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Everyone needs a good editor

  • Blog Post by: Nicole Hvidsten
  • February 13, 2013 - 9:30 AM

My children are never too thrilled when I correct their grammar or spelling. It's an occupational hazard of a journalist, I tell them; everyone needs an editor.

As we're nearing the end of The Basement Project, I tell them the same thing: Everyone needs an editor. This time we're not talking about the content of a school paper, we're talking about the contents of their bedrooms. New flooring has given us the unique opportunity to sort through, pare down, edit -- whatever you want to call it -- and make their rooms a little less cluttered.

Before TBP, their rooms were typical teenage rooms chock-full of stuff. New stuff, old stu

There's a point when you CAN have too many books.

There's a point when you CAN have too many books.

ff, school stuff, sports stuff, kitchen stuff, moldy stuff and unidentifiable stuff. Now as we start putting things back and establishing a new sense of normal, I'm asking them to think about everything before they put it back. Do they really need three years' worth of clothes? How about those third-grade notebooks? Are three bookshelves and a kitchen cart really necessary to hold all of your stuff, or is that just a sign you have too much stuff?

Oldest daughter is on board. She wants to start streamlining what's going back into her room. She's asked for a couple of organizational tools (she knows I'm a sucker for those) and has announced that she doesn't need all the furniture to go back into her room. I was elated, and am happy to help in this transformation. Not only is it some bonding time, but it will make preparing for college much easier, at least from a material standpoint.

Second daughter is a tougher sell. She is a pack rat by nature, and wants to save everything "just in case." She also dismisses any offers to help -- "I don't want anyone touching my stuff" -- which makes it all the more difficult to sell her on the concept. It's hard to be the editor when you're not allow access to the content. I can help you make sense of things, I say. She says she doesn't need that. I can help you be more organized, I say. I'm fine, she says. Fine, I say, until the next time you can't find uniform shorts or a cell phone. It's a vicious circle.

So how do you convince someone that they need an editor when the promise of a room that's easier to keep clean just isn't enough? How have you successfully pared down your stuff or the stuff of your teen? Can you really have too many books?

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