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Do you dream of simplified meals? I’m a decluttered pro but meal planning…muh, that takes a bit more muster for me. The more a task doesn’t come natural to me (meal planning) the more important is is to remember my why. My why is the goal or benefit from meal planning.

Simplifying your meals isn’t just about saving money, time, and reducing decision fatigue—although these are all great things. Simplifying our meals is about getting back to connecting. It’s about being intentional so you can give the best of you instead of what’s left of you.

I’m an Italian married to a Korean with four small Kortalian children. We’ll try most any food and variety is the spice of life in our home. From kimchee to Italian Ricotta pie, we eat it all! My family loves sharing food together and our kids enjoy many different things. Dried anchovies for breakfast? Sure, why not?

Growing up I spent a lot of time (and lived with) with my grandparents who made delicious meals using whole foods. My grandfather enjoyed cooking and made our meals from scratch. Marinara sauce, Italian Ricotta pie, and homemade raviolis using a hand-crank machine were a few of his specialties.

I enjoyed helping him in the kitchen and loved eating delicious food together. As I look back at these times we shared over a meal, they’re some of my most cherished memories had with my grandparents.

They took the time to prepare food and they made time to eat it together. No rushing off to this or that. Things weren’t usually scheduled during dinner time. That was family time. Our time to sit down together, share a meal, and connect.

My grandmother lived for five more years after my grandpa. A few times a week she would share a meal with me or her friends. She enjoyed the simple things, the meaningful things, and was always seeking to connect.

Isn’t that all what we want, time to connect with those we love? Present over perfect at the end of each day?

If you too want to get back to simpler and intentional meals all it takes is a little planning.

Here are 13 tips to simplify meals.

When trying to make any new change, it can be helpful to start with just one thing. No need to try every tip on this list all at once. Choose the one that seems the most attainable for you.

Check your expectations. Start out with a realistic approach to your meals. If you’re raising a small tribe like myself, complicated meals with hard to find ingredients may not be a good fit. Think about what kind of meals can meet your family’s needs in this season of life.

Cook in one pot. Choose meals that can be prepared in one pot. We have an instant pot that replaced our crock pot and rice cooker. It’s a pressure cooker that dramatically shortens the cooking time!

Some of our favorite go-to one pot meals are black bean soup, leek and potato soup, veggie tortilla soup, and budae jjigae. But you can make just about anything in this pot—even yogurt.

Find your favorite sauce. Rather than cooking multiple dishes to please the selective eaters, choose a sauce that can be added individually to meals. Choose a few that would compliment most meals you serve.

My husband and I love Sriracha sauce, hot sauce and gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste). We can make one meal that the kids will eat and add in a sauce to satisfy our taste buds.

Eat the same thing everyday. Eating the same thing for lunch may sound boring but it hasn’t bothered me one bit! Purchasing the same ingredients can save money and time. This allows more mental freedom when the everyday decisions of what to wear or what to eat are at their simplest.

Design themed dinners. Make it fun and get your family involved in choosing themed meals to go with the day of the week. We have taco Tuesday, fried rice Friday, and stew on Sunday. My kids enjoy cooking in the kitchen with me and this is one more fun way to get them involved while still keeping it simple.

Plan for four to five cooked meals. If you loath meal planning, (like I do!) start by planning just four to five simple meals instead of seven. Choose your most simple go-to recipes, write your ingredient list and buy only what is needed.

Batch cook. Batch cooking is preparing a larger quantity of food ahead of the time you intend to use it. Cooking entire meals or meal components (side-dish) in batches will save you time and effort during the week.

We like to batch cook roasted vegetables and use them for the next four to five days. They may be served as a stand alone side, added to quiche, or atop a bed of rice for bibimbap. The possibilities are endless.

Try a challenge. Courtney Carver at Be More With Less has a great challenge, The Capsule Kitchen Challenge! It’s 3 months. 33 ingredients. This is a challenge and experiment to see if limiting your food choices offers you health and lifestyle benefits. You can learn more and join the Facebook community right here.

Choose recipes with 10 or less ingredients. Flavorful meals don’t need 20 ingredients. Choose meals with fewer ingredients and you can keep less on hand. Dana at the Minimalist Baker is a favorite go-to for simple recipes. She creates easy meals cooked in one pot, prepared in 30 minutes with 10 ingredients or less.

Eat to thrive. I’m not a doctor or a dietician but I think we could all agree that processed food is unhealthy. Whatever is healthy and right for your body, make small steps to align your food consumption with that. Choose whole foods that help you feel well and avoid unhealthy ‘convenience food’ that can complicate your life (and health!) in other ways.

Make time to listen. I know dinners with little ones can be far from relaxing. But carve the time to listen to everyone at the table–even if it’s just for a minute. Invite them to share a favorite part of their day while they take turns listening and sharing.

If you’re eating most meals alone, take time to listen to yourself when you sit down to eat. Think about your favorite part of the day. Write it down in a thankful journal. When my husband was deployed in the military for months on end, this helped leave my heart feeling full and connected at the end of the day.

Choose an always food(s). Create a list of a few things for your kids of snacks that they can always have. Our goal is to only have the healthy food in our house that I want to say ‘yes’ to all the time. Having food options that you want to say yes to can simplify snack and meal time.

Every little step to simplify your meals makes a difference.

Changing our habits and routines can feel overwhelming and often times we end the day feeling like we’ve failed. Start small and make a little effort to plan your meals for just one week, and you’ll save time, money and avoid decision fatigue in the upcoming days. After you do it for one week, do it again for two weeks and so forth.

Habits don’t change overnight. But don’t let that discourage you. Start anyway. – Joshua Becker

I’ve found that simplifying our meals feels much like exercising or keeping a cleared counter. It feels hard in the beginning, but once you build the habit you wonder what took you so long to get started in the first place.

However you decide to simplify your meals, be consistent and intentional so that you can give the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.

If your kitchen (and home!) is cluttered it can be hard to make any new changes. If your want to get uncluttered consider Becoming Minimalist’s Uncluttered Course. Registration ends April 29th! Be sure to use my Friends + Family discount code (FF25) through my affiliate link for 25% off! Get signed up HERE.

**The links to courses are affiliate links, which means Raising Simple makes a small commission if you decide to register. All money generated by these links support the our simplicity message. Thank you for your support!

The post 13 Practical Ways to Simplify Meals appeared first on Raising Simple.

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Note: I’m delighted to have Melissa of The Faux Martha sharing How to Build a Minimalist pantry from her new book, The Minimalist Kitchen. For more kitchen inspiration join the Simplify Food + Family group where I’ll be sharing a pantry and kitchen tour this week!

You can clean out your clothes closets, add storage bins, fold or hang your clothes in a certain way, and it works. The closet stays fairly clean and organized with very little maintenance. But the pantry is another kind of closet beast. It’s a beast because there are constantly things coming in and out and often multiple people using it. Pantries are known for being full of half-eaten bags of stale chips and nearly empty boxes of pasta. When left alone, they don’t work well.

Food management in general is challenging, even more so during the busy work week. It takes forethought and planning. Do I have enough pasta and eggs to get us through the week? Keeping a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator is a game changer for everyday cooking. When stocked well, you don’t have to think about it. You can just count on it.

In order to create an efficient pantry, a new set of rules is necessary. Implementing the system will feel as clunky as trying out a recipe for the first time. But as soon as you get into the rhythm (which won’t take long), you’ll begin calling these rules habits and offering to make over your neighbor’s pantry.

Steps to Build a Minimalist Pantry

Develop a system

Think of your pantry like a small restaurant. Inventory is constantly coming in and out. You’ve got limited shelving and a bunch of employees (family members) ranging in age. Hire a boss (you), and create a user-friendly pantry system to meet your inventory needs. Then, communicate the system to the employees. A successful system is developed from understanding the personal habits of all employees and creating proactive, intuitive solutions. At first, it’s important that the boss enforce the system for it to take hold. We’ll break down the practical details in the following pages. Use this section as a guide, and make changes according to your lifestyle. The system will vary from kitchen to kitchen.

Think of everything in your pantry as an ingredient

From a box of cereal to sliced almonds—treat each item as an ingredient. This helps to give the pantry system context and saves time, money, and mental energy when shopping. Some ingredients can be restocked from shopping the bulk bins at the store, which is typically less expensive due to the lack of packaging. Otherwise, become brand loyal and/or buy the same exact ingredients every time. No two brands of canned chickpeas, for example, are exactly the same. Find your favorite, and stick with it. This loyalty takes the guesswork out of cooking, too. You’ll know exactly how the ingredient performs.

Give yourself parameters

It’s OK not to stock every ingredient from the grocery store. In fact, it’s wise to give yourself parameters for the pantry, which will also help guide the recipes you can make. So build your pantry system around what you can feasibly maintain. We stock one type of short-grain pasta, one type of 20-minute brown rice, one type of tortilla chip, etc. Consider dropping your number of spices down to about 20, especially if you rarely use the other 10. What about those pesky cereal boxes? Create a rule. For our family of three, we stock two types of cereal at a time—a box my daughter picks out and muesli. It may seem counterintuitive, but too many options can lead to decision-making paralysis while also creating storage problems. Rules give us context to create.

Buy clear containers

Store-bought food comes in boxes and bags that are designed to look good on the shelf at the store, but they don’t translate well to the home pantry. You can’t see the interior contents, they look disorderly on the pantry shelf, and once opened, they don’t keep food fresh. Buy clear containers to store your dry goods. We use OXO Pop Containers, which come in a variety of sizes for stocking larger amounts
of food like pasta, rice, chips, cereal, and oats. We also use quart-sized wide-mouth Ball jars for smaller things like nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Using clear containers makes it easy to see what’s in stock and what needs refilling. It also makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. Rebuild your spice cabinet, too, using a set of clear glass containers.

A pantry overhaul can be expensive. Do a little at a time as budget permits. When buying containers, think about functionality. Will it keep food fresh? Will it fit on the pantry shelf? Is it easy to use? Will a hand fit inside? If using Ball jars, swap out the less convenient, two-piece metal lids for one-piece plastic lids, also made by Ball. It’s a cheap upgrade.

Add scoops

Add permanent scoops for ease to the containers that require scooping (like rice, flour, or sugar).

Label the containers

It’s important to label similar-looking ingredients, like dried cranberries and dried cherries. Add cook times and ratios to the labels, too, where necessary. For example, the label on my rice container says 1:2 (1 part rice to 2 parts water) and 20 minutes (for the cook time). Help yourself out as much as possible to make weeknight cooking breezier.

Add bins

Even after overhauling your pantry, you may find puddles of random small things—like kid snacks, liquid sweeteners, sprinkles, and leavening powders. They can often make shelves look cluttered. And clutter seems to welcome clutter. To solve this problem, add small bins to collect those items. Typically, I use clear containers for visibility, but in this case, I recommend hiding the clutter as long as the bins are well categorized. We keep one for kid snacks (located on a shelf they can reach), one for leaveners and liquid sweeteners (like honey), and one for sprinkles and chocolates.

Categorize shelves

Make sure your shelves make sense. With multiple people using the pantry, an intuitive system is imperative. We have a canned goods shelf, a baking shelf, a breakfast shelf, a grains shelf, a snack shelf, a dried nuts and fruit shelf, etc. The more intuitive, the more likely the pantry will stay organized. Also, consider keeping your storage depth shallow, even if you have extra-deep shelves. Out of sight (hidden) is often out of mind. To handle overflow, designate an unused shelf, either a top or bottom shelf (or a closet shelf), for backup inventory. Shop from the overflow shelves first before adding the item to the grocery list. We buy quite a bit in bulk for the price break, like oats, sugar, and nuts. We also keep extra condiments on hand (like soy sauce and olive oil) to keep from running out mid-recipe. Shopping in bulk doesn’t sound like a minimalist practice. But in the kitchen, it’s also just as important to consider efficiency and cost.

Add it to the calendar

There’s a common misconception that if you organize and clean really well one time, you’ll
never have to do it again. As with most things in life, the pantry requires ongoing maintenance. But if you put a successful infrastructure in place, it’s really easy to maintenance clean. Four times a year or so, set a reminder on your calendar to take inventory of the pantry. What’s not working? Does a shelf need rearranging? Should you buy a couple more containers? An efficient workflow needs ongoing tweaking.

Know the rules so you can break them well

When you slim down your pantry, it gives you room (literally) to break the rules here and there. Maybe you buy a box of Peppermint Oreos at Christmastime or maybe you decide to start buying pistachios. A tidy pantry will give you space to explore a little. Notice your habits. Is this a one-time purchase? Then let it be. Is this an ongoing purchase? Then give it a permanent space in the pantry by adding a new jar or replacing an item that doesn’t get used.

Want to win this book?

Head on over to Raising Simple’s home on Instagram and to enter!

Melissa is a home cook and baker, wife, mother, minimalist, and designer at The Faux Martha. The Minimalist Kitchen is available now!

Image credit: The Faux Martha

The post How to Build a Minimalist Pantry appeared first on Raising Simple.

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On my 26th birthday I received the best birthday gift I could ever imagine: motherhood. As a new mom, I had grand ideas about how I’d give and do all the best things for my kids. But as life would have it, clutter, chaos, and busyness found it’s way in. And motherhood felt like an uphill climb.

As mothers, we’re overwhelmed trying to do it all. We want to do and be our best. But the thing is, doing your best does not mean working yourself into a mental breakdown— yet that’s how many of us are living.

What can giving and doing all the best things look like for modern families in 2018?

Do make sure my kids’ emotional, mental, academic, spiritual, and nutritional needs are met while we’re running around in chaos, clutter, and busyness. Do feed them healthy food, enroll them in the top preschool, sign them up for sports, music, and sign language, provide the best wooden organic educational toys, give them Pinterest worthy birthday parties while also going to every birthday they’re invited to. Oh, and don’t forget to take care of yourself with the time you no longer have!

Do. Do. Do. Because the best parents do and give all the best things. Right?

Do you know what always-having and always-doing brings into motherhood today?

Stress. Overwhelm. Anxiety. Exhaustion.

In a survey of a thousand families, Ellen Galinsky, the head of the Families and Work Institute, asked children, “If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?” Most parents thought their kids would say spending more time with them, but they were wrong. The kids’ number one wish was that their parents were less tired and less stressed.

It turns out that clutter has a profound affect on our mood and self-esteem. CELF’s anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found:

A link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects.The more stuff, the more stress women feel. Men, on the other hand, don’t seem as bothered by mess.

Denaye Barahona Ph.D., a Family Wellness expert at Simple Families and author of the foreword for my new book Minimalism for Families, says, “The world our children are growing up in today isn’t just cluttered, it’s chaotic. The chaos is leading to an epidemic of stress and anxiety in childhood.” Our stress and overwhelm is affecting our children. Of course we can’t create a perfect life, but we can start recognizing and removing all the clutter that we do control.

To thrive in motherhood, less is more.

Introducing: Raising Simple—solutions to set your home and life to a simpler tune. 

When we simplify our home and life, we allow more room for meaningful connection, generosity, joy, faith, and family wellness.

We are here to help.

Raising Simple exists to help families find balance in the overwhelm. Less busyness. Less stuff. More being. More Meaning.

What is Raising Simple About?

At Raising Simple we believe families live better without all the excess. Raising Simple is a call to a mindful, intentional way of living, prioritizing relationships and experiences above material things. The goal is: keep or add the stuff that increases our connections, purpose, meaning and joy in life, and let go of whatever doesn’t.

We call this minimalism.

At Raising Simple you will find practical solutions and thoughtful perspectives to embrace a less-stressed life in motherhood, family, and our community. Through email, social media, and an online community you can find tools and encouragement to help you reduce the stress and overwhelm in motherhood.

Join us in the free community

In motherhood, simple is smart. We can choose presence over perfection, compassion over criticism, and  simplicity over stuffocation. By choosing minimalism we are trading overwhelmed for just enough.

With a family, simple is smart. Families of today are stuck on the treadmill, running on busyness and chaos. And It’s costing us our relationships and rest, purpose, and fulfillment. We’re too busy to think, rest, eat regular meals with our family, and connect with our children. At RS we value relationships and experiences with our family above material things and busyness. 

In our community, simple is smart. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a military spouse and minimalist blogger, it’s the power in community. It’s never the stuff or even the circumstances that make life beautiful and meaningful, it’s the people we share our life with. 

Simple living and minimalism are by no means the answer to all our problems, but they can be a better path in which to face them. By simplifying our home and life, prioritizing self-care, and aligning our calendar with our core values we can focus on the things that really matter. With simplicity, we can thrive in motherhood.

The post Raising Simple: A New Approach to Thrive in Motherhood appeared first on Raising Simple.

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Parting with our excess possessions can be a daunting task physically and emotionally. We work through questions such as “Is it useful?” “Do I need it?” or “Is Is it beautiful?”. These questions of reason may work for us but may not be enough at the start for our children.

When I started this owning less journey I began with my own stuff for the most part. As I continued to make progress with my things I began giving more attention to my kids’ things. I remember unpacking boxes of their stuff after a move and thinking, how am I going to get rid of this stuff — because children don’t actually benefit from too many things.  I could keep it all boxed up and tell my kids it got lost in the move, tell the mailman he’s got the wrong house every time a gift is delivered, OR I could start helping them learn to apply a minimalist mindset for themselves. Teaching your kids (rather than just telling your kids) how to apply a minimalist mindset does take a big dose of intentionality and a bit more coffee–but it’s entirely possible and so very worth it!

7 Tips to Help Your Kids Let Go of Their Excess Clutter.

If your kids are young enough and aren’t concerned with you giving away their things then sure, a packing party might be your best option! But for those of you with old-enough or stuck-on-stuff kids, these tips below may help you guide them in letting go of what isn’t serving them.

1. Let them see you do it, and talk about first.

I de-owned many of my own things and applied the minimalist lifestyle to my own decisions first. I purposefully involved them in simple decisions that had nothing to do with their things such as “Do you think our family needs 5 wooden spoons…how many can we give away?” I chose to talk about items that had nothing to do with their things first. 

2. Every struggle is an opportunity.

See their struggle as an opportunity to learn rather than a battle to be waged. Sure, there are times we parents must draw the boundary line, but when everything becomes a battle no one wins. If we force kids to let go of their things against their will, we’re likely motivating them to hold onto them more tightly. When we see their struggle to let go of excess as an opportunity for compassion and empathy, we can then begin to help them.

3. Casual conversations go further.

I focused on inserting the benefits of minimalism throughout casual conversations — all the time. They might hear me say, I’m so glad that is all we had to put away, now we have a little more time at the pool! Or “After we declutter the living room we can have movie night” Or “I’m so happy I’m finally giving away this shirt I’ve hardly wear, now someone else who needs it can wear it!” My goal is to highlight that we aren’t giving up something, we are trading something — the good for the best.

4. Help them identify their why.

Just as your why is essential to your motivation for change, so is your child’s. Write down what motivates your child or ask your child what their favorite activities are. List the healthy options such as riding bikes, going to the pool or beach, etc. Experiences over stuff when possible. These are the things you can use to shift their focus away from accumulating more clutter during your casual conversations.

5. Support and acknowledge their feelings

When your kids express their feelings, even over a desire to keep a candy wrapper, acknowledge them, respect them. In frustration of the clutter it can be easy focus on the result and forget about the process — but it’s not the result that makes us stronger, it’s the process. Help them name their feelings and identify their motives, then guide them to their why.

6. Make it fun and motivating.

Make it fun by giving a direct reward for their efforts. As I talk about in my new book Minimalism for Families, we have decluttered the living room/toy bin together and then celebrated with a movie night (popcorn and hot chocolate included) in that room. Maybe your child would like to set up a tent (store-bought or make-shift) sleeping party for the weekend with flashlights and popcorn included! – but in order to do so, they’ve got to clear out a good portion of their stuff for the fun. Allow them to choose and then help them box it up and set it out of sight. This allows your child to experience a direct benefit — that less can be more fun.

7. Broaden their perspective.

Volunteer in your local community together and look for age-appropriate resources to share with your children. For years my kids have been fascinated with the photo documentary Where Children Sleep — stories of diverse children around the world, told through portraits and pictures of their bedrooms. This broadens their perspective and helps them see others have needs and most of the people in the world live with much less. 

Documentaries are another great way to broaden their perspective. Here are a few we have watched together.

Living on One Dollar

Living on One Dollar follows a group of college students who spend a summer living in a small Guatemalan City where the average income for families is less than $1 a day per person. 

I watched this with my 9 and 11-year-old and they actually completely engaged, even asking more questions afterward. Since then I’ve asked my kids, can you imagine living on a dollar a day? I have to think about this myself. A few months later they suggested we watch it again for family movie night!

Happy

This documentary explores human happiness through interviews with people from all walks of life in 14 different countries, weaving in the newest findings of positive psychology. It makes a case for humans being most happy in societies that place a high value on close relationships and strong communities.

Minimalism

Minimalism explores how our lives might be better with less by taking the audience inside the lives of other minimalists from different backgrounds – architects, artists, scientists, families and a former Wall Street broker – all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less.

Tiny

Tiny is a story about people living small. Tiny follows one couple’s attempt to build a tiny House from scratch with no building experience, and profiles other families across America who have downsized to live in less than 400 square feet. Through homes stripped down to their essentials, the film raises questions about sustainability, and the changing American Dream.

Through working on my own stuff first I learned some hard lessons about myself that I’ve been able to share with my children. As a parent living a minimalist lifestyle I’m better able to help them find a healthy balance in their own lives — to love people and use things — to let go of the good stuff and hold onto the right stuff.

The post 7 Tips to Help Your Kids Let Go of Their Excess Clutter appeared first on Raising Simple.

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Seven years ago I wanted to make a change in my home and life. I was in a new season of stress and exhaustion, spending more time holding onto my things than holding on to my family. Back then, I hadn’t seen encouraging online communities, A Simple Year, or Uncluttered courses with lifetime support.

But looking back, thinking about what motivated me and kept me going— it was my why. I started from a place of stress and exhaustion that helped me see my why. I finally got so uncomfortable with how things were (or were not!) that I set out to make them different—with my why in place. I wanted more time with my family rather than my stuff. I didn’t focus so much on the what to let go of as I focused on the why to let go. Connection. Laughter. Togetherness–without the chaos of stuff.

Some of the greatest positive growth in my life has come from a place of discomfort, hurt, and chaos. My why is what helps carry me forward.

Over the years my why has changed, it’s grown wider and deeper in my life. With my why as the primary fuel for my motivation, I thought it would be encouraging to share other whys from one of my favorite course groups—the Uncluttered Course.

Uncluttered, is a 12-week online course intentionally designed to help you own less and live more. The course includes videos, live webinars, interviews, weekly challenges, practical tips and articles, accountability and an engaged community. At the start of the course, Joshua (who is personally involved) invites everyone to share their why– an essential piece of Uncluttered.

When you join a group of others sharing their why and encouraging yours, it’s all that much more motivating. It’s the power of community. A community finding their lives under everything they own, together.

Here are 16 why’s in their own words from people who’ve participated in the Uncluttered course.

1. I realized over the holidays while trying to take time off, that I finally needed to make a change. Our stuff is keeping us from enjoying each other and so many other things. Whether I wanted to rest or have some fun, the clutter kept reminding me that I had lots to do.

2. I have three kids 9, 7, and 5, and I recently told my husband that I feel as if I’m wasting half of my life either looking for things that I can’t find because there is stuff everywhere or picking up stuff and trying to make the house look presentable. And I would much prefer to use this time to play with my kids instead, so I’ve decided to dedicate 2018 to the year of minimalism.

3. I want to do this program because I thrive with order. I work hard to organize, but it doesn’t keep long. I want to get off that crazy train and just have less to deal with overall!! My goal is my birthday gift to me- by May to have our home uncluttered!

4. I have spent the last couple of years cleaning out my family’s junk, and now it’s all in my house! Ack! However, I find myself a little too sentimental and it’s hard to get rid of. I’m hoping to work through this AND to work with my kids to downsize their things without forcing them. (that’ll be some trick! ;))

5. I’m a mom of 4 and a wife of a retired veteran, I’ve accumulated so many things over the years. Clutter has been depressing me, and I’m drained in all aspects. I’ve come to the conclusion that less really is more. I’m ready for new change in my life, and it starts at my core…my home. I’ve joined this group for help with decluttering, ideas, and support. I’m ready for change!

6. Stuff has made its way into my house over the years and never left. Some of it invited and some thrust upon me by well-meaning people. I’m tired of trying to wrangle it into submission with organization. Want to learn how to let it go.

7. My daughter is about to start walking, and it’s got me thinking about what kind of mom I want to be going forward and how I want our home to feel. And I don’t want to waste another minute trying to reorganize things we don’t need, use, or love.

8. I have 38 mugs in my kitchen, and I’m the only one that drinks coffee.

9. We want to downsize to an inner-city home so that my husband can reduce his commuting time. I think this will vastly improve his physical and mental health.

10. I want to be able to answer the door and have people drop by without being embarrassed or ashamed.

11. I want to be able to have company without days/hours of cleaning and stress and fighting with family beforehand.

12. I want to set the example that family is more important than things.

13. I want to be able to park a car in the garage.

14. I want to feel less distracted and more present.

15. I want to own fewer things so that I can focus more on the important people in my life. I don’t want my child to remember me as the cleaning organizing mom.

16. I want to be able to breathe and not feel overwhelmed by stuff and chaos.

The people in Uncluttered make up a beautifully diverse group who are honest, warm, and supportive. Their words are a reminder that shedding our excess isn’t really about the what; it’s all about the why.

It’s about the life underneath all the stuff.

If you too, want more of your why and would benefit from encouragement, step-by-step guidance, and accountability, you can sign up for Uncluttered through my affiliate link with my friends and family discount (FF25) for 25% off at checkout. Uncluttered closes at 12:00 midnight EST Sunday, January 7th.

**The links to courses are affiliate links, which means The Minimalist Plate makes a small commission if you decide to register. All money generated by these links support the ongoing costs of maintaining our website. Thank you for your support.

The post Getting Uncluttered-It’s All About the Why appeared first on Raising Simple.

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Wow, does it feel like each year goes by quicker than the last?

Thank you for making 2017 such an incredible year at The Minimalist Plate. The website, Facebook page, and Instagram page continue to grow each month with the support of readers like you. Thank you for sharing, encouraging, and inspiring the simplicity message shared at The Minimalist Plate.

I’m thankful for the connection and relationships that have been built with the readers and simplicity bloggers (that’s you!) here on TMP. To be able to bring encouragement, community, and tools to simplify your daily lives is always an honor.

But before 2017 comes to an end, let’s do a year-end review! 2017 marks my full calendar year here at The Minimalist Plate, and it sure has been full of surprises!

I am a grateful Amazon Affiliate. This article may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission on what you purchase through the link. Thank you for supporting my work!

Highlights from 2017.

I had the opportunity to speak on The Joy Cardin show, Wisconsin Public Radio’s award-winning live morning show featuring news, culture, public affairs, and more. I’m so thankful for the opportunity and was nervous! I used the, “tell yourself you’re excited, not anxious” tip. It helped! You can listen or read the article here.

This year I published my first book, Minimalism for Families, with your support! I know many of you have found it helpful. If you shared the book, wrote a review, or purchased Minimalism for Families, thank you so much for your support. I hope it adds value to your life!

Most popular articles from 2017.

A Minimalist Beauty and Bath Routine.
Many of us have a fair amount of beauty products stuffed in our bathroom cabinets. Mine was no exception! In this article I share what I’ve simplified.

7 Questions to help you let go of Sentimental Things.
Minimalism often starts by letting go of some things. Maybe a lot of things. But what happens when we hit that layer of sentimental things?

Helpful Methods For a Simplified Wardrobe.
Success in simplifying your wardrobe (and life) is part perspective change and part finding the practical vehicle (method) to get you there. To get you thinking, and get you started, here’s a list of perspective changes and practical methods to help you simplify your wardrobe.

My Minimalist Cleaning Supplies.
Although many of my current cleaning items are zero waste, yours don’t have to be. This article is not about telling you what to use — just sharing what I use and how I’ve simplified it.

25 Ways the Uncluttered Course Has Changed Lives.
Here are 25 ways the Uncluttered Course has changed lives (in their own words)—and how it may change yours! Also, on The Huffington Post!

A Few of My Favorite (and popular) Guest Posts I wrote.

A Guide to Let Go of Sentimental Things at No Sidebar
You will find it necessary to let things go; simply for the reason they are heavy.

It’s Ok to Stop Doing It All at No Sidebar
We sometimes do so much that we end up losing ourselves. We sell out our purpose, peace, and joy for the idea that we should be doing it all. Perfectly too, without even breaking a sweat.

We Are Broke in Our Busyness at No Sidebar
If time is money, then I’m broke. I think a lot of us are.

A Guide to Let Go of Your Perfectly Good Things at Becoming Minimalist
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

Thank you again for being a part of this journey with us. We are so incredibly grateful for your support in sharing the simplicity message from The Minimalist Plate. May it continue to encourage and inspire those seeking simpler.

In gratitude,

Zoë

The post The Minimalist Plate’s Top Posts of 2017 appeared first on Raising Simple.

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Read the full post on Becoming Minimalist

Seven years ago, my husband was in the military. During one deployment to Africa, despite our careful planning, the kids and I were left alone to pack up and move everything while he was gone.

“You never realize how much stuff you have until you try to put it in a box,” Allison Fallon once said. Or in my case, until you try to put it in a box for the 10th time with kids in tow.

It was during this move that the real cost of my clutter started becoming painfully obvious. In this stress and overwhelm, my desire for simplicity was born.

At every opportunity, I peeled away the layers of my clutter—the broken stuff, the perfectly good stuff, and the sentimental stuff.

Eventually, my useful things now all had a home with room to breathe! With an uncluttered home, I spent less time looking for and taking care of my things and more time doing things I love. And, yet still, there was clutter.

Hadn’t I gotten rid of all my clutter? Indeed I had. But I was learning, as Eleanor Brownn once said, “Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships, and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.”

Studies show families need minimalism too. In a survey of a thousand families, Ellen Galinsky, the head of the Families and Work Institute, asked children, “If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?” Most parents thought their kids would say spending more time with them, but they were wrong.

Join me over at Becoming Minimalist, to read the full post and learn what kids wished for.

Why Families Need Minimalism

The post Why Families Need Minimalism | On Becoming Minimalist appeared first on Raising Simple.

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“Zoë Kim is a voice of calm and reason to help guide you through your journey to a saner, happier life. Among the books I’ve read on this topic, this one is the most helpful.”  – Amazon review

I am thrilled to announce I have released a new book today: Minimalism for Families: Practical Minimalist Living Strategies to Simplify Your Home and Life. 

This book is written to give every family the tools and strategies to become a minimalist family. It expresses in a clear and inspirational way how to become and apply minimalism in your own life. With practical tips, strategies, and gentle encouragement, every family will have the tools to apply minimalism.

Minimalism for Families is family-focused but anyone can benefit from the perspectives changes and tools in this book. Speaking from my heart and own personal experience, I offer questions to ask yourself (and your family) to remove the excess that weighs you down. This book includes the why AND the how in removing the excess from each room in your home.

Where to grab your copy

Starting today the book can be found where books are sold.

Hardcopy: Barns & Noble | Amazon | Books A Million | IndieBound 

Digital: Kindle | Nook | iBooks

I have been on this journey for more than 6 years. This book shares the lesson and strategies I’ve used to bring my family on board. No guilt, no shame. Just my heartfelt honest take on living with less and having a family.

Grab your copy today. And grab one for someone you love.

*Note: This article contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission on anything you purchase at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our simplicity message!

The post It’s Here! Minimalism for Families appeared first on Raising Simple.

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This past year we moved into a new home that had a minimalist mudroom area with a lot of potential. While Courtney Carver’s sentiment, “If you have to buy stuff to store your stuff, you may have too much stuff” may be true much of the time, there are occasions when storage solutions are needed — especially for a family of six!

I’m not one to follow guidelines but the give everything (essential) a home is a guideline I stick close to! Even a minimal amount of the everyday stuff for 6 people can add up! So today I’m sharing our super quick mudroom makeover to help the daily flow in our family run a bit smoother!

        

This is what the mudroom area looked like beforehand. We had a bench (read clutter-bench) for everything to be tossed on and the drawer storage for our family’s hats, gloves, and kids dress up costumes. We got rid of the bench and moved the drawer storage in the small coat closet near our front door entry.

We got rid of this dark colored bench and moved the drawer storage to a small coat closet near our front door entry.

Our Quick Mudroom Makeover

And here is the new mudroom. This area has very little natural light so we primed over the gray walls and painted them white. We plan on moving again in the near future and I think this is a good look for resale. The door is opened frequently by kids who’ve been playing outside — the darker blue color helps hide all the little marks while adding a pop of color. It’s a bit lighter in person.

Here is the mudroom with the door open allowing in some natural light. I have four children and each child uses a bottom hook for their backpack and sweater. My husband and I as well as guests can use the top row hooks. The kids also have their own cubby to place their shoes.

For the time being, we took this white shelf from the kids’ playroom area (now there are just 4 bins of toys on the floor). We plan on installing a floating bench in the future and returning the white bench shelf to the kids’ play area.

We’ve had these two wall letter/file bins for years — moving them from house to house. This is where my two older kids put their school papers (oh the papers!!) They put the papers I’m to look at in the top pocket of their respective bin — then I put any papers that need to be returned to school in the bottom pocket of their bin. They know when there are papers in the bottom bin they are ready to be placed in their backpacks and returned to school. This has helped keep the papers off the kitchen counter!

If we didn’t have this great mudroom space I would probably have put up these wall hooks in the small coat closet near our front door. Giving everything a home really makes a difference, even after you’ve minimized your possessions.

The post Minimalist Mudroom Makeover appeared first on Raising Simple.

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