53 ways to improve your life in a minute or less

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Photo by Erica Marsland Huynh on Unsplash

People always talk about “saving time” in the same way they talk about “saving money,” like there’s some way to hold onto it and store it up for later.

But what if the “saving” part of saving time isn’t about holding on to time, but about rescuing it from the vast wasteland of The Island of Misfit Minutes?

I’ve noticed that every day I have moments when I’m waiting for a kid to finish practice, or waiting for an elevator, or yes, waiting for the microwave to beep, when little bits of time are falling off the cliff of my…


I don’t want to be a minimalist.

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I don’t want to be a minimalist.

That was never my goal.

My goal was just to lighten the load a little bit, to give my house some breathing room, to have nooks and crannies big enough for my kids to hide in during hide-and-seek. To not have every available space occupied by “storage.”

So I started playing “The Minimalism Game.” The rules go like this:

Day 1: Discard 1 item.

Day 2: Discard 2 items.

Day 3: Discard 3 items.

You get the idea. You start on the first day of the month and it keeps going like that…


P.L. Travers’s original nanny came complete with cannibalism, verbal abuse, and perpetual gaslighting.

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Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

“I hate Mary Poppins.”

This is what my 10-year-old daughter said as soon as I read the final words of the famous novel by P.L. Travers and closed the book. And I wholeheartedly agreed with her.

Compared to the Disney version of the whimsical, stern-but-softhearted nanny at Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, the P.L. Travers Mary Poppins was a stark, terrifying contrast. As far as I can tell, there wasn’t even the tiniest twinkle in her eye.

Here is a passage from the final chapter of the…


A startling epiphany that came at exactly the right time

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Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I was a high school band nerd. He was in band too– that’s how we met– but he was anything but a nerd. Athletic (swimming, cross country, track & field), blonde hair, blue eyes, flawless skin, perfect smile. He was prettier than me, that’s for sure.

He didn’t treat me very well, but I was so starry-eyed by the fact that a guy like him had any interest in me that I didn’t really care.

We were both kind of sarcastic and obnoxious, and I think that’s why he liked me. I could put up with his crap and give…


I have to do this for 30 days?

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Photo by Radu Marcusu on Unsplash

It’s been 15 days so far.

On Day One, I discarded one item.

On Day Two, I discarded two items.

Now it’s Day Fifteen. According to my calculations, as of today I have discarded 120 items total.

And it’s barely made a dent.

I have come to the difficult (and somewhat embarrassing) conclusion that I may need to do this whole 30-Day Minimalism Game more than once.

Yeah…nobody else was quite as thrilled with the idea as I was.

I first heard about The Minimalism Game through The Minimalists podcast. I listened to the podcast on and off for over…


How changing just one simple thing made my Christmases unforgettable

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Photo by Freddy Castro on Unsplash

The year was 2013. I was taking a break from a whole-house decluttering binge and checking my email, when I saw this message from my dad:

Hey guys! We’re getting started on our Christmas shopping so we wanted to get everyone’s wish lists. Let us know what you want this year or you may get a singing Billy Bass, ha ha.

I frowned. And I’m pretty sure at that moment the box labeled “DONATE” in the corner of the room started shaking a little bit with laughter, the random crap…


$10 + a game with some clever rules = a clean house (finally)

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

You know the drill:

“Who left this candy wrapper here? Do you think we live in a trash can?”

“It wasn’t me, it was Alex!”

“No it wasn’t mine! I threw mine in the trash!”

“You ALWAYS leave your wrappers out!”

“Do NOT!”

“Do TOO!”

“You two, stop fighting and just clean up after yourselves! And whose shoes did I just trip over? Why can’t you just PUT YOUR DANG STUFF AWAY?! THAT’S IT! EVERYBODY IN THE KITCHEN! WE’RE CLEANING THIS WHOLE HOUSE RIGHT NOW!”

*chorus of groans and moans*

Yeah. It’s like that. And it’s been like that for…


Do these 9 simple things and they’ll never want to let you go.

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Maybe it’s because I started my professional career in the retail industry, or maybe it’s because I’m an empathetic people pleaser, but either way, I’ve learned how to translate excellent customer service into my work as a freelancer writer, and it’s paid huge dividends.

I was recently talking to a friend about the flexibility freelancing affords me, like being able to take time off whenever I need it. Of course, I don’t get paid for the work I’m not doing, but as long as I plan ahead, I can enjoy short vacations whenever I want.

My friend said, “Well yeah…


The hidden– and not so hidden– wounds of this generation.

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Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

Like many parents, my husband and I have been trying to make the best of all the extra family time due to COVID-19. So we thought it might be fun to introduce our teenagers to some of our favorite apocalypse and disaster movies from our teenage years, flicks like “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Deep Impact,” “Dante’s Peak,” and “2012.”

We put on the first movie– “2012”– and enjoyed hearing all the gasps and “Oh no…no-no-no-no-NO!” from our teens.

But we didn’t expect the aftermath.

“That was…interesting,” my teenage daughter concluded…


From learning styles to screen time and pricing, here are some tips from a mom who just finished her first full year of homeschooling.

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

With strict health regulations hitting most public schools for the 2020–2021 school year, like a lot of parents out there, you might be considering homeschooling. But if you’ve started the curriculum shopping process, you’ve probably felt a little bit like you’ve just opened a Pandora’s box.

As someone who just started homeschooling myself last September, I know exactly how you feel!

There are literally thousands of different homeschooling curriculums, each with its own pros and cons. While I won’t be getting into the nitty gritty details of each– that would be impossible– I will give you 5 essential questions that…

Kasey Q. Tross

Musings on motherhood, writing, life, and relationships– and the struggle to stay sane through it all.

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