Saturday, September 8, 2012

Kids & Responsibility


A week or so ago, I took the kids shopping for some new fall clothes.  I know the temperatures can't stay over 100 degrees forever, and they will eventually need some long pants when that happens!  Being 9 and 7, Benjamin and Hannah are pretty much past the ages where I can go shopping for them, bring home what I buy, and expect that it will all fit and be approved.  As I'm sure you can imagine, the prospect of shopping and trying on untold numbers of clothes was not necessarily appealing to either one of them.  But I had some inspiration and a discovery along the way that made it much more bearable, even enjoyable, for them both!

When we arrived at the first store, there were not many people there at all, and the layout of the store is very wide open (read:  my 6' 1" frame could pretty much see over everything and be able to spot either of my children in half a second!).  Since I would be able to check on him as I shopped with Hannah, I sent Benjamin off to his section of the store to look for his particular size of pants (this was a resale/consignment store, so some searching was necessary).  That responsibility immediately put some life into him, and I could see his dread of the process melting away.  In just a few minutes, he was back with a few pairs of jeans in hand.  "Okay, now what can I look for?" he asked.  So I sent him off to find some long sleeved shirts in his size.  A few more minutes, and he was back, obviously very proud of his finds. 

It was now time for the dreaded dressing rooms.  But this particular store had one area of dressing rooms, rather than one area for girls and another for boys.  It was just a line-up of five separate stalls for trying on and chairs outside for a waiting area.  The kids asked if they could go into their dressing rooms by themselves, and I thought, why not.  That added even more life to them both because they suddenly felt very grown up.  They even wanted to do the dreaded task of putting the clothes BACK on the hangers after trying them on by themselves!  Again, they liked the responsibility and being trusted with the task.

Because I was willing to give up some of my control and my need to do everything my way, the process that was originally dreaded ended up being very pleasant for us all and resulted in my children doing some growing up in the process.

It's got me thinking...where else can I let go of some control and give them responsibility??

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 10 in Review & Wrap Up

Okay, altogether now...WHEW!!!  How are you feeling??  Do you have a simpler home than you did ten weeks ago?  I'm quite certain that you do, even if it's not exactly like you want it to be.  You have started, and that is the most important part.  After all, the road to simplicity is a journey, not a destination.  This is an on-going process that you have begun--but after this ten-week start, you are well on your way.

I hope these posts have been helpful to you as you've navigated your way through the Organized Simplicity book.  Even though our class is officially ending, these posts will remain here, so feel free to go back through them as you complete this round of decluttering, cleaning & organizing or as you start round two somewhere down the road!  This is my second round in the past year, and I know there will be other rounds to come in the years ahead!

This week's assignment is just to wrap up the class by reading the final chapter of Organized Simplicity.  That's it!  It isn't an official assignment, but I think a family celebration might also be in order as you celebrate all that you've accomplished during this time!

I'm curious to know a few things--you can leave your answers in the comment section:
  • What is the best thing you gained from this book and class?
  • What was the worst thing about this book and class?
  • What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in your house from the past ten weeks?
Thanks for letting me be a part of your journey!  Be sure and come back to visit me here again.  Now that I'm in the groove of posting at least once a week, you never know what might be coming next!  Blessings to you!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 9 in Review

We are coming into the home stretch!  (Can you tell I've been watching Olympics for two weeks?)  Tell me:  what was the easiest part about decluttering, cleaning & organizing your master bedroom and closet?  What was the hardest part?  I'm anxious to hear about how it went!  For me, for whatever reason, the master bedroom has never been a clutter-magnet.  But I do know that is one clutter hot spot for some people.

Another question I'd love to hear you comment on is this:  what did you think of the wardrobe guidelines that were included in this week's chapter?  Were they right on?  Totally off base?  Were they helpful?

We have one more week to declutter, clean & organize, and then one week to wrap up everything!  Wow--can you believe you've made it to this point?  I am proud for all the progress you have made and hope you are proud of yourself as well!

As we focus this week on our entry ways and coat closets, I am reminded of a tip I read once that I thought was very insightful.  Since the entry way is the first impression most people get of your home, you want it to look nice, clean, clutter-free and welcoming.  The suggestion was made to walk out your front door, closing it behind you.  Then turn around and walk back through your door with fresh eyes and see what your guests see when they initially come into your house.  Is the view what you would want it to be?  And if not, what kind of changes can you make that would give the impression you want to give when someone first walks into your home from your front door?  Also, can you view another room from your entry hall?  If so, are the visible areas also clean, clutter-free and welcoming?  Maybe those questions can help you this week as you seek to make your entry way a positive first impression.

Our assignment for this week includes:
  • Read Chapter 15
  • Finish memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Declutter, clean & organize entry ways and coat closet
Have a great week, and I'll see some of you Thursday night for our Mom's Night Out!  Mexican food and Mom's Night Out--just can't beat that!! :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 8 in Review

If you are reading this, then you survived decluttering, cleaning and organizing your kids' rooms--good for you!!!  Was it as bad as you thought it was going to be?  Or was it worse??  Tell me about it in the comments section--I want to hear your stories!!

I spent this past weekend in Houston for the Texas Home School Coalition convention and was so blessed to be there.  There were fantastic speakers and tons of exhibitors--I really had a great time there!  I went to a session about juggling life and homeschool, and one topic the speaker covered was decluttering and its importance in helping us manage the chaos that can become of our homes.  She shared a definition of clutter that I believe came from a book called "Clutter's Last Stand" by Don Aslett: clutter is anything that takes more from us than it give to us in practical use and enjoyment.  That's certainly not earth shattering to us at this stage of our study, but I thought it was a different way to look at our clutter and yet another reason to get rid of it!!

This speaker also shared a method of dealing with the emotional things we have in our homes that make the decluttering process more difficult (again, I think this idea came from the above book by Don Aslett).  The recommendation was to have a box when you are decluttering that is your "emotional withdrawal" box.  Anything that you just can't part with because of emotional ties goes into that box, and when it is full, you seal it and date it.  Put it away in your attic and leave it be.  After six months, if you can name even one item in the box, you are allowed to open it.  Otherwise, to the trash it goes.  A good friend might be especially helpful in this situation who can challenge you and help you make those decisions that seem tough because of the emotions tied to those items.

The assignment for the week ahead takes us to our master bedroom.  This might be your easiest assignment, or it might be your hardest.  It does involve your closet, so that in and of itself might be quite a mountain to climb.  But you are up to the task, I just know it!

My closet is one area that I have decluttered tremendously in the past year.  I mentioned earlier in the study that I no longer shop just to shop or because there is a good deal to be had.  With that mentality, it has kept me from continuing to add more and more to my already full closet.  I have fewer clothes in my closet now than I have had in years, and I really love almost everything in there.

Since we are on the topic of clothes, I want to share another story that I heard at the home school conference.  One of the speakers was talking about the importance of getting ready each day.  For starters, you and your kids will both feel better about yourselves and be more motivated to work if you are dressed and ready for the day--as opposed to staying in your pajamas.  She pointed out (and challenged us to test it out) that we will treat our kids differently if they have clean faces, combed hair and even a hair bow (for the girls)!  To me, an added bonus is, if you need to go somewhere in the middle of the day, everyone is already ready to walk out the door once shoes are put on, rather than having to rush around, comb hair, make sure clothes match relatively well, etc. before you can even head out.

She also shared that recently her mother-in-law had made quilts for her husband and his siblings made of pieces from their grandmother's clothing.  As soon as they opened their gifts, they immediately started telling stories about this dress or that blouse, represented by the pieces that had been sewn into a quilt.  She concluded by emphasizing that our kids will remember what we wear, so don't spend your life wearing ratty tshirts and sweats!

Maybe you can use these stories as you go through your closets this week and sort out the worn-out clothes and those that either don't fit or don't look good, and only leave behind those pieces that you love and that fit you well.  After all, life is too short to wear ugly clothes!  (that quote is also courtesy of the above mentioned speaker!)

This week's assignment includes:
  • Continue memory work on Matthew 6.19-21
  • Read Chapter 14
  • Declutter, clean & organize master bedroom
Keep me posted on your progress--we might should all have an open house at the conclusion of this class so we can all show off our accomplishments! :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 7 in Review

How did it go in the bathrooms this week?  If there is a room in the house that can attract clutter in the form of half-empty bottles and containers, the bathroom is it!

Some of you have asked questions about homemade cleaners, and I wanted to share a little about this.  I have been trying various homemade cleaner recipes (including laundry detergent) for the last several years, and now there are very few cleaners that I actually buy in the store.  Homemade cleaners are so much cheaper and easier on the budget, as well as being safer since they don't contain all the toxins that many store-bought cleaners do.  My new favorite blog for homemade recipes from cleaners to skin care products is www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com.  She always has such good ideas that she tests herself before posting them, from easy homemade gift ideas to various homemade cleaners.  You can go to her blog, and at the top, there is a "Categories" button.  One of her categories is "Homemade Solutions."  If you click on that option, it will bring up a list of all of her blog posts that she has categorized under "Homemade Solutions."  You can scroll through them and see if you find any you would like to try.  I use her all-purpose cleaner, streak-free window cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and one of her laundry detergents and am very happy with them all!

For the comments section this week, share what you found the most of in your bathrooms that needed to go!  Was it too many travel toiletries (my issue!)?  Shampoo you bought on sale and forgot about?  Junk you threw back under the sink for another day that you finally had to deal with??

Okay, are you ready to tackle this week's assignment--your kids' bedrooms?!?  This assignment may be one of the more painful ones, but it's also one where you can see some drastic improvements and progress made once you are completely finish.  It may also be an assignment that is more easily tackled when you can have some time WITHOUT the kids!  It's easier now that my kids are getting older, but when they were smaller, I would wait and clean out their rooms at a time when they were not at home.  That way I was free to throw away what I felt like needed it and could put other things in the give away or sell pile that needed to go. 

If your kids are old enough, involve them in this week's assignment and take time to explain to them why you are doing what you are doing--too much stuff for not enough space, a crazy amount of toys that never see the light of day that could be used by kids who don't have much, excess clutter causes stress, or whatever your situation may be.  If they understand the reasoning behind what you are doing (and that you're not just being a mean mom!), they will be more likely to go along and be helpful.  If you begin teaching them now, before long, they will be voluntarily coming to get a trash bag and cleaning out their room on their own--believe me!  It happens! :)

As a reminder, here is this week's assignment:
  • Read Chapter 13
  • Continue memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Declutter, clean & organize the kids' bedrooms
You can do this!!  Don't get discouraged if you have too many kids' rooms to tackle at once.  Choose the one that needs it most, and then save the others for a few weeks down the road when you are finished with the rest of the house!

Please let me know how you are doing and if there is anything I can do for you (short of coming over and throwing things away for you!).  Many blessings to you for another great, simplified week!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 6 in Review

I want to start this week with a testimonial from Abby P.  She sent me this story about her sister, Libby, and gave me permission to share it with you--I hope you are as blessed and encouraged by it as I was:

'I wanted to share a story with you about my sister.  She's as bad or worse than I am, and she came to stay the week with me a couple weeks ago.  I handed her my book ("Organized Simplicity") and told her she should read it.  She was reading it, and then just shouted out "I don't want to move!".  I was taken back because I didn't tell her to move, but evidently God did :)  She is wanting to stay home and homeschool her oldest son and her baby.  Anyways, they are living above their means and her husband knew they needed to move for a long time.  Fast forward to today... their house is now on the market and they're looking for a smaller, more affordable home for them.  She has also gotten rid of 20 lawn & leaf bags of "stuff" that they don't "love or find useful".'
Isn't that exciting??  I'm so glad Abby shared that with us, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is going to bless Libby and her family for their faithfulness to follow His guiding of their family.

I hope you had a good week in your kitchen!  How did it go?  Though I was looking forward to working on my kitchen, I bypassed it this week and went to my closet.  With the fire that happened here in Perryton Friday evening and the clothes drive that is taking place for the victims who lost their homes, I decided my time would best be spent cleaning out more clothes and finding what was of appropriate sizes to donate.  You have to keep in mind that I have gone through my closet once already and gotten rid of many items.  As embarassing as it is to admit, Monday I cleaned out about a dozen items that were of a size that I could donate to the fire victims and cleaned out another five pairs of shoes and about two dozen other items of clothes that I either don't love or don't wear anymore!  Yes, I love clothes!  Up until this class, I've shopped when I wanted to shop, and when I found bargains (which is my favorite way to shop), I would buy something if it was a good deal.  Now, though, I shop only when there is an item of clothing that I need in order to dress the way I want to dress.  I must love every item in my closet or else it goes out, and if I buy something new, something else has to go out.  Just because I have the space in my closet (I am blessed with a huge walk-in closet) doesn't mean I need to fill every available space with clothes. 

But enough of that--I am ready to go back now and do my kitchen!!  Here's a couple of questions for the comments section: 
  1. What is your biggest clutter issue in the kitchen--is it piles of mail?  A disorganized pantry?  Too many (must-have) gadgets?
  2. If you had to choose one, what is your most favorite/important gadget or appliance?

I've realized, as a result of this book, that I am a lover of gadgets! I love to cook, so any gadget that is out there that might be useful to me is attractive!  But as Tsh points out in this week's chapter, single-use gadgets are often not worth the space they consume.  Many of the gadgets that I thought I just had to have I now see as clutter.  I can do the job of several gadgets with just one or two basic tools.  So when I finally get at my kitchen, I will be happily getting rid of several space-consuming gadgets and will rejoice over some extra cabinet space!

As for my favorite gadget or appliance, it would be my slow-cooker, hands down.  I LOVE my slow-cooker and use it at least once a week if not several times a week.  I would be so sad if I were to have to make do without it!

This week, we will be tackling our bathrooms!!  Our assignments include:
  • Read Chapter 12
  • Continue memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Declutter, clean & organize bathroom(s)
This may not be a favorite area of the house to be cleaning out, but I can almost guarantee it will bring you much satisfaction to get your bathroom(s) clean from top to bottom and cleared of clutter!!  Have a great week, and keep me posted on your progress!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 5 in Review

(We are finished with our stay-cationing for the most part, so I should be back to getting these posts up on time!  Thanks for your patience!)

In my devotion time, I am studying the spiritual disciplines with a book by Richard Foster called "Celebration of Discipline."  In my reading today, I came across this quote:
"In contemporary society, our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry & crowds.  If he can keep us engaged in "muchness" and "manyness" he will rest satisfied."
What more motivation could we have for this process of decluttering and simplifying that we are undertaking?

So how does your living room look now??  Was the process as painful as you might have expected?  Clydene said hers was relatively easy--it's her kitchen and kids' rooms that she is dreading!  I completely understand that!  When I went through this process the first time last fall, my living room process included getting rid of DVD cases for our movies that stay in a travel-friendly case; getting rid of CD's that haven't been listened to now that they are all on my iPod; purging books on the bookshelves that haven't been read in years; and going through our game cabinet.  This go-round, the game cabinet needed to be purged again, but that's pretty much it.  I'm with Clydene--the living room wasn't that difficult!  The kitchen, however...well, that's what we get to tackle this week!

Before we move on to the week ahead and our new assignment, I don't want to leave this past week just yet.  Did it resonate with you like it did me when she discussed holding on to items that tend to clutter just for the fear of losing the memory associated with it?  I remember the first time I read that how much that impacted me.  Towards the end of the chapter, Tsh wrote:
"You have permission to keep the valid memories in your life and to toss the mere object you've associated with them.  Your memories will remain, even if the objects are removed."  --pg 125, Chapter 9, Organized Simplicity
 I hope this gives you some freedom to get rid of things that are not useful or beautiful to you, knowing the memory connected to that object will still remain.

Have you tried any of the homemade cleaner recipes that are in the back of the book?  I use many homemade cleaners in my home.  Not only are they non-toxic and less expensive, it has simplified my cleaning process to have fewer products rather than thinking I have to use different cleaners for each different task.

Share with us in the comments section below how you are feeling so far about this decluttering, cleaning and organizing process.  I know we are only finished with one room, but do you already feel better about your home?  I hope so--I know every bit of progress will help!  Be proud of all you've been able to accomplish thus far.

For this next week, we get to tackle our kitchens!!  Our assignments include:
  • Read Chapter 11
  • Continue memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Declutter, clean & organize your kitchen 
I've been eyeing several things for weeks that only take up my already-limited cabinet space and aren't used enough to justify their inclusion in my kitchen, so I'm looking forward to doing much purging this week of excess gadgets and dishes!  I'm also looking forward to rearranging my pantry space (I don't have a pantry, so some of my kitchen cabinets have to be my pantry) in order to be, well, more orderly!  I can't wait to hear about your progress!!  Blessings!