Summer Declutter and the Virtue of Temperance

(I wrote this piece for the July 2022 newsletter of the California Association of American Mothers, Inc.:

When my boys and I put away the schoolbooks for the summer, one of my favorite things to do is declutter the house. Things have a way of piling up during the busy school year. Children have grown and their interests have changed, so their wardrobes and belongings need attention. We have clothes that we never wear and gifts that we have never used. It is time to simplify life and give some things away!

Organizing and decluttering create a welcoming home for our families. Decluttering can also be a helpful antidote to the vices of greed and gluttony (we can be gluttons for stuff as well as for food!). Keeping our material objects to a minimum helps us focus on what really matters in life.

On the other hand, we should not become obsessed with having a perfectly organized, absolutely tidy home. Becoming overly controlling of our spaces can stress out our families and, again, make us focus on stuff rather than people. Having children means embracing the beautiful messiness of life.

As is often the case, the best way lies in the middle of two extremes. The virtue of temperance, or the wise use of our resources, can help us chart a safe course between the extremes of holding on to too much stuff and obsessing over perfect order. (See chapter 7 of Ultimate Makeover: The Transforming Power of Motherhood by Carrie Gress for more on temperance in motherhood.)

May God bless you and your families this summer and always!

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