pitch in and help get things accomplished around the house, seeing amazing results.

Here’s to more synergetic days in our future as moms.

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I shared tips for dealing with digital photos this morning on Good Morning Texas. For tips on dealing with those stacks/boxes of old photo prints, go to www.brennastull.com and download my FREE Tip Sheet. Merry Christmas!

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From the October issue of my Coach Mom eNewletter:

Dear Brenna,

I’m a new mom with a toddler and a newborn baby. I see all my friends’ children coming down with a variety of illnesses this year and I’m wondering what I need to do to combat the sicknesses that come our way.



Dear Courtney,

You are wise to think about this now. I recommend putting together some basic healthcare items to save you time and lower your stress when you are dealing with sickness. I like to keep the items in a shower caddy up on a shelf in the bathroom, both first floor and second floor bathrooms for convenience. Stock it with some basic supplies. These are a few of the things you will find in my kid care caddy:

Bandaids (a variety of sizes)

Triple antibiotic ointment


Acetaminophen (for fever, pain, or swelling)

Ibuprofen (for ages 1+)


Dramamine – to stop nausea during flu (can also be used for morning sickness)


SinuCleanse Kids mist (for allergies and other sinus problems)

Chest Rub (i.e.Vicks VapoRub)

Insect repellent


Be sure to always read the labels and talk to your doctor before administering any medication to children. Two of my favorites in the caddy are the SinCleanse to clear out allergens from the sinuses and Vicks Vapo-Rub to stop a cough. Rub the Vicks on the pads of the child’s feet and cover with socks. It stops a cough almost every time! Also, mark your September calendar with a reminder to get flu shots.

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May, almost competing with the Christmas season in terms of busy schedules, can be so overwhelming that even with your best intentions, things fall through the cracks.  Summer begins, and the fun begins! With children home, camps to go to, VBS to work, then packing for vacation and the laundry aftermath when you return, often those things that slipped through the cracks never get caught! 

If you are sending your children back to school and in your organizing come across announcements for high school graduates who you never congratulated, do not fret. You have a great opportunity before you!

Contact the parents to get the Fall mailing address for their child. If they are attending a university, on their first week of class, send them a care package with an encouraging letter, and include a gift card or cash gift. All college students would love this. College student or not, no one minds receiving a gift in the mail even if it is a little late.

See? You actually have spread out the fun. They had so many activities and gifts to open in May. Now is the perfect time to send a gift!

Excuse me, I need to go email a few out-of-state parents….

Originally published at coachmombook.blogspot.com on August 10, 2009

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As the end of the school year draws near and the papers entering the home hit an annual high, it is important to have a plan. Here are some time tested tips that I have picked up over the years on how to get a handle on your paper monster.


Tips for managing children’s papers:

Trash it – Throw away everything except papers that best demonstrate the child’s talent (put in the bottom of the recycled trash bin, unseen by small people) With oversized artwork, take a photograph it (you can even photograph your child holding it), then throw it away unless it is special enough to frame.


• Find a Home – Assign a drawer for each child in a central location to be the “keeper paper” drawer. I picked up a small chest of drawers in a garage sale, painted it, and assigned a drawer for each child.


• Memory Files – As a drawer gets full, go through it, pick out a few more papers and file the true keepers in plastic bins with labeled hanging files.


Tips for managing Mom’s papers:


• Not Sure? File it – What other topics do you need in your filing system? Don’t limit yourself to just bills and papers such as bank statements, insurance papers, and warranty information. Ask yourself this question: What is it that makes stacks on my counter or desk? Categorize it, then start a file. If you can’t bring yourself to make a file for it, then throw it away. If you can’t bring yourself to throw it away, then go ahead and make a file for it.

• Coupons – I used to save the grocery ads each week and put them on the counter so they would be handy for checking out the sales. One day I realized that if I continued at this rate, I would have grocery ads on the end of my counter permanently. I now have a file labeled “Current grocery ads.” Each week when the new ads come, I take out what is in the file and put in the new week’s ads. When it’s time to go shopping, I can access them immediately.

• Specialty Filing System – Make your files work for you and your interests. Organize files in a way that will encourage you to use them, and have files for your interests. Some files that fit my special interests are:

  • My calligraphy and artwork originals: I can make copies from them.
  • Kids’ stickers: Keep them for projects when the kids need an activity.
  • Pending: For paperwork that is in process, such as fund-raising packets, memory verse papers, birthday party invitations that need to be saved for addresses and directions.
  • Home ideas: Clip ideas, then toss the magazine. But do so sparingly…remember, the internet is a great file-free idea resource.
  • Health file for each member of our family: Jotting down dates of sicknesses and other health-related information could prove to be helpful in the future.
  • Cards to save: In this file, keep the cards with the rare handwritten message.
  • Drawing lesson plans and ideas: I reference this file as I prepare to teach summer drawing classes each year.
  • Speech outlines: I save these for future speaking engagements. I also save anecdotes and stories related to my frequent topics.
  • Kids’ extracurricular activity information: Brochures on tennis camps, gymnastics classes, community center classes, and such go in this one.

Make all of the paper files work for you and your personality. Would you do better to have papers filed in notebooks, in a closed drawer, or in an open crate? Although the open crate idea may not win an award for best appearance, it will look neater than piles of papers on countertops and allow you to access whatever you need within minutes.

Take heart as those papers come in your door – you have a plan. Roll up your sleeves and say, “Bring it on!”

 Originally published at coachmombook.blogspot.com on March 30, 2009


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