Take Back Your Weekends:
The appeal of Minimalism

All winter you’ve looked at that garage piling up with stuff. It’s a disaster, so you’ve dragged everything out to the driveway to re-organize and put it back together again. Not surprisingly, your kids quickly lose interest and start begging for your attention.

“Are you done yet? Come play with me!” you hear it over and over again. Late afternoon arrives, the driveway is still covered with all your prized possessions and you shake your head in disbelief. And that’s when you see the child waiting for you in the backyard, because you’re his favorite playmate.

At a recent Florida conference for Senior Move Managers, Blogger Joshua Becker shared this story to a mesmerized crowd, speaking openly about his personal experience. “I looked out across the yard at my child, and saw the one thing I loved more than anything on this planet. And I suddenly realized that my stuff was keeping me away from him.”

This experience was the catalyst for the blog BecomingMinimalist.com as he and his wife began a journey of re-claiming their lives, their time, their money and their energy.

Living a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t have to be extreme. Becker describes it simply as “the intentional promotion of everything you most value, and the removal of anything that distracts you from it.”

Think of how many hours you spend every day, every week, every month simply taking care of and managing your stuff: buying it, organizing it, cleaning it, storing it.

Does the way you spend your time (and your money) reflect what you most value in your life?

Are you discontent with how little free time you have available to simply be with those you love?

If so, be encouraged: “Discontentment is the greatest seed of change,” Joshua states.

Maybe it’s time to let go of those household items, and make space in your life for what you value most. Simply put, everything has to be dealt with eventually. When would you rather be free of the clutter and the financial burden: Now or Later?

Here’s some practical advice from Becker:

  1. Ask yourself: “How could owning less stuff make my life better?” Rather than looking at the “evils” of excess, look at the positives of less. For example: I’ll have more space, more energy, more time for my passions, more gratitude, more contentment, less stress, fewer
    responsibilities, more money.
  2. Experiment with what “enough” feels like, after all, you’re the one who gets to define this process. “Living with Less” will look different within each family.
  3. There are two steps: #1 Owning Less and #2 Wanting Less (and this is where true contentment arrives – so look forward to it!).

      For more tips on getting started, visit our blog.

Transforming Transitions

“You’ve sorted my undies; so I suppose it’s ok for you to help me again tomorrow,” Margaret* said with a twinkle in her eye as her tired body leaned against the walker. Newly diagnosed Parkinson’s was quickly stealing her independence as she struggled to maintain balance.

Her daughter Carol* evaluated options from her own home out of state. Somehow, from afar, she had to move Mom into the safety and care of a senior living community. Fortunately, Carol was quickly introduced to a unique type of assistance that would go far beyond what a mover could provide. Often partnering with a moving company, a Senior Move Manager® offers expertise, oversight and compassion during a senior’s transition to a new living space.

A Senior Move Manager’s® work can begin hours, days or weeks prior to the arrival of a moving company. The SMM will get to know Mom, establish trust, and help sort her most private and closely held belongings. She’ll measure furniture and create a floor plan, make a moving schedule, ensure family members have arranged for continuity of care, and oversee the transition in order to ease stress levels on family members.

Senior Move Managers® take pictures before packing a single box, so that on Mom’s first night she’ll have the familiarity of knowing exactly where her phone is on the bedside table, or that her toothbrush is in the top right hand drawer in the bathroom, just as it has always been.

Before the movers pack the kitchen, she’ll sort the food, throwing out expired items that cause illness. Aware that the small area rugs are tripping hazards, she’ll make sure they are left behind.

The movers do a very specific job of getting belongings from one location to another, while a Senior Move Manager® looks at the entire transition: she knows Mom will need a quiet, warm place to go when her doors are open and people are traipsing through her house; she’ll realize Mom hasn’t had any food and needs a bite to eat; she’ll even suggest improvements for making her new home as safe as possible.

By evening, Mom’s boxes will be unpacked, her bed made just the way she likes it, and her pictures hung on the wall. And after the move, her Senior Move Manager® will visit to make sure she’s settled in happily.

If your loved one is moving soon, review your options thoughtfully. Hiring a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers will ensure high ethics, compassion, efficiency, organization, safety and responsiveness to your needs and wants. Click here to read more about how we can help you!

*Article originally published in Gig Harbor Living Local, April 2015.

Taxes and Paper Records

Tax season is approaching… and you’ve probably been looking at all the paperwork and wondering, how long do I need to keep this stuff? Well, it isn’t as long as you think!

The IRS says:
“You must keep your records as long as they may be needed for the administration of any provision of the Internal Revenue Code. Generally, this means you must keep records that support items shown on your return until the period of limitations for that return runs out.” Need more clarity?

Here are some tips from

Generally, you should keep any and all documents that may have an impact on your federal tax return.

Individual taxpayers should usually keep the following records supporting items on their tax returns for at least three years:
• Bills, Credit cards and Invoices
• Mileage logs
• Checks or any other proof of payment
• Any other records to support deductions or credits you claim on your return

If you aren’t saving bills / statements, verify that you can request records from a service provider for at least three years after you close your account, just in case you need a statement.

You should normally keep records relating to property until at least three years after you sell or otherwise dispose of the property.

Visit the above website for specific information related to small business owners, especially for employee records.

A word of caution regarding digital storage: Some websites suggest that you store old tax returns electronically in order to cut down on paper storage in your home. Please consider the risk associated with online data storage sites. Large organizations promising security and privacy are still susceptible to hackers. Your tax return contains extremely confidential information, and if stolen could provide significant identity theft opportunities. Be wary and careful when weighing your options.

If you’re facing paper overload in your home office, Gig Harbor Home Management’s professional organizing team can bring some calm to your chaos. Call us today 253.225.4864

Senior Living Colors

IMG_5197I’m intrigued by Sherwin Williams’ new “Senior Living Colors” that provide retirement/independent living homes with color pallets designed specifically for seniors.

From Independence color schemes that are “a favorite of seniors who crave spaces that reflect their culturally active lifestyles” to Memory which helps “aging eyes see better by highlighting the location of certain rooms or pathways,” these pallets are a jewel.



Here at the NASMM conference for Senior Move Managers, I spent three hours in a space planning session yesterday with ViewIT Technologies. Amazed to hear that even in high-end, new, pricey facilities there are still obvious signs that designers are not consulting health care professionals.  Rooms that are all beige – from carpets to linoleum to walls and shower curtains – are potential hazards for seniors with eyesight difficulties when there’s no color and contrast. Mirrored closet doors create confusion when a resident tries to walk across the room and hits the mirror instead, falling to the floor.

I’m excited to be engaging with so many experienced, caring professionals this week. The Senior Move Industry is growing leaps and bounds as more seniors and their caretakers see the value in hiring expert consultants to navigate the challenge of moving into a new home.

We aren’t moving companies. We’re move managers. We’re there to make sure the area rug is removed, so our client doesn’t trip and fall. We’re there to make sure that on the first morning she wakes up in her new home, she knows that her toothbrush will be exactly where she always keeps it – to the left side of her kleenex box. We’re there to relieve stress, reduce the chaos of a move, provide feedback to distant family members. We’re there to be an advocate in the middle of a challenging and sometimes daunting transition.

If you have a loved one who is considering a move to a new home this year, please call me to set up a free introduction of our Senior Move Management services. I’d be honored to share with you all the ways we can make those decisions easier for your whole family.

I can be reached at sarah@GigHarborHomeManagement.com or 253.225.4864

Click here for more information.

Moving with Care

Senior PhotoBetty’s 91-year-old mother hesitantly found the words she was afraid to say, as she watched the great-grandkids playing in the yard. “This house is so big… and sometimes I feel like I can’t do this alone anymore. It’s so hard to keep up… I miss your dad… and…” She looked back into her daughter’s eyes, searching for reassurance, afraid of what her confession would mean. “I think I need to sell the house.”

Comforting her mother and swallowing the lump in her throat, Betty quickly said that she’ll take care of everything. However, it wasn’t long before Betty realized the magnitude of what the next 3 months would hold: finding a Realtor, preparing the house for sale, sorting 91 years of treasures, choosing a retirement home, making decisions on where furniture would go, and what items needed to be sold or be donated. “I don’t know how to take a 3,000 square foot home and all these memories and fit it into a 500 square foot apartment,” she confessed. “I’m very overwhelmed.”

By choosing Gig Harbor Home Management, Betty found peace of mind and the assistance she desperately needed to make this move happen in a short timeframe, while honoring the emotional and physical needs of her mother. Because GHHM specializes in helping older adults and their families through the process of moving to a new residence, our help makes the transition so much easier.

Making a major move at any age is difficult and stressful. Recognizing and managing the stress of downsizing and relocating older adults is the hallmark of the National Association of Senior Move Managers® (NASMM). As NASMM members, we are bound by a pledge of integrity, safety and ethics.

This month, we are very excited to attend the NASMM national conference in Florida and return with even more expertise in:
– Floor plans and organizing for small spaces
– Sorting papers, record keeping and photos
– Exploring emotional connections to our belongings
– Selecting quality moving companies, estate sale and consignment providers

If you can relate to Betty, and have a family member or friend transitioning to a new living space in 2015, we can create a customized plan and support you every step of the way. Call us at 253.225.4864 for a free consultation.

Fresh Start

Admit it.


This is how your life feels sometimes – doesn’t it? Whether it’s a closet, a junk drawer, the garage, or simply your calendar – sometimes it takes all your energy just to keep it together.

GHHM staff members have not only seen it all – we’ve LIVED it. Chaotic mornings with kids late for school. Last-minute stops at Big 5 to replace yet another lost football mouth guard. Spilled coffee in the new car. Five minutes left to drive 25 minutes across town. Aging parents. Families in transition. Houses on the market. Yes, even the cat barf on the white carpet.

Yep, we’ve been there, done that. And it’s because we’ve walked in your shoes that we love our work at GHHM and all it stands for: Peace of Mind Strategies for Getting IT Done.

January is full of opportunities for starting fresh and choosing a new outlook. Hire a life coach, join the gym, go back to college, or start a new job. Wherever the year takes you…we’ll take care of the house.

Here are our suggestions for getting started. And whatever you can’t cross off yourself, we’ll take care of it for you. Just call us!

• Send thank-you cards for gifts received.
• Purge holiday decorations, and re-pack items in labeled, tidy containers for next year. Donate whatever you didn’t use for the last 2 years.
• As you put away your gifts, find something in each cupboard to give away.
• Encourage kids to sort old toys and donate items they no longer play with in order to make room for the new.
• Throw out expired medicines.
• Complete a home maintenance list of all items needing repair, replacementor upgrading, and work them into your annual budget.
• Change furnace and water filters.
• Recycle last year’s magazines.
• Buy your new 2015 calendar and fill in annual events.
• Set up your 2015 files for household bills.
• Create a “tickler” filing system to keep your home organized throughout the year.
• Arrange for a deep clean in January to tackle nooks and crannies that haven’t been touched
in months.

GHHM can help you tackle the areas of your home that cause you the most stress, bringing calm and peace to one room at a time. Call today for a free no-obligation consultation. 253.225.4864

Go Make a Memory

We’ll take care of the rest.

Holidays are here, and chances are that you add something to your “Must-Do-Soon” list every day. Are you wondering how to actually ENJOY time with your family in the midst of the busy season? Company parties, neighborhood potlucks, school performances, holiday decorating and weeks of shopping can easily take over the schedule and rob you of time to create meaningful memories with those you love.

Visit our Pinterest page for awesome ideas on how to spend quality time with your family. You’ll find craft ideas, games and memory-making fun. http://www.pinterest.com/gigharborhome/

Our Holiday Checklist helped many families in November, and it can still guide you as the holiday countdown continues through December. http://gigharborhomemanagement.com/holiday-checklist/

Join our Facebook page so that you can get updates on local holiday events, and see suggestions from others on December activities you won’t want to miss.


Perhaps you’re like many local residents who have realized their schedules are too full and they need assistance. We’re always excited to share the many ways we can help:

  • Clean your house for special events and arrivals.
  • Organize closets, pantries and mudrooms.
  • Purchase or set up holiday decorations.
  • Provide vacation home watch services.
  • Provide referrals for winter home maintenance services such as holiday light installations and gutter and window cleaning.

Did you know we are a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers? And, we are continually receiving training on how to provide support and oversight for individuals downsizing into a retirement home. If you are taking time over the holidays to discuss with your extended family the need to move a loved one into a new living space, we offer free consultations and can assist you with these big decisions. Visit http://gigharborhomemanagement.com/relocation-services/ for more information.



Family Fun

Laugh yourself silly this holiday season and create hilarious memories with your loved ones. “Minute to Win It” games are only limited by your imagination. The idea is to perform several tasks with items found around the house, in 60 seconds or less. And because these games are so simple, they can be played easily by all ages. Form two teams, and for each round select one teammate (or couple) to tackle the task. Set a timer, and whoever gets done first, or accomplishes the most, WINS!

Some ideas:

Tweeze These: Move as many Tic Tacs as possible from one bowl to another, using only a pair of tweezers.IMG_7977-680x10241

String of Ornaments: Attach a string from one wall to the next. With a partner, hang ornaments on the string without using your hands.

The Jiggle Effect: Tie an old tissue box filled with ping pong balls to your waist; get as many balls out as possible by jumping.

Jelly Nose: With petroleum jelly on your nose, transfer cotton balls from one bowl to another, one at a time, with no hands.

Eye of the Needle: Pull a thread through a needle 10 times in one minute.

Marshmallow Toss: See how many marshmallows you can toss through a holiday wreath into a bowl.

Ornamental Yard: Balance as many ornaments as you can on a yardstick (that’s resting on two paper towel tubes) without it falling down.

Nut Job: Arrange 8 iron nuts in a row at the end of a table. Using a chopstick, string the nuts onto the chopstick – but don’t use your hands! You can also change the game for kids: stack up the nuts using only a candy cane (and one hand).

Hanky Panky:  See how many tissues you can remove from a box of Kleenex…using only ONE hand.

More Minute to Win it games can be found online. Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/minute-to-win-it-games-to-play-at-home.html

Holiday Checklists 101

Our new client Reece is a busy, working mom. When we met, her days were maxed out, time was limited, and keeping her house clean and organized felt nearly impossible sometimes.

“I know I have ADD,” she said during our first meeting. “I begin projects but then lose focus, get distracted, and start something else. But this is important to me and it’s time to get it under control. I need help.”

We began talking right away about regular house cleaning services and monthly organizing sessions, but then she had another request.

“I know it’s only August. But I want you to put up my Fall decorations before September 13th. And when we take them down, I want you to organize the storage bins, help me de-clutter and give away what I haven’t used in a few years. And then we’ll start on Christmas decorations.”

We were impressed with Reece’s desire to start early, and proud of her for acknowledging that she couldn’t do it all alone and planning in advance to get help. Even more exciting: all of her requests were services we love to provide while making personal customizations suited to her own needs.

The great news is that even if you didn’t start your holiday planning in September, GHHM can get you on track! Avoid the rush and stress of the season by using our Holiday Checklist as a guide. Pick and choose the tasks important to you, and you’ll be sailing through the holidays and truly enjoying time with loved ones.

When you access our popular Holiday Checklist, you’ll be entered in a drawing for ONE FREE HOUR of house cleaning. Visit www.GigHarborHomeManagement.com/holiday-checklist/ to enter and download the checklist!


Our team of experts can manage the holidays for you! Outsourcing your holiday organization, preparation and shopping allows you to focus on your career, family, and free time. Do what YOU do best…and we’ll take care of the rest. Call us at 253.225.4864 today!


Balancing Work & Family

Balancing Work & Family
I live in a sea of Post-it notes… color coordinated by topic. This works until one color runs out and my system falls apart. My only regret in 1980 is being too young to understand Post-it power, and therefore failing to buy stock in the company.

Surely I’m not the only one drowning in a sea of to-do lists and reminders. I’m up before dawn (even on the weekends) as a local business owner juggling my clients, my staff and my kids. Add housework and the dog, and I’m MAXED out. With the weight of a business on my tired shoulders, I’m constantly juggling my passion for my business, family time, and a requirement to make a living. And I’m not alone.

So many working women are stressed, balancing work and family life. With the catchy title “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” Anne Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic (July 2012 edition) created much controversy as women across the nation debated on whether “having it all” waspebble-balance-1117007-m just a myth.

As an organizer and home management professional, I can quickly provide tips to help women get more done in their days. Wake up earlier; create morning rituals to maximize time; avoid morning emails; prioritize ruthlessly; and delegate well. But one catch-phrase from the experts gets under my skin: “create work-life balance” (as if it appears with the wave of a magic wand).

With the internal drive to “have it all,” and the external pressure to appear that we are living the gold standard of got-it-together-ness, it’s no wonder we question if we’ll ever achieve balance and success in our business and home life.

Wouldn’t it be healthier to define success in a private way, determining what success really looks (and feels) like personally?

This excerpt from an article on www.womenpoweringbusiness.com is well-stated:

“I think balance is in the eye of the beholder, so it’s based on what your expectations are,” shares Marilyn Midyette, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, Inc. “I’m really concerned about people feeling like they have to define balance based on anyone else’s definition. It’s got to be what works for you.”

Midyette tackles “having it all” in seasons. “In one quarter,” she said, “I may hunker down because I have major initiatives I need to get accomplished. In another quarter, it may be my kids are getting ready to go off to college and I want to be present for that.”

Having it all is possible, as long as women dispel the myth that work and life have to be equal parts all of the time, according to Patricia Falotico, an IBM executive. She shared a personal story of when she was caring for her sick father. “There were days when I had to be daughter first and executive second,” she said. “You can do it all — all that you choose to do — but you have to be able to navigate around the pot holes.”

Perhaps finding success in business means we are 100% devoted at work, focused and striving for excellence. And finding success at home means we are 100% dedicated to being a daughter, spouse or parent when with our loved ones.

The key to making this work is to choose which “piece” of life to fully embrace at any moment, and allow ourselves the freedom to live in those moments peacefully. We need to give ourselves permission for our needs, desires and dreams to change with the ebb and flow of life’s seasons.

“True success cannot be simply defined by recognition, financial gain, company growth, or our kid’s accomplishments,” shares local business coach Lisa Markman, of Jigsaw Solutions. “True success comes from finding a place of satisfaction and peacefulness within yourself, where courage and wisdom guide you to exactly where you need to be in this moment. And then finally embracing that moment with all the energy you can give to those around you.”

Success is an evolution; allowing yourself to adapt, change course, and “go with the flow” as part of the journey. Accolades along the way can motivate and encourage us; but the deep satisfaction of success can only come from within, when you are where you need to be.

Sarah Friesen is the owner of Gig Harbor Home Management, a local company offering house cleaning, home organization, home watch and relocation services…and hopefully a little bit of peace of mind in the process. She can be contacted at 253.225.4864 or www.GigHarborHomeManagement.com

(Printed in Peninsula Gateway, special “Women in Business” section, September 29, 2014)