Tackle your home with purpose

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Are you ready? On Monday, we are starting Project: Simplify, the first week of five where, as a community, we will tackle one hot spot in our homes. We’re harnessing camaraderie at its finest, encouraging each other by helping our families.

Each Monday, I’ll reveal the hot spot, and on Friday, we all share our results. Before and after pictures are the only requirement, and everyone who participates is automatically entered to win that week’s giveaway!

But you’ve got a task this weekend. It’s a fun one, so no worries. You don’t have to clean anything yet, and you don’t need your “donate” box until Monday.

What is it?

Your family purpose statement

Yep — you need to create it. As a family, you need to write a simple truth about who are as a family. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it needs to reflect what’s most important to you.

Um… I thought this was about cleaning my house.

Yes, this series will help you clean and organize five decluttered spots in your home. But there’s more to it than that, because when you just clean your home, you lose your motivation and your focus.

When you make your home better suited to your family’s purpose, then it’s easier to care about where things go, what stays and goes, and how clean (or disheveled) it is. It’s easier to live there, because it feels like home.

That’s why a family purpose statement is such a good impetus for organizing your home. It makes organizing the means to an end, not the end itself.


Photo by photon

How to write a family purpose statement

If you already have Organized Simplicity, then you have the list of 20 questions to help you create your statement (pages 43-44; chapter 3). They’re not essential, of course, but I think they help. They’re the questions we asked ourselves when we wrote our statement a few years ago.

Take a few hours with your spouse, and work through as few or as many questions as you like. Talk over what you’re about. Decide what the absolute essentials are.

And as I mention in the book, remember:

  • your purpose statement should be simple,
  • it should be timeless, and
  • it should be general, but not too general.

Make it visible

Originally his week, I hit up a thrift store and bought a simple plate. I wrote our purpose statement with a Sharpie, and I was going to hang it in the hallway. But… I didn’t like how it turned out. I love the idea, but I just couldn’t get it right.

So instead, I created a simple Photoshop file of our statement, and had it sent to a local photo printer. This weekend, I’m going frame and hang it. I like it much better.

I like having it where I can see it throughout the day. I encourage you to do this, too.

Our family’s purpose statement

I’ve shared our statement in the book and elsewhere on the blog, but here it is again in all its Photoshopped glory, in case it helps grease your wheels:

So your pre-assignment this weekend? Create your family purpose statement. And if you’ve already written it, have fun and make it pretty.

And get ready to roll up your sleeves on Monday!

Care to share your family’s purpose statement? Or how about the upcoming hot spots — which ones do you hope we’re tackling?

Join the Conversation

Comments

  1. I love this idea, and you could even get it printed on canvas!

  2. avatar
    Connie Gueits says:

    Hi, I love this idea and have really been looking forward to it!! I tried ordering the organize simplicity book, but since we just got stationed in Japan and all I have is an APO address it wouldn’t let me order. But anyway, will be following faithfully, and since our household goods just got here, I’m ready for us to start living simply, having 5 kids became my excuse for accumulating everything. So, big changes. God bless, and have a great day.

    • Naomi, that’s so sweet of you! I love it. Connie, perhaps try Book Depository? They ship free internationally, so I imagine they wouldn’t have much trouble getting it to Japan. I remember those days of living abroad, wishing things were as accessible as they are in the U.S. Thanks for joining from Japan!

    • avatar
      Jaimelee says:

      Can someone send you the book?

      • Do you have a kindle? If not, you can download the book to your computer from Amazon.com. I think first you have to download the program, but I’m pretty sure it’s free.

  3. Hi,
    This is a great idea and I’ve been wanting to do this for a very long time. I just wrote out our family purpose statement and so happy to have finally done it!!
    I love your blog and have been inspired and Blessed by your writing. Please don’t ever stop!!!
    Thanks.

  4. Thank you for reminding, that’s this is not only about cleaning! I like the idea of writing a family purpose statement and will think about it!

  5. okay i love this idea. its just what i need to get moving. i’ve been reading your book. i’m on the bathrooms section. its been so inspiring. two saturdays ago my husband and i sat down and wrote our family purpose statement over two steaming hot cups of coffee. now i just need to get it in print to hang on our wall. i have cleaned out closets for consignment so far but that is it. i need to get this show on the road!!!!

  6. Just received your book in the mail and my daughter and I love it! Thanks so much for making it easier and more fun to achieve no-clutter!

  7. Though I have read your book at least 5 times, I still haven’t written our family purpose statement. I’m at a wall as to how to approach my husband with it. Seems silly, but is true. As for what to simplify, I’ve hit a couple of areas already, but the BIG one is kid stuff and how to organize what we have. I’m not talking about just toys. I’m stumped about their artwork and school papers, and the little things that kids accumulate. I’m psyched about this whole process. And I promise to overcome my fear and get our statement written with hubby by Monday!

    • 5 times? Wow, that’s probably more than me. ;) Well, not really, but I’m impressed nonetheless.

      About hesitant spouses… I wonder if you approach this conversationally, not in a now-we’re-sitting-down-to-do-a-purpose-statement sort-of way. Just bring up some of the topics from the questions, and get some thoughts rolling around in his head. Then eventually, morph this into a little purpose statement convo, in a very low pressure way.

      If it helps, when Kyle and I did this, I was the one who actually wrote the thing, after talking together and working through some of the questions I created. We tweaked it and “approved” it together, but since I’m more of the wordsmith in the family, it just made more sense for me to initiate it.

      Anyone else have ideas that have worked on unreluctant spouses? :)

      • My hubby just says write it and he’ll do the editing. But for some reason, I feel like I cannot get my voice and his in one statement. At any rate, I’m going to make a “rough draft” after I leave this comment. :)

    • avatar
      The Accidental Housewife says:

      I have the same issue. I’m a bit worried that Mr Accident will think it’s either silly or unnecessary. Tsh’s idea is a good one though, I’ll give it a shot.

      • I’m glad to see I’m not the only one with this concern. My wonderful and supportive (that isn’t sarcasm) husband’s response to writing a family purpose statement was “does that SOUND like something I’d want to do?” Normally I’d just ask him the questions throughout the day while we IM at work, but he’s been swamped so I can’t take that approach. He’s supportive of having one, but isn’t interested in sitting down and hashing it out. I feel like a purpose statement that is created solely by me isn’t a family purpose statement, it is just a personal purpose statement.

  8. We just recently finished our purpose statement.
    You can read it on my blog http://www.raesdaze.com/?p=272
    Still need to get it up on the wall though!

  9. I just started a new blog with the intention of something like this after reading your book:0)
    Perfect timing,I am SO in:0)

  10. this is my blog not the above:0)
    still having trouble remembering the name,my mind is so cluttered:0)

  11. avatar
    ryland4change says:

    Funny I have had a personal mission statement that I tinker with from time to time, but not a family mission statement. We all share this house and a fmaily mission statement (while my husband will poo poo the idea) is worth the heckling to create. By Monday… love the accountability. Thank you!

  12. Reading your book and trying to get my husband excited about this. It makes him crazy when I give books or fabric away so it will be a process. I am excited and feeling a little overwhelmed. There is so much stuff and 4 kids and a husband to get involved!

    Thanks for the challenge!

  13. Just to give you all a heads up — especially if you’re concerned about getting your spouse on board — that the first “hot spot” will mostly be about you. It works better when the whole family is on board, yes, but hopefully this first area will encourage your spouse to join in the next projects after he/she sees your own progress this first week.

    How’s that for vague? Mwah ha ha ha… :)

    • My husband attended a dad’s homeschooling workshop a few years ago which had the expressed purpose of dads writing out a family mission statement. Wish I knew where it was! for

      Since he is all about efficiency, I think it’d be counterproductive to “take a few hours” with my spouse to recreate the statement. He doesn’t enjoy talking about anything for a few hours. I think he’d prefer I just plunge in, decluttering, cleaning, organizing, exercising, serving others joyfully, making good meals, etc, rather than take a lot of time formulating the words behind the actions. I personally see the value, but I think he’d say it’d be better stewardship of time to spend time doing, not talking.

  14. I am so excited about this! It’s funny because I just finished reading your book last night (LOVE IT!!) and my husband, our oldest child, and I started working on our family’s purpose statement last night. We’ll finish it this weekend.

    Blessings!
    Deborah

  15. I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile, today’s the day! I have the perfect place for it to hang too! I’m really looking forward to this series. I hope we tackle the bathroom!

  16. Looking forward to this. My husband and I have just been discussing our goals for this year over the past few days so this is perfect. Especially since the past 24 hours have put us closer due to close friend being injured. A mission statement is just what we need to remind us of the bigger picture in life.

  17. I really like this and can’t wait to begin this project/process! Thanks for inviting us all along on the journey!

  18. Our family mission statement is here: http://www.rockingranola.com/2009/07/family-mission-statement.html

    But, I tend to sum it up like this: Peace (not perfection)

    Getting excited for the next five weeks, Tsh. Perfect timing for us! Thanks for the inspiration and motivation and the chance to do this as a community :-)

  19. I’m so excited about this project and can’t wait to get started! I read your book after Christmas and should probably refresh myself over the weekend, as well as write our family purpose statement. Hope I make it though all 5 weeks… :)

  20. I’m excited to *try* to participate. I have baby #3 coming to us live in about 7 weeks, and I definitely need to get some hot spots tackled before that life change happens! I also just got a copy of your book for my birthday, and I am hoping to tackle the family purpose statement with my husband- this weekend might be an opportune time!

  21. My first hot spot will be my kitchen table, which I haven’t seen in a couple of weeks…
    Bernice
    My latest post- Change what you can, accept what you can’t

  22. Our Family Mission Statement is simple:

    We live Freedom and Joy.
    We love with Patience and Kindness.

    My 4 children are under 7, so these two sentences are easy enough for everyone to understand and put into practice.

    I’m looking forward to Project: Simplify. Bring it on! Can’t wait to tackle the toyroom…..

  23. I’m hoping to work on our mission statement this weekend, although my husband will be on a camping trip with our son. I thought it would be good for me to think and pray through some things for myself and then share them with him Sunday when they return. I’ve wanted to do this for some time, so thanks for the motivation!

    We are moving in less than 2 weeks, so I’m not sure how this challenge is going to work for me, but I’m really trying to simply as we finish packing and then as we set up our new home. I may have to tweak some of your projects, but I think this is a perfect time to make sure I don’t put things in our new space that we don’t use or love.

    Looking forward to it!

  24. Our family’s purpose statement is:
    To intentionally live with space in our lives and home for God, others and ourselves.

    I really hope that we tackle the kitchen! I’ve got some expired spices I need to be motivated to throw out and since my mom and MIL unpacked our kitchen when we moved, things aren’t exactly where I’d want them…

  25. Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  26. I liked the blog and all of the suggestions on how to actually sit down and work this mission statement out. I think it is important for everyone to have buy in otherwise there will be resistance. One of the things that helped me enormously reading this today is that it crystallized the need to articulate why we want certain things in our family – pets, kids to play music, sports, visit national parks and camp together, etc… We tell our kids that we want them to do these things but we haven’t really said the “why” part very well. Writing out a family mission statement will give us the opportunity to flesh this out in more detail and discuss it.

  27. Oh my house and my sanity so need this! The family statement should be interesting…my first inclination is that my husband will roll his eyes at me but he’s surprised me a lot lately so I’m going to take the dive!

  28. I loved this post – it the impetus I needed to crystallize what is important to our family. We have a few things we require the kids to do but we haven’t really articulated the “why” part for them. The list of questions gives us the opportunity to have that discussion and gain their buy-in.

  29. Thanks for the inspiration! We had a family purpose statement but I NEVER connected it with cleaning my home. Already just today I find myself doing things I might have left undone, and alternately leaving things undone that I might have done based on our purpose statement. I am looking forward to a month of organization challenges! :)

  30. We wrote a family mission statement about 10 years ago and it has been yellowing on the fridge that long… maybe it is time to revisit it and make it pretty!!! I am looking forward to Monday and I hope that the hot spots include the kitchen counter corner, the hallway closet and the garage… just to name a few! :D

  31. Just got your book in the mail yesterday and I must say it is fantastic! Tonight my husband, son and I sat down and answered all the questions for the family purpose statement. It was such a great time for us filled with some substantial conversation. I shared your blog and your idea of a family purpose statement over at my blog. I hope others will check out this site and your book. I am really looking forward to Project: Simplify and making my home better place for my family!

  32. Yay! Hubby & I had some time to talk about our purpose statement tonight after dinner while the kids (3 & 4 1/2) played quietly on the floor… What a gift that was! Hoping to get a draft done by weekends’ end and then fine tune thru the week (hubby’s idea).

    Thanks Tsh! Looking forward to Project: Simplify!

  33. avatar
    Jaimelee says:

    I am so excited about this! I am on my second trip through your book this time armed with notebook and pen. This is also perfect timing because my hubby and I just agreed we would spend the next 5 weeks purging our house and lives before we go on our first family vacation to…Disney world (a christmas gift). We decided that after spending a few days at the beach and 5 days in the “happiest place on earth” we didn’t want to come home to an over cluttered overstuffed overtaxed home and get back into our stressed out routine and lives. He has been in school getting a second degree for 2 years leaving me to take care of everything alone most if the time including out two small children also while starting a small business. He graduates the week before we leave and we feel it is a huge milestone in our lives and time to make a big change, so following this blog while working our plan is perfect! Thanks for this, thanks for an awesome network of sites and thanks for the great book! God Bless!

  34. Wow! It is so timely that I just found you today! I love this and hope to participate! One hot spot I need to tackle is my kitchen island. Yikes. Looks like I could spend hours reading past posts here, too!

  35. This is one of my goals for the year. I guess this weekend is the time to do it. We have started to do this in Jan, but never got it solidified. I have been checking out everyone elses to get inspired!

  36. I am looking forward to writing this. This project comes at a time where we knew we needed to purge, but it felt so overwhelming. Looking at it as a means to an end and not the end itself makes it seem so much more doable:)

  37. avatar
    Jennifer says:

    I finished your book yesterday and am excited to get started this next week! We recently moved (at the beginning of December) and got rid of a lot of stuff but there is still so much clutter! I haven’t written a purpose statement yet and like many I am not quite sure how to work with my husband on it. I mentioned it to him and he didn’t seem very excited :) I plan to make the conversation part of our “date” this weekend so hopefully I will be able to get it done in time to start on Monday.

    As far as hot spots go…I hope that we do the master bedroom and the creative area. Our room tends to be a storage space for all of the things that we don’t want in the living room and it would be nice to see our dresser :) I’m also a pretty avid scrapbooker and haven’t even unpacked my stuff since the move. It is still in large plastic bins in none other than our bedroom :) Looking forward to Monday!!!

  38. avatar
    Gita Spiller says:

    This is not a follow-up, this is plea for help. After years of living on our own while the children live overseas, our son and daughter-in-law have asked whether they may stay with us while my son furthers his studies.

    Since the children left home, our standards have dropped to pre-prepared meals bought frozen from the supermarket, and now I must present freshly made, balanced meals, after a hectic full day’s work.

    Can anyone give me some direction and ideas?

  39. I so desperately wanted to read Organized Simplicity but buying books for myself is, sadly, completely not in our budget right now. But, miracle of miracles, our local library actually HAD IT! So I’ve been reading it this week and taking notes like mad, trying to make the most of the three weeks until it is due back. If I’m lucky, I’ll try to renew it and then I’ll have it as reference during the whole Project Simplicity instead of just the first half. So far, I love this book, I’m just trying to find the strength to try and implement the elements. I try to live simply but years of pack-rat habits have saddled us with more stuff than we can possibly need or use. I want it gone, I want my space and my life back. But it sure can be overwhelming.

  40. DH and I had a brief conversation about our family purpose statement today, but I don’t think we got very far. Our family is in transition, I’d say (recent empty nesters with a long-distance move on the horizon late this year), so our “purpose” might be shifting, too. We’ll try to get something more concrete tomorrow.

    And because of our pending move, it feels like every spot in the house is hot! We want to rid ourselves of everything we don’t want to haul across the country, plus make our house appealing to potential buyers. Moreover, our house is 105 years old, so there are constant projects, as well as “old house dirt”. Oh, and we have two closets in the entire house….

    This is going to be an interesting challenge!

  41. Done! : ) Can’t wait to find the time to actually read all of your book and to get started with the project tomorrow.

  42. Great statement! I think that is a great idea! We sit down and goal write every six months as a family, and I think this would be a beautiful way of summing everything up that we are working toward! It would help us stay focused! Thanks for sharing. Blessings <3 Paula

  43. Hi TSH,
    Looking forward to your Simplify activities! I’m organized but I can always simplify things! Going to try and get your book on my nook. AND get that mission statement idea!!
    Love all your Simple sites!! Thanks again!!

  44. Looking forward to this challenge!

  45. I’m very excited to be a part of this! My husband and I enjoyed coming up with our family purpose statement – I can’t wait to get started!

    Check out my blog to see our statement!

  46. I’m ready to go! Just looking forward to getting rid of stuff. Any zone is fine with me (they all need it). Ha!
    http://www.katieorrblog.com/2011/03/project-simplify.html

    We have a “mission statement”, but it needs some revision. I’ll post it once we work on it a bit more.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  47. I’ll be joining Project: Simplify a week late since I’m still overseas, but I can use this week to work on our family purpose statement. It’s been rattling around in my head ever since I read your book, and I’m excited to get it down onto the computer and make it beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration!

  48. avatar
    Kris Freitag says:

    My husband gave me the raised eyebrows, but he answered the questions and then I pulled it together. This is what we came up with:
    Our family mission statement is simply love.
    Love of:
    God
    Family
    Learning
    the outdoors
    people not things
    fun and laughter
    a peaceful home
    service to others near and far

  49. Woo-hoo, just finished ours! Can’t wait for tomorrow : )

  50. You gave me the push I needed … we made tangible progress on our statement this weekend after letting it lie dormant for too long. Woohoo!

  51. I have really struggled with this over the weekend. Profound words are not my thing. So today I was struggling and mulling out loud to my kids. “Obviously loving God and glorifying Him should be in there…” Of course mommy. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. That’s all we need. Out of the mouths of babes! So here we go: Assignment number one:

    As a family we desire to:
    Love the Lord our God with all of our HEART;
    love Him with all of our SOUL;
    and love Him with all of our MIND.
    With our Heart we will show our love to our family and overflow that to others – loving our neighbors as ourselves.
    With our Souls we will glorify God, lifting Him up and showing our love in all we do.
    With our Minds we will constantly seek to use the talents God has given us to know Him more and better the world around us.
    Remembering always that love is patient and kind. And love never fails.

    Bring on the first week’s space!

  52. What a great project! I can’t wait to get started on the hot spots of our home and in the meantime you gave me something really meaningful to think about. Here is our family’s mission statement:

    http://creative-bubbles.blogspot.com/2011/03/project-simplify.html

  53. Finally, I have drafted our family purpose statements. It is definitely incomplete as I haven’t involved my husband yet. But I think it is a start. If anyone is interested, I wrote my brainstorming thoughts in my blog, the statements are at the end.

  54. THAT was a fantastic project! You can find our family statement: http://thelinarstudio.typepad.com/embracelife/2011/03/project-simplify.html

    Looking forward to spring cleaning with you!

  55. finally – FINALLY – did this, thanks in large part to the book and lenten reflections:

    In our family, we want to HONOUR GOD and protect the good gifts He’s given us;
    Valuing PEOPLE over things
    Living in COMMUNITY
    Fostering CREATIVITY
    Practicing CREATION care
    Walking closely with JESUS CHRIST, and inviting others to join us in knowing Him

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