Behold, the boxes of guilt…
These are the boxes of drawings, ticket stubs, participation certificates and sportsmanship trophies that have taken over your garage and basement. They are the boxes that have layers of regret as thick as the layers of dust covering the Lucite tops.
Because, you see, these are the boxes a “good mom” would have turned into loving scrapbooks with pictures of your kid’s idyllic childhood and quippy sayings accompanying each photo mounted on acid-free paper for future generations to bask in and enjoy.
But instead, you have mounds of stuff no one has looked at in years, except for the occasional glimpse accompanied by that twinge of guilt.
Now, you just want to pass the boxes along and get them out of the garage, but how do you do that without overloading your kids with clutter?
Pre-Sort Before Your Kids Get Involved.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to dump a thousand photos, stuffed animals, certificates and miscellany on our kids and say, “Here.” As parents, we have some responsibility to guide our kids through the process.
- Not every memory is worth keeping. I’ve kept exactly one picture of me and my first husband. It was when we were in high school on a church youth trip and we were just getting to know each other. I had a huge crush on him and everything at that time was fun and possibilities. I kept that photo because when I see it, it makes me smile. The rest of the photos of just the two of us – gone. And here’s the good news: I don’t miss them at all. This move was not out of anger; those memories are just not happy ones and I moved on a long time ago. I’ve kept a few pictures of us as a family for our kids.
Your kids also don’t need pictures of relatives they met one time when they were three, cousins they don’t know, or family vacations before they were born. You can pre-sort anything you know they don’t care about.
Same goes for picture with people whose names I (and my kids) don’t remember, or pictures that are associated with not great memories.
- Now that you’ve had the chance to evaluate the memories, it’s time to choose the best of the best. Do you really need/want 32 pictures of your daughter’s fourth birthday, or would three pictures be enough? Do you need to keep the third-place trophy of your daughter’s homeschool bowling league, or would a picture of the trophy suffice?
Choose the best of the best, and get rid of the rest. We only need one photo to spark a good memory. Let it be the best photo in the bunch.
Schedule a Time With Your Kids to Sort Through The Rest.
Once you’ve presorted, then it’s time to get your kids in on the process. It’s a lot easier to make group decisions after you’ve culled everything you know nobody wants.
- Decide. Ask your kids if they want input to the evaluation process. Some kids will want to be sure to have their input, and some could not care less. Either answer is fine, but they need to know that if they don’t participate, they don’t get to complain later on.
And be sure to let your kids know that they will not hurt your feelings if they don’t keep everything. Remember, not every memory has earned the right to be preserved.
Here are some things you’ll want to discuss during the sorting process:
a.) Who is keeping these treasures?
b.) How much space do I want to dedicate to storing photos and memorabilia?
c.) What should happen to certain items if the person keeping them no longer wants them? (For example, maybe Mom would keep the artwork Suzy painted in high school if she eventually decides to get rid of it.)
2. Display. If you’ve been a part of the Clutter Free Academy, you know I have three criteria for whether you keep something:
a.) I love it.
b.) I use it.
c.) I would buy it again.
This is great criteria for you and also for guiding your kids when deciding what to keep.
- Digitalize. For pics of my pics without the glare, I use PhotoScan by Google. This way, I have a digital record of what I need.
- Distribute. Make sure your kids have access to whatever photos they want, whether it’s the actual photos or the folder where the digital copies are.
I want memorabilia guilt to be a thing of your past —not part of your kid’s future. Decluttering before you pass those items down, and then helping them decide what to keep and what to toss ensures they’ll have all of the memories and none of the guilt.
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For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).
Have you ever met a woman and wondered, “How does she do it all?!”
I know I have. I see the mom who has the kind of house where everything has a place and kids with perfectly coiffed hair and coordinating outfits and I wonder, “What does she have that I don’t? How does she do it all?” The same goes for the homeschooling mom and the mom who recreates every DIY Pinterest idea to perfection. I make judgments: They must be super-human. They mom way better than me.
Yet there are also those who would say the same about me.
When outsiders look at me, they see what I do: full-time PR pro, ministry volunteer, grad school student, wife, mom, part-time consultant … the list goes on. They think I’m organized and accomplished. They jump from the facts to judgments: intelligent, super-human, even perfect. They want to know what I have that they don’t.
Sound familiar? Have you ever had these thoughts? Would you believe that somewhere out there, someone thinks the same thing about you?
Our perceptions and judgments are comparison clutter, and they secretly interfere with our relationships. Comparison keeps us at arm’s length. The desire is there to go deeper and know each other better, but we have to dump the clutter to get there.
Others use their perception of what I do to highlight what they think of as weakness in themselves. I get it. I see gifts in others and think of my own deficits. But Hebrews 4:13 tells us that it’s God to whom we must give account – not each other. I do what God created me to do. These gifts were made for me, not for others. Just like the gifts of organization and crafty creativity that come so easily to others missed me by a mile. Comparison clutter is sneaky. It separates us not only from each other but also from what God has designed us each uniquely to do.
This is where I hope we can remember the spirit of Ephesians 2:10. God created us individually to do good works that he already has prepared for us. We all have a sweet spot when it comes the number of hats we wear. Some of us can be working moms who invest in their marriage and in their community. Others can’t handle more than just a couple of roles before feeling over-extended. It’s by design. You were made to do what you do, just as I was made to do what I do. Neither of us gets salvation bonus points by reaching beyond God’s desires for us.
We often wear our busyness like a badge of honor, an outward sign of our importance or our sacrifice. This is like putting the welcome mat out for comparison to enter. What if we instead looked to live life within the margins our creator designed for us? What if instead of comparing ourselves to others, we celebrated the way we each use the gifts God has given us?
One Small Win
Write down all you do – all that keeps you busy – in a given week and pray over it. What on that list has God created you to do and what might be meant for someone else? Consider what can be delegated or eliminated and take the appropriate action, knowing you are fulfilling God’s design.
Tonya Kubo is the illustrious, fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter-Free Academy Facebook group. She and her husband, Brian, are raising two spirited girls in the agricultural heart of California. Want a free gift to help you in your battle against Clutter? Download, “Four Lies You Believe About Clutter and the Four Truths That Win Every Time” today.
You’ve been given a gift, a hand-me-down that you’re hanging on to for dear life but it is has outlived it’s uselfulness. Or maybe it was never all that useful but out of guilt you’re holding onto it. When you get hand me down clutter, your parent’s stuff can weigh down your life.
Join Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory as they give you Three Easy-Peasy Steps to deal with clutter that has been handed down to you.
- Just get started
- Know the truth about the stuff
- Give yourself a firm deadline
It’s easier than you think and more freeing than you could ever imagine.
Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”
Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and Overwhelmed.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities.
Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
I walked into the beautiful home of a new friend for the very first time. She is a single mother of 3 young children, successful entrepreneur and multi-business owner. As I was ooo-ing and ahh-ing over the impeccable decor and the stunning architecture of her home, she repeatedly asked me to overlook the “mess.” After a couple mentions about the kids’ toys I stopped and quickly replied, “One of my superpowers is that I only see messes in my own house, not in others’!”
It’s so true. So many of us have unlimited mercy for other people’s “messes,” whether that be a cluttered home, a wayward child, a disconnected marriage or even difficulties getting pregnant, but when it comes to the messes in our own lives, we seem to have run out of compassion. Why are we so hard on ourselves? We can be rocking it in so many areas of life, but we beat ourselves up over the one or two areas that may be a little bit messy.
God’s Word is clear. The second greatest commandment that Jesus gives in Mark 12:31 is for us to love others as we love ourselves. Leave it to Jesus to be able to strategically maneuver two crucial commandments into one simple message. In order to love others well, we first have to be able to love ourselves well! No matter who you are, the number of degrees you may have, or the amount of talent you may possess, it isn’t realistic or possible for any of us to have success in every area of our lives all at the same time.
It sounds ridiculous even saying it right now, yet, we can become our own biggest critics when life isn’t going as planned.
Do what Jesus says. Love yourself and others well. Have mercy for your own mess.
One Small Win: Today, I want you to think of one area of your life that is messy. Now, take a look at it through the superpower of mercy, just as you would see it in someone else’s life. How do you see your mess now?
As a Couples Life & Fertility Support Coach and 3x Surrogate that has carried five children for three families dealing with infertility, Tiffany Jo Baker spends her time speaking, writing and helping women and couples birth their dreams and navigate the road and relationships well while trying to conceive. Married for 18 years to her polar opposite, yet best friend, together they have two teenage girls and have built a life and family based on faith, core values, humor and forgiveness. She loves to laugh, eat french fries, find amazing deals and create new memories.?? www.TiffanyJoBaker.com
You are precious and honored in my sight, and… I love you. (Isaiah 43:4, NIV)
All it takes is an instant for me to forget my royal identity and start labeling myself with lies. Like the time I froze up over a spatula while hosting a baby shower. I’d opened the doors of our tiny rental house, keenly aware of the four-foot scrape on the linoleum floor, and other dings and dents left by previous tenants. The pressure of playing hostess to a bunch of southern belles who knew how to act at a baby shower (way better than I did) was stifling. That’s when it happened. Someone asked for my cake server. Knowing I didn’t have one in the wedding-gift stash, I rummaged around in the junk drawer for an alternative. When I finally produced a semi-melted, black plastic spatula, I saw what looked like disdain as the other ladies scrutinized it.
And that’s when I froze. My spirit crushed as I accessed my most painful memories of being bullied in junior high school. In an instant, I was that sixth grade girl, fearful, weak, a nobody. I harshly labeled myself:
“You don’t fit in.”
“You can’t do anything right.”
How God Sees Me
Elijah knew his unique identity in the Lord. But he also knew labels. A prophet of God, he had a special message. One filled with heart for God’s people. And yet, King Ahab, with all his royal clout, labeled Elijah in 1 Kings 18:17: “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” Ouch.
I love how Elijah dealt with this, and the general dejection of running for his life:
- He took care of business – divine business. Read the story of Elijah praying for fire down from heaven in 1 Kings 18:21-39. It’s awesome.
- He got alone and took his heart to God. “I have had enough, LORD.” (1 Kings 19:4)
And what did God do? He provided for his needs. He fed him bread for the journey ahead.
So what can I learn from Elijah, who was human, just like I am? (James 5:17)
- When I feel unloved, I take my hurts to God. He holds my hand and collects my tears in a bottle. (Isaiah 42:6, Psalm 56:8)
- When I feel like nobody, I remember that I am precious and honored in God’s sight. (Isaiah 43:4)
- When I feel like I don’t fit in, I remember He has not rejected me. (Isaiah 41:9, 10)
Friend, take your hurts to God. He’ll give you bread, sustenance, for the journey.
One Small Step
What lies are your inner bullies telling you? Are you listening to and affirming them?
Prayerfully write down who you are in God. Post on your bathroom mirror, your phone background, and above your kitchen sink. Let these beautiful truths sink in as they become louder than the mind clutter bullies.
Kelli Pavlovec draws from her experience as a work from home mom to help smart moms get unstuck and find their best self at www.twohourmom.com. For a free worksheet on 7 Ways to Pursue Your Life Dreams, Even While You’re a Mom, click here.
Join us for a FB Live with KariAnne Wood, March 28 at 7 pm PDT
Decorating. Ugh. This is a stumbling block for most of us self-proclaimed “clutter people.” Because how do you create style when you are laser-beam focused on getting rid of substance?
Controlling the clutter can already feel overwhelming. But to style my home? To not only have a functional home but a beautiful home? I love the idea of it, but I’ll be the first to say that without the right guide, it can be completely overwhelming. Here are some questions I wrestle with when it comes to creating a cozy and cute home AND being clutter free at the same time:
- I see cute prints in all the magazines, but any print feels overwhelming. How do I get overcome my minimalist white-walls, white-space vibe and incorporate a print or—GULP!—two?
- As soon as I go to spend money on something I love, I mentally begin adding up the cost of all the other items I’ve bought that I now consider clutter. How can I embrace new design and get over the guilt of past decorating mistakes?
- I feel overwhelmed by the number of choices I need to make and struggle to find a starting point. How do I pick which room in my home to start with, and where can I focus my efforts to make the biggest bang for my buck?
Maybe, like me, decorating fills you with a bit of buyer’s remorse before you’ve even bought a thing. (Or maybe after you bought four of one thing!)
If you find yourself wanting to decorate, but are scared of the process, I want to invite you to my Facebook Live event with KariAnne Wood, author of the new book “The DIY Home Planner: Practical Tips and Inspiring Ideas to Decorate It Yourself” and blogger behind the acclaimed Thistlewood Farms.
She has promised to help my readers sort through the overwhelm and give us key strategies to help us all create cute and comfy homes while keeping clutter at bay. She’ll give us pointers on:
- Where to start if you hate everything in your home.
- What to get rid of and what to re-purpose.
- How to make smart (not cluttery) choices.
- The best place to shop.
Seriously, you guys. You will not want to miss this event. And I’m so excited because not only is she giving us all of this DIY wisdom, but she’s also giving one of our lucky readers a copy of the The DIY Home Planner.
This book serves as an all-in-one resource for inspiration, organization, creative encouragement and personalization so you can have confidence in every decorating decision you make. I can’t wait to give it away to one of my readers for free!
To join our live event and get your name in for the free book, go to the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group over at https://www.facebook.com/groups/clutterfreeacademy/ on March 28 at 7 pm PST. Be sure to comment once you’re live to say hello and let us know you’re on!
Can’t wait to see you—and can’t wait to help you make your home cozy, cute and, of course, clutter free.