How Simplifying Saved Me from Drowning in My Own Life

A guest post from Kelsey Van Kirk of Simply, Life On Purpose

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
— Hans Hofmann

Gripping the edges of the farmhouse dining table my husband had built me a few years back, my eyes were scrunched tightly shut and my mind raced a mile a minute.

“So this is what it feels like to go crazy,” I thought, as I desperately tried to grab hold of anything that would keep me tethered to the here and now.

Gasping sobs ripped right through me, and all I could do was be there, in that moment, surrendered to the unbidden and intrusive emotional tidal wave that I’d been suppressing for a very long time.

“Why now? I can’t fall apart like this right now.”

As I was experiencing this untimely unraveling of all the stress, overwhelm and exhaustion that had been building up inside of me for months, my precious daughters sat quietly in the other room watching their 3rd episode of the Magic School Bus for the day.

“How did I let this happen? How did things get so bad? Where had I gone wrong?”

I’d always been the girl who had it together. I could be counted on to get things done when others couldn’t, picking up the slack when others dropped the ball.

For years I’d been successfully juggling laundry and dishes, bath time and tummy time, grocery shopping and nursing sessions, birthday parties and date nights.

I knew how to get the most out of my time and energy, planning, preparing and running our life and home as effectively and efficiently as possible.

After I had my fourth baby, I vividly remember laughing and responding to people who questioned how I kept up with it all by saying, “Well I don’t have much choice, do I?!”

Somewhere, at some point in my life I’d come to believe that my worth as a daughter, a friend, a wife, a mother, and a business owner was directly tied to my performance….and that anything less than keeping up with it all was unacceptable.

“Well, I don’t have much choice, do I?!”

After a lifetime of martyring myself on behalf of everyone else’s needs, desires and expectations of me, I finally broke.

Rocking back and forth, a blubbering mess of tears, chaos and disillusionment, I knew things couldn’t go on like they had for another minute.

I was overloaded, overwhelmed, exhausted and depleted after trying to live on the fumes of constant demands and endless responsibilities.

This wasn’t the life I wanted. This wasn’t the person I wanted to be. I was running myself into the ground, as everything and everyone around me suffered because of it.

And I’d had enough.

Something inside me changed that day, despite having pushed through so many others like it before.

There’d been days that made me feel like a worthless failure as a wife and mother, and days that made me feel so hopeless that I thought about what it would be like to drive my car into a tree.

But on this day, I realized that there was no way this was the kind of life God intended for me to be living...and the only reason it was the life I was living was because I’d been choosing to live that way.

All along, I did have a choice….and I’d been choosing poorly.

After years of trying to tread water all on my own, I knew I would need some help figuring out how to simplify my very full, very complicated, very stressful life.

 

Need help figuring out how to start simplifying your own life?

Grab my FREE Simplicity Starter Kit, a workbook and resource guide designed to help you simplify your life today so you can experience more peace, purpose and joy every day.

The day after what I chalk up to having been a bona fide nervous breakdown, I called my chiropractors (who also happen to be functional medicine doctors). I told them I needed help getting my body and mind healthy...that I needed them to tell me exactly what to do, breaking it down as simply as possible, and then I would do it.

I also made some phone calls to clients letting them know I needed to step back a bit, and make some changes to the way I’d been working up until that point.

My husband and I had some tough conversations about how I’d been feeling and the parts of daily life that felt overwhelming. Then, we came up with a game plan to simplify our life and create space for me to heal so we could move forward as a family.

For too long I’d lived without proper boundaries in nearly every area of my life....and the first step in choosing to walk down a different path, was learning how to honestly communicate with both myself and others.

When I look back at the way I was living life before….making decisions and saying yes haphazardly, never questioning why I was making the decisions I was or giving a second thought to the cost of my decisions, it’s easy to see how I wound up where I did.

What I’ve learned through this whole crazy journey is that the way we choose to live our lives is entirely up to us….we always have a choice.

And I believe that choosing to embrace purposeful simplicity, letting go of anything that is holding us back or keeping us stuck, is the best choice we could possibly make.

As I systematically rearranged my priorities and eliminated the non-essentials from my life, I found that I finally had the space I’d been craving for so long.

I had breathing room, margin, and exactly what I needed to truly flourish in every area of life. By choosing less, I’ve been able to make room for more of what matters the most.

Things like getting enough sleep at night, nourishing my body with real food, drinking plenty of water, moving my body daily, breathing in fresh air, soaking up vitamin D, basking and worshipping in the presence of my Heavenly Father, laughing and playing with my kids, dreaming with my husband, going on adventures to see the world, and making an impact in other people’s lives through the work I do each day.

These are the things that fuel my life now. I feel lighter, healthier, and free.

Life feels exactly the way I want it to, and while it’s not perfect, it’s real, and it’s full….filled only with the things that are essential, and good, and life-giving in this season.

It was Leo Tolstoy who said, “There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth,” and I think I’d have to agree with him.

So here is my challenge to you if you ever find yourself overwhelmed, stressed out or stuck in a life that no longer feels like your own:

Have the courage to let go of anything that is taking away from what matters most in your life.

Give yourself the gift of time and space, whether that means calling someone to stay with the kids while you go sit on a park bench and watch the clouds pass by, or taking a few days off from work and having a staycation to refresh your mind, body and soul, reconnecting with the people and things that matter most to you.

Ask yourself the important questions and give yourself space to breathe, think and respond.

What do you want? What matters most to you? Why does it matter? What is essential and necessary in your life right now, and what could you let go of?

Life is too precious and too short to go one more day stuck in broken patterns of sacrificing the things that matter most.

When you make the brave choice to simplify, saying no and letting go of the non-essentials, peace and joy will overflow your heart and quench your thirsty soul unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

I’m not promising it will be easy. In fact, it will likely be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done in your life.

But it will be worth it. Because you are worth it. All you have to do is decide to start, and there will never be a better day to start than today.

To help you get started on your journey with purposeful simplicity, click here to download my FREE Simplicity Starter Kit, a workbook and resource guide designed to help you simplify your life today so you can experience more peace, purpose and joy every day.

 

Kelsey Van Kirk is a blessed wife, mama to four beauties, writer, podcaster, and joy-seeker on a mission to help women embrace purposeful simplicity in everyday living. She is the Founder of Simply, Life on Purpose, Co-Host of The Purposeful Home Podcast, and a lover of good books, good wine, and salty sea breeze. You can connect with Kelsey more on Facebook, Instagram or in her online community, The Simply Life on Purpose Sisterhood.

How to Declutter Your Kids' Wardrobes

For me, the purpose of minimalism isn’t to count my items or to let go of things for the sake of being “minimalist”. I can’t do much of anything without a purpose behind it- it feels empty. And for me, minimalism holds tremendous purpose - it’s the pursuit of less, to make space in my home and, in turn, my life for more living, and less cleaning up after memories I wasn’t a part of.

It’s a learning curve though. It’s hard not to hold onto things “just in case”, especially when it comes to your kids’ clothes. Maybe you fear that you might need it later. Maybe the weather changes a lot where you live (we used to live in Northwest Arkansas where the weather was different almost every single day, so I get it). While these concerns are valid,  remember to be real with yourself.

What do your kids really wear and need on a regular basis? What’s truly serving a purpose in their wardrobe and what’s just filling space, making you feel safe?

How to Declutter Your Kids’ Wardrobes

1. Go into their dressers/closets and pull out what you know they haven’t worn in two weeks or more.

This doesn’t count out-of-season items you know you’re gonna need when the time comes. If your kid has a winter coat you predict will still fit when that season hits, hold onto it! Minimal does not equal wasteful. Or stupid.

2. Let go of what you think they can do without.

Don’t be afraid to be ruthless. It’s better to simplify to the extreme, box up what you think you can let go of, then wait a few weeks before officially donating any of it. If you had to go out to the garage for that fourth pair of jeans, maybe you need to hang onto it. This is a great way to declutter without terrifying yourself before officially donating clothes.

3. Don’t let socks and underwear overthrow your kingdom.

To help give you a visual of what works for our family, here are some photos of my kids’ wardrobes. These were taken during a mild season, and they do not include their winter coats or swimsuits.

There are also a few items (like dressy shirts) missing from these photos because, laundry.

My 8-year-old's wardrobe

My 8-year-old's wardrobe

My 6-year-old's wardrobe

My 6-year-old's wardrobe

my 5-year-old's wardrobe

my 5-year-old's wardrobe

My 2-year-old's wardrobe.

My 2-year-old's wardrobe.

I’ve got four kids, three of them are boys (messy, dirty, wild boys) and this is what works for me. I hope this makes you feel safe that it can work for you too!

“So… how often do you have to do laundry with a minimal wardrobe?”

A lot of people think that having fewer clothes means doing more laundry, but it’s actually the opposite. Less clothes, less to wash, less laundry. Do I do laundry more often? Yes. But listen…

There’s NO POINT in holding onto clothing for the sake of doing laundry less often. It’s much better to only keep what you know you like and your kids are actually wearing and get into a rhythm of doing a load in the morning, or every other morning, or twice a week, or whatever works for you.

I can get away with doing laundry once a week, even with this minimal amount of clothes, especially with re-wearing jeans that aren’t destroyed and things like that.

Note: Never heard of rhythms? Need help setting some up for your household?

Rhythms are life-changing habits that keep you from bottlenecking in your role as a mom.

In my FREE “Developing Rhythms” workbook, I help you work through the tasks in your life that would be better if they were systemized a little. It’s super easy and will free you up, not tie you down to routine, I promise. Click here to get it right now. (link to Leadbox for rhythms workbook goes here)

“What about hand-me-downs?”

From other people:

This is one reason it’s important to be ruthless when you purge. When you create this much white space, it’s much less stressful when new clothes come in. You can rest easy knowing it would take a lot to set you back. You don’t have to feel uptight when a friend brings a bag of clothes over out of generosity.

If you hold onto every single thing you “might” need later, you’re honestly wasting your time. If you’re dedicating time to declutter your kids’ wardrobes, use it wisely - go all in, be ruthless!

When someone gives me a bag of hand-me-downs, I graciously accept it and sort through it when I have a chance, setting aside anything I think might be truly useful. I donate everything else or pass it on to another friend whose kids fit that size.

Sibling-to-sibling:

Most people assume I don’t save clothes from one kid for another, which is silly because I have no desire to intentionally waste money. If there’s an item of clothing that’s somehow still in good condition (rare) I will hold onto it for my next kid. I only buy my kids things I like, that I want them to wear, and that work for our lifestyle, so if it’ll work for a sibling there’s no sense in getting rid of it!

Keep in mind though, that I have three boys back-to-back-to-back, so when one outgrows something, his brother is right behind him, and that piece of clothing isn’t going to be stored for long. If your kids are spaced out further and it’s going to sit in the closet for years, it isn’t worth it in my opinion. Styles change, fabrics fade, and that’s space in your home you’re giving to something that will save you maybe ten bucks. It’s up to you what you do (#youdoyou) but that’s my opinion.

“What about baby clothes? What if you anticipate more kids in the future, but don’t want to hoard?”

I keep the same philosophy with baby clothes as I do for sibling hand-me-downs. If there’s something you used, that served you through your baby days that is still in good condition and makes you excited to have another baby in the future, keep it!

Do not ever get rid of something solely for the sake of being minimal. It’s a waste, it’s legalistic, and it’s not purposeful. Get rid of things because they no longer serve you and very likely won’t serve you in the future, because they’re used up, because you’re leaving that particular season of life, or because their purpose has been served, and their time with you is done.

Ready to declutter your kids' wardrobes? Get started with my free Wardrobe Decluttering Action Guide!

Our Time Living in A Camper + Traveling with Four Kids

My family and I recently wrapped up a few months of full-time travel in a super tiny travel trailer. This post is really long, and it’s a summary of how it went and why we stopped. Keep reading if you’re interested in this, otherwise, head to the archives to read posts on the things I usually write about!


Late last Fall, my family and I were in Northwest Arkansas- the place we’d called home for one very difficult year- looking for a house in Southern California. We’d followed God’s call across the country and gone on an incredible, wild journey. We’d started out as a stay-at-home mom and an internet technician and ended our time in Arkansas in a very different place.

I was now an entrepreneur with an armful of high-profile media features under my belt (I talked to friggin Jenny McCarthy in my living room! What is happening?!), a book agent, and the possibility of a reality television series on the horizon. Brian was still shell-shocked. Did this all really even happen?! Our lives had totally turned around so quickly. He was no longer bound by the job that had kept him away from his family for years- missing soccer games and prenatal appointments. We had no more ties in this beautiful state, and we could feel our hearts being pulled back to our roots. It was time to go back home and be near friends and family again.

We sat in our office on the phone with landlord after landlord hearing the same words over and over. Nobody wanted to rent to an out-of-state couple with a brand new business (no matter how much we had sitting in the bank), a dog, and not-so-great credit (we had struggled so hard to get to where we currently were).

We sat there feeling frustrated. I mentioned that one idea we’d always talked about since four years earlier… living in a camper and traveling a little. We tossed the idea around a bit but it didn’t really stick because we were tired and needed to sleep and start fresh tomorrow. The next morning we went to church and then took an afternoon drive. We saw a vintage Airstream travel trailer on the side of the road with a “For Sale” sign on it, and it seemed perfectly timed, so we pulled over. It was unlocked, so we snuck inside for a peak. It was so amazing, but so old, and it needed tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of work. Not for us!

Seeing that trailer made last night’s idea catch a new spark though, so I opened Craigslist up on my phone and we found another trailer for sale just down the road from where we were. We called the couple that had posted it and headed over. We talked, bursting with excitement about what it might be like to leave everything behind and live in a camper, visiting friends around the country. Even the kids were into the idea!

The trailer was perfect. It had a little water damage, but nothing my handy hubby couldn’t fix. It was decorated, well, like a camper, so we decided we’d renovate it. We still weren’t sure about living in it, but we knew we could at least use it to get back to California until a house worked out. We were feeling excited and a little trigger happy, so we handed them cash and left with a camper attached to our Suburban. Crazy.

December came around and we wanted to spend Christmas with family, so we said goodbye to the friends we’d come to love, packed our furniture into a POD storage container, and rolled out. December and January were spent on renovations, and finally, after what felt like years of painting and fixing and planning, we were off to live beachside for awhile.

It was sort of a weird place to be in… we’d just finished renovating our camper, but our hearts weren’t quite ready to go. We’d just come back from more than a year away from family; we found ourselves wanting to be around them still. The city Brian and I grew up in is just forty minutes or so from the beach, so we landed a site at a beautiful RV resort in Oceanside and decided to spend some time there so we wouldn’t be too far from loved ones.  

We’d also realized, after renovating the camper and getting all the furniture and belongings we needed into it, that it was WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAAAAAAAAAAY too small for a family of six (plus a dog) to be living in. Like, way way way way way (okay, you get it) too small. Honestly, neither of us had a clue about camping, travel trailers, what kind of RV’s were even available (we now know there are basically estates on wheels out there), and like I said… we were a little trigger happy and just tried something crazy and ran with it. So we would keep running with it even if it was hard and imperfect. Because this camper was ours and it was special to us.

With what I do in my business, it was a fun challenge - minimalism to the extremest point. And that it was…

We spent two months living literally on the beach in beautiful So Cal. We would wake up in the morning and walk to get coffee and breakfast at the Buccaneer Cafe, watch the waves while we talked and ate eggs, go back to the camper to get some work done, and every time the kids needed to burn some energy or we felt cramped, the beach was right there.

We quickly learned that it’s hard to be productive in work and homeschooling when everyone around you is on vacation. You have to create your own boundaries and structure, and that’s really hard to do when the beach is outside your window. I’d hired several people to take on important roles in my business (a VA, a customer service rep, and a social media manager) in order to make my work load lighter, but working without an office was still a challenge that I was determined to figure out.

We had made an amazing deal with a huge website- they wanted me to create a mini course for their audience (a bite-size version of my full decluttering course). This was a huge opportunity for us and we were so excited about it! Brian had taken courses and learned to do the video/photo/media work I really needed done, so we worked as a team and took this project on.

It was terrible. There were so many problems and hurdles because of our lifestyle. The situation made us look so frazzled and unprofessional...we needed an office.

We tried renting a cute house in LA to record the course at, but the neighbor was working on his roof and it was so loud we couldn’t record, and we couldn’t convince him to stop either (he was kind of a jerk…).

$350 down the pipes.

We borrowed a friend’s adorable shop in Oceanside and spent an entire day recording with the camera set up on auto-pilot (so Brian could be with the kids while I recorded), and the footage turned out unfocused on fuzzy.

Seven hours of me sitting in a chair talking into a camera, for nothing.

We spent another $500 on furniture and set up a faux living room in the empty cottage my parents had in their backyard. Third time’s the charm I guess, because this time worked. However, we had leaked money on this very simple project and it had taken so much extra time… all because we didn’t have a home office to work from. We started to feel worried. Could we really do this with the type of business we had?

Pretty soon it was time to leave- we could feel the urge to travel and do what we’d bought the camper to do, so we planned a trip south and rolled out again. Our goal was to end up in Florida. My best friend of twenty-three years lives in Clearwater with her husband and two kids, and I hadn’t seen her in way too long.

We planned to stop in Arkansas for a week on the way to visit the friends we’d made while we lived there. We hiked, laughed, had slumber parties, met friends for lunch, and had a blast! We did all the things we couldn’t do while we lived in Arkansas because of the chaos of starting a business.

We left Arkansas feeling grateful for friendships but very behind on work. No matter what we did, this felt like vacation and it was nearly impossible to balance visiting with friends and not being “home” with getting steady work done. One of us needed to be with the kids at all times and we both had a list of work tasks to handle.

The camper was so small and cramped we really couldn’t all be in it at once, which was a really difficult problem to have. Every day felt like a battle we were losing and it really sucked the fun out of traveling. We decided to work harder to find a way to make this work because this life was a dream (and it seemed like everyone else’s dream) and we didn’t want to feel ungrateful.

I started staying in hotels whenever I had a live workshop to host or needed a couple days to catch up on writing. There was (pretty) reliable WIFI there and a nice background for videos versus the kids’ bunk beds or my tiny, always-messy kitchen with way-too-bright-and-unflattering lighting in the camper. Can you guys feel my stress as you read this? It was so. stressful. All the time!

As we traveled from Arkansas to Florida, making stops along the way, I had meetings while in the car with my four (very loud) children and spotty service and dropped more calls than I can remember. I wrote while Brian drove, and Brian edited videos while I took the kids to get dinner, I even hosted a live webinar from the camper pulled over in the parking lot of a Denny’s. Even though we got by and accomplished the bare minimum, none of it was really working. The stress of doing this and making it work wasn’t quite worth it to us, and we were really starting to realize that. 

We saw some neat places, spent a day in Nashville (which I LOVED), and finally made it to Florida. We spent nearly a month there with our friends. It almost felt like the whole process- buying the camper, renovating it, traveling back across the country- like all of it had been to get to Florida to be with these people we loved so much. And if that’s true, it was so worth it.

I think we would’ve stayed in Florida longer if we hadn’t had a deadline. My little sister was graduating from high school and I didn’t want to miss it. We drove all the way back across the country in just three days. Our car made a huge difference though so don’t be too proud of us, ha! We ditched our beater Suburban and got a shiny new Yukon that came with a DVD player…. Yeah, road trips are much easier with a TV! But I’m really grateful we didn’t have one until last month. We had so many wonderful conversations, listened to great audiobooks, and built road trip habits that will last forever, DVD player or not. My kids don’t expect constant entertainment and they know how to busy themselves and have conversations during a long stretch of driving.

We’ve just gotten settled into a three-bedroom apartment on a short-term lease while we wait for the house hunting chaos to settle after summer is over. At that point, we’ll start looking into settling somewhere more permanently, and I can’t wait.

All in all, we feel that full-time travel isn’t for our family in this particular season. We think if we had known more going in and purchased a much larger travel trailer or RV with a space that could’ve acted as an office, things would’ve been easier. But that’s only part of it. We ached to be home. It felt like we weren’t home the whole time. Yes, wherever my family is is “home”, but we ached for a place to come to after a long day or travel. A place with the things we loved, a place to invite friends over to, a place to stretch out and not feel so squished, a place near family, a place with my personal touch all over it (I love to decorate and to live in a place where I feel inspired). The camper just wasn’t those things for us, as much as we wanted it to be.

Brian and I are so glad we bought the camper! It’s paid for and renovated and it gave us some amazing memories and adventure, and we will use it often (it’s being stored nearby). One of the biggest benefits to our business is that we have full control over planning the workload. If we plan ahead, we can take a very extended vacation, use the camper, and leave work behind while we take the kids on another adventure. But that is a totally separate issue from living and trying to manage a global business in it ;)

There are a lot of questions I get asked about living in a camper and how it worked, so I’m going to answer the most common ones here to clear the air.

Camper Living Q+A


Q: How did doing this change your family?

A: We are so much closer! My kids' relationships with each other is much closer, Brian and I are closer, and we each feel closer to our kids as well. It bonded us together in a way I didn't think was possible. We've always been a very tightly knit family since we've homeschooled our kids and are always together, but this brought us to another level that I'm very thankful for. 

Q: How did sex work in the camper? TMI?

A: Not TMI- I get it, you’re curious how we could make it happen with the kids literally RIGHT THERE in their bunks. Let me first say that where there's a will, there's a way, and Brian and I defintiely had a lot of will! Here’s how we got it on…

  1. Quietly.

  2. Behind what Brian calls the “security curtain”, haha! This was a doubly thick black curtain with sound-reducing cushion sewn in between the layers. The curtain was up 24/7 and closed like a bedroom door every night at bedtime.

  3. Thanks to stabilizers. If you’re going to have sex in a camper, get the best stabilizers you can find. We did, and the camper didn’t budge. It took a huge worry off me and helped me enjoy the ride ;)

Q: I noticed you stayed in hotels pretty much every night you were traveling from one state to another. What’s the point of having the camper if you’re going to stay in hotels?

A: What most people don’t understand is that we were not camping, we were living on the road. This means that we didn’t just have a week or even a month’s worth of stuff in the camper… everything we needed to have with us for living was in there. When we were actively traveling, bins of clothes, chairs, tables, our rug, everything that lived outside against the wall when we were stationary went inside the camper and you could barely squeeze in to use the bathroom! Hotels took a ton of time and work out of the experience for us, and obviously we lived in the camper once we got somewhere.

Q: What was your daily routine like while you traveled?

A: It was constantly changing depending on where we were, what time zone we were in, and what we had planned for each day. But a typical day looked pretty normal. I didn’t wake up very early while we lived in the camper because it was such close quarters that I’d wake the kids and they’d be grumpy later (although some days I did rise early and just head to Starbucks right away before waking anyone). We’d wake up together most days and start with coffee and breakfast, then spend the late morning getting work done before moving into some homeschooling, then spend the afternoon exploring our area.

Q: What was the hardest thing to get into a rhythm with while living in the camper?

A: Homeschooling, actually. By the time we did breakfast and cleaned up, worked for a few hours, made lunch and cleaned up, the last thing any of us wanted to do was school.

Q: How did grocery shopping and meal prep work with such a small fridge?

A: This was almost my answer to the last question- it was HARD. We ended up choosing to eat out a ton. It ended up taking a burden off of us. We eat very clean most of the time (for me it’s a necessity because of health issues) so when we eat out the price difference isn’t very much more than when we shop at Whole Foods. We grocery shopped every other day for fresh produce, snacks, and breakfast foods and still barely had enough space to store things in the fridge and pantry.

Q: How much did it cost to renovate the camper? Was it worth it?

A: It cost about $6,000 - $7,000 in renovations. Yes it was worth it! I recently did a really long Instagram Story about how home matters and I care about how I feel when I walk into where I live. I want it to be decorated well, to feel like mine, to have my touch all over it. Whether we're in a home we bought, an apartment we'll live in for less than six months (currently), or a camper, I want it to make me happy when I walk in. That's why we renovated the camper, and it was worth it. 

Q: What was most surprising to you about the full-time travel lifestyle?

A: How expensive it is. I’ve always heard a lot of people say they live in campers and travel to save money, but this doesn’t make much sense to me. Yes, rent is less. I mean, we lived beachside in Southern California for $1,000/month. And we bought a Thousand Trails membership which let us stay at their sites free of charge, but they didn’t have many sites in the states we stayed at. There’s also a lot that increases in price when you decide to travel full-time, like the phone bill. We needed to have constant access to strong internet connection because of homeschooling and running the business, and the best way to get that is through your phone (personal hotspot), so our bill went up to $280.

Q: What size trailer do you have?

A: A 26' travel trailer with no slide-outs. 

Q: How did you do laundry while living in the camper?

A: The resorts we stayed at always had laundromats. Once a week either Brian or myself would spend most of the day there catching up on all the laundry. With four kids and basically camping full-time, it was hard to not be able to wash whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, but we made it work, just like everything else about this lifestyle!

Q: How did your kids feel about this lifestyle?

A: They loved it. It was such a sweet adventure, even with all the hard parts. Brian and I were afraid it’d be too squished and they’d hate it, but they loved snuggling into their little bunks every night and giggling themselves to sleep. They were constantly telling us how much they loved living in the camper. Towards the end, they started talking about “going home” and missing everyone. I think we all felt the pull to call it quits at the same time.


So there's my super honest post all about our time in the camper. I hope it answered your questions! Now back to my laundry, which I can now wash anytime I want to in the machines inside my house.... ;)

xo Allie

Giving Your Kids the Gift of Less

Motherhood is a crazy blur with a few quiet moments thrown in that make you realize how time is fleeting and you should quiet down and enjoy it more. 

Most people don’t though. Most people wake up the next morning to the crazy blur and let it erase the memory of that sweet, quiet moment. They let it take them away from what matters most - the hearts of the people they love. They get re-busy and don’t slow down again until the next quiet, scary moment when they realize once again that time is fleeting and they’re missing things.

None of us want to be “most people” - I sure don’t. But isn’t it so hard?

There are things that need to get done and places we have to get to… it’s just, busy. What are we supposed to do? 

I’m no expert, but I can tell you one thing for sure. Simplifying everywhere I can has transformed my entire life. 

I simplified my whole house and became a different person - one who doesn’t yell so much or feel stretched super thin every day. A person who walks into her house and feels at peace instead of overwhelmed.

I simplified, eating clean foods and moving my body more often, and quickly lost forty pounds.

I simplified my kids’ toys and the way we do childhood in our house. My kids have closer relationships with each other, and with the other people in their lives. 

They know how to imagine worlds, make up stories, create art, and explore the outdoors. They’re more in tune with their natural gifts and skills, they’re more grateful, and they’re more self-sufficient. 

I learned through experience over the past five years in my search for simple in all areas of life, that those most deeply impacted by the gift of less are the kids. 

Let me ask you, what do you want as you raise your children? And based on that, where are you currently going? 

Do you want your kids to grow up a little differently than kids today are growing up - with imaginations and the desire to get outside and play? 

Do you want to understand why less is truly more when it comes to your kids’ toys?

Do you want simple, applicable ways you can declutter the toys without scarring them?

Do you want to inspire imagination and creativity in your home?

Do you want solutions for remaining uncluttered once you’re done purging when kids seem to bring home so much STUFF all the time?

If your answer is yes, you’re in the right place, friend. I so understand those desires.

I’ve found a way to get there in this crazy modern world, oversaturated with technology and loud, distracting toys that do all the imagining for our kids. You CAN simplify here and give your kids the beautiful gift of less.

I recently hosted an online class all about minimalism, simplifying the toys, and what it all does for your kids. If you want to learn how you can move from where your family is now to actually decluttering the toys in a way that doesn’t have anyone crying, this is for you.

Just click the button below and you’ll get access to the class recording. 

In the class, I go over why minimalism is such a gift for your kids, and even talk about scientific experiments that have been done to prove it. Then we get into the nitty gritty of HOW you can make the changes in your home, because I want you to take real action, not just sit and listen then leave feeling like you don’t know what to do.

Give your kids the gift of less clutter, of more imagination, more play. Kids were made to play - they’re naturals at it! We just have to get out of the way and clear a space for it to happen. :)

How Minimizing My Kids' Baby Stuff Made Me A Better Mom

A guest post by Lisa Avellan from Simple and Soul.

I stood in the garage, hands on my hips and my weight shifting from one leg to the other. What if, I asked myself, I just never come in here again? That might work. I’ll just forget we have a garage at all.

Eighteen months ago, at the start of this minimalism journey, I said this was the place I’d never touch. This was the forbidden area – the corner with my kids’ baby stuff. It wasn’t bothering anyone, neatly stacked with Tetris precision over there… no need to worry about it. Minimalism doesn’t need to go that far.

Yet, there I stood in the center of our garage, all other garage clutter removed, and I realized I’d reached a chasm in my compartmentalized philosophy: is partial freedom enough?

It was time to get serious. Not because minimalism is about getting rid of all the things, but because my “never-get- rid-of- stuff” was holding me hostage in my own motherhood.

If I’ve learned anything from minimalism it’s that minimalism questions everything. It’s not shy to call out the stuff I’ve refused to surrender. I had to choose: go further, deeper, and wider with my minimalism than I thought possible, or cut this trip short, pick up my chains, and go back inside.

The impossibly small onesies, the party dresses hardly worn, the first family photo outfits, and bins of all the things my babies used for every ‘first’ up to this point of their lives. Along with the cradle, the sensory toys, the high chair, swing and bouncer, and swaddling bags and blankets. Wraps and carriers, footie pajamas, and handmade summer dresses from Great Grandma.

Were these the things that my freedom teetered on?

I stood on the precipice I didn't know if I'd ever be ready for, and yet as I neared the ledge I felt a confidence, an acquired sense of surety that came with the months of minimalism prior, that this call to go over the ledge wasn't going to break me.

I felt safe, even, as if this was the point of the journey – travel the slow and steady road, growing confident and strong, until it arrives at the cliff of complete transformation. I was ready to go over, but how? And to what end?

I remembered a quote I heard a couple years ago.

If you’re falling...dive.
— Joseph Campbell

My feet neared the edge, and I had to make a choice. Will I fall over the edge, or will I dive?

Will I fall into this next leg of the journey and miss the entire adventure in the chaos of flailing limbs and closed eyes? Or, will I dive with purpose, heart first and head strong, noticing the wild and free nature-songs and the artful sediment layered beneath the surface?

Minimalism, the removal of distraction and clutter in order to fully love all that remains, is always a dive.

It’s a lump-in- your-throat surrender to be present and vulnerable and fully here, in the moment.

If you’d like to go deeper in your minimalism, I created a great resource to guide you. Click here to download your Home & Soul Declutter Kit!!

That day I dove into my kid’s baby stuff, and these are the lessons I learned about letting go:

Gratitude is the heart’s salve

My pursuit of minimalism has pivoted on gratitude. It's my centering point and as I approached my kids' baby stuff, my impossible to minimize stuff, I drew near to gratitude.

I knew that if I faced this impossible task unprepared I'd lose heart. My emotional attachment to the tiny hats and itty bitty skinny jeans and Mary Janes that never stayed on their chubby feet would outpace my resolve to let it go. Gratitude was my healing salve.

Gratitude eased the pain of letting go with joy - a joy for having had it and joy for the babies that once were so small. Gratitude replaced the ache of change with the comfort of provision. It reminded me that memories are not kept in things, but in the heart.

Blessing others with it keeps the love alive

After packing up the boxes of clothes and toys for donation, I bent over to rest my head against them and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. Overwhelmed with what I was about to do, I could only pray gratitude for the opportunity to give these clothes a second life.

I still hadn't decided where I would donate these precious things, but I knew that giving it away would keep the love alive. My hope was that my gratitude for my ‘impossible to let go of’ stuff would bless some baby girl the way it had blessed both of mine.

Eucharisteo - thanksgiving - precedes the miracle.
— Ann Voskamp

The miracle came a few hours and an Instagram post later – a church friend expecting her first daughter wanted it all. Just like that, the love would transfer from my mama heart to hers, from my babies to her baby girl. A blessing for this sweet family, and for me, a mother releasing the past while watching a new baby girl grow up in it all.

This is how we keep the love alive.

Holding on to our kids' pasts distracts us from who they are becoming

Every time I thought about my kids’ stuff in the garage my heart would ache a bit. Where has time gone? Where did my babies go? I'd lament the growing up of my kids. Then I'd lament that I was lamenting because it felt ungrateful.

I don't want my motherhood to be focused on what was; I want to be a mother who is un-doing to witness my children’s becoming.

Involving kids in minimizing their own stuff is healing and (sort of) helpful

I admit that, for sanity's sake, far too many times I prefer to do things myself rather than involve my kids. But when it comes to minimizing their stuff, I've found involving them in the process heals my heart and helps me process it all.

My girls loved looking through their baby clothes, asking who wore what and if they really were that small once. Their playful laughter and running off to get a doll to put the baby booties on filled the room with a healing joy for my weary heart.

What they lacked in actual helpfulness, they helped me understand the practice of simplicity isn't heartbreaking; it’s heart-freeing. It's a process fueled by love.

Now I see minimalism for what it really is. It is nothing... nothing but love, my friend.
— Courtney Carver

Letting go creates space for hope

Kids need space and kid stuff steals space.

A flagship principal of minimalism is creating physical space in our homes. This white space becomes a refuge of restoration and hope; two things clutter manages to steal from us. Letting go makes our home a place to dream and discover our true self with freedom.

But it's not just physical space; it's mental and emotional space that our kids need. I believe that my kids will benefit more from my mental and emotional clarity of being a present and purposeful mom, than by the bins of baby stuff stacked in the garage. I believe their security and self-image will flourish in a home with less distraction and self-discovery.

My kids won't remember the day we gave away all but a few of their baby items, but I have more hope than ever that the space we created that day will impact their childhood (and my motherhood) in infinite ways.

 

Everyone has their own cliff that minimalism will bring them to; it’s part of the journey to freedom. It’s a safe journey, of love and gratitude and hope. My hope is that if you are nearing yours, you will dive. It's where the best of minimalism is found.

Click here for an awesome resource to help you dig deeper into your stuff and your soul. The Home & Soul Declutter Kit is almost 30 pages of purposeful decluttering and soul discovery tools. Minimalism isn’t about stuff, it’s about soul.

Lisa Avellan believes minimalism isn’t about stuff, it’s about the soul. She writes at Simple & Soul, a blog to help you simplify life and discover your best self. She is a stay at home wife and mom of two in California.

You can find Lisa on Facebook and Instagram.

When Minimalism Becomes Ingratitude

Minimalism is sweeping the world in a refreshing wave of less. It’s an idea that’s very close to my heart. Five years ago, before I knew it was called ‘minimalism’, before there was a documentary and a thousand other blogs on the subject, getting rid of the excess in my home saved my motherhood.

Minimalism is basically a lifestyle of purposely choosing to live with less stuff in your home so that there’s less to maintain and more time and space to focus on what really matters.

For moms, this is everything, which is why I started a movement for mothers based on this idea. I spend my days encouraging hundreds of thousands of my fellow women to ditch the clutter and the chaos and get intentional about how they’re spending their mom lives. And it’s incredible!

In doing what I do, there are a few things I see on a regular basis that make my heart ache. One of them is when a desire for minimalism takes over and becomes ingratitude.

In a world saturated with materialism, we have to fight to live with less, and it’s dang hard. I get it.

But sometimes, in our fierce attempt to simplify and be more aware of what’s coming into our homes, we become ungrateful guardians of our domains that make other people feel like we don’t appreciate their gifts. And maybe that we don’t appreciate them.

I know where the passion for less comes from. It’s like an inner uprising- a deep desire for a simpler way of living when you figure out what works and you’ve been living in the clutter and chaos for so long… you just want out. You found a way and you see the light and you’re not stopping for anything.

If you find yourself in this place, sister, let me encourage you to press pause.

Why are you doing this?
What brought you to this place of desiring simplicity?
What is the root reason for you seeking out minimalism in your life?

The root for most of us is relationships. Our relationships began to suffer because we were doing all the things, cleaning up constantly, running on a treadmill fueled by an endless cycle of stuff.

We want to be closer to our children, we want to stop being nagging, stressed out wives. We want time to be better friends with the other women in our lives, we want to have the time, space, and focus to love others and be present for them.

Let’s not get so caught up in being the editors of our homes that we hurt those around us.

Obviously, there’s a huge difference between someone giving a gift to you or your kids and someone who is blatantly against the way you’re choosing to live and continuously brings things over when you’ve kindly asked them not to. But what we’re talking about here is making minimalism into some legalistic law you follow to the death, no matter who you take down in the process.

It’s easy to do as we fight for the motherhood we want, so I encourage you to take a scoopful of grace if you’re feeling like you’ve gone down this path.

When it’s your child’s birthday, have a grateful heart.

Be honest when people ask what he’d like as a gift, but don’t keep other people in your life from blessing your kids. Ask for an experience gift over a material gift, tell them how much he loves *insert child’s favorite activity*, but don’t be upset when the day comes and he receives toys you know he doesn’t need.

Minimalism, the way I teach it and the way I believe in it, isn’t about only having what you need. Where’s the joy in that anyway?

When you get a basket of lotions and candles from your mother-in-law, give her an authentic hug. She cares about you! It doesn’t matter if the gift was totally obligatory or truly heartfelt- it’s a gift, and gifts are exclamations of love. Value your relationships over the state of your home- that’s what you came into this for in the first place, right?

Plus, I can tell you having spent years on the “other side” of minimalism with four kids… if you simplify your home and live this out day to day, gifts can’t set you back!

You don’t have to fret over the little things or stress out about how many presents your kids get for Christmas. When everything else is truly simplified, there’s room for holidays and birthdays and tokens of love from the people in your life. It’s okay.

My advice to anyone looking to implement minimalism is this: walk away from the legalism of it.

Don’t count your things, don’t guard your home from gifts like a lioness guarding her cubs. Just focus on simplifying what you can control and remember what matters most in this life- loving the people in it.


Are you struggling to become a minimalist mama? It’s hard! But like any labor, so worth it. When you say “no more” to the cycle of clutter and chaos, you get your life back.

You can be the mom who sits down and plays with her kids, the mom who isn’t stretched so thin all the time.

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My course, Your Uncluttered Home,  is the A to Z of realistic, doable minimalism for mothers. In it, I walk you through the issues you’ll face during this lifestyle change (what if your husband isn’t on board, what if your kids aren’t, do you sell or donate your things, etc) as well as the decluttering process for each and every room in your home.

There’s a section just for your kids, taught by my daughter Bella. There are checklists and worksheets and interviews and videos for you to make this happen in your life. There’s a reason this course has earned me global attention and interviews on multiple national news networks and websites- it works!

If you’re ready to dive in and make a forever impact in your home, yourself, and your family, I’ve got your back, mama. Let’s make it happen!

A Beginner's Guide to A Minimalist Home

How do you feel when you walk into your home? Seriously, answer right now.

Do you feel happy? Calm? Overwhelmed? Upset? Depressed? Resentful? Blessed? Like you just don’t even have time to give two craps?

Grab a pen or your smartphone and jot down the first emotion or thought that pops up for you when I ask you that question… how do you feel when you walk into your home?

Now answer this - how do you want to feel when you walk into your home? Write it down.

Do your answers match? If not, this is for you today, mama. I know how you feel because I have so been there. But let me give you a virtual hug and a big scoop of hope… it doesn’t have to be like this anymore. Really! It doesn’t.

I’m not going to offer you some kind of ridiculous cleaning schedule or set of tasks to check off every day. I’m here to give you something that will last- the gift of less.

While magazines and Pinterest graphics everywhere are telling you to get organized and rearrange the way you have things set up, I’m here to tell you that none of that is going to help you one bit. All that’s gonna do is have you moving things around that are still in your way. I want you to actually let go of the stuff you have in your home but don’t need- the things that aren’t adding to your life or helping you fulfill your purpose. When you have less in your way, you have more time, energy, and space (emotionally, mentally, and physically) to focus on what matters most.

New here? Read my story to learn more about how I got here and why I do what I do.

I’m here to tell you with the biggest smile on my face and a hefty confidence that you can feel at peace, happy, relaxed, and fulfilled when you walk into your home on any given day. You can breathe and know that you don’t have to run around like a headless chicken trying to keep things clean, because they just stay cleaner when there’s less stuff. You can spend thirty minutes of your day on housework instead of four hours.

You can spend your weekends enjoying your family instead of catching up on the laundry. Seriously!

What does your home feel like to your family? Ask them.

If you’re afraid of their answer, I’ve been there too. I remember nagging my husband about how hard keeping up with my role was and how I wished he helped more. I remember being the mom who yelled, who was always behind, always cleaning up, and rarely enjoyed her family.

Your home can be a true haven for your family- it all starts with you, mama. You set the tone. If we can get you simplified and feeling lighter, it’s going to show on your face and in your voice, and that’s going to have a massive, positive impact on the people you love who share your space.  

So many of us think that keeping our home needs to take up the bulk of our time. But when you choose to let go of what you don’t need, of what isn’t serving you, you have less to maintain in your home and less time spent on it.

Most of my students who have gone through Your Uncluttered Home say the same thing- that they only spend about thirty minutes a day cleaning and maintaining their homes (the exceptions usually have extremely large houses).

Step outside of your current reality for a moment and imagine that… only spending half an hour at the end of your day cleaning up, with a few simple rhythms in place (wiping the counters and table after meals, etc) during the day. What would change for you? What would you do with your time? How much closer would you be with your children? The whole world opens up!

Minimalism is so much more than a clean house (that’s a perk for sure though!). It’s about creating the time and space you need to be a present mom; to live a purposeful life you love. It’s about getting to your eightieth birthday and knowing you were there; you didn’t just clean up after a life you wished you’d lived.

But how do you get there? Obviously you have to do some work on your house and get to this point, right? What does this look like room-by-room?

The Kitchen

I don’t think any room is as integral as the kitchen. Everything happens here! School lunches are prepared, family dinners are made, coffee is brewed… this room is Grand Central Station for the busy mom.

Start simplifying in here by getting rid of some dishes! Most of us have way more dishes than we need, and it’s kinda weird. Why do we feel like we need three different sets all the time? Unless you’re the Duggars, you don’t.

Take a look at your cups and mugs the same way. How many do you have? Why do you have so many? What do you really use and love? Let go of the excess!

Look at your appliances. Those are such space hogs! And a lot of the time, we don’t realize how many we’ve been storing for years and not using at all. Sometimes you’ll find that one appliance has the same features as another appliance you own- you don’t need duplicates, so pick one!

Get my free guide to decluttering the laundry and dishes! This is one of my most popular downloads because it’s straightforward, but detailed and helpful for the two biggest time-suckers in your home.

The Kids Rooms

Most people think kids equal clutter, and there’s not much you can do about it, but I disagree. :) I think kids means messes, but not clutter. I believe mothers need minimalism more than anybody, and kids need it too!

Start by simplifying your kids’ wardrobes. So often we keep way too many clothing options and hand-me-downs for our kids, and all it does is give us overstuffed drawers and extra things to clean. Let it go, girl! Pare down to what you know your kids like, fit in, and actually wear.

Next, take a look at the toys. I know this is a really sensitive area because there’s often a lot of guilt that comes with simplifying the toys, but listen to me… your kids will play so much better with less to choose from.

Start by getting rid of what you know isn’t played with. If it’s broken, missing pieces, or just no longer used, let it go.

Keep things positive by talking to your child about how their toys will change the life of another child who is less fortunate than they are. When I make decluttering about blessing others, my kids light up. It’s a win-win. Let your kids be a part of the process- show them where you take their donations, make them aware of what kind of kids are getting their old toys and teach them to give.

Want a lot more help with your kids and decluttering their toys? I’m hosting a free online workshop where I’m teaching just that!

The Bathrooms

The bathroom is a fantastic place to start if decluttering totally overwhelms you.

Not a lot of people keep precious memories stored in the bathroom… it’s usually just old eyeshadows and hair tools you never use anymore. This makes the bathroom a great place to build some confidence and momentum, so you feel inspired and ready to move forward.

Here are some of my tips for taking on the bathrooms:

  • Don’t let the kids’ bath toys take over for one more day. Choose two of their favorites (or let them choose) and get rid of the rest.

  • If you haven’t used it in the last month, it’s probably not something you should hold on to.

  • It’s unsanitary to keep old makeup. Use that as your excuse for trashing it and let go of the guilt. It’s gross, girl!

  • Keep what you know you use regularly. Be honest with yourself!

  • Only keep one of each toiletry- one shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc. Buy a new one when you run out. You don’t need multiples.

  • Every bathroom-dweller has a secret grooming product obsession; they buy multiples of their fetish item. When faced with more than three of anything in the bathroom, invoke the Law of Numbers: Keep two favorites, declutter the rest.

  • If you haven’t used it in the last month, it’s probably not something you should hold on to. Things like make up you only wear to fancy occasions are your call, but know that it’s unsanitary to keep them, so use that as an excuse to let them go guilt-free.

The Master Bedroom

I used to use my master bedroom as a holding cell for all the crap I didn’t have time to put away. I used it to dump clean laundry I didn’t feel like folding, too. Basically, at the end of a very long, draining day of mom life, I would climb the stairs and enter an abyss of stress. Perfect, right?

Your bedroom needs to be a place where you can rest and recharge. It just does. Mom life ain’t easy, and we need somewhere we can go to be revived. I don’t think we need to go outside of our houses for that; I think we can make that happen in daily life right where we live, and I think that’s the main purpose of this room. (it’s also where the “magic” happens, and the magic is a lot more magical when the floor isn’t covered in crap, am I right?!)

Start by removing all the things being kept in your bedroom that don’t belong there! What have you thrown in there because your mother-in-law was about to drop by? Use my favorite trick and grab an empty laundry hamper. Put everything that doesn’t belong in your bedroom in the hamper, then take it around the house with you delivering things to their proper homes.

Next, clean up your nightstands. These tiny tables are such clutter collectors! What do you need next to you when you start and end your day? Clear everything else off.

Pare down your wardrobe by using the reverse hanger trick. After you wear something from your closet, hang it back up and reverse the hanger so it’s facing the opposite way of the rest of the hangers. After a few weeks, look and see what’s still forward-facing. You probably don’t need those items as much as you thought you did, huh? Simplify!

your uncluttered home allie casazza

If you’re sitting there wanting to just go all-in and makeover your motherhood through minimalism, check out my online course, Your Uncluttered Home. It’s earned global praise for the simple, busy-mama-friendly philosophy of realistic minimalism for families.

In it, I will take you through every step, A to Z, room-by-room until you come out the other side, and then even further through maintenance mode and lifestyle shifts like dealing with relatives who won’t stop giving and things like that. I’ve got your back, girl. Let’s make this happen together!

Decluttering 101: The Problem With Selling Your Stuff

allie casazza decluttering 101 the problem with selling your stuff

Selling your stuff can be a great way to reward yourself for your hard work. I have someone in my community who made enough money to take her family of seven on a vacation! It can feel like it’s all worthwhile when it seems like you’ve wasted so much money. I totally get it.

However, selling the things you aren’t keeping can also be a major hurdle, and I’ve seen it hold people back so badly that their decluttering actually comes undone.

Depending on your method of selling, you have to wait for another person to take interest in each item, which is totally separate from them actually coming to pick it up with cash in hand (or you taking time from your day to go to the UPS store and mail it to them).

When you’re decluttering, the last thing you need is a reason to hold onto your stuff longer. Someone in your family sees the pile of “to sell” in the garage and suddenly that old toy they forgot existed and haven’t played with in years is their most favorite thing in the entirety of this world, and out of the pile it comes. And so do twelve others.

The stuff in the piles gets moved around and pulled back into the house and before you know it, hours of your hard work come undone and you kind of just let the whole thing go.

It’s a slippery slope.

Here’s what I want you to take from this post - value your time and the hard work you put into decluttering more than you value the money you may or may not get for the items you’re letting go of.

Where are you at in this process? Is it all fresh? Are you having anxiety over all the money lost from buying all this stuff and wishing you could somehow make it better or make your husband less angry about it?

Know yourself.

And remember this - you did not waste money when you decided to declutter. You wasted money when you bought a bunch of stuff you didn’t really need.

The decluttering isn’t where the waste happens, the purchasing is.

One thing I usually advise people to do is sell the big ticket items at a killer price. For example, one of my clients sold her Kitchenaid mixer for $85. She posted it to a Facebook “garage sale” site and it was out of her house that night. Done and done. That’s the way to go!

Things like furniture and big ticket appliances are great items to sell if you really want to, but things like toys, clothes, plates, etc just take up time and aren’t really worth the money in my opinion. The risk outweighs the possible benefit here.

One great way to make some money without risking undoing your work is garage sales. If you live somewhere where the weather currently allows, host a garage sale and make some cash! Make the decision to haul whatever’s left away to be donated, no matter what it is and don’t let yourself waver.

When I was purging my home, I held a couple of garage sales throughout the process and it was nice to make a little something (we needed it bad at the time anyway!)

Think about the other side of this, too.

Who will receive an amazing deal on the things you donate?

Who will be so blessed by these things for free? (some places you donate don’t resell items, but rather give them to the needy at no cost)

When I was doing my initial purge, I was on a first name basis with the people who worked at my local donation center.

I had brought in a bunch of my daughter’s shoes and toys, and the next day when I was bringing in another load, the woman who worked there told me that I had just missed the sweetest, young, single mama who bought most of her stuff for her baby girl for just a few dollars. She told me she’d been so grateful to find stuff that was her daughter’s size and that she’d needed it so bad. It warmed my heart and reminded me why donating is awesome.

I understand that sometimes, you might be in the position of that single mom- in desperate need of some cash. I understand that some things are worth a decent amount of money and you’d like to make that money. I understand as I was there before too!

Just remember to know yourself, know where you’re at in this process, think of who you could bless by donating, and don’t compromise your success or waste your precious time to make a few bucks.

Have you sold anything in the process of decluttering? Share your experience in the comments!

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How Minimalism Impacts Kids

kids minimalism playing toys

So much of the time, people have the idea that minimalist motherhood is an oxymoron. They think living a minimal lifestyle and having children in the house is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos, but they’re wrong. In the age of iPads strapped to car seats, childhood obesity being at an all time high, and nearly every kid in the U.S. being insufficient in Vitamin D, the kids of today need minimalism more than ever.

There are so many positive side effects of minimalism for mothers, and I spend my days helping my fellow women reshape the way they’re doing mom life based on a realistic, empowering philosophy of less clutter. What I want the world to understand too, is how minimalism makes an impact on children.

As a mom of four little ones, I can testify for this strongly! In the last five years of raising my babies under the minimalist lifestyle, I have seen a huge shift in my children and our family as a whole, and I notice some truly amazing differences in my kids on a regular basis.

The Effects of Minimalism on My Children
 

Lack of entitlement

My kids do not feel entitled to a new toy when we go to Target, they don’t even think to ask. Sure, they’re human beings and they see things they think are awesome and will occasionally ask for a toy- they’re not robots- but they don’t expect it; they don’t feel that they have the right to getting it. And to me, that’s the problem with so many kids today.

My kids also do not expect constant entertainment, they make their own. Driving for three days straight across the country last week, there was only one meltdown and it was from the two-year-old on the final day who was tired of being in his seat. The older kids made up stories and games, they laughed and played while buckled into the same seats for days in a row.

Sitting at the DMV a couple weeks ago, they pretended to be Princess Toadstool and the Mario Brothers for an hour without complaint.

When Brian and I have work to do, the kids are around because we homeschool, so we are literally all together 24/7. It’s rarely a problem because the kids will go outside and play for hours.

This is a reality so many parents don’t think is possible, but I’m telling you- it is.

Gratitude

So many of us want to raise grateful humans, but we overwhelm them with entertainment, gifts for no reason, and the philosophy that they should never want for anything or ever be uncomfortable. I don’t purposely create unfortunate situations for my kids, but life is crazy and stuff happens. Everything is not fluffy unicorns and butterflies and my kids are aware of that, even at very young ages, and they’re some of the most grateful people I’ve ever met. It’s a pleasure for me to bless them every once in awhile with something special because they truly deserve it and they’re so grateful.

They take better care of their belongings. They’re authentically thankful when someone gives them a birthday present. It’s beautiful to see that.

Playfulness and wild imaginations

I’ve seen my kids come up with incredible play scenarios literally out of thin air. I’ve seen them turn the most random, inanimate objects into the most entertaining play tools in the world. All kids are naturals at this; it’s us adults who get in the way by giving them loud toys that do all the imagining for them and rob them of their natural gift.

Social skills

My kids know how to make friends, have conversations with other kids, and talk to other adults because that’s something they do all day every day. They’re not pinned to screens, so they actually converse with other people. I may sound sarcastic but I’ve been on a couple of playdates where this wasn’t required and didn’t happen.

On one, the kid was allowed to sit in the car and watch a movie on the car TV. On another, the kid was glued to his iPad while sitting on the swing at the playground.

My kids wanted to play with their friends, but screen time won, so they played without them and went and talked with kids who were actually there to enjoy their childhood.

minimalism kids toys playing impact

Stronger relationships with each other

All my kids do is be each other's best friends. They play with each other, do school work with each other, do chores and clean up with each other, and fight with each other every single day because, that’s real life. They’re passionate and close and they love each other hard. Their sibling relationships will last a lifetime, so it’s important to Brian and I that they are close. Minimalism has definitely gifted them that, and if that were the only thing it did for them, it's worth it.

Creativity

When you don’t have a lot of toys, you use your God-given creativity to make up games and stories. Years of that will make you one super creative kid in one way or another. My daughter Bella (8) is a master artist (she even teaches her own module in my course and shows other kids how to draw pretty pictures instead of playing video games all day. Proud mama here!), my son Leland (6) is basically a Lego engineer, Hudson (4) is super active and great at coming up with fun games, Emmett (2) is the chief of boyish play and is constantly pretending to “get the bad guys”.

As my kids get a little older, they’re becoming very in tune with their personal skills, and I love seeing them confident in what they’re good at at such a young age! What a gift!

They’re happier in general

Whenever my kids (one of my sons in particular) does get screen time, I can see such a difference in their attitudes. Less technology and more old fashioned playing is so good for them, and they’re just generally a lot happier than other kids because of the way we live.

An awareness of community needs and charitable giving

We’ve always made minimalism about the giving, not about having less clutter and a clean house. It’s really important to me that my kids see the good in this lifestyle and not resent it. They have always donated their toys and books to orphans and they each have such a tender heart for those in need. It’s been painful and beautiful to show my kids that that world exists and is right in front of us. I love that they voluntarily talk to me about giving and helping the needy, and I know that comes from our approach to minimalism and decluttering.

The desire to be outside most of the time

It’s a safe bet to say my kids spend 80-90% of their day outdoors. That fluctuates depending on what state we’re in, but stays relatively steady. And the best part is that I rarely have to do the mom thing and kick them out yelling, “go be outside!” They want to be out there and it’s awesome. They get dirty and sun-kissed and they adventure every single day- nothing says childhood more than that to me!

Everything is calmer

Being a mom automatically comes with plenty of chaos- that’s a given, but parenthood today is just so demanding and loud and insanely draining. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming- that’s your choice. I feel like minimalism has made our home and our life so much calmer and deeply enjoyable. I don’t have to fight my kids to get off the video games or turn the TV off for the hundredth time or nag them to be together or love each other better. Life is slower and more peaceful because we have removed the excess, the clutter, and the noise of too much. That’s something our busy society has yet to learn.

If this doesn’t resonate with you at all, totally get it. Click away and never think of it again. You do you, mama. But if this is speaking volumes to you, you might be wondering how to make the transition from where you are right now to this life.

How to Implement Minimalism For Your Kids in Your Home


1) Declutter the toys

In order to get started, you have to let go of all the things that have been keeping you overwhelmed and your kids overstimulated with entertainment. Start slow, don’t overthink it, and just start- those are my biggest pieces of advice here. Don’t sneak around and get rid of stuff behind your kids’ back- that’s not what we want here. We want them to be aware and understand this process, so it’s better to go slower and wait for them to get on board than to lose their trust.


minimalism kids toys playing impact webinar workshop class online

If you want to learn more about decluttering the toys, get on the waitlist for my upcoming online workshop!

I’m specifically teaching about minimalism related to kids and their toys, and helping you implement this philosophy in their rooms.

Get on the waitlist now! Spots are limited and fill up quickly!


2) Choose outdoor time over screen time

It’s a habit you can choose to make. Technology is awesome and there’s a time and place for it, but it doesn’t have to be the only way to fill your kids’ time if you don’t want it to be. Don’t let bad weather be an excuse to pull the iPad out either. If you live in a state with lots of freezing or scalding days, you have the challenge of getting creative and encouraging your kids to do the same! Nothing amazing comes easy. Sometimes you have to fight for what you want and make it happen like the warrior mama you are!

3) Play with your kids sometimes (but let them learn how to keep themselves entertained too)

Get outside, have a living room dance party, make up a game together… be the mom who plays and makes awesome memories!

4) Conscious consumerism

What kind of toys are you choosing to keep as you declutter? What kind of toys will you buy going forward?

Personally, I choose to have things in our house that encourage my kids to use their imaginations or to build things. Legos, blocks, dress up costumes, things like that are so worth the space they take up and always inspire creative play. If you have things like this and your kids don’t play with them, declutter the rest of the toys, give it a week and watch what changes.

5) Lead by example

Kids know what you show them. When I implemented minimalism in the rest of the house and we started living this way in every area, my kids learned that this was just a part of our family and how we roll. Now they don’t remember anything else and it’s just the way things are. :)

Have you implemented the idea of less with your kids at all? Do you want to? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

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How Budgeting Set Me Free

A guest post by Sami Womack from A Sunny Side Up Life  

We were drowning. I thought we must be the only family who was struggling to keep up. The overwhelming stress had become normal. Paydays came and went, but there was never anything to show for it. Our seemingly perfect life was crumbling all around us. Our lives were flying by so fast that it felt like we were stuck on a never ending treadmill. There was never enough money to get ahead.

When I thought about the first 7 years of our adult lives and how we had spent our money, all I saw was debt. Credit cards, medical bills, delinquent taxes, 3 pieces of real estate, a $900 a month truck payment, bad credit scores, and no savings...that’s what we had to show for 7 years of hard work. That’s it.

I thought family life would be easier than this. I thought my husband having a great job with an above-average income would guarantee us a great life. We spent our dating years dreaming about our future. We’d live in a gorgeous house, we’d have a few kids, he’d work, I’d stay home, and we’d live the American dream. And here we were living it, but it felt more like a nightmare than a dream. What were we doing wrong? Why couldn’t we get our act together?  

I wasn’t asking for much. I didn’t want a mansion or a yacht. I didn’t expect designer clothes or a fancy sports car. I just wanted the “normal” stuff. I wanted a house I could be proud of, dinners out whenever I felt like it, cute clothes for my kids, and to pay the bills on time. I didn’t feel like we were living an out-of-control lifestyle. In fact, I was certain everything we were doing was normal because everyone around us was living the exact same way. We felt like we must be doing something wrong, because we were trying so hard, and still failing.

We started to question the norm. We started to pay attention. All around us were people who had accepted struggle as a necessary part of life. All around us was “Thank God it’s Friday!” “Well, I mean...everyone has a car payment.” “Oh well, I’ll just charge it.” and my favorite of all… “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.” What!?!

Life’s a bitch….and then you die?

How could this be our life? This couldn’t be it? I wanted to do more than just struggle...and then one day die! I had dreams! I wanted to travel, I wanted to send my babies to college with no worries, I wanted my husband to retire while he could still walk, I wanted more out of my life than to just get through it! But how? This treadmill that had become our life was moving so fast. If I stopped running for even a split second I knew I’d fall flat on my face, but I was tired. I was done. I couldn’t run anymore. I felt lost and broken.

God had promised me abundant life. Well, where was it, because this sure wasn’t it!
It wasn’t like we just had a rough month, or happened to over-spend every once in awhile. It was never ending. There was no light at the end of our tunnel. There was no tough-it-out for a few more years. This was our life. Save for retirement? Ha! We just wanted to keep food on the table!

We hit rock bottom, and we hit it hard. It was dark and it was cold. My husband and I held tight to each other because that’s all we really could do. We were lost with no map to show us which road to take or where to turn.

One day I had finally had enough of survival mode. What I did next became a catalyst moment in my family’s life. That day changed our entire future.

We hit pause. We decided to stop running. We stopped letting life just happen to us, and we took control.

I grabbed my computer and logged on to our online banking. Overdraft fees, $5 here, $10 there, charges for things I didn’t even remember buying. Everything was so disorganized. Guessing how much we had left for groceries, never knowing what was still pending, or what would be taken out next. I had avoided digging in deeper for long enough.

I needed to know where our money had really been going. I went back through the last 3 months of our spending. I cried when I saw all our financial mistakes written on that notebook paper. I grouped up the purchases into categories – gas, groceries, restaurants, etc. This brought our areas of overspending out into the light and helped me know where I needed to cut back.

We almost completely stopped going out to eat, we started packing our snacks while we ran errands, we opted for family game nights instead of nights out, we stayed home more, and basically just learned how to slow down our life. We found a light of hope.

After the first month, I realized that there was power in knowing. Sometimes the fear of the unknown is worse than the reality of the truth. Once I shed some light on how out of control our money really was…I actually felt better. I still wasn’t sure how everything would work out, but I had at least decided to stop playing the victim. I stepped up and took responsibility for our situation. We got ourselves into this mess...and we’d get ourselves out! I had struck motivation!  

We were shocked at how easy setting up and following a budget really was, and over the next few months we got better and better at telling our money where to go. We set up a plan for paying off our $490,000 worth of debt. We got serious about our new lifestyle. We kept our heads low and minded our own business for awhile. We ditched our living-for-the-weekend mentality and started working with some real goals in mind.

We sat down as a couple and wrote down our dreams on a goals sheet. We boldly wrote down our debt-free goal date. Then several items we’d love to buy one day in cash. This felt silly at first, like two big kids writing a letter to Santa Claus, but it ended up being one our biggest sources of motivation and a great way for us to stay connected as a couple.

We kept pushing through our mountain of debt. We had a third baby and found a whole new level of motivation. Our family was complete, and we were now going on the motivation of giving our family a bright future.

We felt free. We felt in control. We were off the treadmill. Our life was quiet, calm, and full of hope.

(Note: I’ve put together a bonus resource at the end of this article that will help your family get started on this journey to financial freedom.)

Today, almost 3 years later, we’ve paid off $225,000 in debt, and the only thing left is our home! Our budget is simple and painless now. It only takes about 15 minutes every payday to plan out how we’ll spend our money, and then we spend the rest of our life just living! We don’t worry about money, and we don’t pray for payday.

We spend less than we make, and actually live more comfortably now on 60% of our income, than we ever dreamed of living before. We have 5 months worth of living expenses saved. And that goals list I mentioned early...we’re crushing it! All while keeping 3 kids fed, and 2 of them in diapers!

A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.
— Dave Ramsey

Budgeting is the reason we’ve been so successful with our money. We stopped leaving something as important as our future to chance. We got intentional with our spending, our goals, and our entire life.

At first, I hated the word “budget” because I thought it meant never having fun again, and constantly living with a worksheet in my hand. The truth is, budgeting isn’t just about worksheets and paying off debt. Budgeting is simply being intentional with your money, and not letting life just happen to you.

It’s about getting out of survival mode and regaining your freedom. It’s more planning, and less worrying. It’s more joy, and less stress. It’s more being prepared, and less being panicked.

When we’re raising our family we can’t just fly through life anymore. We have babies to raise, dreams to chase, and a life to enjoy. We only get one shot at this life, we shouldn’t spend it scraping by in survival mode.

I believe young families need a budget more than anyone.    

If you’re ready to make some changes that will lead your family to financial freedom, and make survival mode a distant memory, I’ve put together a simple 5-day free email course to help you get started on your journey.

I want this life of freedom for you! I want you to know that you don’t have to struggle and live in never ending survival mode. I want you to see the light at the end of your tunnel. I want you to have hope. I want you to get off the treadmill, chase your dreams, and discover the abundant life that is waiting for you!

 

 

 

Sami Womack is a budgeting coach, and the blogger behind
A Sunny Side Up Life. Her passion is inspiring women to live abundant lives through budgeting, intentional living, and positive thinking. She offers a jump start into budgeting with her free 5-day email course.

Sami is the wife of her high school sweetheart, Daniel. They homeschool their three daughters, and call East Texas home.

The Incredible, Life-Giving Gift of Minimalism For Mothers

allie casazza gift of minimalism for mothers

Every moment brings us closer to our final breath.

I know that’s a strong way to start a blog post, but I’m not writing this one to bring you fluff, so listen to me.

I’m not saying this to depress you or make you panic, I’m saying it to inspire you, to help you get focused on what really matters here. Because it’s way too easy to get caught up in bills and PTA meetings and doctor appointments and coffee runs and totally miss the point of this entire thing we call life, but so often fail to live. Someone needs to talk about the hard stuff. Someone has to speak out loud the tough reminders we all need from time to time.

God doesn’t make extra people. He doesn’t make mistakes either. Your life is precious and marked with purpose. Our time on this planet is extremely limited and extremely precious. YOU are extremely precious! Do you hear me?

You are here for a reason. And if you found your way to my site, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that you’re a mother, and your reason has a lot to do with your babies and not a lot to do with the stuff that usually fills your days.

I spend a lot of time with other mamas. They’re my heart. I write a lot about minimalism and creating a life of less unnecessary clutter and more purposeful time spent living out what you’re here for.

A lot of the women I speak to get stuck on the part where they get to have a clean house pretty much all the time. But hear me… minimalism is not about having a clean house and an easier life.

Sure, that’s a benefit and I’m not going to lie, I love not having to clean anywhere near as much as I used to. I love that I have four kids and I can easily invite someone into my house at the drop of a hat without stressing out about all the crap that’s on the floor. But that’s not the point.

Starter Kit Mock.png

Ready to start in your own home? Download my FREE minimalism starter kit and let's make it happen, mama!

Minimalism is about having time to focus on what matters.

I have a bold message for those of you who have been here awhile and have said or thought things like "I'm not sure I want to go totally minimalist, but I really need help purging my kids’ toys..." I read these types of comments all the time in my community. I wish I could throw my arms around you and shout at you in my most excited voice, “YES YOU DO! YOU DO WANT ALL IN!” Those who don't want all of this misunderstand what it really is.

Another bold statement. How can she say that?! Not everyone wants to be a minimalist or even should be one! How dare she!

Wait, mama. Listen.

Minimalism is not depravity. It's not boring. It doesn't mean having basically nothing but hey at least you don't have to clean much. It is actually living life!

It's got nothing to do with letting go of precious things that make you sad to not have anymore. You make it what it needs to be for you.

It's more time in your day, more time for what matters, more time for pursuing what lights you up and makes you feel alive!

It's more space in your home, more space on your calendar, more space to breathe and rest and enjoy and LIVE.

It's less yelling, less stress, less fighting with your family to just clean the eff up.

It's less organizing and developing routine because you don't need to rearrange your junk, you need to let it go.

It's less crap in your way, less on your to do list and more checks on your bucket list.

It's more money in your bank account for experiences and memories because you spend mindfully now when it comes to stuff.

It's being the mom you always wanted to be but have struggled so hard to find- the mom who isn't stretched incredibly thin every dang day; the mom who doesn't resort to yelling because she's just not that stressed out anymore. Imagine that, friend! It’s right there - it can be your reality!

allie casazza gift of minimalism for mothers

I'm not lying to you, there are thousands of women in here who will tell you the same thing and back me up with their incredible stories.

Listen to me, this is freedom. It's the answer to the overwhelm that's held you down for years. Let that crap go and start living on purpose. There is nothing about this that you don't want ALL of. Trust me.

DO NOT WASTE YOUR PRECIOUS TIME!

Don’t waste your life cleaning up crap you don’t even need. Stop waiting around for “the perfect time” to start - it’s right now!

If you’ve been overwhelmed or unsure how to start, take a deep breath and lean in because I’ve got your back.

You can read more about how this works and what it might look like in your life.
You can go all in and get the A-Z of minimalism and start living your days on purpose.
You can join my community of roughly 30,000 moms who are seeking purpose through minimalism and simplifying.
You can start slow but firm and get the Minimalism Starter Kit (my most helpful, most valuable, and most loved workbook)

You can do none of these things and walk away from this. Most people will, and that’s okay. I’m not here to push you with rough hands or coerce you into something you don’t want. I’m simply here with a burden on my heart to speak the truth and remind all the mothers out there of what is happening- time is slipping.

I’ve been where you’re standing- overwhelmed, unhappy, unable to get a grip, desperate for some hope that I’m not a terrible mother and that everything will turn out okay.

Standing on the other side of that season, I can tell you the truth…

Nothing will change if you don’t. Nothing will work if you don’t, and it doesn’t have to be the kind of work you’ve been doing all this time.

You’ve already been given the answers and you already have a way to make a change. You can make a difference in your life, in your home, in your family, for your marriage and your kids. It’s all in your hands and you’re strong enough, capable enough to have it.

Stand up, mama. Be of good courage and do something that will free you up to be more available.

You’re never gonna look back at your life and wish you’d spent more time organizing, or cleaning, or doing all the things. But so many look back with the very same wish- that they would have been more present for what mattered.

Want to start but don't know how? Download my FREE Minimalism Starter Kit now!

  • 20 Things You Can Get Rid of Right Now (and not even miss)
  • How to Destress Your Home in Ten Minutes
  • How to Declutter the Laundry & Dishes
  • Finding Your Deepest Why Behind Minimalism
  • An inspiring desktop background
allie casazza minimalism starter kit

That Time We Walked In On A Naked Guy...

This week on Casazzas On Purpose...

We left the RV resort in Oceanside, California and drove through trials, crazy storms and hurdles to our old home city of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Oh, and our hotel gave us the wrong room key and we walked in on a naked guy...

Click the play button below to watch, and don't forget to subscribe to our channel so you don't miss future episodes!

Morning Quiet Time Practices

allie cassaza morning quiet time practices

My morning time is everything. I couldn’t be the person I need to be for my family if I didn’t rise early and get a jump on the day.

I always feel a huge shift in my attitude and the tone of our day when I don’t get out of bed in time to be alone and get my stuff done. It’s kinda like dealing with a stomach ache after you make the choice to go off your healthy eating plan.

Unfortunately, just showing up for my early morning won’t cut it. It’s super easy to wake up and get out of bed. Believe it or not, the hard part is being intentional and not just staring into the eyes of my coffee until it’s time to serve everyone breakfast.

What really matters is how I spend that time- what am I going to do with this precious silence?

It really sucks to do the work of making time and waking up, and then not honor it by letting time go by without doing anything worth waking up early for.

I prefer to do things with my morning time that I can’t do or would be hard to do with the kids awake in the middle of our day. Quiet time is one of those things.

My quiet time usually consists of two or three of the following: reading my Bible, praying, taking a walk, writing in a journal, exercising, listening to worship music, or spending quality time with my hubby.

Quiet time, for me, is the time I get to sit in silence, reflect on what’s going on in my life, and spend time with God. Being a homeschooling mom of four means there isn’t much time for me to think, process things, reflect, or pray without a serious amount of background noise. It just is what it is- this is my season. So if what I need is quiet time, I have to work pretty hard to create it, and it is so worth it!

There have been seasons of my life in which daily quiet time just wasn’t a reality (sleepless nights spent rocking and breastfeeding one of my babies, pregnancy), but right now is not one of those seasons, and I really look forward to tending my soul before the sun wakes up. There’s something really soothing about this time I get to myself with my thoughts and my Savior.

My quiet time is separate from the other things I need to get done in the early morning hours. I don’t choose between my quiet time and working or my quiet time and my exercise time- it’s its own thing because it’s super important.

I have a lot of thoughts throughout the day- business ideas, family plans, homeschooling decisions to make, what to make for dinner, what should I do about my son’s terrible attitude lately, how can I tone my arms, why did I react the way I did yesterday in my marriage, what should I wear for date night next weekend... Usually the important and the mundane get jumbled and can easily overwhelm me and then just get lost in the busyness of life.

Journaling is a simple practice that helps me sort through them and get some clarity. I’ve always been a writer at heart. I kept journals as a kid all the way through my childhood and adolescent years. It’s so easy to get caught up and just go through the motions, letting ugly things like ingratitude and bitterness and overwhelm take root and grow before you even notice. Journaling gives me the gift of connecting with my heart and emotions as well as redirecting them where they need to go as I move through the seasons of life.

There have been so many times that I have been in a circumstance and through journaling, have realized how I really felt and been able to make calm, stable decisions in the midst of life’s craziest storms.

Writing out my thoughts as they are or thoughts focused on something in particular (like gratitude) is such an amazing way to start the day. Coupled with my Jesus time, I always feel focused and inspired and encouraged before my family even wakes up.

Life is crazy, and I’ve found that if I am not regularly focusing on what I’m grateful for, what God is doing in my life, and how I can be my best self in each season, I lose it. I am not the wife or mom I know I am called to be, and I don’t feel right. I’m off-center and cranky and can easily turn into a person I don’t want to be.

Here are some of my favorite morning time routines that help me start the day off right and stay focused on what matters in the middle of a very full life.

My Morning Quiet Time Practices


1) Prayer

I’m gonna be frank here… If I am not regularly giving God my time and seeking Him in all I do, I am just not a good person. I can’t give to my family the way I need to and my attitude generally sucks. I don’t have any kind of strict routine with this quiet time in the mornings. I just show up and invite the Holy Spirit to do the same, and He always does. I talk to Him about whatever is on my heart and He leads me to pray for whatever it needs to be that day.

Journaling is a large part of my prayer time. My thoughts too easily stray to something other than what needs prayer, but when I’m writing out the things I feel led to pray over, I stay focused.

allie casazza val paper co morning quiet time routines

2) Bible Reading

My Bible reading is usually led by the excerpt of the day from my favorite devotional book Streams in the Desert by LB Cowman. I start by reading the day’s devotional and then following the Scripture included and reading the entire chapter the given passage is found in. Sometimes I’ll read more than that, sometimes less. Sometimes I find myself in a random book of the Bible just reading what the Spirit led me to.

3) Gratitude Journal

I’m naturally kind of pessimistic, and I work really hard to fight that tendency! I find that I am so much happier and able to take on the chaos of life with grace and joy when I start the day focused on what I’m thankful for. I’m one of those people who can find something wrong in everything, and I feel like it’s my responsibility to actively counteract that part of myself. Have you ever read up on the effects gratitude has on a person? It’s absolutely astounding, and I’ve seen it actively working in my own life.

I set a timer for five minutes (borrowing from the popular idea of the five minute journal) and jot down whatever comes to mind that I am grateful for. I go beyond things like my family, a roof over my head, etc and really try to dive deep into the details. The smell of coffee on this extra groggy morning, my husband’s carpentry skills that provide beautiful handmade furniture...whatever comes to mind.

It starts the day on a very positive note and makes me feel so blessed when my kids come out for breakfast. It makes it very difficult to have a bad day when you start it out this way because the way you respond to other people is radically different than if you had woken up to tiny hands pulling on you and loud requests for breakfast.

allie cassaza val paper co morning quiet time practices

Scroll to the bottom for details and an exclusive discount on this beautiful journal and others like it!

4) Affirmations

At one point in our life, my family was in a very dark place. I remember standing in our driveway, dirt poor, unsure of how we were going to have what we needed for dinner that night and saying the sentence, “I am extremely wealthy. I can pay my bills, live a full life, and have money leftover. God has given us wealth so that we can change the world and live out the gospel.”

Do you have any idea how stupid I felt on the inside saying that out loud with all we had going on in our reality? Very, very stupid. But we had dinner that night and we never didn’t have what we needed, and about two weeks after I began speaking provision and truth over our circumstances in Jesus’ name, we had a multiple five-figure bank account and that money consistently poured in from our business. I never doubted the power of my words again, and I started carrying this over into other areas of my life. The point is, our mouths are powerful, and they’re directly connected to our thoughts and our hearts.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
— Proverbs 18:21

Speaking truth and positive words over ourselves is one of the most powerful things we can do. By saying things out loud you’re shifting your mindset, and your actions follow your thoughts.

This is another thing that has earned a place in my morning practices. Every morning I take a walk and speak things over myself and my family and our life. It’s a very special time between me and my God of calling good things into action in His name and saying YES to all the amazing things He has for me.

5) Movement

I do not like to exercise. I downright hate it most days. What I do like is the way it makes me feel after I’m done, and that, coupled with the fact that I used to be very overweight and unhappy, is why I make it happen. I think people over complicate things like exercise and make it into a formula you have to follow for it to work, which I think is dumb and a great excuse to procrastinate. I prefer to just do it (oh hey, Nike).

I like yoga, and walking, and I’ll usually run a mile before heading into squats and push-ups, but I keep it simple. I go based off my mood and what I did yesterday. If I spent the previous morning running and doing push-ups, I’ll spend this morning doing yoga and tomorrow I’ll focus on squats and lunges. Some days I skip exercise, but I rarely let myself skip more than one morning in a row.

My biggest suggestion on bringing exercise into your mornings has already been said- keep it simple. Just do something.

This is my favorite workout of all time. And let me tell you from a place of much less cellulite than I used to have….it works.

6) Dawn Dates.

Now that Brian and I run the business together and his normal 9-5 (which was really more like a 6am-midnight. so glad to be done!), we have a lot of time together. What we quickly learned is that being physically near one another all day long does not mean that we actually spend time together. It’s harder than ever to talk during the day! Our family is big and loud and chaotic and our kids are literally always with us (#homeschooling). When Brian left his job, we immediately saw the need to dedicate a specific time of day to our marriage other than our date nights.

Our mornings have become about our marriage a couple days a week. We feel that since our relationship (aside from our individual relationships with God) is the foundation our family stands on, it’s important. We dedicate at least one morning per week (it usually ends up being two or three) to our relationship. We call these times our dawn dates. I know I know, we’re super annoying. But when it’s 5AM and you’d honestly rather sleep, you have to call it something cute.

Usually, on the days we’re going to have a dawn date, I shorten my personal quiet time to like five minutes or skip it altogether. Otherwise I’d be spending four hours of my morning in different variations of quiet time. Plus, our morning time prayer and conversations are so restoring for me, I don’t need much else.

We travel full-time, which means we live in a camper, so when our alarms go off, we either stay in bed and bring the coffee to us and talk there, or wrap up in sweatshirts and sit outside together. The kids know they are not allowed to make sounds if they can’t fall back to sleep or to come out and talk to us at all. House rules, yo.

We bring our Bibles and marriage journals and just share thoughts and emotions with each other regarding where we’re at in life or whatever’s going on. We pray together and for each other and read a passage of the Bible or a devotional. Then we just have a really relaxed time of talking and hanging out over coffee like people who actually like each other, because we do!

Sometimes you just need to get on the same page and talk things out, and it’s really refreshing. Other times one of us is angry or hurt and this time is spent working it out. Either way, this time is marked out each week and we both know it’s there for us and look forward to it.

I wish we had taken up this habit before he quit his job! It would’ve benefitted us so much during a season that was totally chaotic in a different way. You can do this whether your husband works a lot or a little, in person or via Facetime!

I tend to keep a marriage journal throughout the week even when we aren’t spending time together as a couple. Marriage is so emotional and tricky sometimes, and being a writer, I really enjoy writing out how I feel and what’s going on in our relationship- both amazing and difficult things.

Obviously, I’m a big believer in paying attention to your thoughts and emotions and keeping a journal (or three). I feel that as a busy mom it’s all too easy to neglect yourself and rarely look at what’s going on with you. That’s how you have a breakdown or become bitter and resentful- we don’t want that right??

allie casazza marriage journal val paper co morning quiet time routines

Some of my favorite journals come from Val Marie Paper Co - they’re so beautiful! They’re the kind of journals that inspire you to use them, and she has a journal for each area of quiet time, which I love. Plus, I love supporting other small businesses, so this is a real win-win.

Val has kindly agreed to give an exclusive discount code to you beautiful mamas to help inspire you to be more intentional about your quiet time- a passion we both share. You can take $3.00 off each journal when you purchase three or more.

If you love these journals and you’d like to snag a deal on some of them, head to her website and enter code 3ORMORE at checkout.

Don’t forget to snag your free copy of my favorite morning affirmations!

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Do you have any morning rhythms you look forward to? Share in the comments!

How To Set Yourself Up For A Successful Morning

how to set yourself up for a successful morning allie casazza

Waking up early has been one of the most life-changing practices I’ve ever taken up. I used to be such a night owl, staying up until one or two o’clock in the morning, soaking up the quiet. It’s so simple, but just like letting go of my clutter, changing my habits and rising early reshaped my entire life.

Knowing that I’ve knocked out the most important tasks on my list for the day, gotten my body moving, and had a cup of coffee in peace before the sun even wakes up gives me such a fantastic start to my day! When I’m not worrying about when I can fit in a trip to the gym or how I’m going to write that blog post all day, I’m able to relax and really be present for my family. When life happens and one of the kids gets sick, or someone needs me, I can be there and not be shuffling things around on my to do list in a panic because the biggest tasks are already done.

Waking early takes some serious discipline, but once I stuck it out for a few weeks it became something I don’t like not doing. When I sleep until my kids get me up, I start the day off with loud noises, tiny hands pulling on me, and demands for breakfast. I’m irritated, groggy, and usually pretty pissed off and the day just started. I know that if I push through the initial sleepiness and just wake up early, I can start the day in the peace and quiet of a house that’s still asleep and start my day with intent.

She gets up while it is still night and provides food for her family
— Proverbs 31:15

What kind of woman do you want to be? The kind who sets an example for her kids, wakes up for her family and starts the day well? Or the kind who lets the day happen to her and just rolls with it until she’s had her third cup of coffee?

If you’ve been complaining about how you “never have time” to workout, or be alone, or read, or pray, ask yourself what time you wake up. More often than not, the solution lies in the last hours you spend asleep.

If you want help with the actualities of learning to wake up early and how I made the change, read this and this. Oh, and this

Today I want to talk to you about how you can set yourself up for a successful morning. Because getting out of bed is one thing, but taking action and being productive is a whole other thing. It’s easy to wake up, climb out of bed and then just sit on the couch with our coffee and our Bible halfway stuck in whatever dream we were having thirty minutes ago. But that’s not worth waking up for, so we want to actually do what we got out of bed to do.

For me, it’s all about the night before.

If I go to bed one night, exhausted from the day, and I don’t prepare for the next morning, I always regret it. Sometimes I spend so much time trying to find my favorite workout pants that I end up wasting an hour and not getting my workout in.

When I find everything and prepare for my productive morning the night before, I eliminate my excuses and set myself up for success. It is so much easier to climb out of bed grab the pile of gym clothes on the dresser and head to the bathroom to change than it is to fumble around in the closet.

Before you can prepare the night before, you have to know what you’re going to be doing in the morning. This also really helps you have the drive you need to get up when the alarm goes off. What is it that you need to get done in peace, without kids interrupting you? Why are you going to wake up early? Are you going to blog? Get a workout in? Take a walk while you listen to a podcast? Meal prep? Don’t just answer with a task list. Look at the effects of having those tasks done will have on your life. How will it feel to know your meals are prepped and cooking for the week on Monday morning? How will you feel knowing you got a killer workout in and had coffee and Bible time before serving the kids breakfast? Focus on the impact, not the tasks.

5 Ways to Set Yourself Up For A Successful Morning the Night Before

1) Know your schedule.

Don’t just assume you’d never be physically able to wake up before 6:00. Plan it out, look ahead and know for sure you’re giving yourself enough time to get your stuff done. Say you have to be with your kids starting your family routine at 7:00 and you want to hit the gym and check your email beforehand. You’d need to wake up by 5:00 and be working out by 5:30 in order to have the time you need to finish your workout and check your email. Now you have your wake up time.

2) Lay out your stuff.

Let’s say you want to use your early morning time to work out and read for twenty minutes over a cup of coffee. Pick out your workout clothes and shoes, lay them out where you can easily grab them in your sleepy 5AM haze, and put your book or Bible or whatever you’ll be reading next to them. One other thing you’ll want to do is preset the coffee maker (with a timer if your machine has one). See how much easier you just made your morning? Now all you have to do is get out of bed and grab your stuff and head to the bathroom to change.

3) Prevent your biggest excuses.

I hear all kinds of reasons women have for not rising early, yet they want the perks so badly. Get over it! Push through, find a way! If you find yourself hitting the snooze button because you’re freezing and getting out of the covers is just too difficult, first reconsider your use of the word difficult, then do something about it. Have a thick wooly pair of socks ready to throw on, change the thermostat settings in your house, have a robe ready for you. If you find that you never hear your alarms, change them! Make them louder, put them closer to your face, set more of them, annoy yourself so badly that you absolutely have to wake up. Don’t let excuses keep you from doing great things and being a woman of intent and purpose. You’re better than that!

4) Tell your family.

You need support and respect. Talk to your kids about what you’re doing and why it’s important. Set strict rules and boundaries to make it happen. Follow through on them. If you’re married, talk to your husband about why you want to do this and how he can help. It’s not like you’re wanting to head out for a mani/pedi and catch a movie, you’re doing this so you can be a better mom. It matters.

5) Get your mind right.

So much of any habit change is mental. Don’t think of this as something that you’re “trying” to do or are “working towards”, think of it as something you ARE doing right now. If subconsciously you’re not really sure you’ll end up waking up and kicking ass tomorrow morning, you probably won’t. Another trick is to think about what will happen if you don’t wake up early. Look at how many crappy days you’ve had, look at how things are going for you right now. Do you really want it to stay that way? Go to bed at night imagining how you will feel if you woke up and got those pressing tasks crossed off your to do list before your kids come out for breakfast. Decide that you are going to do this and you will. Leave it up to chance or see if what I’m telling you will actually work and it won’t. Nothing will work unless you do.

We Live In A Camper: Recap of Our First 3 Months

full time travel, camper living, minimalism

We finally launched our family vlog! Woohoo!

There have been so many questions about why we moved into our tiny little camper, how it's been going, and if we like it. We figured it was time to start that vlog we've always talked about and make it our primary outlet for sharing things like this :)

This first episode is all about how we came to ditch our house in the suburbs and why we decided to live in a camper. We share what it's like to have our whole family together 24/7 (the good, the bad and the ugly), and what we like and don't like about this life after our first few months.

Click below to watch, and don't forget to subscribe to our channel so you never miss an episode!

xo Allie

 

How To Simplify Your Entire Life

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If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
— Greg McKeown

One of my favorite things to say to an overwhelmed mama is this: you cannot be everything to everyone all at once. Simplify.

Minimalism has made such a massive impact in my life. After it took effect in my home it started spilling over into other areas of my life- my calendar, my to do list, my routines, my health, even my relationships and my beauty regimen. When you discover the beautiful effect of simple, the natural next step is to carry it over into everything you touch.

I learned how to bring the philosophy of less into my life the hard way- by overindulging in all the things, all the commitments, and then all the depression as a result. But there is one very straightforward way that you can simplify your entire life, and you can start right now

Ask yourself, “what is essential?”

The word essential means “absolutely necessary; extremely important” and it’s everything for those desperately seeking to simplify.

We are so good at stacking up unnecessaries in every area of our lives until there’s no more space for what matters most!

We say “I don’t have time for that” when what we really mean is “I have prioritized too many other things so that I don’t have the energy/space/desire to do that” or maybe it’s simply “that is not a priority right now.” It’s sad because if we really look at our life, most of us would likely find that the things we’re saying we don’t have time for are the things (or people) that should be non-negotiables.

I don’t mean to just dish out a bunch of tough love here while I stand on a pulpit. I’m so guilty of a lack of priorities and have to constantly remind myself. I’m growing, learning, and getting better, so we’re in this together, k?

In his book, Tim Ferriss talks about deciding what will get done by imagining you have a gun to your head and can only do what is absolutely vital. It’s blunt (my kinda guy) but it gets you thinking. If you had to choose what was absolutely crucial, HAD to get done, what would it be? Isn’t it kinda silly to prioritize anything else? All the rest can get done later, but some things can’t, so those things should take up the best time of our day. Those things should take up our space, not the stuff that doesn’t make us feel alive or keep our families functioning.

This is essentialism.

Let’s say you’re overwhelmed every time you walk into your kitchen. You hate cooking because it leads to washing a hundred dishes and takes all night. If you were to walk in there, look at your dishes and cookware and ask, “what is essential?”

How much would you feel able to let go of? You’d see that four different sets of dishes is certainly not essential. Actually, only one plate per person in your family is truly essential. You’d see that you don’t really need all those pots and pans, rather, just the four you use every time you make a meal. The others are just there because you bought them and because everyone else seems to have that many pots and pans.

You’d end up with less dishes to wash, more time on your hands, and a newfound love for being in your low-maintenance, uncluttered kitchen. I know this because it’s what I did in my own home and what I help thousands of other women do in their homes in every room, every nook and cranny through my online decluttering course.

Let’s say you feel overwhelmed and reluctant every time Sunday night rolls around. You know another week is starting whether you like it or not. I don’t believe that living for the weekend is abundant life- I think that sucks. I want to be present and feel purpose and joy in the week because that’s when the bulk of our lives our lived (five days versus a two day weekend). Memories are made in the day-to-day stuff, and I don’t want my kids to remember me going through the motions while I was focused on the coming weekend. So let’s say you find yourself feeling super overwhelmed and unhappy every time a new week is about to start.

Ask yourself, “what is essential?”

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Ready to simplify? Get your free minimalism starter kit now!

Look at your calendar. Is it essential that you say “yes” to every single one of these commitments? Are you maybe feeling reluctant because you feel taken advantage of? Like your time isn’t your own because deep down you wish you didn’t have to do all the things you're doing? That’s on you, girl. Get real with yourself, learn to say no, and re-evaluate what you’re filling your calendar with.

This isn’t to say that every day is full of rainbows and butterflies and you never have to do anything you dislike, but it is to say that you’re in charge of your life and no one else cares that you’re feeling reluctant right before every Monday rolls around, so if you don’t like the way things are going, change it. How can you simplify the clutter of your schedule? Are you doing way too much at home? Maybe you need to start laying down some rules and boundaries with the people who share your roof so you’re not playing the part of the maid. Are you saying “yes” to too many things out of obligation? Learn to say no more often.

So how can we apply essentialism to the specific areas of our mom lives? Let’s talk through the main areas of our lives and work it out together.

Self-care

What do you need in your week that falls under the category of self-care? Don’t overthink here. Most of us aren’t doing a dang thing to take care of ourselves on a weekly basis, so just focus on adding one simple thing. For example, coffee with a friend. If you added that one small thing to your week, every single week, I bet you’d look forward to it and leave that coffee date feeling refreshed and like your perspective on life is better. Know yourself. Are you an introvert (restored and energized by being alone) or an extrovert (restored and energized by being with other people)? Maybe your self-care will look like a simple weekly walk by yourself - time to reflect and be restored by the quiet. Choose something that speaks to who you are and is actually adding to your life, not taking from it.

Home

This is the area most of us feel is a crazy mess of all different colored scribbles. It’s so chaotic we don’t even know where to start, so we just avoid it and go take a nap. Don’t overthink it, mama. We’ve got this. Look, it is totally unnecessary and non-essential that you are cleaning up all day every day and the house is still barely ready for company to come over. When you have too much stuff, that’s how your days will end up going. You need to declutter. What takes up your space takes up your time, so less stuff in your space means more time in your day.

allie casazza how to simplify your life

Ready to go all in and ditch survival mode for good?

My decluttering course has helped thousands of moms all over the world simplify their homes so they can focus on what matters most. 

 

Where do you start when you’re already overwhelmed and short on time? Look at your day. What area of your house do you see sucking up the bulk of your time? That’s a great place to start. For me, it was the kids’ toys. They were everywhere all the time and not even really being played with (more so just dumped out). Once I purged and got intentional about what toys deserved to take up space and aligned with the imaginative childhood I wanted my kids to have, I instantly created more time and space for myself. This gave me momentum to keep going into other areas and more time to tackle more decluttering!

Calendar

There are some things we need to do that aren’t our favorite, I get that. But there are also things we can totally remove from our plates that we are doing out of plain old obligation or guilt. This is not time well spent! We don’t get that much time and our season of raising our babies is pretty short, so we need to be more intentional about how we dish out these sweet minutes we get! When you’re unsure of whether to keep or kick a commitment or event on your calendar, ask yourself some questions to uncover how you really feel.

1) Is this event in line with my purpose in life?

2) Why do I feel like I need to do this? (be honest, yo)

3) Is this an obligation or something that truly needs to be done by me?

Relationships

Outside of our immediate family (husband and kids) most of us still have lots of other relationships- friendships, relatives, coworkers, etc. People are usually not shy about taking your time and energy and again, no one is going to make sure you’re prioritizing your life in a healthful way. That’s on you. Just because someone is in your life forever by relation doesn’t mean they have a right to your energy and time. Got that? Read it again and let it sink in. Okay, moving on…

Look at the relationships you are currently spending time and energy on. Are any of them with vampires? Some people just suck the life out of you and leave you drained and empty. Those are not the kind of people you need to be spending your time on. What is essential here? It is essential that you have enough energy to fulfill your role as a wife and mama. That should be the focus, not being polite and obligated to these other people who are obviously not good for you. So it’s time again to get real with yourself. Do you need to take care of yourself by getting some professional help via an awesome therapist to work out whatever ish inside you is making you crazy around this person? Do you need to distance yourself from that person whenever possible? If this is making you feel things because you know you have situations like this in your life, read this book now. 

Health

Few areas are as over complicated as health and wellness. It’s a billion dollar industry, and I believe part of that is because people like to procrastinate doing hard things by convincing themselves they need further help preparing to do it. What I mean by that is, people want the result but they don’t want to start doing the actual work, so they spend all this time hiring coaches, buying and reading books on all these different ways to get healthy, rather than just doing what everybody knows- eat clean and move more. So simple!

My hope for those of you who have read to the end of this post is that you feel inspired, not defeated. I hope you see how simplified each area of life can be if you just change the way you’ve been thinking!

I like what Marie Forleo says. “Everything is figureoutable.”

I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed by your desire to simplify, I want you to understand how to apply essentialism to your mom life and feel invigorated by how much sweeter life can be for you, right now!

Don’t be stressed about how to live this out. Just start.

Open your eyes. Where is there too much going on? What in your life has you feeling completely depleted? If your answer is an exasperated, “everything!” Then just pick one thing. Start. Simplify. Cut back. Choose less. Say no to something. You CAN do this, and it IS worth the effort!

How can you apply essentialism and the art of simple to your life? Where have you already implemented this or where are you excited to start? Share with me in the comments!

Ready to simplify? Get your free minimalism starter kit now!

how to simplify your entire life minimalism allie casazza

Why I'm Hard to Get A Hold Of & You Should Be Too

I’m kinda hard to get a hold of. Today, people seem to feel entitled to getting a hold of anyone and everyone they know (or follow online) at any time they please. To me, that's some serious boundary issues, yo.

People often talk to me about how hard it is to reach me in a way that feels a lot like they’re trying to make it a bad thing, sometimes even a sad thing. They’ll say things like “Oh girl you need some help with those emails!” or “I can’t imagine being as busy as you are- you are so hard to get a hold of!”

Well, guess what. I have help with emails. I have an auto-responder that lets people know I’m probably not going to get their email, but I think they’re beautiful and awesome for being a part of my tribe and I want to be authentic in the way I live.

I also have a virtual assistant (hi, Kena!) whose sole job is to handle my inbox for me. She handles the customer service aspect of the emails and places anything that needs my direct attention in a folder that I check once a week for about thirty minutes. If I don’t get to them all, they wait till next time. If I never respond it’s because it wasn’t a priority for me at the time. If something is urgent, Kena contacts me on Voxer to let me know. 

I’m learning that people are deeply offended by other people’s boundaries, and that they’d rather think you are so incredibly overwhelmed, stretched soooo thin that you can’t even check your emails, versus accepting that what’s super important to them isn’t as important to you (i.e: whatever they emailed you about).

I’m not that busy. I do homeschool my four children, run an online business from home with my husband, and travel full-time in our camper. But that doesn’t mean I’m busy- it just means I have a very full life.

In this full life, I choose to be very careful with what takes up my time. It’s why I’m a ruthless editor of what comes into my home, of what gets a place on my calendar, and of what I commit to.

I teach other women how to be intentional with their space and their time, and I’ve received major public press for it, yet nearly every week, someone in my life seems shocked and appalled that I actually practice what I preach. Or rather, that they didn’t fall on my list of “worthwhile” tasks.

What’s funny to me is that if I responded to every single email, text, missed call, or social media comment, I would be such a hypocrite. People would be infuriated to learn how I really spend my time. But, here I am walking the talk by choosing one social media platform to be very active on, limiting my text time, and soaking up my family instead of emails, and I still get annoyed comments when someone finally finds me (via a live stream or in person, usually).

I’ve had people post to my public Facebook page (which is run by my lovely social media manager. Delegate, delegate, delegate) in a rage, trying to embarrass me or finally get a hold of me. I’ve had people post in my super amazing Facebook group telling me how hard it is to reach me and saying that it’s bad customer service (note: they’re usually not actually a customer, and my customers know that I have Kena hired solely to serve them and I always respond when they need me).

Here’s the thing - whether you’re an online influencer or a mom of a newborn who hasn’t worn a bra in three weeks (been. there.) you are not obligated to everyone all of the time.

You can respond to that text in an hour, or in three days, or never. *gasp!* Yup, never.

Last week was my writing week (I batch all my writing so it gets done within a few days and gets filtered out over the next month), and I’m always less available by phone during that week of the month. By Friday I had 19 unread text messages highlighted in red on my iPhone messaging app. That doesn’t have anything to do with popularity, it has to do with BOUNDARIES.

I responded to my husband, my mom, and my two closest friends of course. But I chose not to respond to a lot of other people who were reaching out for reasons less important than my writing and my family.

Listen, the fact that someone has your phone number doesn’t give them any right to reach you at any time and expect a response.

You can’t please everybody and you can never be perfect in anybody’s book, so it’s best to just do what works for you, what makes you authentic and happy and purposeful, and let the rest go.

Because you know what? You can’t be everything to everyone all the time. You have to choose. And I would rather be hard to get a hold of by the people who don't share my living space than by the people who do.

1. Stop checking your phone all the time.

Seriously, knock it off. You're training people how they can treat you and how accessible you are to them. Pick a place in your house (or at your office if you work) and keep your phone there. Set certain times for checking it and stick to them. For more tips on how to break the habit, read this

2. Stop responding to every single thing that comes in.

Just because it's time for you to check your phone does not mean you respond to everything you see on the screen. I have a few times a day for checking my phone, and usually I'll only respond to the key people in my life or anything that's pressing (i.e: a time-sensitive email that my assistant is telling me to look at). 

3. Be mindfully present.

If you're taking a walk with your kids, then walk with your kids. If you're at a stoplight, be at the stoplight. Don't also be texting or checking email. When we multitask like this, we're just robbing ourselves of the day and half-assing a couple of things instead of whole-heartedly being available for one thing that matters.

We're also letting someone else steal away our current moments by sharing the time with them as we respond to whatever they sent us. 

Are you hard to get a hold of or do you struggle with the desire to be everywhere all at once? Share your heart in the comments and let's start an encouraging conversation. 

10 Ways to Declutter Your Calendar & Get Intentional With Your Time

We live in an age where busyness is worn like a badge of honor. I’ve been in conversations with other women who are literally comparing how busy they are with an urgency so great they can barely let the other person finish a sentence before jumping in to one-up them.

“Oh tell me about it! Every Wednesday night I’m shuffling my daughter to piano lessons, my son to baseball practice, and my other son to karate!” 

It’s not that I’m a saint here or anything. I’ve felt the need to appear busy to avoid feeling somehow less-than. I felt it especially when I was transitioning from being a stay-at-home mom to a work-at-home mom and starting my company.

I found myself bragging about all the meetings I was being asked to be in and all the tasks on my to do list. It felt like I was making up for being useless for seven years of at-home motherhood, even though I pride myself on believing that that role is the most important role in the universe. When everyone else is doing something I think it’s only natural to feel like you’re somehow inept if you’re not also doing that thing. 

The thing is, when you allow yourself to get so busy, your life begins to happen to you and you’re not really living it anymore. When you fill your calendar, you spend all the in-between time getting ready for the next scheduled event.

You no longer have time to take a walk, read that book you bought on Amazon two months ago, have coffee with a friend (and have more to talk about than how terribly busy you both are), or listen to your daughter talk about the girl who hasn’t been so nice to her at school.

We are becoming less available to ourselves and less available to the people around us. We are missing the point and it’s really hurting our world. If you don’t have time to take care of yourself and do things that bring you joy, you’re going to end up overworked, unhappy, and quite possibly depressed. Trust me, I’ve been there. 

We need to stop being victims of what everyone else is doing, stop filling our calendar so dang high, and start asking ourselves if our schedules reflect the life we want to have lived when we’re eighty.

What would happen if you started telling your time where to go and removing the things on your calendar that don’t line up with your end goal? This doesn’t mean you have to become a Type A personality who lives by the schedule (that freaks me out and I could never not be spontaneous) but the fact is that if you want to live an intentional life, you have to plan to be intentional. Spontaneity has little to do with it. 

As someone whose life is generally insane (I have four kids under eight, I homeschool and run my own business from home- not bragging, it’s that busy all on its own), I’ve had to really get serious about how I’m spending my days and what goes on my calendar.

There are a few things I’ve learned about decluttering my calendar, clearing the chaos in my schedule, and being truly intentional about how I’m spending my time. 

>> Note: I’ve always wanted to write a “10 things” blog post but I never end up with ten things (I think everyone else is forcing it because they always end up with the perfect ten). But this time it happened. And I have to say I did a happy dance when I ended up with TEN perfect things, because I'm a huge dork. Anyway….

10 Ways to Declutter Your Calendar & Get Intentional With Your Time

  1. Question all reoccurring events and commitments.

    Just because you’ve always done something or you’ve been a part of it for x amount of time doesn’t mean it’s right for you in this season.

    Have you always been a table leader at your Bible study but when you think about the coming season you cringe? Back out. They’ll be fine, I promise. I give you permission to think of yourself here and remove yourself from any commitments that used too fit you but don’t anymore.

    One personal example I can give you is from our move to the midwest a couple years ago. We left our home state of California (we’re back now) and moved to the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. I was scared and desperate for friends, so I started a MeetUp group. After a few months I wasn’t scared anymore and God had called me to start my business, which meant less free time. 

    The MeetUp group became a burden for me, so I handed the role of “leader” over to one of the other girls and left. I had carried so much weight and worrying around for nothing- they were fine without me, and my season of life had shifted and it just wasn’t a good fit for me anymore. And that’s okay. Look at your calendar and ask yourself what isn’t working for me anymore?

  2. What is working for you?

    As you’re dissecting your schedule, take a look at the things that are working really well for you right now. Is there a new yoga class you've been going to that contributed to the pounds you ditched recently? Great! Keep that. Is there a weekly coffee date with a friend that helps you breathe and gain a fresh perspective? Awesome. Keep that too. Make sure you don’t remove the things that are making you better in an attempt to simplify.
     
  3. Talk to your family about how they feel.

    Nobody will be as honest as your family (or just your husband if your kids are super small) right? So why not see how they’re feeling about your level of busyness? You may not realize it, but something that you’re taking your kid to out of the goodness of your heart might not actually float his boat anymore, and you’d both be a lot happier if you just moved on.

    You’ll never know how they feel about your life unless you ask. Besides, don’t we want to live lives that make our families feel good? Feel closer together? Start the conversation. 
     
  4. Remove those pesky little reminders you never actually do.

    You know those little notes we add to our calendars in a fit of organization? Things like, “do your deep breathing exercises!” that we add to every day because we read an article about it? And then they go off when we’re pooping or driving or stuffing our faces with cookies and make us feel like crap. Yeah… delete those. 
     
  5. Schedule one nothing day per week.

    I know this is a lot to ask, but seriously, if you don’t do anything else in this article, do this one. Having one nothing day each week is a huge huge huge game-changer. I would go so far as to say that doing this in my life made as big an impact on me as getting rid of all my clutter and deciding to wake up early. You can choose any day you want, but you’ve got to pick one.

    My nothing day changes throughout the week, but if you’re new to this I highly suggest choosing the same day each week until it’s a habit for you. Here's a "nothing day" in action example for you doubters...

    Two days ago I sat down to write this post and absolutely nothing would come out of me. I messed around on social media, rebranded my book page, and texted three long lost friends to see how they were doing. Yeah... that's not what I was supposed to be doing with that time. 

    Then yesterday was my nothing day. My family and I walked the beach for two hours, had lunch at a cafe (where Hudson pointed to a marine and yelled “THAT GUY DOESN’T LOOK LIKE A HERO IF YOU ASK ME!" Always respectful and polite, never embarrassing…), we took a family nap, then ended the day perusing the nighttime farmers market in downtown. It was an AMAZING day!

    Today, I woke up early, got dressed, grabbed my laptop, and headed to a cafe to write. I turned my WIFI and my phone off, and this is the third article I’ve written in the last hour alone.

    We need more nothing days! Nothing days allow our energy to restore so we can be better, more productive humans tomorrow. 
     
  6. Pencil in some self-care. And don’t you dare reschedule.

    What needs to happen for you to feel like you’re living well? Do you love taking walks by yourself? Do you love going to the gym without your kids? Do you love sitting in a coffee shop with a great book? Does getting a manicure make you feel like a brand new person? Do you love socializing?

    Rather than trying to remember to fit those things in between baseball practice and piano lessons (it will never happen), start scheduling those things into your calendar. If you don’t make it happen, it’s not going to, and you’re going to be less happy. You deserve better, and your family deserves to have a happy mama in the house!

    Don’t take “you” time lightly by bumping yourself every time another obligation/opportunity comes up for that time slot. Treat it like an important meeting! Show up for it and don’t reschedule on yourself. 
     
  7. Create scheduled self-care time for each of the main areas in your life.

    I like to have self-care times for my physical self, my spiritual self, and my emotional self. Physical is something that gets you moving and has you regularly taking care of your body. So maybe it’s a weekly class at the gym, or a Saturday morning run. Maybe it’s more often than once a week. As long as it works for you and makes you feel capable and healthy and alive, not burdened, it’ll work.

    Spiritual for me means my daily quiet time. I usually get on this first thing in the morning, but sometimes it ends up being midday. I read my Bible, pray, speak life over myself, my family, my business, and my day by doing my affirmations. My relationship with God is very important to me (mostly because every time I’m not focused on it I really botch everything), so this is one area that I schedule in daily, not weekly.

    I also have one day a week when I go for a drive and pray out loud over whatever is currently causing me stress or making me feel lost (this week it was a family relationship problem) just to keep me close to Him and make sure I’m not just going through the motions of my daily routine. That weekly time away and alone solely for the sake of talking with my Creator keeps me sane and at peace and focused on His will for my life.

    Emotional self-care for me means doing what restores my energy. As an introvert, that means being by myself. I usually couple my weekly prayer drive with my alone time by pray-driving myself to Target or the beach or the park, where I pop my headphones in and listen to a podcast while I walk around and just enjoy being alone. If you’re an extrovert, your emotional self-care will probably look a lot different than mine. The point is to do what makes you feel re-energized so you can give your best to the people who need you. 
     
  8. Have set times for important things that fall under one category.

    Being a guest on podcasts and doing press interviews is a regular part of what I do. It can very easily become really crazy and sporadic. At one point I was shoving my family out the door and jumping on Skype for an interview every day for weeks!

    When there is something you do on a regular basis but isn’t scheduled, it’s time for you to tell your time where to go. I started using Calendly to create a space for interviewers to schedule time with me, and I chose what the time slots are. Now, I have two days a week for just a couple of hours each day when I am available for interviews. If more opportunities come in than I have time for that week, they just get bumped to the next week’s interview time slot.

    I encourage you to try this if it applies to your life! Where can you apply batching? Look at your to do list and group all the similar tasks together into one time slot. If it can’t all be done in one slot, that’s okay- maybe it can wait till next week. 
     
  9. Schedule to be alone with each of your kids.

    This is one area where, I’ll be honest, I struggle. I am pretty much constantly with my kids since they’re homeschooled, and I have my work day down to just a couple hours in the early morning so it’s very rare that I am away from them. Setting aside intentional time to hone in on just one of them always feels unnecessary until I’m doing it. And then, every time, I see all the reasons why I need to be doing this on a regular basis.

    I try to pick a kid and spend one-on-one time with them every week, which adds up to each of my kids getting time alone with me every month. My good friends over at On Purpose Marriage (hi, Cody and Stef!) are awesome at this. I see them doing it all the time, and the joy on their kids’ faces is obvious.

    There have been so many beautiful conversations, revealed secrets, and sweet moments to come out of my alone time with each of my kids. If you start doing this, I guarantee your kids will feel closer to you and you will have their hearts. So worth it. 
     
  10. Does your calendar reflect how you want to live your life?

    In the end, this is what we’re really working towards- a calendar that reflects the life we want to have lived when all is said and done. Look at your calendar and ask yourself this question. Suddenly, football practice and baking cookies for the bake sale doesn’t feel so important anymore. Perspective. 

Tired of being a slave to your clutter?

What takes up your space takes up your time.

Take yours back and get focused on what matters most!

How to Say No

When you live or work outside of your heart, there will always be a breakup, a breakdown, or both.
— Courtney Carver

Saying no can be really hard, especially if you’re not naturally an assertive person. It can bring on anxiety and it can feel like it’s not worth it, but if we do not learn how to say no, we are only hurting ourselves, wasting precious time that could be spent on what really matters.

We don’t get very much time, and we need a lot of it. We need time to do our usual things and time to take care of ourselves. We need time to just have nothing to do and time to enjoy life. Things like reading books, having family movie nights, taking a walk, escaping to the beach for the day - they just rarely happen because there’s “not enough time”.

The truth is we aren’t always spending our time in the wisest way, and usually it’s because of our inability to or fear of saying no. If we don’t have time to do enjoyable, healthy things, we won’t have the energy to take care of anyone else.

When all of your time is spent making ends meet, crossing tasks off your to do list, catching up, running errands, staying afloat you’re going to run out of time and energy and joy. Fast.

If you want more time (or to know what real free time feels like), time to read a book, take a break from your inbox for a few days, time for coffee with a friend, time to enjoy your family, or time to soak up a good night’s sleep, you’re going to have to say no, and you’re going to have to say no a lot. I get it, you’re a nice person and you want to help others.

But think about all the yes’s you’ve given out.

Yes I’ll take that call.

Yes I’ll bake cookies for the bake sale.

Yes I’ll sign up to be team mom.

Yes I can meet you for coffee.

Yes you can pick my brain.

Yes you can call me in five minutes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

And what does your family get? Whatever’s left. And what do you get? Absolutely nothing. It’s no way to go, mama.

We’ve all said yes to too much before. Usually it’s because of FOMO or obligation/guilt, but either way this isn’t working out. We have to learn to say no.

Me saying no. Not really I'm actually talking to no one. 

Me saying no. Not really I'm actually talking to no one. 

If protecting your time is hard for you, I've gotchyo back. Here are some practical ways to start saying no like the boss you are...

1. Check yo’self.

Ask yourself a few questions before responding to someone asking if you’re able to do something. Why would you say yes to this? Is it adding to your life in a positive way? Will this help you live on purpose?

2. Be nice and let gratitude lead your words.

Saying no does not mean being a jerk face. Let the person know that you are very grateful they thought of you, but you won’t be moving forward. You can even express how exciting something sounds with a “Oh my gosh WOW! Such an amazing opportunity!” and then “but no.” Seriously, I sound sarcastic but it works and it eases the blow.

3. Don’t say “I don’t have time for that right now.”

Yeah you do. We all have the same amount of time and we are in charge of what we spend it on. Don’t patronize the person asking you for some of yours, just be honest. Something like “I’m not giving my time to things like that right now” or “I have other things I need to focus on” will earn you their respect and make a lot more sense than what everyone else says to remove the blame for the “no” they’re dishing out.

4. It’s okay to be brief.

Don’t let an awkward silence make you feel the need to fill it. “No” is explanation enough. You don’t owe anyone anything more than that, but you can certainly follow up with “it’s not a good time for me but thanks for thinking of me!” in order to be polite yet concise.

5. Apply essentialism.

Greg McKeown, author of the book Essentialism says, “if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.” He’s right. You’re in charge, so take it! Does this thing fit in with where you’re wanting to go in your life?

Are you a champ at saying no or do you really struggle with it? Share your experience in the comments and let's talk it out!

Minimalism Is Not A Fad

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I was on the phone with a woman the other day who asked what I did for a living since I mentioned my husband and I work at home together all day.

As usual I stumbled over my words a bit because what I do is sort of incredible and hard to put into a job description, but I landed on something about minimalism and inspiring other moms.

She politely said, “Oh neat! And that is such a fad right now so you must be doing well!”

I have to admit, I was a little annoyed.

Firstly at the fact that anyone would think I’d follow a trend so hard that I’d bet my business and family’s financial health on it, but mostly because she said minimalism is a fad.

This lady probably had no idea and I know she meant well, but it grated my nerves because I hear this kind of thing a lot, and it’s just silly.

A fad is something that is widely obsessed over without basis in the object’s qualities, and then quickly dies out (thank you, Dictionary.com).

Minimalism is not a fad.

It’s been around since Jesus set His sandals in the dirt, people.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

And he said to them, “Take care, be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

Luke 12:15


Minimalism is also not base-less, like a fad.

  • Is it baseless to create a home you enjoy more?
  • It is baseless to not be so stressed out about housework that you yell all the time?
  • Is it baseless to be the mom who has time to play with her kids?
  • Is it baseless to have more time to play and adventure with your kids because you're not taking care of the house constantly?

The act of intentionally choosing less for the sake of focusing on what matters most is not a craze.

Just like the Paleo diet is considered a “fad” but is actually the way we were designed to eat (arguably. vegans, don’t send me emails) and the way people have eaten for centuries and centuries.

It’s not a fad, it’s just something that people got re-excited about and that excitement spread and caused lots of change, but then the not-so-committed stopped. 

That doesn't make it a fad- it makes them wishy-washy.

Scrunchies are fads. 

Minimalism is not a fad unless you’re fad-ish.

If you’re one of the people who hop on board the trend train and hop off as soon as you walk into Target then yeah, it’s a fad for you in your life.

But the idea of less, of simpler has been around for forever and it’s something we all long for deep down. 

The things that take root in our hearts, that make our insides scream "yes! this is something I was meant to be doing!" are not fads. They are lifestyles.

And they're usually hard to maintain for those without much self-discipline.

So the others write it off as a "fad" to justify their quitting. 

The ones who live it out, who understand that the discipline it takes to keep on going comes with a massive payout (more time, more joy, less stress, hopping off the treadmill of American society and consumerism) and they press on.

They make the full change for good. 

The world is realizing that it's been so focused on more that it's been missing out on the sweetest things in life. So right now, minimalism is being talked about and labeled like crazy. 

Yes, that will probably die out one day. 

But it doesn't have to stop in your own life. 

Choosing to live simply and to live focused on what matters most will never not be an amazing, beneficial choice that inspires others to do the same. 

Ready to start in your own home? Download my FREE minimalism starter kit and let's make it happen, mama!