5 Easy Ways to Protect Your Home When You Travel

Follow these 5 tips to protect your home when you travel.

Welcome to my 14 Days of Organization series where I’m sharing tips, tools, and strategies to help you organize your home, your family, and your personal life! 

This might not seem like it has much to do with organization, but there’s so much to do when you go out of town that things can easily slip through the cracks. Just a few simple steps can help keep your house safe while you’re enjoying your trip.

1 | Hold the mail or ask someone to pick it up

Don’t let your mail pile up when you go out of town. A full mailbox is a sign to unwanted visitors that no one is home.

A neighbor might be willing to grab your mail each day. If not, it’s really easy to have the post office hold your mail. You can do it online at usps.com.

Your mail will be delivered in bulk on the first business day after your scheduled return. You should do the same for the newspaper if you have a daily delivery.

2 | Plan for pet and plant care

Arranging pet care is a given if you have cats or dogs. Don’t forget about the small pets like fish or hamsters! If you plan to be gone for more than a few days, it’s a good idea to have someone water your plants.

A trust-worthy teenager is perfect for tasks like getting the mail, newspaper, and watering the plants or caring for a low-maintenance pet.

3 | Notify your neighbors

Let a neighbor or two know you’ll be traveling and for how long. They can keep an eye out for any problems or suspicious activity. At least one person should have a spare key in case of emergencies.

Make sure to provide a contact number so they can reach you if anything comes up. A few years ago our neighbor noticed water pooling near our garage when we were out of town. It turned out there was a problem with the sprinkler system. We were able to have the water turned off and prevented major flooding, all thanks to our kind neighbor!


This one is pretty self explanatory, but having a couple different lights turn on at different times makes it look more like someone is at home and keeps shady characters away. Who else remembers the scene from Home Alone when the two crooks are watching all the automatic lights turn on?!


It’s common sense to lock up when you go out of town, but I’ve often found a bathroom window left open when we do a final check. By walking through the house quickly before you leave, you can be sure that windows and doors are secure and that valuables are hidden from view.

You should also turn off unused lights and turn down the thermostat. No sense wasting energy when you aren’t even there.

None of these tasks are too time-consuming, but they all help to protect your home and ensure it will be safe while you’re away so you can enjoy your trip. 

Check out all 14 Days of Organization here!

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14 Days of Organization

We're talking about all things organization for 14 days.

Today I’m kicking off a 14-day series all about organization! For a busy mama, organizational skills can be literally life-changing. I’m not exaggerating.

When my life is organized, my stress level is dramatically lower. I feel more relaxed when I know that I’m prepared and that nothing is slipping through the cracks.

So, for the next couple weeks, I’ll be sharing the tips and strategies I use to keep my home, family, and personal life in order.

My goal is not perfection. Honestly, organization doesn’t come easily to me. It takes effort to keep my life in order, and sometimes I fail miserably.

But I do want to be thoughtful and purposeful about how I manage our home so that our family can live in a more peaceful environment. With organization comes order, and with order comes peace.

Before we launch into the first area of organization tomorrow, I want to point out a few possible challenges.

1 | You don’t have a system

Unless you’re already fairly organized, conquering problem areas without a strategy can be daunting. Without a plan of action, it’s hard to know where to start.

If clutter is your main issue, for example, you can’t expect to clear out all the clutter in the entire house in one day. For one thing, you most likely have other responsibilities that can’t fall by the wayside.

Instead of trying to tackle a monstrous project all at once, break it into manageable pieces so that you can make progress while also handling other tasks, like feeding your kids 😉

2 | You have too much stuff

I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this one. We simply accumulate too much stuff. Instead of ever feeling truly organized, I end up moving things around to make room for the stuff that feels most important at the time.

My husband calls this process “s#@t shuffling” and it’s pretty accurate. I have a hard time getting rid of things that I think I might use one day so I try to make room for new stuff by shuffling the existing things around.

The best way to solve this problem is to start limiting the amount of stuff you own. For example, when new toys come in, get rid of the old toys that the kids no longer use. New clothes replace old items in the closet. An updated kitchen tool takes the place of the old version.

I’m prone to buying home decor items without having an immediate need for them just because they’re pretty. I would serve our home organization better by only buying what I will actually use.

If there’s not an immediate use (a seasonal item is a good example) then I need to get rid of something I no longer want to make room for the new item.

3 | You spend more time planning than doing

In our Pinterest-driven world, it’s so easy to scroll through hours of inspiration for any project on your to-do list. And let’s be honest, sometimes that’s much easier than actually doing what you need to do.

It can be a lot more fun looking at other peoples’ beautifully organized pantries than doing the hard work of organizing our own, am I right?!

The problem is that we spend so much time acquiring information, we can get stuck. This is called “analysis paralysis,” which basically means you’re so focused on forming the perfect strategy that you never move into the execution phase of the project. #guilty

Reading about how to use your day planner effectively is not helpful if you never start using your day planner. You have to move from strategizing to implementing if you want to accomplish your goals.

I’m really excited for this next couple of weeks to reinvigorate my own systems of organization and to encourage you to do the same!

Check out all the 14 days of Organization posts!

4 Easy Steps to Get Your Bedroom Closet Organized

3 Steps for Simple Linen Cabinet Organization

3 Tips for Organizing Kid’s Rooms

How to Keep Your Car Organized

Purse Essentials: What You Need & How to Stay Organized

5 Ridiculously Simple Ways to Use Your Phone to Stay Organized

5 Easy Ways to Protect Your Home When You Travel

How to Pack for a Family Vacation

How to Plan an Effective Schedule

How to Simplify Meal Planning

7 Pantry Organization Ideas You Need to Steal

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Five Fantastic Fireplaces

fireplace inspiration

Clockwise from top left: Source Unknown, Simply Inspired Design, ZillowThe Lilypad Cottage, Jenna Sue Design Co.  

If you’ve been following along with my One Room Challenge posts, you know that our fireplace is in need of a complete redesign. When we first had all the demo done in our new house, we knew that we would redo the fireplace at some point so we had the old brick taken out.

We didn’t have a game plan yet so instead of rushing into it, we waited. And waited. And now finally, nine months after moving in, we’ve found some much-needed fireplace inspiration.

The Fireplace Before

The original fireplace was not at all my style and definitely didn’t fit with my overall vision for our home. (FYI this is the picture from our walkthrough before we bought the house.)

old fireplace

In Progress

Since then, our den has been a little bit in limbo. I didn’t want to make any big decisions about furniture until we had a layout in mind for the fireplace since it’s such a focal point in the room. Here it is in all its current glory…

fireplace demo

We decided on the stacked stone option on the left and the fireplace surround will be square, rather than rounded like the original.

Design Inspiration

Although we debated about also having a wooden surround framing the stone, we’re going with just stone like the picture below (source unknown).

fireplace inspiration

I love this one from Jenna Sue Design Co. I love the giant hearth and the stacked stone that continues to the ceiling! Our space doesn’t allow for such a dramatic option, but it’s really beautiful and makes such a statement in this large room.

Size-wise our fireplace is comparable to this next one, but without the lovely symmetrical windows flanking either side. Ours has the sliding door to the back yard on its right and open space to the left that will house a media/display cabinet to hopefully balance out the space a little better.

If there’s one place I’m always sure to find inspiration, it’s The Lilypad Cottage. Kelly has great taste and I love her fireplace redo. They used Airstone to makeover their existing fireplace surround and it turned out great, as you can see in this next picture.

My final inspiration photo comes from Simply Inspired Design. This was the first inspiration pic I pinned when I was looking for ideas and originally I planned on a very similar look for our fireplace.

I really like the classic style of the mantel and we’ll be doing  a similar frame around our TV. One thing I really dislike about having the TV above the fireplace is how it seems to be just floating and this design solves that problem.

I’m really excited to get this project finished and see how it turns out. Be sure to check back as we move forward on the One Room Challenge!

Update: See our completed fireplace reveal here

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