Simplify: tips for a happier and healthier life

Simplify: tips for a happier and healthier life

Simplify tips

At my house, we have really been thinking about simplifying areas of our lives, but what lately, I keep coming back to one recurring thought. What about simplifying our lives in general? There are so many things we do that add stress to our lives, and we don’t even realize it.

Before we changed the name and niche of this blog to Lumber in my Minivan, it was called “Organized and Simplified.” Most of the time, my life is anything BUT simplified. I am the world’s worst for trying to do too much, and it’s something I need to work on.

In addition to maintaining this blog, I also work full time, raise two lovely but lively little girls, and schlep my kids to dance class three nights a week, as they are competitive dancers. Add their schoolwork to the mix, along with keeping house and church, and, well…you get the picture.

In order to simplify my life, I am doing some things differently. I am far from done experimenting, and I am definitely open to suggestions. Please feel free to comment below and add any more tips- I’d love to hear from you!!

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  1. Know your priorities, and choose them wisely.

I am guilty of often trying to do too much in one day. I often try to do so much, that quantity takes over quality, and I end up doing a lot of things, but not necessarily doing them WELL. If you’re like me, I get stressed out by a lengthy to-do list. Just because you have a lot to do, doesn’t mean you need to do it all at once, or even in the same day. Give yourself permission not to be perfect. It’s OK- no one else is, either.

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2. Read more, watch TV less

I am trying to make an effort to read more than I have been. I love reading, but I usually have no time for it, until summer or spring break. I have been taking at least 15 minutes a night to read something, and a few minutes during lunch to read my daily devotional.

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3. Less phones!

Hooo boy, is this an area that I need to work on!! My family has been making a concentrated effort to put down the cell phones and just be present. Turn off your social media notifications, and allow yourself only a little cell phone time each day.  Being constantly tied to your phone stresses you out and makes it difficult to concentrate on other things.

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4. Declutter your spaces by getting rid of what you don’t need.

A cluttered space is stressful and makes it hard to relax. A light, airy, decluttered space is a space where you can get comfortable and relax.

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5. Focus on the present, not the future

Focus on what you’re doing right now, and what you need right now. Don’t worry too much about the future, as you can’t do anything to change the future. Worry about the future when it gets here. For now, enjoy where you are.

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6. Don’t overcommit- you can say no, and you should say no. No one can do everything- it is perfectly OK to turn down tasks if you feel overwhelmed.

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7. Don’t multitask- singletask when ever you can, to sharpen focus and effectiveness. Trying to focus on too much at once is like a computer browser with too many open tabs. Your brain runs more slowly and less effectively when you are trying to do too much at once. Focus singularly and you can focus more easily.

 

I hope you have enjoyed these tips for simplifying your life. Please comment below to share any additional tips you might have.

 

Have a great weekend!

The Benefits of Living with Less…and why you should purge your house right now!

The Benefits of Living with Less…and why you should purge your house right now!

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RIGHT Now. Drop everything and PURGE YOUR HOME NOW! No, I’m kidding. Sort of.

I know you read a lot about purging your home on my blog. Some of you are probably fans of living with less already, while others of you are scratching your heads and wondering how much more stuff I can get rid of and blog about it. #istillhavetoomuchstuff

I am currently in the midst of a whole house purge, but we will talk more about that later.

The truth is, living with less has a lot of benefits. Some are health benefits, some are financial benefits, and some are so good they don’t fit into any category. I’d like to share a few of those with you today, as well as some great advice for purging your home that I’ve collected over the years.

1. Living with less can be beneficial to your mental and physical health

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  • Living with too much causes your house to feel cluttered. A cluttered house feels chaotic, and makes it hard for you to relax and destress. Continued stress affects your mental state, as well as your physical health.  An organized and clean home evokes a peaceful feeling, and who doesn’t want to feel at peace in their own home?
  • This one is especially true if you have kids. More stuff=fewer places to put things away. Stuff that is left out in the floor becomes a trip hazard. Show of hands: who else has fallen over items left in the floor, or stepped on some hard plastic toy with your bare feet? (Lego moms, can I get an “amen?” )

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2. Living with less makes your home feel and appear cleaner

  • Living with too much makes it harder to find places to put things away. Having nowhere to put things causes your home to look and feel cluttered (see above).
  • A cluttered house also seems dirty even if it really isn’t. Having less stuff and less clutter makes your house look and feel cleaner.

 

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3. Living with less saves time

How does living with less save time? It means that you spend less time looking for things. It’s been said that the average person spends four years of their life looking for things that they are missing. Not being able to find your missing items makes you stressed.  Having less stuff means that you don’t have to sort through so much when you need something.

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5. Living with less saves you money

How is this? Well, when you make a conscious effort to live with less, you are much more intentional with your spending. Additionally, who here has ever bought something, only to realize you already had that same item at home? Living with less makes it easier to distinguish what you need- therefore keeping you from spending money on something you already have.

 

There are many benefits to having an organized and simplified home, with less stuff. Start with one room at a time and keep only what you need- donate, recycle or throw away the rest. I know many people who wish their home was less cluttered, but I don’t know anyone who wishes their home was MORE cluttered. Start today and you’ll soon see the benefits.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Coming soon: Characteristics of an organized home

Simplify Saturdays: Simplify Your Cleaning Routine

Simplify Saturdays: Simplify Your Cleaning Routine

I don’t know about you, but cleaning is a struggle at my house. My house isn’t all that big but it is time consuming to give it the attention it needs. With two children and a full time job, it is even more difficult sometimes to get the house clean.

Before I share the things I have learned, I want to make it clear that I have not completely figured it out yet. These are just a few tips that are helping me work toward finding a balance, even though I have far from found that balance.

1. Develop a routine and stick to it

Developing a routine and sticking to it as much as possible is a great way to have a cleaner house. We have tried to assign small duties to each night, allowing for flex time on the weekends to catch up on any tasks we have missed. We try to perform the same specific duties each day, but perform a different task each night. Here is our weekly checklist:

You will notice that starting the washing machine each morning is on the list. We have a washer with a delayed start and I use it daily. I throw laundry in the washer before going to bed and set it to finish as I’m getting up. This way, I wash and dry a load of laundry before leaving the house, and have one more load to complete when I get home. I still have to fold them and put them away, but the waiting game is over.

2. Delegate!

You don’t have to do everything, and you can’t. Assign chores to the other members of your household. My oldest daughter is eager to earn a small allowance for her own money, and she doesn’t mind helping me around the house. Pay your children to help you, convince your significant other to help you, but stop trying to be solely responsible for all the cleaning.

3. Set aside time for extra attention

I try to have a deep cleaning day one Saturday a month where I tackle cleaning tasks that don’t necessarily need to be done weekly, but still need a little extra love. These are areas like baseboards or dusting the door and window moldings. You could even break these deep cleaning tasks up and do one each Saturday. It’s all about your schedule and making things work for you.

4. Be reasonable

Sometimes, you won’t have time to clean because you’ve had a busy day. Or maybe you did clean, but something happened and your room is no longer clean. These are the moments when you must have grace with yourself. Your house can’t be perfectly clean all the time but neither can anyone else’s house.

I hope you have enjoyed these tips for simplifying cleaning. As I said before, I am still working to simplify cleaning at my own home, so if you have any tips for me, I’d welcome them 🙂 Have a wonderful day!

Simplify Saturday: How to live with less

Simplify Saturday: How to live with less

We have been actively purging our home for a few weeks now. We’ve cleaned out closets, we’ve donated items, we’ve given things away and we’ve thrown away or repurposed other things. It’s easy to get rid of some things, but others, it’s more difficult. How do you decide what to purge and what to keep?

1. Take a tour of your home and note everything you use regularly. It’s easier to do this room by room. If you don’t use it regularly, how long has it been since you last used it? If it’s been more than one year, don’t keep it. If it’s clothing that no longer fits, don’t keep it. If it’s broken, stained, or damaged, throw it away. If it’s something you don’t need, but may need someday, don’t keep it. If it’s something sentimental, keep it or take a picture of it to keep.

2. Living with less creates a sense of calm. Cluttered living stresses you out and keeps you from being able to relax. It’s also true that living with clutter distracts you from being able to enjoy items you truly love. After all, the secret to happiness isn’t having what you want, but appreciating what you have, right?

3. Don’t buy material items for your family but invest in experiences together.

We have been trying to both reduce our number of things in our home, but also to save money. This can be hard when you have kids. When Christmas or birthdays roll around, you may potentially receive a lot of “things.” What if families put money toward experiences, such as a zoo trip, or a paint your own pottery class? Our kids have college fund accounts that their grandparents contribute to for holidays and birthdays. Another popular idea is to have party guests bring an item to donate to a local charity, such as pet food to be donated to an animal shelter. I think in today’s society so much emphasis is placed on having “stuff” and I think it’s important to teach our kids to value one another instead.

4. You get what you pay for

There was a time when if I needed something, I’d just go buy it for as cheaply as possible. I ended up having to replace a lot of things. If you’re purchasing something you’ll use a lot, buy quality. It may seem like you’re spending more money up front, but items of a higher quality last longer and don’t need to be replaced as often. This actually saves you money. I have even found this to be true of clothing: higher quality fabrics wear better and look nice for much longer than cheap clothing. It’s worth the higher purchase price to be able to use it longer. Spending more means you’ll be less likely to purchase duplicate items, too.

5. Make it a point to purchase only what you need

I’m not saying you should never buy things you want. You can, but you must do it sparingly, or you’ll end up spending a lot of money on things that sit around taking up space. Make it a point to buy only what you need and splurge on your wants occasionally. Your home will be lighter but your wallet will not.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for simplified living. Have a wonderful day.

Simplify Saturday: vacationing with kids

Simplify Saturday: vacationing with kids

Vacationing can be relaxing and fun, but it can be stressful as well. The trick to vacationing with your little children is to be as organized as possible. With the following tips, your family vacation will run much more smoothly.

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1. Plan ahead as much as possible.

Where will you be going? How long will you be there? What will you need to take with you?

Make a checklist so you will be less likely to forget to pack the things you’ll need. If there are things you need to buy, make sure you create a shopping list as well.

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2. Pack snacks for the trip itself.

Hungry kids are grumpy kids, and sometimes it’s hard to stop for snacks. Pack a small bag of non-messy snacks to keep your kiddos happy while you’re driving or flying.

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3. Pack a “boredom box.”

Take along coloring books, puzzle books, something to read, or anything else to combat boredom. No one likes hearing, “Are we there yet?” every few minutes. If you have a DVD player in your vehicle, bring movies. An occupied child is less likely to get bored and get in trouble.

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4. Explore the area amenities before you book.

If you’re staying somewhere unfamiliar, check into local attractions before you book. This way, you’ll already know what is available to your family before you book your trip, and you can plan accordingly.

Remember to plan outings for everyone. Plan fun things to do with your kids, but don’t forget to include some fun for yourselves as well. Being less stressed means you can relax and enjoy one another more.

Have a wonderful weekend.