Simplifying Motherhood

Simplifying Motherhood: How to Balance Home as a Mom

Mom’s carry a mental load of all the details it takes to run a family. It’s what makes being the wife and mother of the house so overwhelming–even more than the dishes, laundry, and chauffeuring. I first read about this “mental load” that moms carry here. Those words were so validating as many times I’ve told my husband something similar.

But it usually comes out with descriptions about being overwhelmed with all the things and what it takes to care for a family of 5. It took me 10 years and having 3 kids to fully realize all that running a household and being a wife and mom requires of me. Although many of these responsibilities and burdens are true for women no matter the structure of the home.

While technically no one else can take away or fully relieve that load, there are some ways it can be simplified and lightened a bit for ourselves. I know this because these are the things that make my own mental load feel less burdensome. And when I’m most overwhelmed with the mental load, these are the things most often forgotten or missing.

 

Know what’s on your mental load.

Write it all down. What are your current responsibilities and concerns? What keeps you up at night? This might seem like focusing on the problem at first, but maybe like me you haven’t stopped to really consider why you’re stressed or overwhelmed. When you add it all up, it starts to make sense. There’s a reason I feel like I’m always behind, because my to-dos and concerns are more than any one person can or should maintain. If nothing else, that’s just validating. And seeing the problem is just the start of finding ways to resolve it. Or at least accept the parts that can’t be changed, or will be gone before you know it (dang kids growing up too fast and too slow all at the same time).

 

Learn from those who have gone before.

I sometimes forget that I don’t have to reinvent how to be a mom and run a household. It’s been done for many years, and even though some of the specifics have changed (good-bye cloth everything; hello Pinterest), some of the best tricks are timeless. I generally stay away from posts telling me what I’m doing wrong or what I “should” be doing, and instead go in search of ideas for problems or concerns highest on my priority list. I know we should eat better, but for now my meal idea searches are focused on dishes that don’t need recipes. Ditto on just about every other category–at this point in my life, I want to know the least I can’t get by with doing. Which brings me to my next point…

 

Know who you are and be that.

My desire to find the easiest solution is largely because of my part-phlegmatic personality type. Even if I wasn’t juggling the demands for my family of 5, I’d probably still want the easiest solution. I’m a picky eater, raising picky eaters, so simple customize-able meals (burritos, pasta, breakfast for dinner) are where it’s at for us. My sanity requires a simple, clean home, so I prioritize that in my day. And I value reading time, but don’t always do it with my kids. You’ve likely already done at least one personality test. Are you melancholy, choleric, phlegmatic, or sanguine? Or maybe there’s another test you’ve done or maybe you just know some things about yourself and how you tick–especially your strengths and weaknesses. Use your strengths and find cheats for your weaknesses.

 

Let go of what doesn’t fit.

That brings me to my next point: Just because it worked or is working for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for me or my family. Whether it’s how to do the laundry–I’ve heard some recommend running a load every day (no thanks!), while I have to knock it out in one laundry day every week–how to keep up with the dishes, or how to do your meals and nighttime routines, ideas can only get you so far. A solution is only a solution if it’s one that works for you and your family. Let go of the ideas that don’t work for you guilt-free.

 

Set some routines for a better autopilot.

The great thing about habits, aka autpilot, is that they actually free up your mental space. You don’t have to think about what needs to be done, it just naturally happens. It’s a miracle! Making my bed hasn’t been on my to-do list since I was 10. I learned about creating habits, worked on it for less than a month, and to this day I don’t leave my room in the morning without making my bed because it’s a habit. Same with brushing my teeth, and now with taking my vitamins. I’ve been working on extending this to my family, especially with our morning, after school, and evening routines. Of course choosing these habits and helping reinforce them is initially another thing on my mental load–but eventually it will pay off in them learning good habits and me having less to tell everyone to do.

 

Make 1 simple meal plan and repeat it weekly.

This is the one thing that has helped me, even when I’m complaining about our meals. Years ago I set theme nights for each night of the week (mostly revolving around a main ingredient: pasta, beans, rice, eggs, soup). There was a short season that I more intentionally varied the actual dishes we had each week and looked for recipes to try. Lately, our meals are all no-recipe-needed and we repeat them week to week. The plus side is that we do have a meal plan to follow, and thus a recurring shopping list to keep us on track. I don’t love it and want to mix up our meals, but for now, this is all my mental load will allow and I’m thankful to use my brain space for something else.

 

Do what really matters.

On the note of freeing up my brain space for something else, it’s important to do about what really matters–for you. Maybe improving your family’s meals is a high priority for you–by all means, do it! Sometimes I flip out about dirty laundry or dishes piling up, because those are simple things that can really ruin my sanity and make me impatient. Of course, I try to remember what really matters–the people in my home. Also, I know that I’m more likely to actually enjoy my time with them when our living room is picked up 🙂

 

Get rid of something. Repeat.

Initially getting rid of something feels like adding something else to my to-do list. Once it’s done, it’s like removing actual weight from that mental load I carry. I dread having to declutter, but every. single. time. I do, I feel so much lighter and freer for quite a while after. This isn’t just in theory. It literally removes two heavy burdens: 1. The excess stuff is gone and 2. the space is easier to keep clean. If I were to prioritize this list, this would probably be at the top because it always leaves the biggest, longest lasting impact for me. Read more about simplifying with kids in my ebook Simplifying Home.

 

Involve others.

Husband, kids, friends, or family. Some might call this “asking for help,” but I’m not very good at that. Because A. I can do it myself, and B. I can do it better myself. (Insert nervous laughing emoji. Is that a thing? Because it should be.) So clearly that’s a problem and not the best mentality for doing life. I’m slowly learning to involve others, or “ask for help.” For now, this means trying to remember to clearly and calmly tell my husband what I need him to do instead of getting mad that he just didn’t automatically know to do it. It means working with my school-age children to do chores more independently. It means asking for someone to watch my kids if I need a break or a date night with my husband. It also means making time to see friends who “get” this whole mom’s-mental-load thing and help me not feel so alone in it.

 

Cope in healthier ways.

We all deal with stress in different ways. (And we understand that the “mental load” we carry as moms is stress, right?) There are ways to deal with that stress that are beneficial or at least neutral and some that are downright sabotaging. I sometimes often need to zone a little at the end of the day, but late night binge-ing doesn’t exactly help those stressful mornings go any smoother. I like a little retail therapy during an outing by myself, but unplanned shopping sprees doesn’t exactly help those overflowing closets that are already stressing me out. You get the idea. Find ways to get a break from the stress without adding more stress. (And if when you slip, offer yourself grace. Old habits are hard to let go of.)

 

Take care of yourself.

If we’re not at our best, it’s hard to act our best and get done what needs to be done. Ask me how I know. (Or just see my post about self-care on my personal blog.) Slow and steady self-care over the long haul has been the theme of my life for a little while. I recently realized I kept comparing who I am as a mom now of 3 kids to who I was as a mom when I had only 1 kid. My mental load has drastically increased, along with all of my day-to-day responsibilities, and yet I still expect myself to do everything I used to do. And never really learned to care for myself along the way. So I’ve been relearning that, and it’s making a big different in my ability to peacefully carry my mental load as a wife, mom, and home manager.

 

Finally, instead of adding more to your to-do list, consider replacing the list. Do something that will lighten your load from the ideas above. Perhaps creating a simple meal plan or getting rid of a grocery bag of clutter? Then you might be surprised you have some free space to do some of those others things you’ve always wanted to do as a mom.

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also see:
new? start here…
you are one person: know your limitations
finding a calm home in the chaos of kids
two essential habits for simplifying
Simplifying Home (the ebook)

*Note: Affiliate links used in this post. That simply means any purchases made through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you. Thank you!

 

Taking a Break for Summer Enjoyment

Simplifying Seasons - Summer Enjoyment

I’m stepping away from social media for the month of July. A month-long tech-break has been on my want-to-do list for a long time, so I put it on my 30-before-30 list and now I’m finally making it happen. There are a variety of reasons I’m doing it, and a range of results I can guess might happen. Mostly, it’s a break like any other to set aside a routine, a habit, and experience life a little simpler.

In my ebook, Simplifying Home, I follow the intro up with a chapter on Simplifying Seasons and Seasons of Life. Seasons are such a perfect term, figuratively and literally, for the flow of life. There’s a time to plant and a time to pick what has been planted; a time to laugh and a time to cry; a time to log on and a time to log off; a time to declutter and a time to simply enjoy life and home and family as it is in this season. (That’s my rough paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.)

Especially as we’re literally in summer, and as a I get ready to log-off for a month to enjoy it, here’s a snippet from my ebook on Summer Enjoyment as a Simplifying Season:

Summer is full of activity and mature foliage. It’s known for long, sunny days that produces lively blooms, and the freedom of summer vacation to enjoy them. Even if you’re beyond summer breaks from school, summer brings with it an opportunity to trade in the usual responsibilities at home for Summer Enjoyment. Its easy-breezy air is a welcome opportunity to visit new places and try new opportunities.

When simplifying, summer is a great time to take a break from the obligations of home to focus on people, places, and experiences. It’s a time to put home routines on autopilot and let energy be spent on life beyond the physical home.

And here’s a little of what Summer Enjoyment might look like as a season of life:

The warmer, carefree days of summer embody the times in life that welcome your simple presence and enjoyment. These are seasons of vacations and holidays; of full hearts and lives; of feeling satisfied, content, peaceful, fulfilled, or loved; of satisfaction in work, home, relationships, or overall life; of embracing the present before it passes. This season has its threats, but the biggest is that its blessings often aren’t realized until it passes.

With that, I’m cutting my ties with the online world for a month to appreciate the blessings that surround me before they pass. Quite honestly, there might be some decluttering involved as I fill my usual mindless scrolling with more productive activities. Whatever the case, I’m looking forward to a break and all the surprises that can come with it.

Wherever you are in your simplifying season or in your season of life, I’m wishing you a break for calm and enjoyment to encourage you in your journey.

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For more, see my ebook Simplifying Home. Then sign up for emails for ongoing support.

Natural Cleaning Routines

Tips + Tools for a Naturally Clean + Simple Home

A big part of simplifying home (and maintaining a simple home) is regular cleaning routines. I used to stay on top of pretty specific daily and weekly cleaning checklists, but that was several years and two kids ago, so this is not that post.

Instead, I’m sharing some of our favorite mostly-natural cleaning produ

cts that make the cleaning jobs easier when we finally get around to them and keep our home feeling fresh and clean even in the midst of our daily busyness. And hopefully you’ll get a tip or two for enjoying simple cleanliness a little more often.

Simple Routines for a Naturally Clean Home

Often the days get away from us, and if we’re not careful, we’ve soon gone weeks without doing any real cleaning in our home which usually means more work later. For some, that might not be a big deal. But in our family of 5, even a week without cleaning means too much clutter and mess to even be able to relax in our home. There are a few things we aim to do daily, weekly, and seasonally to help prevent bigger messes, to feel proud of our home when people visit, and to relax and use our spaces well.

Daily-ish: The 20-Minute Quick Clean

First, we aim to do a 20-minute clean most days. I stay home with the kids, so some of this is done throughout our day which technically makes it more than twenty minutes. Even so, we usually try to join all our efforts at the end of the day to make sure we’re starting fresh the next day and not getting too comfy in our mess.

This routine usually involves:

Dishes. This is one of those things we try to do as we go–loading the dishwasher at the end of each meal and hand-washing any extras. Still, by the end of the day, there are usually a couple odds and ends that need to be rinsed and added to the dishwasher or hand-washed.

Pick-up. Each person picks up their belongings, and the kids usually team work together for the messes they’ve made in the living room. Items are returned to their proper rooms, mail is recycled or put on my desk for filing, the kitchen counter is cleared, the living room floor is cleaned up, and the entryway shoes and such are put back in order.

Floors and surfaces. My husband is usually the floors guy. We keep the vacuum handy on the main floor and he vacuums in the living and dining rooms where the kids seem to drop a lot of cracker crumbs. I also try to do a quick wipe down of kitchen and bathroom counters and the dining table. With kids, this is almost essential or everything quickly starts looking grubby and gross.

Weekly-ish: The 1-Hour Deep Clean

Like I mentioned before, I used to use a detailed checklist to do a weekly deep cleaning of our home. Sheets were washed, and bathrooms and kitchen were deep cleaned weekly. This is not that season in our lives. Now, instead of doing everything on the list every week, I aim to spend an hour or so doing a couple of the deeper cleaning tasks. As the kids get older, I’m also able to employ their help a little more, and hopefully we’ll be back into a better weekly deep cleaning.

For now, these weekly cleans include… (I can still hardly believe I used to do all of this almost every week)

Kitchen. Sometimes I do a scrub down of the oven and the burner plates on the stove. Sometimes I remove all the rugs and try to do a deeper clean of the floor (this needs to be done every week, but just doesn’t happen). Sometimes I clean out the microwave. My focus usually goes to the dirtiest spot.

Bathrooms. The bathrooms just don’t get the attention they need. Weekly cleaning sometimes involves removing anything on the floor and doing a quick wet sweep; it’s more often just a quick hand wet wipe around the toilet. I wipe down the counters and the mirror with a wet wipe. My husband usually takes care of scrubbing the toilet and the showers.

Bedrooms. In our daily cleaning we don’t make a big deal about cleaning bedrooms. We usually have the kids spend a few minutes cleaning up, but we don’t always follow up or check in or help them. Once a week we have them spend a little more time making sure everything is picked up and put away where it belongs and my husband will bring the vacuum upstairs to vacuum the bedrooms. We don’t have a lot of surfaces to dust, but those get wiped down as needed, too.

Laundry. I do laundry (including towels) the same day each week to try and avoid having it lay around in baskets all week (although that happens a lot, too). As the kids get older, and now that they’re home for the summer, I’m involving them more. So I have a day I focus on doing my husband and my’s laundry and the towels. Then I have the kids help me with their laundry from washing to folding to putting away. We have a laundry bag in the master bath for our clothes, a laundry bag in the upstairs hall for the kids’ clothes, and another laundry bag in the downstairs hall for any dirty towels or socks that need a place to land on the main floor.

Monthly-ish: The Seasonal Declutter

In the past I’ve done more thorough decluttering / simplifying home challenges each spring and fall. This process has become a lot easier and quicker over the years, especially since our initial decluttering. There’s still plenty that needs decluttered throughout the year as a family of 5 and with kids that seem to be magnets for stuff.

Here’s some of the areas that need decluttered regularly…

Mail / Papers. I try to take care of this as we go. Mail that comes in the house is immediately opened and either tossed in recycling (generic ads or mailers with only our address on them), tossed in the trash (if more personal details are included), or put on my desk to be acted on (i.e., pay medical bills or file important docs). When papers are filed, I’ll usually toss the oldest version of that doc, so I’m only keeping on hand the most recent and necessary records. Still, occasionally I’ll go through and find we have outdated documents that serve no purpose and need to be recycled or shredded. I keep our papers in two portable file holders and those are my limit for papers. If they’re too tight and not fitting anymore, then I know it’s time to get rid of old papers to make more room.

Toys. I’ve heard people blame a toy problem on the parents, which I partly agree with. Especially with young kids, we are in charge of how many toys our kids have and sometimes we’re even the ones buying them. Since we don’t buy our kids a lot of toys and they still often have too many toys, I can vouch for the fact that kids are simply magnets for stuff. Even some of the freebies from birthdays and other smaller trinkets are some of their most prized possessions and thus hard to let go of. We try to go through these each fall just in time for their winter birthdays / Christmas. We also do a little toy decluttering in the spring as we get ready for spending more time outdoors. Their toys are kept on shelves in each of their rooms and a shelf in the basement (especially handy in the cold winter months when they can’t go outdoors). When the toys don’t fit in those spaces or when they aren’t able to clean them up themselves, then we know it’s time for a decluttering.

Clothing. I go through the kids clothes twice a year as we go into colder months and again as it gets warmer. We get rid of anything they’ve outgrown and make a list of anything we need to fill in the gaps for the coming season. Twice a year would be good for my clothes too, but I usually end up doing it yearly or less. I’ve gotten a better sense of my simple style and am a little better about buying clothes only if I need them and love them.

Books. When I want to read a book I always check to see if I can get it through the library or borrow it from a friend. For the books I do buy, I try to find someone to pass them onto as soon as I’m done. I have a couple I keep for reference, especially if they have photos I can flip through for inspiration. I have a bin on our bookshelf for my books and when the bin gets full I know it’s time to let go of a few to make more room.

Outbox. Whenever I do a seasonal declutter, in addition to the above items, I make a list of 3-4 specific areas that need my attention. As I go through each, I put anything I don’t need or love into an outbox, which is usually tubs that get set aside in our basement. Sometimes I stay on top of getting things dropped off for donation right away. Other times, I have to go through these tubs and make final decisions when I work on the next seasonal decluttering. I’d love to have our home simplified and nothing sitting around in an outbox. For now, I’m learning to accept we’re in a season of our lives that we’ll likely have something waiting to be processed in the outbox and that’s still better than it cluttering up our main living spaces.

Tips and Tools for a Naturally Clean and Simple Home

Note: Affiliate links used. See full note at bottom of post.*

Products for a Naturally Clean Home

In the collage above are some of our favorite go-to cleaning tools for somewhat natural / less toxic cleaning. Below is a little more about them and how we use them.

Air Freshening / Disinfecting Spray

This is my favorite / most-used item lately. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it doesn’t involve any real cleaning. I mix together 50/50 witch hazel and water in one of our cobalt spray bottles, then add in 8-16 drops essential oils–either a citrus blend or tea tree or peppermint. All of those smell fresh and also help fight bacteria and kill germs. (The all-purpose cleaner below works too, but I don’t love the lingering smell of vinegar.) I keep these sprays in the bathrooms where I can quickly spray around the toilet or trash on a daily basis. I also do this along with a quick wipe down of the bathroom for a weekly cleaning and before guests come over.

Baby Wet Wipes

Okay, in full disclosure, I feel the need to list these as my go-to cleaner lately. It is my most-used item after the air freshener spray above. I buy unscented baby wipes from Target and keep a package of them on the back of all 3 toilets in our home. This started as a way to be able to do diaper changes wherever and not have to run throughout the house looking for wipes. But it’s proven handy in so many ways. I mentioned I don’t get deep cleaning done as often as I’d like, but having wipes on the back of the toilet makes an easy handy solution to grab and wipe the counters or toilet seat or floor around the toilet (where son misses) or even the mirrors. It mostly just does a quick surface cleaning, then I can use either the air freshener spray (above) or the all-purpose cleaner (below) to help with the germs / bacteria side of things. It’s definitely not ideal, but at this season of our lives, it keeps us from living in a gross mess.

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner (vinegar, water, essential oils)

I mix this together in a larger spray bottle than the air freshener spray above. I mix 50/50 white vinegar and water with 10-20 drops essential oils (depending on the size of the bottle) and again use either a citrus blend or peppermint. A little thieves blend is stronger in killing germs, but should be used in moderation and avoided around young kids. This works as a general cleaner to spray surfaces and wipe clean. Or if I need to scrub an area, say the stove or the shower, I’ll spray this cleaner over a layer of baking soda and let set 20 minutes or so before scrubbing and rinsing. This can also work as a disinfecting spray in place of Lysol–just lightly spray surfaces or door handles and let dry.

Baking Soda in a Shaker

Baking soda is great for areas that need to be scrubbed. It also works well down a drain, and especially down the garbage disposal, with a cup of vinegar followed by hot water. Or I’ll grind in ice to help clean the garbage disposal. I got a shaker to use when we cloth diapered that comes in handy for easily sprinkling baking soda in the shower or over the stove top. It can also work well sprinkled over carpet and let set, then vacuum up to help remove odors.

Swiffer Sweeper

We used to have a Swiffer Sweeper for years, and now have another brand of the same thing. I love that it perfectly holds a kitchen wash cloth for when we want a reusable option. We used to wet the rag, then use the all-purpose cleaner (above) to spray the floors and/or spray directly on the cloth. Lately we’ve been using the disposable versions, but hope to get back to the reusable cloth. The kids have started to ask to do this, and it’s a great chore for them. Either way, the sweeper is a quick and easy solution to clean kitchen and bathroom floors.

Microfiber Cloths

My husband does car detailing on the side and got us stocked up on the microfiber cloths. They are great for cleaning surfaces, and can even be used dry for an easy dusting. We haven’t owned dusting spray in years because these and an occasional light use of all-purpose spray gets the job done.

White Floursack Towels

These floursack towels (not shown in collage) are mostly just the hand towels we use in the bathrooms. I keep several on the counter so they can be easily rotated to keep a clean towel ready. A dry one also works great after I clean the mirrors with either a baby wet wipe or the all-purpose cleaner. These towels remove streaks and smudges, leaving the mirrors looking great.

Diffuser / Essential Oils

In addition to the air-freshener spray, another thing we do a lot is diffuse essential oils. This is similar to the spray in that it makes the air smell good and can de-germ the space around the diffuser. I love diffusing citruses (they’re my favorite oils), and peppermint is a great germ killer and smells good around the holidays. We also have a calming blend we like to diffuse in the evenings or when company is around. Some essential oils take some getting use to the smell, so I try to stick with the smells that are more like a candle and less like a weird herb. Or we just use the diffuser before company comes and then turn it off when they’re here. (You can go here for >> essential oils basics with our favs and more ways we use them.)

Air-Cleansing Houseplants

I love plants, but the real green thumb in our home is my husband. Anything we’ve kept alive is all thanks to him. Several years ago I learned about air-cleansing houseplants (<<click the link to see my original post about them) and we bought several to put throughout our home. We have 2 still doing well, but a couple need to be tossed so we can start over. These are a natural way to purify the air in a home. It takes a 6-inch plant from the list to cleanse 100-square-feet in 24 hours. Plus, they look great. Other useful houseplant options are select herbs that you could use in your cooking–also on my list, but I need to work on my green thumb first.

That covers our favorite cleaning products and some basic cleaning routines we use to fake a clean home until we can make it. Feel free to add some of your favorite tricks or challenges you face in the comments below.

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For more about simplifying routines, checkout my ebook Simplifying Home. Then, sign up for emails for ongoing support.

*Note: Affiliate links used. Purchases through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support.

Finding Simplicity Online

I have a love-hate relationship with technology and especially social media. I spend most of my work time on the computer. Some of that time is spent writing and creating (aka work), and a lot of that time is spent online getting distracted. Whether you work in an office or work from home or don’t even work on the computer, I imagine you might relate to being overwhelmed by tech use.

The truth is that while I waste hours using social media in ways I know I shouldn’t (hello, comparisons and mindless scrolling), I can’t let that discredit the tremendous blessings it’s opened for me. My biz besties I met in a Facebook group for an ecourse I took, and 3 years later we still “meet” over Google Hangouts biweekly to encourage and challenge each other. Hey, thanks internet.

I attended a local gathering that I found out about from an online community. I didn’t know a single person there, but that one meeting has led to a life-giving local monthly bloggers group and my getting to take part in our local Listen to Your Mother show. Who knew, internet, you do have great things to offer.

Those are just a couple of the bigger examples where the internet has had tremendous ripple effects in my life. So while I spend a lot of time moaning and complaining all the ways I am tempted to misuse technology and let it control me, there are actually many worthwhile benefits.

Technology doesn’t have to be the time-suck (and life-suck) that many of us allow it to be. Here are some practical ways to simplify online, keep the addiction in check, and find the blessings in technology.

 

Set limits.

Choose a tech “curfew” of sorts, which comes in handy for kids, too. Have a house rule that you don’t use tech (tv, tablets, phones, etc.) before a certain time in the morning, then shut them down and plug them in by a certain time in the evening. Also consider the consistency or recurrence of times you check-in. Maybe instead of incessantly checking email or social media throughout the day, have 1-3 checkpoints that you intentionally log in, then log out. And look at your duration, too. If you’ve been on Facebook for more than 30 minutes, it’s likely you’ve crossed over into mindless scrolling.

Check motivations.

Knowing why you’re on the device or social media, why you’re posting, and why you’re commenting can go a long way in making sure your intentions are good. If you don’t know why or it’s fueled by something negative, then it’s probably a good idea to step away because that time is not likely to end in the blessings of technology.

Find other outlets.

While social media is a great way to easily reach out to people, mix-up the ways you connect with people. Use your journal to work out your feelings rather than an obscure Facebook rant. Send a handwritten thank you note or birthday card to people you care about. Text or call to keep your interactions with family and friends a little more personal than public posts and comments.

Make it useful.

There are good things that come out of the internet and being online, so spend some time investing in those and be one that adds to the good. Give compliments. Write positive or at least productive reviews. Share the inspiring or funny posts rather than the emotionally charged political rants. Be kind and graceful and ask questions to use the internet to “listen” to others. Ask how you could “serve” people in this abstract world that so many of us spend so much of our time. Reach out and make connections, invite people to things, or accept invitations to things. Put ebooks on your phone so that you can do something a little more productive with your device when you find yourself with an extra few minutes to kill.

Join a support group.

No, seriously, join a real life group. It doesn’t have to be a specific “Online Anonymous” type group for addicts (which, lets face it, we all are). Start or join a mastermind group with like-minded people. Start a small group in your home or in your church. Organize a local gathering from an online community. The point is to have a place to talk face-to-face with real people that get the real challenges of using technology while staying present in real life.

Make online the echo, not the life.

Simply live, then post. This point becomes very obvious to me as a writer. My husband has pointed out my desire to do things just so I have a story to tell and something to write about. That is 99% true. I would have nothing to write about if I spent all day on my computer (like I often do). But that’s true for non-writers, too. We just simply aren’t living our lives if all we do is go to work or put our faces into devices. Life is living, breathing people doing things that require living and breathing. So get out there and live. Then, if you really must post, make that an echo of your life well-lived.

Technology is a tool. Let’s keep it that way and not give it the power to make a tool out of us. (See what I did there?) As with most things in life, anything that gets this much of our time and attention deserves a pass through the simplifying process. How could you simplify your time online? Let’s talk challenges or what works for you in the comments below. ↓

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For more about simplifying and overcoming challenges to simplicity like technology, checkout my ebook Simplifying Home. Then, sign up for emails for encouragement in simplifying your home.

 

Two Essential Habits

I used to think simplifying was a complex combination of tricky organization, painful sorting, and eventually becoming a different person, because my struggles with stuff just didn’t seem to mesh with simplicity. The truth is that finding simplicity is actually a little simpler and a little easier and it all starts and ends with two simple habits.

Send more out + bring less in.

I know, it seems I’m over-simplifying this. But let’s unpack those two habits for a moment.

 

More Out…

This is simply letting go. It could be intentionally removing the excess from your home either space-by-space like I do or in categories like Marie Kondo insists. You could simply just aim to fill and donate a paper bag each week. You could choose a month to get rid of one item on Day 1, two items on Day 2, etc. Or simply get rid of at least 1 item a day for the year. Whatever you choose, also employ the one-in one-out rule so that for every item you bring into the home, you take one out so as not derail your progress. This is obvious when you replace a worn-out shirt, but could be more of a challenge when you bring home items you bought just for fun.

 

Less In…

Essentially stop the stuff before it becomes a problem you later have to deal with. This happens a lot of ways including rethinking your shopping habits and stop browsing or “window shopping” for fun. Say “no” to unneeded freebies whether promotional materials or hand-downs from a friend. Add any perceived needs to a list first so you have time to consider the best purchase that will actually get used. Deal with anything that comes into the home at the door considering if it helps or hinders your life, and don’t give it a permanent home if you don’t love or need it.

Makes practical sense, right?

When simplifying feels complex and overwhelming, remember the basics: More out, less in. Those two simple habits, even over time without doing a dedicated simplifying challenge, will land you where you want to be in a simple home and a simple life.

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For more, checkout my ebook Simplifying Home, and sign up for emails for encouragement to simplify your home this year.

 

Hello and Welcome!

I’m Trina, the girl behind Simplifying Home. You can learn more about me and my simplifying journey here. Enter your name and email below to keep in touch. And use #SimplifyingHome for your simplifying photos and posts on social media. Look forward to encouraging each other toward simple!

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