Summer Simplicity

By, Mrs. Devora Farrell

Ask the Organizer


I love summer!  The longer days give me hope that I will really have time for everything I want to do, every hill I want to climb, every goal I want to achieve…and no homework.  This gap of time feels so malleable and filled with potential.  Here are some de-cluttering tips for getting the most out of this time of year.

  • This is not the time to attack the attic or garage, unless your air conditioning extends that far
  • Amazon is your friend. For those people who have children, take care of ordering bathing suits (I recommend 2 per child to allow for adequate air-drying time between wearings – putting them in the drier can decrease the elasticity of the fabric), swimming towels (you may be able to get away with one per family member because probably not everyone will need them simultaneously), and Croc-style pool shoes
    • If possible, buy multiples of the same swimming towel, or at least all in the same color family so that they can all be washed/dried in the same load or two
    • Rinse or wash bathing suits between wearings, especially if the pool is chlorinated so that the colors will be more likely to remain vibrant
  • Keep a gallon-sized zippered plastic bag for wet bathing suits and a plastic grocery bag for wet towels in each child’s camp bag to keep other camp items from getting damp
  • Have snacks/supper ready for the children in advance of their return home; this way, they will be more likely to eat healthfully when they return from camp famished
  • During the time that the children are having their snack, either hang the pool items to dry, put them through a rinse-only cycle, and leave the camp bag zippers open to allow them to dry
  • Prepare a large number of individual-serving snack bags (a week’s worth at a time) to lessen the daily morning rush
  • Use waiting time (when close supervision is not required) to enter all events, weddings, celebrations, doctors’ appointments, and next year’s school calendar into whatever device you’re most comfortable with
  • Do as much school-supply shopping now, before the stores are packed with shoppers, taking students one or two at a time (more than that is hard to juggle and avoid tantrums (theirs or yours)).
    • The stores are already stocked (I looked) and many school supply needs can be anticipated even before The List has been published
    • Buy more folders, glue sticks, writing utensils than required to not be caught off-guard when needing to restock (why do the kids only tell us that they need something for school the day they need it?)
    • Do not allow all the choices that are truly available (colors, patterns, styles) for school supplies; children can get overwhelmed and the shopping excursion becomes never-ending. Feel free to pre-choose the two or three items from which the children can select.  You are still a good mother when you limit the choices.  If this has not been your modus operandi until now, expect some amount of pushback.  Calmly teach them that resistance is futile.
    • This tip is even more controversial: if you are fortunate enough to have several daughters, limit the sock choices. In fact, if you want to suddenly find yourself with oodles of unscheduled time, buy 10 pairs of the same socks for each child.  If more than one child wears the same size, buy a few more of the same.  If a child is a different size, buy 10 pairs of the same socks that are different than those of the sibling.  A major time-waster is that which is demanded by matching socks (unless you have a 3-4 year old who loves the task and will continue to love it for the entire schoolyear).  Even if you have cleaning help to take care of laundry, it still takes an enormous amount of time to pair up the singletons and find their mates under beds, or caught in the rubber gasket of the washer.  I’m sure there are many other activities the cleaning help can take care of that would be even more appreciated.  For those who feel that choosing socks is a major source of individual expression, really?  Can’t headbands or shoes perform that function? Or, perhaps, hobbies, middos, interests, art, bedroom area decorating?  The amount of previously committed time that is freed up when letting go of the need for unique socks justifies the sacrifice.  (Rant over)
  • Declutter your schedule further: plan the simplest suppers, the easiest trips, the easiest self-serve lunches, the least creative grocery-shopping list (unless that’s a source of pleasure for you)
  • Schedule all annual checkups/immunizations so that all school paperwork will be able to be completed in a timely manner
  • Include yourself in scheduling these appointments, except try to calendar them for after the children return to school so that there will be less of a need for childcare arrangements
  • Purchase new undergarments for after Tisha B’Av in order to start fresh and avoid the heaps of laundry (old ones can just be discarded after use during the Nine Days). Undergarments are not intended to have endless lifespans; they become faded, stained, ragged, or shrunk just from normal usage.
  • Set a personal goal or two, whether it’s to go from breakfast to lunch without raising your voice, or learning a new hobby, or reading a book, or organizing your bookshelves. Then, schedule the time to invest in it.  You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!

Mrs. Devora Farrell welcomes contact with the outside world (outside her home and car, that is) and can be reached at (973) 919-7761 or

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