Dear Peter Walsh,

Last year, our youngest daughter went through a divorce, lost her job and entered nursing school. She moved back home with us, along with her 5-year-old daughter, our only grandchild. We are thrilled to have them both with us, as we want very much to have a positive impact on both of their lives.

However, the condition of my house has suffered tremendously due to the increase of the additional household items from my daughter and from having an active child and three busy adults living here.

I need help getting reorganized. I want to have my house put back into order so that all four of us can have a calm and orderly place to live.

— Candy

Thanks for the letter, Candy.

First, I want you to stop for a minute and think about doing a load of laundry. If you turn the machine off half way through the cycle and let the wet wash sit for a few days, we all know what we end up with—a smelly load of wet clothes. No one only does half the cycle with the wash.

It's the same with your home—you have to finish every "cycle" that you start. If you dirty a dish, you put it in the dishwasher or wash and dry it...not leave it on the sink or kitchen counter. If you take off an article of clothing, you either hang it back up or put it in the hamper...not leave it on the floor or the back of a chair. If you finish a can of soda, you throw the can into the recycle bin...not leave it on the coffee table in the family room. You have to finish the cycle!

In a busy household, this mind-set is critical or else things very quickly get out of place and so out of control. Finish what you start, close what you open, replenish what you empty. The whole family has to agree to this. Also, teach it to the 5-year-old, or you will never get on top of the clutter.

— Peter


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