Somewhat Successfully Raising Minimalist-ish Kids

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For several days now, we’ve had a problem. With our toy box. Specifically the lid and how it won’t shut because toys are starting to mound up.

How?

How does this happen? 

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

*twitch*

Regardless… we deemed it a Clear Out Day, and we ended up with a tote full of “givers” and a few broken things that needed to go.  I want to share our methods of tempering the chaos that naturally ensues when small children are about and how we successfully destash TOYS without everyone losing their ever lovin’ minds.

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An Enemy in Disguise. CONTAINERS. 

Who in their right mind doesn’t love a good container? A sturdy, cute basket. A tub with a lid that locks shut with a satisfying snap

Them crayons ain’t going nowhere

Laundry baskets, mason jars, makeup bags, diaper bags, hand bags, totes, plastic drawers, sandwich bags, Tupperware, toy boxes, jewelry boxes, tea boxes, shelves and more shelves.

These containers whisper to us, knowing we yearn for organization.

“Let me tidy up that bathroom cabinet for you.”

“You know what would fix that junk drawer? Seven tiny baskets!”

“Laundry will be quicker with this ergonomic tote.”

“I can slide under the bed and hide so much stuff.”

CLICK TIGHT LIES AND STACKABLE DECEPTION.

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A WEE Bit Greener

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Bad puns. Gotta love ’em!

But yes!  I’m ready to test these waters.  (there’s another pun there somewhere)  I’ve always used cloth wipes on my babies, but I’ve been hesitant to try them for myself.  I don’t think I’m ready for adult #2’s in my washer just yet, but I can handle #1’s!

I prefer to use nursery flannel to make my kids’ cloth wipes.  It’s soft and even softer when two layers are turned and topstitched together.  It does the job so well and they’re super cute.  It’s also a really easy sewing project for beginners.

Alas….I care not even a little bit about cuteness when it comes to grown folk wipes.  But that’s what makes this DIY so awesome.  It doesn’t matter what they look like.

I’m taking this little leap, and I want to encourage you to try it as well!  This is so easy.  Just minutes from start to finish.

The secret to this DIY is KNIT FABRICS.

If you’ve done much sewing, I bet you already see where I’m going.  Knit fabrics don’t fray.  No sewing required, no serging, no special scissors needed.  Just cut it up and go.

BOOM.

Knits are available at any store that sells fabrics, and you can feel free to skimp a little and buy the cheaper stuff or check the discount/remnant bin.  This DIY is also perfect for those of us clearing out closets.  Tshirts, PJs, tank tops, etc…A lot of these are made with knits.  Minimize, recycle, DIY, and save the planet all in one go!

I chose to cut my fabric into rectangles so I could easily fold them into thirds for use.  I didn’t measure or get too fancy.  However, keep in mind that knits will roll around the edges a good bit, so plan accordingly when deciding on a rough size.

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Perfectly Imperfect!  Full size to the left, folded in thirds to the right.

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Ample hand coverage!

That’s all it takes!  I store mine in a basket underneath my bathroom sink and pull out a tiny stack each day.  Used wipes get dropped into a mesh lingerie bag for washing.  If you don’t already have a mesh bag, I’d definitely recommend getting at least one.  Tiny wipes could get stuck in your washer!  The bag also makes it easy to refill your basket.  Just dump the clean wipes out of the bag and carry on.

We can do this!


Do you use cloth wipes?  What do you use?  What are your experiences?

Books & Minimalism & My Opinion

This seems to be a common idea among most, minimalist or not. And I get it! I’ve always been a big reader, and as a homeschooling family, I most definitely value literature and books as a resource.

We actually have quite a few books, and I’m okay with that. My children are young and ready to absorb so much information. It would be a travesty to NOT offer them a decent book selection.

But here’s where I feel I may differ from others.

We are at max capacity for books.

There is no more room for books.

I will not be making anymore room for books.

Are you freaking out yet?

Here’s how it works in our home.

For every new book that comes in, an older or less favorable book goes out. It gets gifted or donated, never sold. I don’t even take books to Goodwill or yard sales to be sold. Books are one of those things that should be given freely if you’re able. And often, in my opinion.

As impressive as it is for one to say they have a bazillionty books in their possession, it’s not for me.

I want to own a bazillionty books too. Just not all at once. I want the books to come into my home and then pass through. I want them to be here, be loved, be read…and then be spread out into the world.

The number of books you own doesn’t say anything about your intelligence or your emotional depth. If a great quantity of them makes you happy, then I’m happy for you too! But far too often a family would be looked down upon for having 20 books while a family with 2,000 would be awed. A mom stressed out by books strewn across the floor every. single. day. is urged to keep them no matter what lest her children become idiots without that copy of Sesame Street… These perceptions are flawed.

How many books do you keep out of passion for the story and love of their intellectual value?

How many do you keep just because they’re there?

This is not a slam to those of you that love a large book collection.  If you’re disagreeing with every word I’m saying, then this isn’t about you.

But if you’re out there feeling completely overwhelmed because “you don’t just get rid of books“… If you feel painfully obligated to continue shoving books into corners and underneath beds… If you’re worried you’re somehow doing your family a disservice by destashing books… Take heart.

You’re not obligated to keep jack squat.

Even books.

The number you possess is far less important than the effort you put into the continuation of the cycle on a grand scale. Push the reading loop forward by letting the oldies go. Maintain exciting interest. Make it well known in your home that the things books contain are global yet personal, ever changing, evolving, endless, uncontainable.

They’re not only objects to collect. Books are stories, histories, education, comfort, memories, fantasies… We just pay for the paper and ink used to hold them until they fill our minds.

Passing  on the books while keeping the contents is okay. Minimal books with maximum reading is an acceptable option.

Remember that your happy doesn’t have to look like someone else’s happy.

Find your minimal.

Unexpected Minimalism

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I’m super duper busy this week, so this post might be a little blurby! Our church is having a sweet little Valentine’s banquet this weekend for about 30 people, and I ended up in charge of setting up, decorating, shopping for the food, and making desserts.

Does anyone else love being busy?

Stick with me through this.  I have a point, I promise!

We usually go with paper, plastic, or foam plates for church functions since there are so many people.  But if you’ve ever once in your life used a disposable plate, you know those babies would never hold up when loaded with a hefty steak and a generous baked potato.  And who wants to eat off of plastic at a Valentine dinner?  

And I also needed salad plates, dessert plates, bread plates, cups, sturdy forks, knives that actually cut more than butter…

I was starting to feel quite nauseous pricing out “good” plastic.

And then…

I remembered real plates are a thing.

I searched our church kitchen, and I found them!  A few years ago, someone had donated some dinner plates, bowls, and saucers.  We also had a pretty decent collection of matching drinking glasses.

Y’all….I went out and bought enough real dinnerware to feed 30 people for less than what it would cost to use plastic.


I wanted to share all that with you because I think it makes an *excellent* point that minimal is whatever you need it to be.

Sure, the stack of dishes in our church kitchen got a little bit taller this week.  And, yes, I’ll be washing dishes for a long while afterwards.  But…

  • I saved money.
  • I have better quality items that can be built upon and reused. (Imagine a future potluck with NO PAPER PLATES!  Insane.)
  • The church kitchen has plenty of empty cabinet space, so storage is a non-issue.
  • I ensured that the only thing going into the trash cans this weekend will be paper napkins. (I’m working on making cloth napkins to pair with our fabric tablecloths!)
  • People can eat comfortably without having their forks snapping in half :/

Minimalism can be based on so many factors.

Environmental impact, cost, storage space, long term usefulness, quality, personal value, etc.

For this banquet, I considered all of these things, and I concluded with keeping more stuff than I started with.

As I’ve said in another post, minimal is relative.  I also believe it’s much more broad than going through your trinkets or wardrobe and labeling each item as joyful or not.  It can be based on deep pondering, not just an immediate emotional reaction.  It can be based on what you need, it can be based on what you want, it can be based on what you know you don’t want or need.

One person’s method doesn’t have to be your method!  If your method is bringing you peace and joy, don’t let anyone else take that away from you in the name of “doing it the RIGHT way.”

Chocolate covered strawberries, anyone?!

Laundry and How to Not Do It.

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Over the past few months, I’ve significantly changed my laundry habits for the better.  And I’m not just talking about destashing clothes or only having limited this or that or whatever.  I’m talking about being mindful of my laundry.  Being present with my laundry.

So.  Deep.

Joking aside, these simple things have helped me tremendously, and I want to share.  These are steps I’ve taken to not only reduce the amount of laundry I wash, but to also come to a new appreciation and awareness of what I possess.

Step One.  Assess the Situation

I mean really assess.  I started by keeping a notebook and pen in my laundry room and making note of every load of laundry I washed and dried.  The first step to solving your problem is realizing/admitting you have a problem.

Take an inventory of what you own.  This is where minimalism starts to get really dynamic.  Some people live with two pairs of socks they wash often.  Others have a dozen pairs so they wash less.  Minimalism is whatever you need it to be.  Knowing exactly what you have will make you more intentional in your use.

Ask yourself how you define “dirty clothes.”  You wore a sweater around the house.  Unless you scrubbed toilets, it’s probably not dirty.  You showered and put on PJs.  They’re not dirty.  

Step Two.  Break the Habits.

Let your family members know that things are a’changin.  Talk to your Boo and your kids about how your house defines “dirty” clothes and ask them to be aware of what they toss into the laundry basket.  Hampers are a place for dirty things, not just things you’ve worn.

Have dedicated kitchen rags/towels for the day.  I could own a hundred kitchen towels, and we could use ALL of those suckers in half a day if I didn’t have them on lockdown.  Be hygienic, but conservative.

Reuse when possible.  Not everyone is comfortable with it, but my husband and I share a bath towel each day.  I wear jeans multiple times before washing.  If a cloth napkin doesn’t get used during a meal, leave it there for the next meal.  Again, be conscious of how you define dirty.

Step Three.  Make a Plan.  Stick to the Plan.

Decide how often you want to do laundry.  I had previously been washing whenever the hampers were overflowing, however often that may have been.  I wash once a week now due to managing our usage throughout the week.  Don’t let dirty underpants be the boss of you.

Manage it daily.  You shouldn’t have to wash daily, but you do have to keep an eye on your laundries.  A tshirt left here or there will surely end up in the hamper later on because nobody knows where it came from.  A mystery towel left on the kitchen counter will, of course, end up in the dirty laundry because what if it has e. coli on it!?  Fold it now, put it away now, hang it up now.

Get it done when you want it done.  When laundry day rolls around, the best thing you can do is bang it out ASAP.  You’ll feel like Cinderella in a Maytag commercial, but it’s so worth it when you can spend the next six days (or however long) saying, “LOOK AT ME AND ALL THE CLOTHES I’M NOT WASHING!”

Between destashing the extras, carefully selecting the keepers, and thoughtful usage of what we do have, I’ve halved my laundry.

If you feel like you’re doing laundry all the time, it’s because you are.  It seems like a silly things to take seriously, but I promise you… There is a distinct confidence and peace that comes with knowing you are actively and successfully managing your home and possessions rather than being a slave to them.

Make your material possessions work for you.  Don’t let them make work for you.


I’d love to hear your favorite laundry hacks or your personal routine!

Why I Choose Minimalism

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I’ve come across a few other blogs, comments, or conversations about what people believe minimalism is about and who the people are that practice it.

There’s the notion that minimalism is classist, elitist, or for people that “can afford to live with nothing.”

So, I want to share who I am and why and how I practice minimalism.

Who I Am

I’m a stay at home mom with two children.  My husband provides our one income.  I homeschool our children using homemade curricula.  We have a three bedroom, two bathroom home that we purchased with 100% financing from USDA.

We have two vehicles.  One being an almost fifteen year old car my husband purchased used in college.  The other an SUV that was hand-me-downed to us and paid off quickly.

We do not utilize any cable providers or entertainment streaming services.  We buy refurbished or used cell phones and choose inexpensive prepaid plans.  We do not own any laptops, tablets, smartwatches, DVD players, MP3 players, etc.  We have a television connected to a computer in our family room.

We have a strict $100 weekly budget that covers all food (including any take out or dining), hygiene items, and household items.  We do not have any credit cards.  Our debt consists of school loans, our home mortgage, and a loan we took on for lawn care equipment.  (Why??  My husband, bless his beautiful heart, decided to organize a small group for the purpose of providing free lawncare services for the elderly, sick, disabled, or otherwise unabled in our community.  We have made every payment on time and do not regret this expense for a moment.)  

We keep our A/C and heat off unless necessary and only rarely utilize our dishwasher or dryer.  We do not own a microwave.

I never buy clothes.  We receive clothing as gifts during the holidays and also exchange hand-me-downs between friends.  I wear $1 flip flops in the summer and seven year old boots in the winter.

Toilet paper is our only paper product, and its value is being heavily questioned as well.  I cut my own hair, frequently bathe without soaps, sew, repurpose, upcycle, conserve, etc.

We are not elitist or classist.

Do we live this way due to financial constrictions or because it’s what we’ve chosen?

Would you assume we are wealthy and can afford to not buy things?

or

Would you assume we are poor and can’t afford to buy things?

You have no idea and that’s precisely my point.

Why I Choose Minimalism

I choose minimalism because owning gadgets or having overflowing kitchen cabinets is not what makes me happy.  My preferences are mine alone and do not speak to those of anyone else.

And minimalism is not about money.  Minimalism is not about money.  Should I say it again?

I choose to clear out drinking glasses I don’t need because I don’t need them.  Not because I can afford to buy new ones or would rather just buy a package of plastic cups every other week.  I choose to narrow down our wardrobes because three shirts are enough.  Not because I plan to buy a slew of new things three months from now.

The excess we have(had) in our home was not the result of shopping sprees or frivolous spending. The build up of things in our home was due to indecisiveness, irrational fear of “needing” unneeded things, poor health choices, and wasteful habits. 

How I Minimize

I minimize by keeping what’s truly necessary, what makes me happy, and what makes my life productive.  I minimize by ridding my home of the things that I don’t need.

That’s it.

How and why I minimize, and how other people minimize, is about adjusting what we own (however little or much it may be) to how we feel.  A rich person keeping things they don’t need is the same as a poor person keeping things they don’t need.  

You do you.

Let me do me.

No name calling or assumptions necessary.

Clear Out Your Medicine Cabinet

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This post is for minimalists, crunchy folk, families with kids, your neighbor, and everybody else.  Whether you want to live more simply with less clutter or just want to improve the health of those in your home, this is for you.

My medicine cabinet is not even a cabinet.  It’s a tiny basket with a pack of bandaids that we never use, a few essential oil personal inhalers, and a thermometer.

*gaspSHOCKhorror*

“But what if your kid gets a fever?”

“What do you take for headaches?”

“You’ll change your mind when you get a sinus infection!”

So, now that we’ve got THAT out of the way, let’s continue to the meat of this post.

I encourage you to go grab a package or two of OTC medication from your cabinet and read the labels.  What are the intended uses of these products?  I’ll use a popular brand of acetaminophen as an example.

“temporarily relieves minor aches and pains due to: the common cold, headache, backache, minor pain of arthritis, toothache, muscular aches, premenstrual and menstrual cramps, temporarily reduces fever”

Source

temporarily relieves minor aches and pains

temporarily reduces fever

I want to use this example because this is one of the medications so many people keep on hand and use for so many purposes.

My point here is that drugs like this do not fix your problem.  They do not cure anything.  They do not prevent anything.  They slightly alter the presentation of the actual problem for a short time and then bring to the table a slew of side effects, noticed or not.

And then there’s this…

giving these medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to prevent fever after vaccination may also blunt immune responses to the vaccine.

Duke University/CDC – Click for Source

And also this…

Our previous case-control study showed that use of acetaminophen at age 12–18 months is associated with increased likelihood for Autism Spectrum Disorder (OR 8.37, 95% CI 2.08–33.7). In this study, we again show that acetaminophen use is associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (p = 0.013).

Click for Source

These medications aren’t helping you.

Yes, your headache might ease off.  But why do you have a headache?  Did you consume too much sugar or caffeine in the past few days and now your body is having to readjust to normalcy?  Did you skip a few glasses of water and allow yourself to become dehydrated?  Did you watch too much television or play on your phone too long?

Are you medicating yourself for something a glass of water, a dose of sunshine, or better time management can cure?

There are natural, better ways to not only treat common health issues, but also many, many ways to circumvent these issues entirely.

  • Prevent seasonal allergy reactions by consuming local, raw honey.
  • Utilize a steamy bathroom, facial massage, and a mug of tea instead of consuming decongestant medications.
  • Use a netti pot instead of OTC nasal sprays.
  • Know that the foods and beverages you put into your body directly affect how you feel at that moment and for a time afterwards.
  • Clean water, mild soap, and applied pressure are all most minor wounds need.
  • Recognize that things like fevers or upset tummies are the body’s way of dealing with an attack that started well before you ever noticed the symptoms.
  • Wash your hands with a mild, *non-antibacterial soap.*
  • Know that your attitude, how you manage yourself mentally and emotionally, plays a role in how you feel physically.
  • Treat the origin of your issue, not just a handful of symptoms.
  • Understand that your body is made to defend and repair itself and often doesn’t need assistance.

We’ve been so conditioned to believe we *need* these medications to “heal” or “get better.”  Even the drugs themselves don’t claim to do that.  Human bodies are powerhouses of sustainability…as long as they are treated with the respect and care they deserve.

I’m not saying that “medicine is evil” or “Big Pharma is killing us all!”  I’m saying that we live in a world where many people would rather take on additional risks, spend extra money, and live in a state of dependency than make a diet change or go for a walk.

I’m saying, “Simple solutions to simple problems.”

I encourage you to make today the ending point of concealing symptoms.  Make today your starting point for genuine, “I love you, self,” self-care.

Minimizing the Little Southern Girl’s Closet

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In my last post, I shared that I had destashed two garbage bags of kid’s clothes. Today while doing laundry, I had a moment. My daughter’s closet has been PACKED since before she ever came earthside. I’ve been buying packages of hangers monthly. Even with consistent and frequent destashes, it was still jammed and I’d have to shove stuff to the side just to squeeze in a few more clean items.

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A poor quality photo.  Poor quality because I was in such a state of URGENCY here.  Look at it.  There is literally a kitchen sink in there.  (although this is actually *the best* space for our kitchen playset…  It keeps it out of sight and saves space in the bedroom.)  But this is where we stood AFTER my purge last week.  This is not minimal.  This is not peaceful.

Getting dressed and choosing clothes is always a headache. My husband simply refuses to help pick clothes because of the absolute chaos in the closet. Things that don’t fit yet, things that are super cute but kinda don’t fit yet, things that are cute and fit great but, as my girl says, have “scratchy lines inside.” (shirred fabrics) A giant mound of hand-me-downs, too-big items, or out of season things added to all that as well.

Today I decided I’m over it.

Completely and utterly EXHAUSTED by it.

You know you’re in a terrible state of excess, and dare I say ungratefulness, when clothing is a BURDEN.

Behold.

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Poor quality photo.

Superb quality destash.

This is everything except socks and undergarments.

I now have almost 100 empty child’s hangers in my laundry room.

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I’m still blown away by this.

I want to share how I went about it and to encourage you to take the plunge yourself. It took me about two hours (one nap time), and it feels WONDERFUL! I’ll go ahead and say that I kind of lucked out with a kid that despises most pants. She has maybe three pairs of pants she will wear. I’ve always been frustrated by that. No longer!

YOU CAN DO THIS!

Step One – The Absolutes

First, I pulled out everything I knew was a 110% keeper. For my daughter, that included “puppy shirt,” “Ariel dress,” and “the red shirt.” She is the ultimate minimalist. I pulled out a couple brand new, unworn things and then used the following criteria to complete this first step.

  • It must fit right now
  • It must be something we all really, really like
  • It must be seasonally appropriate

I ended up with about a dozen things in this first sorting.

Step Two – The Basics

Next, I went through and pulled out the “staples” that we liked.  Basically, things that make life easy.

  • Things suitable for everyday wear at home or quick outings
  • A few nicer things for church
  • Things that could pull double duty (shirts that layer well, cute outfits that work for any and every occasion, etc)

Step Three – The Unnecessary

The third step was to pull out the fer-shurr no’s.

  • Things that either one or both of us disliked
  • Things that didn’t fit nicely
  • Summer clothes
  • General “bleh” items.

Anything either of us didn’t care for went into the destash bucket. Bleh items went in there as well along with anything on the verge of being too small. Anything too big was judged and sorted based on “Will this summer item fit six months from now?” and “Do we even like it?” and most importantly “Does it have itchy lines inside?”

Step Four – The Assessment

At this point I still had several things hanging in the closest that I was unsure about. They fit most of my keeper criteria, but I was having commitment issues.  So I sorted my keeper items from steps one and two into these categories.

  • Short sleeve shirts/outfits.
  • Long sleeve shirts/outfits.
  • Everyday dresses.
  • Church dresses.

Looking at my definite keepers made it easier to decide on the items I was feeling unsure about.  I could see that I had plenty of this and maybe needed a few more of that.  Basing my choices on what I wanted to KEEP rather than what I wanted to get rid of made this purge much easier for me.

I finally had an empty closet..

Step Five – The Miscellany

On to the mound of random items stuffed into the corner.  (Maybe you already keep yours in a nice heirloom trunk, but going through it is still a good idea!)  I followed much of the same criteria for these things.

  • Strong appeal to us both
  • Likelihood to fit
  • Whether or not it was similar to another item

It all fits into a printer paper box. I didn’t even have to sit on the lid to shut it.

THIS is what minimalism feels like.  I know there are people out there with one pair of jeans and three shirts, and maybe I’ll get there one day, but this is amazing!  I encourage you…Don’t stop until you reach a genuine place of peace and happiness and excitement about the state of your belongings.  Don’t aim for better, aim for BEST.

I’m on a roll now.  Closets being liberated all over the house this week!