5 Types of Hard-To-Kick Clutter & How To Handle Them

Decluttering is my main jam. I love helping women do this in their homes because it matters so much more than people even realize.


For women, specifically, there are a lot of negative effects of having clutter. One study even linked having a cluttered home to feeling unhappy in your family in general.

That’s powerful. That tells me that all of our stuff is bothering us and it’s affecting us in a big way.

That’s why I’m so passionate about helping women go through their homes and remove the excess. I want you left with only the things that are serving you and your families and contributing to a joyful and full life.

Having said that, I know that there are things that are hard to declutter. I get it. I’ve been there and I want to help you make good decisions so that you can keep making progress.

So, let’s look at five areas that can really trip you up when it comes to decluttering and how to push through them.

#1 Sentimental items

Typically, when people realize the role that clutter plays in their lives, they’re ready to make a change. So they get going and they’re doing great but then they find the bin of sentimental keepsakes and they just feel stumped.

How can you let go of the sweet, little dress that your daughter wore when she was dedicated at church? Or the photo of the positive pregnancy test from the baby that you miscarried? How do you get rid of the things that really tug on your heartstrings

What classifies as clutter versus something that is sentimental and truly a keepsake? How do you make the decision?

If you’ve been around here for more than ten minutes you know that I’m not about rules. I’m definitely not going to give you anything like that because this is different for every person.

If you get stuck on something sentimental, I encourage you to skip that area and move on. Go work on your bathroom or a bookshelf in the living room.

Declutter something else for now. Come back when you’ve been at this for a bit longer and you’ve seen the positive effects of letting go of clutter.

What happens is, as you evolve in this area in your life with getting rid of things, you grow. You evolve. You change.

You see that this really makes a difference. Keeping only what is serving you well makes you happy. That makes letting go of things less and less difficult as you go.

And once you declutter one or two sentimental things, it will get even easier because you have seen that you’ve let go of something that was special to you and nothing bad happened.

Please remember that letting go of physical possessions doesn’t mean that you are letting go of memories. On the other hand, it is OK to keep some things too. I think the line is when you have a bunch of bins full of “memories” that you are storing away because you are avoiding making decisions.

I created for you a free worksheet on minimalism and sentimental items that will give you more in-depth tips for letting go of keepsakes.




#2 Your kids toys

First of all, don’t declutter your kids’ toys without them unless they are super young, like under age 3. If they are older than that, have them join you, even if it makes it more difficult and the process a lot slower.

Kids can really feel violated and mistrust you if you throw away their stuff without them knowing. That’s not what we want.


Start by having your kids pick out ten things they don’t play with anymore. Explain that there are so many children that don’t have toys and they would love it if they shared with them. Then, bag up the donations together and go to the donation center with your kids.

Make it a really happy, exciting thing so they don’t feel like they’re getting punished. This can teach them empathy and give them solid reasoning behind letting go of their stuff.

If your kids are having a hard time letting go of things, give them time. Go through the rest of your house and show them by example what letting go and minimalism looks like and let them follow in their own time.

#3 Your wardrobe

Letting go of your clothes is really hard when you’re a mom. You have bought clothes throughout different seasons of motherhood and body shapes. You can really easily - and understandably - not want to get rid of something that you might end up needing later.

But don’t get stuck in that fear. Go into your closet and look and get honest with yourself. What looks fantastic on you right now? Keep it. Everything else should probably go in the donation pile.


Having a bunch of stuff that doesn’t fit, used to fit, or that you want to fit you someday is not serving you at all. It is actually, subconsciously, making you really unhappy every time you get dressed.

Only keep in your closet what looks fantastic and what makes you feel great right now. Because that’s what you deserve.

A quick note on maternity clothes. If you are planning to get pregnant again, hold onto them. We are not looking to throw things out and waste money deliberately if you know you will use it again.

#4 Your husband’s stuff

Probably the top question I get is “how do I get my husband on board with this?” My answer is this: you don’t. He is his own separate person. Leave him alone.

If you start purging his stuff while he is at work he is going to resent you for it and hate minimalism forever. Leave his stuff alone if he hasn’t given you permission to declutter for him.

Find that sweet spot for yourself and let your husband be. In the end, he may come around like mine did.

The same rule applies with your in-laws, your parents, your friends and the people who come to your kids’ birthday parties.

#5 Paperwork

Go through your house with an empty box and collect all the stray paperwork that you can find. Then set aside some time to go through it.

You can pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, turn on Netflix, whatever. But sit and sort through it all.

Make decisions about every piece of paper you pick up. Don’t allow yourself to start a “not sure” pile or an “I’ll deal with this later” pile.

If it’s something that your husband needs to look at and he’s not there, you can put it aside for him. But I would encourage you to set aside time to sort through paperwork when he is with you so you don’t find a reason or an excuse to put it aside for later.

It’s OK to make piles but don’t make a bunch of random piles that could have been eliminated if you had just made decisions.

I know these areas can be hard to tackle. I know it can feel overwhelming but I hope I have helped to simplify the overwhelm.

The truth is that if you don’t take power over your stuff, you are giving your stuff power over you.



Form a solid why that will push you forward in clearing the clutter & making it happen despite hurdles, with minimal setbacks.

Declutter your two biggest time-sucks: laundry & dishes. You’ll see an immediate change and gain some legit momentum!

Get equipped to make progress without needing spare time.

4 Reasons Why - No Matter What's Going On - You Need to Declutter Your Home Now


When it comes to decluttering, so many people get stuck on the hurdles that come up in the process that they procrastinate and never actually take action to kick the clutter.

These hurdles can be tiny or big - it doesn’t matter - the point is, they let a problem get in their way and either stop them in the middle of their progress or keep them from ever diving in and starting.

And I get it. When I tackled all the clutter in my house years ago, it was the worst time for me.

I had three kids under age three. I was seriously struggling with depression and all I wanted to do was go to bed and turn on Netflix.

I had no money, an overwhelming house, my marriage was a mess and Brian was not on board with minimalism.

I had every reason not to do this. I had every single excuse and everything stacked against me. And yet, I did it.

I don’t talk about this stuff for nothing. This isn’t just something that I randomly do or that I just like talking about or that I’m just good at. This stuff really matters.

When I realized that my stuff didn’t have to own me. That I could put it in its place and simplify. That I could focus on what actually matters and live my life instead of cleaning up after it all the time, everything changed for me.

And it breaks my heart when I see people not understanding that. I get that life is really busy, really full and there’s a lot of different things pulling at your focus and attention.

But the reward is so great! And I want that for you. I want your freedom for you.

And so I decided to write your ‘why’ for you. I’m literally writing 4 reasons why - no matter what’s going on - you need to declutter your home NOW!

  1. Materialism is directly related to depression.

In an article published by Leaf Van Boven at the University of Colorado, it’s stated that investing financial resources in experiences makes people happier than investing in material possessions. Van Boven basically came to find that materialism is directly linked to narcissism and depression. That’s pretty heavy.

Ready to ditch survival mode?

  • Narrow in on your why behind decluttering

  • Throw away twenty things right now

  • Discover how to simplify the two biggest time-suckers: dishes and laundry. 

Download my fan-favorite Clear the Clutter Starter Kit for free!

2. Your home is meant to be a haven (and it can be)

There was another study done by Darby Saxby and Rena Rapetti published by Sage Publications called “No Place Like Home.”

Here’s a quote I pulled from it: “The home can be a place to unwind from the work day, but when housework and home repairs compete for the attention of time-strapped, working parents, home can become more of a source of demands than a haven from the outside world.”

Who’s feeling like they want to raise their hands?  Who feels like your home is a giant chore list instead of a shelter from the outside world?

What can we do to make our homes more of a haven for ourselves, our husbands and our children?

The answer: Create less work. That’s why I’m so hard hitting about minimalism. Because how you feel about your home is how you feel about your life in general.

3. Less housework (can I get an amen)?

A study done at Harvard University stated that “eliminating clutter would cut housework by 40%.”

How would your life even look if you had 40% less housework every day? That’s a whole lot less of a burden on you.

Just let that sink in.

4. You’ll be happier

Another study that I talk about all the time was done at UCLA and it found that the more stuff that’s in a woman’s house the higher her level of the stress hormone cortisol. The study found that women subconsciously relate how happy they are with their home life and family to how they feel about their house.

So the more clutter and chaos in the home, the less happy the woman was with her family and her life.



You’re the hero in your story, sweets. You’ve just been bogged down by STUFF + STRESS.

I’m ready to put you on a better path - the path to PEACE! Let’s do this.

Your Uncluttered Home is an online course to help you clear the clutter, reduce your stress, and create more space for what matters.


There’s your ‘why.’ There’s four reasons you need to get serious about the stuff that’s taking up space in your home.  

If you’re coming up with excuses, I want to give you a pep talk and just tell you to stop overcomplicating this. You know exactly what the problem is and you know exactly what the solution is.

Stop overcomplicating it and just do it.

If you’re having trouble finding the time, decide this is a priority. Treat this like it matters.

Even if it’s just 30 minutes a week. It’s something and something is better than nothing.

10 minutes is better than no minutes.

Start somewhere that’s sucking up a lot of your time and energy. Maybe that’s your kitchen. Start with the dishes.

Simplify. All you need is a dish per person. Let the rest go.

Or start somewhere really easy like the bathroom.  Let that be an easy ‘yes’ and ‘no’ area and build the momentum you need to keep going.

Eventually you will get to the other side where you can say,”Wow, things are lighter.” And you’re going to be in maintenance mode and it’s going to be awesome.

Please let this serve as your big ‘why’ and let it push you forward and just start.

Life is short. And it can be so good and so purposeful. But you’ve gotta decide that it’s worth it.

Clean out the clutter and start living your life. Because you’re happiness is worth the work.  

#DeclutterLikeAMother Is Back!

For the past three years, I’ve led women in in the charge against the clutter overwhelming their homes. It’s been  SO rewarding to see lives transformed in the same way mine was when I started my journey to minimalism years ago.

But this year is super special because I won’t just be leading the charge... I’ll be right there in the trenches with you!

That’s right. I’m putting on my war paint too and joining the #DeclutterLikeAMother challenge!


There has been so much behind-the-scenes work happening to help mamas all over the world declutter. The business grew so much, I hired 15 people to help me so I can serve you guys to the best of my ability.

It’s been a huge blessing and so great but I’ve found that I haven’t really been focusing on keeping my own space as simplified as I like it. I still don’t have a ton of stuff. I’m just not doing what I normally do.

I’ve noticed my house requires too much maintenance. I’m craving less even though my house is still pretty minimal. I just don’t feel simple enough.


2. I can always tell when I need to simplify…

I’ll start feeling suffocated by things that really aren’t even clutter. Like I always keep a bouquet of fresh flowers on my kitchen counter.

I buy them, cut the stems and put them in a vase. They’re pretty and it’s just something I like to have.

But the other day, I was rinsing dishes and I felt suffocated by having these flowers sitting on my counter. The flowers really aren’t clutter but I just felt like I couldn’t breathe. Like there’s just too much stuff.

3. In the past, I haven’t needed to declutter…

I’ve just led the challenge. But on top of just feeling suffocated, we’re also probably going to be moving out of state soon!

What? I know.

It’s really exciting! But it makes the need for me to simplify is even greater.  And all this just so happens to come at the perfect time with the challenge beginning at the first of the year.

So I’m jumping all in! I’ve cleared my travel schedule for all of January and I’m going in hard on this #DeclutterLikeAMother challenge and I want you to join me!


4. Last January, 40,000 women went to war against clutter…

They kicked their mess to the curb and, over-time, cultivated a stress-free, clutter-free home for themselves and their families!

And it only took 30 minutes for 30 days! Say what? You heard me. 30 minutes for 30 days.

Anybody can do that, right?

Here’s how #DeclutterLikeAMother works. Each week, we focus on a different area of the house and for 30 minutes each day, we work within that area!

Every Tuesday and Thursday of the month, I’ll livestream in my Facebook group to offer you encouragement and answer your questions. I’ll also send you two emails a week, the first on Monday to give instructions for the assigned area and the second on Wednesday to give you more tips and to let you know that I’ve got your back.

5. I’ll also be sharing clips of my own #DeclutterLikeAMother progress on my Instastory!

You’re not alone in this battle, mama. You’ll be joining a sisterhood of other bad a**  women who’ve put on their war paint to #DeclutterLikeAMother.

So, join me in the trenches and let’s wage war! I promise we’ll win.


a challenge for moms who are so over the mess.

We focus on 1 area per week

30 minutes a day for 30 days

Because small chunks of progress lead to BIG change.

Over 50,000+ joined us in January 2019!

Join the waitlist to get in on the next round!


Six Things I Said Goodbye To In Order To Live A Life of Purpose

Minimalism can get a bad rap. A lot of times when people think about minimalism they think they need to empty out their homes and live with the bare minimum. That’s just not what I’m about.

I’m about simplification, about mindfulness, about purpose. That’s why I’m so intentional about the things I purchase and allow to take up space in my home.

When I buy something, I want to know that it will serve me and my family. I need to know that it will help me live on purpose and serve me well.

If you’re thinking, “What on earth does that mean, Allie? What does it look like to be intentional with my purchases? Where do I even begin?”

I’ve got you, mama!

I’m going to share six things that I no longer purchase that help me live intentionally. This is just my list. Your list may look completely different and that’s okay! We all lead different lives and have different priorities.

I’m sharing this with you to encourage you to start questioning why you’re purchasing something so you don’t end up buying cute junk you don’t need. Because we’ve all been there, am I right?







01. My kids’ school and athletic pictures.

It’s not that I don’t care about my kids’ activities or that I’m not sentimental. They’re just not my style so they’re not important to me.

I would rather be intentional about taking my own candid photos of my kids playing their sports than buying professional photos.

I want the photos of them living their full, little lives rather than pictures of them using props with fake smiles on their faces. That’s just not authentic to me so I don’t ever buy them anymore.

02. Cheap crap that doesn’t last

I’ve become really intentional about adding things to my closet and home that I actually love and know will last for a while. I don’t buy cheap, low-quality things just because there’s an empty space in my living room.

Instead, I’ll wait until it’s the right time and the right item and I’ll invest in a purchase that lasts. I’m not saying I never shop at H&M and Target (I do), but it’s really about quality for me now.

03. Items that I think are capturing a memory but they’re really not

I don’t know what it is, but souvenir shops can just suck you in! It’s so easy to feel like you need to bring back something. But I just don’t anymore. I’d rather take photos to remember trips and events than purchase a gift shop souvenir.

I’m not talking about collectible items - like maybe you collect travel coffee mugs from different places or some other item that means a lot to you. I’m just talking about crap that we feel like we have to buy that really means nothing.

04. DVDS

This is a huge NO for us. We don’t buy DVDs anymore because almost everything we want to watch we can get on a streaming service like VUDU or Netflix.

It just seems kind of pointless to buy a physical DVD when you can rent or buy anything you want to watch on Amazon Prime.

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05. Things that I love at the store but I have no real purpose or place for them

Target is a place I go where I just think everything is cute and amazing! Can I get an amen?  But I’ve really learned the art of appreciating something and not feeling like I need to have it in my home.

When I see something cute, I’ll ask myself, “What’s the purpose of this? Where would I put this? Why would I get this?” And if I can’t come up with a good answer, I don’t buy it. I just appreciate it for what it is and go on my way.

Just because something is super cute or I think it’s SO ME doesn’t mean that I have to buy it.  

06. Things that I want to use but never actually use in real life.

An example of this for me would be hair clips. For a long time I was bad about buying these cute, little hair clips and then never putting them in my hair. Or I would see a cute piece of clothing that really wasn’t my style but I wanted it to be my style so I’d buy it anyway.

I don’t do that anymore because I know it’s pointless. I won’t use or wear these things and they’ll just end up taking up space and becoming clutter until eventually I get real with myself and get rid of them.

These are things things that I’ve just become really intentional about saying no to. And it’s not about saying no to everything or never buying hair clips. When I talk about minimalism I’m really talking about checking in with yourself and being mindful about the things that you purchase and allow to take up your space.

Make sure the things that you bring into your home serve you and the season of life you’re in. Make sure they serve your purpose, mama. Because you’re making a difference in this world and in the lives of your littles.







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Our Minimalist Homeschool Room

Why we chose to turn the loft into the school room

When we moved into this house, the upstairs loft jumped out at me right away.

I’m of the mindset that you can homeschool anywhere, without a designated “school room”, but if you have the space for it, it definitely makes things easier!

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Even with a school room, we still sometimes find ourselves learning fractions at the dining room table and going over Egyptian civilization at the kitchen island while I make lunch. However, I love having a separate space just for learning and storing our curricula.

Homeschooling is messy, and I like that the mess is segregated from the rest of the house most days.

What’s in the room & how we use it

The first thing I did when we moved in was look up the different options for desks. We have four kids, and while only three of them are actively being homeschooled (Emmett is only three so he mainly just tags along), it’s a lot of bodies in a small room at once.

I didn’t want the room to feel cramped or for our set up to be inconvenient.
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I’m not new to homeschooling, so that helped me have a sense of what would and would not work for us in terms of this school space.

I decided to ditch all the Pinterest images I was saving and do my own thing - a dining room table is what we really needed in here. This would give us lots of space for everyone to sprawl out with their books, and it would be easy for me to move around and go from kid to kid.

We got this super modern table from IKEA, and as fate would have it, it was previously purchased, put together, then returned without a scratch on it by another person, so we got the last one for 50% off and didn’t have to assemble it. #winning

The chairs are a collection of what we already had (but didn’t want to use at our actual dining table) and they’re comfy to sit in so this worked out perfectly too!

We use The Good & The Beautiful curriculum, and one of their main selling points is that there aren’t 100 books per subject - their design is very minimal, which I of course love. I knew we wouldn’t need a ton of shelving and storage, but definitely some!

One shelving unit is plenty for us, and we could even do with less space here, which surprises me with four kids!

We keep our Legos in the school room for a couple of reasons. First of all, it worked out in terms of space.

Also, all four of my kids play with the Legos, so it made sense to put them in a shared space rather one of the kids' rooms. 

We store Legos separately from their other toys (which are in a toy bin in the boys' shared room) and we also use Legos for school on a regular basis. It just made sense to store them in this room.

We use the bins to hold segregated Ziplock bags of Legos. Leland likes order, so he’s usually pretty good at keeping the Legos separated by color, but it’s not perfect and I’m not picky.

As long as they’re off the ground and out of my way, I don’t care.

Legos are so valuable for learning and so good for the kids’ constructive play, I think they’re worth the mess they make.

Besides, a little mess is good for you, and raising kids is messy! If you're analytic about every little thing being perfectly organized, you'll probably end up miserable and not too much fun to be around!

How we keep supplies at bay

It is so easy to become overcluttered with homeschool supplies! So many times I find myself excusing myself to keep junk because we “might need in one day”, which I normally don’t struggle with!

I have to check myself and let that ish go.

Homeschooling is awesome but also unpredictable, so it can make you feel like you need to hang on to stuff all the time, but that’s not true.

If you need help with this, read this blog post.

Our homeschool supplies are what we need, and nothing else. I feel like we’ve struck a really good balance with where we’re at.

Currently, our homeschool practice itself is incredibly minimal and “bare bones”.

What I mean by that is that we aren’t doing a lot of extra stuff. We are in a very full season of adoption prep, business growth, and focusing on extracurricular activies rather than extra homeschool activities (things that go beyond the main subjects).

Our supplies reflect the season we’re in.

Someday we’ll do way more art and new languages and science experiments that will cause our supply stock to grow a bit, and we’ll adjust, but for now it’s super basic.

Do you homeschool? What do you love or hate about your homeschool space? Share with me in the comments!

Want to know where we got something you see here? I gotchoo, girl. 

Our homeschool table: IKEA

Leather chairs: IKEA


White book shelf: Target (similar one here)

Lego cart: Target (wheels purchased separately) (similar one here)

Lego bins: Target (similar ones here)

"MAPS" book: Amazon

Panda bear head: Target

Black macrame: Target

Cactus art: By Bella :)

"Seek adventure" and other decor on that wall: Target

All frames: Target

Bean bag: Target (similar one here)

Curtains: IKEA (couldn't find the link! Looks like they've discontinued them)

Pencil holder: Nake Berkus for Target

(Some of these links may be affiliate ones.)


How to Stop Buying Things You Don't Need

Consumerism is a nasty habit. It’s one you don’t realize you’ve formed until you think about it and try not to buy things. That cute candle at Target that smells like cotton candy… you already have four candles in your house, but this one is just too cute and smells way too yummy. Gotta have it.

That tee shirt with the hilarious slogan on it that’s just way too perfect for you…. Gotta have it.

Oh look! Polka-dot leggings on sale, and your daughter could wear them with that kitty cat sweater your mom got her. Even though she could also wear that sweater with jeans or one of the other three pairs of leggings she has, oh well. Gotta have those leggings. And they’re only $6 so what the heck!

I dare you to pull out whatever recent receipts you have access to and look at what you bought. How many little non-necessary items were there this month? How much did it add up to? All of that money wasted on the habit of consuming that you didn’t even know you had.

The idea of “it’s only a dollar!” or “it’s 40% off though!” is killing us. For real. It all adds up to over-stuffed drawers, messy houses we can’t keep up with, less time spent as a family because all mom does is clean up, and expensive storage units because our 2400 square foot house can’t hold all our crap. It’s out of control.

So what do we do? We fight it. We stop buying crap we don’t need, and we pursue a purposeful life of less stuff and more joy. Here’s how you can stop buying stuff you don’t need.

Understand the psych behind it.

I don’t think it’s a big secret that stores know our brains and what makes us tick. They know what colors stand out to us most (red and yellow) and how to phrase their sales tags and exactly what numbers take us from “hmm…” to “mine!”. Nobody wants to walk into Target and feel like they’re fighting a war, but just be aware that these places are designed by professionals to make you buy what you don’t need before you even get to the part of the store with the deodorant you came for.

Start scheduling your shopping right after you’ve done some decluttering.

If you’ve just spent your morning purging the hallway closet, throwing away random things you didn’t even know you had and certainly never needed, you are way less likely to pick up something new of the same value during your weekly run to the store.

Speaking of purging, there are a few things you can do during a decluttering session to help yourself break the habit of buying. Take inventory of the stuff in the area you’re decluttering. Separate your things into categories -

Need - you need this item and you use it daily or weekly.

Sometimes need - you only need this item from time to time, but if the time came for it to be used, you would need it and not be able to get by without it.

Want - you bought this item because you wanted it, but you don’t need it.

Crap - this is totally pointless for your life, and you don’t even have a good reason for purchasing it.

Ask yourself the big three questions I always talk about for the items in your “sometimes need” and “want” piles.

  1. When was the last time I used this item?
  2. When will I use this again?
  3. Does this add to my life in a positive way? Does it bring me joy?

If the answer is no or anytime over six months, get rid of it.

Once you have your things sorted into piles and you know what you’re not keeping, get a piece of paper, a pen, and calculate about how much money you probably spent on each item. Add it up. Lesson learned, the painful way.

Now we’re going to make a different kind of list. I want you to write down all the things that make you really happy. What are the big joys in your life? I think it’s a safe bet to say most, if not all of them aren’t things you can buy (except coffee because, I mean come on it’s coffee). Remember this feeling. Keep perspective.



Consider taking some time away from all the things.

Getting away from our usual chaos, taking a break, pressing pause, and just stepping back a bit helps immensely when you’re trying to gain perspective and make some changes. Go for a day trip with your family. Spend the day outdoors hiking, seeing God’s creation for all it is, get an ice cream cone downtown and walk around the lake together. If you can go camping or something and take it a step further, great!The point is, you’re reminding yourself what a good life you have without material things, and that you don’t need to buy things in order to enjoy life. Most of the time, the best days were cheap or free days. And we all know the best things in life don’t cost a penny.

Come up with a shopping test to re-train your brain. When you’re out running errands and putting things in a cart, ask yourself the following questions about each item.

Is this a planned purchase?

Would this ever end up in the “crap” pile next time I purge?

Where am I going to put this?

Is there room in my budget for this?

Why do I want/need this item?

Avoid impulsive buying by asking yourself those questions. Impulse buying is how they love to get ya!

This might seem unnecessary, silly, or a little extreme, but think about it… consuming things has become a habit. A lot of people actually get addicted to purchasing new things, so this is serious. Even the most ‘normal’ of us have to re-train our brains to not consume things we don’t truly need.

Focus on the money

Really pay attention to your finances after a couple weeks of implementing these changes. You will suddenly have more money. Minimalism can cure the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, help you pay off debt, and once you see these positive results, it’s a snowball effect. It’ll just keep rolling into other areas of your finances. What a great perk! Just for getting rid of the things you didn’t need anyway, and breaking the habit of buying.

Minimalism: How to Get Started


Tackling an entire house is a lot. I think we’ve all been the person who got fed up with a cluttered area, pulled everything out of the closet, then halfway through got sick of cleaning and discouraged by how much worse everything looked and didn’t follow through. I’m going to show you how to take your house from can’t-have-anyone-over to minimized, decluttered, and free without that feeling.

Stop the overwhelm.

Don’t think about all the rooms and all the drawers full of random stuff that you haven’t even looked at in months. Don’t think about all the things you have to do or how far off from a minimalist you are. Focus on the benefits you want to reap, then choose one area, and complete that before thinking of any others.

If you’re short on time, start purging as you clean.

Most moms who haven’t implemented minimalism yet spend a lot of their time picking up. To help save time before you really dive into purging, purge as you clean. When you’re picking up the living room, ask yourself questions about each item.

  1. When was the last time this was used for its intention?
  2. Do I really need this item?
  3. Is it adding to my life in a positive way?

If the answer is no to these questions, throw the item away or put it in the donation bin.

While you’re purge-cleaning, don’t let stuff stay in your house if you’re not going to keep it. If something is going to be donated, keep it in a bin in the back of your car, not the house or garage. First of all, having the donation bin in the back of your car increases the likelihood that you’ll actually make it to Goodwill to drop it off. Second of all, keeping a bin of donation items anywhere near your house is upping the odds of you or someone else in your house walking over and saying, “hey! I do want that after all.” And then you’re one step backward.

Decide to make the time.

If you think you don’t have time to declutter your home, I love what my friend Rachel of Nourishing Minimalism says.

“Your beliefs create your reality. If you believe you don’t have enough time to declutter, clean and organize your home, than you’re right - it won’t happen.”

Self-discipline seems to be something not a lot of people are capable of living out these days, but in this case (and in the case of getting anything worth working for), you have to be disciplined and decide that you want this.

Do you want a freed up life?

Do you want more time to spend playing with your kids?

Do you want more money to get out of the house and do things?

Do you want to stop cleaning up all the time and start being a more intentional person?

Okay then. You have to do the work.

Come up with a plan of action.

Minimalism isn’t something to be taken lightly. It shouldn’t be entered into on a whim, but it also shouldn’t be over-thought or dragged out. If you know you want the benefits of a minimalist home, let’s do it. You’ll need a plan, or a series of work rhythms in order to get this done soon.

Pick a day and a time of that day that you will work on minimizing your home every week, or several times a week. Pick something that’s realistic, but disciplined, and works for your family schedule.

Do you need to move some things around to prioritize your home? Whatever you need to do, find a way to make this happen.

At the very least, choose one morning a week, and stick with it. Maybe every Saturday morning you treat yourself to a Venti Starbucks, put a podcast on with headphones, and tackle one area. Progress, not perfection. Just do something!

Focus on your why

Why do you want this? Write it down.

Is it to be a more present mom?

Is it to fill your kid's’ childhood with happy memories that don’t involve you cleaning and stressing all the time?

Put it down on paper or note cards, then stick it somewhere you’ll be reminded often. Maybe you stick a note card on your bathroom mirror, one on the fridge, one above the kitchen sink. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the work that goes into this change. Focus on the good that’s coming if you stick with it. This is a very big deal, and it’s incredibly beneficial for the mom who goes through with it, and even more beneficial for her family.

Why Mothers Need Minimalism


When people think of minimalism, I think most of them picture one IKEA couch in the living room, cold white walls, no TV, no toys, and plants hanging by the kitchen sink. That's not the point at all. 

Three years ago, embracing minimalism changed my life and transformed my motherhood from angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed to happy, light, and free of stress. I fell in love with the way of less, and never looked back. My marriage improved drastically, my kids became less anxious around me because I wasn't a yelling basket case anymore, there was no longer clutter everywhere I looked, and I found myself doing things like sitting on the floor building train tracks with the boys, watching old James Bond movies with my husband, cooking more meals, and taking walks with my little girl. Suddenly, I was much less busy, and I was a better person in general. All because I got rid of the stuff I didn't need. 

I could go on and on about how minimalism has impacted my motherhood, but instead I'm gonna break it down into a few main points, because I truly believe in two things: Jesus and minimalism. I know it's the answer to the epidemic of overwhelmed, tired, frustrated mamas. 


Less cleaning.

Do I really need to go on here? LESS CLEANING! I have about two days a week where I do a couple loads of laundry, clean the bathrooms, run the vacuum and the Swiffer, and wipe down the walls and baseboards. That's it. I'm not pulling your leg, exaggerating, building up a false reality- this is my actual life. I have to do the dishes (much less than most people though), make the beds, and pick up shoes, coats, art supplies, and a few toys, but that's it day-to-day. 

I don't think cleaning up and being frustrated and overwhelmed is a very good way to spend these precious, short years of raising kids. Minimalism has created an escape from that for me. 

I don’t remember my mother ever playing with me. And she was a perfectly good mother. But she had to do the laundry and clean the house and do the grocery shopping.
— Patricia Heaton

I'm always ready to have someone over.

My house could be at it's very worst, and I would still feel okay having someone drop by. Why? Because there simply isn't enough stuff in our house to ever allow it to be that messy. It's so wonderfully liberating. 

I have more time.

We create the life we want, time is in our hands, and I decided to create more time for myself by eliminating the excess. I have so much more free time these days versus my pre-minimalism life. And I have two more kids since then and I work from home now, so really I should have much less time. Minimalism, you win again. 

from  my instagram feed





I enjoy my home more

I don't like to cook, but I like being in my kitchen. I love putting on some music or a podcast and creating a delicious, simple meal for my family. I don't like doing laundry, but I love sitting in my living room while my kids play Legos on the coffee table and I fold their clothes. Minimalism has allowed me to actually love my home and love spending time in it without having to spend hours or days getting it perfectly clean (then having it last all of three seconds). 

A better marriage. 

Maybe you don't see the connection between minimalism and marriage, and I never would have either, but it's there and it's really strong. Since becoming a minimalist, my brain is so uncluttered and clear, which made me a happier person, which has made me a more available wife. Brian can't believe how much more I laugh, how much kinder I am in general, how much more available I am to listen to him, be intimate with him, spend quality time with him. Our bond is stronger and our relationship has improved by leaps and bounds since we purged our stuff. 


I'm able to be a mom who plays. 

I've already harped enough on how my mind is clearer and I am a happier, freer person, but it fits in again here. Because of minimalism I'm free to be the mom who plays with her kids instead of saying "go play". I spend a lot of my time in the yard kicking the soccer ball around, dancing to Taylor Swift in the living room, and playing with tiny toy unicorns. I run a business from home and it doesn't put a dent in the quality of my motherhood because I spend no extra time managing stuff. 

I'm a happier person. 

I just have a lot of joy these days. I don't really know what else to say on this point, except, life is simple and sweet and good, even when we're going through something hard. Because it's intentionally focused on what matters most. 




Minimalism & Sentimental Items


We attach memories to things. Looking at something that was once owned by someone we love transports us back to a happy time or to a pleasant memory. Unfortunately, these treasures are usually buried in an attic or placed in a box above our garage because we don’t want to clutter our homes. They usually only get rediscovered only when we are moving or clearing out our storage spaces. We really aren't giving our special memories and our history the treatment they deserve. 

People often assume minimalism means not being sentimental, and a lot of times people talk to me as if the only reason minimalism works so well for me is because I’m not sentimental. They take my intentional purging as not being the type of person to hold onto memories. This really couldn't be further from the truth. I'm a very sentimental person. 

I get weepy when I’m going through my kids’ clothes that no longer fit, I attach fond memories to the things they happened in or next to. I have the gloves I wore to prom where I fell in love with my now-husband (our story is about as cheesy as they come), and the letters he wrote me when we were dating. But I'm not going to let my memories take away from the intentional atmosphere I want to raise my kids in. For me, a cluttered space means a cluttered life; it means more time spent cleaning and rearranging and less time on the floor building train tracks with my kids and reading stories about unicorns. My memories are sweet to me, but they just aren't worth the new ones I'm making now. 

I have memories, but only a fool stores his past in the future.
— David Gerrold

Less does not mean none. 

Intentional doesn’t mean keeping only what you need in order to continue breathing. However, if you have boxes and boxes full of keepsakes, it might be time to pare down some and keep only what is truly soaked in memories that you can’t bear to lose. Here are some practical ways to help you honor your history and your memories without holding onto clutter. 

Consider displaying it.

Artwork, a lamp that belonged to your great grandmother, a vase full of buttons that were your mom’s...find a way to display your history. Others will enjoy hearing the stories about where they came from, and you will see it on a regular basis, which is much better than your memories being stored in a box in the garage. After all, what’s the point in holding onto keepsakes if they’re just going to be kept in a dusty box and lugged around with you next time you move?

Put it to use.

Maybe you’re keeping a special set of dishes or a vintage necklace passed down to you for a special occasion. Why not use it? Why hold onto it for something special when that probably means forgetting about it completely? Wear the necklace as a statement piece this weekend at church. Donate your current set of dishes and eat off the special set every night. What’s the point in storing them and then passing them on to your kids in a box years from now, never to be used? I think it’s much more special to use things like that.

Capture it forever before you give it up. 

Sometimes, holding onto something of sentimental value just doesn't make sense. Taking a photo of something special always helps ease the heart when you’re donating it. Recently I was cleaning out my boys’ dressers and I found a tiny tee shirt that had been worn by all three of them, but no longer fit our youngest and needed to be passed on. That shirt sat on top of my dresser for weeks, and my heart hurt every time I passed by it. I ended up putting it back on the baby (it was super snug and hilarious) and taking a picture of him in it one more time. I know I have pictures of all three of my boys in that shirt from the past too, so thinking of that helped me donate it. 

Want to know what to keep and what to let go? Let me send you a FREE guide so you can make decisions a little easier, mama!

Send it to the cloud.

If it’s a special piece of paper or artwork you want to save but not display, take a picture of it and upload it to Dropbox or whatever form of the cloud you use. This way, you still have it forever but it’s not taking up your physical space.

Go ahead and keep it.

There are some things too precious to get rid of, that may be useful later, and can’t be displayed or put on the cloud. I have kept a red pea coat that my daughter wore when she was a baby. It’s timeless and I know she can use it for her daughter one day. I’ve also kept the ivory dress she wore the day she was dedicated, and the first bow-tie I ever bought my first son, that's been worn by his two brothers as well. Things things are extremely special to me. I know this is breaking some minimalism laws, but these things are too precious to me and I’m okay with having one small box of physical keepsakes.

The problem lies in attaching our memories to items in a way that brings clutter and chaos to our homes. Purging is like a healthy exercise for the heart and soul. It hurts sometimes, but it’s good for us. You are not your things. Your memories are within you, not within your stuff. 

An Intentional Christmas: How to give your kids a humble holiday

I remember three years ago at this time of year, I felt like I was standing still while the world and my loved ones spun around me. The buying, the driving in crazy traffic, the overspending, the baking of every cookie, the hosting of all the parties, the yelling and the cleaning, the gotta get that one perfect present, the credit card maxing, the feeling of obligation- that was Christmas all around me. My once favorite time of year was turning into a very stressful, very heavy burden. I had kids old enough to get it, I had to be an adult now- one of the stressed out ones who yelled and drove and spent all the money to make sure my kids had a wonderful Christmas morning.

But did I? Did I really?

The toys our kids had were taking over the entire house. I was spending hours once a week reorganizing all the dolls and trucks and train tracks, only for all of it to get dumped out again. The kids weren't even benefiting from it. They'd just get overwhelmed looking for that one favorite toy, or better yet they'd get bored and wander out to whine at my feet.

The last thing my children needed was more toys, more stuff. 


I realized we didn't have to do this. We could do something different. We could live the Christmas season with true joy instead of putting up pretty signs that read the word while over-spending, over-obligating, and over-stressing ourselves to the point of begging for January. We decided we weren't going to be like everybody else, and that's when we discovered minimalism.

To me, minimalism is about asking why before bringing a new item into my home. It's about saying no to the American way of all the things, all the money, the most expensive, the best, the newest, the biggest. It's about quieting our flesh and living in gratitude with what we need, what brings us joy, adds to our life, and teaching our children to live the same way.

We've brought minimalism into our toys, clothes, belongings, and daily life, and I've talked about it quite a bit here on my blog, but today I'm sharing how we do our merry little minimalist Christmas. 

A woman at church once told me about the idea of following the example of the wise men in giving our children gifts for Christmas. I looked into it and something clicked. This is what we should be doing, this is how we can create true joy at Christmas time and say no to stressing out. 

The idea is, Jesus got three gifts at Christmas, one from each wise man. We take that and copy it- three gifts for each child. 

Maybe you think this is insane, or unfair to my kids, or sad, too extreme, or nontraditional. To that I say, we've been doing this for three years now, and my children have had some beautiful Christmas mornings. The joy on their faces proves they aren't missing a thing. And honestly, the holiday traditions in our country are extremely materialistic and self-centered, so I hope to God that our Christmas is nontraditional.

Why would I teach my kids to be grateful, to give, that Jesus is the reason, and then overload them with a ridiculous amount of things they don't need?

I feel compelled to practice what I preach, and if Jesus is truly the reason for the season, our Christmas and how we spend these precious weeks should reflect that.

Here's why we love the wisemen practice...

1. It cultivates gratitude, and discourages a sense of entitlement and greed in a materialistic time of year.

We don't feel like we're missing anything, because who would miss stress? We get all the benefits of Christmas morning- presents, a beautiful tree, love, excitement, anticipation- there's just no stress attached to it.

2. Three gifts per kid allows us to give quality presents.

We are able to afford some pretty awesome gifts for our kids because we know we are only buying them three each. Bella wants a bike? Sure! Because we don't also have to get her twelve other things.


The holiday season is almost here! Oh my gosh, it can feel super overwhelming but it doesn't have to be that way this year.

What if this year the holiday season was just as fun, just as magical and just as exciting for you as a parent, as you’re trying to make it for your kids?

My course, Merry Little Christmas, will do that for you! It is just $15 and I know that it will help guide you through a simple, yet fun holiday season!

3. The bar is set at realistic.

Our kids don't expect a tree spewing wrapped boxes on Christmas morning. There is no previous precedent of an elaborate morning spent opening loads of presents. My dad told me that one of his biggest regrets as a parent is overdoing it on Christmas morning. He said if he could tell me to do one thing, it would be to keep Christmas about Jesus and go easy on the gifts, because the bar is set high for him, and my siblings (who are twelve and fourteen years younger than me) are greedy. It's pretty heavy that, of all the things he could have said he'd change as a parent, it was that. It matters.


4. No stress for the parents.

Brian and I love Christmas time. We don't have to save a bunch of money or max out a credit card or go shopping every weekend in the crazy mall traffic. We feel like we get a new version of the Christmas joy we experienced as kids. We get to give to our kids and see their faces light up and not carry a financial burden. Christmas should be joyous, and if it isn't, maybe it's time to try something different.

5. More money and time for fun holiday activities. 

Since we aren't spending every available penny and minute on shopping for our kids, we have money to do all the fun things and events that come with this season. Weekend trips are a possibility because we aren't broke from shopping. Brian and I like to spend our money on getting out and experiencing things rather than buying material items. You make more memories that way!

6. More money and time for the whole point- giving back.

Everybody says that Christmas is a time for giving and blessing others and spreading joy, but I haven't seen many people actually doing that except within their own families. Do our children really need to be given all we've got at Christmas? There are so many strangers who are hurting and needing some love, some Jesus, and there are so many ways to give! Just Google it and you'll see how easy it is to get involved. If you don't know where to start, start by contacting your local food bank. Seeing your kids smile and feel the joy of giving to strangers is one of the greatest gifts in the world. It's a gift you're giving to them too- character.

I know some of you have asked me about how grandparents factor into the minimalism lifestyle and I want to address that here, because we all know Christmas is a prime example of our kids receiving extra from family.

Honestly, I'm still learning, but what has worked for me so far is saying what would actually be great for Christmas if I'm asked. Books are always welcome, so are arts and craft supplies, outdoor toys, audio-stories, etc. But our kids always end up getting lots of toys from relatives, and I just have a grateful heart that they are loved so much. Sure there's some extra stuff in my house after Christmas, but it takes even more pressure off of Brian and I when relatives give to our kids. Also, toys break and kids get sick of them quickly, so we donate what isn't being used as soon as it's hit its peak in our house. ;)

I always try to cover all the bases in my posts, but if you still have a question I will always see it and I am happy to respond! Just leave a comment. Thank you for reading, friend! Have a very merry Christmas, and take true joy this year. Leave the stress in the dirt.

A Merry Little Christmas

A short video course to help you get intentional, simplify, and pursue LESS this Christmas. 

So… are you in?


Minimalism + Motherhood: Purging the Kids' Rooms

Having kids means messes, and lots of them. But wouldn't it be freeing if it was fun messes instead of the same old crap strewn everywhere day in and day out? What if the only toys in the kids' room were ones that encourage their imaginations and bring about constructive play? What if their rooms were clean and clutter-free so they could actually play in there? What if all the junk was cleared away and you actually had time to do arts and crafts with your littles? Those are the kinds of messes I don't mind cleaning up.

When my husband and I first stumbled upon minimalism, it was because of toys and kid clutter that we were intrigued by the idea. With loving grandparents constantly "blessing" our kids with presents, birthdays and Christmas always meaning new additions to the toy bin, our house and our kids were overwhelmed. In no time at all the toys were far too many for one room [which is ridiculous], and we noticed the kids really only played with a few favorite toys consistently, although they pulled out everything on a daily basis. One day I had had enough, and I got rid of nearly all the toys.

I can't tell you how much freedom that decision brought into our home. 

My kids didn't even care. Hundreds of dollars worth of toys were being donated or thrown away and all they cared about was that their few favorites were kept safe.

That spoke volumes to me and reaffirmed our decision to purge.

Since my first post about minimalism, I've received some great questions about purging the toys and kids' stuff, so today we're talking about how I brought minimalism into my kids' rooms!

1) Purging the toys.

Let's deal with the biggest problem first. The thing about purging the toys is, you have to know why you're doing it, and keep that reason at the front of your mind as you're going through everything. Otherwise, you'll come across a toy that you know wasn't cheap or has some significant meaning and you'll talk yourself into keeping it, even though you know it doesn't get played with.

My why is the fact that I deeply desire to instill gratefulness in my children, and I want to give them the gift of less.

When there are less toys, less clutter, they play more together and their imaginations can really be put to work; they grow, and that's very important to me. I want them to only have toys that encouraged constructive or creative play, and that I wanted them to spend most of their day playing outside.

This led us to only keeping wooden trains and tracks, wooden building blocks, Legos, and cars [these are also toys that I won't mind adding more of and make great gifts from grandparents]. We kept all our books, although I did purge the ones that were very damaged. Bella was allowed to keep whatever toys fit in the one plastic bin I gave her. She chose several unicorns and got rid of everything else. She had plenty of leftover space in her bin and had no problem getting rid of stuff, saying "I really never play with any of this other stuff." I was very surprised.

2) Deal with the incoming flow of toys and tackle the awkward Grandparent issue.

Brian and I don't really buy our kids any toys, like ever. I don't know if that's unusual or if that's how most parents roll, but we've just never done it unless it's Christmas. I know some parents have to tell their kids things like, "No toys this Target trip...I'm only getting a few quick things." My kids would never even think about that, simply because we've never shown them that a trip to the store means getting anything for them. It makes an already stressful errand with four children a lot simpler, plus our kids get enough toys from grandparents and aunts and uncles throughout the year. Which leads me to my main point...

To deal with the constant flow of toys from loving relatives, you're going to have to assess your relationship with them and choose how to deal with it from there. With my parents, I just talked to my mom about how much freedom minimalism has brought us and how much crap we got rid of and she immediately caught on, was supportive, and started asking what we want/need for birthdays. She regularly tells me that she thought twice before purchasing a small gift for one of my kids, and opted for art supplies over random toys, which I greatly appreciate!

We have some relatives who just speak the love language of gift-giving and are bringing small toys and things over every single time they see our kids, and the relationship isn't one where I feel like I can just say "yeah... no thanks." With this situation, I usually let the kids freak out and happily enjoy the new toys [usually just small things from Dollar Tree] for the day, then during our nightly pick up the new toys are either already broken, or they've been tossed aside and forgotten about, and I simply get rid of them. One time Hudson got a small thing from a grandparent that was from the Dollar store and he just obsessed over it. I obviously let him keep it because this isn't about being a neat freak and not allowing my kids to have anything I didn't plan on them having. It's about simplifying and living life without clutter, and one small toy that has become special to your child won't cause clutter.

If your kids get clingy with every thing they're given, implement a "one in, one out" rule. When they're given something new and want to keep it, tell them they need to choose one toy from their bin that they want to get rid of in order to keep the new one.

When asked what my kids want or need, I always say books, more wooden trains/tracks, building blocks, puzzles, or arts and craft supplies. Giving grandparents a no-fail gift idea list helps them feel like they can still dote on their grand-babies, their gifts won't end up at Goodwill, and it helps you rest in the fact that birthdays and holidays don't have to mean more useless junk cluttering your newly clean space.

Wanna purge the toys, but not sure where to start? Get the step-by-step guide right in your inbox!


3) Minimalism and the holidays.

Christmastime has sadly gone from the celebration of the birth of our Savior to a gimme gimme holiday marketed by greedy toy companies. Personally, I've never understood why some parents will go broke buying their kids presents during that time of year. Two years ago, we took on the idea the wise men had, and chose to give only three gifts to each of our kids. It was wonderful! We've kept the tradition ever since and it's here to stay.

Here's how it works...

Each child still makes a list of their wants, and we pick three things to get each of them [this doesn't count stocking stuffers]. The kids understand the reason behind the three gifts as a symbol of the gifts brought to baby Jesus, which makes it more special and significant. It is really hard to choose only three things to get each of our kids, but it makes each purchase special, thought-out, and worth every penny we spend on it. Plus, we are able to give better gifts since we aren't trying to fill the whole space under the tree. Quality over quantity.

4) Clothing.

This is another big issue when it comes to the kids. Clothes are so expensive, so it's hard to get rid of something, even if you know it's not really useful. We are a larger family and we live on a tight budget, so I had to come up with a way to stop keeping every article of clothing with hopes of using it eventually, because the dresser drawers were overflowing and the laundry was never-ending.

First, I faced the hard fact that if I keep an piece of clothing and it just isn't getting worn, I am going to have to buy something new to replace that piece of clothing anyway, so I may as well just get rid of it. Why keep a tee shirt with a stain on the front that I can't get out "just in case"?

It's just taking up space. Let it go.

I got rid of everything that didn't currently fit them, wasn't currently in style, or had just been worn out. You know what was left? Only the clothes my kids wear. Every single thing in the trash or giveaway pile was something I never dress them in, so....why was I even keeping it in the first place?

I now spend a little more money on the clothes my kids do need, no more thrifting (I was really just getting junk). I love H&M for kids clothes. Their prices are better than Target and even more fashionable, which I do care about. Their quality is good and I have no problem getting stains out when the kids get messy. I love their colored denim for my boys!

Here's a list of the amount of clothes my kids currently have, and it's plenty!

About 10 every day outfits

3-4 dressy outfits

3-5 pairs of pajamas

1-2 jackets/sweatshirts (we live in Southern California)

3-5 pairs of shoes (mix of play, every day, and dressy)

I mix and match and I keep it simple. I keep the laundry going throughout the week and never have the problem of "not enough clothes".

I hope this helps and your questions have been answered! Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have any more :)

How to Stop Checking Your Phone All the Time

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Time is what we want most, but we use worst.
— William Penn


We live in a day that a post with this title is completely necessary, and although that is sad to me, I've been a part of the problem myself.

I've been on both ends- sitting with a friend who is checking her phone while I'm awkwardly waiting for her to put it down and engage in conversation with me, and being the one who realizes it's been a minute since I checked my phone and trying to fight the urge while being in the middle of real life.

Either way, the addiction to technology in today's society makes me kind of wish I was born in a different era. I recently realized I was completely addicted to my iPhone. I kept not noticing my kids talking to me, standing in one spot of the house scrolling through social media apps, and anxiously awaiting the next time I could grab my phone and check how many Instagram alerts I had. 

Sad reality.

Something needed to change.

This is my one and only life! This is my only shot at raising these kids God entrusted to me. Every day matters and has the potential to become a memory permanently imprinted on the minds of my littles. Do I really want those memories to include me staring down at my phone?

No way. 

I knew I was going to have to face the facts and be hard on myself, to bring purpose to this area of my life, so I set some ground rules.

When you're struggling with something, when something has become an idol in your life, you are commanded by God to put it in its place. This isn't some silly issue that is okay because everyone struggles with it. You are called to be holy, set apart, and so am I.

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God...
— Exodus 20:1-3

Here are some rules to help break the cycle of checking your phone all the time that have helped me forget about it and get on with real life.

Assign your phone to one location.

I think one of the main reasons our smart phones are so addicting is because they take what used to be stationary (the internet on a computer) and make it mobile, accessible anywhere and everywhere, with the touch of a button. That's tempting for sure! But just because technology offers us so much doesn't mean we have to take it. I chose the little chest of drawers in my entryway, because it's out of the main rooms I spend my days in (kitchen and living room) but near enough that I can hear it if Brian is calling. I do allow myself to bring my phone with me to my bedroom when I nurse the baby to sleep, which means I've got about twenty minutes to browse Instagram and respond to text messages several times a day. That's when I'm on my phone, otherwise, it's pretty much just sitting in the entryway.

Delete the Facebook app from your smart phone.

Almost any time I checked my text messages or used my phone to call someone, I'd see the little blue Facebook icon I would always click on it without even thinking! Why do we really need the Facebook app on our phones? Do we really need to be able to see what our high school girlfriend is doing for lunch at a moment's notice? No. Facebook is one thing that can be browsed during downtime on the computer, or on your phone's browser. No need for an app to give us constant easy access.

Turn off all notifications.

I have turned off all the notifications on my phone except for calls and texts. Having the screen light up with app notifications is only distracting and harmful to the purpose of my days. Plus, when I do take a minute to check my phone, all I see are missed texts and calls, and I can get back to people who matter most without the distraction of a distant relative's comment on my photo. If someone isn't important enough in your life to have your phone number, they shouldn't be able to get a hold of you any time via social media alerts on your phone. Wasted time.

Choose carefully who you spend time responding to.

I feel like one of the biggest problems with texting, as helpful as it can be, is that everyone feels like they can get a hold of you at any time, and they expect you to respond, quickly! I have four kids, so it seems to me people would get it when I don't respond for several hours, but I have received a few texts saying things like "hello?! Are you ignoring me? Are you getting my texts??"

Seriously? Who are you to feel entitled to my time? I'm supposed to drop everything and answer your text message at a speed that seems reasonable to you? I am in the middle of raising world-shapers and managing a home!

It can wait, and it will wait.

I don't want this to sound unkind, but I feel we should be very choosy with who we respond to with texting. Think about it... if someone that isn't in your immediate relationship circle (your family, your husband, your closest friend) is sending you text messages, and you respond right away, you just gave them your time. You took time away from your family, your kids, your job, whatever it is you do all day, and you gave it to them. You also set a precedent, letting them know they can text you anytime and get a response. This same principle goes for the topic you're texting about. Choose wisely how you spend your time!

Ordinary people think merely of spending time. Great people think of using it.
— Author Unknown

Maybe this sounds ridiculous to you, and if so I'd say that's a good thing because maybe you don't have a smart phone addiction! Maybe you don't have a smart phone but you're on the computer all the time? Most of us have been addicted to technology in one way or another, and do have a problem and need crazy rules to put the phones down, keep them down, and live life. Set some rules and be strict with yourself. Don't let something as meaningless as Facebook rob you of precious time.

Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing.
— Thomas Jefferson



Minimalism + Motherhood: A Day in the Life of No TV and Less Toys

Photo from my Instagram.

With no TV on most days, and very little toys in the house, my kids have had to get creative, which is exactly what Brian and I want them to do. We feel strongly about not catering to or entertaining our kids on a daily basis, and want them to have loads of free time for imaginative and creative play. Bringing a minimalist sort of lifestyle into our home has proven to have so many benefits. Our kids' bond is stronger and closer, I have less of a burden to keep them busy throughout our days at home, I have seen their imaginations blossom, and a spirit of gratitude is being cultivated.

TV used to be sort of a crutch for me as a mom, and it was just a background noise that was on pretty much all the time. My kids weren't even watching it, I found myself constantly irritable and frustrated because the house was never peaceful. Once I decided to shut it off, it was an adjustment for all of us, but things got better.

We got better as a family. I started playing quiet music in the house while we went about our days and the atmosphere was just so much more peaceful and productive. I was a much calmer, happier mom, too.

Now that you have a short summary of why we are raising our kids this way, I think an hourly outline of our typical day will answer most questions. Keep in mind that this is how our typical days at home are spent. I normally run errands one day a week, occasionally I'll spend one day out of the house, and we have Sundays and Mondays as our weekends with Brian home. We are not currently homeschooling Bella- she goes to school on the "PM schedule" for kindergarten, which is 10:00-1:45 every day of the week.

5:30-6:30AM Emmett's morning feeding. I'm still half-asleep.

6:45-7:00 I get out of bed, make my coffee, Brian's Bulletproof coffee, and spend a little time reading a devotional. The kids are usually awake, but they know not to come out of their rooms until 8:00, so they're usually playing quietly in the boys' room. Brian is normally getting dressed for his day while I put his lunch together and drink my coffee. Three times a week I go for a 25 minute run.

8:00 Kids come out of their rooms and I serve them breakfast. Brian is leaving for work by now if he didn't leave earlier. I make my breakfast smoothie, and clean up the kitchen.

8:30 Kids get dressed. If they're dressed and put together, I feel on top of my day, even if I look horrid.

9:00 Send kids outside to play. I start the laundry, get dressed (most days this is just a little powder and deodorant), and feed Emmett his breakfast solids.

10:00 Bella goes to school.

10:30 Kids get a small snack, then play (train tracks, wooden blocks, Legos, or puzzle) while I nurse the baby down for his morning nap and do some housework. We always have music playing and the windows open :)

12:00 Lunch time. We eat together, then everybody helps clean up and we do something together (walk to the park, or we'll eat our lunch outside picnic-style and linger for an hour or so while the kids climb the tree or run around). I might finish some chores, and I feed the baby.

1:45 Pick up Bella.

2:00 Nap time/quiet time. This involves everybody, no matter how old. I cannot be a happy mom for my kids without a little break in the middle of my long days! Bella will color or play quietly in her room, every once in awhile I let her watch a movie and rest on the couch, both boys take an actual nap, and I'll nurse the baby down, then either nap with him or catch up on housework if needed. Sometimes I just veg out with a book or an episode of Grey's or New Girl. This is my time, an oasis for me in the middle of the mundane. I do whatever will make me feel refreshed or caught up.

4:00-4:30 Kids wake up and have a small snack. Then they get a choice: play outside or have some constructive/creative play time. They'll go out back on the swing set, or make up a scenario to play in the living room (usually they're animals in the jungle or something silly like that), or they all do arts/crafts together, or they build a fort and bring a bunch of books into it...whatever they decide, they almost always choose to play together, and they always keep themselves very entertained. I am normally nursing the baby or folding laundry.

5:00 I start dinner.

5:30 Dinner time. Everyone helps set the table, Bella normally helps me prepare the meal, and everyone cleans up the kitchen/table afterward. I try to eat with the kids whenever possible, but most of the time I'm sitting with them and feeding Emmett his solids.

6:30 Baths, get ready for bed, nightly pick up. The kids pick up whatever is out of place- toys, blankets, books, trash, sippy cups- and they pick up their rooms.

7:30 Bedtime. Bella is usually allowed 30 minutes of quiet time with her light on before she's required to actually go to sleep. Sometimes I'll talk with her for a little bit or read to her extra.

8:00 I wrap up any of my chores that were left undone (usually just putting laundry away) and this is when I do my blogging. Sometimes I'm just brain dead and will veg out until Brian gets home, which is normally around 9:30.

We are normally asleep by 10:30-11.

I hope this helps and inspires you and isn't a totally useless post, ha! One thing I keep hearing is that other moms don't think their kids can play on their own like mine do, or they think my kids are just different and they can't get rid of TV or purge the toys.

Yes you can! We used to have the TV on all the time, and our kids' rooms were constantly a disaster- full of crap and toys everywhere- but the kids were constantly bored! Once we turned the TV off and got rid of the noise and the junk, it took a little bit, but our kids transformed, and so did our days. You can do it!

If I left anything out or if you have any more questions, please feel free to leave me a comment! I'll always get back to you :)

How We Are Giving Our Kids a 70's Childhood in A Technology-Obsessed Era

This post isn't meant to make anyone feel like a bad parent. Neither is it meant to shine a spotlight on me or make me look wiser than the rest of the world, because I couldn't be farther from that. Let me be clear that what I want this post to do is open eyes and hearts. I want it to set parents free. I want it to set kids free. I want it to make people think, take a step back, reevaluate. I wrote this post to share what we are doing that has brought incredible beauty into our children's lives.

Maybe this post won't do anything for you. Maybe it won't stir anything in you or it just won't resonate with you. That's okay. We only need to change what we feel convicted about by the gentle leading of the Spirit. But if, as you're reading this or when you reach the end, those self-shaming thoughts start to creep in, promise me something. Promise me you'll throw them away. You don't have to feel guilty, you don't have to feel like you're a bad mom, you just need to get up and do something, go be better than you were before you clicked this link. 

"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." -Maya Angelou

My husband and I are young, twenty-eight to be exact, and we have four kids. We grew up in the 90's, so you may be wondering what I'm doing writing a post about raising kids like kids were raised in the 1970's. I guess I wouldn't know exactly what that would look like, but there's a point to the title I chose for this post. The point is that in the 1970's, kids were being raised to play, to get dirty outside, to entertain themselves, to use their imaginations. They weren't sitting on a bench at a park on an iPad, or looking up YouTube videos on a computer while the rest of the family eats. Sure, a 70's kid watched some TV, and of course there were some parents who let them watch as much as they'd like. But technology wasn't behind every single part of their day; technology wasn't the center of their world.

Technology hadn't taken over childhood yet. Now, it has.

That thing I said about kids at the park on their iPads? Really happened. I've seen moms at the park checking on their older kid because they're watching a movie on the car DVD player while their siblings play. I've seen epic meltdowns caused by a mom saying "give me my phone back". Vitamin D deficiencies are worse than ever. Everyone has one. Adults with vitamin D deficiencies I can understand- we work, we stay inside cooking and folding laundry... not everyone gets outside with their kids and plays- but children with vitamin D deficiencies hurts my heart. They're not even getting twenty minutes of sunshine a day?!

What is happening?

I feel like I could write a book on all that's wrong with the typical childhood of today, but I'll stop there and get to the point of this post.

Brian and I decided a long time ago that we weren't going to go with the flow when it comes to raising our kids. We decided we want to raise grateful, competent, confident, imaginative, healthy, creative human beings, and that allowing them to be technology-obsessed would be the enemy to our goals. Here's what we're doing:

We keep our kids' technology use at a minimum.

When I say minimum, I mean like, the bare minimum. We own a tablet, but I don't think our kids even know we have it. We have a television in our living room, but it's called a living room for a reason. We do life in that room, and the TV is on [maybe] a few times a week. On the days when motherhood has worn my patience down to nothing, and the baby is teething and dinner needs to be started, yes, I turn on Netflix. But TV in our house is not a daily thing for the kids, it isn't their favorite thing to do or even something they ask for often. It's just there for when we want to have a family movie night, I need a little help sneaking a shower in or getting dinner on the table.

It's an extra in our house, not the most-used item or main event. 

Our kids spend 75-80% of their day outside.

We don't own land [yet] or have a huge backyard. Our backyard actually kinda sucks, to be frank. It's mostly dirt and weeds, but Brian built a play restaurant and there's a swing set and slide, and in the summer time we get a plastic pool. Our kids use their imaginations and will spend hours in the yard playing made-up games and acting out stories together. The weather doesn't phase us much, as we live in Southern California, but if it's cold, I bundle them up, if it's hot, they wear very little, and they are still told to "go play" and they do it.

We don't entertain our kids.

Brian and I don't cultivate a need to be entertained in our house. The kids are always playing together, and they figure it out themselves because we expect them to. We don't take them somewhere fun every day, we don't buy them lots of toys or games, we don't have friends over all the time. As a matter of fact, we've taken on a minimalist lifestyle and have gotten rid of nearly all their toys, keeping only constructive play items (blocks, wooden trains and tracks) and books. Kids are experts at imagination and play. If you give them items that don't require either of those things, you're not giving them a gift at all, but rather robbing them of something beautiful and fulfilling. You're also instilling a "gimme gimme" attitude in them and setting yourself up for some rough teenage years.

We give our kids responsibilities and expect them to follow through.

I believe that not requiring kids to help out around the house does damage. It makes them bad spouses, lazy coworkers, poor students, superficial human beings, and hollow additions to society. When I hear things like "I want their childhood to be fun, so I don't make them do chores" I want to scream! Our children are given to us by God so that we can raise them up in the way they should go, and train them to be good people with strong work ethics, humble attitudes, and servant hearts. That won't happen without work. Our kids have to pick up after themselves, take care of the pets, make their beds, set and clear the table after meals, use their manners, and help with cooking and laundry among other things, and they're required to do it on their own. Obviously, that takes teaching and guiding them into those habits, which we happily do for them.

Want to dive in deeper? Click below to get access to my FREE recorded web class with Meagan Wilson that details how to raise unplugged kids in a tech-obsessed world.

We are role models for our kids.

The saying goes "Do as I say, not as I do", but we all know that doesn't really work with raising kids! Brian and I want our kids to see us living out what we're teaching them, and that is so hard sometimes! When it comes to technology, it's way too easy to get sucked in, especially when Brian's job is all about technology and I'm a blogger with a love for social media. We have to have boundaries, or we'll just be hypocrites, and our kids will see that. During the week, when Brian is working and I'm at home with the kids, I have my phone time in the morning. I drink my coffee and talk to my friends about their days and check my email, then I put my phone down. 

For the rest of the day, I only answer my texts if I've got a free second- waiting for water to boil, before I start folding a load of laundry, using the restroom- or if Brian's personal text message sound goes off. I have my off days, but for the most part I really try to abide by this. People don't need to be able to get a hold of me at the drop of a hat, whenever and wherever, despite what's going on in my day. I make it a point to look up and answer if one of my kid's needs me while I'm on my phone. I want them to know that technology is great, but it doesn't deserve a spot at the top of our priority lists. I spend about 40-50% of my day playing with my kids. I have set times for writing. I love Instagram, but I have set times for that too, and I pre-schedule my Facebook page's posts more often than not in order to avoid constantly being on my phone or laptop.


We fill our weekends with quality time and adventures, not TV.

Brian is off Sundays and Mondays, with one work-free Saturday per month [which gives us the gift of a three-day weekend every four weeks]. Since his days at work are much longer than most people's, we make sure our weekends are awesome. This is usually when we get out and do fun day trips and things like that. We are together, we're a family, and we are making memories. Sometimes this looks like hanging around the house resting, because our week was particularly exhausting. Sometimes it looks like a train trip to the beach or a long drive just to try a world-famous cupcake. The point is, technology is left behind and we are spending quality time together, talking, laughing, sharing stories, each of us 100% focused on each other, living in the moment.

Brian says that technology should be treated like sugar- it's a nice treat and fine in moderation, but that's it. I wholeheartedly agree.



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