Peter Walsh

Overwhelmed, unorganized and out-of-touch. If any of this describes your family, it's time to slow down, clear out the clutter and take back your family with Peter Walsh's Stripped Down Challenge.

Between schedules that pull you every which way, a growing dependence on technology and the stress of daily life, it's easy to let your life consume you. Now, it's time to be the change in your household and provide the best life possible for your family. "The whole idea of stripping that stuff out of the house starts to get you back in touch with your home, which is so important," Peter says. "Get the family back connected with each other."

All you need is one week and Peter's six Stripped Down Challenge rules. Get started!
No cell phone rule

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Rule 1: No Cell Phones or Texting
Technology allows us to keep in touch in 24 hours a day, but that doesn't guarantee meaningful connections. "That's the confusion," Peter says. "You could lock yourself in a room and send a thousand e-mails a day and 100,000 text messages, but you are not connected."

For one week, ban the use of cell phones, texting devices and PDAs in your home. The short texts you often receive from your kids may just turn into real conversations!
Peter Walsh's no electronics rule

Photo: © 2010 Jupiterimages Corporation

Rule 2: No Electronics
How many times have you found your family watching the same show in different rooms? Can you even count the number of fights your children have over who gets to use the computer next? "[Shift] the focus of the family, and particularly children, away from self-parenting, away from TV, away from passive entertainment," Peter says.

Give your family the gift of peace and quiet by banning all electronic devices for one week. Institute family game nights, nightly story time or a daily walk to the park. By the end of the week, your family will realize the greatest entertainment in life comes from spending time with one another.
Peter Walsh's healthy meals rule

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Rule 3: Prepare and Eat Healthy Meals Together
For families, no room in the home is more important than the kitchen. "The kitchen nourishes your family in so many ways," Peter says. "If your children are not receiving that nourishment—and not just the stuff into their mouths, but the stuff into their beings—if they are not getting that around the table, where are they being nourished?"

Stripping away the junk food and make healthy meals together is an instant way to reconnect. Try it for a week and you'll find that everyone in your family will feel better about themselves mind, body and soul.
Declutter your house as a family.

Photo: © 2010 Jupiterimages Corporation

Rule 4: Clean and Organize the House
Your home should be your sanctuary, and clutter does nothing but create tension and unrest in families. "If you're not connected to your home, if you are not connected to where you live, if your home doesn't bring you peace and calm and focus and harmony, where are you getting that from?" 

Organize your home by following these decluttering commandments:

1. Decide which rooms need the most help and talk about your visions for it.

2. Sort FAST:
Fix a time and stick to it. Haul out any item that fits in one of the following categories:
Anything you haven't used in a year
Stuff that doesn't belong

3. Organize the remaining items into zones. For example, in the living room, create separate areas for toys, DVDs or video game systems and don't let anything creep out from those dedicated spaces!

4. Create new rules to keep your space organized. For example, an item from the basement can never make it past the stairs to other levels in the house, or each time you get a new game, donate an old one.

Each room poses its own challenge, so use this room-by-room guide if you're feeling stuck.

Have too much clutter to tackle in one week? Accept Peter's Clean Up Your Messy House Challenge.
Peter Walsh's I love you rule

Photo: © 2010 Jupiterimages Corporation

Rule 5: You Must Hug and Say "I Love You" to Each Family Member at Least Once a Day
With so many other distractions in your life, you may be neglecting to do the one thing your family needs even more than the latest video game system or designer dress. Everyone needs love and affection, and here's your chance to let your family know how you really feel about them.

Under this rule, moms and dads have a special assignment—have a date night! "One night once a month is worth a hundred weeks of vacation at the end of the year," Peter says. "Once a month, reconnect."

New rules

Photo: © 2010 Jupiterimages Corporation

Rule 6: Create 6 New Stripped Down Rules at the End of the Week
This week may have been difficult, but it's also been eye-opening. Look back at what worked and what didn't. Continue to build upon the positive things that came out of the challenge by creating six new rules as a group and follow them for years to come.

You could limit cell phone use between certain hours at night or allow everyone only an hour of television a night. Continue having family dinners together or institute a weekly Sunday brunch blowout. Make Saturday mornings the time every person picks up the clutter they've let build up during the week, then reward everyone with a trip to the playground. Whatever rules you decide on, make sure they're in the best interest of every person in your home. "It's not magic," Peter says. "Spend time together. Be more active. Eat healthy. Avoid unhealthy foods and drinks, and you will start to transform your life in every way."

Peter's family challenge for overscheduled kids