Should You Be Switching Your Kids to E-books?

Organize: Reduce Clutter by Going Electronic

Should You Be Switching Your Kids to E-books?

Organize: Reduce Clutter by Going Electronic

We're all trying to live a life less cluttered. That means keeping the stuff that matters most, and getting rid of the rest. 

Still, it's tough to be a double major in both minimalism and parenting. Kids come with stuff: lots of it. 

In the 21st century, technology has some of the answers. You can trade in some the “stuff” in your home for data storage. iTunes holds our personal music. Facebook and Instagram house our life in photos. Netflix has become our movie collection. You can even get the latest copy of Today’s Parent on an iPad.

So what about books?

When it comes to organizing the clutter in your home, the first rule of thumb is to get rid of what you don’t need or use. Books are an obvious example. Books take up massive amounts of space, collect dust, are heavy to move, and can often be one of the least used items in your home (Are you doing much browsing in your Grade 12 Algebra text these days?).

In October 2012, e-books represented 16.3% of book sales in Canada.

Even our libraries are catching up. 

The evidence encourages us to consider donating all of our books, immediately.

But what about children’s books?

I asked Peter Birkemoe, owner of Toronto’s Little Island Comics whether his business is seeing the growing e-book trend when it comes to children’s books and comics.

Peter said “We aren’t yet seeing the impact of digital books on early years materials, given that people of this generation give physical books as gifts. I don’t think a measurable impact will be seen for many years. The tactile appeal and colour in children’s books is something that the digital experience has not yet been able to capture.”

A search for “children’s e-books” currently returns over 400 pages on Amazon

Little Island Comics’ Store Manager, Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, was similarly un-phased by the e-book trend: “The way that children browse for books is much different than the way that adults browse: they don’t have credit cards for online shopping, so they need that physical experience of going into the library, or coming into Little Island Comics to see what catches their eye. Moreover, books are still items that are passed on, and often survive longer than the homes we live in.”

Academia is looking at the “book experience” issue, too, with mixed conclusions. A May 2012 study found that parents prefer reading print books with their children. However, a January 2012 study found that children prefer e-books to print books.

Little Island Comics’ Store Manager, Andrew, also spoke about a printed book as being an experience in time. The way that it currently exists (errors, scribbles, torn pages, and chewed edges) will last “forever.”

While we were visiting Little Island Comics, my one-year-old daughter was using her tiny hands to explore the colourful book spines poking out of every shelf. She was smiling, and pointing excitedly to the pictures and colours that caught her eye.

Perhaps children’s books, in all of their crayon-covered, corner-chewed, ripped, and utterly-loved-up-glory are part of the essentials of every family home—even an organized and minimalist one.

We left Little Island Comics with Pantone: Box of Colour, which includes 6 adorable mini board books featuring peek-a-boo cut-outs.

Minimalism in home organization is about keeping only the essentials, but organizing those well.

It was Albert Einstein who said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

And, in this case, he’s right.



10 Things You Need to Stockpile from the Dollar Store

Stockpiling Success for an Organized Home

10 Things You Need to Stockpile from the Dollar Store

10 Things You Need to Stockpile from the Dollar Store

Fall is nature’s way of reminding us that winter is coming (cold wind sound, here). In winter, being prepared is the difference between life and death.

Just like the animals of the woods, we humans should look for the lowest lying fruits to help replenish our inventory (have I taken this simile too far yet?). By now you clearly know that I am talking about foraging in your local dollar store.

Here are the top 10 things you need to stockpile from the dollar store in order to keep your house organized and your life a little less stressful.

1. Baskets

An instant organizer at the front door, in the office, for the top of kitchen shelving, and even inside your cupboards. Our lives are made up of stuff that doesn’t look like the Pottery Barn catalogue: children’s toys, half-used sunscreen tubes, mittens with holes, remote controls, back issues of Today’s Parent. Stuff we need. It’s not pretty. I rely on baskets of every kind in every room of my house in order to make order.

2. Stationery

Stationery is the best non-perishable item in your home. You use it, you need it, and you are always paying way too much for it.  There is rarely a dollar store that doesn’t have a great stationery section (believe me, because I have been to more than a few). I know we just did the whole back to school thing, but this is one supply you should absolutely stock up on when you have the opportunity. (That, and you don’t have to be knocking over the other back-to-schooling parents for the last sad little bag of pencils).

3. Seasonal Accessories

I love the fun of changing seasonal accessories. A new wreath, some fun napkins, or a severed mannequin limb are just a few of the great things you can get at the dollar store. In truth, their items can be more than a dollar. But they’re a heck of a lot cheaper than anywhere else.

4. Gift Wrap

Do not ignore this advice, I beg you. Throw out everything else I have said before this and everything that comes after, if you must: Please do not buy expensive gift wrap at the last minute because you didn’t stockpile this crucial stuff. We have all overpaid for expensive bags and bows. End this insanity now. Go to your local dollar store and fill your cart just as you will your dinner plate come Thanksgiving. 

5. Dusting Clots

When you aren’t using the single socks that come out of the dryer then these bad boys do just fine. Depending on pickiness and brand loyalty, some of their other cleaning supplies may also deserve to go into the stockpile.

6. Guest Toiletries

Toothbrushes, hand soap, little shampoos — the dollar store has everything you need to make your home feel like a hotel to your guests. So, if you actually like the people coming to stay over at your house (and you support their oral hygiene), be ready with an easy supply of great guest toiletries.

7. Emergency Preparedness Kit

The Canadian Government has this handy checklist for what should be in your home emergency preparedness kit. While the list overlooks the items one needs during the zombie apocalypse, these are actually some of the most important items to have in your home — especially with winter fast approaching. You can find 90% of these items in the dollar store.

8. Coloured Napkins

It’s very first-world-problems to have (*gasp) only white napkins in your pantry or to (*GASP) give your guests a paper towel to dab their lips with! I get that. But, for fun and special occasions sometimes the heart wants what it wants – and for me that want is a coloured napkin. The fact that they cost a dollar is a bonus.

9. Batteries

Toys and games that go through batteries like Lady Gaga goes through costume changes. Let’s avert an unnecessary trip to the store just for a package of batteries. It's a waste of your time and precious resources. Grab some while you’re stockpiling.

10. Foil Baking Pans

First, I’d like to apologize to Mother Earth for this suggestion. However, she IS a mother, and so she understands that sometimes you really don’t want to do the dishes. On special occasions, you just want to slide the blackened (if you bake like I do) pan into the garbage and be done with it. There. I said it. Now, in retribution to the environment, I’m turning off this computer and sitting in the dark for a while to think about what I’ve done.

Winter is coming, so get out there and grab your nuts, er — I mean your stockpile supplies!




What You Can Do About Those Rogue Single Socks

Rage Against The Sock-i-cide!

What You Can Do About Those Rogue Single Socks

September means the return of many beautiful things: fresh morning air, trusted daily routines, our favourite cozy sweaters, and the wearing of socks.

The return of socks heralds a real conundrum.

On par with other great mysteries of the universe is the sad single sock that emerges from the dryer. While scientists and philosophers ponder dark energy, pulsars, and the origins of humanity, I prefer to sweat the sweat-sock mysteries. Where do they go when they enter the dryer/Bermuda Triangle?

Moreover, my husband used to tremble when I’d spot a hole in his sock: “You’re going to commit sock-icide when I take this off, aren’t you?” Yes. I admit that I have cruelly, and without regret, executed dozens of past-their-prime socks.

But, I’ve found two genius solutions to the rogue-sock riddle:

1. Go homogeneous

Christmas. Birthday. Father’s Day. September’s famed International Self Improvement Month. ANY of these are a great excuse to purchase:

An entirely new set of socks. Same colour. Same brand.

You will never have to pair socks again, ever. We did this, and will never go back.

2. Up-Cycle

Single socks make the world’s best dusting cloths. They fit on your hand, are soft enough to avoid scratching even the most delicate surfaces, and you simply toss them in the wash when you’re done. Save yourself some money, and give Mother Earth a break.

Some guidelines if you plan on going homogenous:

  • Buy enough pairs to last two weeks. Sometimes laundry takes a back seat to…life.
  • Choose a brand and style that will stand the test of time. You do not want to have to buy an entirely new set of socks when “Cheap-o Brand X” goes out of business. Shop at ol’ reliables such as The Bay or Sears, and see what long-time brands and styles they carry. I chose a soft and sturdy staple.
  • Pick a colour/style that makes sense for your life (i.e., if you are a roofer, you probably don’t want to get two weeks’ worth of dress socks).
  • Keep a couple of pairs of “just-in-case oddities” (i.e., a brown pair if you usually wear black).

World record, longest line of socks, New Zealand. See?! Won’t need to pair those, New Zealand.

For those who refuse to commit sock-icide, this kind person has a Department of Missing Socks wall in the laundry room. Bless their patience…

So, what do you do about the rogue single socks?