Almost every parent I know needs some help with stress and I think a simpler lifestyle is the key. But if you aren’t quite ready to take the plunge, even after reading my last post, I would encourage you to start small.
These 9 ideas will let you experience the thrill of purging right away, and my guess is that, just like me, you won’t be able to quit!
1. Make a Donation Station
Find a bag or box to serve as your donation station. Anytime you come across an item that has outstayed its welcome, toss it into the donation station immediately! Once that box is full, take it to the donation center of your choice (personally, I love Palmetto Thrift on Fernandina, whose mission is to serve children in our community with cancer. Great staff and some fantastic bargains as well.)
2. Clear out Digital Clutter
If you are anything like me, you subscribe to way too many email lists. But a new app I recently found has been a life-saver! Unroll Me is FREE and it helps you quickly and easily unsubscribe from email lists with just a swipe! I’ve officially quit 118 email lists so far and it is crazy easy!
3. Try Meal Planning
Meal planning is a great way to simplify your life and it doesn’t have to be complicated. One of the things I do is focus on quality over variety. I’ve realized having a great go-to salad formula the whole family loves is probably healthier than letting asparagus go bad because I know the kids won’t eat it once I finally find a recipe for it. (Part of successful parenting is facing reality, am I right?) Here’s a great guide to get you started on meal planning.
4. Designate a Day (or Days) as Spend-Free
This challenge is as simple as it sounds: you pick a day of the week and vow not to spend any money. This means no online shopping, no dropping by the grocery store, no pulling through the drive-thru. For me, it means bringing my water bottle so I’m not tempted by the vending machine or eating leftovers rather than stopping for takeout. I have committed to this mindset off and on for a while and it has improved the health of our budget as well as calmed the day-to-day chaos.
5. Eat What You Have
This sounds so simple, and it IS! I decided I wanted to empty out our pantry to start with a clean slate, and it has been a super productive challenge. I used canned food before it expired, tried new recipes, and even served my family a few extra treats to take care of those random marshmallows. It’s nice to have less pantry clutter and a better grasp of what we really have in our kitchen! Definitely a win-win. For more ideas on this philosophy, check out the Pantry Challenge by Good Cheap Eats.
6. Minimalize Your Wardrobe
There are lots of great websites about capsule wardrobes and Project 333, but they usually require a bit of commitment. Try the baby steps version; grab two boxes (one for donations, one for storage). Go through your closet quickly, grabbing everything that is a no-brainer (outdated, worn,very poor fit). All of those cast-off’s go directly to the donation box.
The second time, take a bit longer to search out the “maybe” items. These might be orphan items without matches, something cute but not your style and special occasion wear you sort of know you won’t use. Box all these up into storage. In three months, if you haven’t thought about them or needed them, DONATE. You’ll be that much closer to a capsule wardrobe.
It’s not enough to minimize your current possessions; you also have to become more mindful about new purchases. Getting rid of something old as you bring in something new is a great way to keep your baseline from slipping out of control in the future. Try to keep your items within the same category for balance. If you bring in a new book, get rid of an old one. If you buy a new sweater, let go of another top that you aren’t wearing.
8. Drop One Thing
To complete this step, all you need to do is give up one optional thing that is stressing you out. (That’s right, optional. No giving up laundry, as much as we all might wish we could.) This could be stepping down from a commitment that’s too taxing, giving up a hobby that’s become too much hassle, or simply deleting an app that distracts you from more productive endeavors. For me, my writing commitments were becoming burdensome, so I dropped the one that was the least fulfilling for me. One less deadline, a little more calm.
9. Switch Up Your Media Intake
Becoming minimalistic has meant acknowledging the vast amount of consumerism coming at me from every direction and admitting that, yes, even as an adult I am affected by it. Instead of just watching mainstream TV like always and reading the same old chic-lit, I have been exploring minimalist YouTube videos and checking out books on the topic from my library. A change this dramatic (I used to be a shopaholic) requires a certain amount of philosophical upkeep, so I have become more deliberate about what I am consuming, media-wise. It’s helping me retrain my thoughts, which is worth the effort!
I would like to challenge you to try just one of these changes to jump-start your minimalism journey. Here’s to a simpler November starting now!