Tips & Helps


Living Simply Series: Why It’s So Hard to Give Up Our Stuff

This is the 5th installment of our “Living Simply Series.” If you’ve missed out on the other articles, click on the links below to catch up. And, don’t forget to get your FREE living simply bundle at the bottom of this article.



Why It’s So Hard to Give Up Our Stuff

No one said it would be easy to simplify. Ask anyone who has moved to a more minimalist lifestyle, and they’ll tell you that there can be a lot of resistance come up. But it’s only stuff. Why do we have such a tough time finding a new home (including the trashcan) for items we no longer need or use? It’s all about the emotions surrounding the items that cause us to hold on tightly.

Stuff makes us feel secure—we buy with our emotions, not logic, which means we invest emotionally in our possessions. Having a lot of stuff makes us feel safe and secure. How many things do you keep around “just in case”?  Having a lot of stuff or expensive items gives us status in our society, which also makes us feel important and secure in our place in the world.

We spent our hard-earned cash on it—many people feel wasteful and guilty when they start decluttering their things. They think about how much they senselessly spent on items that are now simply cluttering up their homes, garages, basements, and sometimes even storage space they are paying a monthly fee on.

We know we should use it—guilt also comes in the form of “should’s.” We should use our treadmill. We should wear that expensive suit. A lot of times we buy special or nice things and then only use them for good… which is usually very rare or we forget about them when we are preparing for a special occasion.

It was a gift—even if our least favorite aunt gives us a hideous lamp for the holidays, something we would never put out, we keep it in a closet, basement or storage unit. We feel it’s mean to donate something that someone put thought and money into, even though we hate it. So the guilt keeps us hanging onto it.

It reminds us of better times—we hold onto stuff from our past, most of which has no monetary, but a sentimental value. Keeping a few small items isn’t a big deal, but when we feel we need to keep everything from our carefree college days or all the love letters we’ve ever received, it can take up a lot of space and emotional energy. Being unwilling to part with things that remind us of happier times can be a red flag that we aren’t happy with our current situation.

Everyone feels emotional when going through their stuff to declutter. It’s natural, so when you experience this, don’t beat yourself up. Just be aware that even though they are just things, we are typically connected to them in various ways because of the emotions that we have attached to them.

If you haven’t received it yet, you can get the FREE Simple Living Bundle. This includes a checklist, eBook and a guide with tips to you start living simply in just 15 minutes a day!


Living Simply Series: Maintaining a Decluttered Home

I may the be odd one, here, but I really do love cleaning house and organizing things. The problem has always been the upkeep after I’ve organized everything. It’s taken a bit of “new-habit-forming” but I feel like I’ve (finally) got ahold of things.

Do you find it difficult to keep up with the maintenance of decluttering? If so, you’ll find our third installment of our Simple Living Series helpful!

Click the link below to read more!

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Living Simply Series: Why You Should Live More Simply

As homeschoolers, it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle of life and trying to have it all, do it all and give our kids our all. All of things sound good but in practice, it can be draining and in the end, we’re not living the life we want to lead and actually causing more damage to our families than good.

That’s why, this year, I want to help inspire you to live a more simple life. Today, I’m staring the “Living Simply Series.” At the beginning of each month, I will provide you the tips, inspiration and help you need to live a richer life by simplifying it.

Click the link below to read more!

9 Spooky Halloween Activities

9 Spooky Halloween Activities

9 Spooky Halloween Activities

If you are looking for Halloween fun you are in the right place! I found 9 Spooky Halloween Activities that I can’t wait to try with my family this year. I have a feeling you are going to love a few of these activities too!

From DIY decorations to handmade treat bags there is something on this list for everyone!

Water Color Resist Spider Web
Spooky Expanding Ghost
Spooky Glowing Eyes
Halloween Monster Yard Lights
Spooky Spider Craft
Spooky Shadow Puppets
Count Dracula Craft
Spooky Eye Ball Treat Bags

Which of these 9 Spooky Halloween Activities do you want to try first? I think the Water Color Resist Spider Web and the Halloween Monster Yard Lights are pretty spectacular!

If you have a favorite Halloween activity I would love to hear about it!

The Real World of College - Canva

The “Real World of College”

A guest post by Dr. Brian D. Ray, Ph.D.

The Real World of College - Canva

Okay, it appears that the homeschooled students score well above average on achievement tests in elementary school and high school. And I am willing to concede my experience and research I have read suggest they seem to know how to get along with others— that is, they are not aggressive social isolates wearing camouflage pajamas in the grocery store. But what about the ‘real world’!? Will Suzy even want to vote? Will Tyrone ever succeed once he gets into college?” These are now common statements and concerns from Mr. and Mrs. John Public.

Homeschool graduates hear these things. Novice and veteran homeschool parents have to deal with them. Grandparents of homeschoolers still wonder. And negative critics of homeschooling may never give up. But what does research say about the long-term outcomes of homeschooling?

Dr. Michael Cogan, Director of the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, compared home-educated students to those from conventional school (i.e., non-homeschooling) backgrounds at one Midwest university.1 The researcher reported that the “. . . institution participating in the study is a medium-sized private university with a Carnegie Classification of doctoral. The institution is located in a metropolitan area in the upper Midwest. The overall student population is nearly 11,000 with approximately 57 percent classified as undergraduates” (p. 21). Seventy-six students who were home educated were compared to the others.

Cogan focused on four academic outcome measures (or dependent variables): the students’ first-year GPA, fourth-year GPA, fall-to-fall retention, and four year graduation. Independent or control variables included socioeconomic status, racial/ethnic minority status, gender, and whether the student had been homeschooled.


The researcher used bivariate and multivariate analyses to consider the data. What did Dr. Cogan find? First, he reported their GPAs (grade point averages): “Homeschooled students (3.37) earned a significantly higher fall semester GPA when compared to the overall cohort (3.08). . . . Homeschooled students (3.41) earned a higher first-year GPA when compared to the overall group (3.12). Additionally, homeschooled students (3.46) earned a significantly higher fourth-year GPA when compared to the freshman cohort (3.16)” (p. 24).

Next, the scholar then went to greater lengths to statistically control for certain variables: “As stated earlier, an additional approach to understanding academic outcomes of homeschooled students is to conduct multivariate analysis in order to control for additional factors. More specifically, students were identified based on their enrollment in a homeschool. . . . When considering GPAs, the homeschool variable had a positive impact on first year GPA when considering all of the factors. This positive impact continued to the fourth year. . .” (p. 24).

Finally, a last detailed look revealed something more. The homeschool variable did not significantly contribute to the fall-to-fall retention or four-year graduation models . . . . In other words, the homeschool variable had neithera positive nor a negative impact on these academic outcomes. However, homeschool students did achieve a higher retention rate (88.6 percent) compared to the overall population (87.6 percent). Further, homeschool students achieved a higher graduation rate (66.7 percent) when compared to the overall population (57.5 percent)” (p. 24).


Dr. Brian Ray wrote the following in 2004 in The Journal of College Admissions:

“Experience and anecdotes have led many people to believe that homeschool parents were either move-to-the-country anarchist goat-herders or right-wing Bible-thumpers, and their children were either mathematically-limited, due to Mama’s fear of math, or child prodigies in rocket-science who were unthinkably socially hindered. Although one can find statistical deviants in every group, homeschooling research tells a different story from the experience-based stereotypes and biases concerning those involved in home education”. (p. 5)

Five years later, in the same journal, Dr. Cogan published research that helps flesh out a fuller picture regarding the homeschooling community. His research findings were similar to those of others who have studied homeschool graduates in that he found positive things associated with homeschooling.2 He concluded and wrote the following:

Nonetheless, this study shows that this group of students outperforms their traditionally-educated peers when considering the GPA measures. Perhaps more importantly, this group of students performed at the same level as their peers when considering fall-to-fall retention and four-year graduation rates. As this group continues to grow, it is imperative that institutional researchers lead the way in developing a strong understanding of academic outcomes of homeschool students” (p. 24).

Research3 once again has shown thatthose who have been hypothesizing illeffects from modern-day, parent-led,home-based education are rather off the mark. The home educated might be wearing camouflage pajamas in the dorm room, but research says they are doing quite well academically.

Author’s Note: Please feel free to sendyour questions about research related tohome-based education and raising

Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., is president of the National Home Education Research Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization. Dr. Ray often serves as an expert witness in courts, testifies to legislatures, and is interviewed by the media. Brian is married to Betsy and they have eight children and four grandchildren.


  1. Cogan, Michael F. (2010, Summer). Exploringacademic outcomes of homeschooled students.Journal of College Admission, Summer2010, 18–25. Also retrieved 12/20/10
  2. Bolle-Brummond, Mary Beth, & Wessel, RogerD. (2012). Homeschooled students in college:Background influences, college integration, andenvironmental pull factors. Journal of Researchin Education, 22(1), Spring, 2012, 223–249. RetrievedFebruary 29, 2012 from
  3. For much more research on homeschooling,

Copyright 2013, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

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