#390: Getting Organized with Mother of Mayhem, author Kristi Clover

#390: Getting Organized with Mother of Mayhem, author Kristi Clover

Are you putting off getting organized until the mayhem dies down in your home? What if you could make changes that make a big difference right now, in the midst of chaos? In this episode, Kathi talks with Kristi Clover, author of M.O.M.—Master Organizer of Mayhem, about ways to get organized, no matter what life season you are in.

This week, you’ll hear how decluttering is something you’ll have to continually come back to, even when things are going smoothly. The more you have the foundational basics in place, the more you’ll be able to manage chaos no matter what happens. You’ll also learn how to:

  • Control the things you can to adjust for chaos you can’t control
  • Create systems to keep you on track
  • Save yourself chaos down the road by planning ahead

To learn more, order your own copy of Kristi’s book, M.O.M.—Master Organizer of Mayhem on Amazon today.

If you’d like Kristi’s free eBook Sanity Savers for Moms, full of fun hacks that bring you more sanity, click here to sign up for her newsletter.

Giveaway

As a bonus for two lucky listeners, we are giving away two copies of Kristi’s book, M.O.M.—Master Organizer of Mayhem! Enter below by commenting and letting us know:

What is your best organizing, planning, or decluttering trick that works to help manage the mayhem in your family?

 

 

 

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Transcript

Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #390

Getting Organized with Mother of Mayhem

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. My son was a Lego builder growing up. If there is anything in the world that’s harder to organize than Lego, I don’t know what it is. So, this is what caught my eye about today’s book. First of all, go to the podcast page, ‘cause you have to see how pretty this book is, but it is a thousand Lego bricks in a rainbow pattern. It’s just gorgeous. There are two things that come up instantly for me. One, oh my goodness, trying to organize all the things, and two, stepping on them in the middle of the night. Even though the cover is beautiful, it does produce some anxiety, but we have someone here to help. Today, we have Kristi Clover and she is the author of M.O.M – Master Organizer of Mayhem: Simple Solutions to Organize Chaos and Bring More Joy into Your Home. Kristi, welcome to Clutter Free Academy.

Kristi – Oh, thanks so much, Kathi. What a joy to be here.

Kathi – Well, and we got to meet just a little while ago at MOMCon, which was super fun. It had to be drive-by, because we’re both so busy, but I was so glad to connect with you. I am loving this book. It’s kind of funny, because people say, “Being clutter free is easy for you because you don’t have kids.” I’m like, “Okay, can we all collectively remember?” I raised four children. This happened. It definitely is easier to be organized now, than it was with all those kids, but if you don’t have the basics down when you have kids in the house, it’s not automatically going to become free and easy when the kids are out of the house. I love that you’re saying, “Let’s get organized, no matter what stage you’re in. Let’s keep some basics going.”

Kristi – That’s exactly it. I feel like, if I had come into my marriage being clutter free and being organized, it’d have been great. If I had started my parenting journey with the same? That would have been awesome. But, nope. In the midst of it all, I decided something has got to give and it really was me. I had to learn how to get organized, and I struggled. So, I kind of giggle. I go through ten rules that I’ve had for the last thirteen years that I have been using for a long time and I don’t do them all, in fact, I openly admit which ones are the hardest ones for me, but when they’re all working together, it’s awesome. But I struggle.

Kathi – Yeah, and the same thing with clutter free. There are things that I advocate for that I don’t actually do, because they don’t pertain to my life or, they’re really hard. I know that they are easier for other people, but yeah. It’s interesting. Somebody just said, “Kathi, I need all your advice about how to organize a paper calendar.” And I’m like, “I can give you none, because that is my own personal war.”

Kristi – Oh my word.  When I first started doing live streaming, I giggled, because, “Oh! You do organization? Oh! Can we talk about…?” And they were showing me these homemade bullet journals. I use a bullet journal thing, but they were putting all the stickers and the artsy stuff, and I was like, “Oh, no. I get those journal Bibles, so I can take notes on the side, not do pretty pictures.” I can’t.

Kathi – Can I just tell you? All those journaling Bibles, where people do these elaborate things on the pages? That causes me so much anxiety.

Kristi – Okay, I love you. I really do.

Kathi – I can’t. I can barely read God’s word on the regular and you want me to now draw about it? I am so glad that works for some of my friends, but…

Kristi – I know. It’s great.

Kathi – I cannot draw a straight line. Here’s the even bigger shame, and then we actually get to the book, my grandmother was the first woman art director, ever, for Hallmark Cards.

Kristi – Oh my word!

Kathi – Right? So, her Bible would have been legendary. Her Bible would have been off the hook. I am the shame of the family. My mom is this beautiful quilter and can quilt Bible verses and things like that. My grandmother would do these amazing cards. I write words. That’s what I do.

Kristi – That’s beautiful.

Kathi – Thank you!  So, you wrote some words, too.

Kristi – I did. I wrote a few words.

Kathi – You talk, in Chapter Two, about a really dark time in your life where you said, “Okay, I have to get organized.”  Tell us a little. You know what? My goal on these podcasts is to expose everybody’s secret shame and it’s not so secret, ‘cause you wrote about it, but I want us to all feel like, “Oh, okay, so she gets me. I see it”.

Kristi – I get it. Yes. No, I do get it. So, as I’ve mentioned when we stared chatting, I had that moment where everything that could go wrong. When they say “everything that could have gone wrong went wrong” people are like, “She doesn’t really know what she’s talking about.” Oh, no. Name an area in your life where there could have been chaos, disruption and sheer anxiety? That was my life at the time. We had to move because of my husband’s job, to a different area. We had thrown down roots, really deep, in our community. So, we moved to a new area, which was San Diego, so everyone is like, “Awe, poor thing.”

Kathi – Yeah, it’s like saying you moved to Hawai’i. The sympathy level. But it’s hard. Like, if somebody told me I had to move to San Diego today, I would be weeping and gnashing.

Kristi – Yeah! It’s so hard. The hardest part was that, I had a toddler, and I had a brand new baby. Brand new. I was having difficulties from the birth, so I had to have another procedure to help me. This is me keeping it ‘G’ for any possible men who are listening. Women would be like, “Yes, sister. I get it.”

Kathi – You know what? If we have one man, he’s already heard it all, so.

Kristi – Right, so I was having bleeding issues, post-partum. I had to have surgery. My husband was in an accident six days before we moved, and so he had to have emergency surgery, and all this crazy stuff. As soon as he had recovered from that, he took on a new territory, so he was, not only travelling for business, now he was travelling all the time. When we moved, we moved into a new house, where everything was wrong. It wasn’t ready to be inhabitable, and we had no choice. The moving truck was coming, escrow had closed, we had moved out of our apartment.

Kathi – Did you just cry all the time?

Kristi – All the time. That’s what I opened with. I was crying so hard my girlfriend was like, “You need to pull over!” So, I did. I pulled over, curbside, crying hysterically and my girlfriend could not find out what was happening. She’s like, “Do I need to call the police? What’s happening?” I was like, “No!” and I just cried. She’s like, “Do I get in the car? What do I do?” But we had marriage issues, obviously. My husband was gone, we were travelling. We had no support system. Oh! And as soon as we got off the plane and came into our new home, we were looking at it for the first time, and my son apparently had the stomach flu, so he vomited everywhere. I had no paper towels. You name it. Our car got hit while it was parked. Everything. Everything was chaos. So, I remember, I was so emptied, and I prayed a ton, but it was like, “I can’t control some of these things that are happening in my life.” So, what I learned was that, I had to figure out what I did have control over. So, that’s what I started with. Okay, I can’t control if a construction team is going to show up today or tomorrow. I can’t control whether my husband is suddenly going to go to Timbuktu for another conference. I can’t control some of those things. I can’t control if my child’s going to have a blowout diaper, but I can start taking control over things that were happening with our home and within our calendar, to the degree to which I had some control.

Kathi – Right. You can’t determine when your kid’s going to have a blowout diaper, but you can say, “Hey, I’ve packed an extra pair of pants. I’ve got diapers and I’ve got enough wipes that I could clean up the entire car.” Those are the things that you can control. Right now, we are splitting our time between two houses, and it’s so funny. Never in my life have I had a garage I could park in. Now I do. The change in my life and my attitude? I’m like, “How did I go decades without being able to do this? This is a gift.” So, yes. There are certain things you cannot control, so you just have to be as prepared as you possibly can be, both in your home and in your heart. Then, you can say, “I know I’m doing the best I can.”

Kristi – There are going to be bad days, and that’s when people are like, “I’m a failure!” It’s like, “No. You just had a bad day.” Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off.

Kathi – You had a really bad day, and this would have been a bad day for anybody.

Kristi – Oh, yeah. I had a bad year, I think. A really hard year.

Kathi – Oh my goodness. It really sounds like it.

Kristi – It was so crazy. You said you have a puppy, but we had a dog who was still somewhat in puppydom and forgot how to go to the bathroom. She was an 80 lbs. dog. So, it wasn’t little poop.

Kathi – Ours are like Tootsie Rolls. Yours were like loaves of bread. That’s a totally different thing.

Kristi – The middle of the night stepping on things is not good.

Kathi – Oh my gosh.  I would actually rather take a Lego. I’ll be honest with you. Yeah. Oh my goodness. We know that chaos can happen. So, what you said is, you think that setting a good foundation is most important to creating a chaos free home. What do you mean that? What does that foundation look like?

Kristi – I’ll back up just a smidge. When I was first asked to speak about home organization, I kinda laughed at first. I was like, “Really?” but people saw in me something that I didn’t see in myself. I had been studying and researching and learning how to get more organized, so when I was asked to speak on this, it was thirteen years ago. I just had my two boys at the time. Now we have five kids, but I came up with these ten rules. I was asking myself, “What is it that, when everything is working together, what works great?” So, that’s the foundation, these ten rules that I came up with. You can call them rules. You can call them principles. You can call them whatever you want to call them if you’re scared by the rule thing. My thought is this: You can declutter all you want, but you’re going to come back to it again. So then, how do you create habits? We talk about habits. You have to stick with it, so there’s got to be some determination in your heart. You can’t be lazy. You’ve got to figure out what’s broken in your system. You need to have priorities. If you don’t time to do some stuff in your house, then it’s not going to happen. So, that’s what the foundation is all about.

Kathi – Okay, so when you talk about the foundation, how does your day look different than another mom’s who hasn’t had a chance to think this through yet?

Kristi – Well, right now, we’re in the middle of a house renovation, so my day looks different than a lot of people’s.

Kathi – Bless your heart. We just got through that.

Kristi – Yeah. It’s beautiful. Everybody is laughing. “It’s the book title, isn’t it? Master Organizer of Mayhem.” I’m like, “Right! I just brought it on myself.”

Kathi – I said, when I wrote the book Clutter Free Home, of course, let’s just destroy every surface. The only thing we didn’t renovate was our downstairs half bathroom. That was the only thing. That is a whole different book, at some point.

Kristi – On a normal day, one of the biggest things that I do that not every mom thinks through, is I have systems in place. Some of those systems are planning ahead. Some of them are just little rules that I have figured out for myself that really help. So, everybody is always blown away. I do all of my husband and my laundry in one day. Even if that’s four loads.

Kathi – Okay, that was my third question. Your laundry system is legendary.

Kristi – Well, thank you. Well, that’s it. I was actually giggling as I was pulling things out of the dryer last night. I was like, “I really can get all this laundry done in one day.” It surprises me, but you know, that’s really the difference is, I figured myself out. I learned how to tweak other systems to work for me and my home. That’s what I encourage readers to do. But I also plan ahead in weird ways. I pack the diaper bag, but I’ll make a list and this is what has to get done because I can’t trust my brain, when I’m in mommy frazzled mode. So, I know I can quick glance and know “Yes, I have all those things.” Like, Ziploc bags in my diaper bag? I used to always carry Ziplocs, because you do have those blowouts, or those really, “who knows what you fed your child” moments and you’ve got to stuff that diaper somewhere afterwards. Or their clothes. Or YOUR clothes. It happens, but finding those little nuances. I’m always tweaking. We’re getting ready to go to Hawai’i and I have a list for Hawai’i. I not only have a list for what we pack, I have a meal plan for every single time we go on vacation, so I don’t have to think about what I have to grab at the store. We try to be very frugal when we travel. So, I know exactly what we’re doing. I don’t have to think about it. It’s one less thing I have to do. When we’re on vacation, I literally plan for the easiest possible meals that we can have, to save money, but also to stream line everything. Who wants to truly cook when they’re on vacation? Not me.

Kathi – You know, I call it ‘taking care of your future self’. If I do a little bit of planning now, boy, it’s going to save me so much chaos. And by the way, if I have a plan? Then the rest of the family doesn’t question the plan. They’re like, “Oh! There’s a plan!” Instead of trying to figure it out in the middle of the chaos. What we did for Disney World, we did one big trip to Disney World for my husband’s 50th birthday, where all the kids saved up and we did it. I flew out, ‘cause it was Southwest, so it was a free bag, I flew out a suitcase of food and preordered milk and things like that from a local grocery store. It was delivered to our hotel room. So, we didn’t pay for any breakfast the whole time we were there. Yes, you want to have the nice dinner at the safari park, and all the kind of stuff, but who wants to pay for a bunch of kids to get a donut or something like that? I don’t want to pay for that.

Kristi – $5.50 per donut.

Kathi – Right. Exactly. We’re not doing that. So, now I need to know why do you do all of your and your husband’s laundry in one day? What is the advantage to you on that?

Kristi – First, we have to keep in mind that there are seven of us in the home. So, the laundry system that works best for us is that we are all assigned a day to get our laundry done. So, that’s natural accountability to get your laundry in and out of the washroom. So, that works for us. It’s going to be a different dynamic for other people. So, for my laundry day, for this week, ‘cause I put it off, because I didn’t do it every week, I had two weeks’ worth of laundry. I had to do four loads yesterday. My key to any one doing laundry is, “Keep your loads small.” What I found, is that everybody stuffs their washing machine because they only want to do it in one load. Who wants to fold a mega? I keep my loads small. It makes my clothes cleaner. Then, when I transfer, I set timers for myself, so I remember to switch them over. Unless, since we’re working in this much house, I hear the timer on the actual washer and dryer, but as soon as it’s done, I pull it out and I fold it right away. I fold it strategically. That sounds really silly, but I’m literally pulling things out of the dryer. I’m pulling all the jeans out for my husband. All my jeans out, so that’s taking up 50% of what’s in the load, then I’m folding everything else and I’m creating piles. So, I  had a girlfriend come over and help me with my laundry after a baby, and she literally just stacked all the clothes in one big pile, and it was great that it was done and that she helped, and I loved that, but it just made putting it away that much longer. It’s that extra touch, right? I had to put it here, then I had to touch it again and organize it here. So, it’s too much organization that I have to continue to do, so I just do strategic piles and, before I know it. It’s just, when they’re I don’t let myself start my next cycle, like, I can’t move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, which we have a front load washer and if you don’t open that baby you’re going to have mildew, so maybe that’s my own weird trick. Get a washing machine that’s going to ruin your clothes.

Kathi – But it’s so true, right? I have the front loader as well, and it’s like, “I may not do that again.”  I don’t know. It’s a challenge.

Kristi – That’s a whole talk on mildew, right there.

Kathi – Exactly. Okay, so you guys, especially if you have kids, creating these systems that are not questions. Often times, when we’re clutter-y thinking, we’re trying to decide again and again. You just don’t need to do that. Just make one decision and stick with it, then tweak it if it’s not working for you. Now, we have a couple of fun things here. Kristi is going to give us a link to this freebie. Can you tell us about it? Sanity Savers for Moms. Tell me about that.

Kristi – Yes. So, Sanity Savers for Moms is a fun little quick read ebook that I created. It’s just fun. It’s encouraging for moms in the throes of things. So, I have everything. I talk about how to say ‘no’, which is important. I talk about how to make your crockpot your very best friend. Just fun little hacks that bring you more sanity. Like you were just saying, the fewer decisions we are forcing ourselves to make every day, the better.

Kathi – Amen.

Kristi – That’s just my heart for moms, right there. It’s just a fun, quick little ebook.

Kathi – So, I want you to go to the podcast page and download that. Then, there will also be a link to purchase M.O.M. – Master Organizer of Mayhem. We’re also going to give away two copies of this amazing book. Here’s what I want you to do. When you go to the podcast page. I want you to tell me what is your best trick? It doesn’t have to work for everybody, it just has to work for your family. I love what Kristi is saying. Doing all of her laundry on one day works for her family. That’s not my system, but you know what? God bless you! You found something that works for you. Go with it. So, I want to hear what works for you and your family. We’re going to pick two people randomly to receive a copy of M.O.M. – Master Organizer of Mayhem. Kristi, thanks so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Kristi – Oh, thank you for having me. This was so fun.

Kathi – And guys, thank you for joining us. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always intended to live.

<<music>>

*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

Meet Our Guest

Kristi Clover

Kristi Clover

Kristi Clover is a home organization expert. She’s an author, speaker, and podcast host. Her passion is to encourage families to find simple ways to bring more joy into their homes and lives.

Learn more at KristiClover.com

EMPTY NEST FULL LIFE: Kids and Stuff Go Hand in Hand

EMPTY NEST FULL LIFE: Kids and Stuff Go Hand in Hand

Kids and stuff go hand in hand.

There are school papers and toys and permission slips and awards and backpacks and treasures and art projects and…the list goes on and on.

Having to manage their stuff while they’re living under your roof is to be expected, but what about when they’re NOT living under your roof anymore? You now have an empty nest and a full house. What do you do with your adult child’s stuff that they haven’t taken with them?

We have five young adult children. Three are married, but they all live out on their own. At one point our nest was empty, but our attic was not! It was full of our adult kids’ memorabilia, awards, sports equipment, and even some furniture.

As you walk towards the clutter-free life, what do you do about the stuff that belongs to your adult kids? Here are nine strategies we’ve found helpful:

Identify their status: are they in transition or settled in?

When you have an adult child that’s in transition, you might choose to give a little grace until they are in a more settled place. Our second oldest daughter’s husband was in the Army for four years. She moved home twice during each of his year-long deployments, so we gave some grace on keeping some of their items in our home until he left the Army and settled down. One of our sons is currently living abroad. He has two small pieces of furniture he couldn’t take with him but he didn’t want to get rid of that he asked us to keep in the attic. We were okay saying yes to that.

Give a warning.

You’ve likely been thinking about this for a while, but your kids probably have not—out of sight, out of mind—right? Every child is different, but especially if you have a “saver,” it’s important to give them a heads up that you’re going to need them to deal with their stuff in the near future.

Set a realistic deadline.

Let them know that you’re renovating the bedroom/cleaning out the attic or garage/having a yard sale on a certain date. Ask them to come get what they want to keep or sell themselves by that date. Let them know that anything that’s theirs in your house after that date will be sold, donated, or disposed of on that date. (And you’ll be keeping the proceeds from any sales!) Then do exactly what you communicated you would do.

Be prepared for your own emotional responses.

It may be hard for you, but you have to keep your eye on the target—to live light, free, and not weighed down with stuff. Getting rid of things doesn’t get rid of the memories. You always have those with you, and you don’t need their things to remember.

Adjust your expectations.

The items you thought were important to save may not be important at all to your child. That has to be okay. You have to allow your child to have differing priorities than you do. They have to have the freedom to assign a different meaning to stuff than you do. Resist the urge to try to convince your child of why something should be important to them. He or she is different than you and that has to be okay.

Understand today’s young adults.

In general, millennials (born 1981 to 1996) and GenZ (born 1997 to today) are disposable generations. They are a generation or two away from a direct influence of the Great Depression where you learned to save everything and use it in some way. Many of today’s young adults are minimalists and not very attached to their stuff. One of our daughters and her husband have sold everything and traveled full time not once, but twice! They are not attached to things at all. While I treasure some of my great-grandmother’s antiques in my own home, I may be the last generation in our family to do so, and that’s got to be okay. We have to resist the urge to pressure our kids to value something because we value it.

Use your phone.

As you are decluttering, take photos of questionable items and text them to your kids for quick decisions. Accept their answers. Remember, however, there may be special items (NOT EVERYTHING!) none of the kids want (such as their Dad’s train set) that you might choose to keep because your adult kids may not be at the age or stage of life where they might use or appreciate them. You could wait on those few things until they are further down the road of life with children of their own.

Have a plan for sentimental baby items.

Maybe you brought each of your children home in the same outfit and you’re not sure what to do with something like that. Could you frame it and put it in a wall photo collage with each child’s baby pictures? Things in boxes aren’t enjoyed. Is there a way you can enjoy the things that mean the most to you?

Think about future generations.

We’ve gotten rid of many toys over the years, but I kept my kids’ Rescue Heroes, Little People, and Legos as well as some books and other small toys they all enjoyed. Now our grandchildren are enjoying those classic toys when they visit, and they are vastly different than the toys they have at home.

One of the best parts of the empty nest is being able to reclaim the use of your house in a way that fits your passions and interests. With a little bit of communication and effort, you can make sure you’re not tripping over the past on your way to the future you’re creating.


All images © Michael Gowin Photography, 217-737-7908, www.gowinphotography.com, Lincoln, IL. Images may not be printed, copied, reproduced, or distributed without written permission from the photographer.

Jill Savage is the author of fourteen books including her newest book Empty Nest Full Life: God’s Best For Your Next. You can find out more information about Jill and her resources for empty nest or close-to-empty-nest moms at www.EmptyNestBook.com.

How to Have All the Summer Fun Without Losing Your Sanity

How to Have All the Summer Fun Without Losing Your Sanity

It’s that time of year again! Summertime—the carefree days of pool splashing, popsicle eating and sleeping in.

At least for the kids.

Not so much for the parents, right?

Usually moms are the ones washing swimming suits, buying popsicles, and constantly wiping up puddles of water and dried grass from the floors. And what about the piles of sidewalk chalk and sandbox toys that have taken the place of backpacks and school books? It’s enough to make even the most patient mom long for that big yellow bus.

Let’s be honest. Getting the kids outside is a good thing, especially if their natural inclination is to sit around playing video games all day while eating junk food. But encouraging outdoor activity is also a lot more work than handing over the game controls.

With a little planning and prep, you can encourage your kids to go outside and create a system that will ultimately save time and energy for mom.

“Mom, I’m Hungry!”

Fueling up those hard-playing days often takes a lot of snacks. To ward off the question, “What can we eat?” you may want to consider labeled snack bins for both the pantry and the refrigerator. That way, mom-approved snacks will be ready for them to grab (and maybe even eat outside) without a lot of hassle.

When unloading groceries from the car, divvy up the snacks into appropriate bins. You may even want to label these according to house rules. (For example, when I was a kid, we were allowed one can of soda per day.) That way, when they’re hungry, they know what they can grab to eat without the same old “I told you — no more potato chips” argument.

Don’t forget to include some healthy treats for the freezer. I love these frozen ice pops, because you can feed an old favorite to your kids without guilt.

“I’m Bored!”

Fun Stations are bins filled with outdoor activities for kids based on their interests. They can easily be stored in the garage or the back patio. Bubbles, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes and other outdoor favorites can get messy and take up the entire house, if we let it. But a big bin you can grab and set outside enables them to choose which outdoor activities to indulge in without a lot of in and out.

Other Fun Stations that you may want to separate into their own bins (to contain water or sand messes):

Water toys

Sand toys

Balls

Sports activities

And the best part? All of that outdoor fun goes back into the bin for the night, ready for another sunshiny day.

Pro parent tip: periodically replace or add fun items to keep kids interested in their Fun Station bins throughout the summer.

“I can’t find my…”

During the summertime, when kids live at the swimming pool (or play nonstop with water toys in their friends’ backyards), moms can save their sanity by keeping a day’s supply of water gear in a dedicated swimming bag. You could include toiletries, a swimming suit, cover up, sunscreen, water bottle, swim passes, sunglasses, sun hat and beach towel.

If you take your kids hiking often, you can save a lot of time by having a hiking backpack ready to go whenever you are. Include a water bottle, small first aid kit, binoculars, compass, bug spray, and sunscreen. You may even want to include a book for identifying plants or birds. Summer is a break from school, but you never stop learning, right?

“I spilled glitter! And other things you never want to hear your kids say.”

Have you banned glitter from your home? Does the thought of cleaning up one more glue mess make your heart palpitate? (I can’t be the only one!)

Summer is a great time for crafts outdoors. Create a bin with all the messy stuff that makes you sprout gray hairs whenever you see it out on your dining table. If you have a craft area designated outside, your kids can glue, glitter and paint to their heart’s content and all you need to do is supply a smock to protect their clothes. Or they can make gorgeous jewelry out of all of those maddeningly tiny beads and you won’t have to vacuum them out of the carpet.

It’s a win-win! Kids get to create staggering works of art in the great outdoors and mom has minimal mess.

Messy Marvin Strikes Again

Most of us have encountered the trail of soggy towels, goggles, and swimsuits through the house after a day at the pool. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent searching for missing items to (hopefully) load into the washing machine before they stunk of mold.

You can prevent the trail of tears (er…soggy swimming attire) by creating a hanging place for wet towels and suits. Whether it’s a bona fide clothes line in your back yard or some hooks near the entryway of your house, your kids will have a place to hang all the wet things, and you’ll save yourself time by not having to search through the house to find them.

A bin by the door for flip flops and other wet, messy shoes can prevent a lot of floor cleaning too. As a bonus, everyone will be able to get into the car at the appointed time without having to search for something to put on their feet.

Nature Calls

Spending time outside improves kids’ health and their imaginations. Summertime is the perfect opportunity for them to explore, dream and try new adventures. It gives them a chance to focus on what they were created for and seek their Creator.

In her new book, This Outside Life: Finding God in the Heart of Nature, Laurie Otsby Kehler encourages us all to seek connections with our Creator and other people. She says, “Why are we so afraid? Why do we settle for reading about, talking about, but not stepping into our own adventures of faith?” Laurie’s new book is perfect for summer reading. And with a little planning and prep for your kids, you’ll have more time to spend turning pages while sitting by the pool. And who knows? You might even have time for a water war or an outdoor finger-painting session with your little adventurers.

Comment below for the opportunity to win! We will be giving away one Grand Prize Package- A copy of This Outside Life, a Sling Backpack, compact binoculars, and a reusable water bottle. Five Runner Ups will win a copy of This Outside Life.

    

 

Kids, their Stuff, and How to Handle all of that Clutter

Kids, their Stuff, and How to Handle all of that Clutter

One of the most frequent questions we get at Clutter Free Academy is “What about my kids’ clutter?”

Conflict over clutter can damage any relationship over time, but it’s especially crucial to navigate this issue carefully with your kids, because what you teach them right now will impact their lifestyles as adults.

As parents, we want to empower our children to have the life skills they need to succeed. Here are four ways we can help our children learn how to live a clutter-free life.

Schedule short decluttering times.

Time-boxing makes decluttering bearable for anyone, young or old. As adults, we’re more likely to focus better if we only have to do it for 15 minutes. Depending on your kids’ age, set a timer and make a game of it. For example, challenge your 5-year-old to clean out one drawer in 5 minutes.

Here at Clutter Free Academy, we don’t expect anyone to spend hours at a time decluttering, much less a child. Decluttering works best in small, manageable sessions.

By the way, we need to differentiate between cleaning and decluttering. Cleaning means putting things away, mopping, vacuuming, and dusting. Decluttering means getting rid of stuff you don’t use, love, or would buy again. Both are important, but in this post, we’re focusing on decluttering.

Teach by example.

It’s been said that in raising kids, more is caught than taught. They tend to learn more from what we do than what we say.

They aren’t born knowing how to declutter. The best way to teach them is to work side-by-side with them to show them the same decluttering systems we’ve learned as adults. Make sure they have the tools they need—3 boxes, 2 bags—so that they have a system in place to declutter. Go through the steps one by one: what to give away, what to throw away, and what to put away. Any trash or recycle goes into the bags.

Have a fun celebration when you empty the contents of the boxes and bags into their rightful places. (It doesn’t have to be a big deal—a sticker, a high five, or a “Yay! You did it!” works great.

Focus on one tiny space at a time.

Trying to declutter a large space is even more overwhelming for kids than it is for adults. Choose the smallest area possible and set the timer. Even better, let them choose which area is the most problematic for them. If they already see the value of decluttering, then you’ve won half the battle.

Divide up the closet into small sections, sort one drawer at a time, go through one toy box at a time. Decluttering is a gradual process. Their space didn’t get cluttery in a day, but a consistent habit of setting a timer to declutter a small space will result in big changes.

Help them maintain their space.

To help keep things organized and tidy, teach your child routines; set times during the day when they put away toys, backpacks, clothes, and anything else out of place. Even five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening will work wonders.

To help with motivation, make a timed game out of it, for fun. They’ll be motivated even more by getting consistent rewards each week for working through their routines. Before they know it, picking up their things becomes a habit.

Lifelong Connections

When it comes to clutter, our relationship with our kids is so important. When we come alongside them and give them the tools and skills they need to create a clutter-free home, we free them up to be who God made them to be.

Parent-child dynamics are already challenging enough, especially between mothers and daughters. Reducing clutter conflict can go a long way to improve the relationship.

In their book, Mended, Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh talk about how to rebuild, restore, and reconcile the connections between mothers and daughters. One of their chapters deals with generational patterns and how hard they are to break. It takes intentionality and determination to change long-term habits and break learned clutter cycles.

                    

Giveaway!

The generous people over at Harvest House want to give some of our readers Daniel’s and McIntosh’s Mended. 5 people will win a copy and 1 grand prize winner will receive:

-1 Copy of Mended

-Assorted Note Cards

-Distressed Wood Frame

-Fruit Infuser Water Bottle

Enter to win by commenting below. What sorts of rewards motivate your kids the most? Which of these tips do you plan on implementing first?

Chapter 10: Get the Conversation Started

Chapter 10: Get the Conversation Started

Welcome to The Mom Project. For the next few weeks, we’ll be launching my book The Mom Project by hosting several mom friends who have tried it out for themselves. They read the book, completed a project from the book with their kids, and wrote all about it. And these are real moms. Busy moms. Unsure-of-themselves moms. Single moms. Special needs moms. Working moms. Stay-at-home moms. They do the hard working of mommyhood every day, and have found fun ways to connect with their kids in the simple activities found in The Mom Project. Read on to hear their experience:

The Project:

Making a connection with my three kids who are ages 11 and twins who are 9, is a challenging enterprise. Life with three kids close in age will always be a challenging task. I desire connection with them but homework, errands and the minutiae of a day always seems to corrode time. I pick them up from school and then all of a sudden it is time for pjs and brushing teeth. Dinner is a gamble. Who is done with the day already? Who is grumpy because they don’t like what is on their plate? Who is annoyed at their sibling who is sitting where they wanted to sit. Connection at dinner is a miracle akin to the parting of the red sea… okay maybe not to that level but I mean when it happens I am giddy. The Mom Project suggests thinking beyond dinner and encourages thinking outside of the box I typically try to operate in. I’ve been reminded through the Mom Project that well-intentioned isn’t the same as intentional. Maybe this is obvious to most but I think this is a game-changer for me. Intentional connection requires a bit more than me saying, “How was your day?” and “Don’t forget to eat your veggies!”.

The Plan:

Here’s my reality. The best time to connect with my kids is at bedtime. They always want me to lay down with them and chat or just cuddle. The stress of the day is mostly over and their defenses come down. This is, of course, the time when I am the most ‘done’. It is 8 pm and I am ready to tap out. However, I want to connect when they already want to connect by intentionally creating space for this to occur. My plan is to spend time once a week in each child’s room and just sit and be – maybe we will have a snack, cuddle or just have a tickle fight. Just 15 minutes one-on-one with each child is what I am looking for.

Results:

They love it. And so do I. Connection is honestly what I love most about being a mom (it is certainly not the homework time) and so I started looking forward to my time with each child. Some evenings I could sit with all three kids for just a few minutes each and even that short time was a welcome few moments of connection. Bedtime may take longer, but I also come downstairs from tucking them in with a full heart.

What I learned:

Some nights are better than others to try and do this and so I need to be flexible. I did this project while my husband was out of town and it will be great for us to take turns taking a few extra moments one-on-one with the kids. The most necessary component of this is a willing heart ready to sit and just be, because you can’t rush and you have to be present. I have to be less concerned about what I have to do next and what is still waiting for me to take care of.

Extra Tips: Some days one of my children will need me more than another. When I sense that a particular child needs me I can take extra time to connect with them at bedtime. Also, with a little planning ahead I can include a favorite snack or look up knock-knock jokes ahead of time to share.

Ready for your chance to win a copy of The Mom Project? To be entered into the drawing, just comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win. *Only US readers are eligible to receive the free book.

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Bethany Howard lives in Tucker, GA with her husband, three kids, dog and cat. She enjoys words, her children’s laughter and any dinner she doesn’t make. She’s recently developed a passion for dark chocolate covered almonds. She doesn’t aim for perfection because that is unattainable so you just might be comfortable visiting www.bethanyhoward.com where Bethany wades through the ups and downs of life to discover kindling for joy and growth. Click here for a free download on being the best mom you can be for your kids (it’s not what you think it is) and to subscribe to Bethany’s blog.

Episode #257: Put the Disciple Into Discipline

Episode #257: Put the Disciple Into Discipline

Put the Disciple into Discipline, Parenting with Love and Limits

We want to give parents the tools they need to truly disciple their kids through their most trying discipline situations. With these tools, parents can guide their kids’ hearts towards the God who loves them deeply, and survive those pull-out-your-hair parenting moments. We pray that PUT THE DISCIPLE INTO DISCIPLINE will help parents to connect with their kids in a heartfelt way so that their kids, in turn, can connect with the God who created them to be truly and imperfectly His.

 

 

 

 

10 Easy Ways to Connect With Your Kid (Even When Your Kid is Making You Crazy)

Kathi and co-host, Erin bring you a very special episode of Clutter Free Academy. Author Ellen Schuknecht, who is also Erin’s mom and co-author, discuss their new book, Put the Disciple into Discipline, Parenting with Love and Limits. Erin and Ellen wrote the book to give parents tools to deal with some of the most difficult challenges of parenting- also known as every single day. 

The everyday ins and outs of parenting toddlers, to boundary pushing elementary schoolers, to moody pre-teens, to rebellious almost adults is trying and just plain hard. Erin and Ellen talk about dealing with our kids using not just using justice, but also mercy, and grace- the very ways God deals with us. They discuss why these options give us and our children a better foundation for living out the life God intended for them and help us to truly get to the heart of our kids.    

Book Giveaway!

Comment to win. What is your biggest challenge when it comes to the justice, mercy and grace of disciplining and raising your kids? Comment below for your chance to win a free book!

*US residents only.

FREE DOWNLOAD

Download this free and fantastic resource, 10 Easy Ways to Connect With Your Kid (Even When Your Kid is Making You Crazy), for inspiration to press into your relationship with your kiddo, especially during the tough times.

 

Meet Our Guest

Ellen Schuknecht

Ellen Schuknecht

Ellen Schuknecht has been working as an educator for more than 35 years, with experience ranging from early childhood education, to high school advising to family ministries counseling.  She currently serves as the Director of Family Ministries at Veritas Academy in Austin, Texas where she mentors parents, teachers, and students on a daily basis.  She uses her blog, www.familywings.org, as well as her many speaking engagements as a platform to help parents learn how to lead their children to Christ in a way that’s not only authentic, but that also builds the relationship between parent and child.  Ellen has been married to her husband Glen for 39 years and lives in Austin, Texas near her three grown children, their spouses and– her pride and joy– her eleven precious grandchildren.