So. Much. Paper………

The flow of paperwork into our home is nonstop… and I have to say it is the HARDEST of the categories to manage and purge. No matter how minimalist I am or strive to be, my kids will continue to bring home more stuff. This isn’t going to stop anytime soon, so I decided I had to identify a solution before it got the best of me. (Actually it has already gotten the best of me, but I am slowly fighting my way back ; )

I’ve created three landing stations, if you will, to assist with the barrage of papers that seem to spill out of my three kids’ backpacks. In the kitchen we have shelves tucked behind the counter¬†where I have designated a spot for each child. They come home, hand me what I need to see and stack the rest. This is also the place where their random sketches, unfinished homework, etc. land if I find them in the middle of the kitchen table before dinner. No need for discussion. They know where to look.

A couple times a year, I comb through the piles and decide on what to keep and toss. This is not a favorite activity, however, it only has to happen a few times a year, so I suck it up and do it. The stuff I’m keeping gets placed into a manila envelope labeled with the current school year. Then I tuck that envelope under the pile that is patiently awaiting more papers ūüėČ It stays here until the end of the year.

Finally, each child has a bin. I chose a bin because I also needed a place to keep some of their baby keepsakes, large projects, and other misc. kid specific items. At the end of the year, I put their manila envelopes into the bin. And, in case you’re wondering, they only get ONE per year. I have to be brutal (and realistic) when it comes to purging, so try to be really honest about what I want and/or need to keep. Creating systems in your home to manage life isn’t necessarily profound work, however, it can be so worthwhile to invest the time for the sake of a little peace and order to make room for the important stuff, like cuddle parties, dance offs, uno, meditation, wrestling……….¬†It’s so easy to get caught up in the stuff that’s not working so well, but today I¬†celebrate what is and encourage you to do the same. How are you streamlining your life to make room for the good stuff!??

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The Outbox…

At the beginning of each year, I sign up to do¬†the “January Cure” on Apartment
Therapy. Daily assignments provide guidelines for¬†rebooting your home and setting the stage for an organized, streamlined year. My FAVORITE tip that I have gleaned after doing this for several years is the ‘outbox’ introduced by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan. It is a spot/ bag/ room that you use to place items you’re unsure about donating.¬†The outbox is brilliant because it gives you the freedom to set aside those¬†items you might otherwise hold onto out of sheer uncertainty.

I used this concept with my daughter this past weekend and we filled up TWO (!) large bags. She’s been¬†hesitant to give away certain¬†toys even though she hasn’t played with them for months.¬†The fact that she could place it in a holding place and explore how life feels without it allowed her to release and set aside a lot more than she would have otherwise. Time will tell whether or not she will be willing to donate everything when we revisit the outbox, but this small step alone is huge because it has allowed her to see what she really DOES care about and those items that she might be holding onto ‘just because’. Teaching her how to value what she has and what she invites into her life is a lesson that I want to start early to (hopefully) encourage intentional living as¬†she navigates her life ; )

Frugalist meets minimalist

The Whole Foods near me is closing so everything is SIGNIFICANTLY marked down. This Skin Food is my go to in the winter because it gets so dry… it’s such an indulgence however, because of the price, so I only use it sparingly at night. Considering it’s never on sale and something I would buy anyway, I couldn’t pass this up. As much as I don’t want to accumulate and store more stuff, the reality is I also like to take advantage of deals on items I KNOW I will be buying in the future. Until I’m making my own (a girl can dream), I’d much prefer to buy toothpaste, shampoo, etc. when it’s on sale, vs. wait until I need it and pay full price… especially when I’m buying for a family of five! I know I’m not alone. This is hard when the focus is on creating more space and having less stuff.  I guess this is where we need to find that happy medium and apply these concepts to our individual lives and experiences. One size fits all might work for knit caps, but our lives need a little more individualized attention. How do you reconcile this!? I’d love to hear from you!

The quick fix

You have 20-30 minutes before guests arrive/playdate begins/coffee date/ etc. What are the three things you can do to make a difference and feel ready-ish!? Assuming you’ve already got your pants on, you got this.

  1. Check the surfaces. Papers/mail= collect, then stash. Kids’ toys= garbage. (No, just kidding ; ) First enlist their help and ask that they help you collect the stragglers they’ve left behind, EVERYWHERE. If this is to no avail, grab a basket, a cloth bag or even one of those trusty doubled up Trader Joe’s bags, walk around and drop them in. Stash. Hang up the coats, throw the shoes on the tray, and just create neat piles with the rest. Not kidding.
  2. Straighten those pillows, throws, chairs around the table and pull the covers up on all the beds (although ideally everyone made their beds first thing in the morning ; )
  3. Grab the vinegar/ Clorox wipes/ favorite go to and give that sink and those toilets a quick wipe. Also check for any unflushed situations… ahem, I’m looking at you four year old. Make yourself a coffee, a glass of sparkling water or wine… room spray it up (with essential oils of course). Done!

Laundry….. Day?

When my kids were still babies and I was working outside of the home, I was fortunate enough to have a nanny. She was amazing and truly helped keep my home in order. 

The one thing that she did (aside from care for my babies) that had the greatest impact was wash my kids’ clothes. Yes- I am still grateful. Once I decided to mainly stay at home to be with the kids, however, the laundry was all mine. I was in for such a rude awakening. I went from doing laundry for two to doing laundry for FIVE. I honestly couldn’t believe that we weren’t always talking about this seemingly futile task of laundry! Seriously. Wasn’t anyone else reeling over this!? I’m being dramatic, I know, but there have been moments… I mean, I was now responsible for completing this task for the rest of my – parenting small children – days. Every day, week, month, or whenever I wanted to “finish” the laundry. 

Fast forward to six months ago when we moved into our mid-century home. Not just any old mcm, but one with a LAUNDRY CHUTE. Yep! Can you believe!? I couldn’t. Hampers = donated.

So, I decided my time is now; I WILL tackle this issue. My kids are now at the age where they can do more for themselves, so I decided to enlist their help once and for all. They’ve got the laundry chute part down. Laundry gets washed twice a week. That much I can do… with no more complaints. It’s all RIGHT THERE. The putting back is the part that poses the challenge. All of our clothes are combined now because of the laundry chute so there’s no doing separate loads. SO… are you ready for this not so monumental idea? We each have a basket. I sort the clothes right out of the dryer. This could not be a simpler fix, and yet, it is a game changer for me. Unreal. At this point, my job is done for my two older kids. They each have their basket of clothes and are responsible for putting them away. If they don’t put them away, they know where they can find their clean clothes. My preschooler still needs my help, but I am grooming him for future success. Here’s to having a life beyond laundry day!

Clutter attracts clutter.

You’ve probably heard this one before. That pile of papers by the computer or those clothes on your dresser sure make it easy to just toss one more thing on top. Okay, I shouldn’t say easy, because it’s actually a little painful, but it happens just the same. PUTTING BACK is an important part of keeping a decluttered, minimalist and peaceful space, however it just isn’t always possible! Having a system in place and the right organizers can surely help, but again, this takes time. Reminding yourself that the mess didn’t happen overnight – so the decluttering process isn’t going to either – is important to keep your head up and not get discouraged. Is there ONE perpetually cluttered spot in your home that’s attracting clutter that you can address today? this week? this month? What typically lands here? Do you need to create an official landing spot for these items? Where can this exist so it will realistically be used? None of this needs to be fancy, just doable. My trouble spot is a counter that shouldn’t have anything on it but our alarm tower and our ‘bar’ when we entertain. Instead it holds mail, kids’ papers, random tools, rings, matchbox cars, etc. I mean… ugh. Join me in mapping out a new spot (and an accompanying routine) for each one of these items so that this space no longer has to suffer. The poor counter deserves better…..

Motivation is doing.

 

My mom always had this three word phrase taped above her kitchen sink. Every time I washed my hands I would read it. It never really resonated until years later… I cannot tell you how true this is. So many of us WAIT for the motivation to get started on whatever it is we need to get done. Have you ever noticed that once you begin (with or without the motivation) you start to FEEL motivated!? This is a very simple concept yet a difficult one to apply. A tried and true method that I’ve used with my family for several years is the 5-minute clean up. We identify the space that needs tidying, set the timer and MOVE. The limited time provides the motivation because we all know there’s an end! Oftentimes, however, once we see how quickly we were able to declutter and PUT BACK, we finish up the loose ends after the timer goes off. That said- the rule is- everyone can stop after five if they want to. The next time you’re feeling unmotivated, remind yourself that DOING might just be the necessary step to get you going. Try it. And, if that’s not enough to nudge you toward action, set the timer ; )