Category Archives: Purging Clutter

The Toy Free Summer Challenge- How to Jumpstart Imagination

At the moment it’s a gorgeous, sunny afternoon in Midtown Atlanta.  The windows are open and the fans are spinning with the sweet, peaceful drone that’s hypnotized me since I was a child.  To my left is a lovely iced coffee with stevia and coconut cream that Selah (9) made for me after she  folded a load of laundry.  The children’s bedroom is basically immaculate.  The TV is off and there is no one asking for batteries or chargers or to talk on the phone. In front of me are  my four children, a 4th grader, 2nd grader, kindergartener and 3 year old, all playing contentedly with a pile of construction paper and one pair of scissors. Yes, I mean together. Yes, I mean without fighting. No, they don’t have anything battery operated involved, especially with letters like DS, Xbox, Wii, I(enter your choice of pad, phone, touch)… It’s a moment of bliss. Something to be documented.  And it’s all because we made a commitment together as a family yesterday. We’re spending the summer without toys!!

Wait, let me explain,
Last week I had a moment where I lost my cool with the kids and threatened to take all of their toys away and give them to goodwill.  I say threatened because it was one of the few times that I really didn’t expect to go through with it all the way.  The poor crew was already in one room with 2 sets of bunks and hardly any toys…. Anyway, the story… Poor Selah and Jake asked me to go ahead and do it!  Now, if I were assuming adult motivations in my children, which we all often do, I would have gotten more angry. I would have yelled at them to not talk back, treated them poorly for the defiance they were clearly showing. Instead, I looked in their eyes and didn’t assume it was just defiance. Instead I asked them why they would say that and if it’s really how they feel.  To my surprise they were as serious as I was! They weren’t trying to trap me or call my bluff. They both agreed they would rather go without toys than have the constant stress and pressure of picking them up. So we sat down and talked about what that would mean for all of us. Lucas got involved. They all got excited… The idea of  the Toy Free Summer Challenge was born.
Also, we have been in a rut, so to speak, and I know other families get in them, too.  They play the same thing, they do the same thing and they fight over the same thing.  For our family, it’s always creative, but for yours it may not be. I’ve had friend ask me how I get my kids to play together. I’ll share some other tips on that later.  But for a lot of people, joining in the Toy Free Summer Challenge could really help jump start imaginations that have been going dormant amid a world of Ipad, Itouch… well, key word being I, I, I…right?  Let’s help them snap out of it!!  Get your kids creating!!

The goal is to get rid of anything that  creates mess, causes solidarity, destroys any community in your family and wreaks general  havoc in the house, so we can enjoy our moments better. Here are the rules for our family. Yours may be different.


  1. Things that are messy and doesn’t get put away on a regular basis.
  2. Anything that causes strife and gets fought over instead of shared and played with together.
  3. Things that don’t get played with, or we are tired of, but still takes up space.
  4. Anything that drives someone else in the family nuts.
  5. Anything that steals our peace, space or happy moments. (by fighting, excluding, hoarding…)
  6. Anything that makes noise, causes hyper-focus and ignoring of parents and/or siblings
  7. Extra blankets, cuddlies, stuffed animals, lovies… things that we can live without but cause clutter.
  8. Movies, handheld games, zone-out material other than books


  1. Games that require multiple players
  2. Smiles
  3. Things that require creativity, instead of direct it
  4. Hugs
  5. Things that we work with together on a regular basis without conflict.
  7. Smiles
  8. Things that have been consistently cared for and put away. (legos!)

So, it’s a work in progress, as anything like this is, but in this case it is the brainchild of a little boy and girl.  We’ll give them some time to perfect the process, shall we?

Feel free to do your own version of the Toy Free Summer Challenge and tell us about it!!  We’re so excited about creating this concept for a stress-free summer outside the box, by boxing things up!!!

Clear it out and find the space to move and breath, together…



Filed under Candid Kid-versations, Family, Purging Clutter, Uncategorized

If My Life Came With An Owner’s Manual…

It would look like this.

And it would most certainly have, hidden somewhere between it’s well worn pages, one of these.

I used to be really organized, always on time, always wore makeup…That was soooo 2 kids ago.  I’ve had lots of ups and downs, typically congruent with pregnancy, but I was doing well for awhile.
Last year something unexpected happened. I got sick, and I re-injured my back. Not going to go into detail on that, other than to say that my usual ability to hold things together disappeared.  I was incapable of working, cooking, cleaning, teaching… of being me.  Over and over, I wished that I had followed through and made a User’s Manual for our house so that people COULD help. So that if I was in a car accident or otherwise unavailable all of the people who depend on me wouldn’t be completely lost.
Over the last two months I’m finally feeling like myself again and I think it’s time to do it. I’m making an owner’s manual for my life and my family.  I know many people call it a Home Management Binder, a Family Organization Binder.  I googled all of these and didn’t find anything that quite fit my style. So last week I decided that for the beginning of my new year I would make my own. And then I decided that I’d share them, which I’ve never done before. Maybe someone else out there is looking for something like mine and they can’t find it. And maybe they don’t enjoy playing around in Excel as much as I do… Yes, I’m that strange.

So I invite you over the next few weeks to get organized with me, starting today..

This is my binder.  I really wanted to buy a cute one, but sadly they are only available in 1 inch.  I thought about it. I really did. But I can’t see how all 6 of us and our daily “Dos” are  going to fit in ONE inch.  So, I bought this two inch in the prettiest color I could find, with a sad sigh.

 I bought one of those page turners so that it wouldn’t get as messy.  The idea is to NOT add more messy to life, right? You can’t tell from the photo but the colored tabs are my Monthly tabs.

 In each month I have a Monthly calendar and a weekly agenda.  Both I designed myself and are available for download.   I found some great ones online, but NONE of them were 2 page.  Also I must have cuteness in my life, like birds and trees. Take a look!

There’s just no way I can fit a whole month on one page, so here ya go.

For my weekly sheet, I wanted something that gave me space to write scheduled items, but I needed it to be flexible. I also wanted a place to put my menu plan, without having to waste another sheet. Once again, it didn’t exist. So, introducing…
Keep in mind that this is my first attempt at  sharing a free printable.  If you use them, please comment and tell me what you think! PLEASE. I really want some feedback!

After my monthly tabs, I have a simple tab sheet for each family member.

For Travis he can have his own To Do sheet and a scribble sheet for things he doesn’t want to forget.  (Those printables will be available tomorrow, so come back for them!!) For the kids, I have their weekly school agendas, chores, and behavior chart (that’s another post coming, too!). For the younger two, they have a Potty Chart that we put stickers on every time they go.  Nice. I know.  Sadly, it’s a big issue in our house.  Read these if you’re new to the blog and want a laugh at my expense. 😉

Urine In Contacts= Not a Good Substitute for Saline
Today- A Pathetic Tale of Miserable Hilarity and The Quest For A Shower
Extreme Potty Training Makeover
#8 Is it Possible That I’m Thankful for Food Allergies

Last, I bought pocket files for my binder, and sticky tabs to attach to them.  Why in the world has no one made these yet? Here’s a shot of my pocket tabs. First one holds the stickers for Lucas and Irie to use on their potty charts.

Now it seemed like every blog post I found on making one of these said something like “decide what tabs you want, and label them.”  Ok, I need a little more than that and it took me several tries to get it right. So, I will say decide what tabs you want, but here are mine as an example, in this order (after the month tabs and the people tabs).  I chose the order that I thought I would use most often.

Stickers/Stamps– So I can find them, because we use them often.
School– Homeschool papers, notes from classes, events fliers, etc.
Routines– Our Morning, School, Evening, Weekly routines typed up with directions/addresses and contact info where necessary.  For accountability and for babysitters, who happen to LOVE this.
Meals- Recipes I want to try, the rare coupon that we’re not allergic to,  What’s in the freezer (again for babysitters, when I’m on call I never know when I’ll have to run to the hospital!)
Home/Construction–  Notes on progress, ideas, budget, receipts, photos of designs and such… Someday this file will be much lighter…
Doula/CBE– Notes for the new program I’m putting together, receipts, contact info, paperwork to be filed
Gluten Free Rebel– All of the same type of stuff for my baking/cooking business HERE
4GiggleQuacks– My kids crazy idea in the works… HERE
Bills- I just like to leave this toward the end… But the bills go here and I have an amazing husband who balances them for me so this is HIS tab.
Receipts- For any others that need to be kept around, returns that need to be made, extended waranty…
Medical– I really don’t like this tab.  But it gets a good bit of use around here.  Sometimes it’s notes from the doctor, or magazine clippings to research.
Miscellaneous- Because there’s always something.

 So now it’s your turn. What tabs would you need? What’s missing?

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see what I’ve got for you to add to your User’s Guide for Life!

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Filed under Family, homeschooling, Motherhood, Purging Clutter, Uncategorized

Timesuckers Evaluated

So one of my items of “Homework” with my new life coach is to identify Timesuckers in my life.   We talked about it the first meeting and I KNOW that there are many.  Now, don’t start that “But you do so much!”  Really, I admit that I do a lot.  I waste a lot of time, too.

The problem with me is that I LIKE to do everything.  It’s not that I overcommit out of obligation. There are a few things like that, I’m sure. But ultimately I’m just a lover of life and enjoy experiencing things.  There are a few key things at play here.

Being homeschooled, I had the unique experience of teaching myself.  Maybe to an extreme that wasn’t even healthy.  From 12 years on my mother basically handed me a stack of books at the beginning of the school year and sent me on my way.  I think she checked my work every 8 weeks or so.  She was busy with my 6 younger siblings and just expected that I could handle it. It some ways I could. In others it was a VERY bad idea.  One fantastic trait that came from this, though, is my ability to teach myself anything I really want to learn.  I suppose I couldn’t tackle rocket science or microbiology, but I have a strong confidence that allows me to pick things up and say “Why not? I can do that myself!”    I really do believe that I can and I always enjoy it!
But the problem lies in my time.  Because, the sky is not the limit to me. It’s my clock and my calendar that limit what I can do, whether I want to or not. Whether it’s for me, my family or others, I always want to do, do, do.  But I can’t do it all, and I wear myself down by not wanting to miss anything. My body suffers and my family suffers.  I have to find margins of space and time in my life to be still.

Don’t understand what I’m talking about? Watch this.

A Facebook friend posted it awhile back. It’s long. But it’s GOOD.  Her comment was “I dare you to watch this and not cry.”  I’ll be honest. I didn’t shed a tear. That makes it ok if you’re dry eyed, too. I promise.   But I felt it. It moved me.  And the timing was perfect.  I’m reevaluating everything that I do. All of the ways that I spend my time and what that means about my values and priorities.  What example I’m showing my children. What I’m doing to my marriage and my spirit.   I

I. Have. To. Stop.

I’ll post later about my first few Timesuckers, but I will tell you that one is Facebook. I’ve been slow to make the stand but I’m doing it today.  Less Facebook, More Bloggging. And there are many reasons for that. Many. I’ll share about that later. But for now if you want to know what is going on with the house, the kids, life in general with the Seibels.  Here is where you will find it. So like my facebook for Momstinct or subscribe to the blog in your blog reader. Or sit back and breath a sigh of relief that I won’t be clogging your FB newsfeed anymore. I know you’re thinking it….

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Filed under Family, Home, Inner Sessions, Purging Clutter

Da Junk…mail, that is…

Junk mail sucks.  Really.  It wastes trees, it wastes energy to produce and deliver. And it wastes my time to go get it from my mailbox.  I have to say, I hate days that I walk out to the mailbox to find nothing but junk in the…box…hmmm.  Last month there was a great article with tips to cut back the Junk in your  box.

On the other hand, I’m a ‘Waste not to the max’ kinda gal, so I try to reuse as much as I can.  What I don’t use I recycle. Here are some reusing tips from an email I got.


I know that most people hate getting junk mail on a daily basis. But I love it. There are so many things that you can do with junk mail that you get. 

  •  Envelopes that come in junk mail. You can reuse these. Write your grocery list on the back of the envelope and put your coupons inside the envelope. So when you are at the grocery store you do not have to search for a coupon for 5 minutes in your coupon organizer.
  • Use the envelope to put all of your Christmas receipts in and mark the back of it Christmas Receipts.
  • If you are dropping a check off to someone who isn’t home put the check inside the envelope and tape it to their door.
  • Put a label over the address already printed and send out your bills or letters, this way you do not have to buy envelopes. 
  •  Colored paper that comes in junk mail. Shred all the colored paper that comes in the junk mail. Use this paper in gift bags instead of buying tissue paper. Use this paper for your children’s Easter baskets instead of buying the expensive grass. Use this paper when you are mailing something to take up extra space in the box so that your contents do not move around.
  • White paper that comes in junk mail. If there is nothing on the back of this paper: Let your kids use this paper for any drawings or art work that they do instead of wasting computer paper. Cut this paper into small squares and staple them in the corner, then use this paper as a scratch pad.
  • Believe it or not some junk mail is good. Yesterday we received a survey in the mail from a company that was wanting us to fill this 10 pages survey out and send it back to them. Enclosed was a brand new dollar bill. So be careful before you pitch your junk mail. If anyone else has any ideas for junk mail please post it. I am all about reusing stuff.


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Filed under All Posts, Budgeting, Mellow Shade of Green, Purging Clutter