I thought I’d take a break from writing about Challenge 365 to share with you what is probably the best parenting idea I’ve ever had.

I’ve been a parent for 17 years and I have done a lot of good things.  Mostly because I copied a lot of smart and clever people.  But once…ONCE…I had a really great idea of my own that I encourage others to copy…

If you are a parent, you know that about 2 days into summer vacation your child will say, “I’m bored.”  And you will be incredulous because you know how lucky that kid is to not have anywhere to go or anything to do or projects or appointments or housework hanging over their head.  You will see that it is a sunny day, not a cloud in the sky and you will start to say things like, “How can you bored?!?!  It is a beautiful day!  Go ride your bike, get out the sidewalk chalk, go see if your friend is home.”

And thus the summer cycle begins.  Every time your child is still, they will say they are bored and expect you to come up with a list of ideas for things they could be doing.  Am I right?  You know I’m right.  You’ve done this before.  I’ve done this before!  But there is a way to break this cycle before it even starts!  It’s true.  I tried it and it works!  A few weeks before school is out (now is fine!), you have your child sit down and make a list of everything they like to do.  You know your child better than I do, so I will leave it to you whether a) it is a good idea to tell them why they are doing this and b) whether you need to trick them into doing this with something like reverse psychology…”Hey- I’ll bet you can’t come up with a list of 20 things you like to do!”_0014

I did this when my son was in Kindergarten.  I did not tell him why until he was done.  I just had him write things he liked to do outside, things he liked to inside, things he liked to do in his room.  It took a few days and he kept adding to it.  When he said he’d written everything he could think of that he enjoyed doing, I said, “Good!  Now I’m going to put this list on the refrigerator.  Anytime you tell me that you are bored, I’m going to tell you to look at this list.”


“Ball tag, lightsaber, race cars, math book, kitchen, look out the window, tinker toys, Don’t break the Ice (a game), drum (he has a set of drums in the basement), table tennis, legos, puppet show and I think the last one is Wii.”



“Water flowers, read, play Rescue Heroes, Lincoln Logs, cars, trains, chalk inside & outside, dry erase board, paint.”


And it worked!

The cycle was broken!  He’d say, “I’m bored!”  I’d say, “Look at your list!”  That was it!  Never once did I have to think up another activity or threaten, “If you’re bored I can give you something to do… go clean your room!”

You can thank me in September!  In the meantime, please share this info with other parents by sending them over here to my blog.  Thanks!



So, I believe I am up to 148 gone from my home in my quest to rid our home of 365 items in 6 months.  We’re off to a pretty good start!  Today I’m going to address some “just in case” items.  You know… “I should keep these things just in case…”

I have a HUGE stash of boxes and containers stored in our walk-up attic.  I mean, really, a huge stash.  I do not have a specific need for any of them.  I have kept them all “just in case”.  I have baskets, boxes, tins, jars.  Because I am a professional organizer, I never know when I am going to need a container to contain something!  Or, I might need a box to place a gift in for gift-wrapping.  Or, as I did for my teenage son at Christmas- I might need a box to wrap inside a box, to wrap inside a box to hide a gift!  But really- it was getting out -of-hand.  So I made the tough decision to rid our home of some of these items.

A Stash of containers.

A stash of containers.

Above you can see the 21 boxes, tins, and containers I removed from the stash.  This is probably less than half of the “just in case” items, but it’s a start.  Let’s talk about the self-talk I used to cull these items.  First of all, I decided to keep decorative baskets and boxes designed to be storage and get rid of “trash”.  Cookie tins and shoe boxes are trash.  They were easy enough to discard.  I initially hung on to the shoe boxes, because I had been thinking of using them for a project.  Now the project is already done with boxes that worked better.

Do I still need the shoe boxes?  No.

Why are you hanging on to baby wipe containers when you haven’t had a baby in over 6 years?  Well, they came in handy for storing small things like diaper cream and nail clippers in the nursery.

Do you still have a nursery?  Um…no.

Do you still have small things that need to be corralled?  Probably yes.

Could you use one of the more decorative baskets or boxes that you decided to keep to corral small items should the need arise?  Yes.

Then get rid of the baby wipe containers.

It was easy enough.  So all of the above items got recycled except the crate which went into the “Yard Sale Pile”.  We’ll talk more about that later!

I also decided to get rid of this box of toilet paper and gift wrap tubes.  I initially collected them for a craft project.  Then I decided I didn’t want to do the craft project.  Bye bye tubes!

Toilet paper and gift wrap tubes

Toilet paper and gift wrap tubes

Not wanting to waste all these perfectly collected tubes, I e-mailed my youngest son’s art teacher and asked if she could use them.  She was only too happy to take them!  I did not count these items!  For the purpose of this challenge I am going to call this “one box of cardboard tubes”.  So they’ll be one item, bringing the total including this post to 170 items gone!


 As you may know, I’m challenging myself to rid our home of 365 excess items.  I thought I might try to do that in a year, but since my first purging session cleared out 141 items I think I should try to do it in less time.  Let’s say 6 months!

So, this week I decided to try to make a little money in the process of purging.  There are a few local facebook groups in my area dedicated to consigning items.  If you want to try this yourself, type “yard sale” or “consignment” into the search box at the top of your Facebook page and you’ll be surprised how many places pop up.  I listed 6 items,  and sold 5, bringing in $100.  Here is what sold:

Clockwise from top left: a riding toy, a shelf with baskets, a doll, a drawer to hold coffee pods and a dresser.

Clockwise from top left: a riding toy, a shelf with baskets, a doll, a drawer to hold coffee pods and a dresser.

There is one item I want to talk about here because it may help you with your own decluttering issues:  The coffee pod drawer.  The coffee pod drawer was given to me as a gift from my mom & step-dad.  It was a great gift idea!  I know they saw this in the store and thought, “Jennifer will like/could use this,” and bought it for me.  And I truly appreciate the sentiment.  If they had bought it a month earlier, I really could have used it, but my husband had already bought me something to hold my coffee pods.

So I asked myself a few questions:

Which item holds more pods?  The one from my husband.

Do I need to hold that many pods?  At the moment, yes.

Will I always need to hold this many pods?  Quite possibly.

Can I use the drawer for something else?  No. It is specifically designed for this purpose.

Then I needed to get rid of the drawer.  When my mom & step-dad were here, they saw that I already had something to hold my coffee pods and they said I didn’t need to keep the drawer so there is no guilt in my selling it.  But quite often we are given gifts that we do feel guilty about not liking or not wanting to keep.

Over the years I have tried to tell myself, “It is not my fault that this gift missed the mark.  I am the one who has to maintain my home and I should be the one to decide what is worth dusting, looking at or taking up valuable storage space.”  If a gift is not right for me, I am still appreciative of the gesture, but my house is not big enough to keep everything ever given to me.  It is okay to let things go.

I’ve been using this challenge to explain my “self-talk” in the decluttering process.  Maybe some of you find it helpful.  Do you have your own “self-talk”?  Would you care to share?


We’ve gotten rid of another large item in our quest to purge 365 unwanted items from our house.  This next item was HUGE!  It was our computer desk.  We tried to sell it on Craig’s list over the last year for varying amounts of money and my husband was finally able to sell it yesterday for $20.


Sigh.  $20.  We paid about $500 for it new.  And it was just what we needed to house all of our office items…at our last house.  That’s the problem.  The fact that it was sort of self contained and could be closed up was perfect for the large open floor plan of our last home.  But here we were using it in a small room that just felt smaller with this desk in there.  It had to go!  But we paid so much for it!  But it had to go!  But we paid so much!  It had to go! But all that money….

Yes.  It cost a lot of money to buy that desk.  But what is it costing my family to keep a huge piece of furniture that we are not using?  It wasn’t costing us actual money to keep the desk, but it prevented us from using that space for something else.  In a situation like this, it helps to keep my eye on the prize.  What’s the prize?  More space in our house for our family to live and pursue our interests.  Which better serves that:  keeping the desk or getting rid of the desk?  Getting rid of the desk!

143 items gone, 222 to go!

Have you accepted my challenge?  What have you gotten rid of?  What kind of “self-talk” do you use to make yourself let go?  I’d love to hear from you!


So- I’ve had my grandmother’s electric organ for years… I mean…years!  I have fond memories of playing that organ at my grandparents house.  My grandma taught me how to play “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music on that organ.  It was passed on to me when my grandpa died and has moved with us to three different houses.  But here’s the kicker…it never worked!  In all the time I’ve owned it, it hasn’t worked!  The power of sentimentality, baby!  I should mention:  people told us it would be valuable if it worked…but it didn’t… people also told us it would costly to fix it…

Here's the organ from when we first moved in to our current house.

Here’s the organ from when we first moved in to our current house.

I finally agreed to let my husband list the organ on Craig’s List.  For $20.  Ok- I didn’t know he was only going to ask $20 for it, but it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t work and we don’t need it.  I did love it.  I do love it… but I think I will love the empty space more.

So, the first two calls he got were from people who didn’t want the organ, but were warning us that the organ would be worth a lot more than $20 if it worked.  C’mon, man!  It was hard enough to make this decision in the first place!  Stop second guessing me!!!  I talked myself down off the ledge like this, “It would be worth more if it worked, but it DOESN’T work.  You don’t know how to make it work.  It will be expensive to make it work and then any money you would make selling it would just be paying yourself back for fixing it.  PLUS- if you fixed it, you’d be tempted to keep it and you want the empty space NOT the organ, remember?”

You may have noticed in my book clearing post  that I have a ginormous, old upright piano, by the way.  So, yeah, I really don’t need an organ…

So anyway, a guy came and got our organ.  He seemed very apologetic about taking it for $20.  I felt like he was trying to warn me that he was going to make millions on our naivety without actually saying it because if he said it we’d keep the darn thing.  He offered us a consolation prize:  if we could find the hardware that would hold up the music stand he’d give us an extra $10.  He e-mailed a picture of the hardware.  My husband scoured the house and found it.  We made $30 and got an organ shaped free space in our house for the first time in over a decade!

I see this as a win-win-win situation.  I win- I get some space back in my home and am one item closer to my goal of 365 items.  The guy who got the organ wins- he’s going to make a bajillion dollars reselling the organ.  And perhaps most importantly, somewhere, sometime, some little girl is going to win because she’s going to  have fond memories of her own grandmother  teaching her to play “Do-Re-Mi” on that organ.



I am challenging myself to get rid of 365 items in our home that we no longer need or want.

It occurred to me that the easiest place to start would be the four bookshelves in our family room.  They were absolutely overflowing with double rows of books and things sliding off onto the floor.  I know we don’t need all these books!

I decided to make one pass through for this first go-round.  And I decided only to deal with books, not knick-knacks or other things on the shelves.  The exception being the bookshelf that also houses some of our youngest son’s toys.  I will go back through and take a harder look at the books that are left and the knick-knacks, but I think I made a pretty good dent!  Here are before & after pictures:           

Shelf 1 Before & After

Shelf 1 Before & AfterShelf 2 BEFORE & AFTER

Shelf 2 Before & After

Notice how the middle two shelves above were two rows deep with books.  We love books in our house!  The bottom shelf is full of record albums and yearbooks.  We’re not ready to get rid of those just yet!

Shelf 3 Before & After

Shelf 3 Before & After


Shelf 4 Before & After

Shelf 4 Before & After

That was a double row of books on the top shelf there!  And I’ll point out that my son helped me sort through some of his papers and toys on Shelf 4.  He gave a few things away and recycled some papers and some of the things I moved to another spot.  I’m sure he’ll be part of this challenge before the end, but this phase was just about books.

And here is what was removed:

All of thesebppks will be finding a new home in someone else's house!

All of these books will be finding a new home in someone else’s house!

So final count:  141 books removed!  Almost halfway to 365!  Maybe that goal isn’t lofty enough!  We’ll see after session 2!  I’ll get back to you in a few days!


So, this is it!  I’ve been thinking for awhile now that I really want to clear out our house.  We (and I’ll be honest- probably mostly me!) have a LOT of things in our house we don’t need.  I’ve decided that now is the time to do something about that!  What better way to commit to a project, than to make it public where any number of people can hold you accountable!  The goal: rid our home of 365 items this year.


I’m really not sure if this goal is too lofty or not lofty enough!

Want to join me?  Please let me know and we can cheer each other on!