Leave the stress and mess for the outside of your home. Here are some easy tips for simple living.
There are things you love and then there are things that work their way into your home that need constant maintenance.
The process of maintaining simple living and a tidy home doesn't just happen one day a year. It happens every day with intentional actions. Sure there will be times when you haven't gotten to sort that pile of school artwork, the pile of mail, or closet of children's clothes that you know have been too small for a while now. But the idea is moderation.
There's nothing more stressful than a household of exuberant children (we have 4 of them), running through the house on Christmas break, add the pile of new toys you need to find space for and the need to make 3 meals in a day to make a lady go crazy!
I have a major despise for clutter and my husband thinks I'm a bit dramatic, but it seriously stresses me out. I made him sit with me through several Marie Kondo Netflix episodes and I think he's finally coming around to the idea that too much stuff= stress. The basis of Marie Kondo's methods is to only keep in your home what inspires joy. I'm convinced that if I don't retain complete control of the piles, we will soon be on the next episode of hoarders.
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There are a few rules we have for bringing things into our home to maintain simply living.
You should be able to envision the item in multiple spaces in your home and in multiple different ways. Items like my main baskets and a couple of old pitchers. These items look beautiful on their own if they happen to be the thrift store-dump basket but also at the farmers market to display my sheep hides, carry my produce in. Instead of using a Christmas tree skirt, this basket is what we set our Christmas Tree in I also use that basket to carry my CornBags in. The kids will also use them to carry their laundry to their rooms as they are smaller and more manageable than my average-sized laundry baskets. I love to fill my unique water pitchers with water to compliment all of my beautiful floral bouquets at the farmers market, on our kitchen table, or just on the picnic table outside.
2. Purchase on Purpose
Resist the urge to impulse buy. Sometimes you see an item that looks cute in the store, but were you looking for it, to begin with? This can be hard if you happen to be in Target the day they are restocking the dollar sections, believe me. But ask yourself will this add value, does it have a home in your house or will it cause stress later on? I'm notorious for saying to my family, if it doesn't have a home (a storage space) it doesn't get to live here.
3. Items with a Story
There are a few family items that we have in our home because they have stories and stories are the best! I love giving some of the items that we were gifted from family, a face lift to help them fit in a little better with our decor. When I was a kid, my grandma had this little wooden kitty on the way up to her cold attic. I repainted it and it now fits in like flynn.
4. Style + function!
It’s even better when an item can actually be functional and looks cute! For example, our Vintage Inspired Forged scissors and ball of twine hang near our kitchen and get used all the time! My RockBlocks are also something that has a dual function. I love the texture they have when all together on our counter and it's funny how many times we will have company and they end up building a tower with the RockBlocks.
If an item doesn’t fall into any of these categories then you must undeniably LOVE it! Some objects just bring us happiness and it’s perfectly fine to have some items like that too!
Once Christmas is over and the decorations are put away it always seems like a natural time to declutter and deep clean. Start fresh! I tend to refrain from making the kids follow suit, but instead, I start cleaning and organizing our main spaces, my bedroom, and exalt with great joy how good my clutter-free spaces feel! They naturally want to feel the same and start in on their own rooms.
Your time is money and when you spend your days picking an item up, that item has now cost you money and honestly energy, too. We always have a goodwill basket in our laundry room and anything that I have to touch/ pick up more than 3-4 times, either go there or in the trash. Eliminating unnecessary things from your home allows you the kind of stress-free mind space that you deserve!
"Organization isn't about perfection. It's about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money and improving your overall quality of life" - Christina Scalise
Organize and Make Sourdough at the Same time!
At the end of a big organizing day, I feel even more accomplished, if I have made time to plan for the next meal. It seems like the ducks really do feel like they are in a row when a nice hot loaf of sourdough is ready for us to enjoy with super!
Here are my Top 10 Things that Can Go This Season for a Simple Living Space!
1. Holiday Decor that No Longer Suits You
Every time I go to decorate for a season or a holiday I do a quick evaluation of what I've got and what I don't feel fits anymore. Those items go straight to the thrift store basket. It seems every year I end up putting up less and less decor. A few years ago I purchased nice clear bins for all of my holiday decorations and vowed that I would use 1 bin per season (2 for Christmas time). Be sure to measure your storage space before you purchase. The first ones I bought ended up being too tall for my storage shelves.
This might seem obvious, but our kids outgrow clothes at lightning speed and there's no need to spend time washing, folding, and putting away clothing that no longer fits or is loved. The minute someone outgrows something, it either goes to the next child in-line or out the door to our nieces and nephews. These extra clothes make great spares for Grandma and Grandpa's house too. I just keep a basket in the kids' rooms for clothing that they outgrow. And if you live in the northern regions as we do, don't forget to go through that winter gear. Coats, hats, and gloves can easily find a new home at your local women's shelter.
Another thing I like to do, especially with the little ones is to keep one pile in their closet of clothes that they will soon grow into. Just in case of an overnight growth spurt and suddenly NOTHING fits right in the morning. You laugh, but it happens!
A few years ago, I did an overhaul on our closet, removing anything I hadn't worn last year or that didn't make me feel amazing when I put it on and also upgrading our closet to wooden hangers. I loved created a capsule wardrobe for myself keeping key pieces to mix and match with. Yep, it was an upgrade from our mismatched plastic hangers but it really made the clothes that did get to stay in the closet, so much more deserving of space there. We generally do a once-per-year evaluation of our own clothing.
With living on a farm, we have such a myriad of clothing. It seems that over the years, we have accumulated more farm working clothes than we do good clothes. But regardless we need to go through and decide what fits the best and what deserves a space in our little closet.
3. Random Cups and Mugs
You know that water bottle that your kids caught at the parade 2 years ago and the coffee mug from the corn seed company. Move them, babies, on! Make space. You know you don't have to fill up your cabinets to be happy. Empty space allows for random things you don't want hanging out on your counter, like your toaster, blender, coffee maker, etc.
4. Art/ Decor
These things seem to accumulate and need to be gone through from time to time. Maybe you loved that saying on that barnboard one time in your life, but maybe a blank wall for a while might give you new inspiration. While you're at it, stop in your storage area and grab anything art/ decor related that no longer brings you joy and inspiration.
5. Linens and Blankets
How many blankets do you need and when was the last time you even touched that bin of old blankets in your storage room? We donated a bunch of our old blankets and sheets to an animal shelter a couple of years ago. They love making beds for animals in need and we love knowing that someone is benefiting from our decluttering decisions. We do keep a few old sheets around for garage spray painting projects and the kids' outdoor fort making!
6. Toys and Games
I just recently got rid of a cupboard full of puzzles, books, and games. I told my husband I probably spent 20 hours, or more, of my life the past six years returning pieces of puzzles and games to their boxes only to find out that the pieces weren't all there, so really no one was playing with them. If you think about that in money terms, and I pay myself only $10 an hour, those stupid things cost me $200 to own, plus the actual cost of them. Toys and items that contain lots of pieces are worth getting rid of. Trying to keep all the pieces together and then making sure it is all picked up can be stressful for not only the adults in the household but just plain overwhelming for kids.
In our household, the children understand well, that if they pick up their toys, books, craft supplies, they get to keep them. On the flip side, if I have to pick them up, I get to keep them. Those special toys, books, items may be earned back, but many times, they go straight to the thrift sale basket and they don't return.
When we first started doing this, I was nervous that the kids would be upset. Turns out they were so relieved! They had been overwhelmed by too much, too. That weekend, we did a major decluttering of toys. Remaining in the house is a bookshelf of books, a toy box which has legos, some tractors, instruments, and some barbies. We also have a dresser of dress-up clothes, which between dressing up, the instruments, and our basement swings, are their favorite things. A few of the wooden toys that I have made for them, and a few puzzles, remain, too.
7. Books and Magazines
When was the last time you read those books from high school or college? Ugh, I know I had creative writing and poetry books that I thought, oh maybe someday the kids would enjoy these. Chances are, they won't be interested and they are taking up precious real estate in your bookshelf.
My husband has a lengthy farm magazine collection. These magazines are extra large and take up more space than a normal magazine. This is one area where we struggle. He loves to be able to go through them at a leisurely pace, but the problem is- when you're a farmer there is not a ton of leisurely time. So after the magazines reach 1 year old, I toss them out and tell him that there will be more relevant agriculture news coming in the mail next month.
8. Plastic Storage Containers/ Excess Dishes
Last year at this time I did a major kitchen cupboard cleaning. I took everything out, washed the cupboards out with my homemade cleaner, and only put back in what we use often. This meant moving my plastic containers into a much smaller cupboard as we used much less of it, now. I love using pyrex storage containers because they are durable glass that can be safely microwaved and even used as a serving dish. Our kids like using these, too. When we have leftovers, we'll put individual servings in these bowls. The kids can simply heat up the pyrex bowl and eat right out of it. Saving on extra dishes.
Storing containers with their lids also saves on searching through the cupboard.
9. Small Appliances
Waffle makers, breakfast sandwich makers, blenders. They all sound wonderful when you receive them as a gift or find them at an after-holiday sale. But how often are you using these appliances? Do you make homemade waffles weekly? Then it might be something to keep around, as long as it has a home. We got a magic bullet as a wedding gift and used it a handful of times. It has lots of pieces and it wasn't bringing me joy washing it and trying to store all of its parts together. I now, enjoy an empty space in my cupboard. It is completely empty. Nothing comes tumbling out when I open the door.
10. Outdated Spices and Medicines
Outdated spices aka tasteless spices need to go. You deserve fresh spices. They generally lose taste after 6 months/ 1 year. Now would be a good time to make a list of the ones you use most and pick up some fresh ones and also remove the ones you haven't used. I like to organize my spices so that the ones I use most often are in the front and the ones I use less, toward the back.
Aspirin, ibuprofen, and Benedryl all expire. Twice a year, I go through and organize medicines, vitamins, etc so to make sure things are too far expired. I bet you can find something in your medicine cabinet that is from 2016. I'm always shocked, but that's why we do it as often as we do.
"Clutter smothers, Simplicity breathes"- Terry Guillemetes
Other Tips on Simple Living:
- And as far as unwanted gifts go I absolutely love the way Marie Kondo rationalizes this situation. Think of the moment when the person gave you that gift. Think of the joy it brought them to give it to you and see the excitement on your face. That right there was the purpose of the gift. That moment. Now that the moment has passed, the gift has served its purpose and you are free to discard it. Now imagine your home free of all these items. Picture the cupboard that is stuffed full of things. Wouldn't it be nice to open it up and see only the things you love the most?
- Decluttering doesn't have to be a big job. You just need to be consistent and intentional. Keeping only what inspires you and brings you joy.
- Start looking at your belongings with new eyes. Filter everything through the question: Is this item something useful or does it bring me joy? If the answer is no, throw it in a bag right then and there. Let it be part of your everyday routine. I'll go through my day and come across something we haven't used in a year or I've been picking it up more times than I'd like to, throw it in a thrift store basket, right then and there.
- This time of year, when the weather brings my work inside. The new year is upon us, and I do get motivated to do a few big seasonal de-clutterings, but for the most part, it is just something I do as I am going about my normal routine.
- Do not think about the value of something. Even if it is worth $100, it is not worth the stress of it being in your way all the time? Do you get stressed out every time you open a closet that is stuffed full of junk you don’t use? Those items aren’t worth all that mental energy they are costing you. Always remember, too, that things aren’t normally worth what you paid for them years ago.
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