When Messy is Okay

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Sometimes people think I have a perfect home, all the time. And while that would be fantastic, it’s not my reality. My family lives here. My husband and I have kids. We make messes – and we don’t always clean them up right away.

Organization is lovely. Having a clean, inviting home is wonderful. But sometimes embracing a little mess is good for the soul, too.

In fact, some days I don’t clean at all. Yesterday was one of those days. I worked while my daughters were in a class yesterday morning. Then we came home and had lunch together and I laid down for a bit while they played.

Then we attended a holiday dinner last night and instead of cleaning before we left, I primped. I styled my hair. I braided my girls’ hair. I took my time.

No rush. No stress. We had a lovely time at dinner and it was nice to feel unrushed and feminine for a change, instead of just thrown together. I was surprised at what curls and a few bobby pins did for my frame of mind.

When we got home, I told my husband, “I’m going to clean tomorrow. Today I needed to refresh.” He used to not believe me, because most of the time my intentions were good but my follow-through was poor.

This time, Nathan hugged me then played a round of Donkey Kong Country with our kids before heading to bed.

He knows. He knows the girls and I tidied our home two days ago. He knows that what’s messy to me today would have been a rare level of clean a few years ago. He understands that sometimes when I spend an hour or two taking care of myself instead of our home, it’s better for everyone.


He also knows that I will clean it up, and soon. He trusts me now. I’ve worked hard to earn that trust.

If your spouse doesn’t trust you to clean or to catch up, try not to feel discouraged or frustrated. See it as an opportunity to grow and to earn trust.

Many times there has to be a heart change before the difference is seen outwardly. I spent a solid six months working on my own heart and home before my husband noticed the outward difference.

Sometimes we need to put caring for ourselves over caring for our homes. But, many times, caring for our homes is one way to care for ourselves.

It takes time. There are setbacks. It’s okay. Just keep trying. Slow progress is still progress!

“As you declutter, keep this really important thing in mind: You are never behind in this challenge. Your house will only get clean if you work at it. And only you will know whether you legitimately don’t have time to clean some days or whether you’re just making excuses. But even if you slacked off last week and didn’t clean a thing, today is a fresh day and a new start. So is tomorrow. So just pick up where you left off and do your best.” – Davonne Parks, Chaos to Clutter-Free

If you know your home needs help but you don’t know where to start or you’re lacking motivation, read my book Chaos to Clutter-Free or request FREE personalized advice.


I also absolutely love Myquillyn Smith’s article about being hospitable to ourselves.

What do you think a good balance is between self and home?

How To Simplify Your Holiday To-Do’s

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Gift lists, homemade goodies, stocking stuffers, and decorations can all quickly add up. Then, before we know it, we’re worn out, exhausted, running in circles, and have spent so much money on Christmas that we have no idea how we’re going to pay the bills.

I’d like to suggest something else this year. Something better.

A simplified holiday.

We don’t always have to do things extravagantly in order for our family members to have an enjoyable holiday.

Quite the opposite, in fact. Often, our family members will have more fun when we’re relaxed and really with them than they will when we’re rushing around trying to check more of the “special” things off our lists.

Practical ways we can simplify during the holidays:

1) Pare down the gift list.

It can be so fun to give to others!

But, go ahead and see where you can pare down your list. A good test is to ask yourself is, “If I knew this person wasn’t going to give me a present, would I still want to buy for them?” If your answer is no, then cross that person off your list!

If you’re crossing someone off your list who you usually exchange gifts with, make sure to very gently let them know now that, due to time and budget constraints, you won’t be able to purchase a gift for them this year.

Yes, some people may be upset, but others will be relieved to know they have one less person to buy for!

2) Simplify gifts that you do give.

For example, you could make a simple body scrub for the ladies you’re giving gifts to. Or you could make packets of snowman soup as party favors or stocking stuffers. Or a meat rub for the chefs.

Use your own skills and interests to come up with a creative and thoughtful present that several people on your list would enjoy. Remember that nobody else has to know how frugal the gift was, or how easy it was to make!

{Note: Specific ideas about how to simplify gifts for our own kids are here and really fun themed gift ideas are here.}


3) Protect your time.

Many of us genuinely enjoy attending holiday events! But if we’re not careful, events can push out the things that are most important to our families.

So let’s commit to carefully checking our calendars before saying yes. If the event doesn’t fit in with our schedule, it’s okay to politely decline a few invitations.

4) Find out what’s important to your family.

I’m always amazed at the simplicity of requests when I ask my husband and kids what they want to do each December.

They tend to request things like, “I want to eat popcorn while we watch a family Christmas movie.” Or, “I’d to drive around town to look at the Christmas lights.”

Finding out what’s truly important to our families can help us see where we can simplify, as well as which traditions we can skip altogether, without anyone feeling like they’ve missed out.

5) Bless – don’t impress – others.

There can be a lot of pressure to have a house that’s perfectly clean and decorated, or to serve a meal that’s absolutely incredible. But really, putting that pressure on ourselves is unnecessary.

We can choose to keep things simple and frugal as we seek to bless – not impress – others.

Your turn!

It’s counter-cultural to have a simplified and relaxed holiday, but go ahead and give it a try this year. Cross things off your to-do list, pare down your gift list, and find out what’s really important to your family, then graciously say no to the rest.

What suggestions do you have for simplifying the holiday to-do’s?


Day 21 of 31 Days of Simple Organization.

Four Must-Have Organizational Resources for Bloggers

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Every blogger needs a little inspiration from time to time, as well as practical ideas for keeping their thoughts organized!

I’ve seen some great blogging organization and inspiration articles this month, and today I want to share some of my own favorite blogging organization resources.


1) My Blog Plan by Hedua.

I love, LOVE this planner. It has everything I need to stay organized with my own post ideas, contributor and guest posts, deadlines, social media, blogging to-do’s, etc. Plus it’s super cute!

If you’d like more blog planner ideas, check out Renee’s post of top ten planners, or North Laurel’s list of favorite FREE blog planning resources.

2) Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom by Tricia Goyer.

This is hands-down the BEST book I’ve ever read for work-at-home moms! Tricia is very real and honest, and in addition to fantastic work-at-home tips and realistic scheduling ideas, I felt like she was giving me permission to do something I love in addition to raising my children.

3) Pinterest.

I have an entire board dedicated solely to blogging and writing! Any articles I read that have excellent…

{Continue reading at The Homeschool Post –>}


Day 20 of 31 Days of Simple Organization.

5 Steps to an Organized Basement

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Today’s messy situation was submitted by Denise, and she wants to know how to turn her messy basement into a cool hang-out.


“My current stress mess is the main area of my basement!! I have attached 3 pictures. 1 of the stairwell and 2 of the room. This room is such a mess I don’t even know where to start.

“I have 3 kids, 2 being teenage sons. This is supposed to be their space, the family room. I want them to be able to bring friends over. It makes me sad that they are always going away to their friends since we have no place for them. We have an air hockey table and foosball table but they are buried under the mess.

“How do I start? There is mail, old toys, clothes, tables, just about anything you could think of in this space. I would love any and all suggestions.” – Denise


Denise, thank you so much for reaching out to me. I wish I could just hug you and spend an afternoon helping you get your piles to a more manageable level!

I’ve looked at your photos and I understand so much of how you feel. I used to have rooms in my home that were absolutely buried under clutter as well. But you absolutely can have a wonderful space for your teenagers to enjoy!

While you’re working on your basement, is there another area your sons could have friends in? I think that sometimes we get ideas in mind that things have to be perfect before we can live and serve the way we want to, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! If we wait for perfection, we’ll never do so many of the good things we’re capable of.

All that most teenage boys really need is a video game system and some snacks, so maybe they could hang out in your living room until the basement is ready.

As far as the actual cleaning, I absolutely do not recommend trying to organize everything in a day, or even a weekend. You’ll overwhelm yourself if you attempt that! Here’s what I suggest:


Step One: Stairs (20 Minutes)

Clean off the stairs. Throw out anything that is obviously trash. Put the rest into one box in the basement. That’ll give you a quick success and will help you to breathe easier on your way down the steps. Then stop and enjoy your cleaned off steps!

Step Two: Purge (60 Minutes)

Take several trash bags to your basement with you. Start throwing things into the bags for donation and trash. Don’t keep things that you’ve thought you may want to sell. If you were going to get around to selling any of the items, you would have by now. This isn’t the time to make money on your stuff – this is the time to free yourself of your old things so you can have a nice space for your children and their friends.

It also isn’t the time to spend a long time trying to make decisions. If you’re unsure of whether or not you should keep something, move it to the side until step four. Don’t organize anything just yet. Simply toss stuff into the bags and keep moving!

If you follow this step and don’t allow yourself to get bogged down, then you should see huge progress within a very short amount of time.

Step Three: Repeat (60 Minutes +)

Once you’ve completed steps one and two, continue repeating step two by quickly tossing as many times as you can until you’re finished donating and tossing out items that you obviously no longer need.

If you’re having trouble letting go of some things, read this article for inspiration.

Step Four: Sort (60 Minutes)

By now you should have enough space in your basement to be able to move some things around.

So, start very quickly tossing stuff into piles. Make a pile of toys, a pile of papers, a pile of clothes, etc. Categorize everything that you can. If you don’t know what pile to put some things in, then create a pile of miscellaneous for those items.

Have your piles pushed into corners as much as possible so you can admire the fact that you have floor space!


Step Five: Minimize

Now you’re entering into the more difficult decision-making part of organization. But, the great thing is that since you’ve already made so much progress, you’ll be able to propel yourself forward as you use the momentum you’ve built to get rid of even more things.

By now, your basement should feel so much lighter, and while the finish line may still feel sort-of far off, just look at the progress you’ve made!

What you’ll need to do to complete step five is to sort through your remaining piles, one at a time, and make decisions about what you want to keep and what you can get rid of. Keep your current goals for the room (a great space for your teenagers!) in mind as you’re making decisions.

I’ve written several articles about minimizing various types of items, so as you’re sorting through each pile, refer back to those articles:

You may also like this article about why we hang on and how to let go.


Once you’re finished decluttering your basement, your boys will probably have some great ideas about what they’d like to have in there! But if you’d like suggestions from me about how to set up a fun space, I’d absolutely love to help you figure out how to turn your basement into a cool hangout, so send updated photos and questions if you’d like!

Good luck with your basement – I know you can make it into a fun room for your boys and I can’t wait to hear all about your success story!

PS If you’d like FREE virtual organization tips for your own space, go here to see how you can submit photos and questions about your mess!


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