Simplify

Confession: I have a “stuff” problem. So much so that I am CONSTANTLY buying baskets to put my “stuff” in. I’ve come to the realization that I place waaaaay too much importance on material possessions, but they aren’t “important” to me.

I want to live simply…live with less, and do MORE of what I love. Enter my new goal: SIMPLIFY.

I don’t really know where to start, but I do know that I want this to be long term. So, I am going to start slow. If I purge too fast, I know myself well enough to know that I run the risk of going on a spending spree to replace what I purged. Classic Sarah.

My plan is simple. I am either going to donate or sell our “excess.”

I am slowly going through our home (systematically), examining its contents, and asking myself these questions:

1. Do I use/need it?

2. Does it add value (not monetary) or meaning to our life?

If the answer to either question is yes, then it stays. If the answer is no, then I ask myself another question…

3. Is someone likely to buy it? (Yes items are noted for garage sale)

If the answer is no, I ask myself one more question…

4. Could someone else need/benefit from this?

No? Trash. Yes? Into a box for donations it goes.

I am hoping this is just the beginning of something great for our family… time will tell. If you are on a similar journey or already living a “less is more” lifestyle, all tips, suggestions and words of wisdom are much appreciated. 🙂

This is definitely different than any kind of purge I’ve done before so, like I said before, I’m taking it slow. Radical change doesn’t happen over night :)…though my husband might say his Type A wife sometimes attempts just that…

In the Kitchen of a Type A Housewife

While I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a designer, I decided I am going to post before and after pictures of our new house as the rooms evolve and projects get completed.

Our first project was the kitchen. The changes were few, but the impact was huge!

What we did:
1) painted the cupboards black
2) added cabinet hardware
3) changed the wall color
4) painted the trim
5) changed the light fixture over table
6) window coverings (not pictured)
7) new appliances

Before

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After

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I don’t decorate my kitchen per se, but I do like it to look like some thought was put into it. For that reason, I make it a rule that anything “decorating” our kitchen has to be functional. Since pictures are more fun and where inspiration is usually drawn from anyway, I snapped a few pics of my kitchen and how I add “personality” to it.

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A stoneware crock holds utensils, and my copper tea kettle adds some visual interest.

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A basket holding cookbooks adds texture (and easy organization), and my dutch oven adds a pop of color.

Pretty simple, but I find these little elements charming as well as functional, and it doesn’t add unnecessary clutter.

Less is More

De cluttering can seem overwhelming. A few questions that immediately gave me pause when I started simplifying were: what defines clutter? What if it was a gift? What if I need it again? What if it holds sentimental value? What now?

Well, I have discovered that each one of those questions is (fairly) easily answered.

1. What is clutter? Anything that gets in the way of completing a specific task is clutter, and anything you don’t use or (really) love is clutter. (e.g. a centerpiece that has to be moved every time you sit down to dinner).

2. What if it was a gift? So what. Rest assured, the gift giver did not intend to give you something that would collect dust or that you would keep FOREVER. See answer to question 1.

3. What if I need it again? You likely won’t, but if you are worried put it in a box and let some time pass before getting rid of it. Also, really think about the word “need” as it is often confused with the word “want.”

4. What if it holds sentimental value? Objects don’t hold memories. You do.

5. What now? Donate it to benefit someone else or sell it to pay down debt.

When you are done, you won’t just have less stuff. You will have more time, more money, and more energy to focus on what really matters to you. Less is more.

Starting a Toy Rotation

I am simplifying our play spaces. They weren’t functioning the way I wanted them to so I started voraciously reading about Montessori principles.

I was immediately captivated by the clean, uncluttered spaces that promoted early literacy, math, self-help, fine motor and rest.

After extensive reading, I discovered that I didn’t “buy into” to the Montessori philosophy in its entirety, but that there were definitely aspects that I wanted reflected in our play space.

My Must-Haves
1. Good Design
The space should be uncluttered and everything should be easily accessible to little ones.

2. Promote exploring and learning

Before

In our previous play space, every toy was accounted for – talk about sensory overload!

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Confession: Our previous space made me itch a little. That probably explains why we spent very little time there…

Kids are kind of like puppies… give them too few toys, they get bored (and destructive); Give them too many toys, they get bored (and destructive). I decided to pare down and start a toy rotation.

All that is really needed for a good toy rotation is baskets…lots and lots of baskets, bins, and buckets (and a place to store the toys out of rotation).

Here is a little tour of our play space AFTER starting a toy rotation…

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We included a comfy chair with low arms so that the three of us can sit together to read a book or two (or five).

The six cubby unit keeps the area clutter free, organized and the activities are easily accessible. (It will also be easy to rotate new toys in when the kids get bored with these.)

The tent is an all time favorite for my kids. Sometimes they play peek-a-boo from behind the curtain door, and other times they like to sneak away for some quiet time. My favorite is when they go in together and I can’t see them, but can hear them giggling. My least favorite is when they go in together and someone ends up in tears.

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The child-sized table is a perfect spot to do something creative like draw or play with play-dough.

The kitchen is a perfect place to “play grown-up,” and a basket of instruments gives them an opportunity to give me a headache make a little music.

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As a recap, the must-haves for our Montessori-ish playroom are…

1. Good Design
The space should be uncluttered and easily accessible to little ones.

2. Promote exploring and learning

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our play space ☺

Sydney likes it!

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