Make a Memory Not a Pile

Dear FlyLady,

My mom saves paper I swear if she could wash paper towels and reuse them she would. Papers are stacked up everyplace old bills just junk; if its flat it has papers on it. I have asked mom nice, I have even reminded her that if and when something happens to her we kids will be stuck clean up her dump of a house.

Now I take care of her she is 71. I do the house work and the yard work and all the other things that need to be done. She makes dinner and does the dishes and I do the rest. Now if I talk to her about it, then she goes off on me and my short comings and makes it all about me. I’m about ready to say screw it, I’ll move and come back when she is gone and will, burn it all in a ceremony.

FlyBaby C.

Dear Friends,

This is a huge problem for all of us. As for this person wanting to declutter their mother’s paper piles; this is wrong! You can’t declutter someone else’s paper. You have to take care of your piles and let their piles be. I love your idea of a burn ceremony.

Every flat surface in our homes is covered in paper. We have no clue what is in the piles. If our flat surfaces were cleared off, our homes would look clean.

I use my fireplace to burn our junk mail almost every day. What if you built a fire pit? This is a great way to clear clutter and make memories at the same time.

The main thing you need to remember is to contain the blaze to keep it from getting out of pit and catching the grass and woodland on fire. We all loved paying in fire as kids. Here are some think about.

  1. Make sure it is legal to burn in your area. Check with Fire Dept.
  2. You may need a permit to burn. Check with Fire Dept.
  3. Do not burn with high winds.
  4. A good time to burn is just after a rain.
  5. If you have trees in your yard; get kids to pick up fallen limbs.
  6. Lay in a supply of marshmallows, graham crackers, and Hershey Bars.
  7. Use bricks, concrete blocks, pavers, and gravel to build your pit.
  8. Have a water hose handy at burning times
  9. Get long handled poker to manage the fire. Rake or Hoe
  10. Get long handled marshmallow roasting sticks.
  11. In ground pits can be dangerous with children around.

Don’t burn papers that don’t belong to you. Be patient with your parents. You can clean them out after they are gone. Right now focus on your papers. Get your kids involved. They are going to love this and you will be the hero!


There are lots of instructions online. Don’t get caught up in mission creep. Keep it simple. Always stay with the fire till it is out. As Smokey Bear taught us about campfires; pour water on the fire, stir, and pour more water on the fire.

What are you waiting for? Procrastination hurts you!

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