Finding Peace in the Process

I’ve been struggling, friends.

It took me a while to figure out why because I am doing all sorts of adulting over here, and adulting is stressful with all it’s deadlines, health issues, decisions, spouses, kids, chores, lists, life, death, etc. So I guess when I noticed myself feeling a growing sense of anxiety, I just accepted it. A (lying) voice told me to accept it. This is what happens when you grow up. The responsibility catches up with you and of course you feel awful. Right?

It was a total stranger who made me question this voice.

I know this might seem strange, since I find myself writing some private thoughts to all of you, but I am typically a deeply private person. Maybe too private.

But I am learning. I am watching the wise people around me who go through crisis, and you know what they do? They reach out. They circle the wagons and they gather the village and they lean. I am watching. I am learning.

So when this voice was really messing with my head one day, and my rock/bff/husband was out of town, I reached out to some… strangers, really, on an online group I belong to. This group has nothing to do with grief, but it’s a cool group of women, so I took a breath and dove in. It was much longer than this, but I’ll summarize my post as,

“I’m stressed, I’m sad, I’m not parenting well. I’m grieving. I’m failing. Help.”

The very first line of the very first response I got was this:

“Grief is big, it is real, and it is long.”

You know what that felt like? Permission. I read on…

There were others. There were online hugs, wishes for peace, great advice. But I think the most impactful messages were, like the one above, from women who had also lost loved ones and were still grieving. These women were 18 months, 3 years, 6 years out and still they grieve. I found these to be the most comforting messages, so of course I had to sit down and figure out why.

I thought about how much comfort and peace I am finding as I simplify and declutter my home. And how that experience feels so different from the other big decisions in my life right now.

What’s the difference?

When I declutter a drawer, the drawer is decluttered! It’s neat, it’s clean, it’s tidy, it brings me a sense of peace. Like, right then.
When I grieve, parent, meditate, or ponder some of the big decisions that we are facing right now, there is no tangible result. There is no beautifully decluttered part of my brain or heart or life that I can step back from and admire.

Instead, these things are all just part of a slow and usually invisible process.

I think, looking back, that I have been putting quite a bit of importance on the anniversary of my dad’s death. February 4th came and went. I had gotten through all the seasons and holidays and firsts, and yet…
On February 5th I was not magically restored. I was not done. I had not checked grieving off my to-do list. And maybe…definitely… I was disappointed. In myself.

And that pressure to see instant results, I now realize, was seeping into the rest of my life. I was taking processes like parenting and learning and healing and deciding and trying to turn them into prizes. Finish lines. Boxes to be checked. And then I struggled and wondered why I was so impatient and anxious all of the time.

I forgot.

I am not on this planet to check boxes. I am here to live. To grow. To be kind.

I forgot that it’s on the journey itself that the living happens.

And now I am remembering.

I am remembering that the parenting happens every day, in all the minutes. As my very wise friend told me once, “All of those minutes matter.” I will continue to simplify my home and life because it allows me more of these minutes. And I will not put pressure on myself and allow frustration that it is not done yet. I will live the “doing” just as much as the “done”.

And that goes for the other things too. These decisions that have to be made and healing and growing that needs to be done… it all happens in the journey. The answers will come as I am living my best life, and making time and space for what matters.

I am already seeing little differences. With no finish line to run to, I am more patient with myself, and with my sweet kids. I am yelling at them less. I am giggling with them more. I am taking more time for myself, my husband, and my kids, because… really, that’s what I am trying to get more of anyway.

Living and learning, over here, my friends.

I’ll just close by wishing for you what one of my wonderful stranger-friends wished for me that day.
“Big hugs. I wish I could send you a cup of tea, and a quiet spot to sit and just be. “
Wishing the same for all of you!:)

My Simple Holiday

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I’ve been taking a little break from the blog, from decluttering projects, from doing laundry… you know, all non-essentials. 😉

This is my first Christmas without my dad, and also the first Christmas where both of my kids are old enough to actually enjoy the magic of Santa. It’s been very bittersweet, and there have been many times that I have had a clear vision of myself on a roller coaster. White knuckles, loving it and hating it at the same time, just holding on for dear life. Before the holidays even got rolling, I knew I needed a survival plan. So, I decided to simplify.

I like to think of it like I am going into some sort of minimalist hibernation.

I don’t have a lot of emotional strength in reserves right now, and so I needed to remove all the extras. I needed to declutter my holiday to the absolute bare essentials so that I could live it as fully as possible.

Here is how I am surviving and thriving this holiday:

1. Selective Cancelling
I was once called a “raging introvert,” so Step One in getting through this holiday in one piece was to cancel the parties and gatherings.
I. Just. Can’t. The talking, the socializing… it can be so fun, but it can also be draining, and I don’t have it in me this year.

And that’s ok.

There was one exception. Some dear friends of ours invited us to the mountains. Skiing, hot tub, fireplace, snow… these are a few of my faaaaavorite things! And these friends of ours, along with their family, are so warm and kind and real and are the type of people that just invite you to BE YOU. Shoes off, feet on the couch, swearing-like-a-sailor, laughing and crying YOU. That kind of gathering didn’t drain me, in fact I think it saved me. Thank you so much, T family and TR and WR. I am full of gratitude for you all.

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2. I did my best with presents and let the rest go
I had a whole post planned on what strategies I was implementing for keeping the holiday toy-splosion to a minimum, but then, you know… Hibernation.
I will write about it next year, but for now I will just say that I made a list and I did a decent job of sticking to it. I just plopped down in front of my laptop one night and gave my Amazon Prime a good workout. I didn’t worry about budget or sales because none of the items on the kids’ wishlists were even close to big ticket. It took me one night and it was done. My husband bought himself his presents because he is Superhusband. And we drew names for all the adults in my family (THANK GOD) and just had one person to buy for. I am sure I missed some people,

and that’s ok,

because anyone I would be buying a gift for is someone that loves me and has nothing but grace for me. It wasn’t perfect, but it sure seemed that way.

3. I spent a lot of time alone
Turns out, Holiday Hibernation is a dish best served solo. I have a very wonderful friend who reached out to me when my dad died and gave me the only advice (pretty much the only conversation) I actually remember from that time.

He said, “Grieve unapologetically.”

Accordingly, there have been lots of long hot baths, lots of meditation (in bed, under the covers… SO WHAT!?), lots of tears and alone time, and it has saved me. My sweet daughter even said to me, as we drove to my mom’s for our Christmas celebration, “But Nana doesn’t have an upstairs or a living room. Where will you go if you need to cry and feel better?” She wasn’t sad or pitying me. She was being observant and savvy… at 6 years old she sees that sometimes you just need a little alone time and a little cry.

And that’s ok.

4. I simplified dinner. And everything else.
Beef Wellington became Shepard’s Pie. No homemade whipped cream with Daddy’s French Toast. There may have been some mac and cheese, take-out, and hot dogs in there somewhere. And we all survived!

You guessed it… OK.

5. I stopped drinking alcohol.
I know what you are thinking… NOT OK.
I get it…If there is any time to have a nice big glass of wine, it’s when you are sad and stressed, right? I had several reasons for doing this, but I think more important are the benefits… which probably deserve their own post. Hmmmm.

For now I will just say that I was there for it all. I was present. I felt my way through the holiday, joy and grief and pain and loss and all. I will never have to do the first holiday after losing my dad again. It would have been easy to numb myself a bit, but then I knew next year would be just as hard. I wanted to go through it, get through it, and look forward to next year.

Bonus: I facilitated the easiest declutter of my life
Picture it: Christmas morning. Kids are psyched about all their new stuff, they can’t wait to rip into all those new toys. Boxes EVERYWHERE. I grab three big Amazon boxes and told the kids that we needed to make room for all these new toys, and to please run around and gather some things to donate. They instantly made it like a game, and those 3 boxes were filled in minutes! My husband and I just looked at each other, quietly picked up the boxes, and slinked off to the laundry room. And then high-fived.

Overall, it’s been a beautiful and restorative holiday. I have had lots of time home with my incredible husband. We’ve had more talks, more movies and popcorn, and lots more snuggling with the kids. It’s been wonderful.

So my friends, I hope this holiday is treating you well. I am so grateful that we are all on this path together. I appreciate all the support so much. I am so thankful to have this space with all of you!

Megan

Going Grey

Don’t worry… I’m not going to try and convince you that you should go grey. I know I couldn’t have convinced myself before I was ready. One day, I suddenly was, and I haven’t looked back. Here is my story…

When I was 22 years old, I started going grey. Let’s just say I was NOT HAVING IT.

It wasn’t long before I started coloring it back to blond. Then I started getting highlights to make it look “more natural”. This went on for a long time. 13 years to be exact.

Meanwhile, in those 13 years, so much changed. I met my wonderful husband and got married, became a teacher, moved cities, became a mama, and tried to deal with the stress of my father’s cancer diagnosis. During all those years, I never considered NOT dyeing my hair. Not even when we were trying to really cut costs.
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Then two years ago, I was too busy taking the kids to the pool and loving summer to get to the salon. I ended up going an extra two months without dyeing my hair. When I finally got it done, I came home, looked in the mirror, and knew something had changed. Usually, I came home from those appointments feeling more like myself. This time, suddenly, I just knew it wasn’t me anymore.

It’s still hard to pinpoint exactly what had changed. I had thought about letting the grey go once I turning 50. MAYBE 45. But then one day, in my mid-thirties, I was just ready.

I know a big part of my decision is me wanting to EMBRACE… not just getting older, but embracing the whole process of this crazy life. You know, first you are young and hip and fun and happening, and you think growing older will be boring and quiet. But then you get older and yes, it is quiet but you like the quiet. And you were wrong about it being boring. It’s sometimes calmer (at least after the kids’ bedtime;) ) and it’s definitely more grounded and interesting and you wouldn’t trade it to go back to the bar scene for anything in the world.

To the great surprise of my 20-something self, I have loved getting older. It’s been painful at times, but with each passing year I learn so much. I experience so much. I love so deeply. I am figuring myself out. I’ve come to realize this thing called life is just so worth living. And I have also come to realize that part of living life is learning to embrace as much of it as you possibly can. The joy, the pain, the mess, the solitude, the wrinkles, the detours, the love, the loss, and yes… the grey.
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Also, I want my daughter to see me embracing the hell out of this aging thing. I make it a point to admire my body in front of her… I will joyfully comment on how strong my muscles are or how my softer-than-it-used-to-be tummy makes a nice pillow for her. And she tells me how pretty my silver hair is and I smile big and thank her.
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Still, there have been a few days where I have had my doubts. On those days I remember that my husband thinks I am beautiful, grey hair and all. And I remember that a few months after I stopped coloring my hair, I went out to dinner with my dad. Out of nowhere, he beamed at me and said, “Your hair looks so fantastic. I have always thought that women who have grey hair are so confident and beautiful.

And so, on the days where I look in the mirror and let the voices of society tell me that youth is the only beauty, I set them aside and instead, I listen to my husband, I listen to my dad, I listen to myself, and I see beauty.
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Finding peace in simple routines

Hello, my friends.

Well, I did it.

December 1st is just a few short hours away, and it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. Time to put this Thanksgiving holiday in the books. But… it’s tough. It was my first Thanksgiving without my dad.

I have a name for this heavy, achy weight that lays right in the middle of my chest when I am really feeling the loss. The pain. The empty. I call it The Brick.

The Brick is back for a while. But it’s lighter than before.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. We hosted, which is always my favorite. Cooking that bird, setting a simple and lovely table… it is like meditation for me.

But I felt his absence all day. I talked to him in my head, like I do. I had a good cry before anyone arrived and that got me through.
And now, I need a little help getting over this hump.

I came across this article today called 5 Things you should do Every Single Day, Even When life is Stressful, and I think this is where I need to start. I think that when life feels complicated and muddy, I need to get back to a few simple routines to get me through.

My list is not going to be the same as hers. And my list won’t be the same as yours, either. But I think I need a new meditation to start my day off and end it with a simple peace and gratitude.

For now, I think my list will be…

Morning:
1. Wake up, lay in bed and think of one thing I am grateful for before I even get up.
2. Do 15 minutes of yoga and/or meditation, in any combination I feel I need that morning.
3. Make my delicious mocha protein smoothie for breakfast and pack my lunch with healthy foods.

Evening:
1. Get some snuggle/reading/play time with the kids after dinner… even if that means the kitchen stays a mess for a while.
2. Go back to our old tradition of my husband and me setting the timer each night for between 5-10 minutes of speed cleaning (depending on our exhaustion level) after the kids are asleep.
3. Shut down all technology no later than 10:15. Take this extra time before bed to write, read, etc.

So that’s where I am going to start. I’ll adjust as I go, but right now, I’m taking this first step. It’s 10:10…. Time to shut down this computer;)
Goodnight, friends.

Embrace the Imperfection

Last week, as I was wrapping up class, one of my former students stopped in and asked if I had a minute. Sometimes, just the way a kid says these words makes your teacher spidey sense kick in, and you know to drop everything else.

We stepped into the office as my class packed up, and this usually upbeat student unleashed a mountain of anxiety and stress. He is a performer, and had a show coming up. Long story short… the deadline was looming and he just didn’t feel like he was where he wanted to be. To him, this translated to meaning that he was not good enough and man, was he rattled.

I can’t tell you how honored I feel when a kid comes to me like this. There is so much trust and bravery in it, and I feel such gratitude toward the kiddo for opening up and such responsibility to do right by them.

I took a deep breath, mostly to sort through my thoughts and what I wanted to say.

And then, I fumbled along…I reminded the kiddo that he is an artist. That art, like life, is messy and imperfect. That life and learning doesn’t go in a straight line, and that we can’t expect to reach perfection… ever… because that implies there is nothing left to learn. That the best thing we can do for ourselves and our passions is to embrace the imperfection.

He looked at me and repeated slowly, nodding…. “Embrace the Imperfection.”

When a kiddo does that, you know you said something they needed to hear.

And yet, as he repeated it back to me, I realized that it was exactly what I need to hear as well.

It’s been a difficult and also remarkable year for me. Discovering this new lifestyle of simplicity and minimalism has been a game changer in such amazing ways. Writing this blog has helped me focus and helped me heal. And yet, I have these moments where I look around and realize I have so far to go, so much to learn, and so much I want to do! Sometimes I look at all the areas of the house that are still chaotic, or that need a second or third (or fourth) round of decluttering, and I get discouraged. I have books I want to read, lessons I want to improve, and people I want to connect with.

And on the grieving side, I have times when I know I have made progress and then a single song or photo or memory will derail me for days.

So having this kiddo look into my eyes and say to me, “Embrace the Imperfection…” well, I think it was no coincidence that that phrase popped into my head. We both needed to hear it.

There is a reason I named this blog “Crooked Path to Simple.” “Crooked” wasn’t meant to be a lamentation… it was my acknowledgment that the paths we take in life are not straight lines. They bend and curve, and sometimes even double back. There are rocky areas, and plateaus, and inclines so steep you have to climb them on bloody hands and knees. The thing is… it’s all part of the journey, and the sooner you embrace the journey, the sooner you can get on living a life of gratitude, even during the rough times.

So I am going to find that student next week and thank him for coming to me and working together to figure out what we both needed to hear…that we are not in a race to perfection in this life, we are on a beautiful journey, and we are happiest when we do our best to embrace all aspects of that journey.

I don’t need to be anywhere other than exactly where I am… with my house, my grief, my life. Neither do you. And as my dad used to say, “90% of life is just showin’ up.”

So, as crooked as my journey may be, I am going to keep living and learning with all the gratitude and awe I can muster… to me, that’s showing up.

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How I display little masterpieces (And keep them from taking over the house!)

Just a quick post tonight, my friends…

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, taking a quiet moment to myself, sipping a glass of wine and listening to my sweet Littles giggle and play upstairs. The weekend stretches out in front of me, and I’m feeling so relaxed and grateful.

In quiet moments like this, I have the perfect view. My Littles bring home TONS of art, math, and language projects from school each week, and then often create a few more masterpieces before bedtime. What to do with these dozens of pieces of their heart and soul?
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Whenever the kids bring these things home from school, we go through everything. I love listening to them explain each piece to me, and they pick out their favorites (I pick out a couple too) and we hang them up on our Gather Wall, just using twine and clothespins. (The rest goes in the recycling, which the kids don’t mind a bit because we make such a big deal about what is on the wall.)

We add to it for a few weeks, and when it gets full, I take everything down. I pick out a few things that the kids were most proud of, and anything else that is special… helper awards from school, sweet letters, etc. The special things go up to my office, and the rest goes in recycling.

By the end of the school year, I have a very manageable-sized file full of the things that are most memorable and most special to us from the year.

Looking at my kids’ beautiful art and hard work is a great way to start the weekend… I hope you all are having a great night too!

Mama’s Peanut Butter Granola

I have had a couple requests for the recipe for the granola that makes breakfast easy in this house:)
Here it is!

In a large bowl, mix together…
1 cup Peanut Butter
1 t vanilla
2/3 cup TOTAL maple syrup and local honey (I do 1/3 of each, adjust to your tastes)
1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar (key for texture)
2T Chia seeds (Don’t bother measuring… that’s about what fits in a cupped palm – close enough!)
2T Flaxmeal
1t Cinnamon
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Stir…

Then add 8 cups uncooked regular oats. Mix VERY well… you don’t want any dry oats. Add a bit more maple syrup if you need too.
Add 1/2 cup sliced almonds if you want… mix again.

Then bake at 325 for 8 minutes. Use a spatula to flip and stir a bit, and pop back into the oven for 3 or 4 more minutes… be careful, it burns quickly!

If you let it cool in the pans, you will get some nice yummy chunky granola.

Hope you all enjoy it as much as we do!

Timing is Everything: How Grief led me to Simple.

This summer, my beautiful city experienced record-breaking amounts of rain. Every night was cool and crisp and it was almost magical to sit out on the patio with the kids at night, smelling the rain and watching buckets and buckets of it fall on our massive maple trees, the sidewalk, and the street.

The morning after one such night we were getting ready to leave for a graduation party, when my five-year-old daughter went down to the basement to grab some wrapping paper. Within moments we heard peals of joyous laughter and the sound of tiny feet splashing.

My husband and I looked at each other with the same question in our eyes: “SPLASH???”

We both rushed downstairs to find 2 inches of standing water throughout the basement.

Turns out, the sump pump had given out. We rushed around, grabbing the “important” things and carrying them up to the garage. We were able to save the bedroom dressers that I love, but the bed, sofa, the rugs, etc were waterlogged and already smelly. There were many boxes of jeans, winter clothes, and baby stuff that were ruined. Jackets, camping gear, toys artwork that was leaning against the wall to be hung… gone, along with the bottom two feet of drywall, the bathroom vanity….you get the picture.

We had alot of helpers come in an out over the next several weeks, and all of them said the same thing. They said they are dealing with a ton of flooded homes during this freak amount of rain basically around the clock, and then often with a sideways glance…

“You guys have a REALLY good attitude about this. How do you have a good attitude about this?”

We would shrug our shoulders and say, “It’s just stuff.” And the helpers would nod slowly, looking a little suspicious.

That was true, but it was only part of the truth. Here is the rest:
A year ago this flood would have upset us. So much stuff ruined! So much money lost!

But that was before February 4th. That was before I lost my dad.

I’ll save a description of my dad for another day, when I find a way to do the impossible and condense my love for him onto this tiny screen, but for now I will just say that he was Joy. He was Love. He was Patience. And he was Perspective.

And as my lovely and wise friend Jackie put it…

He was My Person.

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When you lose your person, it absolutely brings you to your knees. For a long time.

And then, slowly, it changes you. It narrows your focus. It brings you clarity. It drives home the lesson that life is short and precious and we should spend as much time as possible with the people and things and activities that we love.

The rest is Noise.

And it makes you want to get The Noise out of your life as quickly as you can so you can be in your life. At least, that is how it is happening with me.

So, dealing with a basement flood is not fun, but there was beautiful opportunity in it. Yes, we lost things that we used and would have kept. Yes, it was annoying and expensive. But the kicker was… A lot of the stuff that was ruined was just weighing us down. I lost count of how many boxes we threw away that contained random crap… college notebooks, knick knacks that we weren’t ready to toss so they have been moved from house to house in an unmarked box, books that we didn’t like enough to actually display, clothes we swore we were going to sell in a garage sale that just never happened. And in one fell swoop, it was in a dumpster. And as we threw it all out, we threw out a mile of to-do lists and we gained hours and hours of time it would have spent to look through, organize, store, stress about, and be responsible for all of it. And time is something that is not to be taken for granted.

I have learned so much since losing my dad. And one of the things I have finally understood is why he so seldom got rattled.

He knew the secret and he lived the secret… that there are a few very important things, and the rest is not worth getting upset over.

And now, still, he is teaching me.
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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?

Kids’ Art Corner… Decluttered!

If you ask my five-year-old what she wants to be when she grows up, she will usually tell you she wants to be an “Astronaut Artist.” If she can’t be outside playing with her buddies, you can almost find her inside at her beloved art table.

I used to go to great lengths to organize this well-used part of our home. I put two bookshelves there to hold toys and puzzles, and bought a large plastic bin for paper, art supplies, and coloring books. I collected all the stickers, markers, crafts, etc and found homes for them tucked somewhere in the art corner. Despite all my organizing efforts, this little corner was basically in shambles every night. This has especially been true every since my 3-year-old discovered the joys of “making confetti,” with his tiny scissors. I just repeat to myself… “HesdevelopinghisfinemotorskillsHesdevelopinghisfinemotorskills….”

The other day I found myself in the rare circumstance of being home alone for a couple of hours, so I decided it was time to bring minimalism to this little corner of our world.

First, I took everything off the shelves and out of the drawers to get my head around what I was dealing with here. As I emptied the drawers I found all the art supplies my kids had lost over the past few months, along with a bunch of random junk. Noted. As usual, there was just TOO MUCH STUFF and it was keeping my family from enjoying this area as much as they could.

Then I used the same strategy with the art corner that I used with my jewelry drawer.

1. Pick out the keepers. I started by picking out the really good stuff that my kids love AND use frequently. There were a handful of puzzles, white and construction paper, markers (each checked to make sure they are not dried up), crayons, scissors, gluesticks, and a small set of blocks.

What was left on the table was this:
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What. Is. This. Stuff.

2. Toss the rest. Whenever I am confronted with a pile of stuff like this, I freeze. It’s daunting to imagine putting each of these random pieces away. But then I remembered, I’m not an organizer anymore, I’m a minimalist. So I checked over this pile one more time for keepers, got an empty box, and I took my arm and swept the entire pile into the trash. It was glorious!

3. Create a functional space. Next I put away our seriously reduced art supplies. I made sure that the kids can access everything easily and put it away themselves easily. I got rid of so much rarely used stuff that after putting away the good stuff, this the storage that we no longer need:
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4. Admire! When the Littles got home, I immediately took them over to their art corner. My daughter gasped when she saw it and said, “I love it! I can SEE ALL MY STUFF!” She knows I threw the rest away and she couldn’t care less. Even my 5 year old immediately saw that her beloved art corner was so much better with all the clutter out of the way.
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Isn’t that amazing! Woohoo!
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Turns out my kids don’t need a million half-completed dollar store crafts. They need the basics. They LOVE the basics. And my husband and I love NOT picking up the art corner every night. Except, of course, the occasional confetti 😉
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