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


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.



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?

#330 Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter and Thrive with Jessica Turner

#330 Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter and Thrive with Jessica Turner

On today’s episode, Kathi welcomes Jessica Turner, author of Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter and Thrive. Kathi and Jessica chat about de-cluttering particularly as it relates to working moms. Jessica share tips for moms working both in and out-side of the home.

On today’s info-filled show you’ll learn:

  • Why boundaries are essential in our work and home life
  • How to make self-care a priority even in the middle of a busy schedule
  • The benefits of kids seeing both parents work

Stretched Too Thin is available now. 

Get free access to Jessica’s Thrive video series!


Order a copy of the book here.



Thanks for Listening!

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Special thanks to our sponsor (in)

This episode was sponsored by the (in)courage Devotional Bible featuring devotions from over 100 of our favorite writer friends, including our very own Michele Cushatt, Kathi’s co-host of Communicator Academy Podcast. Find out more here






Read along to the Podcast:

Kathi Lipp:

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, more life.

You know who our guest is, and we’re going to talk about this is de-cluttering for a very specific group. This is for my friends who are working moms. I know that most of you who listen to this podcast or are in the Clutter Free Academy group are working moms—whether you’re working in the home or outside the home—it doesn’t matter. But I don’t want you to stop listening if you’re not a working mom because here’s the deal, friend; your best friend is a working mom, or your daughter is a working mom, or your mom is a working mom. And guys, they need your love and support and your grace because they bring so much to our lives. As somebody who has been a working mom, still is a working mom, even though my kids are out of the house, some days that just doesn’t matter, I’m very excited about this book.  Especially for my Clutter Free friends: “Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter and Thrive.” It sounds like the title of impossible dreams. Jessica Turner welcome to Clutter Free Academy.

Jessica Turner:

Oh thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.


We’re so glad to have you. Here’s my question for you. I think we all have our own visceral reaction to what ‘stretched too thin’ means, and I want to know what it felt like or can still feel like to you on those days.


Oh, the same as it feels for everybody. It’s like you’re a hot mess and you just want to sit and cry, and nothing is going the way you want or appears the way you want it to appear. I think Hot Mess could have been the alternative title to the book.


I just told somebody the other day that the good news is I’m letting everybody down equally. I am screwing it up on all fronts so nobody can feel like Kathi is just ignoring them. No, I’m ignoring everybody equally.


I think that we feel like everything has to be perfect all the time instead of just being comfortable with good enough is good enough.


Right. And when did good enough not get to be good enough? Now, if you’re my brain surgeon, if you are flying military missions, I kind of want the absolute best I can get from you. But for the rest of us, when it comes to mom and work and marketing, you’ll never get 100% in marketing if that’s your career. You’ll never get 100% in momming if that’s your career. So when did we decide this? Has this been something that you think moms have struggled with forever? Or do you think that there are new folds to this for the year 2018?


I think social media contributes to it in a really big way. We see a lot with comparison and guilt and frustration that happens as a result of these ideals that we want to be living. So in that way, I think that’s probably the big difference from the moms of the 50’s. We are now looking at everyone else’s highlight reels and thinking that’s what we need to do.


I always say that lots of times you look at everybody else’s front porch, and it can look like their life is amazing, but we don’t take anybody into that back room that has a lock on it, the room only mom can open.

I see you are sitting in an office of some sort right now that doesn’t look like a home office. The only way I can really tell is because you have a name badge, and I’m guessing you don’t need a name badge at home. So where are you what’s your day job? And is that what led you to write this book?


I work eight to five in corporate America in healthcare, doing marketing. I am recording this on my lunch break, so very literally in the fringe hours, which is my other book. And that certainly was that part of why I wrote this book. There are not a lot of great resources out there for working moms on how to navigate that very specific experience. There are a lot of books out there on parenting, there’s a lot out there on corporate life and that sort of thing, and there’s a lot on how to do good work. But there are not a lot of books specifically geared toward working moms. So I set out to create that resource that I felt was missing in the marketplace.


I think there are many reasons to work. I think that oftentimes in the Christian realm we’re told unless it’s for straight up survival money, then mom has no business working. It feels like such a 1940’s thing to say, but don’t you feel like there’s an underlying message to moms that if you don’t need the money you don’t need to be working?


I think that is true in some spheres but I don’t think that’s true across the board. 70% of American moms with kids under the age of eighteen work. The large majority of us are working, and so I think that we just need to be having more conversations about it. What’s really interesting to me is how many women who have work-at-home jobs don’t call themselves working moms. They’ll say, “I’m a stay at home mom and I sell LuLaRoe.” But I say then you are a working mom. You’re not a stay at home mom. You’re working mom with a business that happens to be home based. I do think that there needs to be a shift in that being OK, to embrace that calling of being a working mom.


There is a shift in thinking as well, when you are a work at home mom, because at work you are still 80% divided. I don’t care if you’re in an office somewhere, if you’re on a plane somewhere traveling for work, at least 20-30% of your brain is at home making sure that people are being fed. When I’m traveling, even though they’re animals, I would say 10% of my brain is wondering if they are getting walked right now. You can’t entirely let it go. But when you’re working at home the lines are even more blurred and it’s a harder thing to manage.


It absolutely is, and so I think that’s why boundaries are really important to put in place and to codify. To say, “look, these are my working hours.”  My husband works from home, and I don’t expect there to be laundry done or the dishwasher to get emptied if it wasn’t empty before we left because he’s working during those days. The same should be true for women. I think that it’s really important to have boundaries in place for the time that you’re working, so that when you’re not working you can be fully present in those other areas of your life.


I love this so much because we talk about clutter being a boundary issue. It’s about bringing so much into your home and not having good boundaries about what’s able to come in, or knowing what needs to be turned away at the door. When you’re at work, you’re at work for the most part, and then when you’re home, you’re at home having those good boundaries. It’s really up to us to teach our family and our associates what those boundaries are.


Absolutely, and to stick to them. To say that this is the time that I’m working, I’m not able to do that at another time that and be focused in that. And sometimes you need to redefine those and be nimble enough to say that this isn’t working. I might need to establish something a different way and that’s okay too.


I love that in your book you talk about self care, but I have to tell you, if you’ve got kids that are younger especially, and you’re working full time, and let’s say you’re involved in the church, and I bring up the words self care, I think either groans or laughter are going to be what come from most people. So how do you actually do it? Why is self care so important to that working mom when there are million things knocking down her door? And how does it actually realistically happen in a working mom’s life?


It needs to be made a priority. It’s like the overused analogy of the oxygen mask that says you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of everything else. If we if we want to talk about the church and get biblical about it, Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself, so if you aren’t loving yourself well and taking care of yourself, you are not going to be able to love everyone else around you.  And that includes your co-workers and your friends and your family, so you’ve got to just make it a priority. It needs to be the most important priority for you to be taking care of your body, to be drinking water, to be getting sleep, to be getting exercise, to be doing all these things that we know that we need to do. Women sometimes feel like it’s just easier to cross themselves off the list to get everything else done. But it is more important to get that exercise than it is to get the dishwasher loaded. The dishwasher will get loaded. So it’s just a change in mentality.


One of the things that we’ve had to do around here is put self care like physical therapy, exercise, and cooking healthy meals actually on the calendar. Those are not things that get squeezed in when there’s enough time because really when is there extra time to go exercise? Nobody in the history of the world has ever had extra time to go exercise. It has to be a priority. So what does that look like for you, Jessica? Because not only are you working full time and have kids, but you also were writing books and have a ministry in addition to all of that. So what does it actually on the calendar look like for you?


Right now it has been a little extra intense because I’m launching a book, and working full time, so some of those things are looking a little different than my normal day to day life. But I’ve tried to incorporate walking a few times a week in the morning just to kind of start my day, get it out of the way, and get a little bit of activity. I also have a pedal bike under my desk so that I can pedal while I’m at work, so that gives me some physical activity if I’m not able to get that walk in. I’m really a big reader and I’m always trying to find time to read, so that’s another way that I find that I take care of myself. I have a monthly massage membership, and I get a massage almost every month. You know, when you see that money coming out of your bank account it’s very motivating. And I’ve been pretty public about this on my social media accounts, but I actually went through kind of a health crisis from September to March where I developed—we’re going to just put it out there—an abscess in my butt. This is something people don’t talk about.


Can I just tell you I forgot it was you and now I remember that.


Everyone knows all about my bottom. Let me tell you, when you have a health crisis and you are dealing with surgeons in your butt, you make time for it. You don’t know how much time you have until something like that happens. So again, I think it’s just a shift in mentality and priority. I was taking care of myself and having to go to the doctor a lot. When you think about people with cancer or whatever…things just shift when those types of major things happen. So the minor stuff like going and getting an annual physical, going to my ObGyn, and going to the dentist, those things I just regularly do. You don’t want to deal with a major crisis if you can avert that by going to the doctor regularly. It’s just part of my calendar. I don’t ever cancel those sorts of things, I think it’s silly to do that.


Apparently having flat feet is really a thing, and who knew? That’s what I’ve been dealing with. I had no idea what was going on, but my ankle was swelling up to twice its normal size which, by the way, is not a cute look.  So I was talking to the physical therapist, and she says, “You’re going to need to come in three times a week.” And I thought, “Three times a week? Are you flipping kidding me? Who has time for that?”  I said, “Can we do once a week?” And she said, “So what you’re telling me is in that five years, you’ll be OK with not walking?”   Well, that was a sobering thought and actually, I’m not OK with not walking. So she said, “Then I would suggest you make the time for three times a week” So that’s what I’m doing. I’m doing the exercises every morning and I’m reminded that nobody is too important in their day job to not be taking care of themselves physically, they’re just not. None of us are that important.


It’s really important to model that for our children as well. I make them go to the doctor every year, why am I not going to the doctor every year?


So here’s my question, because I know that we spend a lot of time thinking about the ill effects that our working has on our kids. We don’t spend any time thinking about that for their dads, but we do think about for us. I’ve now raised four kids, they had a working mom, and I love their heart of work. I love that they work hard to honor who they are and who they are in God’s kingdom. So I want to know from you what are the benefits you’re seeing in your kids with both you and your husband working?


I think that they realize that work is a part of life. They understand that the benefits that they have in their lives come from having parents who work and have an income. They very clearly equate that getting nice things is because we have money, and we have money because we work. They understand that work isn’t always easy, and that sometimes work forces us to make hard choices, and that sometimes we can’t do things because we have to work. We have responsibilities, and I think that it’s great for them to see. I also think it’s really neat for them to see their parents living out their passions and their talents through their work, and both my husband and I are privileged enough to have that type of work. It’s work that we genuinely love and it’s more than just bringing in an income, which is important, but we enjoy doing it. And I feel like we’re gifted in the spaces that we’re working in. So I think that is cool as well, talking to them about what they can do, about work that aligns with their passions.


I think that’s so huge to raise up in our kids–to find their passion—what God has gifted them with, and to find how they function the world and contributing to society in that way and to do it in an honorable way. So when people find out more about their lives they can say they were raised in a family that values work, and they have a God who honors work. I just love the concept of that. It taught my kids early on that we all have to pitch in if we want food on the table, if we want a clean living room to invite our friends over to, this is a group activity that needs to happen.

The book is “Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive.” So much of that guilt thing is who people are hanging out with. So if you have a friend, a daughter, a mom, a cousin, or a sister who was a working mom, I would really encourage you to take a look at what Jessica is doing here in “Stretched Too Thin.”

Jessica, thank you so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.


Thank you for having me. It was a great conversation.


The word on the street is that Jessica’s going to have some goodies on our download page. So be sure to check that out. There are resources for all of you who are working moms.

Not only do I want to thank Jessica for being here today, I really want to 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.

Meet Our Guest

Jessica Turner

Jessica Turner

Jessica Turner is an award-winning marketing professional, speaker and bestselling author. Her newest book is Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive. She and her family live in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn More

The Mom Project Chapter 13: Shower Your Kids With Grace

The Mom Project Chapter 13: Shower Your Kids With Grace

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:

My daughter Anya has crossed that mysterious threshold, called middle school. I refer to it as the tween twilight zone. I had taken for granted the innocence of elementary school, the fairy forts being built in the backyard and listening to the endless stories of her class fishing with bamboo sticks in the creek. I was completely unprepared for sixth grade and the change it would bring to our home! Anya on the other hand is living her best tween life with one small exception…missing homework. I am certain my daughter completes her homework, because I have the unfortunate experience of wracking my brain trying to help her figure out what the slope of xy is if y is -4! Did I mention my strong disdain for algebra? Oh, and we haven’t even reached algebra this is pre-algebra! Since, she excelled in math in fifth grade she was placed in pre-algebra two levels higher than the average sixth grade math course, which has caused somewhat of a rift in our relationship!

Some of our discord is my fault. I have a new- found obsession with the online grading system that allows me to check the status of homework and grades at any time of the day…which I do…multiple times. I don’t check because I’m in training to be a tiger mom. I check because first, I’m perplexed that work is missing and second, I’m concerned. I never had issues with her handing in homework. I’m fully aware that Anya is responsible for her grades, but my momma heart can’t help to be a bit worried.

I decided to lower my blood pressure and put a stop to my new found unhealthy habit of visiting RemWeb. It was working, until one evening when she asked me to check if her math test was recorded. I eagerly agreed, after all my resistance was wearing weak! I put in the password, pulled up pre-algebra and there it was…a D, and to make matters worse, the overall grade was a D-. If she didn’t understand the material that’s one thing, but just not handing work in, well that’s another.

My eyes scanned the grades and it was apparent that she was in real trouble and partly because of missing work! I was ready to lay down the hammer, then I saw her eyes filling up with tears. I knew that anything I said in the heat of frustration would only result in a big blow out. Instead I gave her a goodnight kiss decided it was time to dive into the, “Mom Project.” I needed help!

The project, “Shower Your Kids with Grace,” immediately caught my attention. It was time to try a different angle, one that was completely opposite of what I felt like doing, which was dropping the gauntlet. After reading the project, I knew the best lesson wasn’t going to be a lecture, but a good dose of grace.

The next morning, I let Anya sleep in for a bit and woke her up with her favorite homemade waffle breakfast with whip cream and blackberries. She looked at me quizzically and cautiously. I told her we were taking the day off and having a mother daughter day in Washington, DC. She loves photography, so I planned a relaxing day of visiting her favorite spots to let her take photos. It would be a day free of grades, judgment or blame. We hopped on the metro and began the day in our Nation’s Capital. Watching Anya so care free, doing cart wheels on the National Mall, practicing her photography skills at the Botanical Gardens, and grabbing a sweet treat at Georgetown Cupcakes was a perfect way to shower her with the grace she needed.

While hanging out at the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden, Anya said, “Thanks, mom. This has been the best day,” and she opened up about some feelings and even fears that I had no idea about. After our excursion, without my prompting Anya asked me to drop her at school at 7:30 am to get tutoring in pre-algebra. She handed in the missing work and pulled her grade up to a C. I have no doubt that day of grace made a difference for the both of us.

I learned that a little bit of grace goes a long way. This project made me think of my too many to count colossal screw ups and the grace upon grace Jesus so graciously gave me. Jesus has loved me unconditionally through every stage and I had to make sure that I was showing that same grace and love to Anya as she goes through her many stages, even the twilight teen years.

If you want to try this project, find ways to incorporate simple and spontaneous grace in your family’s life to create a home that emphasizes your love for them in all circumstances. Maybe show up at school to take them out to an impromptu lunch, give them a free pass on chores for an evening, or simply don’t dole out a much-deserved consequence as a way of showing grace. Sewing grace into the fabric of our homes create kids that know how to accept grace, but also freely give it to others as well. Who couldn’t stand a little more grace in their day?

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.


This is written by Chere Williams, a passionate single mother who encourages women to make God their partner in their single parenting journey through her blog, “A Single Christian Mom’s Advice on Making Life Easier” Read an excerpt of her upcoming e-book,  “15 Tips on Avoiding Single Mom Burnout.” Click here for a free download.

The Sneaky Way Clutter Invades Our Heads

The Sneaky Way Clutter Invades Our Heads


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.