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!:)

How and why to let go…

I’ve been there.

You’ve been on a decluttering roll.

You are starting to see some progress! You have purged your closet. Then purged again. You are not yet where you want to be, but you are on the right path. You’ve trashed all the damaged stuff, donated all the ill-fitting stuff, taken bag after bag to goodwill. But off to the side of your closet, separated from the clothes you need, use, and love, is a little group of hangers, or a little pile of clothes. Or maybe it’s the kitchen and it’s a little stack of dishes.

These are the things that you just can’t let go because they are BRAND NEW or (to be read in my mother’s voice) REALLY GOOD QUALITY.

SURELY you can’t just throw these things in a donate box. They must have a greater purpose! You have Grand Plans! Sell them on Craigslist to make a little cash, donate them to a special cause, find a friend who needs them!

My amazing-in-every-way cousin, who you would definitely want to be your best friend if you ever met her, emailed me with this exact question. She has some brand new items that she says “have been in a pile in my room forever because I don’t know what to do with them!”

So, here is my take on it, Cuz!

1. LET GO OF THE GUILT.

I get it. You spent hard-earned money and you regret it. But no matter how long you hang on to these items, you will never, ever get that money back. Quit punishing yourself and let it go. If you need permission, you have it. I’m giving it to you on behalf of your sanity. 🙂

2. REMEMBER THESE THINGS ARE CONTINUING TO COST YOU EVERY DAY.

You already spent the money to purchase these items. It turned out to be a waste. You feel bad, and so you hold on to them. But just remember… by holding on to these items, you are allowing them to continue to cost you. It is likely that every time you see them you are reminded of your wasteful decision and forcing yourself to feel guilt. Cut your losses, forgive your error, and get that thing out of your life. So you wasted some money…it happens. Quit wasting your time and energy too!

3. WANT YOUR STUFF TO GO TO A GOOD HOME? GIVE IT A TRY AND THEN HAVE FAITH.

I have two main methods of getting rid of things that are more difficult to let go.

1. For some items, I post them on Facebook. These people are all my actual friends, and I would be thrilled if anyone could use any of them. Very often, a friend contacts me immediately about how much she could use the item I posted, and I leave it out for them to pick up the next day. Everyone wins!

2. I schedule pickups with the ARC. It usually take about 2 weeks from your call for them to pick up your items. After two weeks, anything that is laying around in one of my “I am totally going to sell this on CL pile” gets put with the ARC pickup pile! Then, I just have a little faith that these things will get to someone who needs them. I remember that when I was a young and very house-poor teacher, finding nice work clothes at Goodwill was incredibly helpful!

Now… you can try to sell your items on Craigslist or other online sites, but I find that whenever I decide to do that, I end up just keeping them for an extra month while I DON’T ever list any of the items for sale, because really, it’s not worth the money to me to have strangers come to my home. If the money you would get listing these items is worth the hassle of listing them, then do it TODAY. If they are still in a pile tomorrow and not posted on CL… into the donate pile they go.

And when you find yourself in the situation that you are giving away brand new things, go easy on yourself. We are all learning as we go, figuring out how to make our life as we want it. There are bound to be bumps in the road and that’s ok.

Just get those bumps out of your house so you quit tripping over them.

Having trouble letting go of clutter? Read this.

Decluttering my wardrobe started with the easy stuff… the items I didn’t really like all that much or were uncomfortable. Then went the stuff I loved but that didn’t fit quite right. Next I got rid of things I used to love or thought I should love or would love someday.

After all this, there was one category of clothes that still remained in my closet. It was the stuff that was beautiful, fit well, was relatively expensive and almost new, or (hard swallow) brand new. These are the items that I have had a really difficult time letting go of….until today!

So how did I finally let go of these things?

I figured it out by accident. One of my dear friends also happens to be a phenomenal human being and is holding a clothing drive at school. He is collecting clothes for homeless LGBT teenagers and donating them for the holidays.

This morning, I was getting dressed and I noticed a pair of nice pants that I paid too much for and then proceeded to wear one time in five years. (The truth is, they are a liiiiitle too small). It suddenly hit me that these pants would be perfect for a young kid going to, say, a job interview.

That one realization and my perspective changed.

Suddenly, all of these brand new or almost new clothes had a new purpose, and it wasn’t sitting in my closet. These nice things were destined to go to a needy kid.

Can I tell you how easy it suddenly was to get rid of those things I had been hanging on to?

So friends, here is what I learned….There are so many things that cause us to hang on to unnecessary clutter, and many of these are completely negated in the face of a good cause.

If you are having trouble decluttering an area of your home, try to visualize who the recipient of these items will be when you donate them.

Too many kids’ books and toys? Picture some happy munchkins, opening those books and toys on Christmas morning. Picture their parents, who couldn’t afford those things glance at each other across the room and throw each other a teary smile.

A box of maternity clothes? There is a pregnant mama out there that can’t afford them. Your clothes that you have been meaning to sell on Craigslist for four years could be keeping her warm.

A ridiculous amount of serving pieces? Post them for free online to a family in need, or drop them off to a shelter that serves homeless vets… and picture them eating a holiday dinner served from your lovely dishes.

It doesn’t matter what you donate or who it goes to… just remember that your excess clutter can be another person’s saving grace, especially during the holiday season.

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!:)

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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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!

The Simpler Life

Several months ago, I begin decluttering this house and it helped change my life. I wanted life to be simpler. More peaceful. More in-line with my priorities. And I saw that just by getting rid of excess, I was successfully taking steps in that direction.

I now see that it was inevitable that this path would lead me to where I am now, but for a few weeks it was a little scary. It is not just the house that was feeling overwhelming and cluttered. My life in general needs more simplicity. I was feeling what my husband and I call “The Noise.” That’s the way we describe the incessant din of craziness and busyness that we are supposed to believe is inherent and unavoidable in this modern life of ours.

I have found myself rejecting this idea. Just like I don’t want the clutter in my house, I don’t want The Noise in my life. My husband and I are looking at options we have never considered, all in the name of simplicity.

I found myself in a bit of a state of disbelief that so much in our lives is up in the air. It is exciting but also unsettling. Plus, I am knee-deep in the grieving process right now (more on that in a later post if I can manage it), and I just wanted a reality check that I was on track. Was throwing all our assumptions out the window was the right thing for us right now?

I called one of my friends. She is wise and kind and beautiful and when she talks, I listen.

I explained everything that we were considering. I expressed a little bit of uncertainty that so much was up in the air. And then I got really quiet.

Without missing a beat, my friend laughed and said…

“Sounds perfect. You are just de-cluttering your drawer!”

Me: I’m listening…

“You have your Life Drawer open. You took everything out and put it on the table. Now you are being very mindful and deliberate about what you choose to put back into your drawer. Into your life.”

YES.

See why I listen to her?

That night I lay in bed and pictured everything in my life out on a table and an empty drawer in front of me. I picked up my husband and put him in the drawer and I smiled. I picked up my kids and put them in my drawer and I smiled. I picked up my beloved family and friends and I put them in the drawer and I smiled. I picked up our dog, Charley, and I put him in the drawer and I smiled, even though he weighs 30 pounds and takes up 2/3 of our bed every night. 🙂

And that was it. The rest I will figure out as I go.

PS. This beautiful friend of mine writes a beautiful blog about her journey since her daughter was diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome. Check it out at http://leaningintolove.com/

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?
shirts
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?

Ladies and Gentlemen…. the hubby is IN!!!

My husband has been on board with this minimalism thing since day one. Every time I bring minimalism to another area of our life, he is my biggest supporter and cheerleader. But until recently, he has never initiated a project himself. But the other day, something new happened!

There I was, sitting in my living room, giving the kids some snuggles while we watched a movie. My husband was making a snack in the kitchen. He open the knife drawer, rummaged around for what he was looking for. Then he stopped. And stared. And then he said,

“Babe… do we really need all these knives?”

Guys. I got a liiiittle too excited.

I practically jumped off the couch and said, “NO! NO WE DO NOT!” And danced into the kitchen for my first husband-initiated decluttering project.

In case you need to get at your own knife drawer, here is a little inspiration:

1. First, we took everything out of the drawer. Yes, that is all from ONE DRAWER.
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2. Then we pulled out the keepers.
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After I took this photo, we reevaluated. Do we little need those useless little corn thingies? NOPE. Do we really need three bottle openers? Actually, yes. One will be installed outside on the patio. The silver one is the one we actually use. And then, you will notice the USMA opener. It’s musical, people. Remember my post on keeping only what you need, use, or love? Yeah, well to say my husband loves hearing “On Brave Old Army Team” and watching the kids march around while sing the Army theme song every time he opens a beer is an understatement. It stays. Remember, we are creating a minimalism that works for us. 🙂

3. Next, we wiped out the drawer and put the keepers back. Check out what is still left on the counter!
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4. We put the rest into a box for our next trip to Goodwill!

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It’s so great to have a partner in this journey. I am one lucky lady!
Have a great night everybody!

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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