Family · Household · Society

Is minimalism good for your soul?

The older our kids get, the more complicated our life seems to be. They are just getting to the ages where they want to get involved in activities and community. They also are not content just playing in one spot, they want to try new things, explore, and create. And we want to let them. What I don’t want is to be so consumed with cleaning, organizing, or finding lost things.

Where We Were

Before we sold our house, we were overrun with stuff. It was a struggle every day to find simple things and probably a good 30% of our house was unusable because of stuff. As we started to pack we got rid of a ton. I seriously threw out 7 tables! And I still have 2 and 4 end tables. We had too much.

We kept a lot of stuff because it would be useful. I wanted to do something with it. That broken pot? I say an awesome fairy garden idea with it that I really want to do for our front door. That box of random bottles? I want to use them to create lotions and soaps. That cord? It’s for a dream catcher I want to make. Everything was a project that I wanted to do. But what I found was that I never did them. My house was so cluttered and full, that I spent so much time cleaning and organizing. I had so many half-started, ideas of projects, that I couldn’t do any of them. I kept them all just in case I had time.

The most dangerous words for me were “Just in case”. We had this stuff, not because we needed it, but just in case we did in the future. I understand now that holding onto stuff came from a place of fear and anxiety. Having a significantly low-income, I knew that if something were to break or stop working that replacing it would put a dent in our finances that wouldn’t easily be returned. So, I kept the stuff because if something broke, we wouldn’t have to spend the money.

Mindset Makeover

What I didn’t realize was keeping stuff out of anxiety meant that the stuff became the anxiety. The amount of time I spent looking for things, or the extra cleaning, or just the sheer mental clutter that came from the physical clutter, was oppressing. And in what might be the worst turn of events, clutter is shown to decrease productivity, focus, and increases stress. The clutter that I was holding onto because I was worried about financial ruin, was actually keeping me from working more and making more money and doing any of the projects that I wanted to do.

So, we set out on a pursuit of a more minimalist lifestyle. It’s a goal I am still working towards, but one that we have made huge strides on.  I realized we need very little to be happy. With less stuff, we have more time to be a family.

Setting up Home

With our new minimalistic mindset, we set out searching for a new house. While many families of 5 say we need a 5 bedroom home with lots of space, we didn’t want that. I didn’t want to have 12 rooms to clean, and more space to accumulate for stuff. I didn’t want to have my kids “somewhere in the house”. I want to know where they are and have them with me. We started looking into smaller homes. Ones with 3, 2 or even 1 bedroom!

We knew that more space didn’t equal more happiness.

What we found was a super cute amazing 1930’s catalog home.

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Minimalism and Money

One of the best parts of the new home is the price. Priced at an amazing rate, we knew this is something we could pay off within 5 years at the most. Minimalism for me isn’t only about stuff. It’s about a mindset. Where you have and use what you need, not more or less. Minimalism is about a simpler life, more streamlined and carefree. And really that is what I want for my kids. I want us to have the freedom to explore, learn, and grow together.

Maximizing our Life

I don’t want to be stuck in a job or work 24/7. Yes, it means that we have to put in significant work to repair and clean. Yes, it took our entire savings to make this happen. But, we won’t be strapped down by overwhelming housing bills.

In the end, this means we can live the life we want. We can raise our kids, we can give back to our community, we can pursue adventures, much more than I ever thought was possible.

Did you know the average person only uses 20% of the items we keep (according to the National Association of Professional Organizers)? Did you know that on average Americans spend one year of their life looking for lost things? What would your life look like if it were simpler and clutter-free?


We still have a way to go!

One of the best things about minimalism is that we have more time to build and help community. So, we are reaching out to our community. Our remodel has just begun. We are removing a significant mold issue and we are in need of a new roof.  If you would like to help with our journey, Check out all the ways you can help

Before Pictures

Raise the Roof

Because we specialize in children’s toys, we are offering a “Raise the Roof” Sale on all of our products! Seriously, no exclusions! We are even offering a discount on our library,  which is full of helpful parenting and kids resources, guides, and fun.

Find out all of the information about our sales here!

Here is a sampling of a few of our products

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Household

The Benefit of Amazon That I Didn’t Know Existed

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Why did no one tell me?

I have had amazon prime for about a million years. But I have just discovered this amazing thing called Prime Sample Boxes. Of course, like any self-respecting mother, the first one I ordered was the Coffee and Tea sample box. So Let’s break it down

Honest Tea

I received two bottles of honest tea. One was unsweetened Peach Ginger Tea and one was Honey Green Tea. I love all teas so it wouldn’t matter much what they sent, but I like that they include a range of sweetened and unsweetened products.

So was it worth the price?

Of course

Let’s break it down

Honest tea #1 $1.50
Honest Tea #2 $1.50
Monster Java $1.50
Illy $2.30
Big Illy $2.50
Gold Peak Coffee #1 $2.30
Gold Peak Coffee #2 $2.30
Total $13.90

So as an average if you bought these drinks individually you would have spent $13.90 on them. I only paid $9.99. I will use all of these products and I would have bought something very similar anyway. So that right there makes it worth it to me.

But wait there is more! (Sorry I couldn’t help myself, I love cheesy infomercials). I get a $9.99 credit towards future purchases of these products (or select others in the same category). I typically don’t have a habit of buying grocery products on Amazon, but I would like to start. Sometimes they can be more expensive, but I always search out the stuff that is the same, or least expensive. This works best if you aren’t dedicated to a brand, packaging, or size of the product. Plus, I save money by not going to the store (Because I have an inability to stick to the list).

So, I spent my $9.99 credit on a 12 pack of honest tea. That means I got 19 drinks for $17.99

For those of you that are mental-math challenged like me, that is $0.94 average. Which is much less than you can buy any of these for. If you are like me and like to try new stuff this is the way to do it.

I also ordered the Household supplies box (and honestly will probably use my credit on toilet paper that I would have ordered anyway) and a beef jerky sample (which was awesome).

Have you tried the amazon samples or sample boxes?

Here are some of the other boxes they have available:






Family · Household · Preschool · Toddlerhood

The Reasons Why We Love Celebrating

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Have you appreciated a dragon yet?

It’s the end of January now, and many people are still feeling that holiday letdown. The excitement of the end of the year holidays gets us into overdrive. Then January second hits and the breaks are on. My kids felt it too.

Tempest would ask me “what day is today?”

When I answered “Tuesday” I could tell she was disappointed.

That is because what she meant was “what are we celebrating?”

This is when we decided to make celebrating part of our everyday lives, all year long. We have done so, by embracing the craziness, the silliness, and the all-out lavish holidays the internet has to offer.

There is a holiday out there for every day of the year. Some aren’t so suited for kids. My kids don’t get excited about Clean out your computer Day (Feb 12th). and every day for them is Work Naked Day (Feb 1st). But they do find joy in Eat Ice Cream For Breakfast Day (Feb 3rd).

Here are some of the Holidays we have celebrated lately:

Appreciate A Dragon Day

 

Bubble Bath Day

 

National Popcorn Day

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How We Make it Special:

Most of these holidays we don’t go over the top with. I might make something special for a meal. National popcorn day we had Popcorn chicken from KFC and White chocolate covered popcorn with sprinkles (Known as Party popcorn in this house).

Here are some of the things I think about when looking at holidays

  • Menu
    • What do I need from the store?
    • What can I make into something fun? (Such as dragon eggs for Dragon Day)
  • Coloring Pages
  • Is there an activity involved? (Like taking a bath for Bubblebath Day)
  • Are we going to go somewhere?
  • Should I buy toys or things from the store?
    • My favorite things for an inexpensive celebration
      • Silly String
      • Glow Sticks
      • Party Hats
      • Hit up the party section, there are a ton of little additions. You’ll spend a dollar, your kids will think you are the coolest

Ready for Your Own Fun?

Click below to get FREE access to our Holiday Calendar and see what is coming up that you can celebrate

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Family · Household · Mom Life

Back to School Season is Upon Us

Fall is always stressful for families. Most families are getting ready for the dreaded (or if you are a parent, I am told, celebrated) back to school season. I myself have been part of the back to school craziness for quite some time.

Between double majoring for my bachelor’s degree and then continuing on for my master’s, fall has been back to school season for me for most of my adult life. And I love it. I love the pens and notebooks. I love filling out new planners and lists. I love the excitement that surrounds new classes.

But I also know that it is extremely stressful. Moving from the fun of summer, into the business of fall is a drastic change. It’s a new schedule to get used to and a new mindset.

I am lucky that now that I am done with my degree, I am not worrying about all that back to school stuff. I don’t have books to buy or classes to figure out. But it doesn’t mean I’m immune to the stress of the season. Partly this is because I work at a university. So, while I don’t have to worry about this stuff. I am gearing up for our busy semester. And I am seeing all sorts of other students who are freaking out and stressed, which is stressful by itself.

But in my household, there is another reason that fall is stressful. We own a booth at the Michigan Renaissance Festival.While this is an amazing place to work and play, it also means two, many time three of my days are completely filled up with Renaissance Festival work. Its two more full days that are starting off full on my schedule. And it comes right at the back to school craziness.

Of course this year we are also getting ready to move among the already over-scheduled, stressful time of the year. As you can imagine. I feel a little stretched thin.

So everyone, Give me your tips and tricks for staying sane this back to school season. What makes it easier for you?

 

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Family · Household · Toddlerhood

Preparing to Prepare to Move

You may have noticed a little extra silence around here. We’ve been busy around here. As some of you might know, we have been working to sell our house. The thing about selling is that as soon as your house hits the market you think about moving, but you have no idea when that will happen. For us our house has been on the market for almost a year now. With any luck we will be moving very soon. The worst part of this whole experience has been living from month to month. You think that at any time you need to be prepared to move within the month. Throughout this last year we have learned a lot about our family and how we live

1. How much stuff we actually have.

Even after a year of pairing down junk, we still have a house full of stuff. It’s amazing how much that we actually have. Every day I find another thing we don’t need. yet still our basement is half full (which is an improvement from all the way full). We don’t buy hardly anything, yet still our life is run by stuff.

2.
How little stuff we need

When I really started thinking about things we absolutely needed to live, the list is very small.

We of course also have the list of stuff that we could manage to live without short-term, but not if its going to be another year. This sort of categorizing has driven me a little insane. I have been tempted to stick post it notes on everything we own to tell me when and where it is going. So far my house has avoided post-it note collages, but I make no guarantee about in the future.

3.
How much my family lives for schedules

Besides the instant decision to clean house, another side effect of listing your house is that you have to start planning your life around showings. I hate showings. I hate life with showings. The house must be clean and show ready at all times, this leaves little time to do anything else.

But the benefit to this has been my family has found a love of schedules. Because I know I have little time a week we have begun to plan everything. This is also another reason for the silence on this part. With our new schedule, we leave little down time. It means a lot of family time and fun activities, but not so much time to write.

Hopefully this is over soon

We continue to plan for our big move, without a completely clear idea of when that will happen (although we hope it will be soon). In the meantime, I’m enjoying clearing out the clutter, having extra special family time, and getting life simplified and in order.

And if any one has tips on how to move with two little ones, please, please, please share. That will be a whole other ball game.