Saturday, January 22, 2011

My final column for the Home and Garden section of The Daily Sentinel

I’ve kept a faithful diary since I was thirteen. Over the years, for better or worse, my diary has morphed from book form to electronic- now consisting mostly of my blog, my Facebook wall, my Twitter account and this column.
When it wasn’t laced with teenage angst, my diary is a reminder of lessons learned. It’s been invaluable for me to look back and read some of the “bread crumbs on the trail of life” I have left for myself and my posterity.
I would like to share with you today (but it’s actually more of a reminder to myself), some of my best Home and Garden advice.

“When motivation is low, set a timer for 15 minutes and get to work.”
This advice is especially appropriate for this time of year when the “winter gloomies” set in. Sometimes household tasks can become too daunting. Setting a timer for fifteen minutes and committing yourself to stop working when the time is up keeps you from becoming too overwhelmed. Sometimes you find that once you have started working, you get into a zone and you don’t want to stop until the task is finished.
You would be surprised how much can be accomplished in a few fifteen-minute flashes of effort.
Kids are motivated by the timer, too. It becomes a fun competition for them to see what they can do in that amount of time. Speaking of kids…

“Household maintenance is not a one-woman show.”
This has become truer for me in the past few months. Transitioning from SAHM to working mother, I’ve had to rely more on my 12-year-old twin sons and their 9-year-old sister for the day-to-day upkeep of our home. Cleaning the kitchen is now (almost) solely their responsibility, along with the cleaning of their rooms and bathroom. Mom works, dad works, the kids need to work too.
Teach children early that they are a part of a family and as a part of the family they have responsibilities in the family home. As toddlers I had my kids mopping floors, folding towels, and running little errands for me in the house. I now reap the rewards of having helpful, independent, older children.

“Life is not a Pottery Barn Catalog”
One of the goals of my column has been to bring the joy back into homemaking, which includes reminding people that home doesn’t have to look like, as I like to call it, a “Lottery Farm” catalog.
I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from purchasing things from the “Lottery Farm,” I would just like to dissuade someone from thinking that they have to, in order to be happy. An item for item recreation of page eighty-six is not necessary.
That picture of perfection is not real. It’s a set. It’s as real as an airbrushed cover girl. She is not that thin, her hair is not that full and her skin is not that flawless.
Real homes, happy homes, practical homes are not that clean, not that orderly, and not that perfect, because what is missing from that photo set is the family.
What makes a house a home isn’t the over-sized glass decanter filled with corks. It’s not a couch covered with so many pillows there is no place to sit. It’s the people that eat, sleep, laugh, and leave their socks on the floor that make it a home. It’s the people that bounce the basketball in the kitchen. It’s the people who leave a trail of backpacks, coats, and shoes from the front door to the couch that make a home.

“Quit while you’re ahead.”
The dishes are done, the laundry is folded, sure, the pantry could use some organization, but as my mentor, Erma Bombeck, so famously said,
“Cleaning the house while kids are still growing is like, shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing.”
There are always going to be chores to do, but your children aren’t always going to want to play video games with you. Know when to say “when.” Stop and enjoy the family and home you have now.
And that’s exactly what I plan on doing.
This will be my last article for the Home and Garden section. It’s time for me to turn the page of my diary and enjoy a little more the family, home, and life I have right now. I want to thank my faithful readers for their love and encouragement over the past four years. Perhaps I’ll grace the pages of The Daily Sentinel again someday, but for now…

Dear Diary,
Today is going to be a good day.

As seen in the Saturday, January 22, 2011 edition of The Daily Sentinel


  1. Well said! And though your readers will miss you what a great example of living what you write.


  2. Great Post! I have loved reading what you have written. I don't comment much these days. You are still some one I would love to meet some day.

  3. So beautifully written. I am sure your readers will miss you. You family will enjoy you.

  4. I read that "Quilt while you're ahead" And I thought, darn, that's never happens to me.

    Very nice Annie, you make me feel like I can do anything and in fabulousness.
    I love the pictures of the kids!


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