I'm no expert here and I know I'm not alone when I say that I wish we were back in the days of no cell phones, less TV, wholesome home cooked food and big yards with babies running around barefoot. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely a millennial mom - heck my businesses thrive off of the Internet. But I love simplifying my life, my home and my mothering as much as possible. Soon when we move, I'll hopefully get to embrace that life even more with more empty spaces and room around me. Plus, who doesn't love a good purge during a move?
I'm guilty just like many...our TV stays on way more than I wish sometimes. Oreos find their way into my kid's snack bowls and despite my constant purging of toys, there are still mounds of them (seriously it's like they reproduce over night or something). But in the midst of the chaos, I'm always striving for life to be more simple, minimal and natural. So below are some of my favorites tips and tricks to trying to simplify motherhood and the home.
1. Purge. I do this frequently. About every two months I purge my clothes and it is not because I am buying new things, but because I am finally willing to part with certain pieces. Same goes for my home -- I don't like clutter and I don't like a lot of stuff. Living in a smaller home with the kitchen and living room open as one, it's frustrating because I feel like there is so much. I like to cut the knick knacks as much as possible. No little pointless knick knack pieces for decor unless they mean something or truly capture my style/spirit. I've been trying to really take this into account when I shop and see cute things for the home -- I remember that in the end, it's just stuff.
2. Less TV, more music. I say more music because you may be like me and enjoy a little background noise. I did a pretty great job at restricting TV times for my first child until she was around 1.5 but ever since then I just do the best I can and accept it. However what I love to do is turn the TV off and turn to Pandora. I leave some Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Bing Crosby and more singing in the background. I actually find life more joyful this way. The kids run to their rooms to play because there is no TV and then there's occasional dance parties. I also like to expose my children to soothing, classic tunes.
3. No electronics (or restricted). We are a no iPad/no tablet home. Not completely by choice though, I lost my iPad a year ago and decided it was good for us. My daughter occasionally says she'll ask Santa for one, but I can tell you Santa isn't bringing her one anytime soon (he already told me). P.S. Electronic toys don't last long here either and it has to be very well loved for me to replace the batteries! P.P.S. I am not against electronics or learning apps. I do find them extremely beneficial just sometimes overused.
4. Cook with real food and have a real dinner. I will be the first to say that I dread the thought of cooking 90% of the time (however I love baking, sweet tooth!). There's just something about going in the kitchen and making a mess that makes me dread it -- or perhaps more so because my kids drive me nuts in the process (and again, I have a small kitchen). But truth be told, I feel happier and more wholesome when I cook. I feel better knowing I cooked dinner rather than relying on takeout or quick things. It's also budget friendly and healthier to cook at home. It almost seems silly to remind people to eat dinner together, but you should. We do dinner with NO TV or if there is TV it's the news for background noise. Kid's shows go off and soon our table will be nowhere near our TV and I can't wait!
5. Do the aggravating things. No matter how much you hate the mess of play dough or no matter how much paint they get on the table when they paint, do it. Kids don't get to do as much arts and crafts nowadays in schools, so just do it. It may not be simple, but in my opinion it's only natural. I struggle with this one sometimes...
6. Turn to nature. This is for so many areas of life. From taking the kids outside, to growing a garden (I wish!) and to relying on plant based health care, medicines and cleaning products. Cut the chemicals and toxins from your life as much as possible. The only chemical filled product that gets used in my home daily is hairspray. ALL of our home cleaners, hand soaps, beauty care, skin care (not my husband's) are ALL natural and plant based. Turn to essential oils for certain and frequent ailments. Use essential oils for fragrance within the home and clean with them too! Essential oils, vinegar and baking soda can go a LONG way.
7. Say no, but say yes. I'm definitely beginning to find the courage to sometimes just say no to the things that seem too hectic and time consuming. Or perhaps there's a weekend with 5 invitations -- there's no way that is happening. Life isn't about running back and forth and feeling frazzled. Say yes to the meaningful things like when your kids ask to go to the park but say no to the things that you just simply don't want to do (like your co-worker's daughter's wedding). Why live doing things that don't bring us joy?
8. Let them be bored. Sometimes when I can tell my daughter is "bored," I like it. I like it because I know she'll soon be forced to find something creative to do - and she does. Boredom pokes at imaginations and feeds them. One thing I hope to always remember is to keep their extracurricular schedules manageable so that they have the freedom to come home after school and be bored. I want them playing outside until dusk.
9. Find a pile of clutter. Each day find one new pile of clutter or one new junk drawer and go through it. Throwing things away (or donating) is one of the most freeing feelings in the world and I enjoy the heck out of it!
10. Buy things with love. I used to be one who purchased the cute dress or a cute wall hanging for the home just because it was cute and super cheap. But then what do you end up with? Just a bunch of super cheap things with little meaning that are just meh. I now try to shop with two things in mind 1) do I truly love it 2) will it last. I rather splurge a tad on one item that will last a long time that I love rather than three items that are cheap and just okay.
There is no right or wrong way to mother. There is no perfect way to perfectly achieve this list. These are just the tricks I use to make my life sometimes feel a little less crazy and a little less "millennial." I want my children to know nature, to know real food and to know the joys of play. I want our life to be as easily natural as possible.
But hey, no one is perfect. And if you're a hoarder, we can totally still be friends. ;)