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!:)

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?

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!

How it all started… THE PURGE


Last year, after a 5 year break from teaching to stay home with my Littles, it was time to go back to work. I reluctantly admitted to myself that yoga pants and tank tops are not work-appropriate, (except on Halloween? Can I be a yoga instructor?) and set about bringing my boxes of old work clothes up from storage. At about the same time, my mom retired and sent me home from a visit to her place with about 2 decades of her old work clothes. And then, of course, I had to make some purchases… teachers get new school clothes too, right?

To accommodate this influx of clothes, I booted my husband’s stuff out of our spare bedroom closet and claimed it as my own. I excitedly pinned beautiful photos in a board I dubbed CLOSET ROOM and set about creating my peaceful, zen-like dressing room. I bought a funky jewelry holder, moved my most prized piece of furniture into the room, found the perfect paint color, and made it exactly what I had imagined. No more off-season clothes storage for me! It was all here… won’t that make life so much EASIER?

Nope.

You probably already see where this was headed, but my space, although beautiful, was anything but zen-like. It was a newly-painted room stuffed to the brim with clothes from every season of my life (and my mom’s career) dating back to my swinging single days, sparkly tube tops and all. But I didn’t see it….yet.

The school year started, life sped up, and before I knew it, my Pinterest-perfect room was a disaster. There were so many items to organize, fold, clean, consider, put away, and even just to look at. Each item claimed a bit of my attention, time, and energy. One night in Spring I was online, just browsing around when I came upon this article by xoJane. She was describing her quest for a minimalist wardrobe, and was attempting to whittle her closet down to 10 items. That’s not really what caught my attention. What caught my attention was her method. Specifically her first two steps:

Step one: “Confront your closet…start the cleanout by reaching in to grab every piece of clothing that you love.”

Step two: “Examine [these items] to see if a theme emerges.

She continues on, all the way to step 10 to keep up the process, but I was already hooked.

First, I realized that I had very few items that I LOVE. This massive closet room was full, and it was full of things that didn’t quite fit right, or were just not very comfortable, or didn’t really go with anything else… you get the idea. And second, when I pulled out what I actually did love, then that would show me what I was truly comfortable in. It would show me What my style actually IS, not what I want it to be or think it should be. I could take my all-over-the-map wardrobe and hone in my actual style. On ME. On simple.

Here is the kicker. Deep breath. It’s confession time.

That night, I pulled over 130 items of clothing out of my closet and threw them on the floor. I looked over the pile (yes, including the sparkly tube top) and realized there was not a single thing I would miss.

I stepped back to admire my handiwork, and…

I hadn’t even made a dent. 

My eyes had been opened. There was no going back. I have waaaaay too much stuff.

Since that day, I have launched this family on a journey to simplify. It started in the closet, but it is spreading into all corners of our life and we are loving it. As my husband says, “This minimalism thing isn’t just about the stuff, it’s about everything!”  It’s a movement to remove anything from our lives that distracts us from what is most important to us. I’m reading books, reading articles, talking to wise people, writing as I go, and going through a ton of trial and error, and just trying to define this new path of whatever form of minimalism works best for my family. I am so excited to write about this crooked path and our insights and challenges along the way, and I hope that it becomes a place where you can do the same. I know this message of more simplicity is one that resonates with so many people, and I would love to invite you on this journey with us!