Trying to Live by Our Own Set of Rules

Gingerbread HouseWe had to make a new rule at The Little House last weekend. Nothing gets thrown on the kitchen chairs or on the kitchen table unless we want it thrown away.

Ok, so that’s a little extreme, but the mess that had built up on the table, which is the place we seem to toss everything we don’t want to deal with, had become extreme.

My cousin called on Sunday to say she was stopping by before heading back to the city and I had yet to clean off the week’s worth of mail that magically built up on the table. As well, Dale had clothes thrown over the back of the chairs, and the place looked messy.

I had to whirl around like a dervish trying to get everything in order before company arrived. At least that got done, so I could put my cute little gingerbread house out on the table (pictured above).

Picking up everyday isn’t a new rule, but threatening to throw anything out that hits the table is, and it was just as much for me as it’s my job to deal with all the incoming mail.

Mail is the bane of our existence at The Little House and if I get busy, I am guilty of just throwing it on the table.

I’ve managed to stop some of the junk mail by going to Catalog Choice, registering and then updating our opt out option each time we get a new one I do not want nor need.

However, ‘tis the season, it seems, to hear from places I’ve never heard of (nor wanted to) and I’ve gotten at least a dozen new ones I’ve had to add to the list at Catalog Choice.

That’s irritating enough, because it takes my time to enter the catalogs, rip the mailing labels off for shredding and it also takes up more space in the recycle pile in the garage.

What’s even more irritating is getting junk mail for my deceased parents. My mom was a catalog maven, she didn’t drive, so did most of her shopping by mail, and I’m still removing her name from lists each month trying to stop the onslaught of junk mail that followed her name to our address.

If that isn’t bad enough, I’ve just recently started receiving junk mail for my father – who has been dead now for over 28 years!
Last week, I received a pre-approved life insurance offer for him. The outside of the envelope read, “Mr. Frank Fivecoat, this is the second chance you’ve been waiting for!”

Dale and I laughed so hard, I almost wet my pants, musing how my dad must have qualified for such a second chance. We also wondered if they would let us fill out the “pre-approved” application, make one premium and then claim the insurance. (This might seem morbid to some of you, but after nearly 30 years, the loss is no longer raw and I know my dad would have found it funny).

Still, I had to deal with the junk, so I called the company to get his name removed from the list. The nice gentleman there didn’t know how my father magically started appearing on these lists once again, but he also suggested that I contact The Direct Marketing Association, where I can have our names removed from credit card offers and also register my parents on the “deceased” list. It took up more of my time, but I hope, in the long run, it helps stop some of these “offers” we receive.

Now, if I can just get Dale to quit throwing his jackets and shirts over the chairs…..

Do you have any “tricks” to get your family to help you keep your house clutter free?

Stay tuned on Friday for another giveaway…

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28 Responses

  1. I try to swing through the house either before bed or while the dogs are eating breakfast in the morning to straighten up a bit.

    Tom does have a habit of stacking things, on the kitchen table (and elsewhere), but I do pick my battles. His piles are pretty much his piles.

    Now … if I could get him to stop leaving apple cores, banana peels, etc around the house … *that* would be a feat. They’re known as “fruit droppings.”

    • kerri says:

      Fruit droppings, that IS funny! 🙂
      I’ve started going through the house while the dogs are eating in the morning, that is really a good idea.

  2. T Walker says:

    Just finished the Mother Earth News article….concerning your “little” house and was impressed. My wife and I live in Florida but envy your arrangements there in the Ozarks. If we ever get the chance we would surely like to be your next door neighbors LOL…..Thanks for the info….TOM

    • kerri says:

      Thanks for finding Living Large, Tom! If you can’t become our neighbors for awhile here in the Ozarks, you can at least visit virtually! 🙂 Hopefully, you’ll be regular guests.

  3. MarthaandMe says:

    Once a week everyone has to pick up their stuff so the house can be cleaned. I’ve found that years of doing this trained them to not make such big messes.

  4. Alexandra says:

    I loved the idea of you whirling around like a dervish, which is what I do as well under the same circumstances!

    Here’s my deceased mom’s “trick”: push all the junk under the couch when someone drops by before opening the door!

  5. Jenna says:

    I’m always the one that checks the mail. I have my trash and recycling bins on my carport. When I get the mail I go straight to the trash and recycling bins. I sort through the mail right there. Anything recyclable that I won’t be keeping goes in immediately. Anything that my community won’t recycle and that I don’t want to keep goes immediately to the trash. The junk doesn’t even make it through the door!

    As for the general messes I would take something that was left where it didn’t belong and hide it. When they’d go looking for it I would ask, “Where did you leave it?” When they would say where it was I’d ask, “Did it belong there?” When they’d answer no I’m just say, “Hmmmm….” After they were quite frantic and upset over its loss for some time I’d pull it out and give it to them and tell them to NOT leave it out next time. If they didn’t miss it after a month it went to the thrift store. After awhile they got the hint.

    Another thing that I found worked really good is to call the offending family member to the scene of the crime. I’d calmly explain that they could either pick it up and put it away properly OR they could listen to me nag them to death and then do it anyway. It was their choice. The trick to this is to stay calm and maintain firm eye contact. They’ll look you directly in the eyes and try to determine if you are serious or not. 9 times out of 10 they’ll realize you are serious and they’ll pick it up without further delay. Occasionally someone will decide to test your limits and you’ll have to dog their every step and nag them incessantly until they do it. Its annoying and irritating to have to do but they quickly get the idea.

    BTW, I linked your blog to mine. I love your articles!

  6. Amy says:

    We have a toss and hide basket. Our place is basicly one room I didn’t like the idea of people coming to visit and having to look at our bed (even though we do make it every day) so I installed curtains to hide the bed that we close when we want/need to. Everything that doesn’t belong wherever it is gets tossed into this basket and when company comes the basket gets put on the bed behind the curtain the rule then is we have to empty the basket before we can go to bed.

  7. Heather says:

    I love your little house. Anything tiny and cute appeals to me. I have a battle with junk mail as well as I am visually OCD in that anything out of sorts to my eyes bugs me 🙂 If it was me, I would take the mail directly to my office/studio rather than into the house. Then I could deal with it in an “office” setting. You could have little bins to sort the stuff into (or one big garbage can), then it would not be cluttering up the house. I am in a city and we get the junk flyers twice a week. As soon as I have purged one lot, another appears. This time of year is relentless. I work at home too so I know how these things suck your time away. We are still getting junk mail from the previous owners from 3 years ago.

    Take care and have a blessed Christmas.

    • Kerri says:

      Excellent idea, Heather. Dale usually bring the mail in when he comes (the mailbox is 2 miles away on the blacktop) and he stopped by the office the other night and dropped off the mail. Such a good idea.
      Thanks, and you have a wonderful Christmas as well!

      • I’ve been sorting through old junk mail and official paperwork, trying to make some sense of it all.

        One system that seems to be doing fine so far is to separate recyclables from personal/business mail. I shred the personal stuff and use it for fire starter in our fireplace or outside in our fire pit, and pitch the recyclables (magazines, etc.) into a paper sack for the weekly pick up.

        So far…so good!

  8. Great links! I was unaware of Catalog Choice.

    The life insurance on your dad is hilarious. It sounds a bit like the AARP mail I’ve been getting ever since I turned 34. I don’t know where some of these people get their information, but they waste a lot of money sending out stuff to ineligible people.

    • Kerri says:

      Catalog Choice is awesome, and I believe it is one of the many great things I learned from Jodi Helmer’s “The Green Year.”
      You’re right about these direct marketers, no wonder the average ROR on direct mail marketing is less than 1 percent!

    • Sarah says:

      I’m glad to hear I’m not the only 30 something who gets mail regularly from AARP! I’ve been trying to get off their lists since I was 32 and they’ve followed me through 3 different addresses with no letup even though I called numerous times!

  9. RowdyKittens says:

    We had a bad habit of throwing our junk on the coffee table and it created such a mess.

    One strategy that’s worked for us is making sure everything has a home, including junk mail. As soon as it enters our house the junk goes into the recycling container. 🙂

    • Kerri says:

      Mine would too, but Dale insists all of the mailing labels be shredded. Sometimes, at the end of the day, that seems like such a HUGE task in the moment.

  10. Kathleen Winn says:

    When you’ve been married almost thirty years, you learn to pick your battles, so I try to only pester David about the things that really get me annoyed. One of them is sitting dishes on the counter or in the sink instead of putting them in the dishwasher. I mean, seriously, it takes maybe a second longer to put them in the dishwasher.

    I finally decided he was just being passive aggressive in ignoring my requests to put his dishes away, and decided to respond with aggressive aggression. I started taking dishes and cups that he left all over the counter, and putting them on his computer desk, sometimes right on top of stacks of paper and even placing a plate gently on top of his keyboard. Suffice it to say that he now puts dishes in the dishwasher! Haha!

    • Kerri says:

      OMG, Kathy, that is SO funny! 🙂

    • Kim says:

      I had a roommate just after college that pulled this stunt… she’d ID the transgressor and then leave the dirty dishes on our beds.

      Pissed us off to no end, but we quickly learned to just take care of our dishes to avoid the argument.

      (My husband and I are both procrastinators in the dish department lately… we could use her personality type around here to whip us back into shape.)

  11. kerri says:

    Thanks, Mary! I do a lot of nagging, too! 🙂

  12. The only trick I know is nagging, or I just do the picking up myself to save on my nerves. I like your floor plans.