Decluttering 101: The Problem With Selling Your Stuff

allie casazza decluttering 101 the problem with selling your stuff

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a slippery slope.

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

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

Know yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think about the other side of this, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How Minimalism Impacts Kids

kids minimalism playing toys

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

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

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

The Effects of Minimalism on My Children
 

Lack of entitlement

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude

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

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

Playfulness and wild imaginations

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

Social skills

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

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

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

minimalism kids toys playing impact

Stronger relationships with each other

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

Creativity

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

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

They’re happier in general

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

An awareness of community needs and charitable giving

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

The desire to be outside most of the time

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

Everything is calmer

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

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

How to Implement Minimalism For Your Kids in Your Home


1) Declutter the toys

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


minimalism kids toys playing impact webinar workshop class online

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

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

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


2) Choose outdoor time over screen time

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

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

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

4) Conscious consumerism

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

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

5) Lead by example

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

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

 

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How Budgeting Set Me Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life’s a bitch….and then you die?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I believe young families need a budget more than anyone.    

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

The Incredible, Life-Giving Gift of Minimalism For Mothers

allie casazza gift of minimalism for mothers

Every moment brings us closer to our final breath.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minimalism is about having time to focus on what matters.

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

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

Wait, mama. Listen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

allie casazza gift of minimalism for mothers

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

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

DO NOT WASTE YOUR PRECIOUS TIME!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week on Casazzas On Purpose...

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

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

Morning Quiet Time Practices

allie cassaza morning quiet time practices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Morning Quiet Time Practices


1) Prayer

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

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

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2) Bible Reading

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

3) Gratitude Journal

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

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

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

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

4) Affirmations

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

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

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

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

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

5) Movement

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

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

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

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

6) Dawn Dates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Set Yourself Up For A Successful Morning

how to set yourself up for a successful morning allie casazza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Know your schedule.

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

2) Lay out your stuff.

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

3) Prevent your biggest excuses.

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

4) Tell your family.

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

5) Get your mind right.

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

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

full time travel, camper living, minimalism

We finally launched our family vlog! Woohoo!

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

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

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

xo Allie

 

How To Simplify Your Entire Life

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

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

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

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

Ask yourself, “what is essential?”

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

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

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

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

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

This is essentialism.

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

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

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

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

Ask yourself, “what is essential?”

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

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

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

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

Self-care

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

Home

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

allie casazza how to simplify your life

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

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

 

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

Calendar

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

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

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

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

Relationships

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

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

Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

how to simplify your entire life minimalism allie casazza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Stop checking your phone all the time.

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

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

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

3. Be mindfully present.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Question all reoccurring events and commitments.

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

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

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

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

  2. What is working for you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tired of being a slave to your clutter?

What takes up your space takes up your time.

Take yours back and get focused on what matters most!

How to Say No

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes I’ll take that call.

Yes I’ll bake cookies for the bake sale.

Yes I’ll sign up to be team mom.

Yes I can meet you for coffee.

Yes you can pick my brain.

Yes you can call me in five minutes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

1. Check yo’self.

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

2. Be nice and let gratitude lead your words.

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

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

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

4. It’s okay to be brief.

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

5. Apply essentialism.

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

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

Minimalism Is Not A Fad

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

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

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

I have to admit, I was a little annoyed.

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

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

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

Minimalism is not a fad.

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

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

Matthew 6:19-21

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

Luke 12:15


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

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

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

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

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

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

Scrunchies are fads. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They make the full change for good. 

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

Yes, that will probably die out one day. 

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

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

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

How Minimalism Can Steal Your Joy

I’ve spent the better part of the last five years uncovering something that changed my entire life.

When I first began, I didn’t know what it was called, or even that it was an actual thing.

I was just a desperate girl trying to find a way out of survival mode, because I believed in my heart that I was created for more.

It’s minimalism.

And it took me from overwhelmed, depressed, and fighting to barely get by to loving my motherhood, thriving in my role, and being the mom I always wanted to be.

For me, minimalism is about simplifying what I have in my house so that I’m a person who has the time and joy to focus on my family, offering them the best of me, not what’s left of me after I pick up, wash a thousand dishes, fold six hours’ worth of laundry, and reorganize all the toys.

The point of minimalism for me is where my focus is. It’s about taking the power of my time and how I spend my days away from stuff.

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

It's more space in your home, more space in your calendar, more space to breathe and rest and enjoy and live

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

It's less organizing and developing routine because you don't need to rearrange your junk, you need to LET IT GO.

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

It's more money in your bank account because you spend mindfully now. 

 

It's being the mom you always wanted to be but have struggled so hard to find.

The mom who isn't stretched incredibly thin every dang day.

The mom who doesn't resort to yelling because she's just not that stressed out! 

As I’ve gotten to the heart of this idea, I’ve spread the secret of less to my fellow women as much as I can.

My message has reached people in Russia, China, Australia, Canada, and parts of the world I barely knew existed.

It’s gotten me on television more than once, landed me an interview with Jenny McCarthy, and had my experience spread all over major websites for months.

It’s been incredibly unexpected and amazing, and I love seeing other once-overwhelmed moms break the chains and find a new purposeful way to do this mom thing.

However, one thing breaks my heart every time I see it.

Women missing the point, obsessing over the details and the numbers, and continuing to give the power to their stuff, just in a different way.

Many minimalist leaders encourage this. Meaning well, they inspire others by counting how many of each things they own and focusing on the numbers.

There are no minimalist rules, there’s really no right way to do this, but I think we’d all agree that the point of living this way is the power. By removing the excess from your home, you are now in charge of your space, how much time you spend on mundane things, and how you spend your days.

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

If you’re focusing on counting, you’ve missed the point, because your things still rule you. In this case, minimalism is still about the stuff.

Sure, some people do really well with numbers and just want a little guidance with what works, but there’s a big difference between guidelines and obsession.

There are people who pride themselves on living with less than one hundred things.

That’s great and I’m happy you’ve freed yourself from consumerism, but I can’t help but wonder why you feel the need to wear it like a badge, pointing a big red arrow to the number of things you own.

I can’t help but feel you may have missed out on the freedom aspect and chained yourself to your things with a fresh pair of handcuffs.

This isn’t a spartan race where the most hardcore wins.

It’s not about comparison or being the biggest badass.

It’s about getting back what was stolen from us by our own selves.

It’s about more time, more joy, more living, more mothering, more being present, less yelling, less being stretched thin over your life like saran wrap over leftovers.

So what do you do then?

The way I love teaching the art of simple is this: focus on the intent.

What’s the why behind each item?

What is it doing for you?

Who cares how many you have… why do you have it?

Do you love it or need it enough to continue allowing it to take up your space and time?

Because what takes up your space takes up your time.

You buy everything twice- once with your dollars, then again with your minutes.

Could you live the next 30 days without buying it again? If so, do you really need it?

When you focus on asking yourself purpose-driven questions about what you own rather than counting and following what someone else is doing, you create a philosophy of minimalism that works for you, and it’ll actually last that way.

I know that I only need to clean up for about thirty minutes a day to maintain a house ready for company to drop by.

 

I know that my day is mine to live sitting on the floor building Legos, schooling my kids, running a business I love, and snuggled up with my husband watching The Office without the stress of how much housework I’ll have to catch up on tomorrow.

I know that I have the things that make me happy and the things I need to live life well, but nothing else. I want for nothing, I count nothing, I obsess over nothing.

Stuff has absolutely no hold on me.

I want that for you, friend.

I don’t want you to be bound by the stress of how much is too much or what number of jeans is the magic one that will make you a real minimalist.

I want you to make your own way and do what sets you free.

I want you to simplify and then see how you feel.

If you want even more free time, then go again. Move through your house in another wave of less.

Find your own magic number and don’t even count enough to know what it is.

Let go of the stuff and the need to follow rules.

Life is waiting to be lived!

Take the power from your stuff and put it in your own hands.


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

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

How I Use Trello to Organize My Entire Life

This blog post is more of a description of how Trello helps me manage my life. If you want a more in depth training on actually setting up and using Trello for yourself, I've included the link to the video training I put together (it's free) and it's at the end of this post :)

What My Life Looks Like

For those of you who might be kinda new here, I have four kids. They are 8, 6, 4, and 2 years old. My husband Brian and I homeschool the first three (Emmett just colors and pretends to be a part of it), and I own my own business based on this website. I’m CEO and president of creative content and Brian is CFO and vice president of media. I also co-own The Purposeful Home Podcast.

Brian and I recently ditched the whole 9-5 job, house in the suburbs thing and are currently traveling full-time in our renovated camper. This means our family of six lives in a space smaller than the average kitchen, and that space is not only our home, but our school and our office.

Yeah. We have a lot going on.

I get asked a lot of questions about my personal life, and the one that is probably more common than any of them is, “How do you do it?!” It’s usually coupled with a face of shock mixed with a little stress.

Honestly, I don't do everything all the time. Something is always thriving and something is always needing a little more of my focus - that's just life. 

But in short, here’s how I do all that I have going on:

  1. Jesus

  2. Coffee

  3. Trello

And I’d have to give a shoutout to my noise-canceling headphones. They my boo.

This post is all about number three - Trello. Because the truth is, I absolutely could not run my business, my homeschool, or my life in the smooth way that I do without it.

And you should know before we even get started - this is NOT a sponsored post. Trello has no idea who I am as far as I know, and they have no idea I’m writing this. I don’t do sponsorships, I only share what I truly love with you guys. That’s how this blogger rolls.

The Big Picture

So listen. I believe that I am called to a purpose. Part of that purpose is to raise my babies to be world-changers. The other part of that purpose is to spread the message of abundant life and simpler living to my fellow women - that’s my job, and I love it. The thing is, I can’t do either of those things well if I don’t have some kind of plan in front of me. It has to be visible, I need to be able to pull it up and see it on a regular basis.

Usually, I’m a pen and paper kinda girl, but there is so much that needs to be written down and so many changes I need to make all the time, that it just has to be digital. Otherwise I’d end up with pencil eraser remnants coating my floor and my planner would look disgusting. We can’t have that.

Organizing and scheduling everything out goes against my DNA. Although I feel the need to know what’s coming next in life, I like to be spontaneous and untied day-to-day - free to pack up the kids and head to Disneyland at a moment’s notice, but the life God has led me into requires some structure in order to live well, and so, I Trello. And yes, I am officially making that a verb.

I Trello because with four kids and a husband who is always home with me (and schooling with me, and working with me, and cooking with me…) I am always being talked to, interrupted, and distracted. Literally nothing would get done if I didn’t have Trello to reference.

My Typical Day

So to give you an idea of what I do day-to-day and what I’m working with (so you can see and compare and figure out how you want to use Trello in your own life), let me tell you what a typical day looks like for me. Keep in mind there aren’t really a lot of days in a row that look the same for me. “Typical” is very fluid here.

I usually wake up between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning. 4:30 if we have plans in the afternoon and I have a lot of work to do, 5:30 on most normal days. I believe that if something is important and needs to be done during the day, then it needs to be done first, otherwise life happens and kids happen and it usually ends up not happening, and I don’t like who I am under that kind of stress. And so, I wake early. I usually have my quiet prayer time, exercise, and accomplish my most important work tasks, like writing. It’s quiet, it’s still dark, and I can give the most crucial tasks of the day my full attention (thank you, coffee).

If you want more helpful information on how I wake up early and get stuff done, click here.

The kids know that breakfast is around 7:30 and they aren’t allowed to get out of bed and go crazy until then (except for using the potty of course). At that time we all make breakfast and start our day. Brian usually works after breakfast (he mostly does editing and video work, so he can do it right in the midst of our chaos - lucky) while I start on the homeschooling, and after lunch (11:30-ish) we switch. I accomplish a little more work and he takes over the schooling. The rest of the day is up for grabs. Naptime is involved and sometimes errands or something fun, usually outdoors. The kids go to bed at 7:30 most nights and Brian and I follow around 10.

The problem before Trello was that I would always drop the ball on exactly what work needed to be done during my work times during the day. With my life, I couldn’t remember that I was supposed to schedule the social media content for the next day and plan the photo shoot for next week’s blog post. I would forget where we were at in our homeschool and wasn’t keeping track of the kids’ progress. I was totally scattered.

Enter Trello

Trello is my secret weapon for life management. I can’t say enough about it!

I use Trello to organize my personal life, plan out my blog content, work tasks, homeschooling, everything. I have a board titled My Week in which I store all my tasks.

It doesn’t matter if it’s for the podcast, the blog, homeschooling, working out, or running errands - if it has to be done by me, it’s scheduled into my week in Trello. I check this board every single day, multiple times (Trello is a web-based program as well as a smartphone app for on-the-go use). If something is an actual event (like a meeting, speaking engagement, flight, coffee date, etc) it goes on my calendar (I use Google), but Trello holds my heart when it comes to task management.

I also have a board called My Month where I store my themes for each week of the month. I am all about batching my work in order to be more productive (to learn more about this concept, read this) and theming my weeks my task really helps me do that.

The first week of the month is for media work (this is mostly Brian, but I help with the creative aspect of it and am always the one IN the photos and videos), the second week is when I hit reset and just take a break and get some fresh ideas, the third week is for planning new content and getting all my new ideas out on paper (or Trello), and the fourth week is always for taking action and actually writing my content for the entire next month.

I have labels in place so I know which business each task is for (pink means it’s for the podcast), so I don’t have to write that out each time. Trello thought of everything!

I also have a board for running The Purposeful Home Podcast. Kelsey and I collaborate on this throughout the week and then meet up online three times a month to record episodes and have a monthly business meeting.

One of the boards that really help a lot is my homeschool board. Our school is called The Arrow Academy, so that’s what my board is titled :)

I use the labels in this board to distinguish between each student so I’m not writing their names on every single card.

I created a video to really show you how I use Trello and how to set it up, because photos don’t really do the job and I want you to be able to take this action in your own life. 


 

If you want a more in depth training on actually setting up and using Trello for yourself, I've included the link to the video training I put together (it's free) and it's at the end of this post :)


How Trello Works

Trello is made up of boards, lists and cards. So my Editorial Calendar board is its own separate page on Trello. When I have it open, none of the other boards are open. Same goes for all other boards.

This is a board. It consists of lists and cards. 

This is a board. It consists of lists and cards. 

Each board is made up of lists, and each list has cards underneath it - how many lists and cards there are in each board depends on how many you create.

The arrows all point to the lists within this board. 

The arrows all point to the lists within this board. 

The arrows each point to a different card on this list. This view shows the FRONT of the cards. 

The arrows each point to a different card on this list. This view shows the FRONT of the cards. 

Every card has a front and a back. The front is what you see when you’re looking at your board as a whole, and the back is what you see when you click on a card.

This is the BACK of one of the cards. I have written out a description of the task that was on the front side, and have also created a checklist of things that need to be done in order for that task to be accomplished. 

This is the BACK of one of the cards. I have written out a description of the task that was on the front side, and have also created a checklist of things that need to be done in order for that task to be accomplished. 

The back of the card is where all of Trello’s best features live. On the back of each card you can assign it a color label, create a checklist for accomplishing this particular task, set a due date for it, add a photo or file, tag another person in it, and other stuff like syncing with DropBox and Google Drive.

Let’s pretend we’re creating a new board with lists and cards right now. Say I’m taking on a big project - renovating a vintage camper - and I want to organize the tasks of that project with Trello. I’d start a new board titled Camper Renovation, then I’d start a few lists.

Let’s say list #1 is all about repairs. List #2 is all about interior remodeling. List #3 is all about decorating. And list #4 is where I’ll keep my timeline for the entirety of this project.

Underneath each list I will create cards. Cards are meant to be more specific for single tasks. So for example, I wouldn’t write “remove mold, replace panels, & paint ceiling” on the front of a card.

Instead, I’d make a card that says Water Damage Repairs and then on the back of the card, write out remove mold, replace panels, & paint ceiling because those are the details of accomplishing that task.

I could also just give each one of those three tasks its own card and then have the task breakdown for each one on the back of each card.

Trello can be overwhelming because it’s all what you make it and how you set it up. There aren’t a lot of boundaries or pre-set ways to use it. Don’t let that intimidate you because it’s an awesome perk and one of the reasons Trello is so awesome!

** Trello also has a mobile app that lets you set up notifications so you can be reminded of all you have going on while you're not on the computer. Two thumbs way up. 

How I Bring Art into Our Homeschool (When I'm A Truly Terrible Artist)

I can barely draw a stick person. That’s not a clever way to start this blog post that I came up with, it’s the sad truth. Observe.
 

See? Told you. Art is not my thang.

Give me a blank piece of paper and tell me to fill it with words that suck you in so much you miss your next meal, and I’m on it. But guys, I can’t draw.

When my oldest, Bella started showing pretty insane signs of artistic ability when she was super young, I have to admit I panicked. I had planned on homeschooling, and wasn’t sure how to cultivate her talent.

In our homeschool, we are all about finding what our kids are really good at and cultivating that like crazy. We’re also all about pushing the limits and encouraging them to get better at things they aren’t naturally gifted with.

And so, for both reasons, art has always been a part of our homeschooling. Since I can’t draw, I started using YouTube videos to teach the kids more about drawing, and we bought curricula that taught them about the classic artists to provide background knowledge. The YouTube videos though, weren’t cutting it once Bella turned seven.

I kept searching for more advanced YouTubers, but it never challenged her and I wasn’t a fan of their ads and crappy video quality.

A few months ago, Brian and I were fed up with less-than-inspiring online art lessons for the kids and were about to sign them up for in-person lessons when we came across Artventure.

We signed up for a free trial and instantly knew this was awesome. Artventure is run by Kirsty, another mommy who lives in Australia.

She’s a super amazing, gifted artist and has the sweetest temperament as she walks the kids through each lesson.

During our first week using Artventure, the kids were spending hours drawing and creating artwork. They didn’t want to do anything else - it was amazing! Even the boys, who are usually less excited about art time, couldn’t get enough and were creating some really great pieces.

One of the things I’m most grateful to Kirsty for, is inspiring Bella to teach. As she and I worked together on creating the Just For Kids module in my course, Your Uncluttered Home, Bella was really into finding ways to inspire the kids who watch to get creative and get outside. She had the idea of teaching them how to draw a few animals rather than sitting in front of the TV (her words - proud mama here!).

She led three lessons on drawing three different animals just like Kirsty does in Artventure, and it’s adorable.

Artventure has given my kids inspiration, skill, and the patient guidance to draw better - something I cannot give them.

After we had used Artventure for a few weeks, I emailed Kirsty and told her I absolutely had to share her website with you guys, and she kindly offered an exclusive discount just for my readers.

This code can be used to purchase any level of membership (3, 6 or 12 months) with 25% off.

Discount Coupon Code: ALLIECASAZZA

Head to Artventure, select your preferred membership, use that code at checkout and you're good to go!

I am so happy to have found Artventure, and so grateful to Kirsty for partnering with me in sharing it with you guys!

We even put together a video all about our experience with Artventure! Click below to watch.

What To Do When Your Kid Wants To Keep Everything

Kids, especially very young kids, can be tiny hoarders.

They find things like sticks, rocks, bugs, and leaves outside, collect them, bring them inside, and then seem shocked and upset when you suggest they put them back outside.

They receive a random toy from the Dollar Store and suddenly become obsessed with it, like it's a chunk of $1,000 or something. 

Broken toys are “hurt” and become the apple of your kid’s eye as soon as you decide it’s time to remove it from the house.

When you’re actively pursuing minimalism, this can seem like a hurdle, but it doesn’t have to be.

The thing about minimalism in motherhood is that it’s less about a perfectly clean house and more about joy. It’s less about perfectly executed rule-following and more about intentional focus on what matters most to you.

So in this, what’s the goal? Is it to teach your child that minimalism trumps her heart? Or is it to teach her that you’re working hard to set up a home that leaves you plenty of time to spend with her? I feel safe to bet that it’s the latter :)

You don't have to sweat the small stuff… 

When you have implemented minimalism throughout your home, little details like your child wanting to hold onto silly things matters so much less.

When you know the rest of your house is requiring very little of you and you are reaping the rewards of simplifying, you don’t need to obsess over converting everyone in your family. You don’t need to nitpick to make sure you live with a household of minimalism converts.

You can handle a little bit of non-minimalism from them and be a gracious mama because you’ve simplified everywhere else. That’s a great place to be.

So, if you’re not there yet, relax, let the collection phase go, and press on in your pursuit of an uncluttered home.

And if you’re done and you feel like you’re on the other side, breathe deep and pat yourself on the back, mama! Because you’re no longer in a place where this can put a dent in your peace and intent.

Remember, when we push our families to agree with us and get on board with what we’re doing (pursuing minimalism), all it does is create tension, push-back, and maybe a little bitterness. Even when it’s well-intentioned and subtle, nagging or forcing those we love into coercion accomplishes nothing positive. We don’t want it that way, right?

I know it’s hard, but the best way to go about this is to lead by example. Bring minimalism into the areas of your home and your life that affect you, spread it around like light by letting others see how much less is on your to do list, how much more joy and time you have, and maybe they’ll come around at their own pace.

My husband hated the idea of minimalism for two whole years before he realized it was massively beneficial and came around to the “light side”. With our kids, it’s more a matter of knowing when there’s a line that’s been crossed and you need to use your parental authority to set some boundaries, and when it’s not a big deal and you can let it be.

The thing is, the little nature-finds kids love to hold onto fade away - leaves get crispy and crack, bugs die, twigs snap - they run their course; they don’t last forever. Toys run their course too. There are very few things a child will love enough to keep for forever. Usually, you can let it be and their minds will change eventually.

If you’re doing routine purges (ours were monthly for a while but are now mostly seasonal), there will come a time for your kid to give it up.

What if my kid is keeping literally everything?!

During a conversation in my Facebook group, one mom had the problem that her four-year-old daughter was incredibly sentimental and wanted to keep everything, very literally.

She was keeping every single toy, everything she found outside, she was even keeping pieces of trash like candy wrappers and things like that. She got emotionally attached to everything!

If this is the case for you, then again, I think the solution is to look at the heart. What’s the issue? What is bothering you about this? Is it truly getting in the way?

If it's at that point, you can use the opportunity to teach your child about responsibility, cleaning up after herself, and finding a proper place for all her things. Even at the age of three or four, you can teach your kid these things, and in my personal opinion, it’s a great lesson for them to learn!

Of course your child is going to want to keep every little thing if she has no obligation of responsibility! If it’s just Mom’s job to figure that out, why wouldn’t she want to hold onto everything?

If this were my situation, I would get a small bin for my daughter and explain that this is her special place to keep the things that matter to her - things she is collecting and wanting to keep. I would explain that it’s her job to decide where everything goes and make sure there is enough room, and if there isn’t she can choose what she gets to keep.

I feel it’s important for kids to learn that what you have taking up your space has to have limits because it also takes up your time.

If the issue is just that you're irritated but not really being affected by all the keeping, take a step back. Childhood is so fleeting and temporary. This isn't worth it. This isn't the heart of minimalism. Set a few simple boundaries, hand the responsibility over to your child, and move on. 

Have you had an experience with a child wanting to keep everything or one specific type of thing? Share or ask questions in the comments below!

 


Are you ready to get refocused and uncluttered once and for all? 

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!