Less is Often More: Declutter, Mama
January 2, 2019
In This Issue:
Hey Mama,

Happy New Year! Did you enjoy your break? I know I did—and boy, was it needed! 

Now that we're in 2019 (Can you believe it?) I'm looking at my calendar, lists, piles of EVERYTHING. . .and you know what I see? I see my time invested, my kids learning and growing with me, and I realize I don't have time for clutter, cleaning, and chaos. Who does?

Less is more, Mama, and a great resolution—one you'll actually stick tois to declutter (just a little) this year, one day at a time. You can do it! I'm right there in the trenches with you. 

Not sure where to start? Your biggest cheerleaders from The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine have some great tips and advice to help you:

And remember, Mama. . .

Your kids learned today. You invested in them. They spent time with you and benefited from those hours. Life went on and will keep going. Learning is continuously taking place. 

You're just there to guide it, to implement it, to respond. You initiate, organize, and finalize the lessons. Don't treat it like an institution; these kids of yours are not wards of an institution. They're yours to love, cherish, and teach. It's gonna stick; believe me, it's all sticking.

Lots of tiny steps make for one giant accomplishment. Keep walking. Small steps don't make for lost progress; they make the finished tapestry strong—too strong to tear down. 
His hand is on your head this new year.

Mercy Every Minute  
Clutter can create stress, but do things have to be perfect before we can move forward? If so, I would never get anywhere! 

Organization is not an end goal; it is a continual action. It is not something you attain once; it is something you continue to pursue. 

For those of you who think you have to “get organized” before you can feel confident about your schooling or homemaking, organization will never be a one-time reality but a work in progress. 

Home Clutter
I can become depressed at all of the chaos around me, or I can pray for strength to “do the next thing.” Writing down what needs to be done, delegating some tasks to the kids, and taking advantage of every fifteen minute break to tackle something will work wonders on those things crying for our attention. 

If we clear out the chaos instead of spending breaks on social media, we will feel so much better. As the chaos and clutter decrease, our emotional state will improve, and the house will feel more like a home. 

School Clutter
Put a date on your calendar to sit down and create goals for the remainder of this school year—especially if school time has become chaotic or unproductive. Or, maybe you just want to concentrate on that science or language arts course but haven’t been able to fit it in. This is a time to rethink what should be done daily, weekly, or monthly. 

If you can’t fit that science in every day, give it a couple hours one day a week, and forego another subject during that time. Whatever it is, set a goal, plan the time, and clear your calendar of whatever is cluttering things up. Maybe you need to prioritize staying home more often if that would help relieve the chaos. 

Heart Clutter
Cleaning out the clutter is also applicable to spiritual things. Our hearts and minds are cluttered with too much junk and not enough of the good things of the Lord and His Word. Choose to read that chapter in your Bible rather than that chapter in any other book; this declutters your mind. 

Choose to pray for ten minutes rather than get on the phone or email; this declutters your soul. Choose to teach your children about order and discipline, rather than yell at them when it all piles up. Choose to sit at Jesus’ feet, and then you will have the strength to get up and do the next thing. 

Do a little bit every day, make better choices, and pray for direction and strength. You don’t need a maid; you need to be made wise. Ask God, and He will give you wisdom on how to declutter your house and your heart for His glory.

“Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
(Proverbs 16:3, 9 ESV).


Sherri Seligson
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines declutter as “to remove things you do not need from a place, in order to make it more pleasant and more useful.” 

I like that definition because it gives us a “why” behind the word. Too much stuff in our house, on our to-do list, or even in our minds makes us stressed and prevents us from doing things well.

But as homeschoolers, we are inherently multi-taskers, trying to manage a household while educating our children. 

I tell people that our home has materials in it as if I had a home business. I have personal bookshelves and school bookshelves, files and paperwork for the home; and files and paperwork for school. We even have household scissors (that I guard and protect with my life!) and school-use scissors.

Where can we store it all, and how can we manage everything? I want to address three areas of our lives that are commonly cluttered, and give you some encouragement to pare things down.

Our house: I understand the struggle. For years, we lived in an eight-hundred square-foot home with three young children (and all their massive baby furniture). One thing to do is just focus on one small spot each day (or week). 

Commit to ten minutes and go through things, separating them into three piles: keep, give away, throw away. (I know. . .you probably could sell some of that give-away stuff, but really, WHEN will you do it? And you can bless someone else by just getting it out of the house!)

Finally, to make sure you create more than a “keep” pile, think about your priorities. Is an item really something you will use in the next year? If not, lend or give it to someone who can use it now. Is it something that makes you truly happy? What are the biggest priorities you have for your family, and does it help you to meet those priorities?

Our activities: Our schedules can definitely be cluttered, can’t they? During the school year, I tried to protect at least two days a week where we didn’t have to go anywhere. 

As the kids got older, I could only squirrel away one day, but it helped me to decide what sports, art classes, and field trips we did. I multi-tasked outings so that when one child was at soccer practice, an older one volunteered as an assistant in order to get some volunteer hours. 

Really try to protect a few days in your week to help provide time for your children to be at home (and even
have time to be bored—a great outlet to build creativity!).

Our minds: You might not think about decluttering what’s in your head, but I’m sure you get where I’m coming from. As moms, we have so much swirling around up there. 

One thing that really helped me was taking a moment at the beginning of the day to jot down my plans. Then when those plans did NOT happen, I moved them to the next page of my notebook and wrote down what we actually DID. 

The first to-do of course, was “Make a To-Do List.” That way, I could check off something right away! Seriously, we need to make lists so we don’t have to store so much in our brains. We also need to guard how much information our brains take in.

Limit social media, check e-mail once a day, and prioritize what you focus on.

Do you see a pattern here? I think prioritizing is the key to all of this. 

If you have twenty-five baking pans that are taking up space, preventing you from cooking healthful meals for your family, then maybe it’s time to pare them down. 

What is one most important thing to do each day? What is most important to keep for the long haul? What are your family priorities? 

Start there, and you will be well on your way to a more clutter-free home.

Sherri Seligson and her husband David homeschooled their four children for 21 years. Before being promoted to motherhood, Sherri worked as a degreed marine biologist at Walt Disney World’s Living Seas, publishing shark behavior research. She has authored Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Marine Biology and Internships for High School Credit, instructional DVD courses for Apologia’s science curricula, and companion curricula for feature films including Dolphin Tale and War Horse. Sherri is an international conference and retreat speaker. Using transparency, truth, and humor, she encourages moms on their homeschool journey and teaches families the importance of studying God’s creation. www.sherriseligson.com
I'm just going to say it: I'm a reformed hoarder. I have owned more things in my lifetime than any woman my age has business owning in her lifetime.

In fact, in my younger years, there was a nagging fear in the back of my mind that I might one day be buried somewhere under a pile of paper, old clothes, and strange kitchen appliances. Thankfully, a few really brave friends stepped in to help before it was too late. Through their aid, and some Scriptural perspective, I have overcome. I no longer serve my stuff.

I want to teach my kids two things about STUFF.

Stuff is just stuff.

Unless stuff becomes an idol—then stuff is a serious impediment to our relationship with God.

We need clothes. Kitchen appliances and utensils can be useful. However, the things we own are tools. There are exceptions to this: some special things add beauty to our lives or remind us of a time past.

I think that beauty is a wonderful thing, as long as our quest for beauty through stuff doesn't own us.

I've learned that with less stuff in the way, it's easier to clean, to move around, and to follow the Lord's call. It's amazing how much our stuff can affect our obedience!

I sort and gift (or trash) our stuff every three months. This helps keep any avalanches of personal belongings at bay.

Stuff is for sharing.

Everything I own was God's to begin with, and it's His now. I am a steward of everything God has given me. I need to be willing and able to share my stuff.

Consider the following verses:

"Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common" Acts 4:32 (ESV).

"Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal" 2 Corinthians 8:14 (NLT).

And, my favorite:

"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV).

When I've shared, God has always replenished our supply, or we have been able to make do with less.

When we've been in true need, God has prompted someone to share with us. God has a marvelous way of working among His people. However, if we're clinging too tightly to "our" stuff, we might miss the wonder of being part of His plan.

I want my kids to see us working to store our treasures in Heaven, rather than here on earth.

Danika Cooley is an author and homeschool mother of four. Her passion is equipping parents to teach Scripture and Christian history to their families. You can learn more about Danika's popular  Bible Road Trip™  curriculum  and teen historical novel  When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther  at  Thinking Kids .
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Are you ready to take the challenge? Join Leslie Jacobs and the Everyday Organization challenge to simplify, organize, and declutter. You can follow along every day through her series of 116 organizational tips for simplifying your house and your life, or print the list of organizational tips and choose the ones that work for you!

Everyday Organization is just one of the many planning tools that are part of your membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com. We have calendars, planners, lesson plans, recordkeeping tools, a scope and sequence, and so much more! Come take a look, and let’s make a plan together! 

If you haven’t yet joined SchoolhouseTeachers.com, come give us a try! Join now during our Fresh Start, New Year sale and save! If you or someone you know would be interested in teaching or writing for us, let us know. You can email me at bhudson@TheOldSchoolhouse.com. Discover the wealth of materials available right at your fingertips at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. 

Bonnie Rose Hudson
Director of SchoolhouseTeachers.com
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