Saturday, October 25, 2014

31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace: Just 15 Minutes a Day

The most important decluttering principle I have learned this month is that it doesn't really take that long to declutter. I have been amazed at how many of the projects I have done this month took less than a half-hour to do.

It took me less than a half-hour to take this:

To this:

Friday, October 24, 2014

31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace: Rules for Mail

Today is Day 24 of this crazy series, and I came very close to just bagging it. I've been very sick for the past several weeks, and many of my big decluttering projects simply did not come to fruition. I missed several days of work and lamented the fact that I could barely get out of bed, much less go up to the girls' rooms and deal with their junk.

And now my youngest daughter has come down with the same crud I've been fighting. Poor thing. Plus, we have a big Halloween party coming up tonight, and I just want to go to sleep and not write a post.

But then I realized that would be kind of like running a marathon and refusing to go further when you only have a mile left. I've come this far, and it's totally stupid to quit, so I'm not going to. But I can't promise you any earth shatteringly wonderful decluttering projects, because I simply haven't had a chance to do them.

So I thought that today I would update a couple of my past posts.

First, remember how I said I bought a plastic bag organizer for the kitchen? Well, it came the other day and I put it up next to the broom and I love it. Isn't it great?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace: Dealing with Hot Spots

Let's talk about hotspots. The surfaces in your home that ALWAYS seem to collect a bunch of papers and other random objects, no matter what you do. This will usually be a flat surface like a table or a counter--but it could be your closet floor, a couch, or the corner of your bedroom.

In my house, the living room radiators are my hottest hotspots. Everyone just sets everything down on them because they are so conveniently located. One is right next to the front door, and the other is right next to the stairway.

Ideally, I'd deal with them on a daily basis--and I do try. It often depends on my level of busyness that day, though. On the days that I work I am much less likely to clean up the radiator mess than I am on the days I don't work.

When my children are assigned the living room as their zone, cleaning off the radiators is part of that. Unfortunately, their usual M.O. is to take things off the radiators, walk into my office, and set them on the table in there. So, technically, the table in the office is the hottest hotspot in the entire house, I stand corrected.

And now you know that my children are very, very good at not actually putting anything away (remember how they stuff things in bags, too?).

So, I'm sure you can see all of my failings where my hotspots are concerned, and you don't actually need the very helpful list that I am about to write. But I need the very helpful list that I am about to write, so please indulge me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace: A Bag for Everything

Along with my shoe and hat and scarf problem, I have a big bag problem.

I can't help it. I love accessories. And I love bags.

I already got rid of a few purses when I decluttered my closet, but I hadn't yet addressed all of the BAGS hanging in my office.

I had a bag for church. Okay, so I had TWO bags for church. I used one of them while I was serving in a calling as Primary President (leader of the children's organization) and it was very full of lots of the kinds of things one would have while working with children at church.

Then I got released from that calling and instead of actually cleaning out the bag, I just abandoned it. I hung it up in my office and started using a different bag for church.

Okay, so back to my bag tally. I had two bags for church, one for work, one for the beach, one for the gym, one for vacations, and about three other empty bags. Those were just the ones hanging in my office.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How to Raise Kids that Like Vegetables

How to Raise Kids that Like Vegetables--five strategies that will help your children to change their perceptions of vegetables and actually enjoy eating them

The other day we got two stalks of Brussels sprouts in our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm share.

First of all, I never knew that Brussels sprouts came on stalks like that! I didn't think to snap a photo before we cooked them up and ate them, but if you didn't know it either you can click HERE to see a photo (and find what looks like a yummy recipe for them). I have never received Brussels sprouts straight off the farm before, and when I purchase them at the grocery store, they are usually frozen and most definitely not on a stalk anymore.

Second of all, The Maestro roasted them with olive oil and some spices and our children LOVED them. They all gobbled them up like candy.

Score one for Mom and Dad! Our children will eat Brussels sprouts!

Our children will happily eat most vegetables, actually. It is one of the very few things I feel we have done very well as parents. And when I say very few, I mean that I can only come up with maybe one other thing.


But my kids eat vegetables without a fuss. And maybe it isn't anything The Maestro and I did as parents, either, maybe we were just blessed with children that aren't overly picky.

Except....they are picky. Sophia has big issues with textures and Bria has a long list of foods that she doesn't like. In fact, getting Bria to like eating vegetables wasn't always easy--we had lots of tantrums about it when she was younger. Chloe is picky, too, but she has always preferred vegetables and fruit over sweets. She actually did come that way. Her pickiness is more like she hates soda and prefers water instead. I don't try to quash that kind of pickiness.

I've thought about the things The Maestro and I have done that have helped our children to learn to like vegetables, and I came up with the following five things. I recognize that some children are just more difficult in the food department, so your mileage may vary, but these things have worked well at our house.

1. Be a Good Example and Eat Your Vegetables Yourself.

31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace: How to Declutter Your Schedule

I am probably the last person who has the right to tell anyone how to declutter their schedule. I run a blog titled Overstuffed because my own schedule is bursting at the seams. This over extending of myself is something I have struggled with for a very long time.

However, at the ripe old age of 40, I am starting to be better about this. My schedule is still overstuffed, but it could be so much worse. I'm finally growing up!

That isn't to say I'm perfect at this yet. Just better. The past two weekends, for instance, I spent a lot of time helping a college student make his Halloween costume as a favor. I didn't mind helping him, but it took a huge chunk out of my life that should have been used for other things. Like maybe making my own chidren's Halloween costumes, which have only sort of been started at this point. The problem is that I said yes to him back in August, thinking it wouldn't be a big deal. I should have been a bit more forward thinking and realized that October is always crazy for me. I barely manage to get my own children's costumes put together, and there is always a lot going on with my family and work commitments.

Which brings me to the number one way to declutter your schedule...

1. Learn to say No. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence

I am now the mother of a bona fide teenager. Fourteen years old, wonderful as can be, but still a teenager who struggles with all of the typical teenagery things. I am also the mother of a tween. She's almost twelve years old now, but she has already entered adolescence.

Because adolescence starts earlier than it ever did before, and it also ends later. Since I teach on the college level, I have the opportunity to work with late adolescents, and I believe that assessment to be true.

So does Laurence Steinberg, author of a new book titled Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence. I wasn't sure quite what to expect from this book when I began reading it, but I was hooked from the start. Steinburg's writing is easy to understand and is captivating, even though he is writing much about scientific studies and findings.

I found the entire thing to be absolutely fascinating, and I learned so much about my children and what they are experiencing right now as they navigate their adolescence. I learned that their brains have a high level of plasticity during this time--that adolescent years are just as crucial in molding the brain's development as the ages of 1-3.

As a parent, that is both scary and comforting. Comforting because teenagers really are incredibly teachable during these years (despite the way they may act), and scary because it is all up to me to teach them.

According to Steinburg, one of the most important things to teach your adolescent is the ability to self-regulate. Many of us have heard of the marshmallow test and its ability to predict the future success of those children in later life. Because of those findings, we have been led to believe that self-control is something you either have or you don't--you get it via genetics and not by learning.

This is not true.

Here is an excerpt from the book regarding self-regulation: