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Weekend Project: Declutter

We have too much stuff.  Does anyone else feel like they spend all their time picking up after all of the humans who live under their roof? I feel this low grade stress all the time that there is so much clutter everywhere. 

Clutter is robbing me of the time I want to be spending doing things of purpose.  I wouldn’t say I am a hoarder, but I definitely like to shop.  I love finding little things, great deals, and collecting some of this and that.  We have papers and toys and shoes and so so many things.

After a morning of trying to get the kids out the door with too many stressful interactions of trying to find the right things and tripping over the legos and digging through clean and some yelling I decided to take inventory of my heart. This was not the mom I wanted to be.

All of the keeping up with the things, putting away, storing, organizing, cleaning, prepping, is making me exhausted. I am striving to keep up and I have it in my mind that if I just drink enough coffee and work faster and harder, I can get it all done.  I am lying to myself and creating an ugly wake for those around me.

Now, the reality is, I can’t give up on the responsibilities. (Man!) BUT, I am beginning to realize that I can transfer my wealth of resources.

You see, I was rich in materials, but poor in time.  If I could find some things to give away or get rid of or stop buying, then I might be richer in time. 

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I made it my goal to declutter in one weekend.  I am NOT rolling around in extra time, and I am guessing you’re not either, but I do want some restoration of order.  I am not talking any deep cleaning and I still have oh so many things to sort and giveaway.  My goal was to regain some control over my life and get back some of the time I want to spend being purposeful with people, not things.

This can be stretched as long as you’d like it or if you drink enough coffee can be done quicker!  Please take it at your own pace.  Here was what I did.  Obviously tweak it to what works best for you!

Weekend Project_ Declutter

Identify Areas

Pick 3 areas that take most of your resource of time and identify what stresses you out about them. Mine are clutter, clothes and toys.

Gather

I went around to all the surfaces in my main areas and bedrooms and dumped everything into a laundry basket to be sorted later.  Tables, side tables, counters, shelves, coffee tables.  Pay attention especially to bins and if you have extra time, drawers. (drawers to me were another project). Mine ended up being a lot more than 1 laundry basket.

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Clothes: I am infamous for keeping something for too long.  If I hadn’t worn it all season, it’s gone.  I also have way too many gray shirts and jackets.  No one needs all of these shoes.  I once loved them all, but they have served their purpose and I am thankful for what they were.  Now someone else can enjoy them.  My laundry baskets are always way too full and there are never enough hangers, and that tells me I have a problem.  My clothes alone take enough of my time, not to mention adding 4 other humans to the mix.  So, I went through all the closets and tried to pair down to what we actually wear.  (if you haven’t at at least skimmed  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up go get it right now).  Confession: I often keep things of value to sell or take to a consignment shop, but in this case that defeated my purpose so if you’re lucky enough to run into any of my old leather jackets or fun purses at our local thrift store, I hope you enjoy!

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Toys: I looked for pieces that I haven’t seen played with in a while.  I have a lot of mom guilt getting rid of toys and you know as soon as you donate it they will ask for it the next day, even though they haven’t played with that puzzle in a year.  So I tried to filter each items by asking: do they play with it? Does it add value to their lives? Or is it taking away from both of our lives as I ask them to put it away for the 80th time.  I am a big believer in creative play (but that’s another post for another time.). In the end I didn’t feel like I actually got rid of that many toys, but somehow by pulling out all of the broken playdoh sets and small figures and unused costumes and that extra bat cave, I was able to find more than enough room for all of the things to go.

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Sort

I made 3 piles, keep, donate and throw away.  If it didn’t add value to my life at this time (ie takes away from my goal of being purposeful with my time) it is gone.  I know this sounds ruthless.  I am very sentimental but I also love order. I have a box under my bed for the meaningful drawings from my kids and the pictures and cards from friends.  The rest is usually something I can do without. 

Designate

My mom, the queen of organization as I like to say, is always in my head saying “if it doesn’t have a special place, it will end up never being put away.” It has been true for me so far.  If I have a drawer or a basket for it, it is easier to put it away.

We started a new Monday and I can tell you that low grade stress has gone down.  I still have lunches to make and homework papers to keep track of, iPads need to be charged and my laundry is never ending, but their is this unsaid peacefulness to choosing purpose over stuff.  I will always have to keep my clutter in check, but I am thankful for the resources I have gained through a little more time to play outside, to read a book and to just be.

Happy Decluttering!

-Erin

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4 Ways to Be Intentional this School Year

This summer has been so good for my momma soul.  It took me a while to get thereI really like having a clean house and some sort of form or order. I spent a few nights losing my mind after the kids went to bed because…EVERY room. Once I gave in, lowered my expectations and embraced the disorder + constant chaos, I fell back in love with having my kids around.   We had good, quality time together.  My kids remembered how much they loved each other.  They played more.  Read some.  We talked.  I fought to focus on what counted and to let the rest go.  It has been a sweet summer, one I will cherish for a long time. 

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And the carousel gears up again. I spend my time filling out the calendar, planning new routines of earlier bed times and what to pack for lunches, hunting online for shoes to fit, back-to-school hair cuts, and digging through Target for that 3-pronged blue vinyl folder.  I find myself hoping to carry some of that slower, more meaningful intentionality we’ve had into this next school year.

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I am still working on building this into the busy mom life.  Most of the time I don’t feel like I am succeeding at being a mom, but I want to take some small steps towards not missing out on what matters.  Here are my 4 goals for being intentional with my kids this school year:

Be: I want to work on being more intentional with turning screens off.  I am guilty when it comes to using a screen to occupy their time or giving in when they have begged me for the 42nd time.  I want to create some spaces in our schedule where screens are not allowed and we can talk.  Where I can listen.  I hope to do the same in being off of my phone and available to my surroundings.  It’s fun to watch them to eventually come up with something to play or make or read. 

Ask: Even though I don’t always feel like it, I have pockets in my day where I can make the most of connecting with my kids.  A lot of times for me it is while the kids are eating breakfast and I am unloading the dishwasher or tucking them in at bedtime. Some of my favorite talks with my son Courtland, have been on ride to school.  I try to just listen, even if it’s about Pokemon characters

Do: I can tell my kids little cups are full when we spend time together.  I want to make sure each kid gets a little oneonone time with me.  My goal is to start out small and do one little outing with kid a month and rotate turns.  I would love to make it more than that, but if I’m not realistic I will probably fail.  I want to create a little bucket list on things they each would like to do with me.  Anything from a trampoline park, visiting the donut shop or just me sitting down to paint her little toes.  I want them to know I value them and enjoy being with them.

Give: As a mom, a huge goal of mine is to help my kids see that the world is more than just ourselves.  I want them to have a heart that sees and loves others.  This year my goal will be to look for small ways we can step outside of our little world and be a part of lifting others up. Anything from the little ways of helping to be a part of the “family team” to looking for volunteer opportunities. It doesn’t have to be a big production, I think it’s the little reminders that keep their eyes open to giving encouragement or helping hand. 

I will probably putter out and forget these goals, but I am hoping that by building these into our routines, as the season of change comes, that we can continue to develop each of their characters. Hopefully, they will know they are loved, valued and truly matter. 

-Erin

Click here to download a free copy of 4 Ways to Be Intentional with your Kids.

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making summer count

I’ve never been good at time management. The people in my life would probably describe me as a free bird, but with lots of fails I’ve learned to thrive in structure. Carving out time for the things that are important actually creates more freedom for those impromptu and spontaneous moments.

if we fight to own our time, then we will have the freedom to give it away when it matters

Lately I feel like I’ve been flailing. I should be excited that summer is coming and I will be getting more time in with my children but instead I’ve felt an anxiousness. I realized it’s because it’s time to figure out a new schedule and how I hope to manage my time.

My number one goal this summer is slow. I want to be intentional. I want to carve out time to love people well. I feel like time is kind of like money. The way we spend it shows where our heart lies. We spend some, we give some and we save some.

making time to be intentional this summer
These neutral Essie polishes: lady likehaute in the heat are perfect for bare toes this summer!

Spend some: Just like finances, we have to be responsible individuals and do things like pay bills. I feel like “spending time” includes things like jobs, responsibilities, tasks and duties. This is the biggest portion of time in my life –and one I have to be the most structured with.  Just like a budget, I am practicing staying focused at work and giving my best when I’m there. I’m also working on not putting unrealistic expectations on myself when it comes to duties like house chores, meal prep and ALL the Mom things. I feel like if I can set these up in a reasonable space and give myself some grace on not being perfect, it will open up more of the “saving” and “giving” time slots—which I think is where the best of life happens.

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This new jumper I got from Old Navy is so easy to wear and livable.  It’s fun dressed up with these heels or for an everyday mom style with sandals and a turban.

Save some: I think this is where we put priorities: your people.  It’s an investment.  The time I pour into my children or intentionally with just a few people will grow deep rooted relationships. I hope to be purposeful in carving out time to be together, for my husband and kids and my friends. I also think it is so important to make time to recharge.  I hope to do this with by trying to be in the moment, to turn off my phone more, by having quiet porch times journaling and praying, by sipping coffee in the mornings and by taking a few naps.

Give some: With our money, sometimes I will intentionally donate to a cause and other times it’s more impromptu and I come across a homeless man on the corner needing a little help. Whether its committing to serve somewhere long term or an impromptu chance to make a friend a warm meal or lend a stranger your listening ear, I think with time, if I am careful with my “spending” I will create more opportunities to give away to others.

The crazy thing about time is that we all only get 24 hours in a day. No one gets any more or any less. We have to choose how we spend it, I want to be purposeful. The kids and I sat down and wrote out a “Summer Bucket List” in hopes to be purposeful in making memorable moments.

-Erin

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P.S. These are my new favorite sunglasses and I love these modern statement hoop earrings.

Taking A Moment from the Hustle

I’m sure glad I’ve driven all over heaven and earth trying to find the right hatchimal, when a Burger King crown would have been sufficient. I spent the afternoon trying to convince my littles to be good while I had 8,000 errands to run.  Just when I think I’ve finished my gifts shopping I swear I think of 5 more things I need to get. I give up. I was running around like a crazy woman yesterday and even attempted to survive, wait for it… walmart. 

I really do love most of the things that make this season this season, but it can be so overwhelming.  No matter how organized I get before Thanksgiving, I still find myself running around like, well, a crazy lady trying to cross it all off.

And as I was listening to Bing Crosby for the 57th time and bribing my kids so they would stop pulling all of the things off the shelves, I had a moment.  That moment of “dang it, I think I’ve lost the perspective again.”  That glimpse of stepping off the carousel and watching the blur of lights from which you came. 

It’s not about any of this.  I have totally gotten caught up in the hustle and bustle and the stressfully festive events that muddle up my calendar.  The whole reason I celebrate is because of a much much quieter, slower and still moment.  A peaceful and hopeful moment.  

I absolutely love so many things about this Christmas season.  I just think I make too much of a fuss over all of it trying to be perfect in it.  Striving to do it all.  That is too much pressure for me.  I’m so thankful for moments of stepping out of the blur and remembering the “why.”  I can’t say I am good at staying in that, but I AM saying I am going to try to figure out how to bring more peace to this season and I have hope that I can also pass along some to others.

-e

Maybe The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

This spring started with a whirlwind as my husband (the calm & steady rock of our family) mentioned to me that he was looking at a fixer upper house for us to buy.  WHATTTTT??!! Who was this spontaneous stranger I was talking to???  Amongst the little baby stage we were just submerging from, I honestly had forgotten that fixing up a home together had been a dream of mine for as long as I could remember.

Fast forward to falling in love with two houses on the market, late night debates (we won’t call them fights ;)) one offer–which we quickly retracted and a couple of broken hearts.  Slowly, over the course of realizing what a fixer-upper house would entail for our family and jobs at this time, was NOT the best decision for our family.  Not a “never” but just a “it is wise to not embark on this journey yet” grown up sort of decision for us.  So I put away the Pinterest boards and forced myself to stop checking listings every 2-3 hours and made myself stuff the dreams back into my back pockets for another time in our lives.  This was a hard time for us, for my adventurous spirit. Let’s just say there was a lot of sulking.

And then, as if the stars aligned (or God knew just the whispers I needed to hear) I ran into the book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner. It melted my heart and shook my world in all of the good ways.  I finished the book in 48 hours (which if you know me, this is quite an accomplishment.) I swear that book was just what I needed.  

I came to realize that though it is 100% ok to dream and it is a beautiful thing to want to accomplish them, I also began to discover that in order to dream I had to choose the best dreams for me at this moment.  With the busy of three littles, a growing business and a husband working in a ministry position, we wanted to be able to still give to all of these without losing us.  Without losing what we felt was worth fighting for.  

I came to realize that though it is 100% ok to dream and it a beautiful thing to want to accomplish them, I also began to discover that in order to dream I also had to choose the best dreams for me at this moment.  With the busy of three littles, a growing business and a husband working in a ministry position, we wanted to be able to still give to all of these without losing us.  Without losing what we felt was worth fighting for.

My dear friend mentioned to me that she had started a gratitude journal and after many obvious signs of my need to focus on the good, I went to the store and grabbed a journal out of the dollar bin (ironically it was titled “The Good Life”.) I began to write down the beauty I did have.  I began to WORK on not thinking about the things I deeply wanted but just weren’t in the cards yet. 

Erin Loechner, in her book, said that chasing slow is a chase.  I am slowly learning that there is nothing wrong with fixer-uppers or fighting to follow big dreams.  It just is about focusing on having the right heart.  Choosing to stop and ask, why am I chasing this?  What if what I actually really want is right here all along.  And then the paint brushes and the new light fixtures just enhance the beautiful things I already have. We all have beautiful dreams right in front of us. 

Some of my Beautiful Things:

little hands, screen doors, deep conversations with friends, royals games & good attitudes, hammock snuggles, sidewalk chalk, sunshine, lavender candles, porch lights, morning coffee, loud hip hop songs, great workouts, yummy food, porch time with the hubs & spontaneous puppy adopting. 

Some of my Beautiful Things: little hands, screen doors, deep conversations with friends, royals games & good attitudes, hammock snuggles, sidewalk chalk, sunshine, lavender candles, porch lights, morning coffee, loud hip hop songs, great workouts, yummy food, porch time with the hubs & spontaneous puppy adopting. 

I’ll be honest, I’m not great at it yet, but I have caught myself looking for things to write down and found a new happiness in chasing the small things.

-Erin