Book Review ~ Absolutely Organize Your Family by Debbie Lillard

The full title of this book is…

Absolutely Organize Your Family

Simple Solutions to Control Clutter, Schedules and Spaces

…now isn’t that a mouthful. And aptly titled at that as this book is full of simple easy to understand common sense solutions to clutter control in the home. The main focus is on organising life around the little people in your life. And as we all know “happy mother happy family” right so if the kids are organised life runs pretty smoothly for Mom.

Personally I found the information far too rudimentary but this is probably because I have been there done that and now my kids are grown. But for anyone who is feeling like they need a little help in this area perhaps this book will have the simple solutions you are looking for.

I did find this passage about memorabilia very true…

“You have to be reasonable about what you keep. It’s often said that the key to organising is making decisions. I completely agree with this statement and have seen it demonstrated with many of my clients. The people with the most clutter and the most old stuff can’t seem to make a decision to let go of the past.

I also applauded the idea that the author recommended involving the children in the decision making process. Children have individual needs and thought processes on what makes organisational sense to them. If you insist on them conforming to your way of setting their stuff up without allowing any input from them there is a good chance the system is going to break down quickly and order will not be maintained. They also deserve a say in what stays, what goes and when where there stuff is concerned.

Topics covered in this book range from finding solutions to the after school drop off point to keeping their art work under control, keeping their wardrobes decluttered on a continuous basis and even schedule planning for after school activities. So if you are struggling with any of these areas or others I haven’t mentioned why not see if you can find a copy of this book in your local library or maybe you could pick up a digital copy for your e-reader.

I would like to mention that this book was kindly supplied to me by one of my local readers Elaine Inwood who runs her own book distribution company called Capricorn Link ~ Books for better living. Thank you Elaine.

Now that I have read the book and written the review I will be decluttering it so someone else can enjoy it. I did promise it to a reader some weeks back and for the life of me I can’t remember who that was except that it was someone from Australia. So if you see this and know that someone was you please send me a quick email so I know who you were. It will be donated to my local library if not claimed.

Today’s Declutter Item

These were the first jewellery making tools I bought some years back and not very good ones were they. I have since replaced them with better quality ones. They are however good enough to do the odd quick jewellery repair at the thrift store. So that I where they are now.

Old Craft Tools

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I personally like Peter Walsh’s book called “It’s All Too Much”. I didn’t like Lessons in Letting Go by Corrine Grant. I have read a lot of books about decluttering and I figure if it motivates me to get up and do something, then it was worth taking some time to read it. There aren’t a lot of new ideas out there, but I read them for motivation and variety I haven’t read Peter Walsh’s book called Lighten Up yet. Maybe that will be next on the list!

    • Hi Spendwisemom,
      Peter Walsh’s book Lighten Up was great while Corrine Grant’s I enjoyed for the story. At the time I had been reading far too many declutter self help information and just need the light approach that Corrine’s book offered. The book for today’s review I personally found tedious but that is, like I said, because most of it wasn’t relevant to me so it didn’t keep me captivated. For people new to decluttering with young kids it would be quite helpful I think. Even if a person only picks up one really good tip it is worth the read. It might just be the tip they needed.

  2. The thrift store must bless the day you walked through their doors and volunteered Colleen.

  3. I read one of Peter Walsh’s books, but it was about money/finances, which didn’t really hit the niche I was looking for. I don’t much like Corrine Grant on TV, so I’m not sure I’d like her book – but it take many types to make the world go around, it wouldn’t be very interesting if we all liked the same things!

    Wasn’t me you promised it to (process of elimination and all!)

  4. Hi all I need to have a ‘brag moment’,

    Since Christmas we have decided to move and in that time whilst deciding on what to pack I have eliminated the following by way of re-cycling, donation, sale or trashed!

    559 scrapbooking items, 73 pcs clothing, 6 cushions, 2 doonas, 3 Q/C sets, 7 asst. sheet sets, 8 towels, 11 board games, 51 dvd’s & videos, 18 PS games, 17 prs of shoes (from us all) 108 Christmas items (decs etc), 28 music cd’s, 38 school related books, 24 teaching/tutoring manuals, 2 boxes tax stuff, 21 computer related clutter items, 134 Dance costumes, 7 prs dance shoes, 14 dance hats/headpieces, 18 cd singles of dance comp routines, 84 asst. kitchen items (cutlery, crockery, glass)
    18 drops of curtains, I aint having curtains no more!!!! 2 mob phs, 4 mob ph chargers What the???? 2 cameras, 5 handbags, 5 beach towels, 72 asst. fiction books, 1 tape deck hhmmmm!!! (found in garage by accident, the garage gets a going over again this weekend) 1 portable CD player (no longer needed) 31 asst. garden ornament things!!! 1 video/dvd player (died) + the 78 items referred to in my Christmas ditty, that gives me a grand total of TA DA!!!!
    1453 1453 1453 1453 1453 1453 1453 1453 1453 1453 1453 1453
    hang on I’m sure I’ve got steak knives somewhere, yep missed them they are in the Salvo bag to go that’s 1459! I’m gonna chuck my pen too cos it’s scratchy so now that’s 1460 items that have left our lives in one way or another. During this purge the only thing that came into the house was a beautiful jarrah coffee table (2nd hand and free) to put our sons chess set on, the men in my life love chess so now it is always accessible to play whenever!

    NB: None of the above was in view or in the way, it was all neatly packed and stored in their appropriate places, man you should see my house now, chunks of space everywhere hahaha.

    As for the books, didn’t really rave about the one up top but Love Love Love Peter Walshs’ books but my all time fave is Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston, even if you’re not into Feng Shui the book is still pure common sense, definitely worth a read! and re-read!

    I’m sure as I go along I’ll have more to fling but for now I feel really ‘LITE’
    Cheers everyone, have a beautiful clutter-free day, I AM!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • WOW Dizzy. That’s impressive! Sometimes I wish we could move just so I could get rid of stuff…it would force me to and I wouldn’t be so wishy washy about it…

      • I know what you mean dear Lady but I have been de-cluttering for quite a while and I have been in this house for nearly six years so It just goes to show that it is never done completely.

        I am absolutely positive that I will find more to get rid of, pass on etc as I get down to the deadline of moving day!

        Have a lovely day 🙂

        • Dizzy, that is incredible! Good job. What I liked most was that you decluttered things that were ‘neatly packed and stored-. That’s hard-core decluttering!

    • Wow Dizzy and here I was thinking you were already mostly decluttered. Well you sure as heck should be now. I am going to publish a post along the lines of moving into smaller home next week. So stay tuned.

      • Well obviously I wasn’t as de-cluttered as I thought I was hahaha. Although I do believe if we weren’t a sporty, dancing, reading and game playing family and we all slept standing up and never wore shoes, I’d have nothing to do hahaha!!

        It felt sooooo goooood to pass it all along. Aiming to transport as little as possible seeing as we don’t know where the hell we might end up!

        Enjoy your day 🙂

        • Dizzy,
          Have you found a new place yet? Funny when you think that most of that stuff comes from, pastimes, dressing and sleeping. Oh how it adds up. I think I could probably find 559 craft items too sadly enough. You and Lena have sure inspired me to try this week, and there are already about 50 sheets of paper sitting on my dest to go. So thanks for that. I think I have been kidding myself on how decluttered we are too. More about that next week as I said, but let me say that I have new eyes since looking at a smaller apartment yesterday. I am excited about downsizing though.

          • Hi Colleen,

            We have not found a place yet but we are looking everywhere, It’s actually quite fun, I especially like the fact that I know what we all want so that really narrows it down for us, the other thing that tickles me at the moment is the amount of stuff I’m seeing in houses. I’m sure when prospective buyers walk through mine they must think we were robbed or we’ve half moved out haha. I will admit though when I go into a house to view I can look past their gear but I feel heavy and sluggish as I move through the space. Weird eh!

            As for my scrap items, I donated them to a teacher friend who helps disabled children, I wasn’t going to get around to doing anything with it all but I’m sure her bunch of beautiful artists will. I felt guilty about the cost of it all and then I said to myself that I had bought it all for these kids, then I didn’t feel so bad.

            I don’t think I’ll ever really be ‘finished’, I’m almost positive that things will keep surfacing and then all the natural decluttering will take care of the rest. I love the echoes in the house, except when a door slams!

            Downsizing is definitely exciting, we downsized by building this house and it was great but now that we have a karri tree walking around and sprawling about we need a bit more space for him, just wish I could get him to sleep standing up hahaha.

            • Hi Dizzy,
              we have only looked at the one place so far and there was hardly anything in it. That really drove home to me how much we still have. Like you I think I would feel heavy and sluggish in a cluttered space but like you say one needs to look past that.
              I have donated lots of scrapbook paper to my local school and that is probably where the next pile will go too. I am intrigued to know what you did with all the dance costumes you had. Did you sell or donate them and where did they all go?

              I am so glad at times that my kids are small. We have only ever needed small cars and small rooms and small clothes and small beds… That doesn’t mean we have only ever had small ones of those things though. We went a little crazy in the US. Those days are behind us though. Liam was complaining the other day about being small though because he would love to be big enough to wear his dad’s leather flying jacket but alas his little body swims in it. He does wear his dads old motorcycle jacket though. A little bit of clutter it is lucky we held on to for so long. It protected him well in the crash before Christmas, not a slither of skin off him.

              • Hi Colleen,
                The costumes were mostly one offs and were made for my son so most of the pieces were donated to high schools for their Dance and Drama Programmes. My costumes are crystal and glitter encrusted leotards and dresses so they have actually been sold to other dancers for Comps and all the costumes we had for Troupes were donated to my sons Dance class at College. I probably could have made an absolute fortune out of them all but by donating to the School I have actually saved the Dance and Drama department lots of $$$$$$ that they don’t really have, and the beauty of this is they get to use the Costumes as is and they can be re-worked a few times and all it will cost them is a few hours work. A few years ago I donated quite a lot of one off costumes to a Drama Society and they loved it because they have a very limited budget and the wardrobe ladies can work wonders with a bit of lycra feathers and bling! Getting rid of dance shoes is different because the shoe is an extension of the dancers foot and usually ends up trashed. Tap shoes I have been able to sell because they have been hardly used as my son was growing, now he trashes the taps and the leather shoe is so moulded to his foot and comfy. I tend to have new taps fitted regularly as the shoe stays the same. Now with ‘foot undeez’ these little buggers only last a month so there is no way they can even be recycled into a hair lacky, there is never really anything left hehehe!! I have kept a pair of leather jazz shoes that get cut up when a patch is needed for another shoe. This tends to lengthen the life a bit, although believe me if anyone out there is thinking of putting their kids in dance ‘Don’t think it’s a cheap sport cos it ain’t!!!! hehehehehe.

                I’m so glad that a bit of clutter at one time turned out to be a skin saver the next. Boys just wanna turn their mums hair grey don’t they! 🙂 🙂 🙂

                • Well good for you Dizzy. I am sure you have made a lot of people very happy with your kind donations. They will be used over and over again I am sure. With the whole family dancing it must cost you a fortune.

    • yay Dizzy!! Congratulations. amazing what you did. I really enjoy those posts from you people all over this planet, who motivate me in this.

      may I have my moment also?
      due to successful weight loss (yay weightwatchers) I could sort out a lot of my clothes (I think I dropped two sizes) and just yesterday a friend came over, who always gets clothes second hand, so I told her to feel free to take whatever she liked. she tried things on and took one skirt, one pair of jeans, and one pair of really fancy earrings (that gave me infections everytime I wore them…) She wanted to give me money, I refused, and she invited me for dinner. She was happy, I was happy, and we both had good food. Love it. She will be joining me for the fleemarket in april, where we try to sell off the rest of our stuff. (and she said she could need a bit help for her flat – maybe thats a friend-project coming up)

      Since I started to write down the daily decluttering (one item a day), I sense there is an addiction coming up… Colleen, are you addicted? are you turning us into addicts? Like I am going around in my house SEARCHING for things to go. and I get ruthless… I knew that its a good feeling, but I never thought it gets that intense 😉

      • Thanks Lena and well done on your own moment, congrats to you and what a nice way to spend the day with a friend, fashion, fun and food! Good luck with getting rid of your gear.

        Keep writing your items down, I do and it helps to focus you more when you look at what you had. I SEARCH too, and yes you do get ruthless and it gets intense but you will get to a point where you can twirl and be content with the job you’ve done, after that it is maintenance, and maybe a cupboard here and there will be revisited and you may still find 1 more thing to add to your list heehee.

        Enjoy yourself:)

  5. Thanks for bragging, Dizzy 😉
    As I currently try to make room FAST I find it very inspiring to hear about achievements like that.

    • Oh Ideealistin I am so impressed with myself but could bash myself at the same time for not shedding more than I did when we first moved here. I think I’ll always find ways to get rid of things but with Dancing there will always be shoes, costumes, make-up etc etc etc. This really does take up a lot of space, time and money but hey it’s what we do!

      Have a joyous day 🙂

  6. And oh, may I brag a bit myself? please?!
    I just (cheaply, but well … out of the way with the stuff please!) sold a mirror that’s been sitting in the basement for about 6 years now, unused, clogging up space. And the buyer said she’d never seen such an orderly basement … Well, honestly the basement is far from orderly or empty. I guess it just means, that most people’s basements are worse … As I have done a lot to declutter it during the past years it was nice to hear it anyway 🙂

    • Woo hoo go Girl, brag all you want. I think you are probably under estimating just how much work you have done and how very thoroughly organised you are.

      Give yourself a huge pat on the back and do a little dance, that’s one more thing gone from your life ! Enjoy the feeling of space (or should I say more space)

      Enjoy 🙂 🙂

    • Good for you Ideealistin, both on letting go of that mirror and for having an orderly basement. A friend of mine said the same thing about my garage the other day and like you I thought it was a bit of a mess at the moment. We are decluttering a motorbike tomorrow so the garage should be a little less cluttered for a while. Fingers crosses my hubby doesn’t find a project bike for a while yet. Heavy sigh!!!

  7. Wow Dizzy, How amazing and brave of you to get rid of all that STUFF. You’ve given me some inspiration here! I suppose there is no motivation like moving, is there? Congratulations, I think that’s marvellous. I’m really going go try much harder tomorrow…..

  8. Let me ask for opinions. I am organized AND I have a lot of space. And I have many things; housewares, dishes, pretty things, clothes, accessories, bric-a-brac,etc. I de-clutter all the time and am organized BUT I feel like I have a need to purge, to feel “lighter,” to have cleared surfaces (of decor) to have fewer things to think about and select from. I don’t NEED to remove anything more and I am frightened to get rid of things I might want or need (it is hard to predict), so I was thinking: What if I packed up all but the necessary and put it away, and lived with simplicity for an established peried of time? I could experience it and see if I missed “my things.” This take work on my part and getting any of it back out would be more work. Does it seem like a crazy idea? What is driving me? (My spouse and I are in our early 60’s both still working fulltime.)

    • Hi Connie and welcome to 365 Less Things. I think that is a very good question you posted and I believe your solution is a sound one. I have recommended this tactic when making decluttering decision before. It is a strategy that I have used myself as have many of my readers.

      I will point out that I, like you, have always considered myself to be well organised and I have always decluttered on a regular basis and yet here I am two years down the tracking and still reducing my belonging by one, five days a week. There is a noticeable difference between having an obviously cluttered home and simply owning too much stuff. Ultimately though both situations are the same in the end, we own too much stuff. As you say to much to choose from too much to think about. That is reason enough to reduce what you own. So I say go for it.

      Yes there will be a little work involved but ultimately you will be more comfortable with your decision to declutter. Perhaps you could pack things up with a grading system from most likely to less likely to want back that way you would probably only ever have to access the “most likely” box to retrieve things. Mark on each box exactly what is inside also so retrieval will be easy. I think you will find that you will retrieve very little.

      You situation does raise a couple of question and points I would like to put forward.

      1. Question ~ Do you still work fulltime at the age of 60 because you want to or because you have to to afford the lifestyle you lead?
      2. Thought ~ Just because you have the space doesn’t mean you have to fill it with stuff.
      3. Question ~ Do you need all that space. At 60 it is probably manageable but at 70 or 80 it will become a lot of work.
      4. Referring to the last question ~ Perhaps in the back of your mind you are thinking of preparing for the future. During our midlife years when we can often best afford stuff we are able and willing to have and care for it. The next thing we know we are getting too old to use or care for all those things so they become a burden. Perhaps you are seeing that burden on the horizon.

      Give those points some thought and let me know it they help you understand why you have been feeling the way you do.