Why are you always feeling stressed out? Aren't these the days you are supposed to be enjoying your kids? Why are you always in the kitchen cleaning? Why are there toys all over the house? Why is there so much laundry to fold and put away? Why can't you play with your kids without feeling the anxiety of the never ending to do list in your head? Why doesn't your home feel peaceful? Why is there so much clutter ALL. THE. TIME...
Do any of these questions resonate with you?
Minimalistic Parenting is a fancy term which really means less is more! The less clutter that you own, the more TIME you will have. It looks different in every family but the common goal is the same. Minimalistic parenting adds more joy and less stress to your life by getting rid of unnecessary clutter and helps you focus on what really matters in your life - RELATIONSHIPS.
Clutter is extremely overwhelming and having kids constantly add to that clutter, is even worse. Children require our time, LOTS OF OUR TIME. And sometimes, they DEMAND it. (My toddler knocks on the bathroom door every single time I try and go. She has this magic sensor that goes off whenever I leave the room to try to get a minute to myself!) Moms rarely get time to themselves. Why is it then that people look at you when you're at the grocery store with your kids and smile while saying these words...
"Enjoy these years! They go by so fast!" Some days you don't want to hear that because these days aren't going by fast for you. You're just too overwhelmed and tired.
Let me tell you a secret. You SHOULD BE ENJOYING YOUR KIDS most of the time. No one's perfect and sometimes they leave very little for you to enjoy. I'm just being honest! ;-) But... if you aren't enjoying them the majority of the time, it might be that what you need is a drastic elimination of your clutter. Decluttering your home could be the answer you need to get rid of some or all of your anxiety, stress and/or nagging feelings of overwhelm.
There is a reason why the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by, Marie Kondo, has sold millions of copies. People are inundated with their stuff and they just don't know where to even begin to fix it. I highly recommend this book to help guide you through the decluttering process BUT...please keep in mind that it's goals are not very realistic for those who have many little ones under their feet all day every day. The principles in it are wonderful but mamas need a little extra grace, time and coffee to accomplish their decluttering goals. ;-)
The decluttering process will look different in every family depending on the size of your home, the number of children you have, the age of your kids and the amount of clutter you've accumulated over the years.
No matter where you are in your parenting journey lets take action!
"Clutter is ruining your motherhood."
That's a pretty bold statement. It may or may not be true for you but chances are if you are reading this, it's more true than you think...
I didn't even realize the burden my cluttered home had on my life until I took action and stuck with it until it's completion.
The following are 10 things you can do right away to begin the decluttering process and bring back your motherhood joy!
1. Remember this question and own it..."Does this bring me joy?"
It sounds pretty simple but when you start going through all the things in your home and say this phrase over and over you'd be surprised at how much actually goes into the donate bag. So much of our stuff does not bring us joy. It's just there...and oftentimes it's collecting dust because we've forgotten it even exists!
By going through your stuff and asking the question, "Does this bring me joy?" you'll begin to view things differently. I was shocked at how much I was able to confidently get rid of by answering this simple question. I can guarantee that a lot of things in your house don't bring you joy. Just don't get too drastic on me and start getting rid of the family dog because his bark stresses you out! Your family won't like that very much! ;-)
Speaking of the donate bag...
2. Donate your items rather than sell them in most cases.
Moms, especially stay-at-home moms, are some of the most resourceful people in the world! I might be a little biased in saying this! ;-) They'll find ways to earn some cash here and there on things that they want to get rid of very easily. Don't get me wrong, earning extra cash for the family is wonderful! But...something to consider is that it takes a lot of time out of your day to sell your items. Whether it's Craigs list, E-bay, a pawn shop, consignment store or garage sale...selling your stuff is a huge time sucker. Isn't time what we are desperately looking for more of?
In my opinion, save the item selling for big ticket items, like that bike your littlest has outgrown, that name brand dress, with the tags on, that you never wore or the camera you're ready to upgrade. If you are not desperately in need of money, your sanity depends on you striving to meet your decluttering goal without worrying about the money you'll make in the process.
3. When going through your things ask yourself, "What do I want to keep?" Rather than, "Should I keep this or not?"
It might sound silly but asking your self, "What do I want to keep?" trains your brain to view your stuff in a different way. You'll begin to focus right away on the items that you know you can't part with. This will make the decluttering process faster. For example, I'm a girl mom, and we've accumulated a TON of hair accessories. Some of them have lost their elasticity. Others, the girls just don't wear. Why are they still in the house?! We've since gotten rid of the ones that were worn out or not used anymore. There is no reason keeping items that sit in a draw unused.
Books are another area of concern. We love reading, which isn't a bad thing, but our children's book collection got completely out of control! Spreading the books out on the floor and saying, "Which books do I want to keep?" helped me focus on keeping the books that had the most meaning. My girls love checking books out of the library so there's always a way to get your book fetish on without accumulating additional clutter.
4. If you are embarrassed to be seen in public with a particular outfit, get rid of it!
There are only so many lounge around outfits that you need. If you or your kids have an abundance of "lounge/play clothes" with stains on them for the purpose of wearing them around the house but you won't actually leave the house to go anywhere with them on, you might want to considering narrowing that pile of lounge clothes down. If you're embarrassed to be seen in public with them, why are you wearing them day in and day out at home?
Choosing an outfit that you like and makes you feel good, can have a positive impact on your mental state and make you more productive during the day. Can you imagine what it would feel like to open your closet and actually like and wear every single item that's in it?! It's a pretty revolutionary concept. At least it was for me...
After going through your clothes, you might find that you're spending less time getting ready for each day.
No more trying things on and then taking it off because there's too big of a breast milk stain and you can't possibly wear it.
No more trying something on and then taking it off again because you just don't like it and it doesn't fit the way it did before you had the baby.
Take the time to carefully go through your clothes with a different mindset and the reward will be a closet with everything that brings you joy and less time deciding what to wear.
Now i can't guarantee that you'll have time to shower but hey...you never know?! ;-)
5. Set Realistic Goals
One of the worst things that can happen is that you set goals you can't possibly keep. Remember, the majority of people reading this post have kids. Let's be realistic here. It's going to take more than just one weekend to declutter your home.
Depending on your home's size, the age ranges of your children and the extent extent of your clutter, it might even take 2 months or more to get it done. This is where many people quit before they start. I beg you not to feel defeated! Give yourself much needed grace! With constant interruptions, sticky hands, kids feeling hungry all day long, dogs that need to be walked and destructive toddlers, your tasks will take longer to complete and that's OKAY in this season of your life. Just don't give up!
6. Make a list of every single decluttering project you want to complete and put them in priority order.
Walk through your home and write a list of what overwhelms you about each room. Once you see it all on paper, decide which room you want to tackle first. I suggest the main living areas where visitors will be walking through. There's nothing more stressful than having company over when your main living area looks like a tornado. Have you found yourself shoving things in closets or perhaps even a dedicated room you've devoted to clutter when company is about to come over?! Yeah, it's a pretty overwhelming way to manage your home.
"Mom why are you cleaning? Are people coming over?"
This was what I heard from my kids every single time we had company. The funny thing is, I never even got to the ACTUAL cleaning of the house because I spent the majority of the time picking up STUFF!
Depending on your personality, you might want to start with the smaller, more manageable tasks. Small wins right away, can have a positive impact on your desire to continue decluttering. Maybe you'll choose to begin with your old makeup bag full of expired makeup, the medicine cabinet, or the 3 junk drawers you have. (Yes. I had 3 junk drawers. Don't judge.)
Whatever area you choose to declutter first, make sure to keep the goal to actually complete the entire list in mind. The end result of a clutter free home will have such a drastic, positive impact on your family. It's just too important to abandon ship.
7. Declutter by Category
The book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up By, Marie Kondo recommends that you declutter by category rather than by room.
I tend to agree that this is definitely something to consider, within reason. She also recommends taking every single piece of clothing in the house and putting them in one huge pile! Phew! Talk about anxiety overload!
When you have littles, your expectations of the tasks that can actually be finished each day, must be lowered! Adding a MASSIVE PILE of clothes to a room is not exactly a good idea when you know you will have to stop going through it in order to make dinner before it's completed...Let's be real here. You might not get back to that pile for another day or two because...YOU'RE A MOM!
That being said, it will be much more efficient and rewarding to go through all of your things by category, rather than thinking you are done with your clothing and you stumble upon another clothes bin after you've already moved on to books...
So go ahead and make those piles but for your sanity, keep them small and manageable. Small wins will give you the desire and motivation to keep going! Remember, a massive decluttering overhaul will not happen overnight and that is OKAY!
Note: When going through your clothes, don't forget about the coat closet downstairs or the bins of seasonal clothing in the garage, closet, basement or attic. If you pass your clothing down from one child to another, you should take another look through each clothes bin. You may have stored some clothing that had stains on it that might have brought you joy in the past but now you can't possibly picture another child wearing it. You might be able to eliminate a storage bin or two this way.
8. Involve your kids in the decluttering process.
Involving your children in the decluttering process is a great way for them to appreciate and maybe even truly realize the magnitude of the things that they own.
What your kids can help with will really depend on their ages. My older girls (ages 11 and 6) helped me a lot in the decluttering process. Together we went through:
Stuffed animals - Their favorites get stored inside their Boon Stuffed Animal Bags. Seriously, this bag has the sturdiest zipper ever, looks really cute and it holds a lot. It doubles as a comfortable seat and a storage bag. We have one in gray and purple.
KITCHEN MUGS - Kids love using bubble wrap and newspaper to wrap things up.
Kids can accomplish so much if they are given the opportunity. How often do we shoo them away because we can't be bothered with them making more of a mess when we're working on a task...
Decluttering gives you a chance to talk about families who are less fortunate and the reasons behind why donating some of their things is so important. They need to be taught to think outside of their own little worlds.
I had my children set aside some of their donated toys into a bin for our upcoming Spring Yard Sale. The kids are very excited about it! What a great way to practically teach them math in the real world. As a homeschool mom, I try to make their learning applicable to life as much as possible.
Now, I can't guarantee that all children will love giving away their toys. Use your judgement as to how much you'd want to involve them in the process.
My 6 year old, for example, plays hard with most of her toys. She has this massive collection of what we call "tiny toys." Each one has a mom, sister, brother, etc. I've gotten rid of a tiny toy in my decluttering rampage that I thought she wouldn't miss... It ended up being the president of her little tiny toy world. Epic Mom Fail. I've since learned to put some toys in a donate bag and hide it in the laundry room for a month. If they don't ask for it in that time period, I'll give it away.
9. STOP comparing your family to others!
Comparison really is the thief of joy! Moms especially have "the grass is greener on the other side mentality." Have you ever gone to someone's home only to be greeted by a beautiful, tidy, oasis of peace? Their kids are well behaved and there's no visible clutter whatsoever? Wow this mom really seems to have it all together you think...
Then what happens? You go back home to your mess and start comparing - fully knowing that it will take a long time, if ever, to get your home to be in that state. Maybe you're right?! It will take a long time! But...letting your feelings of defeat cause inaction on your part is one of the worst things you can do. This is why setting realistic goals and actually sticking to them is so important. Comparison will only slow you down. Try your best to stop doing it. Every family is different.
Speaking of comparison...
10. Set up significant blocks of time during the decluttering process that you are screen free.
Media takes up so much of our time! Time we could be spending focusing on more important things. When we start using our cell phones to browse social media and compare our lives to the seemingly perfect Instagram lives of moms who appear to have it all together, it takes the joy right out of us. This is when we start comparing and we're not basing any of our thinking in reality. Put those phones in the junk draw and get to work! Declutter the day away! It's a much more rewarding way to spend your time.
Some additional things to keep in mind:
- Your food intake has a drastic impact on your emotional state. Eating processed, sugary laced, foods all day every day is extremely detrimental to your health. Making small, healthy changes to your diet might be just what you need to have the proper mindset and energy you need to accomplish decluttering. Completing a Whole30, is a great way to reset your body. It's tough and pretty drastic but it's only for 30 days. If you want some more natural energy, in my opinion, this is a great way to get it!
- Be very careful not to let your minimalistic parenting decluttering mission offend those who like to show love to your family in material ways. *Cough* Grandparents. It's okay to accept gifts. It's okay to let your kids open presents on their birthdays and holidays. Sometimes this is a battle not worth fighting. This is one of the reasons why decluttering really ends up becoming a lifestyle in order to maintain it. You sometimes can't prohibit "stuff" from entering your home! One way you can help combat the "gift givers" in your life is to suggest that they gift your children experiences over toys. A membership to the local zoo, piano classes, a one week summer camp, movie theatre tickets...Experiences will not add clutter to your home and they are lots of fun! This is a win for everyone!
Here are some additional Resources on
simplifying your life:
Less clutter makes your life less overwhelming.
Less clutter means your at home "to do" list is smaller.
Less clutter means your kids might play for longer periods of time.
And ultimately, less clutter means more time! More time to spend enjoying motherhood! This makes it all worth it!
Do you considered yourself a minimalistic parent? Have you embarked on a decluttering journey hoping to simplify your home? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!
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