The most surprising thing about decluttering…

Before and after shots of our front room (now renamed, grandly, The Library). If only I could get the rest of my house to look like this. (Photos: Shala Howell)

Before and after shots of our front room (now renamed, grandly, The Library). (Photos: Shala Howell)

Is not how many miles it is possible to walk in one’s own home (if my pedometer is to be believed, 3.06 miles per day on average) or the fact that having a place to put all of her toys inspires The Six-Year-Old to put them back without being asked, but rather how much less interested The Six-Year-Old is in TV now that the Toy Rapture has happened.

By donating all the too-young-for-her toys and storing all the too-old-for-her ones, I appear to have achieved Peak Toy Interest for The Six-Year-Old.

It used to be from the moment she walked into the house after school (or woke up in the morning on weekends), The Six-Year-Old clamored for TV every 1 to 10 minutes until 5 p.m. (the hour at which TV is finally allowed). Now she heads straight for the playroom and busies herself with something or other for hours. A few times she’s even glanced at the clock, noticed it’s six, and instead of asking for TV asked me if it was dinnertime yet.

I know. This shouldn’t be a major revelation, but it is.

One more because this one gives you a better feel for what it's like to spend time in the room. And because, you know, it's my blog and three generations of my family have dedicated weeks to working on this room. (Photo: Shala Howell)

One more because this one gives you a better feel for what it’s like to spend time in The Library (aka my writing spot). And because, you know, it’s my blog and three generations of my family have dedicated weeks to decluttering this one room, so I think a few oohs and aahs are called for. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Clearly a minimalist lifestyle is not in the cards for me. The number of books at Caterpickles Central alone precludes it. However, I can aspire to a house in which everything has both a place and an immediate function, and all the “I may use that sometime” items make their way to a respectable veteran’s group for more timely use by someone else.

(Have I mentioned lately how much I love the fact that you can use to arrange to have charities like the Vietnam Veterans of America, Habitat for Humanity, and Goodwill pick up massive donations from your front porch for free? I’ve been having these guys out every week lately, and my house is a much nicer place to live because of it.)

Related links:

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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8 Responses to The most surprising thing about decluttering…

  1. Sheila says:

    It looks wonderful, Shala; and I cannot help noticing that getting that person out of the before picture really did help declutter!
    Love, Mom


  2. Pingback: Not-So-Very-Wordless Wednesday: The Six-Year-Old Gets a Planner | CATERPICKLES

  3. Wow, looks great! What an inspiring writing spot! And I had no idea about, very cool. I’ll be contacting them soon!


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  6. Pingback: Breaking News: The Caterpickles library is no longer sorted by color | CATERPICKLES

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