It’s P.R.O.M. (purge, remove,organize, maintain) Time!

This is such an easy way to declutter your home. Bit by bit each and every day. If you don't love it, you don't need it!

No worries. I’m not suggesting you don a strapless turquoise-with-sequins number and dance wildly to We Are Family. Instead, I’m going to introduce you to a super-simple way to de-clutter your home.

P urge

R emove

O rganize

M aintain

Seriously. It’s that easy, and quite honestly, very therapeutic.

After you have maintained the Daily 7 for a Highly Successful Household for a few weeks, it’s time to  take stock of the junk lurking in your home. You really don’t need the 8-years-worth of Home Beautiful magazines, do you? Do you really need the torn jeans you haven’t worn since you were 16? How about the electric bills from 1993? And for goodness sakes, get rid of the old letters from that cute guy in science class.  They will cause more harm than good–trust me.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: If your kids don’t play with their toys, it’s not because they don’t have enough to play with. It’s because they HAVE TOO MUCH.  And they don’t even know what they have anymore. Start purging.


Purge. Grab a large plastic garbage bag, and go through quickly and just start tossing. If something is obvious garbage, get it out of your sight, and out of your house. There is no reason to save a random puzzle piece or a Barbie shoe. Just toss it. After your first pass through a room (or drawer, toy box, etc.) go back with another bag or bin for charity. If you have items that are no longer beneficial to your family, pass them along to someone who could truly need your give-aways. Do not give away  items that are badly worn, damaged, or missing parts. That’s not fair to anyone.


Remove. Once you have purged items, seal the bag or box up securely and do NOT look inside. Keep purged items away from children who will gladly rifle through cast-aways to discover lost treasure. Take garbage to the outdoor bin or to the local dump. Give still-useful items to charity. There are numerous organizations who will gladly accept your items. If your family would prefer to hold a garage sale, schedule one right away. Holding on to items for too long is just as bad as never purging in the first place. Craigslist and freecycle are your friends; use them.


O is for organize. Take the time to group like items together and put in storage containers that are sturdy, accessible, and attractive. These containers do NOT need to cost a lot of money, nor do they necessarily need to match. Your local dollar store has lots of baskets and containers that will do just fine for storage. When storing children’s items, label clearly on the outside of a solid container what is housed inside. When I ran preschool centers, I’d often take a photo of the toys, or cut a picture out of a catalog or magazine to help pre-readers identify what lived inside each box or bin.


Maintain. This is the hardest one, I know. We all have good intentions of keeping up with our newly-organized spaces, yet somehow life gets in the way sometimes. It’s okay. If you take the time to think about each and every purchase you make, or item that comes into your home, you will not get overwhelmed. Let well-meaning relatives know that although buying large stuffed animals for gifts can pack a momentary punch, a gift-certificate to the local museum or zoo is a much more useful gift. Take back your home—-when your home feels cluttered, your brain feels cluttered and you’re more apt to anxiety, depression, and a quick-temper.

You can’t expect your house to look like a magazine or design catalog, but  you can expect children (and spouses!) to clean up after themselves.


If you are interested in reading all about my Clean Less, Play More approach, you can, here:

Clean Less, Play More

Learn the Exact Strategies I use to Keep My House and My Family Running Smoothly

(without losing my marbles) by downloading this free cheat sheet for moms. Enjoy!





  1. I PROM all the time! I just didn’t realize there was a name for it. Adding that you are now officially my hero. I was entranced with your crockpot endeaver, and now the book and this site. You are amazing.

  2. I am a purger!! I just can’t believe how much “stuff” we accumulate! It seems like I am constantly getting rid of stuff. It definitely makes me think twice before I purchase new items!

  3. I am so glad you explained this. I saw this on the front page and thought “Why is it time for Premature Rupture Of Membranes?”

    What can I say…I’m at 32 weeks…I’ve got pregnancy complications on the brain.

  4. Ha! That was exactly what I was thinking of, too! I’ve already been *that* kind of PROM queen, this looks like it will be more fun, and quite doable.

  5. Oh, the purging! One source of inspiration might be to call & get a ‘free’ estimate for how much it would cost to move your stuff. Get rid of everything you wouldn’t be willing to pay to move. I got rid of tons of stuff when we moved cross country. although the move was reimbursed by my husband’s employer, we still had to pay up front. Suddenly, a lot of stuff that I’d self-moved multiple times already mattered not at all to me.

    Or, divide your mortgge/rent by the square footage of your house. When you look at a pile of stuff, consider if it’s worth the value of the space it’s taking up. Overseas moves are done by volume, not by weight, so when we later moved to the UK, V lot more stuff went.

    Finally, if the R part of PROM is what holds you up, if you find the boxes & bags of P stuff building up, if there is stuff to get rid of that won’t fit in your vehicle, if you are grossed out by the thought of going to the dump: call 1-800-got junk.

    Yes, you do have to pay them to take your stuff away. But then, it’s gone. What do they do with it? They sort through it. They donate the donatable, recycle the recyclable, they sell the sellable and finally, they go to the dump with the rest so you don’t have to. They pay the dumping fees. On our overseas move, we had a lot of furnishings & stuff that met the wouldn’t fit in our car or eeeew, the dump! criteria. I spotted one of their trucks, called the number & was well pleased to have them come & take it all off my hands. My to-do list suddenly got much shorter with one short visit from their truck.

  6. Been a fan for several months now Stephanie, you had me at your crockpot blog!

    I had to chuckle with the comment about the “living in a museum” as I work for a museum. (within education though) I really need to take your PROM approach to our children’s programming closet. I do a pretty good job of Purging, but removing is a little harder. Yet every time I do throw away those extra 500 straws that we haven’t used in two years but might use for a craft activity later, I then end up needing them 2 months later!

    If only you knew how many dust bunnies their really are in museums. Gah! It’s not easy to get cobwebs out of a dinosaur’s teeth ya know! 🙂

  7. I agree! Every time I see some cute home dec item, I think – where is it going to go. Really. Where will it go that it will stand out. Do I really need MORE fall decorations this year? Yeah, that’s a great price on beach towels, but we already have 8 for four people.

    I am trying very hard to curb my fabric and bead buying habits (I’m a quilter and beads are like candy). If I bring it into the house, I have to put it somewhere … and I already have a bunch of purged items in boxes that have still not made it to the donation places!

    Thank you for the PROM inspiration. Purging, here I come!

  8. Thank you for this post! I especially appreciated this line :

    “Take back your home—-when your home feels cluttered, your brain feels cluttered and you’re more apt to anxiety, depression, and a quick-temper.”

    What I have been thinking is post-partum lately (youngest just turned 1) is actually probably just an overcluttered, disorganized home. I am motivated now to tackle this problem and TAKE BACK MY HOME!

    I also agree with the family adding to the problems. I recently told my mother, who is always encouraging me to get rid of things, that she is an ENABLER. Everytime she comes over she has a bag, stack or box of things for me! Arr!

  9. I have to say I completely disagree about throwing away the random part of sets, like puzzle pieces, just because they’re laying about. When I purge, I set these things aside in a pile. Then, when I’m putting away those sets we’re keeping (or put in the donate pile appropriate items) I add the missing pieces to their sets.

    What sense does it make to toss a puzzle piece when, later, you’ll find you own a puzzle that is now frustrating because that ONE piece you TOSSED is missing?!

    Set aside. If you don’t have the set anymore, THEN toss the piece.

  10. OMG! You are totally talking about me here…. I know i am even more pathetic than others because this is me and i dont even have any kids yet. My house seems like it is a disaster and all it is, is clutter. 🙁 I find myself depressed and anxious when i walk into my home all the time. I just cant get a head and there is absolutely no motivation in me most days even though i know it needs to be done and i will feel better.

    I have started thinking more about my purchases before i buy them, and feel that your totally together book is probably what i need most. Like you said i need to be TOLD what to do. Even though i would never admit that to my mom. LOL!

  11. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this excellent blog! I guess for now i’ll
    settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to fresh updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group.

  12. I swear if I had time to do this it would be great. I work a full time job there are no kids at home and my place is small it just seems as if my house is always dirty no matter what I do and the last thing I want to do at 11 at night when I get off work is come home and clean and omg dont get me started about my doing it on my days off since I dont have consecutive days off I have thursdays and sundays off I dont have time those days to im always running here and there lol if you have ideas on how to manage my life and start telling people no I cant help them then maybe my house will get clean. Love you blog I check every day to see if there is anything new keep em coming.

  13. Hi Carrie,
    That is a toughie — I know. I do have a post on saying NO that might be helpful —
    and just remember that no rewards are doled out for having the cleanest house. There is no right or wrong way, just so you feel calm and in control. Having clutter around bothers me and it bothers a lot of people, but if it doesn’t bother you, and you feel calm and content when in your home you are doing just fine. Lots of love to you— steph

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