There is in each of us an intricately interwoven desire for order.

At some level or another, we are all walking through the messiness of life. How that looks for each of us is different, but the desire for order is not. As human beings, we crave it. Even the most adventurous spirit has a desire for clarity, certainty, and confidence. And yet, as the reality of life unfolds, we often find ourselves fighting for or forfeiting it.

Adding foster care or adoption to one’s story and choosing to unconditionally love children who are finding their way through trauma often only elevates this challenge. New layers of “mess”, of busyness, of life’s demands crowd in on us, and “little things” like our homes and our diets fall to the wayside.

And still we know we need it. We know our kids need it. So how do we find this order that our very human nature longs for? And how do we make it fit in our already overflowing lives?

The Sioux Center January support meeting offered some great insight into these challenges and this desire, and we’d love to share some of it with you!

This support meeting aimed to help caregivers explore new habits to better meet the nutritional, relational, and organizational needs of their busy family. Two professionals joined us to give their professional wisdom and practical steps in getting families organized.

This is about more than healthy eating and a clean home; this is about the environment you live in every day and allowing everyone in your home to be their best selves in a place they feel safe, seen, and secure. It’s about a steadiness you can provide to help rewire the brains of your children and give you the space to love them well.


Our First Speaker: Danielle Nanke

Credentials: Registered and Licensed Dietician (RDN, LD) at Sioux Center Health. She is trained in behavioral and medical nutrition therapy and available for individual or group counseling.

Crowning achievement: She is caring and knowledgeable and prides herself in helping individuals and families achieve their personalized wellness goals in a supportive environment which promotes self-care and goal setting

The ONE THING she hopes you take away: It’s all about balance!

Learn more about Danielle and the services she offers.

Our Second Speaker: Michelle Kuiken

Credentials: Professional Organizer and Productivity Coach. She is the owner of The Proper Place, organizing in the communities of northwest Iowa and coaching nationwide.

Crowning achievement: Following her heart and opening The Proper Place! She has a passion for helping, teaching, and serving women. She believes she is called to use her strengths to help women get unstuck. She wants to help individuals create a life that fits and move them forward.

The ONE THING she hopes you take away: Life is busy and we can quickly lose track of ourselves and our priorities. Often times I find the stuff is merely a symptom of what is really going on in the household. So much is expected of women and I want to help them love themselves and have the tools to be able to run their household the way they choose. They shouldn’t be held captive to their stuff and their schedule. I want them to become free to do life the way they choose.

Learn more about Michelle and the services she offers.

Michelle Kuiken

Eating like a Dietician

Dietician, Danielle Nanke, spoke on what it means to eat like a dietician. The main thing she wanted families to remember is that eating healthy is about so much more than just “looking good”, it’s about feeling good. A balanced diet fuels the body and regulates the brain.

Here are a few of the key insights she shared:

  • With breakfast being the most important meal of day, plan to eat some protein with this meal to help your body recover from rest and prepare for the day. 
    • Struggling to get protein into your morning diet, think: eggs, peanut butter, nuts, Greek yogurt, Kind bars, or whey protein.
    • Recipe for a Green Shake: 1 cup spinach, 1 cup fruit, ½ cup Greek yogurt, 1 cup water/milk
  • Throughout the day, aim to follow the recommendations with meals that include the 5 five food groups: vegetables, fruits, protein, grains and dairy. 
  • Snacks are recommended 2-4 times day at scheduled times to prevent mindless snacking.
    • Some suggested snacks included: apples and peanut butter, wheat crackers and cheddar cheese, bowl of nuts, Kind bar, etc.
  • She encouraged meal planning to prevent unhealthy meals. Don’t feel like you have the time to meal plan? Let someone do it for you! Meal Squeeze is a local service that does the planning for you. Not only does it take the stress of meal planning by providing healthy meals, but it’s created by dietitians, it incorporates that week’s sales ad, it provides you with an organized grocery list, AND it’s only $5 a month.
    • BONUS for our readers! Use NCC %25 off
  • Think it’s too expensive to eat healthy? Check out this infographic below. Most families on a meal plan actually end up saving money.

Finding What Works for You

Professional Organizer and personal coach, Michelle Kuiken, motivated us to start off the year with a plan to get organized.  She encouraged our group to think about organization not as having a “magazine-ready home”, but rather to ask what is organized enough for YOU?

In her words, organization should equal functionality. It should make the life in your home flow more easily.

On the other hand, she shared her belief that every bit of disorganization is the equivalent to an unmade decisions. Mess usually happens when we simply set something somewhere because we don’t have the “time” or “desire” to decide where it actually should go. By choosing to make decisions on a daily basis (and having systems in place that allow us to do so), we will simultaneously be choosing to keep our lives in order.

Using the following 4 principles to get started on organization:

  1. Have a place for everything.  This may include labeling bins, keeping them at eye level, and avoiding lids so we will be motivated to put the items in bins
  2. Make an exit plan for everything.  Everything that comes into your home needs to have a landing zone.  The key is to keep it simple. For example, have a donation bin for any items you find you no longer need.  For papers coming into your home, have a strategy to keep the paper moving. For example, a bin for to toss, to do and  to archive. Make a decision once what to do with items to avoid keeping it around.
  3. Build and Maintain organization. This includes developing reusable lists for groceries, chores etc. For families, it is important to have a visual communication center so all are aware of what needs to be done, appointments etc.  It is also vital, that maintenance is scheduled weekly, monthly etc so we can continue to stay organized
  4. Live by the rule of completion. Often times we get overwhelmed on organizing projects, because we are unable to finish a task.  Her recommendation is to make your goals small, such as in a kitchen organizing project decide to just do one drawer on one day and another on a 2nd day.  This way, we feel accomplished and continue to make progress on our organization goals. Use your calendar to set times to set schedules to complete the task as well.

Check out some of these free downloads from Michelle here.

Before closing, Michelle shared, “I believe we all have a purpose in life, and that we are called to use our strengths to complement other’s limitations. There is power in digging into life together, we weren’t designed to do it alone.” — Hmmm, I feel like we’ve heard that before 🙂

We’ll say it again for the ones in the back: If you don’t feel like you can make the changes on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Don’t allow this to be another thing to stress you out. You’ve got a lot on your plate! That’s okay. Let’s be a team! After all, we each have different gifts for a reason.

Additional Resources

  1. Meal Squeeze website:
  2.  My Plate:
  3. The Proper Place website:
  4. A Productive To-do List by The Proper Place
  5. Organizing with Intention Workbook