Ants, Raisins & Coins – Oh My!

By Laurie Martin

Clean Kidz

Due to my struggles with infertility, I was the last of my friends to have a child.  However, I did uncover one benefit: hand-me-downs.  I cannot fully express my gratitude for all the burp cloths, onesies, clothes, bibs and toys that have been passed down to me over the past few years.  I am grateful for these recycled gifts because I secretly have a hard time justifying spending money on items my child will quickly outgrow.  Gently used clothing and toys not only saved me money, but also a lot of time.

Carson Tate, the owner of Working Simply called me soon after my daughter was born and asked me if I wanted her daughter’s Britax car seat.  Carson was having a hard time finding a place willing to accept the carseat as a donation, so instead of throwing it away, she thought of me. And of course, I was thrilled.  She was relieved it was going to a good home and I was excited I didn’t have to buy a brand new car seat!

My daughter still used an infant bucket seat because she was not big enough for the Britax car seat, so I stored the car seat in my garage for the next few months.  When she was ready, my husband set about the installation process.  That process soon came to a screeching halt when he saw what was behind the seat cushions.  After glancing at some unidentifiable objects, he made one suggestion: get a new seat.

In the days following, I happened to drive past a company called Clean Kidz on my way home.  Right away I noticed that Clean Kidz cleans strollers and car seats.

I googled Clean Kidz contacted the company, and introduced myself to Lee Phillips, one of the owners.

Clean K-1

I told him the situation and he said,  “No problem.”  Just a few days later, he was in my driveway, ready to clean!

Who would have guessed what we found inside a seat that looked perfectly normal on the outside.

Clean K-2

But once the covers were removed, lots of hidden and unidentifiable objects began to be revealed. Including raisins, bugs, and pocket change.

Clean K-3

5 Simple Steps in the Clean Kidz Process!


Step 1-Remove the cover and shake all the contents out of the seat.

Clean K-4


Clean K-5

Step 2-Set up the cleaning station!

Clean K-6

Step 3-Use an industrial steam cleaner to wash the seat, the cushion, the straps, and don’t forget-the buckle!

Clean K-7

Step 4-Finish cleaning the skeleton of the seat

Clean K-8

Step 5-Check out the transformation!


Clean K-9


Clean K-10

The seat cleaning service did not end here!  Lee also taught me how to install the new clean seat!

Clean K-11


Clean K-12

It was a great day.  I recycled. I reused. And I supported a local business.

Now, I am using Clean Kidz to clean my stroller and car seat every 6 months.  You never know what finds its way into such a small space.

Clean K-13

A special thanks to Carson Tate for letting me tell this story and for Clean Kidz for a shiny,clean car seat!

Clear the Clutter & Chaos


There is an ancient Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Organizing your entire house might seem as challenging as a thousand miles on foot, but with a decision to change, a vision, and a solid plan you’ll be on your way!

1.  Recognize when you are ready – it’s a choice.

Living a more simplified life starts by acknowledging its time for change.  If you have hit rock bottom with the clutter and chaos in your home and life, your first step to making a change to change.

2.  Be prepared. Be patient. Be smart.

Before you begin the paring down and de-cluttering process in your home, be prepared to face emotional obstacles.  Be patient with yourself on items that stir up memories, but be smart and don’t start with them.  If you aren’t ready to face your memorabilia, but your kitchen is easy – start there.  Remember success breeds success.

3.  Be realistic.

Stacks, piles, and over-crowded areas of your home didn’t happen overnight and it won’t all go away overnight.  Estimate how long you think an area will take and then time yourself.  This will help you gauge future projects so you know how much time to schedule for yourself to start and finish an area of your home.   Know going in, MOST projects are going to take much longer than you think!

4.  Avoid Calendar Clutter.

There is a major external clutter in all our lives – our overcrowded calendars!

A lot of the clutter in your home and life can most likely be attributed to not leaving any time in your daily schedule for regular home organization maintenance. Set clear boundaries for yourself and your family in the new year to allow for more time to maintain the spaces.

5.  Set weekly/monthly goals & appointments.

THIS IS KEY!  With more time on your calendar to devote to your simplification process you will be need to hold yourself accountable to organizing your own life. Consider lining up donation pick-ups ahead of time so you have the extra motivation of a deadline.

6. Hold off on supplies.

Discovering what organizational supplies you will need is one of the last steps in the process.  Save money and time by waiting until you know what you need.   Unnecessary supplies can add to your frustration.  Consider getting creative when using items you already have in your home to help you organize.

7.  Maintenance – Routines are key.

Organizing is an on-going journey with a “Clutter Back Guarantee”.  If you don’t work to maintain your spaces(s), the clutter will come back.  Build in regular times to purge throughout the year:  before and after holidays, birthdays and seasons are easy times of the year to make a pass of areas in your home.

8.  Know when to ask for help. 

If you become overwhelmed or do not feel like you are making much progress, call in a family member, friend or a professional for help.





Here’s a list of possibilities to spark your enthusiasm, focus on completing one area each month:

January:  Desk/Home Office: Organize your finances before tax season officially begins.

February:  Mudroom/Laundry Room: Start by pulling everything out. Decide what you are actually using in this space.

March:  Clothing closets: Switch out your mismatch hangers to uniform hangers.  As you swap hangers, decide if that article of clothing is really worth keeping.

April:  Technology: Dedicate 15 minutes a day to purging old photos and emails.

May:  Bathrooms: Use non-slip drawer dividers to keep like items together in bathroom drawers.

June:  Photos/Memorabilia: Organize your photos by year or event. It’s time to chose the best masterpieces from the year and let the rest go.

July:  Playroom: Work with your children to pare down and identify what they truly love and use.

August: Cabinets and Drawers: Use labels!  Labels hold everyone in the family accountable to putting things away where they belong.

September: Garage: Set aside a full day.  Divide items into 3 categories: Keep, Trash, Donate.

October:  Kitchen: Clean out the old and expired items since the holidays are around the corner.

November:  Attic/ Basement: Add shelving to create vertical space.

December:  Bedrooms: Create a reading nook.  Bedrooms should be a place that represents rest and calm.






Looking for that perfect Holiday gift? Look no further!


Give the gift of time and organization this year with a Simplicity gift certificate


Don’t forget that if you book Simplicity services now through the December 19th you receive 15% off! Not including organizational supplies. Email Simplicity to set up your appointment today!

Purchase a Stylist’s Opinion from Whitley Hamlin of the Queen City Style

The Queen City Style

Not sure what to give your Sister In Law for Christmas?  For $75, our fave stylist Whitley Hamlin of the Queen City Style will send you images for 25 items.  You tell her you need a dress, you get 25 dress selections.  You tell her you need three outfits for an upcoming wedding weekend, you get four outfits head to toe…whatever the case may be, Whitley will send images for the very coolest and most unique items on the market. Just like that.  The Queen City Style loves helping others look and feel their best, and is excited to offer this opportunity that is attainable to everyone.

Back To School Organizing Party


Back to School Organizing Party


What better way to start the school year than with an ORGANIZING PARTY!

This year Simplicity hosted their 3rd annual Back to School Organizing Party for the 6th grade girls at Trinity Episcopal School.

It is the perfect time for classmates to catch up on life, meet new friends, and learn new organizing strategies before school begins!

From recognizing the benefits of getting organized, to creating a morning routine, to learning how to utilize a planner and organizing a backpack – the basics of school organization were covered!




BTS-1 Icebreaker-1

Getting to know each other!



Brainstorming time!


Morning Routine


BTS-4 Get to School

BTS-5-Get to School


BTS-6 Backpack1

BTS-7 Backpack2


BTS-8 Locker1

BTS-9 Locker2

Simplicity’s Top 10 Study Tips

BTS-10 Study Tips

  1. Create a designated study space-where there are few distractions.
  2. Make sure you have all the school supplies you need in one area.
  3. Use drawer dividers-to help keep your space organized.
  4. Determine your best study time-when you are most productive and focused.
  5. Take a 5 minute break every 30 minutes.
  6. Keep the top of your desk clear-so you have less distractions and more space to spread out.
  7. Avoid time wasters (internet, phone, tv, video games)
  8. Keep a master calendar to view the big picture of all your commitments, events, and projects.
  9. If you feel like you don’t have enough downtime in your schedule, cut back on some of your commitments.
  10. Pack your backpack and lunch the night before to avoid a rush in the morning.

To encourage these students to take some of Simplicity’s organizing tips and apply them in their own home, Simplicity held a contest. The winner of the contest had to answer questions and take pictures or video of their space.

Congratulations to Millie Saydlowski for winning the Simplicity Kids organizing contest!

Remember organizing is often a learned skill.  If you are interested in learning more organization for you or your child, consider attending our Fletcher Parent Workshop or contact Simplicity directly.

Back to school organizing party contest

Simplicity Serves: 7,680 Books and the Love of Reading!


Reading Tree

In March, I received an email from my mom, a reading specialist at a Title 1 school in Greensboro, letting me know about a request from the NC Department of Instruction asking communities to donate five gently used or new books to Title 1 schools.

Reading is a life skill and it is unfortunate that during the summer months, many students lose valuable literacy skills when they stop reading during their break from school.

According to the NC Department of Instruction, children from low-income families fall behind over the summer because they often go home to an environment where there are very few books or other reading resources. As a result, by the end of fifth grade, these students are approximately 2 ½ years behind their more affluent peers in terms of reading ability, primarily because of summer loss.  Summer reading loss negatively impacts our struggling readers, and ultimately our entire community.

I knew immediately this would be a perfect initiative for Simplicity!

I presented the idea of a book drive at our monthly team meeting and it was received with great excitement. We brainstormed ways to help spread the word about this promotion and set a goal to collect 1,000 books.  As we help our clients purge and organize their homes, large quantities of unwanted items accumulate, including children’s books.  Our clients have a much easier time letting go of their belongings when they know they are going to a deserving cause.

Since my mom’s birthday was a few weeks away, I contacted her school, Vandalia Elementary, and asked the principal her thoughts about throwing a surprise reading celebration-to not only celebrate my mom’s birthday and her 17 years of teaching reading, but more importantly to celebrate the joy of reading by giving each student a book.  Vandalia was thrilled with the idea and so our book drive began!

Shortly after, WCNC asked us to join Colleen Odegaard and Ramona Holloway to promote organizing tips for children and share the news about our book drive.


As we began to promote the book collection, Alison Houser with Augustine Literacy Project contacted us to see if they could help.   She asked if we had chosen a school in the Charlotte area to receive the books.  I shared with her about our surprise donation to Vandalia with the first 1,000 books, but anything after that could be donated to another school in Charlotte.

Alison had just been in a meeting with Sedgefield Elementary and the principal said they were looking for help from the community to provide each child with five books to take home for the summer.   So it was an easy decision to donate any extra books to Sedgefield.

For convenience, several of my team members offered their homes as drop off locations throughout the city. Word spread quickly and the books began arriving.  It was the perfect time to clean off bookshelves before summer started.

Soon after we were invited to join John Carter on WBTV!

And the books kept coming!

Augustine Literacy volunteers helped us sort over a thousand books by grade level.

On April 9th, I drove with 1,ooo books to Greensboro to surprise my mom,

Surprising Mom

and share with the students at Vandalia. The celebration included a presentation, a read aloud, balloons, and cake.

Vandalia Book Celebration

With the support of other Greensboro community members and friends, 1,680 books were donated to Vandalia, allowing each child to take home 6 books for the summer.

Laurie reading

Laurie's Mom w Books


Vandalia Kids w books

 Reading Celebration

On June 10th, it was time to celebrate reading at Sedgefield Elementary! Thanks to the support of the Charlotte community, we were a part of the book drive that collected over 6,000 books for Sedgefield!

Sedgefield Elementary Celebration

Sonja Grant, a lead anchor on WCNC TV offered the closing remarks to the student body.

Sonia Grant speaking

What an incredible journey of collecting books!  Our original goal was to collect 1,000 children’s books, but with such wonderful support from both the Charlotte and Greensboro communities, we were able to help collect almost 8,000 books for two Title 1 schools!

As your children grow as readers, and the new school year is beginning, please consider making more room on your bookshelves by donating any lower level children’s books to Title 1 schools.  With your generous donations, we can help prevent summer reading loss.

Reading is such a critical life skill! Let’s continue to support this initiative and share our love of reading!

Elementary Kids with donated books

Special Thanks:

Alison Houser and Laura Freeman, Augustine Literacy Project

Kimberly Robertson and Dawn Amundson, Vandalia Elementary

Ivy Gill and Sophia Crawford, Sedgefield Elementary 

Ramona Holloway, Colleen Odegaard, Larry Sprinkle, and Sonja Gantt, WCNC TV

Brennan Shearer, Promising Pages

Crystal O’Gorman, Freelance writer for the Charlotte Observer

NC Department of Instruction

Simplicity Clients and the Charlotte Community


College Bound

You did it!

You’re off to college and starting a new chapter in life!

So how do you get off on the right foot?

College Bound

Here are a few tips for an organized start to your journey.

You will be in an unfamiliar place populated with strangers.  Don’t panic. Campus will soon feel like home and those strangers will become lifelong friends.  Your class schedule will bear little resemblance to the one from high school.  Classrooms can range far afield, especially on a big campus.  And you’re responsible for getting to class ON TIME! YIKES!  Leave extra early for the first few weeks of the semester to get the hang of your various routes. Some classes will be back-to-back, requiring extreme speed walking with no time for conversations if you are to be on time. Even if you have your schedule in your phone calendar, a paper copy that’s easily accessible is a good backup. Print a small version of your schedule with class locations and tape it to the back of your phone or laminate it and keep in it your backpack.

DON’T SKIP CLASS! Cutting class really hurts not only your grades and your level of motivation, but also your rapport with professors. And don’t think for a minute that most professors don’t know or care if you’re present.  Even if you’re going to a big school with huge lectures, you need to be present- no matter how late you were up the night before. You never know what key piece of information you might miss.

An organized home supports an organized life. Since the dorm will be your new home, here are some tips to keep it organized:

  • Communicate with your roommate before moving into the dorm. You will save space and money if you know who is bringing what- you don’t need two of everything.
  • If you are planning on going home before the season changes, leave most of your winter clothing at home.  There will be very little storage space in the dorm.  As fall arrives, you can do the wardrobe swap.
  • Find a place to study that works for you. The library is quiet and has all the resources you need for research. If you study in your dorm, keep your workspace clear with only necessary books, notes and writing implements accessible.  Turn your phone off and settle in with the books.
  • Keep cooking and eating utensils to a bare minimum. You’re not going to be attempting to replicate mom’s home cooking!
  • Label, label, label! Living in close quarters, you’ll likely be sharing- with or without permission. Labeling what’s yours helps you keep what’s yours!without permission. Labeling what’s yours helps you keep what’s yours!

A final note…

Always: ask questions, seek help, stay true to yourself, keep in close touch with your family, work hard, and HAVE FUN!

Simplicity’s Top Recommended College Organizational Supplies:

1)         Under the bed storage containers: Great for storing infrequently worn clothes.

Under bed storage

2)        Bed risers: Raise your bed so you have more storage underneath.

Bed risers

3)         Uniform hangers-Slimline hangers are great for girl’s clothes, but as long as the hangers are durable and all look the same-that’s all that matters. Swivel hooks make it easier.

Slimline hangers

4)        Drawer dividers for dressers and desks.

Dream Drawer Organizers


Drawer organizers

5)        3M hooks-Damage free ways to organize and decorate your college dorm.

Command 3M Hooks

6)        A shower caddy to keep your belongings together and organized!

Shower Caddy

Packing for Camp



When it comes to packing for camp, it’s best to start preparing a few weeks ahead of time so you avoid feeling rushed or overwhelmed. Work together with your child so they know exactly what they have and where to locate it. Here are 10 tips guaranteed to take the anxiety out of packing for camp:

1)     READ THE PACKING LIST PROVIDED BY THE CAMP – It will contain important details regarding not only what to pack, but also what to leave at home. If they have a special dress-up event or activity they will tell you what to include.

2)     TALK TO VETERAN PARENTS – Typically parents who have sent a child to camp in previous years can offer helpful tips that may not be included on the list.

3)     SHOP FOR CLOTHING AT SECOND-HAND STORES – Camp can be messy. Only send clothing with your child that you don’t mind tossing out. You can even instruct them to throw items away at camp if it is extremely dirty, wet or stained.

4)     LABEL, LABEL, LABEL – For items that do need to make it home then be sure it has their name in it. Use a Sharpie, masking tape or label tape to clearly label everything.

5)     PACK OUTFITS IN GALLON SLIDE LOCK BAGS – For younger children it can be especially helpful to pack entire outfits (shirt, shorts, underwear, shocks) in individual bags. Label them for each day they will be there. The air can be pressed out allowing for more compact packing. The bags can be reused to return wet bathing suits, shoes, or other soiled items.

6)      DRAWSTRING KITCHEN TRASH BAGS HAVE MANY USES – Pack your child’s bedding in one and label it with their name. Include another one to be used as a laundry bag.

7)     SHOWER SHOES AND A TOTE FOR TOILETRIES – Plastic flip-flops will do the trick and a small tote will make it easy for them to travel to and from the showers.

8)     DISPOSABLE CAMERA – Since electronics are typically not permitted, consider including a disposable camera so your child can capture memories from their time at camp.

9)     DRAWSTRING TOTE OR SMALL BACKPACK –   These are perfect for carrying water bottles, bug spray, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and other necessities they may need during the day.

10)  NOTES FROM HOME – Include a few surprises for your child to discover when they arrive. Some camps will provide instruction regarding where to send notes, cards, or treats ahead of time so they are waiting for them when they arrive.

Finally, if there are certain items like bedding, towels or bags that are only used once a year for camp, consider storing them all together in a lidded and labeled container so they are easy to locate every year.

Camp can feel both exciting and scary for parents and children alike. Being prepared will help everyone to relax and kids to make the most of their experience!

Solutions for Parenting with Simplicity

In the new year, Charlotte parenting guru Wendy Petricoff and our very own Simplicity owner and organizing expert Laurie Martin have teamed up to assist you in getting your home and children in order!

Want to teach your child valuable organizing skills but don’t seem to have the parenting skills to get them to follow through? This workshop is for you!

This three week workshop is full of customized take-home plans to help get your family in order, teach your children organizing skills AND give you the parenting tools to follow through!  

Make your new year’s resolution to get organized a reality and sign up today for this three week workshop!

Parents of Young Families: February 4, 11, and 18, 7-8:30pm

To register call  704-366-5007
Cost is $115 per family / $105 for JCC members 

Classes held at the Jewish Community Center, 5007 Providence Road
Click here  for more information.


Back to School Organizing Party

Our 2nd annual Back to School Organizing party for the 6th grade girls at

Trinity Episcopal School was a huge success!

Offered the week before school starts, the organizing party was the
perfect time for these girls to catch up from the summer break, meet
new girls in the grade, and think about getting organized for the new
school year.


Who knew that organizing could be so fun? After kicking off the party
with an icebreaker game, we led several hands-on activities to share a
variety of organizational tips and strategies.



This two-hour session focused on two primary organizational skills: the
benefits of knowing what you have and where it belongs and how to
effectively manage your time.

From binders to lockers, middle school students are expected to
maintain a variety of organizational systems on a daily basis. To equip
them with the skills to do so, we divided the girls into three groups to
organize pre-made messy backpacks and lockers. Proudly
demonstrating their finished product, they shared the steps they took
to put things in order and the supplies that were useful to maintain the


Middle school students also start to take on a lot more responsibility!
As the homework increases and the afterschool activities last longer, it
is important to utilize day planners to help manage time for both
personal and school life. To minimize stress in the morning, each girl
also created their own “get to school on time” morning routine.

Although organizing does not come naturally to everyone, it is such an
important life skill! By working alongside the girls to create customized
organizational systems and functional routines, Simplicity Organizers
hopes to help reduce anxiety and increase your child’s confidence in
balancing life at home and school.





Interested in learning more about our Simplicity Kids program or
hosting an Organizing Party? Please visit our website at

Routines for a Stress-Free School Year

Weekly Routine copy

Though there is a sense of freedom in the flexibility of summer, the structure and routine the school year brings can be comforting. Children thrive on predictability, repetition, and consistency. “Knowing what to expect from relationships and activities helps children become more confident,” says Dr. Peter Gorski, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Children need routines in order to learn how to manage their time and their day. In a nutshell, routines don’t bind, they liberate. Routines provide a strong foundation for future learning and independence. They empower children and teens to take responsibility. Structured appropriately, routines can reduce anxiety, eliminate power struggles, and reinforce positive behaviors, In designing your own family routines, you may want to consider the following:

Morning Routines
How you feel in the morning usually lays the foundation for your day.
Mornings can be very hectic, so set a routine that can provide a
smoother start to the day.

Afterschool Routines
Afterschool routines are just as important as morning routines. These
routines help teach children how to manage their time.

Meal Routines
Meals not only contribute to the mental and physical health of children,
they also establish a sense of family identity, and provide a positive
environment for family interaction.

Evening Routines
Evenings should be the time to wind down and prepare for the
following day. Building a bedtime routine will help your child learn how
to be prepared and the importance of a good night’s rest.

It is important to customize routines to meet the needs of your family.
Each family should establish patterns that work in their home. Though
creating routine for your family is very important, avoid making too
many changes at once. Becoming familiar with routines takes time.
Build gradually. Learning and understanding the importance of
routines is a very important life long skill.

Interested in learning more about establishing new organizational
systems and routines for the new school year? Please join us on
Thursday, August 29th from 11:30-1pm at the Junior League.