How to Declutter Your Wardrobe (& Love Everything in Your Closet)

Moms: we’re always taking care of everybody else, famously forgetting (or not caring enough) to take care of ourselves.

Let’s face it... our self-care is typically bare minimum. It kind of has to be in certain seasons. It’s kinda hard to think about how flattering your jeans are or how fresh your makeup is when you’re elbow-deep in boogers and poop and haven’t slept properly in eight months.

Sometimes though, we forget to come out of those seasons when they’re over. We stay in super-mom-mode (official title) when we are getting better sleep, our babies have grown a bit, and we could be feeling a whole lot better about ourselves if we put in the effort.

It makes me so sad when I hear a friend say things like, “Oh I wish I could pull off a bright lipstick” or “I hate shopping for myself - it’s depressing!”

You CAN pull off that bright lip color because you’re bold, beautiful and amazing!

There is NOTHING depressing about dressing that beautiful body of yours, mama! Rock it! No matter what shape stage it’s in.

I face this scenario on a weekly basis…

Other Mama: How can I implement minimalism in my wardrobe?

Me: Let go of everything that isn’t working for you, making you feel amazing, or is damaged.

Other Mama: Then I’ll have nothing left!

NOT OKAY, FRIEND! Let's change that. 

You deserve to love everything you own. You deserve to feel incredible every day - whether you’re running errands, going out on a date, or staying home folding laundry. Casual wear or fancy going-to-a-wedding wear, you deserve to feel really really GOOD. Got it?

You should not be dressing yourself every day in clothes that make you feel anything less than glowing, adorable, fantastic, vibrant. I may sound dramatic but I’m serious. Love everything you own. Feel great in everything you wear. Because you deserve it! It’s that simple.

If you declutter your closet and you end up with next to nothing, that’s okay.

I’ve had four kids, one of whom was eleven pounds (that’s not a typo) and I can say that my body is far from magazine-standards-perfect, but it is perfect for my purpose and what it needed to do, and I take pretty good care of it, so I dress it well.

I dress my body in a way that makes me happy, excited to get dressed, and confident. I can honestly say that I love everything I own, I wear every item on a very regular basis, and I get weirdly excited in the morning to get dressed.

I love my gym clothes, my sweatpants, my tee shirts, my nice work clothes - all of it. I feel comfortable and flattered in every single thing. I want every mom reading this to feel the same way. Because, again, you deserve it.

Now, there’s a big difference in not feeling good in your clothes because you need to prioritize your joy more, and in not feeling good in ANYTHING because you’re not taking care of your body. An unhealthy body means unhappy eyes and a different lack of priority.

If you need to get healthy and you’re overwhelmed, read this and anything else you can find on the internet to help motivate you to make the positive changes needed to expand your health, your happiness, and your confidence!

So, moving onto the decluttering part. How do you simplify your wardrobe? What does decluttering look like when it comes to your clothes? First, you need to ask yourself a few key questions.

1) When was the last time I wore this?

2) Do I feel amazing in this?

3) Is this damaged at all?

Let’s do a question-by-question breakdown to help you get a tighter grip on what this should look like when you tackle your closet. Because I know you’re gonna take action on this post riiiiight?? ;)

Wanna see exactly what makes up my wardrobe?

Wardrobe Photos.png

Question #1: When was the last time I wore this?

By asking when you last wore each piece of clothing, what you’re doing is gaining a realistic perspective. You’re not asking yourself if you wear it or if you will wear it, because it’s easy to lie to yourself and step pretty far outside the zone of reality with questions like that. By asking yourself when the last time was that you wore something, you’re forcing yourself to come up with a number of days or weeks - a definitive, straightforward answer.

If you cannot remember the last time you wore something, why is that? Is it because you’re a stay-at-home mom and this particular outfit is really just a go-to for fancy nights? That’s okay then, if you really love that piece and look forward to wearing it on fancy nights.

For example: I work at home, so my go-to outfit is sweats and a tee, but sometimes I speak at women's events or at an online conference, and I need to dress up. I have a few outfits that I save for those occasions, but rarely wear. However, when the time comes that I do need to wear them, I look forward to it because I love them!

If you can’t remember the last time you wore something and it could possibly be because you don’t really love that thing, let it go. You deserve much better.

Question #2: Do I feel amazing in this?

If you don’t feel absolutely amazing in something, what’s the point of owning it? Who cares if you spent money on it… you shouldn’t have done that in the first place if it wasn’t amazing-status. Don’t keep things out of obligation - value yourself! Count it as a tough lesson in how you spend money and what you spend it on. Donate that ish. Get something that makes you smile when you put it on.

Question #3: Is this damaged at all?

Don’t hold onto something that has an unremovable stain on it just because you super love it and you’re sooooo bummed that it got ruined. It’s okay. It happens. Move on. You’re much too amazing to sport a stained sweatuh, girl!

If something is damaged and repairable (ripped, missing a button, etc), you need to get real. Are you going to have it fixed? Fix it yourself? What’s the plan? If your plan is to repair it, then get your phone out and set an alarm for one week from now. If that alarm goes off in your phone and you haven’t repaired the item or dropped it off at the tailor’s yet, time’s up. Get rid of it.

You have to get firm with yourself, otherwise you’ll keep everything and never make real progress. I know you want an uncluttered life. I know you want to get to the other side. This is how you do that - by making real decisions. By moving forward.

Okay. Let’s chat for a sec about what to do with your clothes after you’ve purged.

The Clothes You’re Keeping

You need to have a system for your clothes. If you have one, great. If you don’t like the one you’ve been using, reconsider! Have you tried hanging everything up? Would that work better in your particular closet? Do you maybe need a better dresser? Have you tried folding things differently? While I’m not a huge advocate of Marie Kondo’s book on decluttering, I have found her folding method to be helpful if you’re willing to put in a couple extra minutes when you’re doing laundry. It’s really helpful if you’re fitting clothes into a small dresser or space. If you have plenty of room skip this method because it just creates even more space and then your clothes move all over the drawer and come undone.

The Clothes You’re Letting Go Of

When we throw away our clothes, we’re contributing to a big waste problem. It’s important to understand that your buying these clothes in the first place was the real cause of your contribution to this, but also that you should only throw away clothes when they are absolutely not donate-able. If an item is ripped beyond repair or totally damaged in some way, you kind of have to throw it away. Otherwise, donate it! I know donating takes a little extra time and effort, but it’s worth it. You’re coming out of a hard lesson - you didn’t need or love everything you bought, so you’re letting go of some of it in order to create an intentional, abundant life. However, you are realizing how wasteful you’ve been by buying things you maybe shouldn’t have. You can make the most out of this by donating what you aren’t keeping. Someone else in a needy position can really benefit from your donation - think of that angle.

A Note on Budget Limits

I want to address those of you with tight budgets who desperately need a fresh wardrobe, but can’t just go out and buy new things. Been. There. Actually, when I first purged my wardrobe, I was super discouraged because I ended up with basically nothing and I knew I couldn’t replace those items any time soon. BUT! I stayed committed because I knew I deserved to love my clothes, and it was better to have little than to have much that didn’t make me feel incredible. We had a very limited budget at this time- I’m talkin’ zero wiggle room. What I did was I found ways to make an extra $20-40 here and there by selling something I was decluttering, or saving money on groceries, or using a sliver of Brian’s overtime pay and I would just buy one thing at Target or Old Navy when they had a sale. Piece by piece, very slowly, I built my wardrobe back up into something I loved.

Money doesn’t have to be flowing for you to love your clothes. You can get creative help pairing outfits you already have via Pinterest, look for killer sales, scrimp and save… it’s totally doable if you change your perspective and keep a positive mindset!

 

The Secret for Moms Who Want to Get More Done

Every decision we make throughout the day takes energy from us. A normal person has tons of tiny and usual decisions to make in a day, but a mom has tens of thousands of all kinds of decisions to make in her day. Not only do we face decisions in our own selves (Should I eat yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast? Should I respond to emails now or get my workout done first?), but we face decisions being put in front of us by our tiny humans - all. day. long.

Mom, can I have this?

Mom, can you turn on Bubble Guppies?

Mom, can I play outside?

Mom, can I get a snack?

And every one of those questions makes your wheels turn, trying to recall when was the last time he ate, how much TV she’s already watched today, if the weather is good enough for playing outside without a sweater, and on and on and on and it’s really no wonder we start the day out like Mary Poppins and end it like Cruella.

Enter: The Solution

While facing “decision fatigue” is normal and inevitable, there is something you can do to simplify your life and alleviate this sneaky form of weariness by a lot: rhythms.

Rhythms are things you do habitually, as part of your normal day to keep things running smoothly, except you don’t have to make decisions about them- they’re like automatic part of your daily checklist, even the time of day they’re accomplished is rhythmic!

I’ve found in my own life that rhythms are key to escaping survival mode in motherhood - they keep you from bottlenecking in your life, from barely scraping by, from totally losing it at the end of every day.

My Rhythms

Here are some rhythms I’ve implemented in my life that help automate some of the key aspects of my role in my family -

Waking up early and knocking out my most pressing tasks

Rinsing dishes, wiping the counters and giving the floors a quick sweep after each meal

Going to the gym or practicing yoga in the yard every morning after breakfast

Setting snack times with alarms on my phone so the kids aren’t constantly asking me

Having these things sort of on auto-pilot spares me lots of decision-making and ensures that the most important things happen each day. By waking up early and conquering my most important tasks for the day, even if the day goes completely south, it’s okay because the toppest priorities were done at 5:00 this morning.

By rinsing dishes, wiping the counters and sweeping up every time we finish eating, I’m using about 3-5 minutes of my time, but it’s sparing me a meltdown later when the kitchen is a friggin’ disaster and I’m exhausted from a long day.

By doing some kind of exercise every morning after breakfast, everyone in my family knows that’s a daily routine for me, the space is there for me to make that happen, and I can stay healthy and feel good at the start of the day. This keeps me sane!

By setting snack times at two specific times during the day, I’m removing the need for my kids to constantly be asking me for a snack. Kids like to snack when they’re bored (don’t we all?) and it can easily agitate me to the point of yelling, which I don’t want to do. I can solve this problem and save myself a lot of agitation by just setting the precedent with snacks in our house. I recently added the part about having a certain sound that goes off in my phone so everyone knows when it’s snack time and they’re not asking me if my phone has gone off yet the entire day.

For most of our daily frustrations, there’s a rhythm we can create that will help our day run a little more smoothly, and all that adds up to a more joyful life - I think that’s a pretty good deal.


Ready to put rhythms into action in your own life? Click to download my FREE rhythms workbook.


Do Rhythms Make A Dull Life?

Now, recently we were talking about rhythms in my Facebook group and someone said, “Doesn’t having everything in rhythms create a super boring life? I think I’d die of boredom if everything was rhythmic.” This questions caught my attention because I thought the same thing up until a few months ago, and it’s the reason I avoided living this way for so long. I wish I could go back and grab my own face and yell “You’re missing out on so much by trying not to miss out!”

First of all, not “everything” is rhythmic in my home. That WOULD be boring. And incredibly weird and unrealistic. Just a few key parts of my day are set in rhythms to help me do a good job in my role as wife, mom, and CEO of my company.

There are a lot of things on my plate, and I have seen firsthand that I cannot do a good job and stay kind to my family if I don’t have a few rhythms set in place.

I had this one day where I was doing an interview for a Canadian radio show and the entire time, I was whisper-shouting at one of my kids because he kept asking for a snack while I was on air.

This might not seem like a big deal, but when a typical day in your life includes being “on air”, you’ve got to figure it out and get some basic things on auto-pilot because you can’t do it all. It has worked so well for me and I know it still would if I didn’t work from home, so I’m sharing it with you all in the hope that it will clear some of the chaos for you as well.

Secondly, rhythms actually free me up to be more spontaneous and live my life. I’m not Type A by any means, even though a lot of people look at my life and think I am, so I have to work very hard to adopt a few Type A traits in order to run my home and my life even somewhat well. What I found when I got “boring” and adopted rhythms was that they actually allowed me to randomly take the kids out for a hike after lunch if I wanted to, or stay in and watch Disney movies all day because it’s raining, or go out for lunch and linger in the aisles of Target while the kids munch on popcorn. Rhythms allow me a lot more freedom because, again, the big things are already done - they were done on auto-pilot, so I’m free to actually live my life!

If you’re struggling to get even the most basic tasks in your life done every day, and you feel like you should have it more together by now, listen mama… I so get it. Grab a handful (or three) of grace and start over today, right where you’re at.

Implementing Rhythms in Your Life

Let’s brainstorm some areas in your life where rhythms would really help you out.

Think about what you do on a typical day, in a typical week. Do you work outside the home? Inside the home? Are you a stay-at-home mom? Do you homeschool? Write out your typical day’s schedule (if there is one) and look at where you have gaps of time to get things done.

For example, if you’re a stay-at-home mom whose kids are homeschooled, but go to a class outside your home every Wednesday morning, Wednesdays are probably a lot more stressful in your home. Rhythms can help with that.

If you’re a work-outside-of-the-home mom with a kid who plays baseball every Monday and Thursday evening, rhythms can help you get things done in the mornings and get out the door with everyone fed for baseball two nights a week.

Think about what kind of rhythms would help you out. What never seems to get done that really needs to? Do you always scramble to figure out dinner on the nights when you have Bible study? Maybe part of that morning’s rhythm should be to put a meal in the Crock Pot.

See where I’m going here? You can totally do this, and I bet it will really help you out!

If you need a little help, download my Developing Rhythms packet. It will help you get started and apply this post to your own life.

Most people already have at least one or two rhythms developed. What are yours? What are the rhythms you want to add in to help you further? Share in the comments!

A Guide to Your Best Mornings + Most Productive Days

A few years ago, I was a night owl who stayed up well past midnight most nights. I woke up to my kids asking for breakfast every morning at whatever time they opened their eyes and decided my day would start.

I believed that being a night owl was in my DNA - just the way that I was - and had no idea that this was actually a very limiting belief that was keeping me from being a better wife and mom. Over time I got tired of feeling busy but not productive, and decided that something had to change, so I started waking up early.

Hear me, mama. If you want to change your entire life with one simple change, start waking up early.

Waking up early has been the single most transforming thing I have ever done for my life, right next to ditching my clutter.

I believe that in order to be productive and fulfilled in whatever your role is, you need to wake up early. I think there are seasons of life where it just isn’t gonna happen (a baby who isn’t sleeping well yet, pregnancy) but for most people in most seasons, I think becoming an early riser is the key to successfully rocking life.  

I've heard people say they are actually more productive late at night when everyone’s in bed, and that may be true, but I found that there was a chance my nighttime productivity session wouldn’t come - life happens, the day can make you tired, things come up.

You might not get the chance for some quiet, focused time in your Bible at 2PM or 10PM, but you will at 5AM. I reached a point in my life where I was not living on purpose and I was struggling. I needed to take my days my the horns and pursue discipline, and that meant waking up early.

If you want to read more about how to start waking up earlier, how to handle kids who wake up when they hear you, and all the hurdles you face when trying to start your day early, I wrote a post on it that you can read here.

In this post, we’re focusing on what to do once you’re up.

I love what Laura Vanderkam says in her eBook What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast“Seizing your mornings is the equivalent of that sound financial advice to pay yourself before you pay your bills. If you wait until the end of the month to save what you have left, there will be nothing left over.

Likewise, if you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen. If it has to happen, it has to happen first.”

It is so much easier to become distracted in the middle or at the end of the day, especially when you’re a busy mama. Having kids means stuff comes up on a daily hourly basis. You cannot count on later for doing things that matter.

There is so much on our to do lists as moms that it can be stressful trying to decide how to spend our early morning time. It’s easy to give in to the pull to catch up on a looming task like laundry, but really, the mornings need to be for the things you can’t do well with kids awake and life happening.

In the early morning hours, it feels like life is paused. It’s quieter, solitude is so much easier to find, and you can think clearly (post-coffee, of course). Think about what you can do in these early hours that is really hard to get done during the rush of the day - quiet time, prayer, reading, exercise, stretching, breathing - do those things.

Quiet Time

What fills your soul and makes you feel like you can handle the day ahead and live it well? Is it reading Scripture? Sitting still while you listen to music? Taking in a good book? Meditation? Find a way to have some guided peaceful time in your morning. For me, I read my Bible as well as a short devotional (Streams in the Desert is my all-time favorite).

Positivity

It’s really important to give yourself a strong, positive start to the day because it’s so easy for things to take a negative turn. When we put ourselves in the right mindset before the day even gets going, we up our odds of success and take control of where our minds will go as the day’s events unfold.

I like to take a walk (my husband is at home in case our kids were to need anything) and read my morning affirmations out loud. These affirmations have a powerful effect on me and get my mind right every time, no matter what’s going on. I also give my day to the Lord in prayer on my morning walk.

Click here to get a list of my morning affirmations for motherhood and success.

Movement

If exercise isn’t a part of your week, it should be. There are innumerable studies that show what an incredible, positive effect movement has on your body and your mind. You can’t take care of yourself without some kind of exercise.

Take a walk, follow along with a yoga YouTuber, train for a 5k, get a kickboxing DVD - whatever floats your boat. Along with my morning walk (which is super mellow and not really intended to be exercise), I have a gym membership which I use a few times a week. I’m also a fan of yoga and am currently on track to become a licensed instructor because I love it so much. Find what moves you, inside and out, and make it a part of your morning rhythm.

Work

What practical things really need to get done? What are your most pressing tasks for the day ahead? Get them done before breakfast.

For me, as a writer with four small kids at home all day with me, it is incredibly difficult for me to create a quiet space for writing. I am constantly interrupted, frustrated, and trying to write in the middle of the day is pretty much pointless, even with Brian home to help me. I need to get my most pressing writing done early in the morning. I write about 1,000-2,000 words in the morning a few days a week. This keeps me on top of my task list with running the blog, and doesn’t take me too long.

If you don’t run a blog or a business, your work could be a load of laundry or meal planning. Whatever makes you feel pressured when you think about not getting it done during the day, do it early in the morning. Get it out of the way so that if life happens and things come up, it’s okay because your highest priority tasks are taken care of. You’ll be a much happier, calmer mom - trust me!

You can choose two or three or all of these types of things to add to your early morning rhythm. What you’ll be able to do depends on how early you wake up and what your circumstances are. The key is to be flexible and disciplined at the same time, and prioritize your morning time. It matters.

Do you have an early morning rhythm? Share your ideas for productivity in the mornings in the comments!

 

Overcoming Your Biggest Hurdles with Mindset Shifts

We are our own worst enemy so much of the time. We get in our own way, we hold ourselves back from overcoming a hurdle, accomplishing something amazing, becoming someone new. We get in the way of the Holy Spirit, allowing our inner voice to drown His out. We create an unhappy reality for ourselves without even realizing it, and then complain about it.

This is called having a fixed mindset or a limiting belief about yourself or your circumstances.

Let’s look at some examples of how this could be lived out.

Let’s say you’ve always been significantly overweight. You think about what it would be like to be fit, imagine how your body would feel, daydream about what it would be like to wear a certain outfit you admire, but you can’t actually envision that fit, strong person being you. It just seems totally impossible that you would ever really lose that weight and have that body - that’s a fixed mindset.

Here’s another example:

You’ve always had a lot of clutter. It wouldn’t be a birthday party in your house if you didn’t spend the entire day beforehand screaming at your family to help and shoving crap into the bedroom closets. This is just the way it’s always been and you can’t really imagine how your life would look if you had absolutely no clutter. You can see how it would free up your time, but you can’t actually envision that being your life. Fixed mindset. Limiting belief.

Let's look at one more example, this time I'll pull from my own life. I’ve actually related to both the examples listed above, and overcome them, but I want to dive deeper with you. Getting personal here!

I didn’t finish college. My parents never really expressed a deep disappointment in me for that or anything, but I felt like it was there, probably because I put it on myself (I’m the oldest and being the oldest means you’re super hard on yourself).

I got married young and my husband Brian (who also did not go to college) and I came back from our honeymoon to hardship - he had been laid off and the economy was crashing - it hit us right from the start. We struggled financially from the moment we said “I do” and it didn’t let up.

Brian had a solid job that provided for us and allowed me to stay home with our babies (this was a nonnegotiable for us) but it required working lots of overtime hours or we wouldn’t make it. He was gone six days a week and we barely scraped by. We had our four babies and struggled to make ends meet all the time.

There were very dark, scary nights when we didn’t know how we’d make it through, and I had grown used to this being our life. Money was something I just never thought we’d have - it wasn’t in the cards for us. I believe I spent a lot of years punishing myself for not finishing college, because I was raised to believe that college was a huge privilege that I had and you can’t make a good living without going to college, and I clung to this limiting belief.

Long story short, God brought our family into a situation that led to the idea of me starting a business out of this blog. I’ve always had an entrepreneur mind (I was raised by two successful business owners) and it felt like something I was meant to do, but my money mindset was very limited and held me from success for months.

I wanted to help more overwhelmed moms experience the freedom I had through a life of less clutter and overwhelm, and I knew I could do that through my business, but my limiting beliefs held me back from changing lives and changing our finances. 

When I finally realized this, I remember feeling like a rock had hit me in the head - my whole world was shaken up and I didn’t want to live under the weight of my fixed mindset for even one more minute. I went outside and prayed, and started speaking truth over myself and my business. I did this every day (and still do) and after a week, my business exploded and everything I had been working so hard for that wasn’t happening finally came through.

I can be successful because I am called by God, qualified, and smart. College doesn’t fit in with who I am and what my calling is. That truth trumped my limiting beliefs and I have never looked back.

I want you to overcome your biggest hurdles by changing the way you think, too. It’s such a powerful ability we all have! Our thoughts hold incredible power.


Need a little help getting started with affirmations in your own life?

I've put together a list of morning affirmations for your motherhood, and a second list for your life and success - the exact affirmations I use every day. Get all of them delivered to your inbox right now!


You can apply this to any area of your life and find your own personal limiting mindsets lurking. Let’s talk about what you can do about it.

Stop counting your failure as the end of the road. Learn from it, and try again.

Remember that one time and that two-hundredth time you tried to lose weight, stop yelling, start a business, improve your marriage, wake up early, whatever it is for you, and you failed? Nobody cares but you. Let it go, detach yourself from it - that failure is not your identity. Move on and try again.

Move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset

You’re stuck, and it’s totally possible for you to pull out of it. Change your way of thinking by counteracting your limiting beliefs with the truth. For me, that’s Scripture and who my Savior says I am - able through Him, a new creation with a fresh start right in front of me, called according to His purpose - those truths counteract my negativity and my fixed mindset. I’m a big believer in writing things down. Studies show that we are 42% more likely to accomplish goals when we write them down, so I think it’s pretty important to write down what it is we’re wanting to change in ourselves too.

Write out your limiting beliefs, then write out the truths and positive affirmations that counteract those beliefs. Get into the habit of saying those positive words out loud to yourself every day. Watch your world transform.

Conquer

Help yourself overcome by putting your truths and the goal you want to make your reality right in front of your face all the time. Create a list or picture of vision board of where you want to go, place it somewhere you’ll see it all throughout the day, like your fridge or car steering wheel. Focus on it, let it permeate your brain all day long.

Make sure your affirmations make you feel something. When you’re reading them out loud, you should feel yourself being filled with hope - it should feel like someone is breathing life into you. When I read mine, I can feel something inside of me shifting, responding to the words I’m saying. Make them bold, not timid.

For example, when we were at our brokest point, I stood in my driveway and said, “I am extremely wealthy. I am also generous and changing the world with my money.”

Do you have any idea how ridiculous it felt to stand outside and say that sentence out loud when I wasn’t even sure how we were going to afford groceries the next day? But suddenly, nearly overnight, this was our reality, and now we are truly seeing our money do good things and change the world through giving - it’s incredible to see this practice take effect in your life. You can do this same thing with anything you’re struggling to overcome.


Get a PDF of the exact same morning affirmations I use every morning for my motherhood, my money, and my personal success right now to help you get started!


Have you ever tried speaking affirmations or Scripture over yourself? Share your experience in the comments section!

 

Becoming a Woman of Intent this Year

Life is happening right now. If it’s happening TO you, you’re probably floundering instead of being in flexible control. That’s a bad place to stay, friend. 

Flexible control means you have solid, healthy rhythms set up in your home and your life that allow you to get done what you need to get done without feeling stretched super thin all the time, and when life happens and chaos ensues, it’s okay because you’ve got your rhythms and you know where you’re going.

You have intent and purpose underfoot, and you can ride the waves of life with peace and confidence.

Becoming a woman of intent means balancing grace and persistence, flexibility and planning. It means living on purpose each and every day while taking time to soak up our families and our little moments. A woman with intent has a vision for her life, her family, and her legacy.

She knows that the end goal is, she feels it in her soul, and she’s taking small daily action steps to get herself there. A woman of intent doesn’t let life happen to her, she purposefully determines her next step and adapts as necessary.

Let’s talk about how we can become women of intent in this new year because it’s so much more substantial than resolving to lose ten pounds, and because resolutions don’t work. What we need are intentional, bite-sized action steps that lead us to meeting a meaningful goal.

1. Get uncluttered

Did you really think I’d start anywhere else? ;)

Clutter and stress are besties, and they have no place living in our homes - where we dwell and cook and sleep and love on our babies and cultivate relationships.

When you have a cluttered home, you have a cluttered life, and a cluttered life can’t be a truly purposeful one because clutter gets in the way of intent.

When I first started getting uncluttered, I had no idea that my marriage would improve, that my depression would clear up and leave for good, or that I would be a generally lighter, happier person. I was just looking to simplify and maybe get out of survival mode!

Choosing to move out of a cluttered life and into a purposeful space that you love is so incredibly powerful and the perfect first step to a more intentional life.

Let’s talk about clearing the clutter in a few main areas to get you started.

The Laundry

I know we all joke about Laundry Mountain and washing endless piles of clothes as being a hilarious part of the #MomLife rant, but what if I looked you in the eye and told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Would you even believe me?

Laundry is such a huge time-sucker and it’s so completely unnecessary for you to spend so many hours on it - it kills me that so many beautiful mamas are wasting their weekends catching up on this instead of sitting at the park with their sweet babies!

Simplify the wardrobes in your home by getting real with yourself. What are you really wearing every week? What are you really dressing your kids in on a regular basis? Forget what you wear simply because it’s there and be really honest with yourself about what’s needed and loved. Ditch the rest.

We hold onto so much excess “just in case” and it’s just making more work for us. Let it go, girl! It’s not worth it!

The Dishes

Another huge time-sucker - the dishes. Open your cupboards right now and look at how many dish sets you have in there. Now how many people do you have eating in your house on a normal night? Why do we keep so many dishes in our cupboards?

Have you ever wondered how you have such a massive pile of dishes to wash at the end of the day when you only cooked one meal?

Here’s the thing...when someone in your house needs a dish, they will always reach for a clean one in the cupboard, no matter how many dishes are sitting in the sink ready to be rinsed and reused. Why? Because human beings always opt for the path of least resistance.

So here's what you can do - choose just one set of dishes (enough for everyone in your house to have one, plus two extra) and store the rest somewhere else. Maybe boxed up in the garage, in a less high-traffic kitchen cupboard, whatever you like.

Get a dish drying rack and set it next to the sink. After dishes are used, they get washed off and set in the drying rack so they’re ready to be used for the next meal or snack. This way, you’re not washing a ton of extra dishes...only what was needed.

Click here to download my free guide to decluttering your laundry and dishes! 

Seek to clear the clutter and simplify everywhere in your house. Ditch the junk drawer for good, simplify your wardrobe, question everything you feel obligated to add to your calendar...get intentional about what is taking up your space and your time. It matters!

Challenge Blog post image.png

2. Create intentional focus on what matters

At this point, we all know that technology is a distracting, time-hoarding waste as well as an incredibly useful, connective tool we can no longer live without. It’s a life-changing asset and a weapon to destroy meaningful living at the same time, and we need to be intentional about putting it in its place in our lives.

How often have you found yourself reading something on your phone while your toddler repeats “Mom?” a hundred times and you weren’t even really able to hear her? I’ve been there and I get back there on a regular basis, so no guilt trips here!

The thing is, we can’t be the ones who just roll with it and let the age of technology take over our motherhoods - we have to try harder, fight back, and tell technology where it belongs in our lives - below our families. We do this by living it out.

Change your notification settings. Why do you need your phone to make a noise every time you get a text message? Why does everyone in your phonebook need to reach you at the drop of a hat? Change it so that only your husband’s texts trigger an alert noise.

Dedicate a place for your phone and leave it there whenever you’re home. Maybe it will be the entryway table, the bathroom, or your bedside table. Wherever it is, make it a non-pivotal location in your house and keep your phone there. Make a rule that you’ll only check your phone when you’re standing at that spot. When you change your notification settings like I advised above, you can leave the sound on loud so you’ll always hear if someone truly important is trying to reach you.

3. Develop rhythms

Rhythms keep you from bottlenecking in your life. If you can get into a balanced flow of the must-do's each day, you will always hit the pillow feeling accomplished, even when you didn't get everything on your list done. It's hard to get in survival mode when you live this way.

Moms live in chaos, so the more balanced, rhythmic strides we can take, the better we'll feel about our days and how intentional we've been.

Rhythms should be made for the things you really need to do each day or week. For example, waking up at a certain time instead of whenever your kids come get you in the morning, or sweeping underneath the dining table after every meal. They automate the musts and remove the stress of remembering every single thing every single day.

Look at how you spend a typical day and find places where rhythms would help.

4.  Have a vision.

Without a clear view of where you want to go, you will fail. I know that’s a hard truth but you need to hear it so you can take action. Ignorance in this is anything but bliss.

We are in charge of our actions, we are responsible for raising our babies, for cultivating love in our marriages, for watering the garden of our life. If we don’t get serious and create a clear, intentional vision for who we want to be and where we are going, we will die out and leave behind nothing of value.

Where there is no vision the people perish.
— Proverbs 29:18

How do you discover your vision? Ask yourself:

  • What do I want to have done, how do I want to have lived when I’m eighty?
  • What legacy do I want to leave behind for my children?
  • What is my purpose? What lights me up from within and makes me want to change the world?

    >> This can be a tough one for busy mamas who are focused on taking care of their littles. For me, that passion is reshaping motherhoods all over the world with my message of hope and light through minimalism and simplified living. You might need to take a little time, pray, think, walk it out… it will come to you if you look for it.

No one wants to purposely live a life that’s not as fulfilling and intentionally as it could have been, yet when we don’t get real, get serious and decide to be women of intent, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

If you’re ready to make this year your most intentional one yet and you want to dive deeper into each of these areas in your life - decluttering, developing focus and rhythms, and becoming a woman of intent - I want to personally invite you to join my Facebook Challenge, She is Intentional.

This challenge will be starting LIVE on December 26th in my Facebook group.

To be a part of it, request to join the group and watch for the daily Facebook live sessions.

Then download your free She is Intentional workbook. It’s for over 30 pages to help you put pen to paper and take real action in this challenge and apply it to YOUR life.

Are you ready?? Let’s do this, friend.

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A No-Stress Way to Handle More Stuff at Christmas

You’ve been working hard to declutter your home, simplify, and lighten your load as a busy mom.

And then seemingly out of nowhere... Christmas.

You know this means loads of toys your kids don’t need, extra clothes you wouldn’t have picked out, and likely, an alarmingly excessive amount of stuff.

It feels like all your hard work is about to be undone, and it sucks.

You don’t want to feel ungrateful or be this year’s Scrooge, but you’re frustrated.

Maybe you haven’t started working toward minimalism just yet, but it’s on the horizon for the New Year and the last thing you want is a giant explosion of materialism to end the current year.

Relatives probably won’t get that you’re wanting to pursue less, you probably should have talked to them before they did their shopping anyway, and your kids are excited at the prospect of receiving all kinds of presents.

I know it seems like your only option is to look the other way, then deal with the chaos later, but take heart - I’ve got some things you can do.

How to Prepare Your House

Sometimes the incoming wave of stuff seems overwhelming because you’ve already got an overwhelming house. You can change that.

Declutter your kids toys by boxing up anything you don’t think they play with much or really love, then put the box(es) in the garage. If a couple weeks after all the new toys come in they haven’t asked for anything in the box, you can donate it.

If you’ve got older kids, let them know what you’re doing and keep it positive. Say something like, “I know you’re about to have an amazing Christmas so we’re preparing the house.” rather than “You’ve got crap coming out of your ears and I’m sick of it!” ;)

If you’re struggle is deciding which toys to keep and which to get rid of, sometimes it helps to consider the purpose of each one.

When I first started decluttering, I wanted my kids’ toys to align with a purposeful childhood, which for me, meant lots of outdoor playtime, building and creating things, and using their imagination.

So, toys that lit up and did all the playing for them went in the donation bin. We ended up having blocks, trains and tracks, a couple of beloved toys (I kept what their absolute favorites were since my aim wasn’t to ensure a place for them in adult therapy classes) art supplies, outdoor toys, and a few dress-up clothes that encouraged imagination.

Simplify your kids’ wardrobes by stripping them down to the bones to create less laundry for you to wash

We hold onto so many things we don’t need “just in case” we do need them, especially when it comes to our kids’ clothes. They’re hard on them, they’re dirty rowdy little people, so we feel the need to keep loads of extra.

The problem is, it’s creating more work for us and it’s usually not worth it. If you head into your kids’ dresser and closet, I bet you’ll be able to pull out the pieces of clothing you most often dress them in and like that they wear, and everything else would be rarely worn.

The times they are worn is likely because you’re behind on the laundry. Why don’t you remove the crutch of having extra clothes, you can’t get behind on the laundry, so you wash less clothes, and receiving new clothes for Christmas isn’t such a burden.

This is my two-year-old son's entire wardrobe, minus his raincoat and shoes.

This is my two-year-old son's entire wardrobe, minus his raincoat and shoes.

What you’re doing here is creating a ton of white space in your kids’ rooms so that the new stuff doesn’t overwhelm you. You’ll be able to handle it and not up your stress level because you already got to a very simplified place.

What You Can Do After Christmas Morning

 

Revisit the idea of donating with your kids. Often times, they gain a new perspective on old toys when they receive new ones. Make a trip to the donation center a week or two after Christmas (bring that box of unmissed toys you set aside before).

  • Tip: make donating about empathy for your kids rather than about you having a clean house. One of my core goals in raising my kids is to encourage a love of minimalism in them so they can live a simple, uncluttered life when they grow up, so that means giving them a deeper reason to live this way. Telling my kids that this is about me having a clean house is dense. Showing them that their donations are doing good for less fortunate people is deep and meaningful and teaches them empathy. Kids love being a part of something bigger than themselves and we all want to raise good humans - it’s a win win.

 

Give your kids the responsibility of their stuff. Moms are not slaves, and kids are not royalty. Teach them to be responsible people by having them take charge over picking p their stuff. Why should that stress be solely on you? Families are teams and team members should pull their weight, even at a young age.

Do what you want to here, but in our house our kids help out and are totally responsible for picking up after themselves and keeping their room clean. If they want to keep more toys, that’s totally fine! They’re the ones who have to keep them picked up. It’s a good lesson to learn because this is how life works.

Focus on another area that needs simplifying. I think a lot of time we obsess over how many toys our kids got for Christmas and what a huge setback it was when the real issue is that we aren't as minimal as we'd like to be, so we blame it on one area that isn't the sole problem.

I can honestly say that because my entire house is minimal, I don’t stress about Christmas and birthday presents. I let those who ask know what my kids would like that aligns with our minimalist lifestyle and Brian and I don’t buy them much ourselves, but other than that I ride the waves and relax about it.

I know that my house is as simple as I can probably get it, so one area not being perfect for a little while is okay and doesn’t stress me out. When you live truly minimally, you aren’t stretched thin all the time, and things like this don’t get to you.

Minimalism lived out the other 364 days of the year means you don't have to panic over this one.

 

How do you prepare for the influx of stuff at Christmas? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

 

 

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High Quality, Last-Minute Gifts So Worth Buying

Seeing as though I have a thousand kids (okay, four.) I have been super busy and distracted, and I feel swindled by Christmas this year. It seriously snuck up on me - it’s almost here!

I’m sort of a scattered mom when it comes to planning ahead for things like gifts. I always think I have more time and then Christmas is a jerk and pops up out of nowhere.

Thankfully, I have a couple of amazing little shops on my radar that I am super excited to share with the rest of you who are also behind on gift-buying.

I don’t like to waste money or buy things that are not going to be loved, valued, and used - it’s my minimalist heart ;)

I am also a huge supporter of small business, especially since I own one myself now!

If a gift can be worth the money, great quality, unique, and totally useful but serve me at the last minute, I’m sold.

Enter Jord Wood Watches.

I asked Jord to send me a men's watch for my hubby so I could give it a test run. I came across their site and thought wooden watches was such an interesting, unique idea, but honestly I was kind of afraid they’d break really easily.

I was so impressed with this watch!

Brian flipped out when he opened it (when you’re a blogger’s wife you get presents early because, photoshoots). It fit him perfectly and suited his lumber-chic style.

The other thing I really like about Jord is their customer service is one of the best I’ve encountered. They have a live chat box on their website where you can talk to someone immediately and ask them questions. Guys, I was browsing at midnight the other night and there was a person there - um, amazing.

I’m so happy to see that Jord has had incredible success, and their watches make an impressive, lasting gift for anyone in your life - husband, dad, mom, they really have something for everyone.

To help you out, Jord offered to give all my lovely readers a coupon for $25 off your order. Win!

Head right over here to snag one before they’re all gone and order something nice for a loved one.


Another smaller business I have been so impressed with is Thirteen Eleven Olive. Creator Annie Stayer makes the coolest leather cuffs, rings, drawer pulls…. Everything leather! I could go crazy in her little shop.

This is another one of those shops where you can find something for almost everyone and still walk out with unique presents that will last and be really useful.

I mean just look…

Can’t. Even. All the heart eyes for this shop!

When it comes to gift giving and minimalism, it's really about the quality of an item and how useful it is to the person you're giving it to. The point is to move away from pointlessly purchasing something cheap for the sake of giving the person something. Put thought into it, make it count, make it useful and unique!

 

 

 

This post was sponsored by Jord Wood Watches

How to Take Ownership of Your Day with Time-Blocking

You own time, time does not own you.

Think about that statement and let it seep into your brain as you think about what your day would look like if you lived that way. How would you carry yourself as a busy wife and mom?

How would you treat appointments, tasks, and chores? With that kind of ownership in your hands, you could probably be pretty confident in telling your minutes where to go and feel pretty great about all you accomplished each day.

That statement is pure truth. You DO own time, it has no power over you unless you let it. You have the same amount of hours in your day as Maya Angelou, Einstein, Oprah, all the great, accomplished people the world has observed as influential.

If you want to get more done, be productive, feel good about your day, and rock this motherhood thing, you’ve got to take ownership of your time.

Rockin’ this mom life gig is all about taking this ownership and balancing it with a heavy dose of flexibility. I need grace more than water, and I mess up on the regular, but for the most part, my days are owned, and I don't let the chaos win.

Let me show you how I do it, and then help you put this into practice for yourself.

What My Life Looks Like

I have four kids, ages two to seven. I’m married, I homeschool, and I own my own online business, which I run from my home office.

My husband Brian was able to quit the job that kept him away from us six excruciating days a week (massive prayer answered and a huge leap of faith for us) this past April, so he's at home with me.

We share the load of running the business and homeschooling the kids. This means sometimes the yellow time blocks set aside for work are used by him while I handle the homeschooling, but usually it's me writing or catching up on emails while he teaches the kids. 

This should give you a feel for our life and what it is we're dealing with. Your life will probably look pretty different from ours, and that's okay - you can still use this blog post and idea as a really sturdy guide for some structure in your day. Just tweak how it's filled in to fit your schedule and family. 

Our life is a lot, it’s not easy, and it takes a lot of patience, grace, and rhythm to keep things running smoothly. I’m not naturally a Type A person (kinda wish I was), but I have learned that I need to adopt some Type A habits in order to live intentionally, and that’s worth it to me.

Here’s what my typical day looks like (the details of the work and school tasks vary depending on which day of the week it is).

I typically take Thursdays off of both work and homeschooling, and our family will head out for an adventure day. Usually we do some sort of outdoor homeschool day trip, sometimes we just get lunch together, run some errands, and spend time at the park.

Either way, it’s a mid-week break with uninterrupted family time and I love it. I don’t do well with a traditional weekend of two days off in a row. I lose my step and my productivity tanks. Since I have the flexibility to do something different, I take advantage of that.

On Sundays, I don’t work at all, and I detox from social media too. It’s usually a very restful day for all of us.

Every day (even if it’s a day off), I wake up between 4:30 & 5:30. I found that there are certain things, like writing content for my website, that I really need to do in the quiet, which only happens when my kids are asleep. I’ve also found that if I have gotten the most pressing and important tasks for the day finished before my kids even wake up, I am able to be extremely flexible.

Mom life means unforeseen changes to the schedule pretty often - injured or sick kids, deciding to take off and do something fun midday, an errand that suddenly really needs to be done, etc. When the most crucial tasks on my day’s to do list are done at 4:30 in the morning, I can let go of the rest with a lot less stress if I need to roll with the waves and change my plans for the day.

You can read my suggestions on breaking night owl habits and waking up early here.

Enter: Time-Blocking

Now that you see the kind of things I need to accomplish throughout the week, let’s talk about time blocking.

Time blocking is exactly what it sounds like - blocking chunks of time out and dedicating each chunk to a certain genre of tasks. You’re basically telling your time where to go like you do in Dave Ramsey's budgeting philosophy.

Instead of telling every dollar how it will be used before you earn it, you’re telling every hour how it will be spent before it happens. This is taking ownership of your time, and in turn, taking ownership of your life. To me, this is a key part in living on purpose with intention and focus, which is really important to me.

Here’s what my time blocking looks like:


Want help applying time-blocking to your own life?


I typically spend two solid hours working early in the morning, and two or three hours mid-late morning.

I spend a few broken up hours homeschooling the kids in the afternoon and do things like going through our Bible curriculum while we eat breakfast to kill two birds with one stone whenever I can.

I’ve woven some self-care and intentional family time into each day as well. I end every early morning work session with a walk around my neighborhood while I speak affirmations over myself, my life, and my business and spend time in prayer.

My kids wake up around 7:15 and know they are to hang out in their bedroom until 8:00 when breakfast is served. I start my day with them feeling awake, caffeinated, productive, and happy. So much better than still in bed, groggy, pissed off, and late to the start of my own life each day!

I have prioritized meal time in our home by marking it in red on my time blocking chart. This way, even it’s an incredible busy day for me, we are pressing pause to sit down and share a lengthy meal together as a family.

You’ll notice that housework is the smallest block of the day, and blocking an hour out for it each evening is completely unnecessary, but that time is there in case for some reason we do need it.

Our home requires extremely minimal daily maintenance because of minimalism. I’ve simplified our belongings and our home down to the bare minimum, which allows me to not worry about housework much at all during the day. It’s awesome!

We pick up as we go a bit during the day, but the blue block of time on my chart is usually about 30 minutes of picking up right before dinner. Along with a load of laundry and caring for pets, that’s all we need to keep the house in good shape and feeling clean.

On Saturday mornings, we do deep cleaning as a family. If you’d like to implement minimalism in your house, click here.

How You Can Start Time-Blocking Your Own Life

The first thing you need to do is write out a list of all the things that HAVE to be done every week. What keeps your home running smoothly? What has to be done in order to keep your home and your life from falling apart?

Think about everything, including self-care. What needs to be done in order to keep YOU from falling apart? What do you need to do in order to be a fulfilled, peaceful mama? Include your marriage, your relationships with your kids, housework, business or work tasks if you have them, everything.

Next, you need to look at the amount of time you have in your day. What time would you LIKE to wake up? You can change this to be earlier if you end up needing the extra hours, but what is your ideal wake up time? Do you like to stay up later and sleep until about 7:30? Do you like to rise early? Write down your ideal time for starting your day.

Now write down anything you would like to accomplish before your kids come out for breakfast, if anything. Do you want to get the hardest/most important part of your day’s tasks out of the way right from the get-go? Do you simply want some quiet time alone? How long will these tasks take? Half an hour? Two hours?

Estimate and write the number down. Add thirty minutes to account for waking up, using the bathroom, and getting your head out of your sleepiest state. That’s how much earlier than your kids you need to wake up. If your kids wake up ridiculously early, you can set a new rule where they can come out for breakfast at a certain time that’s more realistic for you and allows you the time you need to start your day well in the mornings.

For example, my kids used to wake up at 5:00 in the morning, and it was ridiculous. I set a new rule which didn’t allow them to come out and have run of the house until 7:00. Now they sleep in until about 7:15 (their inner clocks naturally adjusted after a few weeks because they knew it’s no longer super fun to wake up early if you can’t do whatever you want), and their “come out and have breakfast” time is now 8:00.

This works great for our family, and you can adjust the times to what will work best for yours.

Next you need to look at your set schedule. This is the schedule that isn’t flexible in your life. For example, do your kids go to school? Their school hours are not flexible, and determine a large part of your day. Do you work outside the home? Your work schedule determines your day and is not flexible.

Do you have weekly commitments like homeschool co-ops, doctor appointments, or play dates? Write these things down and block out these times (school drop off and pick up times, work hours, commute times, etc.)

Okay, so now that you’ve done that, what’s left? That’s your place to fill in the things you wrote down in the first step - all the things you need to accomplish each day to keep your home and your life running smoothly. If you don’t have enough hours in your day, you have to create it by setting an earlier wake time, a later bedtime, or removing something from your day. Sometimes this means making hard decisions about your life because you realize you have way too much on your plate and literally cannot do it all well.

Don’t be discouraged or stressed out… this is something you needed to realize and can totally handle. Make decisions based on peace and confidence and in what feels right, not out of fear or worry.

The next step is to play around with the order and structure of your day. Look at what you’ve written down and think about living it out. Would you really like to respond to emails first thing in the morning? Or would you rather spend time doing that during the baby’s nap?

Think hard about the rhythm you want for your week and what will work best for your husband’s work schedule, your personality, and the ages of your kids. You might need to be a little more flexible for a season (ie: if you have a baby who isn’t sleeping through the night yet).

The final step is creating your personal time blocking chart. I prefer Google Sheets for this, but you can also use Excel or a similar program. You can also download my pre-made time blocking chart and fill it in for yourself by clicking here.


Want help applying time-blocking to your life?

Download the free Time-Blocking Mom Workbook now!

10 pages of help + a time chart for your week!


Life is hard, chaotic, and can make you feel out of control so easily. Sometimes that’s a good thing and it grows us, other times it’s debilitating and depressing, and keeps us from accomplishing our purpose. Take control of your time, tell it where to go, and free yourself up to enjoy spontaneous moments a lot more, be a more intentional mom, and end up with a life lived well.

 
Manage your time, construct your day better, organize how you spend your time. 

Manage your time, construct your day better, organize how you spend your time. 

Dear Mom Who Just Wants to Be Perfect, Strive for Happiness

My addiction to Pinterest has resulted in me reading an ungodly amount of quotes but recently, one grabbed my attention so hard that I could not get it out of my mind.

“Your kids don’t want a perfect mom; they just want a happy one.”

– Unknown

Now, if you’re anything like me, giving your children what they want is extremely important to you. I thought I was doing just that by trying to be the perfect mom that they deserve. After reading this quote, I started to think that maybe I have actually been depriving my kids of what they really want and need, a happy mom. It has become clear that attempting to be perfect may not be the only thing that is robbing me of my ability to be happy. I want to change that, not only for me but for all moms.


For me, deciding to strive for happiness starts with accepting and understanding why perfection in motherhood is simply not attainable. Sure, perfection is possible in some parts of life. You can get a perfect score on a test but only because there is a teacher’s guide to compare your answers to. As moms, we don’t have a guide to tell us what we are doing correctly or incorrectly because no two people will every agree what criteria a mother must meet to be considered perfect. Since we don’t have a guide to follow, most of us end up comparing ourselves to other moms and that, honestly, is just foolish. That mom at the park who you think has it all together might be thinking the same about you. That means that we are allowing ourselves to feel inadequate based on not being “as good” as another imperfect mom.


The author Jodi Picoult once said, “The very fact that you are worried about being a good mom means that you already are one.” This could not be more true. A bad mom wouldn’t waste any time wondering if she’s doing a good job, she doesn’t care. As good moms, we do care, a lot, and yet we tend to underestimate ourselves. Sometimes, second guessing our decisions can be frustrating but it can also force us to make better ones. Therefore, even as we worry and overthink, we can simultaneously hold our heads high, be confident in our abilities and continue on our journey to happiness.


Before I was a wife and mother, I had a clear picture in my head of what I was going to be like when the time came. I thought I would handle tough situations with grace and volunteer for everything. I assumed that I would never lose my temper or my figure. I thought that and my family would be perfect. When reality hit, I allowed the feeling of not living up to my fantasy to morph into a feeling of failure. If I had been able to let go of how I thought things should be, I would have been able to see the amazing transformation I was making. I was not failing, I was learning. We all know that becoming a good wife and mother can be a really challenging learning process. It was only after I let go of that fantasy that I was able to really enjoy how things were. So, if you haven’t already, let go of that woman you thought you were going to be. When you do, you will see that you have been transformed into someone more amazing than you imagined.


I believe that we should never allow anyone to stand in the way of our happiness, especially not ourselves! I don’t know about you but I would much rather hear my children describe me as happy instead of perfect. I will no longer try to be perfect, obsess about being good enough or underestimate the woman I have become. I will steadily strive to become the happy mom that my children truly want and deserve.


Lychelle Hollback is a military wife and stay at home mom to two wonderful boys, ages 3 and 6. She was born and raised in Wisconsin but now resides in South Eastern Virginia, where her husband is stationed with the Navy.

She is extremely passionate about her role as a mother, wife and homemaker and enjoys writing about the many adventures that go on in her day to day life. You can follow Lychelle by reading her blog.

How to Motivate Yourself to Wake Up Earlier

When you start waking up earlier, it really sucks. There, I said it.

I faced my dreaded early bird future a couple years ago, knowing it was the right way to go, but hating it and wishing desperately that I could hold onto my beloved night owl lifestyle.

The evenings were my prime time. Or so I thought. At the end of a long day, curling up on the couch with my laptop and a glass of wine made my heart happy. I would always tell myself I was going to be productive and knock out a blog post or two, but then get hazy and distracted and end up watching three hours of Netflix. I’d start to doze off and end up wandering to bed around midnight or later.

Sound familiar?

I reached a point where, like the lovely Kat Lee says so often, I was waking up TO my kids rather than FOR my kids. I woke up to them bickering, asking for breakfast, in a hazy fog from the late night before. Not my best self, I often started the day cranky, sometimes yelling - and the mom of the year award goes to…...anyone else.

I decided to suck it up and make some changes. I had already discovered the beauty of simplifying my home and how much freer I felt as a mom during my daily routine, so I wondered what I could change next.

I woke up at 5:00 the next morning. I forced myself to just do it - stand up and make the  bed as quickly as possible, then run into the kitchen - no chance of climbing back under the cozy covers. I was half dead, but with some coffee and a few quiet moments, I got my laptop out and started writing.

I was pretty productive, but the kids heard me tapping the keyboard and kept wanting to come out. Then they’d be loud, then they’d ask me for breakfast despite the fact that it was still dark out and they probably shouldn’t even be awake yet. It was frustrating and discouraging, but I could see the light. I saw how the mornings could go and noticed that I was for sure more alert and ready to be productive early in the day, unlike nighttime when I’m really just DONE and want to veg out with my hubby and Netflix. Plus, I liked it, to my surprise. 

I decided to adjust and push through, tweaking things to eliminate the problems. A couple years later, I still wake up around 5AM. It’s not perfect, and some days I get up slightly later and some days even a little earlier, depending on lots of things, but I’ve figured out how to make this work! And when it does, waking up early is pretty amazing and highly beneficial to motherhood.

I want to say before I dive into the deets...there are seasons for this. There are seasons to not give a crap - like when you’re pregnant or sick or have a baby who still wakes up randomly. There are people who truly do better, more productive work in the evening. This post isn’t meant to sway you. If you stay up late and get sh*t done, go for it. It works for you, great.

There are also seasons where nighttime really does work better for one reason or another. I’ve switched back to being a night owl twice in the last two years, very temporarily. Once because I was creating my course. It was very stressful and I found that I didn’t sleep well until I had poured a heavy amount of work into it. The other time is right now, in the past week, for a similar reason. I’m working on writing my book proposal and several other large work projects, and when the stress level is this high, for some reason I change into this nighttime productivity machine and just need to pour into my work right before I call it a day. It’s weird, but it works better for me very rarely, so I roll with it.

For the most part though, I wake up early. It’s now a part of my usual routine and it’s increased my productivity, happiness, energy levels, and general fulfillment in my life by a lot.

If you’re the kind of mom that’s in the right season of life and has the desire to wake up early but kind of sucks at it, this post is for you.

There are a lot of different reasons being dedicated to waking early has you failing or deciding you no longer give a crap. Let's hash them out, shall we?

1) When you wake early, your kids hear you no matter how quiet you are, and come out, ruining your plan for the morning.

Hear me, mama. YOU ARE THE PARENT! If you need to wake up early and be alone for a bit, set the rules and keep them.

When I saw this being an issue with my kids, I made a new house rule that is still in place to this day. The kids are not allowed to come out of their room (they have their own bathroom, otherwise that would be the only exception) until their alarm clock rings at 8 AM. This gives me three solid hours of writing without them coming out.

I set them up with what they need - this isn’t a torture chamber. They have a snack and water and are allowed to talk, read, and play until eight. My oldest gets the baby from his crib and helps busy him. Sometimes I have to run in and give him a fresh diaper, but the it’s right back into the room for some quiet play because that’s the house rule.

Kids, you can fuss all you want, but this is a boundary I have for myself, so that I can be a more productive, happy, loving mama.

They don’t even try to break this rule now because they know it’s set in stone.

2) You like staying up late the night before way too much.

This is your call, girl. It’s just like I say when talking about my decluttering course…. Do you want to reap the benefits of an uncluttered home or not? If you want to stop cleaning up all the time and be ready for company constantly, you have to purge and do the work.

Same goes here.

If you want the energy and productivity and good feelings that come from waking early and taking on the day, you have to make the sacrifice of time. I think so often we want a magic wand in life. If somehow we could stop loving the quiet of the evening and still wake up early magically productive, that would be great! Yes, it would be great. But you’re on Earth in cold hard reality, and it’s your call how your life goes down. So pick one. That’s the hard truth we need to face if we’re ready to stop letting life happen to us and start telling it how to go.

Waking early has massive return on investment, but you can’t get the return without the investment, yo.

3) The evening is the only time you and your husband get to spend together.

That’s true for probably almost all of us. Have at it! Watch a movie, eat dinner together, snuggle up, get freaky… whatever your thang is, do it and enjoy the time together! Getting up early doesn’t have to mean doing nothing at night and going to bed when your kids do.

If you’re so tired that that’s when you want to go to bed, it’ll get better as your body and sleep schedule adjust, and you might want to look at why you’re not sleeping heavy enough to feel rested, not what time you’re going to bed.

Brian and I LOVE our evenings together! We watch TV, we talk and laugh, it’s the best time of the day! Then around 10:30 or so, we head to bed fulfilled from the day and feeling connected from spending time together, and I can wake up early again.

Try not to make this seem like such a negative thing. It’s really not! Brian and I also put our kids to bed pretty early. Bella goes to bed around 8:30, and the boys go to bed around 7:30. That helps them get good rest and it helps us have some time alone. Again, boundaries and rules, mama. You’re the parents!

4) You can push through and wake up early, and you do feel more productive when you do it, but getting through the day without crashing is the problem.

Human adults need 6-8 hours of sleep a night. Are you getting that? If not, go to bed earlier or wake up later. Your call! If so, there’s another reason you are so fatigued, and you should look into it. You’re probably lacking a nutrient or something your body really needs. When I started taking B6/B12 shots, I was no longer dragging around 3:00 every day.

5) It’s dark and cold out, and so hard to actually get out of bed when it feels like I’ll freeze to death and be unable to get going.

There are going to be lots of hurdles to making this change (or any positive change), so it’s up to you to decide how bad you want the benefits.

Nothing good and different and better comes easy.

You can set yourself up for success, but you’ve also got to know it isn’t going to be perfect and easy all the time.

Keep a pair of super warm, cozy socks on your nightstand that you can quickly put on right when you wake up. Write a list of the benefits to waking up early and put it where you’ll see it when you open your eyes. Move your alarm clock so it’s not right by your bed and you have to get up to turn it off.

Set rules with yourself and be a disciplined person - that’s not something you either are or aren’t, it’s something you can choose and work hard to become.

Do you wake early or stay up late? What have you found works best for your productivity? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 
How to wake up earlier. Get motivated, go to bed earlier, and make it happen. 
How to wake up earlier. Get motivated, go to bed earlier, and make it happen. 

Getting Your Husband on Board with Minimalism

There are a few main setbacks I see holding overwhelmed women back from taking the plunge into the minimalist lifestyle, and their husbands not being gung-ho about the whole idea is probably number one on the list. The reason this is so frustrating to me is because of the misconception that a husband and wife need to be on the same page in order for the wife to better her life. This is so not true!

In a healthy marriage, if a wife is super overwhelmed and needs to simplify in order to be a more intentional person, she should be able to communicate that to her husband and move forward with the things that have an affect on her life, whether he gets it or not.

For example, a few years ago when I first discovered that decluttering was the key to overcoming overwhelm in my motherhood, my husband got tense. He wasn’t on board and was nervous about me getting rid of things. I explained that letting go of clutter was setting me free and improving my life, even helping clear up my depression, and he understood. We came to a compromise - I would declutter the areas of the house that were mine and the kids’, the areas that had a direct impact on how I spent my day, and I would leave all his stuff alone. He could keep the garage and his half of the closet any way he wanted, and I would never purge anything that belonged to him.

We carried on this way for two years or so, with me living incredibly minimal and him hoarding random odds and ends and little things he planned to use for some project one day. Eventually came to see the benefits of minimalism and started implementing it too.

Honestly, I’m so glad Brian is on the same page as me now, but I could’ve gone on that way forever and been completely happy. I would’ve experienced all the same freedom and joy and simplicity in my life as I am now that he’s on board. You do not need your husband to be on board in order to experience the freedom and intentionality of minimalism.

Me and my love bug :)

Me and my love bug :)

I don’t think you can convince, nag, or force a guy into jumping on board with this, and I wouldn’t try to. When you try to coerce someone into agreeing with you, what usually happens is you push them away and turn them off to the idea entirely, making things even harder for yourself.

What I did worked, so I think it’s worth a shot. Compromise without pressure, and being quiet, living proof that this works and makes life way easier.

There may be some things your husband and you spent money on together for the house or the kids that he’s not okay with you purging. Again, explain your overwhelm to him and offer to compromise some way. If he won’t budge, fine. Let there be a few things like that - you will still experience a lot less overwhelm by purging the other areas in your home.

One way you can compromise is by offering to simply move an item into the garage or attic for two weeks to see if it is needed before you commit to getting rid of it completely. This might help your husband feel less panicked about donating things you spent money on, and help him see that the real waste happened when you bought an item you don’t truly need, not when you decided to let it go for the sake of simpler living.

So much of the time, we sabotage our success by trying to have all our ducks in a row before we get started on something. I know it feels like you need your husband on board with this, but if that’s not happening, don’t let it keep you from starting. Start small, leave his crap alone, and just see what happens. Don’t let a hurdle, big or small, hold you back from improving your life in a way that makes you a better wife and mother, and a happier person who lives on purpose.


Mama, you can make this happen for yourself even through difficulties and lack of support. Things can change on that front, don't wait around for it though! A lifestyle of less opens the door to SO MUCH MORE! Start now and let me walk you through every step of the process. 

 
How to get husband on board with minimalism. What if my husband isn't on board?

Minimalism For Your Health, Calendar, + Relationships

I talk a lot about how minimalism is addictive because it’s so true! Every week I read posts in my Facebook group from women who are experiencing the crazy freedom simplifying brings and they can’t stop.

You gain this incredible momentum and it leaks into every area of your life. For me, it started with purging the kids’ toys, then I moved into the kitchen, then our clothes, then the closets and linens, then the drawers and cabinets, then my house was done and I found myself living more minimally with my calendar and schedule, and my relationships, and my eating habits. It’s crazy how this catches you and changed your entire life, all because you were tired of the clutter.

Often, I get this question from newbies who are trying to figure out if this lifestyle of less is right for them.

“How does minimalism apply to the rest of your life outside of your home?”

Ohhh mama. I can’t wait to tell you about this. Today’s Minimalism Basics post is all about how minimalism helps you in areas other than your household clutter. Let’s do it.

 

Your calendar

Applying minimalism to my calendar has probably been the biggest game changer outside of the kids’ toys and laundry. When you learn to think minimally about what’s taking up space in your house, it becomes habit. I started thinking minimally about what I was putting on my calendar soon after I’d purged my house. I’d get asked if I could make it to some event and go to put it on my iPhone calendar app and think “wait… do I want to go to this? Really?” It was liberating.

To implement minimalism to your calendar, ask yourself a few key questions.

  1. Why am I thinking of attending this? (is it out of obligation or guilt?)

  2. Is this a good use of my time with or away from my family?

  3. Does this event line up with my purpose in life?

By getting real with yourself before you say yes to something, you’re forcing yourself to evaluate whether or not this event is worth your limited time. How we spend our days ends up being how we spent our lives, so this stuff matters.

 

Your relationships

Think about the people in your life. Are any of them toxic to you? Why are you allowing them in? Because they’re related to you? Because you feel obligated to tolerate them?

There is a huge difference between being forced to have someone in your life (because of family ties, etc) and allowing them to take something from you. Put up boundaries where you need to. Is there someone who sucks the life out of you and harms you emotionally to the point where you feel anxious, upset, or super down after spending time with them? You need boundaries. I want you to understand that this is your one and only life! Be a kind person, but don’t be a doormat. Pick up this book and make reading it your priority, then get minimal about the toxic relationships in your life.

  • Do you need this relationship?
  • How can you put up boundaries around yourself with this person?
  • What is this relationship adding to or taking from your life?

Set up boundaries for a life you love living, and don’t let another person steal your joy.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Your health and fitness

The weight loss industry generates $20 billion a year in the US, mostly from diet books. There are approximately 108 million dieters in the United States right now.

I believe losing weight and getting healthy have been way over-complicated. I know that if I want to be smaller, I need to cut out my Taco Bell runs during late night writing sessions. But honestly, I love me a chalupa.

Eat clean, get moving, be healthy. It’s as simple as that unless you have a serious health issue, which I guarantee 108 million people in my country alone, do not.

You can absolutely implement minimalism in your health and fitness routine. This is why I don’t share meal plans and cooking routines on my blog (it’s not just because I hate cooking). I don’t have any of that stuff. I just go to the store and buy healthy foods that fit a clean eating/Paleo lifestyle, and prepare it, then eat it with my family. I don’t spend an hour a week writing out what we will eat, we don’t get sick of the food we eat. We just make basic dinners and rotate them based on what sounds good that night. That’s it.

Clear the mental clutter of which foods should be eaten with which other types of foods and when is it the best time to workout and what kinds of arm workouts are best for this kind of arm fat. Just shush. Buy healthy food at the store, pair a little meat (if that’s your thang) with a ton of veggies and maybe a little healthy starch. Get moving at least once a day, try not to sit much, and drink water. There you have it.

Minimalism is so much more than an uncluttered house. It’s an intentional life without extra crap sucking up all your time, and that absolutely applies to other areas of your life. What starts with the physical clutter in your space leaks into the emotional, mental, and relational clutter that you didn't even realize was bearing down on you with such a heavy force. 

Take the philosophy of less and run with it! See where it takes you ;)

What areas of your life other than your home have you implemented minimalism? Share in the comments!


Wanna cut the chaos and do this thing for real? My course will walk you through every room, every area of your overwhelming house. Let me take the guess work out of decluttering for you and help you come out on the other side- a life of LESS so you can live MORE. 


 


 

How to apply a minimalist philosophy to the rest of your life - calendar, relationships, health and fitness. 

Decluttering Your House 101: The How To

So you hear about this awesome idea called minimalism, and you want in. You read up on some of the main points, set aside some time to get started, and walk into your house with fresh eyes. Those eyes see all the things - cluttered surfaces, drawers full of randoms dating back to God-only-knows-when, toys exploding out to every room, crackers smashed into the carpet… oh boy. The overwhelm creeps in and gains its choke-hold position.

I can’t do this.

This is way too much.

I’m too overwhelmed.

I’ll never be able to get this whole house done.

I need a nap.

This happens all the time. It happened to me when I first set out to simplify my life, and I see it happening in my group on a regular basis. It’s totally normal, but what you do with this feeling will define the rest of your life - if you really do this, or if you let the overwhelm win.

Hold up, mama. BREATHE.

I’m gonna give you some minimalism basics today to help you break down the decluttering process. It only feels overwhelming because you’re already overwhelmed. It feels like you’re taking on something extra and it’s all too much. But taking this on will free you up in ways you can’t possibly expect, and it’s gonna be GOOD. So hold on, and let’s break down the process of how to declutter so it becomes simpler.

 

Stop looking at all there is to do and just start.

Choose a non-emotional room to start in, like the bathroom. Nothing with sentimental items to go through. Get the kids busy or ask for help from someone, create some breathing room for this important journey to take place, and walk in there and start.

Sometimes it even helps my extremely overwhelmed clients to close their eyes, walk into the room they’re going to tackle, and pick something up with their eyes still closed. Then I have them open their eyes and make a decision about the item they’re holding.

Keep, donate, or trash? Make the decision, place the item in the pile location, and pick up the next thing.

There, you started. That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now you have a little momentum to keep going, and the more you work through things, the more your motivation and momentum builds. Before you know it, you’re on fire and making it happen!

 

How to make decisions about your items

You will make one of three decisions about every item you pick up - keep it, throw it away, or donate it. There is no “maybe” pile because you’re not here to waste time and create piles of stuff to go through later… you’re going through it NOW and you’re finishing this room today. You’re not going to waste your own time because you live intentionally now.

So how do you decide which of the three piles to put your items in? By asking a few key questions about each thing you feel stumped on:

  1. Do I need this? Would life be able to go on tomorrow without this?

  2. Do I love this? Does it bring me joy?

  3. Does this item line up with my purpose? Does it help me live intentionally?

If the answer to two or more of these is no, why are you allowing this item to take up your space and time? Rethink.

When you know an item needs to be removed from your home, you have another choice to make: trash or donate? If it’s at all damaged, stained, ripped, or in poor condition, just throw it away. The needy don’t want your trash, and Salvation Army will either not accept it or throw it away for you later. Save them the work; throw it away if it’s trash.

If an item is in decent condition, by all means put it in the donation pile. When you throw everything away, you’re contributing to waste and build-up that harms our planet. Donate what you can, and keep the trash pile for real trash.

>> A note on selling your items. I’m not against selling your things when you’re decluttering, but I do see a lot of the time that holding onto things because you might have a garage sale or make money off of them on Facebook sell groups often leads to lack of progress. I’ve seen women make $600 off selling a room-full of stuff. I’ve also seen way more women spend two weeks decluttering only to make zero progress because they held onto everything in hopes of selling and never did. Be careful. Weigh it out. Is it worth it for you to try?

 

Where to donate your things

You have lots of options when it comes to donating your items, but don’t let those options become overwhelming and keep you from making decisions. Let’s break it down so you can pick what appeals to you most.

Churches - you can donate pretty much anything to your church or a church near you. I like to donate toys and books in particular so they can use them in the nursery and kids club.

Salvation Army - the perk here is that they will pick up your donations for you. The con is they are VERY picky with what they’ll accept. If there is anything at all wrong with a piece of furniture or a blouse, they won’t take it and you’re still stuck with some of your stuff.

Goodwill - the perk here is that Goodwill accepts donations of all kinds and sorts through them on their own. You can walk in with your bags and leave them, knowing they have hired help who will do the sorting and deciding if they’ll sell it, and you’re still helping the less-fortunate by donating instead of selling.  

Best Buy - you can drop off or ship your electronic waste to a Best Buy near you and they will recycle it for you. There’s no need to hold onto things with lithium batteries because you don’t know what to do with them. Ship it off and let it go.

There are plenty of good causes ready to accept your donations beyond the popular thrift stores. You can find a nearby shelter or food bank and do some good in your community! The point is not to get held up by the details of where, when, or how you’ll remove the clutter from your home and just do it.

decluttering 101: how to declutter your house. 

3 Keys to a Successful Purging Session

If you’re someone who has jumped on the minimalist bandwagon, this might sound familiar…

You’re on fire, and you’re doing this. You head into one of the over-cluttered rooms in your house and get started. You make decisions, placing things into piles: keep, trash, and donate. You work through the entire room - everything - and you’re feeling super proud of yourself. You look at the donate pile, you look at the trash pile, and you know you totally nailed this purge sesh.

You’re exhausted. You walk into the kitchen and brew yourself a fresh batch of well-deserved coffee. The baby wakes up from his nap, the kids run in the door from school, and you’re back in your normal rhythm for the afternoon.

That night you walk by the room you purged earlier that day and you see the terrifying image of those three perfect piles, torn apart. Stuff is strewn everywhere. All the hard work you did to make decisions was undone. The kids have no idea what they’ve done. You’re so disappointed, so annoyed, your purging fire has been snuffed completely out. Fail.

This happens all the time. It happened to me when I first started my decluttering journey, and I see it happening in my Facebook group and in my students every week. There are a few common purging hurdles just like this one that really suck, but can be totally avoided if you stick to a few basic rules. I’m gonna lay them out for you today because I like you, and I want you to succeed. A simpler life is so worth it!

3 Keys to a Successful Purge Session

Follow all the way through

Listen to me, mama… you are not done with a decluttering session until you have followed all. the. way. through. Got it?

This means everything in your “keep” pile has been double checked, and is something you absolutely love or need, and has been put in its new home. This means everything in your “trash” pile has been bagged up and carried out to the outside garbage cans. This means everything in your “donate” pile has been bagged up and put in the back of your car for a trip to Goodwill. This also means you have set an alarm in your phone to go off in three days’ time - this is your time limit for dropping off any and all donations.

I don’t implement a lot of rules in my philosophy of minimalism because I believe it should work for you and your life, but here you need rules. I see too many failures and too many overwhelmed mamas throwing in the towel because they didn’t follow all the way through and things got undone by their kids, their husband, or the fact that they left the piles sitting for weeks.

Again, YOU ARE NOT FINISHED WITH A PURGE SESSION UNTIL YOU HAVE FOLLOWED ALL THE WAY THROUGH!

Handle the hard stuff like a pro

Picture this…

You’re on a roll in your daughter’s room. You’re purging, you’re making good decisions about her clothes, her toys, you’ve got this. Then you see it - the tiny white dress she was dedicated in - the one your late grandmother handed down to you for her right before she passed away. Heart twists, indecision pours over you.

You sit there going over memories for ten minutes, unable to make a decision. You know you don’t need this little dress, and it’s not something you really feel you want to keep since you have tons of photos of her wearing it, yet you can’t put it in the donate pile. You just can’t do it. You get overwhelmed and decide to take a break.

While you’re sipping coffee and checking Facebook, thirty minutes fly by and it’s time to go pick up the kids from school. Your decluttering session was derailed by a sentimental item you didn’t know what to do with, and now it’s over.

You know that whenever you decide to get back to it, a hard decision about that tiny white dress is waiting for you, so you avoid the task like the plague. Eventually your decluttering progress just turns into a giant mess in your daughter’s room, and you feel like “minimalism just doesn’t work” for you. You miss out on all the freedom because of one hard choice.

This happens all the time! Friend, it’s okay. There’s a better way to handle this kind of thing.

When you find yourself held up on something difficult or sentimental, just set it aside. I’m not saying to put it in a box and hide it in the closet or decide never to deal with it - we need to deal with what tugs on our heart strings - it’s good for us. But you don’t need to deal with it in the middle of a productive purge session if it’s stumping you. Set it aside, and go through that pile later.


Ready to go all in? Stop cleaning up after your life and start living it. Enroll in the movement that's taking motherhood by the horns, and get every step you need to declutter your entire house, like now. 


My favorite way to handle this would be to set aside sentimental things or things I felt were too hard to make an instant decision about, finish my decluttering in the room I was working on (and follow all the way through, right??), and then later that evening, after I’d put the kids to bed and had some quiet time, I could focus. I would turn on Netflix and pour myself a glass of wine, and make sound decisions about as many hard things as I could.

Why am I feeling like I can’t get rid of this? Is it because of guilt or obligation? Do I feel like I haven’t honored this memory by taking a photo of it? Is this one of the few special things I should actually keep? For more on dealing with sentimental items, read this.

Treat it like an important appointment

I think a lot of the time, we keep ourselves from succeeding in this journey before it even really starts. We decide this minimalism thing sounds cool and we’ll give it a try, but life is crazy and we’re already overwhelmed, so it doesn’t ever really happen.

Mama listen, do you want this or don’t you? If you really want to be able to have company drop by and not be embarrassed about your house, if you really want to be set free from the constant cycle of cleaning up all day, if you want to have weekends that are spent having fun with your family over having to catch up on the laundry, then make it happen!

If this was any other important appointment, you’d probably write it on your fridge calendar, put it in your phone, wake up, get dressed, and show up for it. Why are you not treating this the same way when it’s so much more important than so many things we do for ourselves? This is the key to a simpler, more intentional life for you and your family - treat it like that!

Choose a day and time block that works for your schedule - however big or small works for your life - and show up. Just walk in a room and get started until your time is up, follow all the way through and be done for the day.

When you show up for yourself and do this, you’re putting yourself on the road to living a better life instead of just cleaning up after it. This matters! Treat purging sessions like the most important appointment on your calendar, and you will succeed.
 

Other posts that can help you overcome common hurdles in decluttering:

Purging with kids in the house

Decluttering the kids’ rooms

How to stop buying things you don’t need

Minimalism & Christmas gifts

5 Shortcuts to Decluttering the Hard Stuff

3 keys to a successful decluttering session. How to purge effectively. 



What exactly is minimalism?

When most people hear the word minimalism, their minds are immediately filled with stereotype images and assumptions - white walls, near-empty rooms, KonMari. However, minimalism has little to do with decor and folding styles. Trust me, I wouldn’t dedicate my career to something as shallow as that.

This is a massive movement, and I believe it’s incredibly beneficial for us mothers. This is a lifestyle shift that’s turning on the light for moms everywhere, revealing the truth - you don’t have to clean up all the time; there is a much lighter way to do motherhood!

Minimalism is about creating breathing room in your home, your calendar, and your life so that you can be intentional with the people who matter most to you, and present to enjoy them fully.

As a minimalist, I choose carefully what takes up space in my home, because I know those things I choose will also take up my time. I like to use the toaster as an example. Your toaster sit on your counter top ready to be used. You use it to turn bread into toast, you dump the crumb tray every so often, you wipe it down when you detail the kitchen, you move it back under the cabinet to its dedicated spot… all of this may only take you a couple minutes total, but it’s a couple minutes nonetheless. Your toaster takes up some of your space, and because it exists in your house, it also takes up some of your time. Everything you own works the same way.

Some things only take up thirty seconds a month, others take up hours without us even realizing it. Minimalism is about looking at how we’re spending our time, what’s taking up our space and our lives, and asking one question: why?

Minimalism is living intentionally, with a purpose that leaves its fingerprint on every single day. Because that’s how you end up with a life worth living.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
— Annie Dillard

Let me ask you this… what’s most important to you? What are your toppest priorities in life?

Your husband?

Your relationship with God?

Your family?

Your job?

Write it down.

Now answer this, being totally honest with yourself… if someone had a secret camera in your home (take the creepiness of this example out and set it aside) and their main purpose was to find out what your top priorities were, what would they find?

Would they see your daily actions lining up with what you say are your priorities?

Or would they see that your phone appears to be the highest priority?

Or money?

Or yourself?

Or having a clean house?

Or whatever is going on on Facebook?

So often, we think we have our priorities in line. I mean after all, we’re moms! Moms take care of their families and serve until they desperately need a night out - obviously we are super focused on those who matter most. But how often do we get caught up in the chaos and end up living these precious days of our kids’ fleeting childhood in full-on survival mode? How often do we send our kids away from us to “go play” or “go be busy” so we can catch up on something as mundane as housework? How often do we count the minutes till bedtime instead of sitting down and playing Legos with them?

This isn’t to guilt you or to be another post where one mommy shames all the others. This was me. It IS me every time I lose focus because I’m human, and I mess up all the time. But this was me every single day a few years ago. I was stuck in survival mode, barely getting by, always trying to catch up on the housework. A day without a mountain of laundry lurking in the hallway felt like an AMAZING day! Now, it’s exactly the opposite.

I don’t spend hours standing at the kitchen sink each week cleaning up after our meals because we only have the dishes we truly need, and they don’t overwhelm me. I don’t spend the weekend catching up on Laundry Mountain because there aren’t enough clothes to create a mountain, yet we lack nothing. We have everything we need, and for once I absolutely love my wardrobe.

I don’t have to be the mom who yells or the wife who’s stretched super thin all the time because it just doesn’t really exist anymore. Sure, I have my days, my hard weeks, but that’s life. My regularly days are now simpler, intentional, joyful, and filled with purpose.

I’m able to be the mom who plays with her kids on a regular basis, which is what I always wanted but felt unable to be.

I’m able to sit down with my husband in a clean house at the end of a long day and watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine without feeling like I should be doing something else. I can relax and soak up my time with my family because everything is simplified. There is so much less to do!

This is true minimalism. This is why I believe moms need it most. This is why I spend my time spreading this message, running across the world with this blazing torch in my hand - because I want you to know the truth and have a chance to take hold of this freedom!

If you’re reading this and feeling like you wanna grab hold of it, you’re in the right place. Click here to go get your free minimalism starter kit, or dive all the way in and do this thing for real NOW by enrolling in my course. It’ll walk you through the steps I took to declutter my entire house and start living on purpose so you can do the same.

Whatever you do from here is up to you. You can be a reader, take this information, think about it as you go about your day and quickly forget about it because, #momlife be cray. Or you can grip this new truth in your hands and choose to make it your actual life. Join the movement one way or another, just don’t walk away from this article the same way you walked into it.

 

What is exactly is minimalism? How does minimalism help moms?

 




Gift Ideas for Minimalists & Their Kids

what to buy for minimalist and their kids christmas gifts presents

Friends, the holiday season is upon us, and I am over-the-moon excited about it. Pumpkins, then turkeys, then the finale of peppermint, presents, and snow… giddy doesn’t even begin to describe my face right now. Well actually, creepy might do the job since there's no one else in the room and my smile is freakishly huge...

One of the most common questions I get asked as an intentional home coach involves this time of year. It means getting and giving more stuff, and minimalism is all about being intentional with what you bring into your home, right? So how can we even begin to be intentional in this season? It doesn’t have to be stressful or overly complicated, promise.

I want to give you some solid gift ideas for minimalists and their kids, so you can awkwardly tag your relatives in this post on Facebook and forward the email to them because, well that’s what family does around the holidays - get awkward. So what have you got to lose right? Let’s do this.

Gift Ideas for the Minimalist Mama

Books

I don’t think one can easily have too many books, and if you stalk her Goodreads account or sneak into her Amazon wish list, you may get a peek at what she would want to dive into by the fire this winter. The great thing about receiving a book is that there’s no guilt in letting it go after you read it, so this can spare an awkward visit when Aunt Sally drops by and doesn’t see the 20x30 neon green picture frame she gave you hanging on any of your walls. Another great way to go is Audiobooks. No physical clutter, and mama can listen while she drives home from school drop-off and start her day right.

Coffee or tea

It’s delicious, it’s comforting in cold weather, and it’s disposable. Fine coffees and teas are a great gift! Plus, you can splurge on a mom you know who would never buy herself the good stuff at Teavana or Starbucks. Give her a break from the usual Costco-brand grounds and make her day.

Mugs

Speaking of warm beverages, mugs make perfect gifts. Even if the minimalist you know has plenty of them already, getting a new one is always exciting and she can make the choice to let go of one or two of her old mugs in favor of the super cute new one you got her. I'd buy from Starbucks or Target to make sure she likes it ;)

Framed photos or wall art

The thing about minimalists is that our homes are very important to us, and we care about how we feel when we’re there. If you’re confident you know your minimalist's style or where she often shops for home decor, pick up a piece of art or a pack of frames and take initiative in printing out some of her Instagram photos for her. I get my tiny little Instagram-sized frames at Walmart for about $1 each and they match my decor perfectly. Chatbooks is another incredible option for gifts. They take your Instagram photos and turn them into beautiful, high-quality books that make great coffee table inhabitants and discussion starters. Anyone would love to have one of those in their home.

An art gallery wall

This is really a gift for both the parents and the kids, but it’s a good one! Since minimalist kids tend to draw and paint so much, we mamas have a tough time taking pictures of the photos and getting rid of the original, even though we know it’s what we have to do because there’s just so. much. art. Receiving a set of matching frames that would fit a typical piece of paper so we can start a collage wall for the very best of our kids’ art would be amazing! Plus, kids beam with pride when their art is displayed. Play it safe with a set of simple black or white frames. 

Fine everyday items

Getting something like a fine soap imported from France or a delicious, fancy pack of macaroons is such a treat! Totally not something the average mom is going to spend money on buying for herself. Get fancy and be her favorite ;) 

An experience

This is the ultimate gift for a minimalist because it’s the whole point of why we live the way we do. We want to live life, not be stuck at home cleaning up after it. Experiences > things. Splurge for your minimalist and her family to take a trip to Disneyland, or get them season passes to a local family fun zone. Snag a deal on plane tickets for she and her husband to finally visit New York City and offer to watch the kids. Take her to do something she’s always wanted to do or get her tickets to see her favorite play. Give her a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant. Get creative and thoughtful here, because that’s what the giving of this season is about.

Gift Ideas for the Minimalist Dude

A minimalist wallet

This is the cool new thing, and it’s taking over the man world. Take a look at the best of minimalist wallets by clicking here

Bluetooth headphones

This is something super useful for the man who listens to music or podcasts while he works (like my hubby) and gets rid of the stupid cord that always comes with listening on-the-go. Bonus: it also eliminates the need for a bluetooth headset for talking on the phone. Getting rid of two things for one? Minimalist win.

Beard goods

For the hipster or generally badass minimalist, beard goods are a total slam dunk. Get him some fine beard balm or a classy new trimmer and he’ll love you just a little bit extra. I get my husband beard balm here, and he loves it. 

A bag

A fine leather dude bag is a great idea! This is another gift he can ditch his others for and just have one awesome bag for carrying his stuff around during the day or a weekend work trip. 

A Key-Bar

I got one of these for my hubby a couple Christmases ago, and he flipped out. He still loves it. Basically, what a Key-Bar is is a metal key holder that eliminates the jingle, bulk, and jumble of keys. It's minimalism at its finest, plus it looks super manly and you know, guys are into that. 

A gift card

Something you need to understand about minimalism is that one of the key points is quality over quantity. So instead of having nine pairs of Target shoes, my husband has one amazing pair of black Nike shoes that are good quality and go with everything, a great pair of sandals for the warmer seasons, and a pair of leather dress shoes for church and weddings and things on the fancier side of life. My point is, getting a gift card to a high-quality store is a minimalist dream because we prefer to spend our money on fewer quality items than tons of crap. No offense to the rest of you...

Gift Ideas for the Minimalist’s Kids

Books

Again, the books have the popular vote here. We minimalist mamas want our littles to use their imaginations, to bloom and grow without the noise of modern toys, so books pretty much take the cake. I really only get rid of books if they’re damaged or my out of my kids’ age range. Opt for a great classic (or even a set of classics) you know for sure isn't a part of their collection yet. For example, I found a beautiful edition of Where the Wild Things Are at a little boutique downtown this week, I bought it for my kids and am beyond excited to read it with them! Books are the blood in the minimalist mama veins. 

Outdoor toys

Another of the main purposes behind having an intentional home is for the kids to get outside more often than the typical 2016 child. A pack of baseballs and a couple of gloves for playing catch, a swing and slide set for the little ones, a bug catching kit... anything that encourages the kids to head outside and play is a win.

Art supplies

The opportunity for creativity is everywhere when the toys are limited. You can add to that by spending your holiday budget on pads of drawing paper, crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint and an easel… whatever kind of art the kid in mind is into. I know it seems like a cheap way out, but it’s a favorite in a minimalist home. My kids plow through those giant art pads in a week or less, so getting art supplies is such a blessing! Plus, if you’re buying for an artist who’s a little older, you can splurge on a really nice art set or professional art lessons.

Experiences

Another repeat from the adult sections, but yeah, it’s that important. My kids understand that one of the main reasons we limit our stuff is so that we can spend our time out doing awesome things instead of always picking up (which is what we used to spend our time doing. Boo). Spend your money on an awesome day trip or season passes to a local fun zone and you’re a winner in our book.

Go ahead and get them a toy

For me, toys are not the enemy. Useless junk is. Kids are kids, and kids love toys. I love when my parents bless my littles with a toy they’ve really been wanting, and my husband and I buy them toys for Christmas and birthdays sometimes as well. It’s just the way it is- kids love to play with toys- and the point of minimalist is not to deeply deprive or torture kids, but to help them thrive and play intentionally. Kids just play so much better without toy clutter. So if you’re going to buy a toy, make it one that has a purpose or is something the kid in your life is just DYING for.


I hope this post serves you as a launch pad for minimalist gift ideas. I know it can be stressful to buy for someone who lives this way, but take it from me - the one thing that sucks more than getting junk is getting only thoughtless gift cards to Walmart because everyone was too nervous to buy us anything. We’re not monsters or freaks, and we all love the thought that goes into gifts. Go all in and use this post as a guide to help you let go of the worry that comes with shopping for the minimalist in your life.

Are you a minimalist or have you ever bought something for a minimalist in your life? Share your thoughts on the topic in the comments section!

 

 

what to buy for minimalist and their kids christmas gifts presents

5 Shortcuts to Decluttering the Hard Stuff

how to declutter the hard stuff. sentimental items. hand me downs. pictures. husband's stuff. memories. 

Decluttering can totally suck. I’m not gonna lie. When you’ve put yourself in a place of total chaos, reached your breaking point, and come to the realization that you now need to undo it all, doing the hard work feels truly impossible some days. I’ve been there too, friend.

Lucky for you I’m on the other side and I can help give you shortcuts. My home is completely minimal, my cleaning routine consists of about thirty to sixty minutes of daily work (at most), and I spend my time pouring into my family, playing with my kids, running my business from home, and watching reruns of The Office with my hubby. Life’s not easy and I have days loaded with stress because I’m a normal human, but it sure is a lot less chaotic. I’m able to handle hard times a lot better because my normal day doesn’t feel like a traumatizing train wreck happening to me like it used to.

I want to give you a few tricks of the trade that can cut down on the time you spend decluttering and help you deal with the tough areas. Ready? Let’s do this. (I said that in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice for some reason. Let’s move past this awkward silence)


Sentimental items

This is something I see holding back my clients and students more than anything else. Letting of things that are tied to very specific memories and people is hard, and that’s okay. To shortcut decluttering sentimental stuff, stop avoiding the collection altogether, walk in there, and just sort through all the things you actually kind of like. Is there a vintage lamp from your grandmother that just needs a new shade and would like amazing in your formal living room? Or a really neat military jacket from your great grandfather you could frame and display in your husband’s office? Can you remove all the buttons from your mom’s jackets and sweaters and put them all in a mason jar that acts as a bookend?

When you walk into the room you store sentimental stuff you’re avoiding with a positive intention (to use them for something), the task of decluttering is much less daunting and sad. For more on dealing with sentimental items, read this.

The kids’ toys

Let me first say that you should not be decluttering your kids’ toys without them there unless they are under the age of three, in my opinion. Once they reach 3-4, have them join you or they’ll feel violated and mistrusting.

But whether you have little kids and are decluttering for them or you have older kids you are decluttering with, this is a tough area to tackle. It’s riddled with guilt and insecurity because we have this belief that our toys are what keep our kids entertained, and if we take them away what will they do all day?! Aren’t they going to drive me crazy with their boredom? Trust me, after a week or so, they won’t. Kids are natural at playing, imagining, exploring, and creating. Once you get rid of all the junk that was in their way, their imaginations wake up and start to thrive! Every single one of my students and clients have seen this amazing change in their kids when they finally purge the toys, and it’s so worth it.

So how can we shortcut getting to the other side so we can experience these positive changes?

Start by going into the room with your kids (if they’re old enough, without them if not) and having them pick out ten things they don’t play with anymore. Explain that there are so many kids who don’t have any money and don’t have any toys who would love it if they shared with them. Make this a really happy, exciting thing so they don’t feel like they’re being punished. This can teach them empathy and give them some solid reasoning behind letting go of some of their stuff. Bag up the donations together and make a trip to Goodwill with your kids. Do this as regularly as you like.

Your wardrobe

Letting go of your clothes is hard, especially as a mom. Your body has changed so much, you’ve bought clothes throughout your seasons of motherhood, and you’re afraid to get rid of something you might end up needing. Let me shortcut this for ya.

What looks fantastic on you right now? Keep it. Put everything else in the donation pile.

What is stained or damaged? Put it in the trash pile.

What looks great on you but isn’t in season? Keep it for the proper season, but only if you’ll truly wear it versus buying a new one.

P.S. If you’re planning on getting pregnant again ever, hold onto your favorite maternity clothes. It’s okay.

Your husband’s stuff

Here’s a super easy shortcut regarding your husband’s stuff…. Leave it alone. If you start purging his stuff while he’s at work, he’s just going to resent you for it and hate minimalism for good. Let him be himself, leave his stuff alone, stick to your crap, and maybe he’ll come around later.

Paperwork

Let’s shortcut those stacks and stacks of mail, tax papers, work documents, and bills you’ve been avoiding, shall we?

Go through your house with a box or an empty laundry hamper and collect all the stray paperwork you can find. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (hey, we’ve got to make this at least somewhat enjoyable, right?) and start sorting through it all. Make decisions right now, about each piece of paper you pick up. Don’t allow yourself to start a “not sure” pile or a “deal with this later” pile. If your husband needs to take a look at something, drag him into this process right now or don’t get to it until he’s there to be dragged.

Keep only what you need to keep - what is detrimental and absolutely CANNOT be thrown out?

Shred what has private information about you on it (you can shred it with your hands if you don’t have an actual shredder. Just don’t throw it out whole).

Take a picture of what you feel better having a copy of but don’t need to keep the original (I use Google Drive to store photos of documents).

Purging your entire home is overwhelming, but it can be simplified and broken down into bite-sized steps. Find shortcuts where you can and don’t let that overwhelming feeling be the reason you procrastinate making these positive changes in your life. The free time and joy that will come when you’re done is so worth the work!

Have you come up with any decluttering shortcuts? Tell me in the comments!

How to Bring Minimalism into Your Homeschool

I want to start this post out with some good news for all the homeschooling mamas out there…

You can give your kid a high-quality education without devoting your entire life, house, and day to it. It’s true!

Homeschooling can easily mean having so much stuff that it takes over your house. We want to give our kids a solid education with as many books as necessary. We don’t want them to miss out on an opportunity for learning just because we aren’t as full of resources as an actual school.

We’re told by homeschool conventions and curriculum programs and mommy bloggers that we need to try something new every year, and so we do, and we hold onto the old stuff too. It adds up, piles high, and pretty soon we’re telling ourselves this is just the way it is when you homeschool- cluttered. And it’s worth the sacrifice. But is it?

Laura Ingalls, amazing American writer, had just one piece of chalk and a slate board which she shared with her sister to learn with. Abraham Lincoln read Aesop’s Fables over and over again because it was the only book he had. He did math by writing out sums on a shovel with a piece of coal. What the….

My point is, you don’t need a ton of STUFF to homeschool. Get down to the basics and set yourself free!

Homeschooling does not have to mean a cluttered space, and I don’t think it should. What takes up your space takes up your time, so it’s important to be ruthless and intentional about what we allow to take up space in our homes, even when it comes to home education tools and resources. If you’re a homeschooler, your home is not only the place you and your family do life, make memories, and form childhoods, it’s the place your kids sit and learn all there is to know about the earth, numbers, letters, the written word, everything you’re teaching them! This space is important, and deserves to be clear of chaos.

According to studies, clutter is directly link to high cortisol (the stress hormone) in women. You will parent and homeschool better if you clear out all the things and just focus on what you actually need.

If right now you’re wondering how homeschooling would even look without shelves and bins and garaged boxes full of curriculum and school supplies, if you’re wondering how minimalism can have any place in homeschooling, I’m going to show you.

How to Bring Minimalism into Your Homeschool

 

  • Let go of old books and curriculum.

Yes I know, it hurts. You spent good money on that curriculum, and you could use it for your second-born who will be in the same grade next year. That’s fine! But will you? If you’re actually going to reuse something, it’s in your definite plans to do so, and it’s for sure going to save you tons of money, hold onto it. But so much of the time I see moms holding onto curriculum because it cost a lot of money and they might reuse it (which I can tell means they probably won’t but are having a hard time just throwing it away).

Listen to me, that curriculum served you well. You bought it to teach your child a year’s worth of something valuable, it served its purpose, you can let it go and use something else for the next kid without feeling guilty. It’s okay to let go of what’s old news and not working for you anymore. Learning what’s better and using what’s better as you go is a big part of homeschooling; you’re not being wasteful, you’re using your newfound wisdom on what might work better for you next year. The same goes for books. I love books, and I love the look of a stocked bookshelf more than anyone- it’s so cozy! But when the books have taken over and you know you need to let go, do it. Don’t hold onto a book because someone “might want to read it later”.

You’re allowing clutter to cause you stress based on the fear that you may get rid of something you need later, and that’s a fear-based decision right there. Don’t give anxiety that power over you and your home! These books aren’t something you’re using now, they’re played their role in your homeschool and nobody’s picked them up in months. Let it go, mama.

If you feel like you truly may need something at another point in your homeschool, like a really useful piece of curriculum that would be perfect for your first grader once she’s in second grade, then have a place in your garage or attic where you store things like that, but be ruthless. Don’t just start piling things in there. You need to have a dedicated shelf or box or something that’s containing the amount of things you’re keeping. Having a set limit will help you get real with yourself and not just say “keep!” to everything.

  • Clear out all the drawers and bins and bags of school supplies.

It’s all too much! It’s crowding your home, your school, and your brain. Mama listen, you only need to keep what you need! Minimalism in homeschooling is just like minimalism in any other area - it’s simple. Do you need eighty-nine pencils? Probably not. Narrow it down to a dozen and call it a day. Do you truly need an entire drawer-full of markers? Surely, no. My kids are all artists who create stacks of art on a daily basis, and they do so happily with a normal amount of supplies that aren’t taking over the whole house.

It’s okay to minimize things that are doing your family good; they will continue to do them good. Go through the erasers, crayons, pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. and get real. What do you truly need and use right now? Let go of some of that clutter.

  • Rethink having a separate curriculum for every child.

If you’ve got kids really spaced out in age or if you’re dealing with special needs, disregard this point. Everyone else, if you can at all simplify your life and your daily rhythm, why aren’t you doing it? A less stressed mama is a happy home! I try to squish my kids together in schooling whenever I can. It saves me time (and space in my home) to teach them all the same thing as often as I can.

For example, if Bella (my oldest, second grade) is learning about the Civil War, I’ll let Leland (five, kinder) and Hudson (four, pre-k) listen in too. I answer all their questions, allow Hudson to color or build Legos while he listens if he’s losing interest (after all this isn’t even for his age group), but we do it together.

It challenges the younger kids, saves me from loads of curriculum for each age, and it’s a big benefit for me of having kids close in age. When I planned and purchased all the pieces of curriculum for our year, I bought everyone their level of math, reading/writing, but everyone works together with Bible, history, art, reading aloud, and anything else that works with everyone.

  • Stop buying homeschool things just because they’re on sale.

This is a big one for all of us because homeschooling is so expensive! But remember to ask yourself, “do we truly NEED this in our homeschool?” Bringing home extra workbooks, reading material, and supplies just because you got a killer deal is only adding to your chaos and clutter and stress levels (remember the high cortisol connection). Just say no! Keep it simple.

  • Simplify your schedule.

If your homeschool routine is working well for you right now, awesome. But if you feel like you’re constantly behind, never actually accomplish what you set out to do when each day starts, and feel like home education is quickly becoming a burden more than a pleasure, hold up. There is so often a lot we tell ourselves we need to do daily or weekly, when it could totally be bi-weekly, monthly, or just every once in awhile.

Look at your homeschool schedule and see where you can create more margin. You’re homeschooling, and that means loads of flexibility and making this whole thing work for you and your family. If it’s not working, tweak something. Can you stop telling yourself that your seven-year-old NEEDS to do art lessons every week and take it down to once a month? Can you focus more on math and reading right now and limit history to once a week?

Sometimes just by creating a little breathing room, we find our new rhythm and our best selves, and can do so much more good for our families. You’re not a failure if you can’t do everything for everyone all the time perfectly, you’re just a human mama doing her best. But you can’t if you don’t give yourself a little grace and permission to rearrange and try again.

One benefit you’ll find in simplifying your homeschool is that, just like when you declutter your house, everything gets lighter. You can easily take a day (or way more than that) off because you’ve simplified your school and your days are focused.

You’ll get a lot more done and the pressure to stay on task every week no matter what’s going on in your family is less intense. We can pick up our day’s work and head to the park or the lake without carrying bags of junk. We could do school in the car, a trailer, outside, wherever we want or need to because it’s simple and light. That’s a great feeling!

How do you simplify in your homeschool? Tell me in the comments!


 

What I Found Beneath the Clutter

This is a guest post. 

Christmas was coming, my third daughter was a newborn, and our house was crazy, but I could hear God...muffled and in the distance. I didn’t know what He was saying and it was almost as if the chaos was in between us. “I’m sorry God, I tried to listen today, but the house was so loud, and honestly, I’m so tired...maybe we’ll try again tomorrow.”

I could still hear Him, muffled as if He was yelling down to me, but His voice couldn’t quite reach me. “I’m here God! Where are you?”

I felt as if He was lost somewhere in my house and we were playing some strange version of Marco-Polo. “God? Are you under this pile of clothes? Are you in this closet? God? I thought I heard you...what did you say?”

Christmas came and went. I felt proud of myself, I stayed under budget, and didn’t buy any wasteful gifts. For a newbie, I had a pretty “minimalist Christmas”. By the new year I heard God say, “Good job with Christmas, but you still aren’t as happy as you should be, and you know why!”

I listened, and purged, and listened, and purged some more. I stayed up way past my kids’ bedtime and basked in the silence, trying so hard to listen. I thrived when I was purging. I felt in my element, and closer to God than I had in a long time. All I could clearly hear was “less”. He kept saying it in every aspect of my life. Less debt. Less clutter. Less guilt. Less worries. Less less less. I dove in deeper. My new motto became “less is more”.

My husband and I had already spent the year-and-a-half before this on a debt free journey, and by this point the finish line was so close that we could taste it. We had a few thousand, our rental property, and our home left to pay off. Our extra money over the next few months would take care of that lingering few thousand, and then all of a sudden it happened...we were debt free except for both of our houses. I felt as if I had finally emerged from a dark cloud and into this bright open space.

Clarity.

I found Him.

The debt was gone, the clutter was gone, and there was God...waiting...patiently...as He always does for His hard-headed children.

When you have space to move and room to breathe, you can do just that...move and breathe. I decided to move forward and breathe deeper. I decided to listen and not talk...for once.

God has spoken volumes into my life lately, and I know that He has given me this calm and clarity to help others. I’ve already been able to speak inspiration into the lives of several friends and family members through what I have learned during my own journey. I even recently accomplished a huge personal goal of mine and started a website.

We must remember to continue to challenge ourselves, it is only outside of our comfort zones that we will find God and the truest versions of ourselves.


Samantha Womack is a wife and homeschooling mother to three girls. Sami and her husband, Daniel, have spent the last few years getting themselves out of almost a half-a-million dollars worth of personal debt. Along the way she also discovered minimalism and intentional living, which opened so many doors to living a positive life. Sami has always been one to love challenges and anything that led to self-improvement, becoming a personal development coach has proved to be her life's calling.

 

 

For fresh tips on personal development, financial freedom, and living simply, follow Sami at her blog, A Sunny Side Up Life - all about adding joy to your life, sparking inspiration, and finding the zest for life you've been craving. You can also find her on Facebook

 

 

 

How to Declutter Your Home with Kids in the House

declutter house with kids

Minimalism means freedom; it means letting go of the clutter that’s been stressing you out. Choosing to overcome the chaos in your home and create a simpler life is a big deal. And it’s, ironically, overwhelming when you haven’t started yet. What’s even more overwhelming about it is tackling this project with kids in the house.

When I started my big purge, I had three kids age three and under. I thought I’d never be able to make this important change in my home, and there were a lot of frustrating days.

Giving up wasn’t gonna happen though, because I had reached my breaking point and I was tired of cleaning up all the time. I wanted to be able to sit and enjoy my kids without having to pay the price of housework catch-up later. I wanted to spend my weekends soaking up family time, not doing seventeen loads of laundry.

What everyone else was calling “normal” and “just motherhood” really sucked to me, and I wasn’t okay with it. I was determined to find a better way, so I let go of the things that weren’t necessary for me to keep. It worked.

But how did I do it with kids hanging off my leg begging of boredom? How can you, the overwhelmed mom with her feet on the same ground mine stood on four years ago, declutter your entire house with little ones around? I’mma show you.


How to Purge Your Home with Kids in the House

 

1) Hire Netflix to babysit.

Let’s start with the obvious. I know I talk a lot about limiting technology, but sometimes you just gotta let it fly. Turn that TV on, girl. Paw Patrol's got your back. When I was working through my house, I would save the TV especially for this time. I’d make it a really big deal, serve popcorn and juice, and put on their favorite show. I could usually get in a good hour of purging this way.

2) Set a purging schedule.

I figured out that I needed to have set times each week that I tackled the clutter. Doing this helped me make it happen even during a tough week, and eliminated excuses. Purging was on my calendar for three hours every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday morning, it was a priority just like an appointment, so I had to follow through.

I got strict with myself and knew that if I really wanted this amazing lifestyle change (and I really really did), I had to put in the work. Plus, mama’s purging schedule quickly became a part of the kids’ routine, and they learned to expect it (and look forward to a little TV time). Kids are less likely to freak out and have meltdowns when something is familiar, expected, and happens routinely every week.

3) Include the tiny humans in the process.

Most days, my kids just wanted to be with me. They’d see me sitting on the floor sorting through old paperwork and photo albums and want to be in my lap or draw a picture of the Yo Gabba Gabba cast next to me. When I stopped fighting it (who says they have to be away from you and you need 100% focus?) and encouraged them to join me, it got a lot easier. I would make my decluttering super exciting and let them sit with me, ask them to “help” me sort things into piles, and turn it into quality time. After all, more time with my kids was my goal, so I needed to get used to being intentional about that.

What this ended up doing is making the process something my kids looked forward to, and I wonder if that’s part of the reason they’re so into it now. (if you haven’t seen my Periscopes where I declutter with my kids and they don’t give a what, you’re missin’ out)

So let your kids eat a snack on the floor next to you, bring in some blocks or coloring stuff and let them be near you. Talk to them, listen to music together, let them watch Netflix on the tablet while you purge the closet… your kids just want to be with you.

4) Get at it when they’re not awake.

If you’ve got a particularly fussy little guy, or you’re trying to purge something you don’t want them around for, tackle it while they’re napping. I used to put my older two down for their naps in my bedroom and the baby downstairs in his Pack & Play while I decluttered their bedroom. Shake it up rearrange, do what you gotta do to make this happen.

5) Hire help.

This may not be an option for everyone, but assuming you don’t have family around to lend a hand, this is something that’s worth an investment. When you put your money where your mouth is and invest in making this change happen, the likelihood of your success skyrockets.

Do you have a cleaning lady who comes once a month to help you out? Let her go (you’re not gonna need her anymore once you’re done anyway) and put the money into a few hours of babysitting so you can focus on banishing the clutter. Is there a girl who works at your church nursery who seems to love your kids? Offer to pay her $50 to come over and help you out on Saturday mornings.

6) Make a deal with Dad.

If things are really tough and you’re not making enough progress, make a deal with your hubby. Explain how much decluttering means to you and how much less stressed you’ll be when it’s done. Ask him to take the kids out of the house for a few hours one day so you can really hit it hard. You’re taking on a huge project that’s going to change the way your family spends their time in an amazing way, this is going to create space for more memories, more joy, and an intentional childhood for your kids - you guys need to be a team and you need some help. Ask for it.

7) Take it easier than planned. 

I know when you first learn that you don't have t clean up all the time if you'll just declutter, you wanna go all in. You might be doing more harm than good though! If you have a baby, are pregnant, or have kids under the age of six in your house, making this happen is tough. You might need to slow down and allow yourself more time to get to your goal, and that's okay! Do it in ten minute chunks, dedicate one morning a week to it instead of three, whatever it takes, just hack away at it and it will happen.

If your kids aren’t super little, and you’ve got at least one who can handle some responsibility, things are easier. My oldest is seven now, and when I had to pack for our cross-country move (which involved a ton of purging because we moved with almost nothing), she saved me. Kids around this age really like being trusted and given responsibility, so let them help you! Even now when I have something important to do, Bella helps me by keeping the baby occupied, leading her brothers in a game, making a snack and heading to the backyard, or reading them a story.

Wherever you can get help and a little more time, take it. This matters, mama! Make it happen.

How do you get ish done with little kids in the house? Tell me in the comments!