He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

26 August 2013

Becoming A Minimalist: Day 5

If you're managed to make it this far on this "journey" with me then today just may break your will... but stand strong, my friend. I have taken on this very challenge a couple of times now and have lived to tell the tale. It was actually so rewarding that I am eager to do it again...
That's right, I'm talking about...
Going Through Your Kids Toys!
** If you don't happen to have little mischievous munchkins whose sole purpose seems to be undoing everything you've just done then please, stop reading here... go sit on the couch with a big ol' book and a cup of your favorite beverage and take a nap. While you're at it, take one for me too.**
Now I realize that no matter how many kids you have there's a chance you've kept on top of the clutter. In that case I'm guessing that you've been very selective about the toys that come into and take residence in your home. You may find yourself wondering sometimes what the big deal is and why other moms can't just keep their homes in check. Maybe you own lots of wooden toys, unpainted, unsprayed, carved by hand in Vermont, and have only intentional and lofty purposes such as making all your own art supplies at home, teaching your son or daughter to knit by age 4, and using an abacus made in the USA from 100% recycled-organic-grass fed plastics.(I was like that for about the first week with CJ, my oldest. It was all downhill from there.)
If you're like the rest of us then it's much more likely you have more toys than you'd care to admit. Perhaps you cringe at every birthday and holiday because of pile of loot that your kids come home with and YOU now have to find room for. Maybe you mentally hide certain toys from your kids the second they open particular noise making toys. And I can only assume that you, at least once, have been totally creeped out by said noise-making-toys while picking up late at night, alone by lines like "I see you!". If you're like me, you're tired of picking up the same things over and over again. You literally fly across the room at miraculous speeds just to tear a toy out of your kids' hands because it has too many pieces, your kids are terrible at picking up and you end up doing it, or you HATE the sound of it repeating "Hi! Let's play!" in an unrealistically high pitched and cheery voice over and over and over and...
So if you've experienced any or all of the above it's time to get to it.
I'd like to submit to you that it's not as hard as you may think. At one point, no matter how many toys I gave away, donated, or tossed I had a sneaking suspicion my kids' toys were breeding when we weren't looking as there was always more to filter through. I'm not suggesting that after you begin to get a handle on your kid's toys that this will stop. Things keep sneaking in BUT you'll be able to identify those enemies with stealth speed and deal with before they take over your newly squeaky clean abode.
So enough of my yammering... (must be the lack of sleep talking)...and here we go!

- First and foremost... this is your time to grab a cup of coffee and get cozy because step one begins with some thinking. As I mentioned back at the beginning, it's very important to Remember why you're doing this. This goes back to the original reason of why you're minimizing to begin with. Lorilee Lippincott starts her book off with asking the reader to dream of the life they wish to be living. This is my favorite step of all minimizing. So ask yourself, what is the reason you're doing this? What do you want your home to feel like when you're done? What are your lifestyle goals? Do your goals involve play time? Do you want to make art with your kids? Play sports? Do you mind the noisy toys? Do you want your kids to use more toys that make them think? Do you like down time with video games? No matter what your big picture is... get it clear in your head.

- Now, it's time to make a list, mental or on paper, of what requirements need to be met to keep an item. These can be just about anything but whatever they are, have them speak to your dream home. Maybe this step seems silly but I think it's important for a couple of reasons: 1. You may find yourself more sentimental than you thought you'd be and it may be hard to let things go. 2. If you have a lot to go through, like I did, you may find yourself tired towards the end and stop caring so you throw it into the "I'll figure it out later" pile. Your list of requirements may look a lot different depending on your preferences but if you're feeling stumped... here are a bunch of "if___ than it goes" suggestions to get the ball rolling.

if it's missing pieces...
if it's broken...
if your kids are too old to play with it...
if you never liked it...
if it's from McDonald's and you're not a collector...
if it's made in China... 
if you hate the idea of cleaning it up every time your kids pull it out...
if it's something you won't serve in your own kitchen (pretend food)...
if it has a million pieces and your kids usually pitch a fit when it's time to pick it up...
if you don't have a home for it that makes you happy...
if it's cheap...
if it gives off a chemical odor... 
if it is small and always seems to be on the floor but rarely every played with...
if your kids only play with it for a couple of minute and move on...
if it offers no educational value (sensory, motor skills, math, phonics)...
if it requires no thinking for your kids... 
if, at the end of playing with it, your child can't handle it or starts an argument...
if you know of someone who needs it more...
if you ever find yourself making excuses to others for letting your kids have it... 
if your husband/wife hates it... 
if you refuse to play it with your kids...
if you have a crawling baby who eats everything that's on the floor and it is dangerous to have around...

Really, I could keep going here... but hopefully that gets your wheels turning.

- Okay. Coffee time over. Now it's time to get your hands dirty.
Just as we have done before it's time to get your boxes or bags out. One bin for giving away, one for missing pieces (to go through when it's all over and see if you have collected all the pieces), and one for trash.

- Now... collect all the toys you can get your hands on and put them in a large pile in a very "in-the-way" spot. I find that bringing everything to a central location forces you me deal with the project in one sitting since I don't want a mess left in the middle of the room (I do one pile upstairs and one pile downstairs). Also, I can see everything I'm working with at one time and figure out if pieces are missing. (If time is an issue here than you can always continue picking through a little at a time but today I am highly suggesting this "rip it off like a band-aid" method.)

- If you have a toy or game that doesn't meet any requirements for staying in the house but you still can't let it go, be sure to find a home for it. For example... I loved the game "Mouse Trap" as a kid and found a complete game at a tag sale. I bought it but right now most of our kids are too small to play, rather than keep it out for CJ to request we play with a million times a week, I put the box out of sight in the basement for those special times that Hubs or I are willing and able to play with him.

Okay... now that you have touched every single toy in your home you have much more control over your belongings than you may realize. When Hubs picks up a toy and says "what's this" I can just about always answer and, better yet, pinpoint exactly where it belongs or where the item it goes to currently is. I also know when a toy doesn't belong to us. One of the very best things that happened to me, in regards to toys, is that, after the first round of clearing out, my kiddos took every toy in our living room out and dumped it on the floor and I DIDN'T CARE! It was all mess that I chose to allow in our home and it was all stuff I didn't mind picking up or it was easy enough for the kids to pick up. It was an AMAZING feeling! I also find that our kids are playing with toys that I like seeing them play with more often. We like thinking toys and we have found that our kids have done more thinking since we cleared away the distracting mess.
If you'd like to join me in the fight against kid "stuff" I have a handful tips to continue to maintain the clutter that will continue to try to sneak into your home and undo what you've just done.
- Treat clutter, especially kid clutter, like the enemy and be proactive about keeping it out. It's easy to let an item slip thinking you'll catch it later but, my remember, my friend... kid stuff hides out and breeds! You can't stop it! If need be, keep your list of requirements handy and look it over often. You can also help by creating a line of defense by the main entrance that you and your family use. Arm it with a bin/bag/basket for donating, one for returning (item's you've borrowed or have been left at your house on accident), and one for trash. When we get home from somewhere I do a quick visual sweep of the car. Any small trinkets, toys, wrappers, unnecessary church papers, or "stuff" that we don't want in your home gets tossed then and there. With these bins in our garage, anything that is in our home that shouldn't be now has a place to go right away.

- As I said before deal with all new "stuff" right now. Don't touch things twice. If it needs to be looked over, gone through, or gotten rid of, do it now. Don't waste your time touching it twice. If the time just isn't free, create an obvious, in the way pile, and deal with it as soon as you can.

- When it comes to birthdays and gift giving holidays all of this may get awfully sticky.  Maybe you're a gift giver and you can't help yourself around certain holidays. For those times I hope you can remember your dream home and what it will take to get you there. Maybe instead of buying several small things, save up for one big thing. Also, there are several suggestions out there like "One you want. One you need. One to wear. One to read." The real trick, though, is not what you buy for your family but what others buy. And for this I can only give ideas because each person is tricky and talking gift giving is very personal and you'll have to navigate those waters one individual at a time. With some family we have made wishlists on Amazon for each family member. I especially like this because if there's something we see for the kids in January, we can add it right away and won't forget it by Christmas time. With other family members we have asked that they stop buying gifts for the kids and start taking them on dates. Just today, my sister-in-law, who is an EMT, took CJ to see the new fire truck that just arrived. He got a personal tour of the trucks and and ambulance and got to see the inside! Then they went out for ice cream. I assure you he will remember that experience for a long time to come!

- Occassionally... do the cleaning for them. When the kid has dumped just about every toy out and you know that making them pick it all up will only leads to frustration and tears, volunteer to pick it up yourself. This saves a fight, gets the job done much faster than it would otherwise, gives you a little quiet time, and best of all (for minimizing purposes) you now have the chance to, once again, touch every toy you own and form a bond. That way, you, not your kids, will know when it's time to part ways.

I wish you the best on this one. It's a doozy!

first playroom
orange curtain room
playroom with slide

15 August 2013

Becoming a Minimalist: Day 4

After yesterday's kitchen challenge I wanted to go easy on you because, whether you actually went through your cabinets or not, just reading about the challenge can be overwhelming.
That said, today is fairly simple.
Clear All Horizontal Surfaces
You may read that, take one look at your living room and giggle saying to yourself "Oh, that Krystle, she's adorable!"
Well, despite how cute you may find me, I am actually serious.

Do you remember that overwhelmed feeling I described not long ago? Well horizontal spaces speak directly to that feeling. I have always tried to have the house clean before bed and before I leave the house so that when I wake up or return home I do so to calm. Home is supposed to be a place or peace and restoration (and yes, many other things) but not a place of chaos and frustration. Your horizontal surfaces (table tops, counter tops, end tables, chair seats, and the like...) are the most obvious places I can think of that can either speak to simplicity and cleanliness or scream clutter and headaches.

I say this is step is simple because it repeats a process that I have suggested in previous posts...
1. Get a large box or plastic bin and place it in a central location of your home.
2. Pick a room to start in (mine was our bedroom).
3. Take ALL items off one surface (I started with my night stand.)
4. Place all piles of paper in one large pile in a central location and devote time to go through the entire pile, piece by piece, in the very near future (like while watching a light hearted movie with a cup of coffee).
5. Move everything that isn't absolutely necessary into the box.
6. Move to the next room, taking the box with you, and do the repeat steps 3,4,and 5.
7. Once your have gone through all of your rooms, hide the box. Be it in a guest room closet, a basement, and attic, just get it out of sight for one week.

If, after a week, you think your space looks a little plain, go ahead and add a bit of spice but keep it simple. 
...and "keeping it simple" doesn't mean clean lined, boring, and modern. It simply means "simple".
As with everything, there are a few exceptions...
What if I have a lot of essentials such as my kitchen counter tops?
You get to choose what is essential and non essential in your home. You may be thinking "it's all essential" and though it may be true for some, it is unlikely to be true for most. If it is a necessary item, it may not need to be out on display. The point here is create visual cleanliness. For instance, we had a coffee maker, a wire basket for fruits and veggies, a paper towel holder, a crock for wooden spoons and spatulas, and our family calendar on our kitchen counter at all times. I was only able to pair down by one thing, our cooking utensil crock, by placing all the items in a drawer next to the stove. I'm still trying to figure out a strategy for the rest of the items but for now, just one thing gone is still considered progress and that's what I'm trying to establish. I'm looking for a lifestyle change and a different mindset, not a specific formula for perfection.
What about family photos and heirlooms?  This again is your call but here is my word of encouragement... This exercise is intended to give you a break from your belongings and decide how you really feel about them so put them in the box anyway.
If you find that you can't make it more than a day without the item... it's probably an essential item and, by all means, pull it out. If you desperately miss an object while it's gone but don't necessarily need it, give yourself at least three days before you pull it out. If you find that you're able to make it a full week without thinking about a particular item, needing it, missing it, then after the week is up, consider donating it or giving it away. If it's a picture frame with a beloved picture consider enlarging the photo and placing it in a wall frame or maybe tuck it away in photo album.

Finally, when the week is over, if you find there are items you just cannot part with but don't need enough to put back in plain sight then I recommend one of two things. Either leave the items in a box out of sight for another three weeks and revisit it to see if you're ready to part with them then or designate another home, out of site, for that item. If it is something you just love... that makes you happy to see... I definitely recommend giving it an honored spot in your home. The goal is to simplify and make your home a place you love to be.
Home is where the heart is, after all!

Are you joining us late in the game? See what you missed HERE.

kitchen with wood island
bedroom pix

14 August 2013

Becoming A Minimalist: Day 3

This weekend we hosted a ginormous tag sale at our home. It was wonderful and exhausting all at the same time but I realize that a tag/garage/yard sale is all a bit premature at this point since we are still trying to collect all of our "things". So I'll save the story of our sale (and how you can throw your own) for a little further down the road...

Today I'd like to focus on something just about as daunting as organizing your very own tag sale. Today I encourage you to take a long hard look at your kitchen. dun, dun, duh.....
Tackling The Kitchen
This is a hard one for me. I have been through my kitchen several times and still have things I could part with. Hubs and I have taken the first steps of planning a full kitchen renovation and when it came to space planning I wanted to make sure a new layout would handle all of our kitchen doo-dads. I came to realize a few things....
1. Many of our kitchen accoutrements are single purpose items.
2. Many of the single purpose items are rarely, if ever, used.
3. I have several of the same items (cutting boards, for instance).
4. Like laundry, the more kitchen items I own, the more I use, and the more I clean.
5. It's easy to hide all of the excess behind the cabinet doors.

So those were my reasons for needing to go through again and again. Several sources have suggested that to figure out what you really need/like in your closet turn the hangers backwards and only switch them the right way if you actually wear the item. I suggest the same thing with your kitchen gadgets. I dumped them all into a box and put the box on top of the fridge. If I needed the item I would fish it out, use it, and place it in the best drawer for the job. If, over the course of 3 months, I didn't use the item the box went to the basement. If, over the course of 6 months they weren't used I either donated the item, gave it to a friend, or trashed it. (One caveat... if you live in New England and like lobster, keeping 6 or more crackers on hand is perfectly acceptable!)

A few simple and quick tips are...
- Go through your cabinets and toss anything that is broken or dangerous. A kitchen, by nature, has some hazards. Ditch all materials that aren't at their best.
- Analyze all your ingredients. If they are expired, pitch them. If you've changed your diet and you don't eat it any more, donate what you can and pitch the rest. If you always feel guilty after eating it (hello, Oreos) then share them or purge them. This is all about getting rid of the unnecessary, overwhelming, emotionally and spiriturally draining "stuff" in your life. It's time to be cold, calculated, and methodical.
- Empty your counter tops. - Okay, this one is rather difficult for me. Though I haven't cleared it completely, I have been able to downsize my counter-collection from what it once was by decluttering, reorganizing, and utilizing drawer space better. 
- On a daily basis, clean the kitchen. Load the dishwasher, run it, empty it, repeat. (My finger is wagging in my own face on this one!) I assure you that on the days I am able to get ahead on dishes and the counter top is clean, the heavens part and angels sing. It  is such a beautiful sight and is totally worth the 5 minutes spared to empty and reload the dishwasher.
- As with anything else during this process... be thoughtful about what you bring in to your kitchen. Don't bring in food you don't love and feel bad about eating. Don't bring in cooking tools you already have or don't need. This is much easier when you set rules for yourself. As an example: I don't like using plastic in my cooking. There are too many questions about leeching and hormone disruptors for my peace of mind. That made cleaning out our plastic storage, bowls, plates, cups, and cookware much easier and having that rule ensures that I won't bring those things back in to the house.

Another fun tip that I have learned via personal experience is something I recommend through this whole process. If you don't love it and you don't need it, let it go.
It's easy to think that minimizing means you have to only focus on function. I submit to you that form is almost as important as function and should be considered heavily throughout the whole process. Minimizing isn't just about getting down to the things you "need", to me, it's also about surrounding yourself with the things you LOVE. I have been going through this process with that very thing in mind and have found that when I have one item I love, I am happy to let go of 5 other things just like it that I am indifferent about.
For example... I have a soft spot for Pyrex Cinderella Bowls...
Through thrifting, tag sales, and antique shops I have built up a fun little collection for myself. And what surprised me is that I really enjoy cooking with these bowls. It actually perks up my mood when I mix up something in these bowls and it's not something I could have imagined happening unless I had found something I truly loved. Once I owned these, I found it easy to pass on several other mixing bowls that I didn't really want to use any more and had no need for.

Okay. Your turn!
Throw open those cabinet doors, get on your hands and knees, and get serious about organizing your kitchen!
You will be SO glad you did!

  Did you miss something in this series? Check HERE for more

07 August 2013

Becoming a Minimalist: Day 2

Today I figured I'd recommend something simple and fairly quick since the weather is gorgeous and I'm struggling for motivation to clean today.So here it is...

Establish a Morning Routine
I can only speak for myself but it takes a while for me to shake the grog off first thing in the morning but when I'm up, I am ready to take on the world!
... until about 2pm...
then it's back to grog. 
If I want to get something done, it really HAS to be in the morning otherwise there's a good chance it will sit for another day.
For me... an ideal day is ... and it depends on the amount of sleep I get... 
do a quick cardio workout (and I mean QUICK! Like... 10 minutes of HIIT) and get to cleaning. 
Unless it's a particularly lazy day, which happens around here from time to time... I send the older two to get dressed and then I get Bean and Baby J dressed and ready for the day. That means clean diapers, PJs are back in the drawers or in the dirty clothes basket, clothes for the day are on, and hair is done. 
When they're ready I send them all off to the living room to play or read while I spend a few minutes (again, 10-15 minutes tops) making beds, opening curtains and blinds, opening windows (if the weather permits), folding extra blankets, putting stuffed animals away, picking up any clutter in the bedrooms, getting dirty laundry that may have ended up on the floor the night before into the basket, getting the basket into the laundry room, and getting a load started in the washing machine. 
Oh! And I also empty the dishwasher and reload if necessary (which it almost always is in this house). 
Then I make breakfast and we are ready to take on the day. 
All told, this routine, up until I'm ready to make breakfast, takes anywhere from 20-45 minutes depending on whether I need a shower, how cooperative the kids are feeing, and how tired I was the night before (a.k.a. how messy I left the house when I went to bed the night before).
leads me to a second recommendation of 
Establishing an Evening Routine
For our family, the nighttime routine typically involves having the kids pick up their toys in the living room and put their games away before bed. (Whether or not they actually help with this depends on the type of night it has been. Sometimes on crazy days it's best to just send them to bed and do it myself.) 
Before I head to bed I make sure the dining room is cleaned up from dinner (table washed, floor vacuumed) and run the dishwasher (if it's ready).  

I think establishing some sort of routine is paramount to starting and ending my day well. 
Waking up to the  mess puts me off on a bad foot.  
Going to bed leaves something hanging over my head. 

*A little note about bed making. My eighth grade teacher (Miss Brown) told us a trick I haven't forgotten yet. When our class complained about our parents making us pick up our rooms she suggested doing one thing, if nothing else. "Make the bed." Her logic? The bed is the largest thing in the room and if it's messy, it makes everything else look messy. On the other hand, if it's made, it makes the whole room look much better. And she was right! If nothing else, I try to make the bed in the morning just to bring some instant peace into the room and my day. Also, who doesn't love folding back crisp sheets when it's time to curl up and, in my case, pass out?

 If you don't have a regular routine, I highly recommend at least giving it a try. The total time commitment is, on average, 35 minutes of my day and that's well worth the rest I get knowing at least a little something has been accomplished. 

Did you miss something in this series? Check HERE for more
pix found here

02 August 2013

Becoming a Minimalist : Day 1

I'm  not gonna lie... I have no idea where this series is going to lead. 
I don't think, for me, it is only a matter of material things.
We moved almost two years ago and, let me tell you, moving is an excellent way to come face-to-face with all your material "stuff". I was shocked that we needed an entire tractor trailer in order to move our things to the new house. Even with that we have extra to take in the car with us. Hubs and I agreed to never do that again. Instead, we will have a moving sale, open the front door, sell/give it all away, and start fresh somewhere else with the money we make.

Beyond the tangible stuff, though, I think this process will involve getting rid of excess in other areas too. Maybe relationally. Emotionally. Mentally. I don't know specifics yet but I'm gonna find out.
So what do you think? 
    if you need a boost and feel a constant undercurrent of stress
    if you're a mom and feel guilty for not doing more with your kids
    if you struggle with contentment
    if you find yourself often saying "I might need it someday"
    if you sometimes dream about having more time and money to do things you enjoy
    if you forgot what it's like to do things just for fun
    if you've ever purchased something only to realize later you already had it
would you think about joining me as I seek out practical ways to get rid of the excess in my life?

For a practical start I highly recommend two things.
1. Pray over the entire process. This all began with a prayer that I could efficiently simplify. I know that I have NEVER known the meaning of the word "need" in my life and I haven't lived that way for some time. For me, it's a heart change that needs to take place and so I pray because without Him I can do nothing. (John 15:5)
2. Get your hands on the book or ebook Simple Living by Loriless Lippincott. She a Christian who offers some really practical ways to get started. Some of the things she mentioned I had already done and heard suggested by others so I will share a few of these as I go along...

Starting today!

Day 1: Cleaning Out My Closet
Fling open the doors of your closet, open all the drawers of your dresser, and tell yourself...
If I haven't worn it in the past six months. 
If it doesn't fit me...
If I don't like it...
If it's uncomfortable...
It it's too revealing or immodest...
If my husband/wife doesn't like it...
If I've tried it on several times only to be unhappy with how it looks and put it back... 
If it's stained/ripped/damaged beyond repair...
If I'm hanging on to it only because I know a simple fix will give it new life (and I have been telling myself that for longer than a month and am not motivated to fix it RIGHT NOW)...

Set aside items for your own tag sale (you're probably gonna have loads of stuff to sell when this is all over). Donate them. Give the rags to a local animal shelter for bedding, cut them up for reusable baby wipes, or pitch them. Either way, get them out of your house.

The Rationale...
I have found myself folding 7-8 loads of laundry too many times. I kept asking myself why this was happening and I realized it was because it took me that many loads to realize that I was low on clothes which seemed so excessive to me. Yes, we have 6 people under our roof and four of them are ever-so-messy-but-beautiful munchkins, but I know in my heart that we have more than we need in this department and I also realize that if I we all have less clothes to wear, I won't have to wash as many (think of all the unmatched socks!). So keep that in mind... the more you get rid of now, the less you have to launder later! 

A Note...
In this entire process I find that I am my own worst enemy. I can rationalize/convince/excuse my way out of just about anything and up until now I have but I want a different life. I want that extra weight on my shoulders gone. I want to be consumed with my husband, my kids, and doing the things we love to do together. I no longer want to be caught up with the "have tos" of my life which, at this time, most often is "Of course we can go play at the park but you have to clean up the entire basement first" (which often means a trip to the park doesn't happen)  or "I would love to play a game with you but I have to fold these 7 loads of laundry first" or "I would love to go to bed at 9:30 but I need to get the house picked up before I can rest".

So what are you waiting for?!
Go get 'em!

Did you miss something in this series? Check HERE for more

01 August 2013

Becoming a Minimalist

I'm just gonna throw this out there because I'm certain I am not alone...
Every so often I find myself overwhelmed with life but I am unable to explain why. Sometimes it happens on a good day when the kids are listening well. There is often and under current of discomfort that leaves me unable to relax and often feeling like I'm drowning in "stuff".
The kids will take out a particular game and my skin will crawl because I know the mess that would soon come out of that box. I will look for something to wear for the day and would try the same shirt on again expecting it would fit me brilliantly THIS time and be disappointed when it didn't fit just right again. I will walk past the same unfinished project and grumble about Hubs not making the time to finish it when I was just as capable of doing it myself and I just can't find the motivation. I sometimes find the motivation to deep clean the house only to get bogged down midway through or distracted by little projects in the way. I know that "things" don't bring me peace or joy and only fleeting happiness but yet I still want more.

Are you there with me?
I don't know, maybe I am alone in this but, not long ago, something in me told me I needed a change. The problem was that I couldn't seem to put my finger on what it was.

So fast forward to now...
We are hosting a big ol' tag sale (garage sale, yard sale...)  in a couple of weeks. I have been pouring over all of our earthly goods for months, touching just about everything we own and making the decision to either keep, sell, donate, or trash.
Round one of my tour around the house left me feeling as though I could do better and so I began round two determined to pull out more "stuff". I held things in my hands that I had struggled over whether or not to keep in the past, I asked myself tougher questions like
"Yes, it's cute, but why has it been in the storage closet since we moved in?"
"Yes, CJ looked adorable in this but seriously, will you remember this twenty years from now?"
"Your taste has changed since the old house, why are you still hanging on to this?"
or how about this one...
"Yes, I hate it, but they gave it to us and wouldn't that just be terrible of us to get rid of it?"
and then I would find myself just placing the same items back on the same shelves or hanging them back in the same closet because I couldn't convince myself that it was time to let go.
It's the stuff I wore before kids that I'm working on getting myself back into.
It's the first toys that we bought for the kids that they never played with but I remember giving to them.
It's the vase that has a beautiful form but is completely lacking function.
It's the shirt I always loved on Hubs even though he never wears it because he hates it.
It's this kind of "stuff" I have been struggling to let go of because I seem to be able to conjure up a reasonable excuse that letting it go just seems to be a waste.

So I went on Pinterest, as I usually do, in the hopes of picking other people's brains about proper motivation  for getting rid of "stuff" and I found Simple Living - 30 Days to Less Stuff and More Life. 

I found it ironic that as I was looking to get rid of things in order to have less I ended up buying another book to get me there.
(It was the Kindle version. Does that count?)
It doesn't really matter to me now because I ate this book up!I stayed up late reading it from "cover - to -cover" because it was so practical. It broke down the projects into simple steps, one day at a time and my favorite part was "Day 1" where you're asked to conjure up your dream house and dream life. What it would look like? What would your schedule look like? What activities would it include? What activities would you be certain not to?
I nearly kicked myself because that is the same principle that Gary Ezzo uses in BabyWise and the one that I have hung on to since first reading his thoughts on parenting.... "Start as you mean to go on". Basically, have a goal, work towards it, and get rid of anything that doesn't work to get you to it. It's such a simple principle and yet I forget it so quickly.

Set. A. Goal!

So I did. I even asked Hubs what his thoughts were on the matter. What did he want our house to feel like? What were places he loved to be and why? What did he want HIS schedule to look like? What did he want for the kids? etc. Honestly, after that part I hit the ground running and didn't want to look back.

So who's with me?
Who is not living the life they wish they were?
Who is feeling like they're treading water and can't seem to get where they wanna go?
 I'm not suggesting that I am a life coach and have all the answers, I'm simply saying that I have a problem and after making a few changes I have begun to see a little light breaking through...
And I've decided to take you along for the ride.

Want to read more in this series? Check HERE

Becoming A Minimalist: Index Page

Introduction: What Got Me Started It's all about the heart for me. I found myself frustrated with my surroundings and with my kids for no good reason. Even our good days were overwhelming but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. Was I depressed? Was I anxious about something? Was I pregnant...again?! It wasn't until I started my own "journey" of decluttering that I realized my anxiety and stress went out the door with the "stuff" I was clearing out...

Day 1: Cleaning Out My Closets You've gotta start somewhere, right? I've listed some criteria for how to decide what to keep and watch to pass along. Bite the bullet and get started with me!

Day 2: Establishing Routine Going to bed and waking up to a clean home brings instant peace. Here are some of my tips on how to organize your time at the beginning and end of each day.

Day 3: Tackling the Kitchen This is an overwhelming room all by itself! If you're like me and the kitchen is the hub of your home, it's very easy to get lost in the millions of pieces of cookware, bakeware, and gadgets that seem to gather here. I've listed some practical suggestions to get you through a round of cluttering right now.

Day 4: Clear All Horizontal Surfaces Visual clutter makes all the difference and in under five minutes you can improve a room and breathe a little easier.

Day 5: Going Through the Kids' Toys This may seem like an overwhelming challenge but I've given you several tips and steps to get it done and keep it controlled from here on out. Don't be scared!

Day 6: Just Say "No" to Storage I know, I know... this probably seems to make no sense...



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