Ditch the Working Mom Guilt Because You're a Badass

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Let’s talk about mom guilt. It’s a real thing and chances are you’ve felt it. Whether you work full time, part time, outside the home, or from your home, everyone has their own version of guilt surrounding motherhood.  

We don’t want to miss the first moments of our kids’ lives or the activities they’re involved in. We don’t want them to think that all we do is sit on our computers or phones all day working. And we definitely don’t want them to resent us for working.

But work is a part of life. So how do we balance work and life? How do we teach our kids to value good work ethic? How do we deal with our guilt?

Recognize what’s causing Guilt for you.

What is the guilt circling around?

Do you always have guilt around the fact that sometimes you miss your kid’s baseball games? If so, is it possible to find a way to make it to the game? Could you work out with your boss to get those nights off? If you work at home, could you structure your schedule to be finished working by then?

If that’s not a possibility then maybe you should just have an honest talk with your kid and say something like, “I want you to know that I love you. I care and I’m supportive of this activity of yours. I can make it to your Monday night practice, I just can’t make it to your Wednesday night games.”

Honestly, often we can find or create solutions for our mom guilt. We just don’t. We let it feel hopeless and we do nothing so it becomes this lifelong struggle.


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I think mom guilt is always going to be there in some amount. But if you chronically feel guilt about something then stop, step back and ask yourself what this guilt is circling around and be creative about a solution.

Decide what’s important to you (not anyone else) and prioritize it.

What would break your heart if you missed it? Don’t miss those things. Just remember that you can’t not miss everything.

That’s the only work/life balance you’re going to get because perfection doesn’t exist. It’s a total lie. It’s such a BS and it’s just fueling the working-mom guilt fire.

There will be seasons.

Sometimes work will be busier and you’ll be less present with your family. Sometimes your home and personal life will be busier and you need to dial down your efforts and hours at work.

It’s all give and take. And that’s ok.

Be grateful for your job and focus on feeling joy and satisfaction in your work.

Use positive words when you’re talking about your job. Have a positive vibe and energy around it. Because how you feel, how you react, how you treat you job, is going to be how your kids feel, react to, and treat your job.

Your kids aren’t going to see it as negative, stressful, or make you feel guilty about it if you don’t. And you shouldn’t!

You’re providing for your family. You should be so proud of that. Step into that awesome role and feel good about what you’re doing. It’s a big deal.

And if you love what you do, don’t you dare feel bad about that. That’s so amazing! Step into that and let yourself feel that completely.

What a freaking gift that is! You get to provide for your family while working a job you love. That’s incredible!  

Maybe you’re not super passionate about your job but you like the environment at work and you’re making good money, let yourself feel that joy.

If you don’t love what you do, I would encourage you to look for a different job. Pray about it. Figure out a way to go a different route.

Girl, it’s OK to take breaks

If you work from home or bring work home from your office, it’s OK to take breaks from work and prioritize your kids for five minutes.

I think a lot of us tend to get into this “all or nothing mode” where we feel like we have to finish a task completely before we can spend time with our kids. Nothing has to be “all or nothing” unless you choose for it to be that way.

Don’t feel weird about working on your phone or using tech at home to work.

We live in an awesome time where work can be done from anywhere. So don’t feel guilty about that. Don’t feel weird about it.

Be grateful that you can work on your phone so easily and it’s something you can do anywhere.

It’s OK to bring in some help.

You absolutely cannot do it all. And if you are doing it all, you’ll see that you won’t be doing all of it very well.

So what does that look like for you? Child care — do you need some help with your kids? Housekeeping help — do you need to hire a housekeeper? A meal delivery service? Get creative and think it through.

If finances are a problem, just do what you can. Every time I’ve delegated something, I have more time and energy and I end up making more money because I feel better.

Stop comparing yourself to other people.

Seriously stop.

You’re making yourself emotionally unhealthy by comparing yourself to other people. You are not them and you are not supposed to be them. You are you.

You’re living your story right now, so focus on that and understand that work is a part of that. At least for now.

Just accepting that work is a part of your life can be so huge for letting go of the mom guilt. If you see an instagram picture of a mom baking cookies with her toddler and you’re at work sitting at your desk like, “Oh my gosh, i feel like the worst right now,” that’s so emotionally and mentally unhealthy.

Don’t let that lie sink in. Sure that mom is doing something awesome. But so are you!

And work at home moms, don’t ever let anyone make you feel “less than” for working from home. Or like it’s less legit than working outside of the house.

That’s total BS. Don’t you dare take that!

I realized that usually, when it comes to working mom guilt, most of the judgment actually comes from ourselves. It only freaks us out when we see a glimpse of it from other people because it’s solidifying what we feel about ourselves. And we need to deal with that.

Reflect on where it comes from—usually it’s our childhood—and just let it go. It doesn’t have to have power over you for one more day. So please deal with it.

Because the reality is that when our kids grow up, it’s very likely that they’re going to work. So it’s important that we model a healthy work/life relationship for them and not act super guilty, stressed, burdened and victimized by our role as a worker.

We’re their example, so let’s change the way we’re treating and talking about our work because that’s how our kids are going to view work in general. Especially if you have girls and they become mothers and they’re working.

Being a mom is such an empowering role and being a working mom is totally badass. And it’s not something you need to feel remotely bad about.

You’re taking care of your kids just as much as the mom who stays at home. So you get out there and you keep kicking butt, mama!


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The Right Way to Have A "No Gifts" Birthday Party

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There are a few questions that make their way into my inbox on a near-daily basis.

“How do you handle gifts for birthdays?” is definitely one of them!

And I totally get it.

You’re trying to simplify, you’re letting go of all kinds of junk that made its way into your home quietly and sneakily, and here comes a birthday party. More clutter on its way posthaste.

What do you do?

You don’t want to undo all your hard work, but you also don’t want to deal with push-back from relatives who want to give your kid gifts.

Don’t stress out! I’m gonna go over how I handle gifts and a couple other options that would work too. As my girl Marie Forleo says, everything is figureoutable :)

In this post, I’m specifically talking about birthdays. If you’re finding this post around the holidays and would like help with that specifically, click here.


HOW I [USUALLY] DO BIRTHDAYS

I don’t usually do “no gifts” for my kids’ parties, although I like the idea and see why people do it. We did it one time for Hudson’s first birthday, but I’ll get into that in a minute.

What we normally do is one of two things:

  1. Celebrate without a traditional birthday party (go somewhere awesome or go out for a nice dinner and dessert)

    OR

  2. Have a traditional party, get gifts, smile and be grateful.

I’m not super strict when it comes to people getting my kids presents. I think it’s nice and my kids love it. Most people ask what the birthday kid wants, and I take advantage of that and tell them!

Bella is really into using charcoal to create art right now. If you got her a nice charcoal art set or a new easel, she would be ecstatic!

It’s not rude, it’s honest. It’s also helpful for both parties when you come forward and answer this question. Now they don’t have to play guessing games and worry about wasting their money on junk your kid won’t care about, and you can rest easy knowing the new “clutter” coming into your home will at least be loved and used by your kid.

Sometimes I do a registry on Amazon or at Target and give it to people when they ask. That’s always super clear and helpful.

We have regular toy purges throughout the year (we try to do them seasonally), so I can relax and know that a few times a year, any toys that aren’t getting played with will get donated and out of my hair. So who really cares if we get some new ones for a birthday party?

My kids have been raised on minimalism and are very used to our lifestyle of simple. Their toys and getting them to let go of things isn’t a point of stress for me.

Side note: with consistency and practicing what you preach, your family will get to this point too!


Hosting A Party?

Ever wonder what to do with all that stuff leftover from hosting a party? Let's talk about what I keep and what I don't keep after I host a party.   

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THE TIME WE DID NO GIFTS

When we passed on gifts for Hudson’s first birthday, it was mainly because it alleviated stress during that period of our lives. We had just moved into a new house and were going through a miscarriage, and Hudson was way too young to miss his presents (or even know that his party was about him).

On our invitation, we simply said “no gifts please!” and asked friends to please consider bringing a gift to donate to a local children’s hospital instead. At the party, we had an empty box for donations in lieu of a gift table.

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I might do “no gifts” again in the future - I have nothing against the idea - it’s the attitude behind it sometimes that I think is wrong.

I see a lot of moms coming at this with an almost aggressive attitude - seemingly angry that loved ones want to give their kids presents.

I’m of the mindset that it’s incredibly narcissistic to expect everyone else to get on the same page as you.

Sure, it’s your kid, your home, and your family’s party (and that’s why you can have boundaries and do whatever you want to do), but do you have to be a jerk about it? Not really.

I like letting people bless my kids - it makes them happy, it makes my kids happy, and like I said, it’s not like it’s causing me a ton of extra stress.

My kids like gifts, and I don’t feel particularly compelled to get super minimal here. Also, I’m minimal in most other areas of my life, so I don’t feel like I need to get crazy with this.

Plus it’s a chance for me to have the kids practice gratitude and writing with their thank you notes, which I really like.

I also feel very strongly that I never want my kids to look back on our simple lifestyle and hate it or become hoarders. I’m careful about not creating a joyless life of deprivation. Most of the time, there’s no real reason to pass on gifts, so why do it? That’s where I’ve landed :)


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WHY YOU MAY WANT TO SAY “NO GIFTS PLEASE”

>> If you’re new-ish to minimalism and your kids are not like mine are now (you’re worried they’ll get new things and never let them go).

>> If you’ve got a relative who goes completely out of control and you feel passing on gifts as a whole will solve this problem.

>> If the thought of more stuff truly stresses you out and is coming at a bad time for your family (like a super hard season where you can’t even handle one more thing - like I was during the move and miscarriage).

>> Because you can do what you want and you just don’t want to deal with gifts. Maybe toys is an area you’re choosing to really simplify so you can feel freer in other areas of your life. That’s your perogative, mama! You do you!

HOW TO DO THE “NO GIFTS” THING WITHOUT BEING RUDE/ANNOYING/HURTFUL

You’re not an awful person for wanting to say “no thanks” to people’s gifts, it’s just that it’s really easy to come off that way. Ultimately, you’re the mother of your kids and it’s your call.

In fact, there are perks for your guests when you say “no gifts” on your child’s party invite. For one thing, you never know who’s struggling financially, and toys ain’t cheap! Lots of people will feel the sweet waves of relief when they read your party invitation - one less thing on their to do list!

No gifts at parties can feel really annoying, rude, ungrateful, and steal joy from family and friends who want to love your kids. I DO think there’s a way to do “no gifts” parties right though!

1. Don’t have a party.

Do something with your kid instead. No party usually means no gifts. You might get a few straggler gifts from super close relatives who go out of their way to bring your child a present or two, but that is far less than you’d get with a party!

2. Have the party, and say simply on the invitation “no gifts please”.

That’s it. You don’t have to explain yourself or say anything more.

If Grandma calls hysterical, have the conversation with her about your reasons and how you feel. You can decide if you’d like to tell her she can bring a gift and give it to Sally aside from the other guests or not.

Personally, I have seen people make a fuss and use their love for your child as an excuse to be the favorite relative and show up with an outpouring of clutter. Set your boundaries where YOU feel they should be, and stick with them!

You could also ask for an experience gift from relatives who just can’t deal with this sentence on your invite. Say something like, “look, we’ve really been wanting a zoo pass. If you really want to get something, that would be incredible.”

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Sometimes we overthink things and feel like it has to be a big deal. It doesn’t. You can simply say “no gifts” and let that be that. How other people respond isn’t something you have to let stress you out.

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

Do you have a creative solution for birthday party gifts? Share in the comments!

The Power of Words and Your Kids

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Prefer to listen to this post? I totally get it. Just click play + I am happy to read it to you while you knock out those dishes or drive the road to preschool pickup!


 

I’ve always had a love for words.

I can remember as a child almost having a relationship with words.

I was drawn to them, and I loved making up stories, or even rewriting some of the classic fairy tales. They’ve always been a powerful passion of mine.

But, on the flip side, I’m a blunt, passionate person, and whatever emotion I feel, I feel it 100%.

I’m 100% angry, 100% happy, 100% bitter, whatever it is, it’s typically a very strong emotion. And, as I mentioned, words are usually something that I’m good at, but when I am 100% angry, my words can be incredibly cutting. I have this knack for knowing just what to say, that will slice right through. This has been one of the biggest struggles with friendships and motherhood, but especially with my marriage, because those of us who have been married or are married know that whatever your flaws are in marriage, those are magnified by like 1,000%.

As words have been one of my biggest gifts, they’ve also been one of my biggest struggles.

Today I really want to focus on the positive ways I’ve been able to use my words. For instance, being able to know just what to say, I rarely have a clue what it came from. And, most importantly I’ve been able to help change my children’s behavior simply by speaking positive words and scriptures over them.

You might know I’m a Christian, I believe that we were made by God in his image, that he spoke the Universe into existence. I believe that WE have power in our words, and that God gave us this power and control.

Now, after giving you that background, do with it what you will. Feel free to stop reading, but I want you to understand how much I believe in the power of words. I’ve seen words change the way my kids act. They’ve helped me overcome difficulties, and they’ve had a massive part in transforming my marriage.

Science shows us that words are powerful.

The words that you say to people have a deep effect on them, and the words you say about other people have a profound effect on how you feel about them

If you’re constantly complaining about your husband and how lazy he is, you’re just solidifying those feelings in yourself. And, if you say those things to him, you’re just solidifying that in him. I’ve really found this beautiful magic, if you have a problem with something or someone and instead of always saying the negative, start giving attention to the opposite. Then, start watching the positive bloom and actually begin to exist.

Giving you that background, I really want to share how this applies to our kids and give you a small example from my life, and how I’ve seen this transform my children, specifically one child.

My son, Leland, has always been incredibly defiant. He was the child that had me locking myself in the bathroom, sitting down and just sobbing on a regular basis. I was completely lost on how I was going to raise him.

I was really struggling. I started saying things to other people and because of my blunt sense of humor I’d always tend to give really extreme examples of things, because it’s just my personality.

It was a really difficult time. I was exhausted because I was sleep deprived from having had another baby. I also experienced a miscarriage, and no matter what else was going on, I couldn’t catch a break with this kid.

Then, I don’t even remember what happened because my life was just a freaking blur, but I remember having a realization….

What if I stopped solidifying his behavior with my negative words, and instead started speaking positive things over him?

I started Googling, doing some research and found this idea of speaking blessings over your children, so I started doing it for all of them.

It was really awkward at first. Leland was probably 3 or 4, and he’d just look at me like, “What the heck, mom? What are you even doing?” But, I just started to say things over him.

If I was doing the dishes I would say things like, “Leland, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Leland you have a big purpose. Leland, I boldly claim that you have a hunger for God and the things of God.” Things like that.

In the beginning, I was always scrambling for what to say. It always felt really forced and weird, and if I’m being honest, I didn’t even really believe these things. He was 3, he didn’t really have a relationship with God, and he’s also still freaking the heck out.

As I practiced it more, I found that doing it while we were driving made it the easiest. I’d repeat things like, “You are called to great things. You are a strong leader,” etc. I was doing this over all of my kids but again, focusing on Leland because he’s the main point. I saw changes in all of my children, but with Leland, he became a different child. I kid you not, over the course of a few months, he became a different person.

The tantrums and freak-outs started to slow and eventually stopped almost completely (because he’s still human). He’s still a normal kid but it worked. My words changed him. My story to him and about him changed everything.

When I changed the words that I spoke over him, even when he wasn’t there, I changed myself too. I’d spend time praying out loud and always worked to stay positive, positive, positive. If I’d have a negative thought, I would take it captive and throw it away. I’d tell myself we weren’t going there, and that I was chosen out of every other mother in the entirety of the world to be this boy’s mother. It isn’t my job to let negative thoughts come in.

I chose to speak life.

I chose light, hope, joy and purpose with intentionality for this child, and it changed him.

We have the power as mothers to intentionally use our words to make a difference for better or for worse. The choice is ours.

We’re all in this together and it’s hard. It’s a habit we’ve got to grow and cultivate and be reminded of again and again. Let this message seep in whether or not you have a difficult child.

The words you say about, into and over your children matter. Why wouldn’t we get intentional with that?

If you’re ready to become more positive and intentional with your words, the easiest way to start is to get some ideas. Make a list of positive words, phrases and affirmations that you can say over your kids. If you’d like to do blessings or scripture, just Google it for ideas.

Pick your favorite ones, and write them down. I’ve got a journal full of them that I reference on a regular basis. I’ve also got a note on my phone that has some of my favorite top 20, that I’ll just look at real quick before we start driving.

I’ve also created a list of positive phrases and affirmations for moms, that I’d love for you to grab and use with your kids.


NEED HELP GETTING STARTED?  GRAB THIS LIST OF AFFIRMATIONS!

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Let’s start using our power as mothers in a positive way for our kids’ sake. Your words matter so much, mamas. Don’t let the frustrations of the day-to-day bring those negative words out, instead choose to speak the positive.

Giving Your Kids the Gift of Less

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Minimalism Impacts Kids

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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.

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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.


You buy stuff with your time, not just your money. Less clutter equals less stress and more time. It's as simple as that!

Your Uncluttered Home is my most popular, globally-praised decluttering course, designed for moms who want to live their lives more than they clean up after it. 

It's truly the A-Z of minimalism - every room, every area of your house, totally uncluttered. 

This super extensive, extremely detailed course is literally everything you need to become a minimalist mama who's able to be a lot more present for what matters most. 


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!

 

WANT A LITTLE EXTRA MOTIVATION?

HERE ARE SOME EPISODES OF THE PURPOSE SHOW THAT ARE RELATED TO THIS TOPIC!

 
 

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The Incredible, Life-Giving Gift of Minimalism For Mothers

allie casazza gift of minimalism for mothers

Every moment brings us closer to our final breath.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starter Kit Mock.png

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

Minimalism is about having time to focus on what matters.

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

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

Wait, mama. Listen.

Minimalism is not deprivation. 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

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?

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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!

 


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If you’re constantly feeling like you have to choose between tasks and priorities, I’ve got something for you. I developed this workbook to help you set up solid and effective routines so that you can start telling your time where to go before the minutes happen.

Becoming a Woman of Intent this Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Get uncluttered

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Laundry

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

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

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

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

The Dishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2. Create intentional focus on what matters

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

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

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

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

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

3. Develop rhythms

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

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

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

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

4.  Have a vision.

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

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

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

How do you discover your vision? Ask yourself:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Take Ownership of Your Day with Time-Blocking

You own time, time does not own you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What My Life Looks Like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enter: Time-Blocking

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

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

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

Here’s what my time blocking looks like:


Want help applying time-blocking to your own life?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How You Can Start Time-Blocking Your Own Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Want help applying time-blocking to your life?

Download the Time-Blocking Mom Workbook for just $9 now!

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


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

 

How to Motivate Yourself to Wake Up Earlier

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

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

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

Sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Need a little extra boost to help you transform your mornings?

GUESS WHAT!?

I’ve made you a list of morning affirmations to help you get started!


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

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

Same goes here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing good and different and better comes easy.

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

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

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

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

 

Want a little extra motivation?

HERE ARE SOME EPISODES of the purpose show that are RELATED TO THIS TOPIC!

 
 

How to Declutter Your Home with Kids in the House

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

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

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

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

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


How to Purge Your Home with Kids in the House 

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1) Hire Netflix to babysit.

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


4) Get at it when they’re not awake.

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

3) Include the tiny humans in the process.

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

What this ended up doing is making the process something my kids looked forward to, and I wonder if that’s part of the reason they’re so into it now.

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

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4) Set a purging schedule.

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

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


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5) Hire help.

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

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

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6) Make a deal with Dad.

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

7) Take it easier than planned. 

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

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

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

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


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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Kids + Minimalism

The more the world turns to consumerism and materialism, the more I notice the uprising of parents who want to raise kids who go against the grain. The need grows higher every day. We need to be raising kids who are focused on the right things, because they’re the ones who can turn things around when we’re no longer here.

It’s not that things are bad. Just as money isn’t the root of all evil, but rather the obsession with money is, so it goes with the love of all the things. Consumerism is America, and it’s hard not to catch the disease.

One of the most valued goals my husband and I have in raising our herd is to guide their focus to the right things. By over-indulging them, we are doing them a disservice. Not only are kids who have a ton of toys less artistic, more overstimulated, and more likely to be materialistic adults, they’re not very fun to be around.

 

When we had a big playroom loaded with toys, my kids were never more annoying. They were whiny, always bored, and had no knowledge of how to entertain themselves. I don’t blame them- the toys being manufactured today leave no room for imagination or, ironically, play. They do all the work for our kids! They light up, make realistic sounds, the baby dolls actually go poop, what’s happening?

Kids are wired to make things up, play pretend, use their imaginations, and explore the outdoors.

Brian and I have gone to great lengths to limit technology and toys in our home, but at the same time, we’re pretty relaxed about it. We don’t go crazy, we don’t forbid technology (it’s actually a big part of our homeschool). It’s less about specific rules and more about being intentional with our kids, and it’s working out great.

Our kids have developed their creative gifts in incredible ways since we started limiting technology and toys, their relationships with one another have improved dramatically, and they’re now capable of playing without the need for adult attention for hours at a time every day. It. Rocks.

 

So what does all this technology talk have to do with minimalism? Minimalism isn’t just about how much stuff you own. It’s not about getting rid of everything or only having white walls. Minimalism is about choosing to create an atmosphere focused on what truly matters, and removing (or limiting) all distractions.

As minimalists, Brian and I are not only intentional about the things that take up space in our home, we’re also intentional and mindful of what takes up space on our calendars and how much of our kids’ time is spent in front of a TV. It’s a mindset and a lifestyle, not a list of rules for possessions.

So what about our kids? I’m gonna answer some of the most common questions I'm asked about them in this post that will cover what our kids think about our lifestyle, how they respond to it, and how you can teach your kids about minimalism if that’s what you’re wanting to do. 

FAQ About My Kids + Minimalism


How did your kids respond when you first removed most of their toys from the house?

At the time I did my initial purge, I started with the toys, and my kids were around ages 4, 2, and a few months old, so I pretty much took charge over the process. I got rid of everything that wasn’t absolutely loved, or a constructive/imaginative play item. However, that was just our first round, and we’ve regularly purged the toys since then.

The reaction to the first time was sort of, “oh! It’s so clean in here mom! Did you get rid of my stuffed animals?” That’s all my daughter (the 4 year old at the time) cared about. I didn’t get rid of them, by the way, but moved them into her room.

During all our follow-up purges, the kids were vocal about the few items they wanted to keep, and I listened to them. Their reaction to purging has always been curious, but cool with it. I made them a part of it more and more as they got older. I didn’t want them to feel helpless or like they were being punished and losing all their favorite things.

What do your kids do instead of playing with toys?

Well, they still have a limited amount of toys they play with. They have wooden blocks, trains and tracks, Legos, puzzles, and a few random toys they love. All our toys fit into one medium-sized box.

Other favorite activities of theirs are reading (or looking through books for those who can’t read yet), coloring, painting, all types of art, catching bugs outside, playing dress up, exploring the yard, making up their own sport games, imagining scenarios and stories then acting them out, building houses and forts out of boxes or the laundry hampers (yeah, they get really creative), and their favorite thing right now is pretending to be animals and creating a pretend world/story out of that. They could do that for hours!

What do your kids think about your lifestyle?

I would say they don’t really know anything else, but they do. They see the difference when they go over to friends’ houses and we talk about that. It’s funny because every time we visit someone else’s house, at the end of the visit there is always at least thirty minutes (usually more like an hour) of polite pickup I have the kids do. They have to clean up everything that was taken out while we were there as a courtesy to our friends opening up their home to us. Almost every time, on the drive home, they’ll tell me how much they hate cleaning up all those toys and they’re glad they don’t have to do that at home.

I think they know what’s going on, and so far all I’ve really seen is gratitude from them.

Do your kids ever tell you they miss something you’ve purged?

Nope. Not once. The only toys that’s ever happened with are the ones that have been lost in a move or accidentally left behind at the park. If you saw the live stream where I purged our toy box with my kids, you know they really couldn't care less, ha!

How should I go about introducing my kids to minimalism?

Just be honest with them! Depending on their ages, talk to them about how there are other kids in the world who don’t have money and can’t play with cool toys, and ask them to pick ten toys they no longer want to play with to give away. Make it a happy family adventure that they get to be in charge of so they don’t think they’re being punished.

Kids are so kind and giving; they usually love being in charge of things like this. Make this a weekly tradition until you’ve pared down all you can, and stick with it. Eventually, minimalism just becomes a part of your family’s normal way of life and the kids will start coming to you with things they want to purge.

How do you handle the random little odds and ends that kids somehow always end up with after school, church, and spending a day with grandparents? It feels like it never ends.

Agreed! Those kinds of things are always adding up. Now that we’re on the other side and the bulk of our purging is over, I go through the house once a month or so and do a mini-purge. I take the kids with me and we get rid of anything they don’t play with. It keeps things under control so we don’t end up back where we started, and teaches them to live with a minimalist mindset without making a big deal out of it.

I never want my kids to think that I couldn’t handle any non-necessity toy in the house or that I was crazy about making them throw things away the second they brought it into the house. I’m pretty laid back about it, and I think it helps them accept this way of life really easily.

 

How do you handle explaining to your kids that they don’t need as many toys as everyone else at Christmastime? How does Christmas look in your house?

I don’t explain that they don’t need as many toys as everyone else- to me that makes it feel like I’m punishing my kids for no reason. I make a big point to keep our lifestyle feeling very normal. Like I said above, I’m low key and relaxed about it, I don’t get crazy or perfectionistic about it.

Christmastime is our favorite time of the year, and I mean that for Brian and I too. I think a lot of the time parents come to dread it for financial reasons, but we know it’s no big deal and we can bless our kids without struggling come January. It makes Christmas what it should be- about giving, joy, and Christ.

 

We implemented the wisemen tradition about four years ago, and we absolutely love it. Each kid gets three main gifts each (some people theme these gifts. ie: something to play with, something to wear, something you need. I don’t do that but it’s a good idea). The kids know this is how Christmas works with us, and they get other gifts from relatives, so they don’t feel like they’re missing a thing. Doing the wisemen tradition is so many shades of awesome. It allows us to get the kids some really great gifts without breaking the bank, and it eliminates the need to “fill up” the space under the tree. In our house stockings don’t count as wisemen gifts, so we tend to get pretty creative with those!

To read my full post on how we do Christmas, click here

How do you help your older two deal with peer influence? Like seeing what other toys friends have when they visit and then wanting them.

I honestly haven’t dealt with this much at all. A couple of times, my oldest two have played with a friend who had an awesome toy and talked to me about how they wish they had that toy, but that happens whether you’re a minimalist or not. Nobody has all the toys, so what would you do if your kid came home from a friend’s house tomorrow and said, “Caleb had an awesome toy truck and I wish I had it.” Not many of us would go down to Target and get the truck, so it’s really no different in our house.

In terms of my kids noticing the amounts of toys in other people’s homes, the only time that’s been mentioned to me by my kids is to say how much they hate how long it takes to clean up after a play date, which I mentioned earlier in this post.

What do you do with gifts given to your children that they LOVE but you can't stand and they don't fit with your end goal? It feels cruel to take away a gift that they are pleased to have received for their birthday.

That does feel cruel, and I wouldn’t do that. I let my kids’ toys run their course, even if I’m annoyed that someone gave it to them and I wish they would tell me to donate it. It’s not about me, and I don’t want to damage my kids or make them resentful of a lifestyle I’ve chosen for the betterment of our family. After a few weeks or months, depending on the child and the toy, they get over it and choose to put it in the donation bin without me having to say anything.

How do you handle birthday parties and gifts from other people?

With a very grateful heart. I love that people want to love on my kids and give them nice things! If they ask me what they should get, I kindly tell them whatever it is I know my kids would want and that I would be thrilled about (usually art supplies or backyard toys), but if not, oh well! Like I said, it’ll run its course and it’s not the end of the world.

How do other children coming into your home react to the minimal toys?

I would imagine there have been some funny conversations between my kids’ friends and their moms on the way home from our house….

“Mom, are they POOR??”

“No, Jimmy, it’s worse. They’re MINIMALISTS. Don’t tell your father.”

But nobody has ever said anything or wondered where all the toys are in the house that I’ve heard. I do notice a big difference in a play date at our house over play dates at friends’ homes. The kids play longer together at our house and there’s a five-minute pickup time afterward, versus the overstimulated screaming and bickering between my kids and their siblings followed by forty-five minutes of me saying “say thank you to Mrs. Johnson and clean up NOW!!” That's a perk, fo sho. 

How do you deal with sentimental items that are not sentimental to your kids?

I wrote a post on how to handle sentimental items (which you can read here), and I don’t try to make my kids feel sentimental about things if they don’t. I just deal with it the way I think it should be handled :)

How do you limit technology in your home? What does that look like?

It’s very laid back and not about rules. During this season of our lives, Brian and I are both running businesses from home and our kids are homeschooled, so technology steps in and helps us get work done when we need it to. However we definitely are a low-tech family, so here’s what that looks like…

We don’t have a main TV in the house. Sometimes the kids will watch Netflix on their homeschooling laptop. There’s a tiny TV in the kids’ room that is only for playing Super Nintendo. It’s a legit 90’s set up, ha! Super Nintendo is limited to 30-60 minutes a day, depending on what we have going on. I’m not against having a TV and a Wii and all that fun stuff. We just haven’t felt like our kids really care right now, and we’d like to hold off on getting into all that if we can, although I’m confident we can make some awesome family game nights out of it once we go down that road.

Our kids spend 85% of their time making up games in the living room, playing outside, or creating stuff (art or Lego buildings or puzzles usually). The other 15% of their time is spent eating, pooping, playing Mario or watching Paw Patrol. 

That's all the FAQ on this topic for now! I hope this post brings some clarity to being a minimalist with kids, and inspires you to make some positive shifts in your own home. 

What about you? Do you implement minimalism in toys or technology in your home? Are you thinking about it? If you have another question, go ahead and drop it in the comments section. 


Ready to make this happen in your home?

 

Why We Chose to 'Soft Start' Our Homeschool & How It Works

Doing school at the park next to our house. 

Doing school at the park next to our house. 

Homeschooling has been a somewhat-constant part of our lives since our oldest hit pre-school age four years ago. I’ve learned that my style is very relaxed, and I’ve schooled my daughter as it fit our family. She’s been placed in public school for half of the year two times now (because, life) and now that we’re moved into our new state and settled into work-at-home life, we’re getting back to it after finishing the last five months of first grade at the sweet little elementary school across the street.

I’ve been pulled back to my original reason for homeschooling, and since the older boys are now school-age and Brian is no longer working a normal 9-5, we’re going all in, and we’re pretty excited about it.

We’re not diving straight in though, even as my social media feeds are full of back-to-school photos and Target is pushing pencils and notebooks on us and the season is starting to slowly cool down. Normally, I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person, but in this season of our family’s life, it just hasn’t felt right. However, it also didn’t feel right to do no school yet. The kids are getting antsy and Brian and I have work to do during the day, so some structured school tasks would help everyone out. That’s why we decided to do what we’re calling a soft start.

What a soft start is

Rather than diving into all our curriculum like we normally would, we’re only bringing reading, writing, and art into our days. We’re doing this until the first week of October, at which point we’ll get into the other subjects.

How it works day-to-day

We’re doing a four-day school week (Thursdays and Sundays are our days off both work and school), and we start the school day with a family devotion and prayer time over breakfast.

Afterward, the kids do art class while Brian and I get some work done. They only need to do one twenty-minute lesson, but they end up going through three or four lessons. They LOVE art, and it’s the reason we included it in our soft start. Nonnegotiable for our little herd!

After we all get together at the table for lunch (the goal for each day is to eat all three meals as a family), we spend about 30-45 minutes reading aloud to the kids. One of my main goals in homeschooling is to give the kids a love of books, stories, and adventure. Sometimes we read aloud again in the evenings.

At this point in the day Hudson and the baby take naps, and the older kids have quiet time while Brian and I get some more work done.

We wrap up the afternoon with some copy work to practice writing, and we have the rest of the day (it’s usually only about 3:00 at this point) to run errands, hang out, or go explore.

We do school outside sometimes to change it up, and that keeps the kids really busy. I bring my laptop with me on those days and get work done on-the-go, so I’m not getting behind for the sake of a change in scenery. 

Our soft start curriculum

Family devotion/Bible

Book/Plan  - Leading Little Ones to God

Reading

We’re currently reading Little House in the Big Woods, but we’re following the book list from Ambleside Online (Year 1 & Year 2)

Art

Art Hub for Kids & The Doodle Academy

Writing

We have the younger kids practice their letters and basic words, and Bella writes out Scripture/poetry/positive quotes that we choose randomly.

How we're liking it

I am so happy with our decision to start this school year out “soft”. It’s provided so much peace to our family. We’ve had a crazy year moving cross-country, moving from our temporary condo to a house, the start of our businesses and the transition out of Brian’s job… I could go on but I’m stopping there so you don’t think we’re insane!

It’s just been a very intense year of change for our family. The last thing we needed was any more extreme changes. This just fit us for this year.

Another perk is that we got into a rhythm immediately. Normally it takes a couple weeks (or more) to get out of summer mode and into school mode. I think because the school load wasn’t overwhelming, we found our rhythm right away. When October comes and it’s time to take on the other subjects, we’ll be well-rested and prepared - both the adults and the kids.

Do you homeschool? Have you ever done a soft start?

Stay tuned for more details on how we spend our homeschool days, how we run two businesses from home and homeschool, and the rest of our curriculum for this year! Subscribe to stay in the know. 

 



 

The 5 Rules of Modern Motherhood You Can Totally Break

There are very few safe places for moms to go to escape the heavy, leering eyes of judgement in today’s society. I don’t believe being a mom has ever been harder in this sense! While so much in our world is getting easier and improving, thanks to technology, our role is only getting tougher.

It’s impossible to be a good mom today.

Don’t use sunscreen...

Formula is devil juice...

The public school system leads to suicide and second grade sex romps...

Sleep with your baby or she’ll never have a good relationship with you...

Don’t let your baby sleep with you or he’ll never know how to self-soothe and he'll live with you till he's 49... 

Basically, no matter what decision we make, there’s always another side shouting at us "YOU’RE RUINING YOUR KID’S LIFE AND YOU ARE THE WORST!" We can’t win.

Let me drop some freedom in your lap, girl. You don’t have to follow the rules. In fact, I’m gonna step right up and point out five rules (there are WAY more, but let’s start here) you can just go ahead and throw right out the window right now. Like don’t even worry about it. Cause I think we could all use a lighter load these days.

5 Rules of Modern Motherhood You Can Totally Break

1. You have to have it all together, all the time. 

BAHAHAHAHAHA! Who even made this one up?? This is a joke, yet I see this rule being held over our heads by OTHER moms all the time! I mean what gives?

The thing about motherhood is it’s insanity- it’s loud, it’s wishy washy and back and forth and completely unpredictable, making it impossible to have it all together. You’re better than this mama. Shake that right off and move on.

2. Carpe Diem every freaking moment. 

Somewhere along the way, we started to believe that we moms have to “seize the day” not only every day, but every moment. Umm, no.

Call me what you will, but when the baby’s diaper has exploded up to his neckline, the boys are shouting wiener and buttcrack jokes at each other while jumping on the freshly-folded pile of laundry, and my daughter is “expressing herself” with paints whilst standing over the white carpet, the last thing I’m going to be doing is carpe-ing this never-ending diem. Mmkay?

The philosophy that we moms need to hold onto every fleeting moment and treat it like a baby seal is ridiculous and only leads to mom guilt. Like we need another ounce of that in our lives! Shake it off, mommers. 

3. If something is convenient for you on any level, you are the worst. 

There’s this crazy idea that we moms are supposed to be constantly miserable for our kids’ sake. Gotta poop? You better find a way to do it with the baby strapped to you because if you set him down and let him fuss while you do any type of nature-induced activities, he will become a murderer.

We aren’t allowed to take a nap, get some sleep, eat a meal, or sip a cup of coffee without feeling guilty about it. The idea of putting ourselves first for even two minutes is horrible. When did this start??

Oh mama, take a deep breath, stop reading those guilt-building articles floating around on Facebook, stop making decisions out of guilt and fear, and just do your day the way YOU would do it if you didn’t feel so completely judged! 

Pin it! Share the love. 

Pin it! Share the love. 

4. Respond to every need your child has or they will become 1) a psycho murderer, 2) stupid, or 3) unhappy. *GAAAAAASSSP!!!!*

Listen to me, yo. Your child’s happiness is not your burden to bear. I know that goes against everything you see out there in cyber article land, but it’s true.

I’m not saying to do this thing like the mom in A Child Called It, I’m just saying why are we all acting like it’s our job to make our kids happy? Our job is to be a fierce protector against evil, and to show our kids how to be good humans; it is not to make sure every heart desire is met because they might feel unloved and become promiscuous or horrible evildoers. Puh-lease. 

I think one of the best things we can do for our kids is teach them to deal with reality. Real life isn’t everything you wanted all the time at no cost to you, it’s not constant happiness and no bad days. You don’t have to slap yourself and jump out of bed to get your kids breakfast at 5AM. You can tell them to get their booties back in bed until a normal hour that other homosapiens get up. And guess what? Doing something good for you and hard for them isn’t going to make anyone the next Ted Bundy.

5. Consistency is key.

No it’s not. I mean in discipline and house rules, sure, I think it is. But somehow we all started to believe that we need to give our kids a solid, consistent life to give them stability and confidence. We started to tell ourselves that we have to have all the answers and know what we’re doing in order to be good parents.

You know what? I think one of the greatest gifts I’ve given my kids is inconsistency. We’ve moved eight times in seven years, and one of those moves was cross-country. We’ve left for Disneyland at 9PM and stayed till midnight. We’ve gotten in the car to go get donuts and ended up staying out all day long in our pajamas, just driving around and listening to indie rock. We’ve made plans and broken them because of financial setbacks. We’ve put our daughter in public school and pulled her out mid-year to homeschool her, then put her back in public school again the next year.

Sometimes life happens and it’s good for kids to roll with the waves and learn to be cool with it. I see a quiet confidence in my kids when life gets crazy that I don’t see in other kids, and I love that it’s a result of living life as a family and not shielding them from the normal ups and downs.


Bottom line, mama… you do you. Don’t do what anyone else calls good motherhood. You were chosen out of every woman in the entire world, of every generation that ever existed to be the mom of your kids. You’ve got what it takes to rock this.

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How to Let Go of Perfection in Motherhood


This is a guest post. Please scroll to the bottom for info about and ways to connect with the author. 


Thanks to the internet we see many different pictures of motherhood. We see the Pinterest mamas that throw elaborate parties and make fruit pictures on plates at snack time. We see the mamas who craft and plan unit studies for their kids, either over summer break or as they homeschool. We see the mamas that limit screen time and live outside with their kids- rain or shine. We see the mamas with organized closets and capsule wardrobes and homemade green cleaners for their bathtubs.  


Those are all good things. Do those things, mamas. Take the pictures, write the words, and pin it to Pinterest. Celebrate what you do well and what you love. Doing what you love isn’t the problem.  The problem is that somewhere we got the idea that every good mama does all of those things. We heap on guilt when we don't have enough hours in the day to prep veggies and make homemade pennants and cook from scratch and ramble through the wild for six hours. Motherhood becomes an exhausting list of things we can't do instead of a celebration of what we can do. 


A few years into motherhood when I had our second baby I realized that who I am as a mama is a reflection of who I am as a woman. That means I have the same limits and gifts, the same hours in the day, the same emotional makeup as I had before having kids. Having children didn’t give me unlimited resources. 


To be the best mama you can be you have to simplify your expectations. You have to be realistic about what you can and can't do, what you want to do and don't want to do, and what your family priorities are. You don't have to do it all, have it all, or be it all- as a woman or a mama. 


But in a world of blog posts about magical summers and classes teaching you how to entertain your one-year-old, where do you start? How do you find who you are as a mama? 


1. Know what you love. There are things about motherhood that I adore; there are also parts that I endure because they have to be done. Know the difference. Purposefully plan to do the things that you love in motherhood. Read the stories or build the forts. Make homemade ice cream or go on walks. Play cars for hours or sew your own dress-up costumes. Be yourself in motherhood. You can't cut back on the diapers or the potty accidents or the discipline problems but you can build activities that you love into your daily routine. 


2. Drop your Pinterest expectations. You don't have to have a perfectly decorated playroom (unless that's your thing, of course!). You don't have to buy Etsy supplies for birthday parties or have your children in coordinating outfits every day this summer. You can eat a regular popsicle instead of a homemade one from a watermelon mold. Life can be simple and life can be sweet. It can also be totally worth living even without winning any awards. 


3. Look to the past. I never remember my mom hanging up a summer bucket list. There's nothing wrong with it if you like that but if it's pressure to perform?  Take it down. We spent our summers riding bikes outside, rollerskating in the basement, and working in our garden. There was food and love and tired kids at night. Isn't that really the goal? I'd rather my children learn how to live well than that life be well-designed for Instagram photos. (Although I will totally take both if that's an option!)

Visit your library. Watch some favorite movies. Teach your kids to pick up their toys. Let's break from performing as mamas and return to embracing being mamas. We are not entertainers. We are facilitators. We are educators. We are showing them how to live.

Leave perfection. Mother on purpose. 


 

Lisa Hensley is a writer and podcaster who dabbles in other creative pursuits. She and her husband have three boys and live in a college town in rural Kentucky. Her online spaces encourage women to thrive as mamas and grow as creatives.

 

 

 

 

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7 Ways to Make Fitting Multiple Kids in One Room A Lot Easier

There are lots of reasons you might have to fit multiple kids into one bedroom. We’ve done it in most of the houses we’ve lived in. We’re renters, and we enjoy moving from place to place, so things change pretty often for us. We’re also minimalists who like to spend our money on experiences over square footage, so at this point, fitting our kids into one room is a choice that our whole family is used to and enjoys.

We have four little kids (they’re all age seven and under right now), and our oldest is our only girl. So typically we put the three boys in the same room, but we’ve re-arranged that set up over the past few years. One thing is for sure… I’ve learned a lot about the right way to fit multiple kids into one bedroom, and I think I’ve got it down by now.

Whatever your reason for reading this post - moving, downsizing, saving money, or just curiosity - I hope you find my tips for this little lifestyle tweak helpful!

1. Use vertical space whenever you can! This is number one on purpose; it’s the best, most impactful tip I’ve got. Using vertical space over horizontal space is huge for shared bedrooms and small spaces! You can use vertical space in lots of different ways - bunk beds, hooks, shelves, and simply turning things like shelving units on their side to lay tall rather than wide.

2. Utilize the closet in a way that suits your needs best. Kids clothes are shorter, giving you lots of floor and wall space for storage underneath them. We’ve fit an extra dresser under the hanging clothes in a closet before. We’ve also used that area to store the toy bin, shoe racks, we’ve hung hooks under there to store backpacks and hats… get creative, but ask yourself what you could use that space for more than anything else. The added benefit of using this space is that it’s got a door, and can be hidden, so it doesn’t have to be holding pretty things.

3. Another note on the closet - use the top shelf! Because it’s a kids’ room and the top shelf in the closet is obviously too high for them to reach without climbing, lots of parents let it go unused. This space is awesome for that very reason! Use it to store things you don’t want your kids to have free reign on - Lego’s, puzzles, messy art supplies, etc.

4. Apply minimalism when it comes to clothing. We all know I will toot the horn of minimalism until I can toot no more (most awkward sentence on the blog, for sure), but it is really beneficial when it comes to clothing, particularly in a shared space. Our three boys share one large IKEA dresser. You read that right! They have only the clothes they need, wear, that fit currently, and are not stained or damaged. They aren’t lacking any clothes they need, and I don’t store any spare clothing elsewhere - and it all fits just fine into one large dresser. Your kids don’t need as many extra pairs, spares, and hand-me-downs as you might think they do. Go through their clothes and create space by asking yourself the following questions about the articles of clothing they’ve got in there now:

- Does this currently fit and is it in season?

- Is it stained, ripped, or damaged?

- When was the last time this was worn? (more than 4 weeks? Chuck it.)

By the way… This is the dresser we use, and we’ve painted it a bold and bright shade of yellow.

5. Save space by storing things in other areas of the house. Toys (minimalism is huge here too!) can be stored in a bin that goes in the hallway closet, behind the sofa in the living room, if you have a dedicated playroom, get the toys out of the bedroom! Coats, backpacks, and school stuff can be moved to the entryway or mudroom. Hooks serve a marvelous purpose here! You could also opt for something a little different and more of a statement, like we did. We have a set of four lockers that we painted a bright white. Each kid has an assigned locker, and that’s where their daily-use stuff goes.

6. Use wheels to make room-sharing with young kids easier (and quieter). Put things that your kids like to use in carts with casters so they can roll it out of the room when siblings are napping. We do this with favorite books, art supplies, and things like puzzles and block sets. This way, if the baby needs to take a nap, the older boys can wheel out their activity cart and use it in the living room. We have two activity carts and could honestly use a couple more for different purposes!

7. Solve the problem of chaotic early morning wake ups once and for all! You know how once one kid wakes up, they’re all up? I’ve been forced to come up with a solution to this common parental woe because it was do or die for me. Here’s my solution:  a giant digital clock. Get yours, hang it up, and explain what time it has to say for them to use loud voices and/or come out of their room. Get ready for a couple weeks of being annoyingly consistent! But then, all of a sudden, it works. One of two things will start to happen.

They’ll either decide it's not worth waking up if they can’t come out and begin to sleep longer, or they’ll catch on to the rules and stay in their (somewhat) quietly until the magical time appears on their wall. Stick with it, and it gets awesome. I promise.

How to De-Stress Your Home in Ten Minutes

You know that feeling when the baby’s crying, the toddler needs his butt wiped, dinner’s burning on the stove, the laundry hasn’t been switched in eight hours, and you can’t remember when your last shower was?

Yeah, I know it well. That's why I did a live stream about it the other day. Hashtag mom life, right?

Well, sort of. I mean chaos is the name of the game when you’ve got little ones, but the thing I’ve learned in my mommy years is that there are things you can do to calm the chaos and cut the clutter in your life, and that’s such a comfort in the desperate years! I’m gonna break down a few key ways you can de-stress your home in just ten minutes.

Note: maybe your mess is too much to knock out in ten minutes - that’s okay! Just work on one of these things for ten minutes, and if it’s not perfect when the timer goes off, at least it’s better than when you started. Progress, not perfection.

Ten Minute De-Stress Ideas

  • Go through the pile of dirty laundry you have waiting for you. Are there any pieces of clothing in there that aren’t really needed? Anything that doesn’t fit anymore? Anything that’s super worn out? Anything that you don’t really like? Get rid of it! Work through the pile till you only have what you know your family likes, needs, and wears regularly. Now Laundry Mountain is a little smaller!
  • Give the surfaces in your house some attention. Is there paperwork or clutter on any of them? What about the unexpected surfaces like the top of the fridge, microwave, or cabinets? Do a surface clean-up for ten minutes. Throw away trash, sort paperwork, and put toys and random items in the rooms they belong in.
  • Get a large empty laundry hamper. Go through your house with it collecting anything and everything you see that isn’t where it belongs. When you’re done, carry the hamper with you throughout the house and put everything away.
  • You can do the above idea the same way, but with items that you don’t even need to keep! Carry the hamper through the house collecting any items you see that are not something you really need, that’s used regularly. Dump the items in the hamper into a trash bag and put it in the back of your car for a trip to Goodwill this week. Doesn’t that feel good??
  • Take your kids into their bedroom (or wherever their toys are kept) and tell them there are lots of kids who are poor, and do not have any toys. Give them a box or bag and excitedly tell them they get to choose ten toys they don’t play with that they would like to give to another child who needs them. Make it a happy, exciting ordeal! Take the toys to the donation center with them this week. You purged, helped someone else out, and taught your kids empathy all in one shot. Awesome!
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  • Go into your bathroom and take a look at all your hair and makeup products. Put everything you don’t use on a weekly basis into a box. Throw it away. Wipe down the counter tops, toilet, and edge of the bathtub. Voila! Clean and organized bathroom in ten minutes.
  • Head into your kitchen. Set a timer for five minutes and wash dishes until it goes off. Spend the next five minutes wiping down counters and sweeping up crumbs. Maybe your kitchen isn’t completely detailed, but it surely looks better and you feel a lot better!
  • Go through your house and make all the beds. If your kids are home and old enough, have them make their own. Made beds make for a tidy house and a happy mama!
  • Go through your house with the mindset to straighten up. Fluff the throw pillows, rearrange the pillows on the beds, wipe down and rearrange the items on the nightstands, put a cute stack of books on your coffee table, pick some flowers from outside for your dining room table, straighten up for ten minutes and see how much better you feel afterward!
  • Focus on the entryway. This is the first things you see when you walk in your house, so it’s important! Straighten it up. Put shoes in the closet they belong in, hang fallen coats on the hooks, arrange the kids’ backpacks in a way that looks better, sweep, wipe down the baseboards. All clean!

There you have it. Some simple, doable ideas to decompress the stress in your house in just ten minutes. Sometimes things like this are the difference between a horrible day and an “Yay! I made it!” day. Keep on keepin’ on, mama.

 

For the Chicken Nugget Mom

Hey mama, I know you pulled your kids' lunch from the freezer today and felt a little pang of guilt. The same guilt that follows you around day after day, pulling at you when you're just trying to get by.

I know you see the pictures on Instagram of kid-themed plates loaded with green veggies and gluten-free alternatives and quietly shame yourself.

I know you feel like a failure and are making mental notes as you watch the microwave plate spin to do better tomorrow and prioritize healthy eating.

I know you added it to your twenty-mile-long mental to-do list, and when you did, the stress got heavier.

I know you felt obligated to add a side on their plates that made up for the main course. I know how you feel.

I know because I'm a chicken nugget mom too.

And from one chicken nugget mom to another, let me tell you something. You cannot be everything all the time. You cannot be perfect to everyone constantly. You cannot have every area of your life pretty-white-Instagram-square ready all the time. You just can't.

Trust me. With a blog called "The Purposeful Housewife", I've experienced my fair share of pressure from the outside to be perfect in all areas, to have all the answers, and to be the organic hand-picked vegetable mom. And for awhile I tried. But you know what?

My purpose isn't in how I perform. And neither is yours.

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Purpose lies in how we live out God's call on our lives. Purpose lies in choosing carefully how we spend our time, what we prioritize; purpose is being intentional.

And hey, good news. There's nothing intentional about living to impress other people. There's not an ounce of purpose in legalism - performing works in order to be "in" with God. God is crazy about you right this very moment, and He's crazy about you while you're waiting for that microwave to beep. Isn't that all that matters in this life?

So do I try to feed my kids healthy food? Sure I do. 

Do I have chicken nuggets  in my freezer right now? You bet. And a frozen pizza in the oven. 

Do I place the weight of my worth on whether or not that happens each day? Heck no.

I believe there's a season for everything because God says there is (Ecclesiastes 3), and if this is your chicken nugget season and not your organic hand-picked vegetable season, who cares? Anyone who cares about your performance must not know Grace.

I know Grace.

I have sat at the feet of Grace and scooped up all I could carry. You can too.

So get those chicken nuggets dished out with pride. You're feeding your littles and you're conquering the day like a mom boss.

Your purpose lies in Jesus, sweet mama, not in your performance.