How to use Pinterest to simplify your life

True Confession: I loooooooove Pinterest.

I have spent countless hours browsing all those beautiful photos, and I have learned so many amazing tips… Can I just mention the upside-down pineapple pancakes that I made last weekend? 😉

Pinterest can be an amazing tool if it is used wisely. However, if it is not used mindfully, Pinterest can foster discontent, insecurity, and unnecessary spending.

Case in Point: The other day, after mindlessly browsing Pinterest, I saw a really cute photo of a cozy winter outfit. I did not need this outfit. It was not on my list. But you know, I kind of moseyed over to the Banana Republic website to check out the price of some of these items. Lo and behond, they were on sale! Long story short, by the end of the night I bought several items that I didn’t need.

GRUMBLE.

It was the first time since embarking on this minimalism journey that I strayed from my list, and by the time I woke up the next day, I knew I had made a mistake. It was a cheap lesson, I guess. It all seemed like a good idea in the moment… but by the next day, I realized these things really would not add to what I already have. The shipping was free and I can just return everything, fortunately. It will cost me a trip to the post office and the annoyance of the mistake. But hey, we are embracing imperfection, right? 😉

Overall, it was a good reminder. And it got me thinking about how I can use Pinterest to enhance my life, and how to avoid allowing it to clutter my life.

I came to Pinterest for the recipes. I stayed for the clever DIY ideas. Eventually, I started browsing around.

There have been numerous studies showing that the simple act of looking through a fashion magazine has an immediate and negative impact on self-esteem. Turns out, when we look at picture after picture of these women, airbrushed and unrealistically perfect, we cannot help but compare ourselves and feel that we fall short.

Pinterest is like that, except instead of “just” comparing our looks with those of airbrushed models, we end up comparing every aspect of our lives to an airbrushed ideal. We tailor our Pinterest feeds to display every single image of the BEST possible version of our own reality… the fanciest parties, the most beautiful hair, the most immaculate homes, the most perfect bodies… and it would be impossible NOT to fall short. Friends… JUST DON’T.

I still love Pinterest. And I still use it often. But I have come up with some groundrules so that it is a wonderful tool in my toolbox, not a hook to encourage the idea that unnecessary purchases will make me happier, or that my simple tea party birthday for my 6 year old was subpar. I follow my own rules and I truly feel that Pinterest gives me access to information, inspiration, and ideas that make my life better.
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Here are my Pinterest guidelines:

1. DON’T BROWSE!
Mindlessly browsing “Popular” pins or following every board will inevitably set you up to view image after image of products that make you feel inferior instead of empowered. Here is the thing… if you haven’t independently realized that you have a need in your life… don’t allow advertisers or pinners to artificially create that need.

2. BE SELECTIVE
Unfollow any pinners that give you the impulse to needlessly spend time or money on things that are not important to you. This might include fashion boards, makeup boards, certain home decor boards, etc. It might take a while to weed these out… no rush, be patient. Follow only boards and pinners that provide you with inspiration that is in line with your priorities. For me, this includes whole food recipe boards like the one I have put together, minimalist home inspiration like this one, positive parenting boards like this one, boards that encourage me as I continue to grow out my grey hair like this one, travel boards like this one, boards about simplicity like this one, and others that fill my Pinterest feed with beautiful ideas and images, like this one.

3. LOOK FOR INSPIRATION WHERE YOU NEED IT
If you need ideas… search specifically for them. Use that search bar! Don’t type in something like “work outfit” or “kid party.” Instead, try searching for “girl’s tea party games” or “black pencil skirt” for ideas on how to wear an item you already own. When I want to search a subject that is a bit more broad, I’ll use qualifiers like “simple” or “easy.” “Simple Christmas decorations” will give you a much different set of images than just “Christmas decorations.”

I hope some of these tips were helpful to you… happy pinning!

And by the way… here is a photo from the above mentioned tea party. My baby girl had a blast… can you tell she picked out my outfit?;)
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Yes, you have to wear pants. How and why to declutter your kid’s wardrobe.

The other day, one of my dear friends called me with a confession.

This undisclosed friend had just spent an undisclosed amount of money buying new clothes for her daughter.

She explained that her eldest daughter had zero fall/winter clothes, and that this year, she was doing things different. My friend explained that she realized that her daughter had 5 or 6 favorite shirts, a couple beloved dresses, and a few leggings that she wears constantly… and that’s IT. So, this year instead of her normal habit of buying a ton of cheaper clothes that my friend really liked, she bought just a handful of outfits that she knew her daughter would love (fun prints, colorful), and bought them at a higher quality store. We talked for a while about what we thought that sweet spot would be for each of our kids. How many pairs of pants does a kid really need?

What started out as a tongue-in-cheek confession ended up as a great lesson!

I couldn’t wait to get home that day and hit my son’s room. You see, I am ridiculously lucky and I have several friends that have passed on entire wardrobes of little boy clothes. In the past when he outgrows a size, I go through all these boxes of generosity and pick out all the clothes that fit him that season, and literally, his drawers were overflowing. But recently, I have noticed that the same 6 shirts come out of that shirt drawer and go back in, folded and clean for the next week. In order of importance these are: Darth Vader shirt, Spiderman shirt, T-Rex shirt, other T-rex shirt, other other T-Rex shirt, and in a pinch, he will settle for his Paw Patrol shirt.

Try to say no to this face.
Try to say no to this face.

After the conversation with my wise friend, I fully realized how unnecessary this is.

My goal was to simplify his wardrobe down to what he loves and wears over the course of one warm weather week, one cold weather week, and a few items he might need for the occasional dressy event.

1. SHIRTS. I went to his shirt drawer first… I picked out a week’s worth of short sleeve shirts (see above list), and a week’s worth of long sleeve shirts. In what situation would he need more than that?
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That’s what I ended up keeping. Here is a photo of the shirts I gave away.
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The pile on the left is all shirts to donate!

2. PANTS. Next, I was on to the pants drawer. Let me start by saying my son has an opinion about pants. Mostly he finds them unnecessary, but after losing every argument about why undies should count as pants, he has some rules, people.
Rule number one: No buttons. Don’t ask.
Rule number two: No “cold pants.” Cold Pants are the adorable track suit pants. He has four such suits and he avoids them like the plague. #nocoldpants
Rule number three: I will choose between pants and shorts. Not Mommy. Not Daddy. Not the weather. ME.
So yeah, I’m not fighting it. I took all his adorable track suits, , all khakis and jeans save 2 pairs of each for dressing up or cold weather, and I packed them up to give away.

3. JAMMIES. I picked out just enough favorites to line the bottom of the drawer. This way, he can pick out what he wants without making a messy drawer.
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4. OTHER. In the bottom drawer, I kept two sweaters, two zip hoodies, and his beloved West Point sweatshirt. He mostly wears his spiderman hoodie everyday anyway… the rest are to tide us over in colder weather or laundry day.
5. SOCKS AND UNDIES. No reduction here. If you have a 3 year old boy, this needs no explanation 😉
And that was my adventure with my son’s clothes! How do you feel about the numbers here? Too many items? Too little? How many clothes items does your child need?

Let’s Talk Shop(ping)

AKA, My Rules for Minimalist Shopping

I was a little surprised, after embarking on my minimalism journey, to realize that I really enjoy shopping. I was not at all surprised to figure out that my shopping was a huge part of the problem of clutter in our home. In fact, when my husband and I started reading Simplify, by Joshua Becker, the thing my husband was most excited and adamant about was stopping the influx of crap into the house. And to be honest, that was all on me.

I was shopping more for the experience than I was for the stuff, that much I already knew. To make a change, I had to stop and ponder what I actually get out of shopping.

This is what I came up with…
1. I love the social aspect of shopping with friends, my beautiful sister-in-law, or my mama.
2. The feeling of “me time” when shopping by myself.
3. I get bored easily. I can’t just sit and watch TV with my hubby. I automatically just pick up my tablet and check out the Anthro fresh cuts. I enjoyed the thrill of the hunt of scoring some amazing online deal!
4. The feeling of “treating myself” with a new purchase.

And then, I had to look a little deeper.

Looking over my list, I saw that I had a beautiful opportunity to find these things in more meaningful way.

For example…
1. Social Aspect – Sitting face-to-face with a girlfriend over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine is much more conducive to real conversation. I’d honestly rather have that connection then the distracted afternoon of shopping. I have made it a point to reach out to my girlfriends more for a happy hour playdate or cup of coffee.
2. Me time – Where do I start? There are so many things I say I don’t have time to do, and shopping is not often one of them. Hot Yoga, reading, writing, working out, just going on a walk with some great music.
3. Boredom – I needed more of a creative outlet. Something that wasn’t about work or the kids. Something I could sit and work on while my hubby and I are watching TV. And guess what? I found and new and wonderful passion in THIS BLOG!:) It’s been a blast!
4. Treating myself – Ok, this one is FUN.

Because in my version of minimalism, shopping still exists! I’ve just changed the rules for myself.

After my closet purge, and then what followed a few weeks later (PURGE, part 2) I really got a vision of what I actually love on my body. And due to my drastically reduced wardrobe, I was able to see a few items that I could really, actually use. Not trendy, passing fashions that I would regret buying a few months, but a few items that would truly add to my wardrobe in terms of comfort and functionality. For example, would you believe that at 37 years old I did not own a Little Black Dress that I love? Part of my minimalism is that my wardrobe should make my life simpler. Owning a perfect LBD that can throw on for almost any occasion certainly fits that bill.

Here is how I did it.

For several weeks, actually months after purging my closet, I bought nothing. But I paid close attention to things I never wore (these things got donated during Purge #2), and things that I frequently thought, “Man, if I only had__________”. There were a very few items like this, that I wished I had over and over. In fact, there were only four things. A perfect little black dress, a nice, flowy black tunic that I could throw on over leggings or skinny jeans for a casual workday, a pair of black shorts, and a simple pendant necklace that I can wear with anything to pull together a simple outfit.

So, I started a list. THE list. I put it on my phone so it is always accessible.

And then, and this is key, I excused myself from sales.

If I find my perfect item, I buy it, whether it’s on sale or not. If this bothers you, just know that you will likely save a ton of money by buying only a few, good quality items. I know I have!

So that’s it. My new rules: It has to be on my list, and it has to be perfect… fit, color, fabric… everything.

Friends, you have GOT to try this. Let me tell you why…

What is happening is, instead of a closetful of trendy, cheap, or ill-fitting items that I would have previously picked up at Target or some clearance rack over the past few months, I have purchased only a couple things that are great quality and that I LOVE. I found a LBD that I feel beautiful in anywhere, and a cool, flowy black top that I happily wear to work at least one a week. Last week I finally found some perfect black shorts while I was shopping for the kids. Someday I will run into that necklace and I will snatch it up! And I don’t second guess these purchases, because I know how much use I will get out of them.

So, after you purge your closet, make your list. Keep it with you, and if you find yourself shopping, just ask yourself, is it on your list? Is it PERFECT? If not, let it go.

For more inspiration from a fantastic blog, check out project333!