When I first saw capsule wardrobes making the rounds on pinterest I literally rolled my eyes. Even as a minimalist, I thought the whole idea was just silly.
I always thought I had a good handle on our kids clothing, we had simplified and decluttered their clothes. But, even though I tried to be intentional about what they had to wear and how many items they had… it still wasn’t serving us as well as I thought it could.
Enter the capsule wardrobe. I’m so glad I got to the point where I thought it was worth a try. Because I will never go back to our old way of doing things. I always thought that wardrobes could only be practical and functional or cute. But, capsule wardrobes have changed that for us.
And, it has changed how I clothes shop and I never worry about over purchasing and wasting money anymore because I know exactly what we need to make it work for us.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a simple, comfortable, affordable, matchable, functional collection of clothing that changes with the seasons.
We do two capsule wardrobes for our kids. One for spring/summer and another for fall/winter. Sometimes we switch things between seasons. But usually we switch everything for each season.
Our kids capsules include 18-22 items including jackets, shoes, coats, and pajamas.
Disclaimer: I know you’re thinking this isn’t near enough clothing. First off, don’t feel limited. What works for our family may be unattainable for yours at this point. But, our kids are never out of clean clothes. We do one load of laundry a day and life has been awesome. Read on for why I think capsule wardrobes are amazing. Especially for kids.
Why your kids need a capsule wardrobe?
Y’all… because it’s awesome!!
No more dragging their feet trying to “find something to wear” when we are in a hurry in the morning and forgot to lay our clothes out the night before. No more laundry basket full of duds that they wore for 5 seconds and tossed in the hamper. No more clothes they hate with the tags still on them hanging in their closet.
Which means no more wasting hundreds of dollars every season trying to get them clothes that will last that they’ll actually wear. We spend less time dealing with clothes and less money purchasing clothes. Which is amazing, if you ask me.
We are much more intentional about our clothing purchases. They get to pick colors they love that go well together and I stick with plain clothes (for the most part, which I’ll talk about more in a moment). I don’t over purchase a bunch of junk that goes through the washer four times and looks like someone wore it through a rock pool.
And they love everything they wear, it all coordinates so it’s never an entire outfit change if they need to put on a different top. They can pick out things they love, but don’t draw a ton of attention (because they’re just clothes). And it all matches, so no weird mismatched outfit selections to gawk at and ask yourself “whyyyyy did they put that on?”
How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Your Kids
1. Declutter what they have.
I go through my kids closet before every season. I used to not… and the clothes piled up and they’d have tons of things that didn’t fit, stuff they never wore anymore etc. It got out of hand.
You will have a better handle on things if you go through what they have currently. If you need some help, I’ve got you covered in this post on how to declutter your kids clothes. So, take a couple hours and go through it and reduce the current collection, it will make the rest much easier.
2. Decide what they need.
The first rule of capsule wardrobes is… there aren’t any rules. I’m going to post what we include in our kids capsules and you can decide from there if this will work for you or if you need to adjust it accordingly.
This is what we include in our capsule wardrobes:
Spring/Summer Kids Capsule Wardrobe
1 “Dressy” Outfit
1 Lightweight Jacket or Hoodie
1 Bathing Suit
Fall/Winter Kids Capsule Wardrobe
6-7 Tops (we mix long-sleeved/sweaters/t-shirts in equal amounts so 2 of each, but do what works for you)
1 “Dressy” Outfit
1 Lightweight Jacket or Hoodie
1 Heavy Coat (gloves and hat)
Also note that some items from one seasonal capsule can definitely be switched over to the other season. We do that with things like jackets, shoes, pajamas and sometimes even tops and bottoms. It’s all up to you and what works.
3. Build the capsule wardrobe
Once you’ve decluttered and decided what to include, you can decide what they have that already works. Anything that will not work can go into the donate pile you made when you decluttered their clothing. When selecting from what they already have on hand, it’s helpful to ask these questions:
Does the item fit well enough to make it through the entire season?
Will it coordinate easily with everything else in the capsule?
Is the item quality enough and in good enough condition to last the entire season (and be donated to another child later on, hopefully)?
Will they actually wear it?
Once you’ve decided what they have that will work, you can decide what you need to fill in the gaps.
4. Fill in the gaps
Now, it’s shopping time! You can go super inexpensive and go to Target (which has really cute basics and we love them) or, I’ve recently discovered an amazing resource with awesome, quality, and inexpensive clothing!! They don’t have slogans or sequins, they’ll never be out of style, they pride themselves in their hand-me-down-ability. They’re responsibly made, and they’re really simple and cute!
The company is called primary. They sell from baby to 12y. You can shop by color, too (which, I’ve been having my girls pick a couple of their fave colors and buying items from those coordinating colors. It is the absolute perfect place to do a kids capsule wardrobe. I wish I would’ve found it earlier.
I love Target, we still purchase things there on the regular. But, when you’re washing stuff on a regular basis because your kids don’t have 101 outfits, the quality just isn’t as good. So, I think we are definitely going to start using primary more often (at least until my oldest outgrows them and we will have to move on to someone else for her).
That’s it! There are no hard fast rules. It doesn’t have to be a super strict lifestyle, but it’s so incredibly helpful. Instead of them picking the same 3 shirts and having 100 other choices in their closets, they have those same few shirts and wear them. It makes evenings (when we get our clothes ready) or busy, behind mornings a breeze. And laundry so much easier.
Have you ever considered a capsule wardrobe for your kids? What’s holding you back?
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Going clothes shopping for kids can be real torture, am I right? And decluttering your kids clothes before you go shopping? Psh… But, it doesn’t have to be a crazy, overwhelming task.
It can be so easy to shove all of their clothes in their closet (out of sight, out of mind) and justify its existence in your home because maybe someone else might need it some day.
And I get it. There was a time that we hung on to #alloftheclothes for the younger child(ren) to wear. But, the clothes started getting overwhelming. And laundry was piling up in epic proportions and I got so tired of it.
I was tired of trying to walk in their closet and being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of clothing and other crap they had scattered about. They would try to wear something, it wouldn’t fit, and it would wind up in the laundry basket, or on the floor, creating more work. And I was fed up.
So, we decluttered it all and now life is simpler and easier, their clothes fit, their closets and rooms are neater, and I don’t have 50 loads of laundry to do every week.
How to Declutter Your Kids Clothes
1. Incorporate them if you can.
First, if they’re old enough and cooperative enough, incorporate them in the decluttering process! Unlike decluttering their toys, decluttering clothes is usually a lot easier. Most kids aren’t particularly attached to their clothing and it can be a great place to start when you start decluttering the kids stuff.
It’s easier to let go of clothes (than toys) for both you and the child. It’s usually a quicker process, and it clears out closet space so you have a little extra toy storage.
2. Gather up All. Of. The. Clothes.
All of them. Do you feel crazy now? I know I did. How could they possibly own this much clothing? How did all of this fit into their closet and dresser???? Agghhh.
But, you’ll be more productive if you gather them all up. They’re easier to see. They’re easier to go through and see what your kids truly wear and what hasn’t seen the light of day (or has seen better days). Besides, once you see it all you will not want to put all of the things back, so you’ll definitely feel more inclined to declutter it!!!
3. Weed them out.
This is the fun part. What doesn’t fit? What has seen better days? What have they never worn to begin with? What do they absolutely love? You’ll have three to four piles depending on if you plan to keep any items for another child (we’ll talk about that in a moment).
The keep pile. This pile should be clothing that fits. Things that they select and routinely wear. Stuff that is still intact. You know, things that you actually want to hold on to, or they do.
The donate pile. Doesn’t fit, but not torn up? Never worn, sitting in the back of the closet with the tags on? This is the pile for it!
The trash pile. Old socks and underwear? An old t-shirt torn and stained beyond recognition? This is where the trash pile comes in to play.
The OPTIONAL hand me down pile. I want to mention, minimalism is not about wasting money or getting rid of absolutely everything. It’s mean to be purposeful. If you have kids close in age (like my older two) or the room to store stuff and it’s what works for your family, then do it. There aren’t any rules except that you keep things for a purpose, not because maybe some day.
So, all that said, this can definitely be a pile if it fits your family dynamic. But… you need to be ruthless in your decisions. Don’t hold on to an article of clothing just because it cost money and your younger kid might wear it. Hold on to it because you like it, or it looks like something your child might wear, or they like it (if they’re old enough to tell you).
Be rigid, but do what works for you and your family when it comes to this pile. Box these items up and place them somewhere it makes sense for you and your family.
4. Divide by season and organize.
We live in Indiana, so we essentially have two wardrobes. One for spring/summer and another for fall/winter. Some items overlap, but we typically have two seasonal wardrobes.
The spring/summer wardrobe leaves room for bathing suits. The fall/winter for coats, holiday clothes and costumes. Among other things. It makes it nice and it makes it easier for us.
I’ll mention how we organize in the next section. But, divide the seasons and store away the out-of-season stuff or hang it at the back of the closet (this is what we do).
5. Consider a capsule wardrobe.
Capsule wardrobes aren’t for everyone. But, they are definitely for us. It helps me keep the girls clothes at a manageable level and it helps me keep track of what they actually need instead of just randomly buying clothes because I think they need something (when often they don’t).
That being said, you need to do what works for your family. Capsule wardrobes work amazingly well for us and I’ll tell you more about them in another post. But for now, just keep them in mind.
Why you should declutter your kids clothes
1. Less Laundry.
I know a lot of people think that more clothes means laundry less often.
Y’all stop it. This is not even a fraction of the truth. By having more clothes, you are inevitably creating more work for yourself and your washing machine.
When I let the clothes get out of hand I was washing 3 loads a day almost every day of the week. My kids had a terrible habit of wearing something for a few minutes and then throwing it in the hamper. Me, going through gathering up laundry in the morning, would have no idea what was actually clean and what wasn’t. So… I was doing a ton of laundry.
Now? I wash one load a day. Two if we are having a particularly dirty week (mud season anyone?). I do 6 loads, sometimes 7, total all week long. My electric bill went down significantly and I don’t feel like my life is an endless pile of laundry.
2. Less Wasted Money.
I hate spending money for the sake of spending it, and I hate wasting money. When my kids had #alloftheclothes, they had shirts with tags still on them that no longer fit hanging in their closet!
Now? All of their clothes are worn. So, I’m not wasting money on stuff that they’ll never wear. I make sure we are intentional when we purchase clothes (or ask for them at Christmas) to make sure it’s something they will actually wear. If they get a gift and they don’t like it, we take it back and get something they do like. Now, I don’t feel like I’m throwing my hard earned money away.
3. Simpler Mornings (or evenings).
We get our clothes picked out for the day ahead in the evenings. But, in the event that didn’t happen, I am not standing there nagging them for 10 minutes to pick out something to wear so we can get going.
They like everything in their closets, everything fits, everything fits within our lifestyle, and most of their clothing can be mixed and matched. So, the mornings and evenings are simpler with less nagging because it only takes a few moments for them to pick something out to wear. And, they don’t (usually) change their mind five minutes after they put it on.
4. More Storage Space.
We don’t store a ton of stuff. But, it clears the space so that we can put things up when we are done with them. They have room in their closet for their toy tote. There is room in there for extra bed linens. And we can fit the off-season wardrobe in there, too!
It makes life a lot easier and there’s all that extra white space so I don’t feel so overwhelmed when I open their closet door.
5. Cleaner Room.
Yep. Since there is room in their closet for their toy tote, they can easily place everything in there. They know to put their dirty clothes in the hamper. It’s easier to hang up their clothes and put away the rest when the laundry is done. And they aren’t changing their outfit 5 times a day.
So, they have a much cleaner, nicer room. And I don’t go crazy every time I walk in there anymore. It’s quite pleasant.
Decluttering kids clothes can be a life saver.
What’s your experience with decluttering your children’s clothing?
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Paper clutter… it’s my nemesis. It creeps up on you. It’s hard to make a decision on it. I mean… you might need it some day, right?
I put off tackling our paper clutter for so long. It was so easy to just toss it in the file box, no rhyme or reason, and shut the lid. Then, I would go looking for something and be unable to find it.
Cue having to sort through the shit storm that was the file box. And proceed to have a mini meltdown.
And melt down, I did. Seriously, how did we get so many pieces of paper?? What purpose could all of this junk possibly be serving piled up in box in the corner of the closet! Agghhh…..
While Marie Kondo and my dad just throw caution to the wind and toss it all out with last weeks trash. I’m a little more subtle. There are a few (very few) documents that we need to hold on to. And we are not ready, as a family, to go full-on digital (though, we are getting pretty close).
So, I tackled the paper clutter beast. Was it fun? Not in the least. But necessary. And I feel so much less overwhelmed now. I can find important stuff, and I know that the rest of it can be tossed out (with last weeks trash).
If you’ve found that your paper clutter has taken over every single crevice of your home. Every counter and table. Or just gotten piled up in a box or corner. I’ve got you. Here’s how to tame the paper clutter monster without being overwhelmed by it.
How to Declutter Paper in 4 Easy Steps
1. Gather it all up.
This will probably take you a minute, and some strength to gather it all. That’s okay. Give it time. What I did was put it all in a large cardboard box all piled up and obnoxious. Taunting me with its sheer size and tendency to annoy me.
Now, just because you’re gathering up a semi trailer full of paper doesn’t mean you need to go through it in one sitting. Don’t. Don’t do that to yourself. That paperwork didn’t get this out of hand overnight, and you’re not going to fix it overnight.
Set a timer. 10 minutes. That’s it. Maybe you get 10 minutes done and you feel like doing another 10. That’s okay. But don’t overwhelm yourself with this. It’s going to take some time to go through and that’s okay.
2. Gather some supplies.
Supplies to declutter paper? Are you kidding me?
Haha… it’s nothing special. You’ll just need a box for recycling, a box for shreddables (totally a word), and a box for your keeps. The keep box doesn’t need to be very big. You’re not going to be keeping much.
I also suggest investing in a scanner and a shredder. Do you have to have these items? No. But it will make life easier. If you don’t have a scanner, there are apps for your phone in order to digitize some things. And you can pay a company like staples or even UPS to shred docs for you if that’s your thing.
You’ll want to keep your box o’ paper and the supplies located in the same general vicinity… at least while you’re actively going through it. Then, if you want, you can put it up for a while.
I will note that while you’re doing this, you need to keep your keep box safe. I used the fireproof/waterproof file box that I was going to be filing everything away in anyway. But, don’t file anything. Just set it somewhere safe. You’ll file when you’re all finished, I promise.
2. Sort into three categories.
These will be items that you do not need that contain no personally identifying information. So, you don’t want to throw your credit card statement in this. But, you can throw that birthday card from when you were 8 in there. I won’t tell.
I will briefly mention kids artwork/schoolwork here. As I did go through it while I was going through our paperwork. I will say only this… you don’t need to keep every little thing. If it’s a milestone, original, and you personally love it. Keep it. If it’s something that they personally love, I have them display it on a clipboard hanging in their room.
If you’re just hanging on to it because you think you might want it some day, or even they may want it some day. It’s time to put it to rest. They’re not going to want it. I keep some really special items, the rest we display for a short time and then we say goodbye to it. I have a small pile of meaningful artwork that I keep that is generally displayed.
This is all of the stuff that contains personally identifying information. Old bank statements. Tax documents over 7 years old. Financial statements. Billing statements. Medical records and insurance paperwork. That sort of thing.
Put these items in the shred box and when you’re finished, start shredding.
This should be a small, easily managed pile. As a rule of thumb, here is what we kept, personally. You need to do what works for you though….
1. Tax Documents. You should hold on to tax returns and any supporting documents for 7 years.
2. Warranties. Hold on to these for as long as they are good. An alternative is to scan them. We didn’t have many, so we opted to keep them.
3. Loan and Mortgage Docs. For routine notes, hold on to for the life of the loan. For mortgage papers, keep them until payoff plus 7 years.
4. Medical Bills, Receipts, Insurance Paperwork. It’s recommended that you keep these for 3 years. If you write anything off on your taxes, then you’d keep them 7.
5. Vehicle Titles and Maintenance. Hold on to these as long as you own the vehicle.
6. Investment Statements. Keep these for the life of the investment plus 7 years.
7. Vital Records. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, death certificates, social security cards and the like should be held on to forever.
That’s it, really. Almost all of our bills are paid online, so I only hold on to a statement if I’ve paid it by mail and only until the check clears.
Questions to ask yourself about paper clutter.
Will this information ever be useful again or be required in a specific circumstance?
Tax documents are a biggie with this one. The rest, it’s generally a hard pass.
Could I easily get this information again if I needed it?
Could you find it online and print it out? Could you scan it so that you have a digital copy of it?
3. File away.
Now, you need a filing system to keep track of what you kept. I keep everything in a fireproof/waterproof file box. Each category I listed above has its own file folder. Medical stuff has dividers for each individual. So, our file system is pretty simple. We don’t have much to keep, so it’s not too difficult. I do place our tax documents in an envelope and write the year on the back. When 7 years is up, they get shredded.
4. Keeping the paper monster away. (Daily Sorting)
Once you tackle the disaster that once was a paper monster, you don’t want it to get out of hand again, right? You can keep it under control by tackling paperwork as soon as it comes through the door. We do this daily as part of our routine. Sort the mail and any other papers as soon as they come in (or in the evening when you have a moment).
We have a simple sorter with three sections. One for file away, one for deal with it, and the other holds stamps and a few coupons if we have some paper ones.
The junk mail and other pointless garbage that does not contain personally identifying information gets recycled.
We shred bills after they’re paid (for the few we get paper statements of). And also those ridiculous loan and credit card offers.
These are things like financial statements and insurance statements. They don’t require being dealt with immediately, but they do need filed and put away. These go in the file box immediately, or put in the “file” portion of our tray and put away on Friday’s when I manage our bills.
Deal With It
This is mostly bills and other important inquiries. They have to be dealt with whether we want to or not. These go in the “deal with it” tray on our mail sorter. Some people pay their bills as soon as they come. We pay ours weekly. So, you either deal with it when it comes in the mail or you file it in a sorter to deal with later.
Paper clutter can easily become a beast that gets far too out of hand. It can take time to go through it, but if you take the time it won’t be so overwhelming and once you tackle it you’ll be better able to keep on top of it so that it doesn’t get so out of hand in the future.
Is paper clutter driving you mad?
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Motherhood… so often we find ourselves overwhelmed. We may even feel like underpaid, under-appreciated, indentured servants at times.
Motherhood is messy and full of busy seasons that keep us on our toes. It can be stressful, isolating, and so overwhelming.
Raising small humans to grow up and be bright, happy, and successful members of society is no small feat. And it’s a feat that we often feel rests solely on our own shoulders.
Between the business of raising littles coupled with the demands of everyday life we often find ourselves lost. And procrastinating. Scrolling through the perfect social media feeds, just mindlessly scrolling instead of doing whatever task currently calls our attention.
I know I am guilty of it. And I’m guilty of putting things on my plate that don’t truly matter. The kids aren’t going to remember the time mom did the dishes after lunch. Or moved the laundry to the dryer after school. They’re going to remember the moments we spent together.
As a society, we’ve become so detached. Despite social media and the promise of connection at our fingertips, we’ve found less socialization, less attachment to the people in our lives and more comparison of the people outside of it.
And then we wind up just going through the motions of day to day motherhood. It’s monotonous, it’s overwhelming, and it’s downright exhausting.
But, instead of getting caught in the comparison trap and succumbing to martyr syndrome, I’ve found that there’s a better, easier way. I was tired of being downtrodden with guilt that I wasn’t doing enough with my kids. I was exhausted from all the hats I was trying to wear. From the everyday duties of everyday motherhood. It was time for a change.
Instead of feeling like a guilt-ridden indentured servant, I took charge of my time, my life and my motherhood and started living with intentionality.
And it’s been amazing. Perfect? Absolutely not. It’s all about progress, never perfection. Nobody’s perfect, mama. No one.
But, I’ve found ways to be more present and make motherhood less like a chore and more like what I had envisioned it to be.
10 Ways to Be More Present and Make Motherhood Easier
1. Exercise often.
Wait… adding to the list of things to do is going to help?? How?? Yep. It is. I have been intentionally exercising a minimum of 5 days a week for about two and a half months. And the change has been amazing.
There are tons of studies on how exercise impacts us in a positive way. Not only by helping us lose excess weight and become more physically fit, but the mental and emotional effects. Exercise is a self-care must for everyone, but especially mothers.
It doesn’t matter what you do. Something as simple as a walk in the morning to a more involved exercise routine like cardio or strength training. Get that intentional movement into your day. You’ll be so thankful you did.
If I get up and exercise in the morning, I spend my day energized, happy, and with a much more positive attitude. Which is the best thing ever.
2. Wake up before your kids.
I’m not a morning person. But, if I sleep in and my kids wake me wondering where breakfast is, our day starts off harried and I’m generally in a bad mood.
Getting up before your kids is paramount to a simpler motherhood. It gives me time to wake up, get some tasks tackled (exercise, anyone?), and have some intentional quiet time before the demands of being a mom begin.
There are seasons where this is absolutely not a possibility. When my toddler was a baby, my older kids waking me asking for breakfast was the norm. And at the end of that pregnancy, same thing. And when we were recently under a lot of emotional stress? I wasn’t waking up earlier than them, either.
But, if you can and you’re in a season of motherhood where it’s a possibility it’s a total game changer, I promise.
3. Create a daily rhythm.
I’m a pretty laid back mom and I don’t stick to a specific schedule for most things. If our history lesson goes over because the kids are interested in what we were discussing, that’s okay. If our toddler is too engrossed in play to have lunch and go down for a nap at a specific time, that’s okay, too.
But, I do have a rhythm to our days. Things that I just do automatically that help me tackle tasks that used to overwhelm me. For example, the dishwasher is unloaded before breakfast begins. And we put our breakfast dishes into the dishwasher after breakfast, and after lunch. And the floor gets swept. I start a load of laundry first thing in the morning and do one a day.
Instead of allowing these tasks to pile up and become an overwhelming disaster at the end of the day when I’m exhausted, I tackle them as they happen.
Maybe setting an alarm to remind you that it’s snack time will help keep the kids from asking for food every five minutes. Or, making your to-do list. I do this with life and school. School tasks that must be completed (reading, math, writing, etc) go at the top of the list and we tackle those first, then the rest is more loosely scheduled so that we can explore into something further if we are interested.
I list my most pressing tasks at the top of my to-do list and tackle those first thing. All of these rhythms help me stay sane and allow me to know what absolutely has to be accomplished and what can be put off until another time.
4. Involve your kids in your daily routine.
I don’t know about you, but I used to think that dish washing, laundry folding, vacuuming, and other household tasks were mommy jobs. Especially when my older two were younger. But, I’ve found that we get a lot more done and it’s a lot more fun if I involve them, even my toddler.
After all, these children are going to grow up and have homes of their own one day. I don’t want them to view daily household tasks in a poor light, that just makes us all procrastinate.
We do dishes together, or unload/load the dishwasher together. Everyone has a task if we are washing (wash, dry, put away), and unloading/loading is just a grab and go game that involves music. For laundry, even my toddler will help me move things to the dryer or pull them out of the basket to fold. We can all run around the house getting some extra movement in our day to race and see who can put things up the quickest.
Turn the music up and dance with them while you vacuum. Or, get out dusters and allow them to help while you all dance and dust to the beat of the music.
You can even play cleanup drills and make it fun.
Housework can be daunting, especially when you buy into perfectionism and try to do it all yourself. Make it fun and let your kids see you enjoying yourself so that they can learn and enjoy time with you and still get stuff done.
5. Put away your phone.
It’s been less than a decade since smartphones became popular. Hard to believe, isn’t it? My oldest is 9, so when she was born smartphones weren’t a well-known, everyone has one, device. She was 2 before they really hit the ground running. Crazy….
And in that 7-10 year time span they have taken over our everyday lives. Social media in particular really tends to detach us despite the fact that it claims more connection. Be honest… how much time do you spend looking at a screen and comparing yourself to the perfect lives displayed on social media versus connecting with the people right in front of you?
The truth hurts, I know. Because I’ve been completely guilty of this myself. Especially as an online entrepreneur. I often made excuses to be present online when they were just that, excuses.
So, I started putting the phone down. It stays in a central location most of the time. I log less and less time on it on a weekly basis (and I do keep track). I have set work hours where I do almost all of my communication and social media “needs” on the computer during those hours and I spend the rest of my time with the people who matter, because childhood is short.
6. Remind yourself that this season is fleeting.
Childhood is short. The 18 years that your child is under your wing are fleeting and a portion of them probably not the most enjoyable. The time when your baby is just a baby, the time they’re just an imaginative kid… they’re over in the blink of an eye. It’s not something we want to miss as mothers. This is what we live for… these fleeting, everyday moments with our children.
Our children won’t always need us, there will be seasons that they probably won’t even want us. And then, before we know it they’ll be grown, married and having children of their own.
While the days are sometimes incredibly long, the years are so incredibly short. Let’s not miss it by being too busy to enjoy it. You’ll never regret letting the laundry sit in the dryer, the dishes on the counter, or the phone on the table so you can spend more time with your littles.
7. Incorporate play into your day.
So often we forget how to be kids. How a simple box, rock, and stick can be a pirate ship, a parrot, and a sword. Once we grow up and the mounting to-do list keeps getting longer we think that our time is supposed to be spent elsewhere.
So, set an alarm on your phone, shut it off, and promptly put it away and play with your kids. Escape the everyday adult tasks of motherhood and be a kid. Sit down and built a city out of pillows. Make a ship out of a box. Or just build a house with some lego blocks. You’ll think you’ll only spend a few minutes, and you might the first few times, but when you let go, you’ll often find that you’ve immersed in true, imaginative play with your children.
And when you do? They’ll adore you for it. And all of that stuff you thought you needed to do right that moment will still be there, you’ll be calmer, happier, and your kids can help! It won’t seem like such a chore anymore. Plus, playing is part of being a mom (the fun part!).
8. Delegate and prioritize
I’m pretty type A. But, I know a lot of people aren’t. I am a list maker. A planner. And fed up with trying to do everything myself. So? I have learned to delegate and prioritize my daily tasks.
Kids out of underwear? Well, then laundry is an absolute priority, isn’t it? I keep our laundry monster at bay by doing a load daily, but… sh*t happens. If it’s a pressing task, it goes at the top of my to-do.
As far as delegation… we live in an era that is making everything easier and easier to accomplish. I used to insist on hanging my laundry out to dry. It saves on electricity, especially in the summer. But, it’s time consuming and kept raining. So, I use the dryer most of the time.
The grocery is 30 miles away, Costco is over 60. Amazon is a click away. We invest in Amazon Prime and reap the benefits of it routinely. You can autoship diapers or toilet paper. You can find things you need but don’t want to drive all around creation trying to find.
They even have grocery shoppers that will go get your grocery list items and bring it to you. I prefer do it myself, but if you’re in a season where you don’t have time, energy, or even the desire to do it? Find a way to delegate.
Have your kids load or unload the dishwasher. Have them vacuum. Ask your husband to take the trash out. Whatever it is. Find ways to delegate and make your life easier and find ways to prioritize what truly matters and get it done.
9. Put your kids to bed early.
I’m so bad at this. Especially in the summer. It’s daylight until 10PM. They don’t want to go to bed. Or, I get so caught up in the day that I don’t realize it’s 10PM until I look at the clock and see it really is that late.
But, creating a bed time routine and having a firm lights-out rule can make or break the day. There are days, even for the most put-together mom, that you cannot wait for bed time. There are other days that it seems like it came far too quickly (10PM anyone?). But, having an end to your day makes it seem less trying. You can take your mom hat off for a while and be you.
Also, creating a regular bed time and bed time routine helps your kids sleep better and gives you a chance to connect with them once again on a personal level. We read stories, talk about the events of the day, sing songs, and even talk about what is going on tomorrow. It gives me a little snippet of mainly one-on-one time with my littles that they truly enjoy. Then, the hat can come off and I can move on to relaxing before the end of my day.
10. Make time for yourself and your spouse.
Making time for yourself is important. Self-care is important. I have me time in the mornings before everyone else is awake and the day truly begins. Exercise is a part of that self-care routine. Take time for me to do things that I want to do is important for my sanity.
Whether it’s just quiet time, reading a book, journaling, meditating. Or, taking time to do your hair, exercise, whatever it is. Take time out every day for just you. Simple or not, it makes a difference.
And, on the opposite end, if you’re married (or otherwise committed) you should also carve our time for your significant other. It can be just sitting on the couch watching netflix. Playing a game together or getting more intimate and personal in the bedroom. But, you need to make your spouse a priority in your life, too.
I used to think that my most productive days were the days that I could check off the most from my to-do list. The days where the chores were done and I had some sense of accomplishment with measurable tasks. Now? I’m learning that my days are simpler and easier when I use the suggestions I just mentioned. I may not get everything checked off of my to-do list, but my heart is full, I have a smile on my face, and I was a mom that my kids will remember.
My kids used to have all of the toys. If it was on some hot toy list, they probably had it, or it was on a list to purchase for an upcoming holiday.
And for the longest time, I could not figure out why I was constantly cleaning and they were constantly fighting. I mean, this was an all day, every day madhouse… The kind that made me want to go lock myself in the bathroom with a glass of wine and cry.
I finally discovered the absolute beauty of decluttering their toys. The benefits to my happiness and sanity alone have been incredible.
But, I wasn’t the only one benefitting from having less toys.
I think the biggest benefits were actually to my kids!
Since the great toy declutter, we’ve had less fighting and bickering. Less dragging their feet come clean up time. Less complaints that they’re bored.
I’ve found since we’ve tossed all of the excess junk they weren’t really playing with anyway, that life has been so much simpler.
We’re all happier, more focused, less overwhelmed and rushed, and generally more agreeable.
Decluttering those toys is the best thing we ever did not only for our home… but for our children’s lives.
Research shows time and time again, that kids do not need a ton of toys to thrive. In fact, it can be detrimental to their development.
8 Ways Fewer Toys Are Better for Your Kids
1. Increased Creativity
Surely I’m not the only one that has noticed that most of today’s toys don’t inspire creativity. They often do everything for the child and leave no room for imagination. They sing, dance, light up and otherwise distract kids from actually playing. This seems especially true of baby and toddler toys… their most impressionable years!
But kids, given the opportunity, are very creative. With the right, open-ended toys their imaginations and creativity will be sparked. Give them a moment and watch their creativity blossom. I’m always amazed at how my children play with the simplest of toys. No flashy lights and songs required. In fact, they prefer there not be flashy lights and songs anymore.
My older two love to build cities, dinosaurs, and a gazillion other things with legos, or even just some rocks, sticks and sand when they’re outside. They play vet with stuffed animals. They grab some books and play library. Their imaginations truly seem limitless.
My toddler builds cities and stables out of blocks. It’s incredible to watch how much they’ve grown since they have to actually play instead of their toys doing all the play for them. And it’s more fun for me to engage!
More toys does not equal more play, or better play. In fact, research has shown time and again that the opposite is true. Fewer, less flashy, toys equals more engaged, long-term play.
When your kid has 250 toys to choose from, they get distracted, they have trouble making decisions, and they often don’t play very long or very deeply with the toy before moving on to one of the other 249 toys available to them.
But, when your child only has a few toys to select from, they will often play with the toy the select much longer and in a deeper and more meaningful way. They won’t just press a couple of buttons and move on, but engage in their play in a much deeper and meaningful way.
Play helps a child develop in so many ways. It helps them learn about and begin to interpret the world around them. The longer a child plays with a toy, the more meaningful that play is… the more beneficial it is to their growth. Children who can play with one selected toy long term will generally have longer attention spans, increased imagination, better cognition and problem-solving, and even improved motor skills.
Kids should get to be kids. You and I get overwhelmed by too many things and too many options, imagine how it feels to a child who hasn’t even really gained decision making skills. Fewer toys means your child can grow smarter, stronger, and more creative and that’s amazing to me.
3. A Love for the Arts
Before we decluttered all of the excess, it was like pulling teeth to get my kids to sit down and color, paint, draw, do a craft, read, practice piano, anything. They would play with a toy for 5 minutes, toss it, and go find the next toy. There was no true interest in enjoying the more calming and quiet activities they could do.
Once the toys were gone, they opened up more to drawing, creating, and reading. With fewer toys, they had more time so to speak, to engage in these creative and engaging activities and realize they were actually fun. All of this has helped them become more empathetic and expressive and it’s been an amazing transformation to watch.
4. Less Arguing
Like I said at the beginning, their fighting and arguing was to the point that I felt like a failure. I wanted to just lock myself in the bathroom with a glass of wine, cry, and surrender. I couldn’t find a way out and it was a dark time… not only for me, but for them as well.
It’s natural for siblings to fight, but it doesn’t have to be all day every day. Many, myself included, think that more toys means less arguments because they have more available. However, the opposite is true.
The fewer toys your kids have, the less they’ll fight. They will be forced into sharing, communicating, and cooperating more often than not.
5. Increased Perseverance and Determination
Before we tossed all of the excess toys, my older two constantly gave up… way too easily. They’d try something for a minute, it wouldn’t work out, and they would just give up. No matter how many times we tried telling them that things take time, and will get better with time and practice, they’d just give up and say I can’t.
Now how? I kept wondering… how did we manage to raise kids that are giving up so easily?? Once the toys were gone, I realized… that’s how! If a child has a million toy options and a toy requires too much concentration or work, they’ll just toss it to the side and grab a toy that doesn’t require as much work.
Those skills that they learn from tossing the more challenging toy to the side transfer into actual life skills. If something seems too hard, they just want to give up and take the easy way out.
Now? Most of the time they have an I think, I can, I will, I do kind of attitude. Most of the time. They’ve learned how to do so many things from not giving in or giving up in the past year it’s been amazing. And I know that these skills of perseverance and determination will follow them their entire lives so that they rarely, if ever, give up before giving it a true shot again.
6. A Calmer, Quieter Home
Of course you could say that this is a mom benefit (and it totally is), but it’s also a kid benefit. Without all of the toys cluttering up the environment, you will find that your home is calmer, quieter, and much, much more inviting.
This calm, quiet place you call home may seem like a foreign land for a while, but you’ll soon realize it isn’t and notice the benefits not only to your own life, but theirs.
When you see a bunch of clutter, particularly toy clutter in this instance, what do you usually do? You get overwhelmed, right? Then, you nag your kids to pick up, and they get overwhelmed and stressed. You just want them to pick up their crap! Right? But think about it, you’re overwhelmed and stressed, and so are they.
And rarely, at least in my experience, do they ever listen and actually pick anything up. Which creates stress, tension, and arguing between you, them, and amongst themselves.
Less toys means less to pick up. So, it means less nagging and more cooperation. My kids generally pick up what they have out with only one prompt… unless they’ve drug all the legos out, but that’s another story haha.
You will all be less stressed, and your home will be calmer, happier, and more quiet. Which… who doesn’t want that?
7. They Play Outside
We could all benefit from more time out in nature. But, if you’re constantly cleaning up after your kids toy explosions and they’re in a play room with no less than 242 toy options distracting them and begging for their attention… you’re probably not getting outside enough, if at all.
Without all of those extra toys laying around to keep your kids falsely occupied, they can go and explore the great outdoors. And watching them learn more about the outside world, to me anyway, is so amazing.
My kids beg to go outside. They dig in the dirt and find shells, or build things with sticks, or find leaves and make nests. It’s amazing. They get to see how beautiful the world around us truly is instead of being locked down in a house playing with junk that doesn’t inspire them to do anything or learn anything new.
There’s a great big world out there. They should be able to experience all of it’s beauty without all of the distractions.
8. They Become More Intentional Consumers
Consumerism has taken over in epic proportions. And not in a good, or healthy way. It’s becoming more and more difficult for people to realize that they can’t buy something to make them happy. Happiness and contentment cannot be bought on a store shelf. Rather, they’re often found in the moments and memories we create with one another.
When your child has fewer toys, they not only learn how to appreciate what they have, but also begin learning how to be more intentional about what kinds of things they allow into their lives.
Kids learn behaviors just as much as anything else during their childhood. If you instill a behavior of gratitude and contentment and making intentional, thoughtful purchases for things that last now, it will last them their entire lives.
Help your child find joy in the every day and make intentional choices when they do add to, or replace, their toy collection. Help guide them through the decision on whether or not the toy is quality and will add to their play time, not subtract from it.
Fewer toys will allow your children to have an amazing childhood and grow into amazing, well-adjusted adults.
It’s not about things, it’s never about things. It’s about experiences. No toy can replace the experiences we must have in order to make a life. No toy can replace the beautiful things that happen when your child solves a problem. No toy can replace the human interaction that your child needs and craves.
I think toys can be incredibly beneficial to our children’s growth and development. But, I know that if tomorrow they only had their own imaginations to entertain themselves with, they’d be just fine.
Have you decreased the toy clutter? What benefits have you seen from it?
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Do you ever buy something only to wonder later on why you just wasted your hard-earned money on it?
I used to do that a lot. Not just impulsive purchases (and there were plenty of those), but stuff that at the time seemed important and useful only to eventually figure out… it wasn’t worth the money, at all.
I have slowly come to realize, if it’s something that isn’t providing purpose or value to our lives, then it’s not necessary.
And several things I had convinced myself were providing purpose or value weren’t, they were just wasting money… and in essence, time.
It’s a lot more enjoyable to spend that money and time on experiences than it is on pointless dribble that isn’t adding joy to our lives.
So, in the spirit of trying to improve our lives by having less mindless dribble to waste our time and money on, I thought I’d share a few things I have stopped wasting my money on since simplifying my life.
10 Things I Stopped Buying Since Becoming a Minimalist
Cable/ Satellite TV
When we lived in the suburbs, we didn’t spend for cable because we didn’t need to. Streaming services are abundant and we had plenty of high speed internet to go around. We paid $10 for Netflix and our internet bill and that was it.
Then, we moved out here to the great wide open and it is great, except…
We have very limited data and very slow internet service. It’s coming around, but right now our options are very limited and very little.
So, we signed a contract for satellite TV when we moved in. I hung on thinking… it gives us something to do when we’re relaxing or it’s pouring down rain or whatever.
Then, the attitudes started in with the kids, they wanted stuff they saw advertised on TV, and the bill kept going up up up.
So, we ditched it.
It was missed for about 2 days. Then, we found other things to do like playing games, or watching DVDs. I’ve also discovered the beauty of free TV.
Over the air TV is awesome. It brings back the 90s to me, those programs I used to enjoy as a kid before TV went to absolute crap anyway. No internet required, no streaming service just good, old-fashioned TV the way it used to be.
For now, DVDs, a game of Mario Kart, board games, and plenty of time outside and we’re doing just fine. Saving us over $1,500 a year! That’s pretty awesome, if you ask me.
I’ll start this off by saying I’m an absolute music lover. I love all kinds of music, but we don’t pay for it.
I used to have a very extensive collection of CDs when I was younger (before the era of digital music). And I did spend a good deal of time listening to them. Now? Not so much.
We don’t buy CDs, we don’t buy digital music. Ever.
If anyone has a particular song we want to listen to, we use YouTube. We listen to IHeartRadio a lot or pandora. We even occasionally just listen to regular ol’ radio over the air.
It gives a little background noise, it gives us something to listen to (that’s not constantly the same exact thing over and over). And it’s completely free.
I’ve never actually subscribed to the newspaper, to be honest. And the only magazine we’ve ever had a subscription to was ZooBooks for the kids that I got for $9 with a groupon….
That being said, the news is free. You can read it online or watch a local channel (there’s where that antenna comes in handy for over the air channels). Magazines are very pricey and most of them have availability online as well.
It creates less waste and I don’t have random newspapers and magazines sitting all over the house. So, we choose to read the news online from local news networks. And magazines have never really been my thing.
Professional Portraits/School and Sports Photos
Gasp! I know. But have you priced those things lately? They’re ridiculous! And well, they’re fake.
I love taking photographs, but I enjoy the candid, unposed ones best of all. They’re real, they’re authentic. No one has props and fake smiles plastered across their face. They capture our family in the moment. And that, to me, looks better and is priceless.
That being said, I do occasionally pull out the camera and take my own professional style portraits that are posed. But, I prefer capture those memories on film in the moment than a fake, unauthentic picture with props and pretend smiles plastered on my kids faces.
I’ve never been a huge cafe person to begin with. But, I haven’t bought coffee from Starbucks or any other cafe in years. It would be a really rare occasion to find me standing in line at a cafe anywhere.
We brew our own coffee daily. I make it a point to make sure we have our coffee pot and fresh coffee when we go on vacation, too. Starbucks is expensive and coffee from home is good. Plus, I can make my own yummy coffee drink at home, if I really want to indulge. I just can’t justify spending $7 for a coffee when I can buy a whole pound of organic coffee for $10 and make many, many cups.
In true minimalist fashion, we really enjoy taking our kids places. Zoos, museums, aquariums, national parks, etc. And they all have conveniently located souvenir shops that you’re almost forced to go through at most of these places.
And souvenirs are cute! They make you feel like you’ve captured the memory when you buy a t-shirt that says Mount Rushmore on it. But… they don’t. And, they’re so overpriced! We went through a souvenir shop the other day (by force, not choice) and headed straight for the door, but my daughter saw a stuffed toy so I glanced at the price tag. $40!! That’s insanity.
No one is stealing that memory from you and that t-shirt or cheap plastic crap didn’t capture the memory for you. So, we choose to keep the memories we’ve created, take pictures and not fill our house with more overpriced junk.
Junk of all kinds. You know what I’m talking about. You buy something cheap because it’s cute, whether it’s something for your kid, yourself, your spouse, your home, whatever. You get it home, a week later it’s in the trashcan.
So, I have started trying to be incredibly intentional about my purchases. If it’s something that isn’t going to last, whether it’s clothes, decor, whatever… I don’t buy it. I don’t need to fill the space just because it cost a dollar. I can wait, buy something quality that I love and it will last.
Make sure you’re questioning your motives when you pick up a random object to buy. Is it quality? Is it going to last? Do I really need this? Where will it fit in my home?
And never forget the 1 in 1 out rule. If I buy something, generally something else is going out when I get home. And for the bigger purchases, wait on them for a week before pulling the trigger. It really helps you make a well-informed, thought out purchase of quality items instead of impulsive buys that won’t last.
Nope, nope, nope. I make one or they simply don’t get one. None of them can convey what I want to say anyway. Besides, they get tossed into the recycle bin when the day is done.
Why would I throw $5-$7 into the recycling bin? So, sometimes I make a card or write a letter or a poem to give the recipient. It’s more personal and it’s loads cheaper since it’s going into the recycle bin anyway. On the off chance I do purchase a greeting card (for a child’s birthday, for instance) the dollar store is where it’s at.
Knick Knacks and Trinkets
Do you love dusting? Buy all the trinkets. If you’re like me and hate dusting, then why create more work for yourself?
Knick knacks are made to just sit around. And sitting means they have to be dusted and they have to be moved to dust under/around them.
It takes me minutes to dust all of the furniture in my house because it’s not cluttered up with a ton of knick knacks. I have 5. They’re all frogs my mother gave me. My girls each have 1. We are not, by any stretch, knick knack people.
All. That. Plastic. I carry a hydro flask around with me everywhere. I keep it full, drink plenty of water, and I don’t need to buy a bunch of plastic bottles.
Buy a reusable bottle if you haven’t, the waste those plastic bottles create is depressing. The planet will thank you for it.
We live in a society that is obsessed with more, so it’s difficult to go against the grain and think of your life in terms of less. But, you get so much more out of it when you let go of all that excess that is not only in your life currently, but comes in every single time you buy something unnecessary.
We routinely go through our stuff to decide what is no longer serving us that we can donate to someone else that it will serve. I’m far from an extremist, I like to have things, I just want them to be purposeful and something that fits our lifestyle.
No sense holding on to things that don’t serve us or fit us, no matter how much we want(ed) them to.
What are a few things that you could stop buying that would help make your life more simple and less cluttered?
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Motherhood. It’s beautiful. It’s challenging. And while I feel incredibly blessed to have been entrusted with these three tiny souls, a few years ago… I wasn’t enjoying motherhood at all.
My husband and I had decided I should stay home with our children when our youngest was only a few weeks old. And I envisioned all of these fun, beautiful days of raising her and her siblings up. Enjoying our days together. Having fun. Finding the joy in motherhood.
But as time went on, I found I was spending more of my time, this precious time with my children, picking up messes, cleaning, organizing, and being overwhelmed.
Taking care of all of this stuff was sucking the life and joy right out of my motherhood. And it needed to stop. I wanted my children to remember all of the fun we had. Not how many times I hollered for them to clean up their toys while I did yet another sink full of dishes.
And out of this, the idea of embracing a minimalist lifestyle in our home was born. I knew if we had less stuff, I would have more time doing all of those things I had imagined doing with my children.
Can you be a minimalist with kids?
You betcha, you can! We have three little girls, all very active and imaginative that I homeschool. And if we can do it, trust me, you got this mama.
However, you need to realize that minimalism isn’t about owning as little as possible. It’s all about balance and living with what you need and want and ditching all of the excess.
Minimalism is about intentionality, not deprivation.
You don’t need to live with less than 100 things, without a car, without books, without a TV. It’s not at all about what you can live without. It’s about making intentional decisions to live with what makes you happy and makes your life better.
It’s all about making sure your stuff doesn’t own you. It’s not at all about having blank walls and nothing in your house. At least not to me. I believe that minimalism looks a little bit different for everyone and extreme minimalism? That’s not what true minimalism has to be or even is.
Our kids still have toys, we have pictures and artwork on the walls, we have things on the counters, etc. It’s not about any of that. It’s just about making sure that we have what we need and what we love and not so much that it is constantly taking up my time and space without any true value.
Minimalism is about having time to embrace motherhood. The time our children have as children is so fleeting, it shouldn’t be wasted by us constantly cleaning up. It should be embraced and enjoyed. Minimalism affords that opportunity.
Why You Need Minimalism in Your Motherhood
1. Less to Clean
Who doesn’t want to clean less? I was so incredibly tired of spending all of my time cleaning. Even if I wasn’t cleaning, I was thinking of what needed cleaned and it was tiring.
If you have less stuff, you’re going to clean less. We only do a handful of laundry loads a week now. The girls can pick up their own toys, quickly, and I don’t have to do it. There is less stuff that needs moved around so that I can actually clean. It’s amazing. And probably one of the biggest benefits.
2. More Time
When I envisioned stay at home motherhood, I envisioned being at home with my kids and spending time with them. When reality set in? That was far from the truth. I felt like I was spending as little time with them as I was when I was working away from home. There was constantly something calling for my attention, and consequently, my time.
Once we started to embrace a life of less, the time started packing back on. I had time to live my life the way I wanted to. More time for me, more time for my kids, and more time for my husband. More doing things I wanted to instead of feeling burdened by a chaotic schedule of tidy, clean, rinse, repeat.
3. Less Stress
Motherhood is stressful. There’s never a dull moment and we are constantly on the go and on the alert. Excess stuff just adds to that stress.
Less stuff will greatly reduce your stress levels, guaranteed.
4. More Moments & Memories
Minimalism is about more than just getting rid of the physical clutter and the consumer mindset. It’s also about shedding the calendar clutter. No more FOMO mindset here. It will be okay if your kids miss out on ballet this year, or don’t go to that birthday party.
When you have a less cluttered calendar (and home) you’ll have more time. Duh, right? But think about it… how much time do you actually get to spend making memories with your kids? How often is that time spent carting them from activity to activity while they make memories with their youth pastor or baseball coach?
This isn’t to say that your kids shouldn’t have structured activities or that you’re a horrible mother if they go to ballet and make memories with their instructor. Not at all. It is just saying we live in a culture that’s always on the go and constantly feel the need to sign our kids up for every single activity under the sun and stay busy.
That’s not necessary. Pick the things they enjoy, then spend some time having fun and making memories with them doing other things that don’t have a real schedule. We’re mothers forever, but they’re children for such an incredibly short time. When you have a less cluttered home and schedule, you have time to make those moments and memories you always dreamed about but thought you didn’t have the time for.
5. Happier & More Energy
I don’t know about you… but my kids are all little balls of energy. They are constantly in the mood to play and be active. I went through a phase that no matter what I did… I just wasn’t feelin it. I had no energy and I just wasn’t in it when it came to my motherhood. Do you know what I mean?
It was all that overwhelm I felt from the constant list of to-dos. The constant cleaning up after my kids, after life. I had no energy left to do anything else. I was down and depressed because it was just doing the same things over and over and waiting on everyone else instead of doing things I wanted to do, that we could all enjoy together.
Once I started getting rid of all that excess, things started to change and it was amazing. I started feeling better, I had more energy, I felt happier and actually wanted to do the fun things.
That clutter, physical, mental, calendar, all of it. It’s weighing you down, mama. It’s time to let it go so you can lighten your load. It’s transformational.
6. More Money
Stuff costs money, that’s no secret. But it costs money even well after you’ve bought it. You have to maintain it, keep space for it, and take the time (and time is money, my friend) to clean it.
Also, once you embrace minimalism, you’ll change your purchasing habits. There are so many things I don’t buy anymore since becoming a minimalist. And, when I do buy things… it’s a well thought out purchase, not just something I am buying because something somewhere told me to or because I think it might bring me joy (because, the reality is, it won’t improve my life).
7. Less Decision Fatigue
Decision fatigue is a real thing! As moms what little decision making power we have when we start the day is often used up before we’ve finished breakfast.
I mean, think about how many times you’ve given in to your kids because you’re at a point where you’re too tired and just don’t care anymore?
When you have less stuff, there are less decisions to make. And, you have a clearer, more free mind to make quick decisions instead of stewing over it. Decluttered wardrobes and capsule wardrobes take away having to decide what to wear, menu planning and meal prep take away the task of deciding what’s for dinner, less to clean takes away the decision of where to even start.
You’ll have more power to make important decisions and not be so worn out you can’t think straight to decide if your kid can wear shorts when its snowing outside.
8. People Can Drop By Unannounced
No more chaos ensuing all over your home means that if someone drops by unannounced, you won’t feel too embarrassed to let them in the front door.
Even if your house is the worst it ever is, you can still have people stop by and not feel bad. It’s easier to clean, it’s easier to maintain and its worst isn’t really all that bad.
Wouldn’t it be great to know that you don’t need to clean for 7 hours before your mother in law drops by and thinks you live like a slob? Or your neighbor can’t come in the front door because it looks like a tornado ripped through? You’ll feel so much more confident about the appearance of your home when you don’t have so much stuff taking up all the space inside of it.
Motherhood is difficult enough without all of the excess junk cluttering up our lives, our time, our minds, and our calendars. With minimalism I have time to actually spend enjoying my kids. I have the time and space to spend enjoying motherhood, and you can too.
Are you ready to embrace minimalism in your motherhood?
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And I totally get it. As a mom, the to-do list is never-ending. There is laundry to do, dishes to wash, meals to fix, homeschooling to do, errands to run, and a million and one other things on our plate at any given moment. And the sheer overwhelm of all that stuff sitting around can make us not want to find the time to deal with it anyway.
Legos scattered across the floor. Kids clothes that don’t fit. Your own clothes that don’t fit. The piles of paperwork that accumulate no matter what you do. There’s clutter everywhere and you simply can’t find the time to deal with it.
I’ve been there. If I just ignore it and go on with life, it will eventually get better. It won’t be so overwhelming. I’ll have more time later. Every mental block you can think of, I’ve used it on myself. And it didn’t help.
The truth of it is, the less stuff you have to clean, the less time you’ll have to spend cleaning. The less you own, the more time you’ll have. It’s never going to be any easier at a later date. In fact, it’s likely to only get harder.
I forced myself to make up the time to do this because I knew, deep down, that this was the only way I was ever going to feel like I had a little control of my life and the way I spent my time. I didn’t want to spend all day cleaning and hollering at the kids to clean up. I wanted to feel like a human being again, a happy one that isn’t so frazzled.
So, I made the time. And you can, too.
6 Ways to Make Time to Declutter
1. Spend 10 minutes a day
We all have 10 minutes we can spare. We can always spend 10 less minutes mindlessly scrolling on the phone. Wake up a few minutes earlier, spend 10 minutes less vegging on the couch.
There’s time there, it’s just a matter of making use of it.
If you can find just 10 minutes, you have time to declutter. There are tons of decluttering projects you can accomplish from start to finish in that short amount of time. Such as:
Declutter one shelf
Clear off one counter or table
Empty out and declutter one drawer
Declutter one small corner of a room
Go through and pick up trash throughout the house and throw it out
Find 15 items that aren’t where they belong and put them away
Find 15 items you no longer love, bag them up, and put them in the car to donate
Clean out one cabinet (or one shelf in the cabinet)
Clean off one shelf in the fridge
Simply set a timer for 10 minutes and get to work. Will it take a while to see any real progress? Sure, but it’s worth it!
2. Make decluttering a priority
What we spend our time on is probably the most important decision we make.
– Ray Kurzweil
We all have time, like I said. But how do you spend it? If you look at the way you’ve spent your day, have you made the important things a priority?
I always recommend setting a schedule for yourself. Or setting reminders on your phone. Our phones anymore are such an integral part of our lives, but so often we don’t use them to their full potential. Instead of helping us achieve more, they’re simply a distraction. More on that later, but set a reminder, put yourself on a decluttering schedule and get it done.
This is important, it’s serious, it takes time and it’s a huge project to take on. But, it’s worthwhile to do. So make sure you make it a priority so you can spend your time doing something far better in the future, like spending time with your family or doing something you really enjoy.
3. Learn how you’re spending your time
As I mentioned earlier, our phones are generally just a source of distraction. How many times do you catch yourself staring down at your phone instead of being in the moment? So often we mindlessly scroll or do other things and literally waste the time away.
So, keep track of it. Whether it’s using an app on your phone to see how you’re utilizing your time, a spreadsheet, or even just a simple journal or sheet of paper. Every hour or so, write down how you spent the last hour. It will only take a couple of moments to do, you don’t need to write a journal.
But, it’s important to be honest with yourself. No one will see these notes but you, and it will make a huge difference to figure out how you’re truly spending your time. If you’re wasting time scrolling facebook or pinterest while you’re preparing a meal, then maybe you could spend that time going through a drawer.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. But sometimes just figuring out where our time is actually going makes a world of a difference.
4. Delegate other tasks
Not everyone is lucky enough to have their spouse on board with the whole decluttering process. I get it. While I’ve been lucky and Trevor has always been 100% on board with ditching most excess, not everyone is that lucky.
While we can’t all have completely supportive spouses and other household members, we can declutter our own things and delegate other, non-decluttering tasks to other members of the household. Have your husband or kids do the dishes or put away the laundry instead of you doing it.
If you delegate some of the simple household tasks that take up your time to another member of the family, you can use that time to declutter instead.
5. Create a habit
Make something a simple habit instead of setting huge goals. You can make a habit of throwing away 3 pieces of trash a day. Or picking out 5 things to donate daily. Or even just one of each of those items.
Make a habit of going through at least one shelf or drawer daily until they’ve all been gone through. It can be simple and small, or a larger habit like every Saturday I’m going to declutter for one hour.
Just pick one thing and do that one thing for 21 days before you start another habit. 21 days is how long it takes to establish a habit… by the way.
6. Find an accountability partner
We do so much better with things when we have a partner to help us achieve our goals. Find someone else, whether it’s someone in your own household like a spouse or someone clear around the world that you know online.
Having someone else to help cheer you on and encourage you when the going gets rough is so incredibly helpful for anything difficult you’re trying to accomplish in life. You don’t have to go it alone. Simply find someone to help you through and keep you on task and you’ll get this done.
I know that if I’m having a rough go of it, I can tell my friend I need some accountability. And she will be right there rooting me on and making sure I spend at least 10 minutes a day decluttering when we check in with one another.
Decluttering can be difficult and overwhelming, I’m not going to sugar coat it and say it isn’t. But, it’s incredibly worthwhile and the concept of never having the time is simply an excuse to not have to deal with the difficult overwhelming task. It’s completely possible, though. You just have to realize what a difference it will make and then you can make the time.
Other than time what is keeping you from starting your decluttering journey?
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Decluttering is difficult. We get stuck, we want to give up, it’s hard to find the time and the focus required. I get it. I’ve been there.
I came up with so many excuses as to why decluttering all the excess junk in my life just wasn’t worthwhile. Or, I’d start decluttering and come up with a million excuses to hang on to things that I didn’t need to be hanging on to.
That sweater came from my long lost aunt, once removed from my fathers uncles mother. I’ve only met her once, but she wouldn’t want me getting rid of that.
Or, life would simply get in the way and I couldn’t, wouldn’t, find the time to work on it. I wasted more time dragging my feet that it took me a ton of time that wasn’t necessary. I created problems for myself instead of just embracing the fact that I knew I needed to make this work and get rid of all the excess stuff cluttering up my life.
Once I worked through these 9 excuses, I realized I was just mentally blocking myself. I felt so much better after we ridded ourselves of all this excess. Each bag was like a ton of weight off of my shoulders. Each day we set to sort through more was a welcome relief. Life without all of that stuff is so much better and more rewarding.
I was holding myself back thinking I didn’t deserve to be happy and not so overwhelmed. When in reality, I did deserve it, and so do you.
If you find yourself struggling with these hurdles and excuses, bear with me because I’ve got how to work through them all laid out so you don’t have to waste all that time and mental energy like I did.
9 Excuses We Make to Hang on to Our Clutter
Excuse 1 I Might Need It Some Day
Oh, this is a difficult one. We’re afraid that we may need something again even though we used it once, put it in the back of the closet and didn’t even remember it existed until 10 seconds ago.
The truth is, if you haven’t used something in 6 months, it is highly unlikely you’ll ever use it again. If you really sit down and are honest with yourself about it, I bet you can’t remember the last time you used it.
I know, it’s possible you’ll need to use it again. But, I bet you can borrow it from a friend or neighbor if you do require that particular item again.
Another suggestion I make to people is if you sincerely think you might need it, put it in a box with the other I might need it some day items. Tape it up and put it up on a shelf. Set yourself a reminder for 30 days on your phone. If the reminder goes off and that box is still sitting, taped up, on the shelf? Put it directly into your car, don’t open it, and take it to be donated.
Excuse 2 I Spent a Lot of Money on It
Stuff is expensive, I get it. I don’t even want to admit how many times we’ve donated high-ticket items because we collected them for no particular reason.
I’m definitely not made of money, and I’m sure you’re not either. However, the money wasted on the item is already spent and long gone. Not a lot we can do it now, unfortunately.
Whether an item cost $1 or $1,000 if you don’t love it, need it, or use it… let it bless someone else.
A note on selling items: I rarely suggest selling your stuff. Unless it is a particularly big ticket item you know you can unload quickly. If we just take a pile from our house and throw it in the garage for a one-day garage sale, it’s still cluttering up our space and, in turn, our lives and minds.
Excuse 3 If I get rid of this, I’ll feel guilty
You have a trinket your grandmother passed down to you from her own mother. Or, your aunt gave you this sweater you’ve never worn and you’ll feel guilty if you get rid of either item.
It can be difficult not to hold on to guilt thinking that the giver would be upset if you get rid of a particular item. Whether it’s something that has been handed down or simply a Christmas gift, it’s still a gift. If it’s not bringing value to your life, would that person truly want you to hold on to it?
When you give someone a gift is the idea that they should hold on to it forever or should they hold on to it until it no longer serves them?
When my mother passed away, I wanted to keep everything of hers that I had that was either hers or had been gifted by her. But, it wasn’t adding value to our lives to clutter up our home with stuff from her or that was hers. Instead, I picked a few meaningful items that I love and allowed my girls to pick a few items from her that they loved. We leave these items out where we can see them and be reminded of her each day instead of a bunch of stuff piled in a box that isn’t valuable or meaningful at all.
Excuse 4 It might be worth something
Sure, it might. I had toys from my childhood up until I was a young adult that would be worth money now. Most, however, wouldn’t be. Unless something is in fantastic shape, it’s probably not worth much at all.
If you truly want to do the homework and take the time to find a buyer for a particularly valuable item, you can. You’ll need to find out if it’s valuable, have it appraised, list it, hold on to it until you have a buyer, haggle, then sell. If you feel like you’re going to give away hundreds or thousands of dollars to the thrift shop, do some homework.
You still have to follow through, though. You can’t find out it’s valuable on ebay and then sit it in the corner. You need to have it appraised and then consequently list it and sell it. You need to follow through, otherwise it’s simply an excuse (which is what you’re trying to avoid).
Excuse 5 It takes too long to declutter, I don’t have time right now
Clutter is incredibly overwhelming, I totally get it. As someone who has 3 kids I homeschool, animals to care for, a business to run and a husband that works 70+ hours a week, I’m not exactly swimming in excess time. But, you know what? We made the time and now? We have more time together and I spend far less time cleaning. Which, is amazing… not having to constantly be cleaning.
Decluttering is an overwhelming project to add to your list of never-ending tasks, I get it. But, you can tackle this… slowly, but surely. I always ask people… do you have ten minutes a day you can spare? I bet you do. You can spend 10 less minutes scrolling on your phone, get up 10 minutes earlier, stay up 10 minutes later. There is somewhere, somehow that you can carve 10 minutes a day out. Then, you just declutter for those 10 minutes working on small areas until you get them finished and move on to the next space.
Excuse 6 My husband, kid, roommate, _____ isn’t on board
It can be difficult to declutter when everyone you share your home with isn’t on the same page. I’m lucky that my husband was totally on board with the decluttering habit. However, he does still hang on to far more than I think is necessary. And you know what? That’s okay.
My kids, they’ve pretty much just gone with it. But, not everyone is so lucky. Some of us have spouses, kids, or other people living with us that do not agree with the whole less is more mentality. And that’s alright. You don’t need everyone under your roof to agree. You simply set limits.
Husband doesn’t want to get rid of his stack of baseball cards? Wants to hang on to all of his clothes, tools, knick knacks. Maybe your mom lives with you and she wants to keep all of her stuff. That’s fine. Give your husband the garage, the basement, the closet. Give your mom her room or space. Whatever you need to do to keep the peace.
Make the spaces that you have to deal with daily clutter free. Such as the living room and the kitchen. Have the other individuals in the household store their stuff in spaces that haven’t been designated as clutter free. Clutter free zones can be decluttered and kept that way.
What will happen? You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised when the other members who gave you so much flack about decluttering eventually jump on board with the idea. It may take a while, but if you lead by example and don’t nag everyone, they’ll eventually come around when they see how much better your life is with less stuff.
Excuse 7 I’m saving it for my kids
They don’t want it. My mom kept so much of my childhood stuff. And I wanted very little of it. By holding on to something for your children, all you’re doing is passing on the burden of deciding what to keep and what to donate on to them. Keep a few meaningful items for your kids to decide when they’re old enough if they want to hang on to and that’s it.
For instance, I kept each of my daughters first stuffed toy and their baby blanket. I also have their hospital bracelets from birth. That’s it. My mom kept all of my baby teeth, she held on to every single piece of schoolwork I had, artwork, spelling tests, report cards, all of it. And I honestly don’t want any of that stuff.
Keep a few meaningful keepsakes and let the rest go. I know it’s difficult. This stuff is sentimental. But, it’s not going to be something your children truly want to hang on to when they’re older.
Excuse 8 Everyone else has one
This is that consumerism mentality we all have engrained into us coming out.
Who exactly is everyone else? And why do we care what they have and if we have the same things? We all have a habit of doing this and it’s a terrible habit. I don’t care if everyone in my neighborhood, town, state, or country has this thing. If it isn’t serving me and my family and bringing value and joy to our lives, we don’t need it.
The whole keeping up with the Joneses mentality is what often gets us into this mess of clutter we’re in. You do you and make your decisions on what you need and want in your life without taking the Joneses into consideration.
Excuse 9 I don’t know what to do with everything
I have fell into this trap before. I declutter everything, box it up and… it sits. It sits in the corner of my garage waiting for that maybe one day garage sale. Or, I sit it by the door, in the closet, somewhere awaiting its trip to the donation center. And it never gets there.
You aren’t done until all of that stuff is out of your home and where it’s supposed to be. Trash needs to be taken outside to the outside trash receptacle awaiting pickup. Recyclables need to be taken outside to the recycling can or your local recycling center and donations need to be taken outside to the vehicle to await your next trip to town to be dropped off.
Don’t say you’re done until you’ve gotten everything out of your house and well on its way out of your life. For donations, you need to bag or box them up, put them in the trunk of your car and set a reminder on your phone. We live pretty far from town, but we are in town at least once a week. So, I set a reminder on my phone for later in the week (give yourself a time limit that works with your schedule) to remember to take the stuff to the goodwill.
Another option for clothes is to donate to ThredUP. You fill a bag, send it off and they will donate $5 to one of their charities and give you a $5 tax credit. I haven’t used them personally, but I have heard some pretty good things about them. I mention this simply because it’s an option for not having to leave the house. You can simply leave it for your mail carrier, just remember to set it out!
I know how difficult it can be to even get started decluttering, we constantly come up with excuses to not do something. Or, we just don’t follow through. But, it’s worth it to work through these excuses and follow through. Not having all of that excess clutter is life-changing.
What is holding you back from decluttering?
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Life with kids is typically anything but simple. But, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming life full of too much to do, too many screens, and too much stuff. You can simplify life with kids. You just have to think outside the box.
And the benefits are many. When you begin simplifying your child’s life (and yours as a consequence) you will have more time for them, and they will have more capacity for creativity, learning, and relaxation.
Relaxation? What’s that??
It seems like in today’s modern world none of us have time for that, but that’s not normal and it’s certainly not healthy. Kids today have far too many toys, too many activities, and not near enough time for blank space and relaxation. Heck, none of us do….
We’re all over scheduled, overworked, and overwhelmed.
But all of this is detrimental to our health, and our children. They never have a chance to become their own person, develop their own personalities, and learn when to say enough.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you simplify things, they will have time to learn to be more creative, spend time outdoors in nature, and learn to say enough is enough and no. Well, they can learn to say no when you actually want them to. If your child is anything like my two year old everything is no haha.
9 Ways to Simplify Life with Kids
1. Conquer the Toy Clutter
The best place to start is the place that takes your child’s most attention. It’s time to declutter toys. When children have too many toy choices, they often play less, and more superficially than they do with fewer options.
I was surprised when I found my children play best when they don’t have a ton of toys but rather just a handful. When we go overboard with toy clutter (this happens a lot after holidays and birthdays) they’re often more cranky, play less, and aren’t near as imaginative.
When I remove the toys, only keeping a few simple toys on hand, they spend more time being creative, play more deeply, use their imaginations and really immerse themselves in play. They also get along a lot better when they don’t have so many toys to fight over. It’s amazing.
Along with toys is books. We are lovers of books in our home. I have instilled a love for reading in all three of my children even though the youngest can’t quite read on her own yet. We spend time reading daily and the books can easily pile up. But, it’s easier to only keep a few favorites and visit the library to find new books to enjoy. Less overwhelm, less space required, and they actually read more when we only have a book or two from the library to choose from.
2. Ditch the Screens
Oh how I have a love-hate relationship with screens. Since part of my job is to work behind a screen, it’s often a struggle for me to spend less time on screens. And since I’m a mom… it’s up to me to lead by example. But, all of that said….
Screens are awful. The less time I personally spend on them, the more calm I feel and the less overwhelmed I am. And, of course, the less screens… the more present we are with one another.
I can tell when my kids have had too much screen time. They’re irritable. They fight. They don’t listen. And they don’t play. Life glued to screens is not a life at all.
And ditching them is difficult. The average child is spending over 7 hours a day looking at a screen, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. With new educational tools utilizing technology for school, the TV, and the fact that it seems the whole world is glued to its phone or tablet it’s a struggle for most families to decrease that time. But… the benefits are by far and wide worth the effort it takes.
If they’re not watching TV, they aren’t seeing commercials for stuff that they think they need. They spend more time playing, being imaginative, and being kids.
3. Do Less
With never-ending schedules full of activities and the art of busyness that has swept across the country we don’t spend near enough time doing nothing.
We spend so much time going to and from, filling our schedules, mindlessly scrolling and watching that we often forget how meaningful it is to just spend time together.
It’s nice when you don’t have to worry about a schedule, having to be somewhere at a certain time takes away from being able to truly enjoy the moment. While you may have times where you think you must find something to do…. go for a walk, explore, read a book out loud together, build a fort, take the dog for a walk. Do something small, don’t set an alarm or put time limits on it, and just enjoy the moment.
4. Say No
They look at you with their beautiful faces… “please mom”. It can be so difficult to say no. But, it’s necessary. Say no to more obligations on the calendar, but also say no to more. They don’t need more toys, they don’t need to go every which where. Just say no and just be together. Spend your time living life instead of constantly being on the go or constantly thinking you need to buy something for yourself or them. They’ll quickly learn how peaceful and calm it is to just be in the moment and how little they really need to be happy and fulfilled.
5. Limit Incoming Stuff
My kids have a ton of stuffed animals. I have a huge collection of books. So, it’s time to impose a rule. No more stuffed animals, no more books. And if something comes in, something else goes out.
Impose a rule to keep the clutter from coming back. If you get rid of all that excess but you don’t do anything about keeping it from coming back you will spend your life in a perpetual mode of decluttering. Which, is fun for a short time and then you get burnt out and the clutter takes over again and you’re right back where you started.
Don’t let that happen. If your kids are terrible at accumulating stuffed animals, dolls, action figures… whatever it is. Impose a rule that says no new ones for a while. It doesn’t have to be forever, just for a time. Besides, once you’ve had the rule for a while you’ll often find they stop asking and it’s not such a struggle anymore.
And when you do allow them to get new things (yourself is included in this) at birthdays, Christmas, or just because… something else goes out. Keep it simple, you’ll be so glad you did.
6. Eat more Simply
I try not to keep us on a strict schedule. I allow most days to play out however they’re meant to. Which means that we don’t always sit down for supper at 5PM. While we almost always do sit down for supper together as a family (it’s extremely rare we don’t) it’s not always at a specific time.
Since it isn’t and I don’t want to start some extravagant meal at 430 in the afternoon, I’ve started simplifying our meals. Things that can be ready in less than an hour (often less than a half an hour) and don’t contain a ton of ingredients. This allows me to keep fewer things cluttering up the kitchen, it gives my kids an easier time helping out and learning how to cook right alongside me, and it frees up our time to spend on other things.
7. Spend time Together
Of course, right? But, instead of spending all of your hours in open, unstructured play, do something together. Let them help you cook dinner. Start a family reading hour. Play music together. Learn a new hobby like crocheting… something fun and engaging that you can do along with your children to interact on a whole different level and you all can learn along the way.
8. Go Outdoors
Spending time outside with your children is probably one of the absolute best things you can ever do with them. Nature is full of possibilities; learning opportunities, creativity, and healthy experiences.
It always amazes me the magical world that my kids develop in the outdoors. It’s so fun to really immerse myself into the world they’ve created and let time just fly by while we just enjoy being together. Our toddler is constantly asking to go outside and I oblige her as often as we can.
Unplugging and spending time outside in nature is beneficial to us all and we strive to spend as much time as possible outside, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Because the benefits far outweigh a little crummy weather.
9. Let go of Perfectionism
Life with kids is messy and that’s hard to admit as a neat freak and self-proclaimed perfectionist. But, just because I’ve let go of having a perfectly cleaned home doesn’t mean that I don’t take time to clean up and do chores. We just do them together, which often means they aren’t done the way I would do them. And that’s okay!
I’m more than willing to accept “good enough” in exchange for time with my kids and their happiness. I’m not constantly harping on them to clean up this or to do something a specific way. Instead, we clean up the living areas daily, make our beds, and keep it “good enough” that if a complete stranger walked in they wouldn’t want to run away.
Are my baseboards cleaned? Probably not. Is there mud tracked in on the kitchen floor? Probably. But, it’s not that bad and the time we spend together is far more meaningful than an immaculate house.
Life since having children has been far from simple, but we have found ways to simplify it and we are all so much happier and better adjusted. We enjoy each other and our time together more and spend far less time cleaning, organizing, and filling up our schedules. And I wouldn’t trade any of it for the old way we used to do things for anything in the world.
How do you simplify life with kids?
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