In Search of a Twaddle Free Childhood

In Search of a Twaddle Free Childhood 1

It was almost Christmas in 2008.

While shopping at our local Meijer (there was only one in our town back then), I saw 2 big display boxes “A Library of Classics.” There weren’t any tags, nothing indicating price.

I grabbed both. The two of them filled my entire cart.

One for my little 1 year old (and baby bump) at the time, and one for my best friend and her little 1 year old and newborn.

I felt like I had found a secret treasure, a diamond in the rough.

The customer service attendant couldn’t find a price in their database, and the department attendant hadn’t heard of the boxed library – so together they made up a low price and I bought both.

I left feeling unbridled glee.

My friend and I had already been talking about our desires to home educate – I was clearly overeager and all in a rush to get started.

I went straight to my friend’s house to deliver her half of the bounty – and she simply asked: are these the abridged versions?

What’s an abridged version?

I had no idea. 

And I’m sad to say that I continued in this rush to buy all the books that had a glimmer of value. I didn’t take time at this early age to follow book lists or research quality literature.

Some of the best books we read during this season before any curricula entered the scene were gifts, literally.

Guided by my own senses – I looked for “good deals” and “great teaching tools” which lead me straight to all the twaddle.

Twaddle. It seems like such a silly word. For me, it conjures up the image of a duck.

It also carries the impression of getting lost or movement that is wobbly and unreliable.

It is a good word to describe items that are fluff from popular culture; trinkets that are only interesting for a few moments and then get added to the Great Mountain of Stuff.

I’ve been setting my mind to understand and distill the twaddle in our home. I know I must take ownership of the ways I’m tempted to bring twaddle in with me from the world – great deals, good intentions, and buying all the things – but my children are also engaged in their own bent toward twaddle.

Twaddle is not the word I want to use in describing my child’s experience with life, and it is definitely not how I want our home education to be defined.

But just as I have to battle the tide of clutter coming into the home by my own design, I must battle the tide of twaddle coming in from my child’s design.

I know that Charlotte Mason is most credited for using the term twaddle and it is primarily understood in contrast to her recommendation of reading only “living books.” So it’s natural to assume that to be twaddle free one must discern the items that go onto the bookshelf.

There is so much more to being twaddle free than just not owning comic books and other “junk-food” type books.

In Search of a Twaddle Free Childhood 2

I have ignored the presence of twaddle coming in from the library for a while now, and here I am wondering if this twaddle-reading is leading to twaddle-living.

I’m going to do an experiment and seek to remove all twaddle.

I’m on a mission to simplify, fortify, and enrich our environment. This is the good work of a home educating mother.

Starting by removing all the things that I have contributed to the Mountain of Stuff (currently living in our garage – 6 boxes labelled “Kids: Games, Puzzles, Books”). And then, like a bandaid, removing all the library twaddle.

I don’t want to take the mentality of a victim when it comes to what my child likes to read and wants to buy.

I have noticed my daughter’s distinct reactions to classics verses twaddle:

  1. After a rich diet of whole books, she creates and rides the magical tide of imagination.
  2. But after a diet of junk-food-books, she just wants more.

And at first I praised the second! More reading is more reading. And more reading is good.


Not always. My suspicions are becoming reality that twaddle-reading turns into twaddle-living.

And by that I mean: she’s forgoing playing outside to playing inside (in the summer!), an insatiable desire to watch more PBS Kids (don’t get me wrong, I love PBS Kids – best shows for kids in my opinion), and lower spirits.

Just like you are what you eat – I believe you are what you read. Or you begin to resemble it at least.

So, I’m on a new and passionate hunt for the best books. I’m digging through some of my favorite book lists, and I’ll be sharing what I find here.

I’ll share how the experiment goes too.

Further Reading:

  • How to deal with twaddle in your homeschool :: – I agree with a lot of this, but at this point I am not taking on the 80/20. Maybe that will be the future compromise as we see fruit and nourishment from the best take root first.
  • What is Twaddle? :: – There was a fun contest in the comments for this post, but it was originally written at least 5 years ago.
  • Who is Charlotte Mason and what was her educational style? Read the post I wrote about her here.

What I’m reading to fuel this desire to be twaddle free:


Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

#Back2School in #31Days: Day 7 – Let’s talk stuff.

B2S Day 7 Stuff 1

Before we packed for our move, I knew we were going to be staying with my parents for a while. My mindset for what we brought while us was: pack only the essentials, less is less.

Less to clean, less to manage, and less to maintain.

I was already reading these two books: The Money Saving Mom’s Budget and Organized Simplicity. They both agree that a life of peace and purpose is a life that has removed the clutter and tamed the stuff.

While boxing up our whole home last year, we got rid of a lot of extra stuff. And then we lived without 80% of what we kept for an entire year.

Some of it we missed and looked forward to using again someday, but a lot of it was forgotten and no longer needed.

I learned a lot more about simplifying while away from all the stuff we had boxed up. As we unpack, I am finding it very easy to remove, reorganize, and remember that we truly need less than all we have.

Back2School Logo

This day #Back2School in #31Days has taken me more than just 1 day, but I’m sure it could have been done faster – I’m just a very slow processor.

Here’s my plan:

Go through everything I’m “saving for later” – furniture (desks, felt board, baskets), resources (books, curricula, etc.), toys and separate into 3 categories:

  • Will use for younger children later (store)
  • Useful but not for us (sell or donate)
  • No longer useful (trash)

I have to be very strict on myself when deciding what get’s labeled “will use for younger children later.”

My kids helped!

My kids helped!

Remember my mental issue with the water bottle for my daughter? Right. I tend to equate love with buying all-the-things. I feel through gifts, stuff, and treasures. (I’m actually a lot like my trinket loving girl.)

I have been doing a lot of positive self-talk to help myself get over some of the seriously ridiculous connections with stuff that I’ve had. And it’s been so much better.

To be stored are:

B2S Day 7 Stuff 5

Useful but not for us (sell or donate):

  • Play Dough set – I almost kept this, but I had to face it – play dough drives me crazy. It had to go.
  • All extra puzzles
  • Books that are good but not favorites (50+ of these!)
  • Games that were played with less than 5 times
Explaining to my son that a torn shoebox that once was a marble game isn't worth keeping - it's time to recycle.

Explaining to my son that a torn shoebox that once was a marble game isn’t worth keeping – it’s time to recycle.

No longer useful:

  • Anything broken – there’s an exception for this one: if you know someone who would really enjoy it and they would be able to fix it, then by all means, give it away instead of trashing it.
  • Toys, puzzles, games, etc with missing pieces
  • Notebooks full of doodles – My rule for keeping memories is one notebook per stage. I have one kid who will fill a notebook per week, and I make it a point to save these treasures for later – but I simply can’t store them all.

A great friend of mine taught me something simple in nature but life changing in application in the cleaning product aisle of Meijer one day.

She said something like:

Only keep the stuff that gives you an immediate desire to use it. When you lose interest in it, get rid of it. Chances are, if it is a household item, book, game, item of clothing, etc – it’s replaceable. Don’t store something with only “good intentions” attached to it like – I’ll get around to learning to knit someday, I’ll use that vegetable steamer someday (where did the instruction booklet go?), or I’ll keep this dress just in case I’m ever invited to a retro-prom-dress themed party. The moment you have the desire to use something or learn something new – that’s the moment to give the item a home and use it. Once it’s lost your attention, it’s lost the reason you had for having it. It’s time to get rid of it.

So here’s my secret to this day that has allowed me to heal from past hoarding issues and take major steps forward and feel good about it: making this list. Either before the process of decluttering or while taking a break from it – make a list of what is allowed to be stored. Thinking this through while not looking at the hidden treasure in box #103 gives me a clear mind and allows for an unbiased decision.

And when I stumble upon something sentimental that I truly don’t want or need, but comes tied in memory strings – I take a picture of it and say goodbye, and thank God for the good gifts that He has given in remembering.

The frame we bought in Mexico on our honeymoon. This picture is enough evidence of that memory.

The frame we bought in Mexico on our honeymoon. This picture is enough evidence of that memory.

Keep only the great stuff. If you need help deciding what the great stuff is, ask someone you trust to help you. I read books, listened to podcasts, and watched TED talks which all helped me get into a new mentality – essentially, my thinking has changed.

Thinking leads to acting which leads to feeling. This is the right progression. When I put my feelings first, I usually make bad decisions.

One last point on stuff, especially kids’ stuff: become an expert at spotting interest. Whatever keeps one of my child’s interest for more than 10 minutes is good, if it keeps their interest for an hour that’s better, and if it keeps their interest and they go back to it for days that’s the best.

This is a great twaddle-free book. Keeper!

This is a great twaddle-free book. Keeper!

The items aren’t always the toys, games, and books that I love or want them to be interested in which is why I have to put my feelings last.

I hope this day has helped you and encouraged you to go through that old stuff and make room for interest! I know it has helped me to write about it – it meant I had to do it!

Further reading:

This is Day 7 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.


Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

From 900 square feet to 2 bedrooms {How To Simplify}

How to Simplify

Sometimes, less is less.

And when it is, hearing the slogan “Less is More” triggers my gag reflex.

I googled “simplify” and the results were math links. Fractions. Numbers. Calculations.

I searched “simplify” on Pinterest and the results were hundreds of quotes. Talk. Advice. Philosophy. (You can see my search here.)

So what do you do when life and space need to make logical and emotional sense? You combine the two forces.

You simplify.

I’m proof that it can be done. We sold our 900 square feet, two-bedroom home back in the summer. As a temporary solution to our homelessness, we moved into my parents’ home.

Let’s stop and do the math (because to simplify there are facts and decisions to make). 5 people going from 900 to roughly 240 square feet. With 2 major goals: #1 don’t cause my parents to hate us and #2 still love one another. And I think how we’re living still makes sense.

So here’s my 10 Tips for How-To Simplify (and stay that way):

  1. Remember it’s the “who’s” that matter most, not the “what’s.”
  2. Know what really matters to them. What makes the people in your family feel alive? What do they get up talking about? Keep those things. If you aren’t sure what these things are, then please don’t start this process. Take the time to invest in this step.
  3. Read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage – Why these and not other “How To Simplify” books? Because at the heart of simplifying is sacrifice. A step-by-step guide, while helpful in most seasons, can feel too demanding if you’re in the middle of a major life change. Whereas the books above are stories of sacrifice and the simplicity that comes from real honest work.
  4. Think in the here and now. Don’t try to problem solve “what-if” situations. Pack, declutter, get rid of what you don’t need now. Second guessing is sabotage.
  5. Ask for help. I found my help in the form of books, but if you’re really wrestling to make a decision then ask someone you trust to do it with you.
  6. Prioritize. I needed to be able to homeschool my children in our temporary space, which meant that it was an automatic “no” to other things that would compete for homeschooling supplies.
  7. Work hard and build up momentum. If you want to get a lot done, then you have to work hard and fast. The time to sit and think was on step #2, now is the time to just keep going. When you see the progress, it will be worth all the effort.
  8. Make it a regular routine to review these steps. Peace and order require maintenance. Schedule simplifying into your Google Calendar – mine is set for 8:30am every Saturday morning.
  9. Stop and rest. Take regular breaks and learn to breathe deeply. Feed yourself well.
  10. Finally, don’t go to Target. Please learn from my mistakes. I finally realized that when I’m going through a major season of sacrifice and change – I cannot handle going to Target (or any store that carries more than just food). I always end up spending more than I had budgeted, and it wasn’t healthy.

With kids underfoot, it can feel like a move or temporary living situation is going to ruin them. My 7 year old has moved 7 times. So believe me when I say that I have felt like life has been too complicated or too much work. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Since becoming my kids’ safe place there have been less chaos and more calm. My kids know their needs will be met, and we enjoy everyday life.

Less is less. And that’s okay with me. Less stuff means less clean up, less clutter, less baggage.

Upstream Field Guide

Upstream is a self-paced e-course by the talented Tsh Oxenreider of and The Simple Show (she's also the author of 3 lovely books). I'm an affiliate for this course and the links underlined in this post are affiliate links as well. Thanks!