DEAR HARRIETTE: As spring is here in full force, my wife has decided that this is the year that we get rid of clutter. In the past, the whole family has made a halfhearted promise to throw out what we truly do not need just to appease my wife. This year, however, it seems as though she is ready to turn everyone into complete minimalists. There is an entire schedule for what we are donating each week. Clothing, toys, sports equipment and extra bedding all make an appearance, and it’s safe to say everyone is a little scared of Mommy this year. Our children are 10, 12 and 15, and they do not always want to part with their items.

My wife is not even budging at their requests to hold on to anything sentimental. She says we can just take a photograph of items to remember them and donate or toss the real thing. We’re all weary of this idea, but my wife seems to be on a rampage. Do we just grin and bear this spring cleaning? I don’t really want to get rid of anything, either. – Power Clean, Rochester, New York

DEAR POWER CLEAN: I wish your wife would come to my house! Believe it or not, her level of organization for this cleaning means that it will likely be more effective than in years past. Even though you don’t want to let go of any of your belongings, you may be relieved and grateful if you do it. Most of us collect things over the years that we really don’t need. Make space for what is yet to come by giving up something from each category. It will be a great lesson for your children as well.

DEAR HARRIETTE: From the ages of 2 to 10, my mother entered me in beauty pageants. I grew up in the South, where this is common. I don’t hold any resentment toward my mother, but I do grimace a little when I see my old dresses, flippers and costumes. I know I won a few thousand dollars for my family in the end and had some fun, so I don’t regret these years of my life. Now that I am pregnant for the first time, my mother has been asking me about how I’m going to find any pageants up north for my daughter to compete in. I said I wasn’t particularly worried about this, and my mother mentioned how the money helps with expenses and how I could reuse some of my old belongings. I keep dodging the questions she asks, but quite frankly, I think putting my daughter into pageants would be tacky. I don’t want to have my toddler daughter make money for me, and I don’t want judges ranking her. I don’t have any hard feelings about my pageant years, but I will not be entering my daughter in them. How can I get my point across firmly, without stepping on any toes? – Turning a New Page, Wilmington, Delaware

DEAR TURNING A NEW PAGE: You are going to have to come right out and tell your mother directly that you will not be entering your daughter in pageants. When she presses you, tell her that you understand why she had you do it, but you don’t want your daughter to follow in your footsteps. You will help her figure out her own interests and support her in exploring them.

— Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.