What We Have Discovered

Almost a month into our One Year Clutter Cleanse and I thought I would give you all an update. So far, here is what I have observed:

  1. We shop less. At first it was just to avoid the temptation of buying things we didn’t need, and risk breaking the rules of our cleanse. However- lately I noticed that I no longer crave the need to go out and shop. Even window shopping, we found we have no real use for and felt it has been a time waster. Instead, we walk around the neighborhood, take our daughter to the park, throw the ball to the dog at our local dog park, and generally ENGAGE more with our loved ones. I have had more coffee dates, skype chats, dinners, and gatherings with friends and family than I have in years and I have thoroughly enjoyed it!
  2. We cook more together. Every night this past week we have cooked delicious meals together and eaten at the kitchen table (for, I am pretty sure, one of the first times EVER in the ten years my husband and I have lived together – I am not even sure why we had one before). We spend our dinners talking, laughing, and discussing what to do with our new-found free time.
  3. We have come to enjoy doing nothing. Don’t misunderstand this, I don’t mean we sit at home and stare at the wall. I mean we don’t over-plan our days. We stay home more, cuddle on the couch, read books with our daughter, and just enjoy spending time together without the preoccupation of consumer stimuli. This is a big feat for us, my husband and I are very go,go,go personality types, and slowing down has been a challenge. I am the person that juggles a full time job with full time studies while training for a half marathon, as I had the mindset that it was best to cram as much “stuff” into as little amount of time as I could. That is how we become successful right? Maybe not. I am finding the more I slow down, the more I enjoy the things I do spend time on, and I do those things with more purpose and success. Ahh, what a joy it is just to breathe again.
  4. Our bank account is much healthier. Even splurging on two home-made steak dinners this month, I will be able to pay for almost all of my husband’s fall tuition in full, without it sitting on a credit card for months, building wasteful interest FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. This makes my heart incredibly happy.

My revelation: with less stuff, there is more space to fill with breathe, love, and laughter.

Advertisements

The Unassuming Life

 

I strive for a life full of people not posessions,

I strive for a life free from “oops I spent too much…” confessions.

For a house just big enough for three,

With a little room for our dog to roam free.

I strive for a life doing something I love,

Instead of working to pay for that – “but it fit like a glove!”

For a chance to experience a far away place,

With a plan to always settle back down to home base.

I strive for a life full of laughter and joy,

That is created from something more than that “latest toy.”

I hope for time with my daughter, uncluttered, and free,

Oh what a glorious life it will be.

I strive for a simple, unassuming life,

With no one to impress or show off to in strife.

But rather to enjoy for ourselves, while we’re here,

To come to the end without the “I didn’t LIVE enough” fear.

Momma, Put Down Your Phone

Momma,

If you put down your phone and looked at me,

You’d see,

Two beautiful eyes looking up at you,

Full of the truest love you’ll ever know,

Waiting for you to look back at me.

If you put down your phone and talked to me,

You’d hear,

A beautiful voice that would serenade your heart,

Full of the purest joy you will ever experience,

Waiting for you to speak back to me.

If you put down your phone and played with me,

You’d discover,

A beautiful mind that craves to learn,

Full of a desire to search, discover, and imagine,

Waiting for you to acknowledge.

Momma if you put down that phone,

You’d see,

I am growing and changing and time is passing.

Nothing on your phone is funnier, more beautiful, or more loving than me.

So put it down and soak up what is key

To a truly lovely life with me.

(image credit: Michael Chamers, http://www.freeimages.com)

How to Begin

Well, since starting our blog, our choice to go Minimal has been a topic of conversation amongst our friends and family when we get together. “Oh hey I read what you guys are up to, that’s cool! I have thought about trying to downsize myself, I am just not sure how to get started” is often what we have heard.

SO… I thought I would provide some tips on how to get started if you are interested in making steps towards minimalism, and a few things to remember (and forgive yourself for) along the way.

Getting started:

  1. PICK ONE ROOM, or better yet a closet (see, simple! breath friends, breath) Why? Well generally you don’t have a strong emotional attachment to your towels – but if you do, don’t stress, YOU CAN DO IT, the towels don’t have feelings I promise. Also, it is less overwhelming and MUCH less of a time commitment then, say, the kitchen. You are more likely to actually get up and do it when you know it will be a quick job (and once you do one or two closets, you will be hooked and ready to conquer the beasts).
  2. REMEMBER THIS IS A PROCESS. You won’t empty your entire house in one day and why should you. Take the time to really consider what you NEED and what you LOVE. Maybe that means going through said closet three or four times over the course of a year to get it how you want it (believe me, after almost a year of purging, we still feel as though it is a work in progress!).
  3. FORGIVE YOURSELF (and your significant other). Yes, maybe you spent way too much money on those embroidered hand towels that you are still waiting on the arrival of the Queen to use. Sure, your husband’s spiderman sheets were stuffed at the bottom of the closet, not used since 1993, yet still taking up space. It’s ok, I promise. We all have stuff we wish we wouldn’t have wasted our money on, or stuff of others that have been cluttering our minds and closests for years. But it’s all good, you are moving forward, making steps in the right direction, so forgive and happily move on.
  4. Tell others what you are doing. You don’t have to do it in the form of a blog (although I have found it an effective and efficient way to get it out there), but at least have a conversation about your choice to go minimal. Share your love of the process, not necessarily to convert others but to inspire and motivate yourself. Plus it has been SUPER rewarding when people tell me they cleaned out a closet, or are attempting to clear out some clutter above their fireplace – mainly because they heard your story and it inspired them – cool right?! Not everyone will get it, but that’s ok, they don’t have to! Share it anyway. Also, you NEED support from you family and friends so that they don’t fill your house with more stuff (think of Christmas) just after you have sent a truckload away.
  5. Be kind to the earth as you go. Try to avoid throwing things away. Sell them, donate them, find a family in need and give them some things. Recycle what you can. We’d hate for the landfills to be full of items coming from families literally chucking everything they own in order to go minimal – thanks in advance 🙂

Good luck and please share your experience!

Live well, friends

6 Steps to a Clutter-Free Closet

clothespin-close-up-1141409

Yes, it’s possible. Think of how much faster you can get dressed in the morning when you can actually SEE what you have to wear.

  1. Remove everything. Yes, you heard me… remove EVERYTHING. Once you see the amount of space you have to work with and how pretty it looks when it is clean you will be motivated to put back only what you deeply cherish.
  1. Set a goal. Decide ahead of time how many t-shirts, dress tops, jeans, etc. you REALLY require on a weekly basis. No, you don’t need to wear a different outfit every day of the year. Believe it or not, most people care more about what THEY are wearing than what you have on. Do you have a five-day work week that requires dress clothes? Then limit yourself to choosing only five tops…. you get the idea). This forces you to pick a few items in each category that make you feel like a ROCKSTAR and leave the rest behind.
  1. Create piles for your clothes/shoes. Categories like “Definitely Keep” “Maybe Keep” and “Donate” are useful. Sort through your “definitely” and “maybe” piles a few times to catch any stragglers meant for the donation bin.
  1. Put your “maybe” items in a box and store them in a separate room for 30 days. If you didn’t yearn for any of these items, you don’t need them. Donate them.
  1. Be honest with yourself. How long have you been waiting for an occasion to wear that black sequin party dress? Do you really need two basic-black pumps or can you slim down to one? Will you realistically fit back into your pre-baby skinny jeans? Probably not (and that’s ok, we earned those wider hips friends!!)
  1. In 60 days, repeat this process and see how much less you really need to be happy and live well ❤

A (striving) Minimalist’s Guide to Bringing Home Baby

Becoming minimalist and raising a daughter (our first, only just a few months old) is a tricky combination. Babies seem to come packaged with a truck-load of extra goodies that soon consume every room of your house. Don’t get me wrong, I smile every time I look at her brightly-colored jungle gym that has taken over our living room floor. It reminds me of her, and the joy she experiences when bouncing in it. But still, I remember shopping for baby items when I was pregnant, cramming every last inch of our generously sized SUV with some item those baby books and sales people INSISTED we needed, or our child would probably die or become an emotionally stunted adult – you know… the bear that sings soothing songs and shines an array of dancing lights on the ceiling that can put your baby to sleep better than you can? Or that adorable looking zoo animal that, without it, you will not be able to soothe your babies aching gums and they will have been forever excluded from the baby “in” group. We are all suckers to it as parents. If you can invent a baby item that parent’s think they can’t live without, you can charge anything for it and make yourself an almost instant millionaire (I am not excluded from this, I bought the bear AND that other zoo animal).

However, getting back to basics…. People have raised these little humans for a VERY long time. Only within the last fifty years or so have we began to really pile on those must have baby items that are mostly more of a luxury than a need. The following list is our own personal experience of what we ended up absolutely needing, and what we could have gone without.

The must haves:

1. A crib. Maybe a little obvious, but there it is.

2. A swing – HOWEVER, swings vary greatly in price ($40-$400). Don’t spend $400. It is a life saver when you need to put your 5 week old down so you can pee, but they will not enjoy the more expensive one over the cheap one. Also, my daughter LOVED her swing… for about a month and then screamed like hell ever time we tried to put her in it. My advise: buy a cheap one or rent one from a local used baby store (some do this!).

3. Enough sleepers and receiving blankets to get through a few days without doing laundry. And by a few days I mean about a dozen changes (account for poopy explosions and spit up on a very regular basis). Believe me, when you are tired and trying to recover from childbirth while tending to a newborn, the last thing you will want to do is laundry.

4. Baby toiletries/diapers/wipes. Again, obvious maybe but I wanted to be thorough 🙂 Only get a small pack of newborn diapers though, some babies go through this size very quickly!

5. A bassinet of some kind (we got a woven basket style). I know some minimalists say you don’t REALLY need this, you can use a clothes hamper and some blankets, but my girl moved and grooved in her sleep and probably could have knocked over a flimsy hamper even at a few weeks old.

6. A baby carrier. I found one used at a kids swap meet for a third of the price of buying new. Poke around the community, these are generally pretty expensive to buy new but again you don’t use it very long and most are in great condition. These are great for when you need to get a few things done around the house or just want to go out to the market without hauling a stroller through crowds.

7. A bag to carry baby essentials. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a diaper bag specifically, and there are lot’s of tutorials online to make one yourself.

Things you can substitute:

– I didn’t buy a diaper genie. I have a garbage can with a baking soda disc at the bottom. We might make a few extra trips to the outside garbage but it has worked just fine and no one has ever complained about a smell.

– I used the plastic bath tub for only a few weeks before my daughter had already outgrown it. The sink and a $7 bath net work fine until you transition to the tub.

– I have the bottle warmer and sanitizer and yes, both are SUPER convenient. However, from a “less buying, more doing” perspective, both of these are expensive and boiling water can substitute both of these things. If you have the money or are so inclined, great, but if not, DON’T STRESS.

– We have a change table, and admittedly we will use it until the diapers are over, but if you are looking to go super-strict minimalist or can’t afford this (these are darn expensive new!), again don’t stress. Babies don’t care where they are changed as long as it is safe! Again, try and find used at a local swap.

See, short list right? In the end, remember that what is most important to that beautiful newborn baby is meeting their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and LOVE. In my experience, there is no singing stuffed animal that can help a child to sleep better than your arms can. They don’t smile first at a toy, but at YOU. You are what matters to them…. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from these beautiful little creatures about what is TRULY important in this life.

What do you think? Anything you’d add or take away! Love to hear some feedback.

Until next time friends,

Live well.