The Minimalism Game – Week 1 Update

We are playing the minimalism game this month. We thought it would be a fun way for the family to begin to declutter our home. We have actually been really enjoying it. It’s nice to have a goal in place to motivate us. The kids have liked it more than I thought they would. We decided to document each day with a photo and I would like to share them with you.

Day 1 – A baby bathtub that Octavia is too big for

Day 2 – Two pairs of Octavia’s shoes that were too small

Day 3 – A skirt that was getting a little short, shorts that were getting too tight, and a book that Isabella didn’t want

Day 4 – A shirt and two swimsuits that Octavia had outgrown, a toy harmonica from a birthday party treat bag

Day 5 – Two of Octavia’s sleepers, two of her shirts, and a pair of Isabella’s pants that she didn’t like

Day 6 – Octavia’s Clothing: a pair of too short leggings, a too small sweater and shirt, a shirt that I don’t like, 2 Halloween shirts

Day 7 – Seven of Isabella’s books that she no longer wanted

That’s the first week of our decluttering. I will share our week two shortly. Happy Decluttering!

 

January 2018 – Goals

January Goals:

  • Pay off my Capital One card
  • Do not go out for dinner more than 3 times
  • Pack our lunches for work
  • Continue to Simplify/Declutter/Minimize Our Home & Possessions

Our January Plan

Our first goal for January is to pay off one of our credit cards. Currently, we owe $745.01 on it. We are going to give it all we got to pay it off by the end of the month. My husband is going to be picking up some extra hours. We are going to be cutting as many things as possible to stretch our budget. This is a large but achievable amount for us. We are so excited at the thought of getting rid of this debt!

I am finishing up our budget binder today that we will be using as a tool going forward. I will put up a post about this soon once I have it finished. I’m really excited about this! We are also using the app “Every Dollar” and I write down all of our due dates in my day planner as well. This helps us to stay on budget and to make sure that our bills are paid on time. We are attempting to use up the things that we already own so that we will spend less. We are going to go through everything in our pantry, fridge, and freezer to use up what we already have. This will help us to lower our food costs even more for this month.

We have one dinner out planned for our oldest daughter’s birthday. She is still deciding on where she wants to go. Last I heard she was thinking sushi. We are secretly hoping not to have to use the other two nights but we wanted to make sure we had some wiggle room in case something crazy happens such as illness or a super late work night.

We are going to plan ahead each week when making the grocery list to include easy to grab breakfast items and items to pack for lunch. We have been tracking our finances and we both spend too much on buying food and beverages on work days. We have discovered that we are the death by $10 type. We take the time to really consider larger purchases but we never second guess those small purchases like a donut and coffee for breakfast. Packing our lunches and planning ahead for breakfast will help with two goals. We will be saving money and potentially making better choices about what we are eating.

The last bit of our plan is to continue our trip toward minimalism and simplifying our home and lives. We will be doing the 30-day minimalism challenge. I read about this on The Minimalists and have been wanting to try it. I don’t have anybody doing it with me. I just plan to try to make it through the 30 days because I think it will be good for our family and our home, especially after Christmas. The idea is that you get rid of one item on day 1, two items on day 2, three items on day 3, and so on until you hit day 30 on which you would get rid of 30 items. I have been considering this challenge for quite a while. As many of you know I have been making it a point over the last year to push myself to do things that I want to do but avoid because they are hard or not part of the social norm. This is one of those things that I know is going to be really difficult by the end. Just finding the time each day to complete the challenge will be difficult. I intend to take a photo each day and keep a running list of what I got rid of to share with all of you once a week. Wish me luck!

Here’s a link to the minimalism game: https://www.theminimalists.com/game/ 

Decluttering Our Entertainment Stand

We took our next step toward minimalism this week. We decided it was time to clean out and off our entertainment center. It has 2 shelves and 2 cabinets with a shelf inside each one. The large top was covered! Not only was our television there but so were many things that didn’t really belong. We had a video game console and set of small speakers on top that simply needed to go onto one of the shelves. We had set them there because we didn’t want to run the cords then. They have been there for a year because once they were there we stopped thinking about it. There were also DVD and game cases that weren’t put away because the cabinets were so full of stuff that they were hard to put away. Papers that had been left there over time. We really had become clutter blind.

I started by cleaning off the top of the stand. Going through every item to decide if we still needed/wanted it. If the answer was yes, then I had to decide if it belongs in this area or elsewhere. I assigned four categories: Keep in this area, Keep in another area, Donate/Sell, and Trash. Next, I cleared off the shelves and set up our most used/loved electronics. The top shelf now holds a PlayStation, a camera docking station, and a set of 2 small speakers that I connect to my phone while cleaning. The bottom shelf now holds our cable/DVR box and a Wii.

The cabinets were stuffed full of DVDs, video games, cords, controllers, CDs, and random junk. I was a little surprised by how much stuff I pulled out! Here’s a picture taken during the process.

I really wish I would have taken a before shot but I forgot. The top shelf of the left cabinet is home to a DVD storage binder that holds kids/family movies and another full of CDs that my husband is not ready to part with. I am currently debating on buying another of these to hold the remainder of the DVDs, games, and CDs that we want to keep. On one hand they take up less space than the individual cases but I think that they allow us to feel it is acceptable to keep more because it takes up less space. I also decided to keep our daughter’s memory books on this shelf. I have been trying to find a place to keep these that they will be safe but that we have easy access to them. I will do a separate post about these books sometime soon. They are amazing! The bottom shelf of the left cabinet houses my daughter’s headphones and the cords that we needed to keep that are not in daily use. The top shelf of the right cabinet now contains DVD’s and a couple of video games. The bottom shelf is home to video games and controllers.

This area is so much easier for us to use now. We got rid of 2 boxes of stuff not including trash. A ton of this was DVDs and TV series that we no longer watch. It looks so much nicer! It gives me the boost to start working on decluttering and minimizing other areas of our home.

Here’s the finished product:

Distraction Kills Dreams

My social media fast experience went amazingly well.  It made me realize a few things about my life. It has been months and I believe that the impact of this challenge on me may be bigger than I ever thought.  I honestly didn’t know if I could do it.  It started off hard for the first few days but became easier with each day that passed.  I didn’t realize that social media had become a mindless addiction until I was forcing myself to live without it.  I also didn’t realize how much of my day that I was losing to it without even making a conscious choice.  I had no idea how much time I waste on silly things that do not really matter and are not bringing me any closer to my goals.  I decided to go through every aspect of my life and take some time to decide if I wanted to continue to choose to include that in my life.  It was a long tedious job.  It took me some time to return to this site which was not my original plan but it had to be carefully considered as well.  I have decided to continue with this site because it is part of the life I see for myself and I truly enjoy it.  I love having a creative outlet.  While I did use Instagram and twitter, my Facebook feed was my number one offender.  I have returned to using social media.  I now set limits for myself and make a conscious choice about what time I spend on it.  I no longer allow myself to stare hypnotized at my screen for hours scrolling through my feed.

Until I took away the distractions I did not notice how unhappy I was becoming.  I didn’t know how bored and boring I had become.  I was honestly very shocked by this.  I had always been the person who was doing something.  I had many hobbies just a few years ago.  Had the mindless noise of social media and television really drowned out all of my hobbies?  What I had done was pick up a few unhealthy ways to appease myself including being envious of other people on Facebook and Instagram, playing video and computer games, and watching more television than I have my entire life.  I had become addicted to technology.  I never expected it but it happened.  By facing my addiction to social media I opened the flood gates.  I had been mindlessly hopping from distraction to distraction.  I had successfully removed anything and everything that provoked deep thought from my personal life.  But why?  That was when I started to become aware of my unhappiness.  I have all these dreams and I was not doing anything to get closer to achieving them.  In fact, I had found ways to avoid even thinking about them in any realistic way.  The distractions I had become addicted to were killing my dreams.  The distractions make it so much easier to ignore them.

Ok, I’m going to get super honest here.  I am afraid that if I try my hardest, really give it my all, that it will not be enough.  I am simultaneously afraid that it will be enough and my entire life will change.  You always hear of these people who achieved their dreams and their whole life changed.  They always seem happier but still…Change is scary too.  What if I get what I think I want and it is not what I thought it would be?  What if I fail miserably and then I lose the beauty of the dream?  Is this what stops most people from attempting to live their dreams?

If I want to change something in my life I have to take the action to do so.  I figured out that if I put my mind to it I could take steps to get closer to that crazy dream life I desire.  My dreams are a little different but they are mine.  I am willing to put in the time and effort to achieve my dreams.  I am also willing to finally face my fears.

5 Things To Purge From Your Kitchen

It is amazing to see the amount of stuff that accumulates in the kitchen.  The kitchen really is the center of many homes.  The kitchen was a huge undertaking during my personal journey toward simplifying my home.  If you are on a similar journey or just want to take a few small steps towards less clutter, these 5 things are a good place to start.

  1. Tame the Tupperware Beast – We have all heard it a million times but it’s time to finally do something about it.  The loads of mismatched lids and containers need your attention.  This surprisingly did not take as long as I thought it would.  Start by removing your favorite ones.  The ones you use weekly that are in good shape with fitting lids can go immediately to the keep pile.  Next start matching up lids and containers.  Throw away anything without a match.  Now trash anything that is discolored, cracked, or has an ill-fitting lid.  The last step is the hardest, decide how many you actually need out of the containers left.  This number varies based on the family.  Consider how often you eat leftovers, what sizes work best for your family, and what logically fits in the space provided.  Do you only use them once or twice a year?  Could you use a freezer bag for those times instead?  If you had to buy new ones tomorrow, would you purchase these items again?  Wash the ones that you have decided to keep and organize into a larger container that fits in your cabinet.  This keeps them from going everywhere inside your cabinets.
  2. Some of These Things are not like the Others – It is amazing how much stuff ends up in crazy places.  This happens even more often when you have children.  This can be time-consuming to handle but the extra work space in your kitchen is worth it.  The weirdest thing we found was a decorative ink pen from Disney World inside a punch bowl.  We relocated the ink pen to the desk and got rid of the punch bowl.  We obviously hadn’t been using it, lol.
  3. Food, Food, and more Food – Take a day to pull everything from your pantry, cabinets, or anywhere else you keep non-refrigerated food.  Check expiration dates and throw out everything expired to start.  Go through everything else with honesty.  Have anything in there that you will not eat?  We got rid of a bag of candy our girls were never going to eat.  They still had tons of Halloween candy hanging around in the pantry.  To make getting rid of those things easier either give them to somebody who you know will eat them or donate them.  Next go through your refrigerator and freezer doing the same thing.  Now make a meal plan including all of your food.  Depending on the amount of stuff that was harboring in your kitchen you may save a ton of money on groceries in the next couple weeks.
  4. Weird appliances – We all have them.  I received the majority of mine as gifts but my husband is also responsible for bringing some of the odd items in.  I made sure that my whole family was gathered around the table as we went through things.  I set the small appliances on the table one by one asking if anybody truly used this product.  The answers were shocking to all of us.  There were some things that we all thought somebody else wanted and they didn’t use it at all.
  5. Bags – Do you have a huge pile of bags in your kitchen…maybe under your kitchen sink?  Only keep the amount of grocery bags that you will actually use and recycle the rest.  Do you use reusable grocery bags?  Shouldn’t they be in your car instead of your kitchen?

When you are done, take the time to organize what is left.  There are many options available to keep the things that you use orderly.