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‘Clutter’ Category

  1. Cut the Purse Strings

    September 22, 2013 by 25hoursadaymom

    I’ve made a strange and probably drastic decision in my life. I’ve decided I’m going to stop carrying a purse. I would like to say that I decided this after many months of considering the burden carrying a purse has become in my life and the virtues of dragging around less clutter with me everywhere in an effort to live more simply. In fact, those thoughts have niggled the back of my brain many times over many years. But the truth is, this decision was thrust upon me by an intrusive and violent act. Recently, while watching my son, The Valiant, play his soccer game at a perfectly lovely Howard County park in the middle of a beautiful, temperate day, some creep smashed the window of my van and stole my purse.

    Aside from the obvious unsettling notion that some bonehead has my personal belongings, this is also a major pain in the butt.    Credit cards, bank card, checks, driver’s license, health insurance cards all had to be alerted for fraud and now replaced.  My car needs a very expensive repair. I even had a good Rita’s coupon in that purse. The only bright spot is that I now have a new photo on my license and my Costco card, both of which I’ve hated for years.

    There may be another bright spot, though. It has forced me to consider more fully (read: all-consuming way) the wisdom of toting all this crap around with me in the first place. Why did I leave my purse in the car, after all? Because I didn’t want to haul that 15 lb. jumble of excess to the field with me unnecessarily. Why do most women believe they need to carry a purse? Blue Collar Guy doesn’t carry a purse, yet he still somehow manages to buy gas and steaks and fishing lures. He could still check books out of the library (in theory). In the event of illness or accident, he still has his insurance card with him.

    Cute though my Vera Bradley Big Betsy purse was, I am not replacing it with another purse. I’m not entirely certain what I’m going to do instead, but so far, my plan is some combination of these:

    1. Use a neck pouch. I have been using this one, which is meant for outdoor sports and camping. This has a lot to recommend it. The only real drawback is that my phone has to be carried some other way, i.e., my pocket. It doesn’t look especially fashionable, so I’m not inclined to wear it somewhere I might care about that. The carabiner is nice for hooking my car key. An unexpected benefit is that it gives the impression to others that I have some sort of official authority. It looks like an ID lanyard.   I did also buy this one, which is meant for travel and preventing pick-pocketing, but I don’t like it. It’s too bulky to wear under your shirt and it’s so big that it looks immensely silly outside your shirt. The pockets also enter from the side, which is very awkward for removing cards or money at a cash register.

    2. Use a waist wallet. This is a very good solution when I don’t have a pocket for my phone. It does lay flat and comfortable and gives me only just a teensy “baby-bump” outside of my shirt if it’s underneath. My phone fits in and the horizontal zippered compartments are easy to access at a cash register. There is even a little loop onto which I can hook my car key.

    3. Get a wristlet. This is what I think I’ll use when I’m specifically going shopping or to any event where I need my cell phone, cash, several cards, ID, keys and a pen.

    4. Use pockets. I would say this is my first strategy, but women’s clothing are not often designed with useful pockets. Some skirts and skorts have no pockets at all. I am considering adding simple interior pockets to my unpocketed bottoms.

    Now that I’ve been going about purse-less for two weeks, I feel averse to having to carry anything like a purse again. It’s oddly freeing to go about with no purse. At first, you feel a little naked and you can’t believe how empty your hands/arms are. Now when I see a woman carrying some gigantic handbag, I can’t imagine what she could have in there that she can’t be without for a few hours.

    Have you done it? Have you decided to forego purse-carrying? I’m open to insight from anyone who has done so with success.



  2. Trashed

    June 10, 2013 by 25hoursadaymom


    This isn’t really a new way of thinking for me, but from time to time, it really flares up and bothers me more than it was just recently.  We waste WAY too much stuff, people. Cups and bottles and paper and styrafoam containers for macaroni and cheese and bread bags and twisties and post-its and plastic, plastic, plastic, plastic, plastic. It nauseates me.

    What I really love is a closed-loop system that is synergistic and in harmony.  Recently, I became a chicken owner. I could not be happier with my six “girls” – Henrietta, Eva, Red, Maple, Florence and Juliette. The chickens are cool all by themselves, but what I really love about the chickens is that they fit so beautifully into the system of my household.  I grow a garden. For the garden, I make compost. To dispose of food bits, I make compost. The chickens also now eat food bits. They eat garden waste. They poop in the straw that will one day also be compost, which will go in the garden and grow the tomatoes and lettuce. The tomatoes and lettuce will one day partially feed the chickens and make compost.  The chickens lay eggs, which adds calcium to my compost, calcium to my garden, nourishing my plants. Which feeds my family and feeds my chickens.



    It’s really lovely. If you’ve been thinking of getting chickens, you should. They will eat kitchen scraps, keeping that trash out of the landfills. They will produce eggs, which you can eat, give away and/or sell. They will cut down on the insect population around your yard. Get chickens if there is any way in heck you possibly can.  Their bedding is compostable and can help your garden grow. (If you don’t have a garden, you should do that, too.)

    Let’s just talk about landfills a moment, shall we? Some people think of a landfill as a giant compost heap, in which their half-a-ham sandwich, leftover spaghetti noodles and fuzzy oranges just compost away, while the endless fields of plastic crap sits there (for all eternity). This is not what happens. Very little of what is in a landfill decomposes, even if it is organic matter that would compost just fine on the pile at your house. For one thing, food in the landfill is usually encased in plastic bags, which retards decomposition. Additionally, so much new, non-biodegradable material is chucked on the landfill each and every day that last week’s trash is totally buried. There is little oxygen available, which is necessary for decomposition. There are few microorganisms to break things down. This is why you turn or stir a compost pile at home to make it decompose – you need to redistribute microorganisms and add oxygen.

    This alone should be at least a mild deterrent to sending food to the dump when it could be eaten by your chickens and/or composted at home. Is it? Do you care?

    Beyond composting food waste, please give some serious thought to everything else you’re throwing away on a regular basis. Plastic? Plastic never, ever, ever biodegrades. It never becomes soil. It can only get smaller and smaller until it’s a microplastic. I’m thinking of putting this on a bumper-sticker: PLASTIC NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER BIODEGRADES. Each and every piece of plastic you have ever used is still in existence. I can’t remember now where I read this, but someone out there said she imagines what it would be like if, when she died, all the garbage she had generated in her life came with her to meet her Maker. Would the Creator of All be pleased with her trail of trash? I find that a powerful image, no matter what you might think happens when you die.

    Even recycling plastic is only a poor solution. Plastic can only be “downcycled” – turned into a lower-quality plastic that will itself not be recyclable, unlike glass or metal, which can be returned again and again into it’s original state. It also requires energy and waste to recycle plastics into other plastics.  Avoiding it at the outset is a far better plan. Not to say that is easily done.

    Please consider doing something to reduce your own trash. Thankfully, you will not be a total pioneer. There are lots of blogs and websites where you can get great ideas when you are stumped about how to replace a trash problem with a non-trash solution.  For me and my house? We are stepping it up. I am on a campaign to see how very little we can throw away.  Will you join me?





  3. Remove Your Clothes

    January 8, 2013 by 25hoursadaymom

    Some of you may recall the post I wrote in response to Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7.  Overall, I found it thought-provoking and interesting, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why the chapter on Clothing bothered me.  In the book, she focused on one of seven areas to reduce to seven items for a month. For the clothing month, she chose seven articles of clothing to wear exclusively. I don’t remember exactly what she chose, but it was something like a black t-shirt, a pair of jeans, a skirt, cowboy boots, a short-sleeved shirt and I don’t recall the other two. (Underwear and socks were not part of the deal.)

    I think I’ve finally identified what it was that I didn’t like about that chapter. Choosing seven articles of clothing is, obviously, an extreme reduction for most first-world people. But cutting clothing down to seven pieces for a month doesn’t amount to anything meaningful if, at the end of the month, you simply revert to your previous clothing assortment.  If I recall correctly, Hatmaker did also cull and donate a lot of her clothing during her experiment, so it wouldn’t be fair to say it made no difference, but I admit I felt like there was no point swearing off clothing for a month if you’re just going to spring right back to a “normal” array of clothing like most westerners have. I wanted her to suffer, damn it!

    Just kidding.

    Kind of.

    I recently stumbled upon something called Project 333. That’s more like it! With Project 333, you choose 33 articles of clothing you will use exclusively for 3 months. I would piggy-back on that and say while you’re at it, get rid of nearly everything else for the current season that you didn’t select for the Project. Chances are good that you don’t need it. Then, when the 3 months are over and you move into the next season, repeat the procedure.

    If you’re a virgin to removing your clothing, you might not be able to start something like Project 333 right off the bat. First, go through closets and drawers and remove all the obvious unwanted or unneeded clothing – doesn’t fit, isn’t in style, never really liked it to begin with, Aunt Maude gave it to me, needs repair but I’m too lazy, doesn’t suit my life.  Once you’ve gotten rid of the clear losers, perhaps wait a few weeks or a month before you do the second culling. This involves getting rid of clothing that you could use, though you rarely do, that is nice, but is not your first choice. These can be much tougher to part with. Remember, though, you’re not giving away your first born; it’s just a sweater, for God’s sake! Naked into the world we came and naked will we leave. In between, a black t-shirt will be fine.

    I’ve been thinking about clothing and simplified living for several months. It’s been pecking at the back of my mind. For one thing, although I am a girl, I really hate shopping for clothing. I don’t want to look at 10,000 things, I just want to walk in, find a white shirt, pay for it and leave.  Most girl stores intimidate me. The assortment is endless. I dodge well-meaning sales help. It can’t be expensive, dry-clean-only, busy, fragile, low-cut or one of those tops you can only wear with another top underneath. (What’s up with that, anyway?) God knows, it can NOT be itchy! Soft is crucial.  I bought a sweater just before New Year’s at J.Jill. I thought it met my criteria, especially since it was half-price. Only once I tried to wear it, it felt like nine hundred ants were crawling around under it. That itchy beast is going back!

    I ordered a black t-shirt from Lands End today, on-line. Ahhh. No stores. No racks. Just click, type in coupon code and voila! Simple shirt on the way. I also have confidence because I have already bought t-shirts from Lands End. They are great staples. And since I’m going to be paring down to staples, that will be a very good thing.



  4. Homeschooling: Fantasy vs. Reality

    August 7, 2012 by 25hoursadaymom

    I have the good fortune of having a “bonus” room in my house, which I currently use for our homeschooling “schoolroom.” (Though you need to lose any idea that we pledge the flag at the back of the room and line up to use the water fountain.) This time of year, I am getting my new curriculum for the upcoming year and organizing it and cleaning up the schoolroom.  In my fantasy, it looks pretty much like this:

    Homeschool Room Fantasy Homeschool Room FantasyHomeschool Room Fantasy

    It does look like that today, but I bloody well know how reality goes. Want to see what it looked like before I started cleaning and organizing it for this fall?

    Homeschool Reality Homeschool RealityHomeschool Reality

    I’d like to say I staged some of the messy room photos, but I didn’t; it really was just like that when I took the pictures. The reality of homeschooling is that rooms don’t stay terribly neat when there are kids using them several hours a day. (Several hours a day is another point I’m going to get to in a minute.)

    For practical advice, I’ll tell you a little bit about what makes the difference in these pictures. What did I do to make the messy room turn into the fantasy room?

    1. I gave away or sold some of the books and materials that were sitting unused and cluttering up the place.

    2. I set up new binders for the coming year. I placed any summer work they’ve done in the binders.

    3. I put all the new curriculum for this year into their desk drawers or on the bookcases.

    4. I put away anything that was sitting out in the middle of nowhere, like the vacuum cleaner and a dress in a bag. I folded up the craft table and put away all the crafters stuff.  I threw away some old projects, like a large poster board display of Ancient Rome. I had my husband chuck the broken drawer that goes to the crappy toy cabinet. (I would not be sad to burn the whole cabinet, but I’m settling for throwing away the one broken drawer for the time being.)

    5. I took down all the piles of stuff sitting on top of the bookcases and cabinets. I now only have NOEO science boxes on top of one cabinet.

    6. I vacuumed and dusted. In a perfect world, I would buy and hang curtains that would go on the door at the far end. Currently there is a white sheet hanging on them, by thumbtacks. Redneck design ideas for the do-it-yourselfer. I hung the sheet because there are two hamster cages sitting there and I did not want them to fry from the afternoon sun. So I rigged it up. I recognize this is not going to make it into Better Homes and Garden magazine.

    Okay. So – the room you homeschool in can look better, but it’s probably not going to look spotless all the time. If you require that, homeschooling is not your friend. While I’m on a roll, let me just dispatch a few more homeschooling rumors you might have heard. Newbie homeschoolers almost always think these are true. I did.

    1. Homeschooling is so fast and easy, you’ll be done in two hours a day.

    This is a complete myth, except for perhaps Kindergarten and First Grade with one child. Or perhaps if you have one teenaged homeschooler who works well independently. Or if your main aspirations are that your girls learn to sew and make a good meal, which I hope is not the case, but I’ve heard of it, so I’m allowing for the possibility.

    If you have high standards on what you want your kids to learn and you plan to do it through active teaching (i.e., not unschooling), expect to spend several hours a day working directly with your kids. Part of this will depend how well your children work independently, but even if they do, you can’t just hand them a DVD and consider your part done.

    2. The children will be geniuses, simply because they are homeschooled. (AKA: All homeschooled kids are better off than any schooled kid, by virtue of merely being homeschooled.) 

    This is not true, either, and it partly goes with the “work two hours” myth. There are plenty of homeschooled children who are stone cold average and *gasp* some who are below average. Sometimes, there are organic reasons why the children struggle.  Sometimes, the reason is the parents have not taught them. Some parents don’t teach them on purpose, feeling it is better for the children to learn “naturally.” Whatev. I don’t concur. High standards are one reason I homeschool in the first place. If I can’t be bothered, they are better off in school.

    I do think that higher-IQ parents are more likely to homeschool than lower-IQ parents and they are more likely to have bright children genetically. So, that is one factor that explains the brainy homeschooler image. Also, someone who is sacrificing a lot to teach the kids at home usually values academic excellence. This also explains the preponderance of bright homeschooled children. BUT – they are not going to be super-bright simply because they are learning at home instead of school. Sorry. You don’t get something from nothing.

    3. Homeschooled children are always good friends with their siblings.

    Okay, this is not a total myth. I do think being home together, rather than separated in different school classes all day gives kids more opportunity to be close to their siblings. BUT – just like the bright kids thing, this is not an automatically guaranteed outcome. Some children just clash with their siblings. Some parents don’t manage the children well and it surfaces in sibling tension. The bottom line is, it will be work just like any other positive outcome you hope to have.

    So there you go. Three fantasies many new homeschoolers think are true that veteran homeschoolers think are laughable. Four, if you count the fantasy schoolroom. Don’t get me wrong – I love homeschooling and I think it’s a great way of life. But go in with your eyes open. Sooner or later, reality comes to roost.



  5. The Top Five Most Useless Products

    June 5, 2012 by 25hoursadaymom

    This is not an exhaustive list, but as I flip through catalogs while I eat my lunch, it never ceases to amaze me that there could be a market for certain products. I’ll grant you – sometimes, they’re marginal. I can conceive that someone, somewhere with a lot of disposable income and endless kitchen cabinetry might want these things. Take for example, the Stuffed Burger Press.  I mean, okay, $14.95 is hardly a fortune and the kids might get a kick out of eating their burgers with the cheese pressed on the inside, rather than sitting conventionally atop the meat, but it should at least register before you click “Add to Cart” that this is hardly a kitchen must-have.  Still, there are a few products that it is seriously hard for me to conceive of any person coveting enough to buy. Here are my top five recently-encountered products that I find utterly useless*:

    1. Monogrammed Forged Steak Brand – If you are so vain that your steak needs to bear your initials, you need professional intervention.

    2. Adjustable Tablet Stand – Taking laziness to new extremes, because it’s so taxing to sit all the way up  while you use your iPad. All for the low, low price of $159.99  Plus, what happens when you foolishly flop down on the living room couch and begin browsing, only to recall that you left your convenient stand upstairs by your bed?

    Insta-Tall Max 2 Inch Adjustable Gel Lifts by Body Trends As Seen on TV

    3. Insta-Tall Max Heel Lifts – I’m not short of stature, so maybe I just don’t get it, but I can’t imagine anyone being so desperate to be a couple inches taller that they would find it acceptable to shove plastic lifts in their shoes. I’m sure nobody will notice your heel protruding 2″ up from the back of your penny loafers. How ’bout just live in the height the good Lord gave you? Sheesh.

    4. Meatloaf Starter – Meatloaf starter?  Because nobody can figure out the hard-to-come-by, top-secret ingredients of onions, green pepper, an egg, some cracker crumbs and a good fistful of ketchup? Why did people begin making meatloaf in the first place? It was to stretch ground beef inexpensively to feed a few more mouths. But the company hawking Meatloaf Starter wants you to pay $12.50 for their jarred version. Grandma would roll over in her grave.

    SodaStream Fizz Home Soda Maker

    5. Soda Stream Machine – Okay, at least this one could make sense from a practical standpoint, if your family already drinks a lot of soda. It would reduce soda can waste and, though I haven’t run the numbers, probably is less expensive than buying soda. Still, is it a goal of yours to make it possible for family members to make themselves a soda any time they have the notion?  A far better goal would be reducing or eliminating soda from your diet.






    I’m sure there are many more, but I found these barely looking. Once, I saw a show that featured The Ultimate Cheepskate, Jeff Yeager. He said something that really stood out for me. He said he and his wife decided long ago that they were not going to “upgrade” their life-style; that the life-style they had at that time was satisfactory. I cannot say I fully embrace that principle – I do love my smartphone as much as the next girl – but there’s an idea there I can really get behind. It’s certainly better not to continuously look for the next gadget to acquire, which 0ften requires other gadgets to keep itself moving along. You buy the soda gadget and then you need to replace the CO2 indicator and you need the corn syrup garbage to make it taste like a soda and you need electricity to power it…Isn’t it easier to just drink water?


    * Should you disagree and do, in fact, find these to be highly useful, feel free to mention it in a comment. But I doubt you will change my mind. 😉

  6. Give

    December 4, 2011 by 25hoursadaymom

    People speak of spring cleaning, but there is no better time to go on a house-wide purge than just before winter holidays come along. With Christmas, Hanukkah, and…oh, I don’t know…Kwanza? Winter Solstice? Whatever it is that makes you merry, there’s bound to be an influx of gifts. If you have kids, (or maybe even dogs), that goes exponentially.

    I’ve been going through room-by-room and divesting myself of all sorts of things. Here are just some of the places I’ve purged and organized and some of the umm…treasures…that I’ve moved along:

    Kitchen Cabinet: spices that I can’t remember ever using – Turmeric? Why did I buy that? I think it was when I thought I was going to make Indian food until I discovered I’d have to do that hung yogurt thing, which was way too much work.

    Bathroom Drawers: lipstick I never wear; hair heat-sheild that does nothing but make my floor sticky; Sedona Sunset hair dye (I haven’t done red in two years); various travel-sized lotions and potions without enough left to make it through a weekend away; Ear Wax removal kit (ummm…yeah); and most questionable of all, the bags that prescriptions came in, due to my irrational fear that I might have to call the pharmacy and won’t be able to find the number. (See? None of us is immune.)

    Nightstand Drawers: Digital address book (who needs that nowadays?); old charts from NFP, back when I was trying to get pregnant (my youngest child turns 7 today); that horrible MOTH schedule book that makes me feel like a home-management failure; some odd notes that make no sense now; a library schedule of events from 2008 and…the journals. Well, I didn’t throw out the journals. I don’t really know what I’m going to do about the journals. More about that in a moment.

    I went through toys with my boys, got rid of great gobs of baskets – I can’t imagine what I thought was so important about each one. I sent some artificial plants and flower arrangements packing; The kids put aside about 30 DVDs they don’t want; I went through medicines and threw out the old; I dug through the art drawer and chucked tons of hard clay, dried-out markers, ugly pencils and random drawings. I took to Goodwill some wooden puzzles that all my children used. I admit that this was tough. But it’s time to let somebody else enjoy those things.  I don’t want to hoard and hold onto these things that could be a great blessing to other children when my children clearly no longer need them.

    Here’s a word about giving things away: always give things away with your whole heart. Even if you are lending something to someone, do not lend it off if you cannot let go of it. You really should only lend things if you would also give them away with no regrets. If you lend or give things to others but you still own the thing in your heart, it will hurt the relationship and be a burden to the recipient.  If that’s the case, you are putting things over people. Let me tell you a story.

    Years ago, a friend of mine lent me some nice toys and books that she still owned in her heart. She told me she wanted me to have the use of them, but that she’d like to have them back eventually for her grandchildren. I was too young and inexperienced at the time to realize how bad a position this was for me to be in. I could not really enjoy the items, because in the back of my mind, I feared I would ruin them. In fact, one of the books was in my daughter’s bed when she threw up all over kingdom come and that was when I fully understood that I did not want these items anymore, unless my friend was ready to truly give them to me.

    Don’t do what this friend did. Purge. Give away. By all means, go through your things. But give things away with your whole heart. They’re just things. Naked we came and naked we’ll leave, so the stuff in the middle is just stuff.

    Now – about the journals. This is really troubling to me. I’m open to suggestions. I have journals going back some twenty years of my life. There’s good stuff in there and there’s a fair amount of trash, too. There are words entombed there that I really think I’d be better off burning. Keeping what I wrote down in bad times ties me to that past at least a little. I don’t think we really release a wrong done to us while we keep record of it written in a journal. I do believe thoughts are things.

    However, I don’t want to just throw out all that recordation. I confess: it’s precious to me. I love looking back at what I thought about when I was 23. Most of the time, I roll my eyes at what a dork I was. (When I’m 80, I’ll probably roll my eyes about what I’m writing now.) The thought of transcribing all those journals and sanitizing the parts I’d rather throw out is too daunting. There’s thousands upon thousands of words written there. I don’t really know what to do with my journals. It’s tempting to just leave it and let family members argue with each other after I die.

    So – how about you? Are you willing to go on a clean-out? I promise you, there is no self-help program that will yield bigger results for less effort than the simple act of going through your home and divesting yourself of excess. All the stuff that doesn’t describe you anymore. All the stuff that makes you feel like a loser. All the duplicates that are broken, the bottles half-empty you don’t like well enough to finish, the projects you thought you’d take on before you discovered it just isn’t you. Purge it and feel a weight lift off your soul. Just give it away.

  7. Overstuffed

    November 6, 2011 by 25hoursadaymom

    I remember once a conversation I was having with my friend, Marybeth. She said, “My mother-in-law says that it doesn’t really matter whether or not your home is ‘neat’, just so long as it’s not dirty.”  Then, she paused thoughtfully and added, “…but I don’t really agree.”

    I don’t either.

    Granted, I’m not a fan of dirty, either, but if the Queen or J.K. Rowling were dropping by my house any minute and I had a choice of sanitizing the bathroom or getting three-days-worth of Pottery Barn catalogs, lunchboxes, backpacks, shoes and Legos out of the way, I’m picking hide the junk. Nothing makes your house appear dirty more quickly than too much stuff. Besides that, I contend that having too much junk inevitably leads to things also being dirty.  “Messy, but sanitary” is a non-sensical concept. Here’s why: if you have to move a lot of stuff around to get to the sanitizing, it’s discouraging and time-consuming. If you have only a small amount of time to clean a counter, you probably can clean it if it doesn’t have 40 tons of mess on it, but you will put it off if you have to move Grandma’s vase, 2 furry coffee-cups, a pile of mail, an art project your kid did 2 years ago and a lone sock, wanting its mate.  Allow me to demonstrate.

    Do you want to clean (sanitize) this counter? I bet you don’t. When a counter looks like this, it makes you feel unhappy. Discouraged. Even if it were somehow sanitary underneath all that junk, you won’t feel good about how clean it is underneath if it looks this way.

    Do you want to clean (sanitize) this  counter? Even if you don’t love cleaning, I bet you wouldn’t mind cleaning this counter. It will only take a minute. (If I could convince Blue Collar Guy to clean out his mail drawer, it would be even better because the mail holder on the right would not be there, but that’s a different post.)

    In the interest of full disclosure, the “before” picture was not staged all that much when I decided to write this post. It really did have the brochures from church, the sunglass junk and the cell phone charger tentacles-of-death all over kingdom come. The notes to the left on the wall in the “after” picture do contribute to mess also; I don’t really recommend having it this way, but that is the best way to keep it straight whose soccer game is when and what’s on the school lunch menu this month. If all family members are more comfortable keeping this info on the iPhone, so much the better; we’re just a little stuck in the Age of Paper notes around here.

    If you have a lot of clutter to sort through, you’re in good company. I’m sure you’ve seen the show Hoarders or are at least familiar with the concept. I don’t consider myself a great keeper of things, but I still battle the endless deluge of STUFF as much as other mothers living in the civilized world. I could wax philosophical about how “abundantly blessed” we are in the USA, but at the end of the day, I just want to be able to walk to my bed without stepping on some god-forsaken Lego the size of a pin and just as sharp.

    Where do you begin if you’re trying to dig out? Here is my suggestion: make your bed. If you are struggling to get control of a messy house, you must establish habits. Habits are engrained behaviors that you do over and over again until you have worn a highway in your brain. Neat freaks have a lot of these highways; OCD folks have too many of them and can’t find the scenic drive anymore. Be that as it may, habit is the route to order. Start with this one habit: make your bed every morning. Get out of bed and make it, or at least make it a bit later when you get dressed and brush your teeth (and God, I hope those are habits already).

    If your bed is hard to make because you have a tangle of weird blankets and sheets that don’t fit, rectify this as soon as humanly possible. Give the nasty sheets to the dog and outfit your bed with a nice, warm comforter. You can make a bed with a comforter in about 28 seconds.

    I know some rationalize that making the bed is a pointless activity, as you will only mess it back up later. (My son, The Negotiator, attempts this testimony on a regular basis.) I disagree and here’s why: the bed takes up a lot of visual space (and often, actual space) in the bedroom. If it is messy, some 87% of the room seems messy and, as I said above, messy feels dirty  and usually is. If 87% of the room looks messy, there is no motivation to also pull the underwear down off the TV and take 9 coffee cups down to the kitchen. Make the bed and feel like a diva in your bedroom.  You can face the rest of the house once you’re the actual master of the Master Bedroom.

    Let me know if you decide to give it a whirl on my say-so.