It wasn’t until I was three kids deep that I even thought to myself. Holy crap, those are my kids… I’m a MOM! I’m not sure where the time went and it wasn’t just the time that had been lost to me. I was lost to me.
It was an ordinary day when it happened. That one mind-blowing thought of I. Am. A. Mom. Then a cascade of others came crashing down.
They are growing too fast. Am I doing right by them? Are they learning enough? Am I going to be able to teach them well enough? I should really enroll Willow in that dance class. Maybe I will wait till I lose 10 more lbs so I can get some decent clothes. OMG. The Laundry. I hate all my clothes. Why do we even have all these Clothes. What are all these Toys doing here? Why do we even have all these Toys?! Damn you Target.
And it didn’t stop there.
As I stomped through the house on my daily tirade of shoving things in bins and hampers, clearing off counters and chairs, and cooking and cleaning up for the endless amounts of food these little people, and my not so little husband needed, I started to get completely overwhelmed. I’m talking panic attack overwhelmed.
So there I was. On the floor in the garage, sitting in heaps of dirty clothes, contemplating the consequences of burning the whole house down and walking away hand in hand with my babes. I needed a fresh start.
And then it hit me. If I could watch it all go up in flames then why am I holding on to it. My glazed over vision refocused on the dirty laundry.
I may have laughed liked a lunatic, a little too loud, and a little too well then,
because my children were very quiet after that. In fact, they stood quite still as they watched me barrel through the kitchen grabbing all the trash bags and then proceed to fill those bags with all the stuff I once thought I had to have that had been laying useless in the garage.
That day was such a pivotal day for me.
I felt like I had gotten rid of so much. It was absolutely freeing to see all the emptiness where there had been so much.. STUFF. Clutter always did make me anxious and I have no idea why I had let everything get so built up. In fact, it felt like I had let My Whole Life become some overgrown garden.
I started thinking about what in my life needed to be cleaned up. Where was my time going all day? And what did I hate doing that could be changed?! For me it started with 2 things. 2 things that begrudgingly took over my thoughts, my home, and every bit of my precious time.
Laundry & Food
So many clothes. And all I wore was yoga pants and tank tops. Dressing up meant throwing on some denim. You would think my clothes would have been easy to throw out.
They went ever so slowly. I was keeping those shorts I knew would fit soon, and that dress I would wear when my husband and I finally went on that fancy date. And this shirt will totally go with those pants, and if I ever go meet that one mom I talk to on FB I could so wear this. And the kids clothes…
We’re talking Never. Ending. Story here. Thats where I splurged the most. At one point in my life every single time I went to target the kids would get a new outfit. And I was fine with that!!… I actually thought that was great. Then I will eventually own the whole store?!?!
What was I thinking?!
I ended up with nothing but mountains of laundry I hated doing. And what was once beautiful pricey clothes were now stained, wrinkly heaps of rags.
With the kids clothing I started by throwing out everything stained. For mine and my husbands I bagged up clothes I absolutely knew I wouldn’t wear. Some of them still had price tags. How did I let that happen?!
That first big clean out left me exhilarated. I felt like I had so much space. I felt accomplished. Organized. Free of some kind of burden I didn’t know was placed on me.
I think I did that 12-15 more times over the course of the next 6 months! It was quite addicting. This sense of peace and something deeper that came over me that I couldn’t quite explain yet. So about every week or two I would start to notice all the things I still hadn’t touched. And I would bag up a few more pieces that hadn’t been worn and ones that I knew, as much as I liked them.. I just wasn’t going to wear them.
After I got down to a very modest closet and I knew I was close to only owning my essentials I finally had the brilliant idea that there must be other people out there like me. So I started my search for women who only wanted few clothes and knew better than I how to achieve that in a fashionable, sensible way.
And I found The Capsule Wardrobe.
How had I not known about this?! Apparently there is a whole movement of people who live by a minimalist approach to their clothing! In fact, reading on capsule wardrobes was what led me to realize I was fitting into some new trend.. Minimalism. Wow. I had been way out of it. Motherhood can really swallow you up..
But after tons of articles and research I realized Capsule Wardrobe was what I had made for myself. And I learned a few new tricks. My favorite was that I could easily buy and organize with color palettes. Thank you Caroline from UnFancy!
I have not always been a great clothes shopper and it was pretty monumental for me to figure out that it makes it so much easier to build a wardrobe that will actually all go together by creating a color board / visual board first. So I made a Pinterest Boards for Clothing Color Palettes and figured out how many pieces of clothing I wanted.
If you have mountains of laundry you hate doing and want nothing more than to throw it all away or rent out a room in your house in exchange for a live in clothes washer I suggest you try to minimize your closets!
If this idea seems amazing but incredibly daunting, I get it. I was there. Here are a few tips to get started and ways that helped me get through it.
- Start Slow Remove anything stained, ripped or faded.
- Remove Anything You Haven’t worn in 6+ Months If you haven’t worn it in a year. Do yourself a favor and give that unknown baggage away.
- Remove Duplicates Do you own 10 Black shirts or dresses? Try picking one or two of your favorites.
- Get Rid of anything that doesn’t fit If you have been waiting a year to fit back into those pre-pregnancy pants… Let them go. The mental effects of them in your closet weigh on you without you even realizing it. You can reward yourself with new pants if that is a goal your are dedicated to.
- Get Rid Of Clothes That Just Aren’t You I had quite a few pieces that I wanted to wear because I liked them on other women. Or shirts that were waiting for just the right shoes and vice versa. Don’t worry about whats on trend or when you’ll complete that outfit. The great thing about minimizing your closet is you will find YOUR style. It is possible to have timeless pieces that show off who you are.
- If you don’t know where to start or feel overwhelmed try a certain amount at a time. Choose 10 items in your closet to box up for donations. It can be shirts, shoes, purses, belts. Once you get going you may find a lot more than you thought.
- Test Your Wardrobe Try removing half of your clothes and put them in a different room or boxed in the garage. You will be surprised how much time and hassle you save when you get ready with with fewer choices. If you haven’t missed any of the clothes in two weeks donate them. If they were boxed. DO NOT OPEN THE BOX. You will be tempted to put clothes back in your closet, and that my friend is called two steps back.
Do not be fooled. This may take a long time and you may get discouraged. Keep at it and GO Slow. Find women who motivate you and reach out when you feel overwhelmed.
At the same time I was clearing out my closet I was also focused highly on my utter shit show of food duty. So let’s talk about
I didn’t learn how to cook until I got married. Literally, the day we got married. Turns out I am pretty awesome at it. I put this fully on the fact that I. Love. Food.
With my newfound love came Pinterest. Can you see where this is going? All of a sudden I was cooking everything under the sun. Our grocery lists were a mile long. The worst part is if I didn’t cook one of the meals I had initially planned for I would have a garbage can of waste that week. In fact, there was a garbage can of waste regardless for all the leftovers getting canned.
It made me sick to think of all the wasted food, and my husband sick for all the wasted money.
Yet we continued that way for far too long. I am not sure why as it was utterly exhausting. Just going through Pinterest or trying to think of what new fabulous meals I should be cooking, taking inventory, the mile long grocery list, and 2 hour long grocery trip with screaming babies was exactly what it sounds like. An Absolute Nightmare. I shudder to recall.
So with all this time and energy management coming into play in my life I knew I had to figure out a better way for our food consumption.
I first tried meal prepping.
Wow. I know this works wonders for so many people and I do somewhat implement it in our style now. Either I royally messed it up, or it just was not for me.
The amount of tubberware and glassware alone gave me anxiety.
But I went ahead and spent too much money on it. Thanks again Target. I bought bulk rice and veggies and chicken, made turkey burgers with lettuce wraps, and put salads and overnight oats in jars. Literally, I meal prepped every meal Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner for a week.
And I hated every meal I ate that week. The food was soggy and my choices were limited.
Not to mention it literally left me cooking FOR A WHOLE FREAKING DAY and using the microwave all week. Something I hadn’t even owned in my first 2 years of marriage nor used after we moved into houses that had them built in (🎶moving on up🎶).
Then I started thinking about my newfound minimalism. And why can’t that work for our meal planning?! So a quick google search and my life was saved. I stumbled across the biggest game-changer for my sanity yet. A Minimalist Meal Plan.
And it is ingenious.
The idea is to assign each day of the week a “default meal” I know it seems like it would be boring or you would be eating the same food all the time. Your not and it isn’t.
Imagine not having to keep up with choosing new meals each week or month, figuring out your ingredients, what you already have on hand, then searching the stores for some spice you’ve never heard of. No more throwing out all those unused food items since you ordered a pizza or threw in a freezer meal because you were too damn exhausted!
How many times I used to stop for a quick bite on the way home from the grocery store because shopping for food took all my energy to cook the food!
The beauty of a weekly meal theme is that you no longer have to wonder what you are going to cook each night or figure out what you should be buying at the grocery store. It is roughly the same each week.
My Weekly Meal Theme Looks like this.
- Monday – Meat and Veggie I start the week off with this as my base because the rest of the week goes off what I choose. Use chicken one week, Beef another (beef tenderloin is my favorite), and sometimes ground turkey. Veggies are varied but I always have broccoli and carrots on my list. I add anything I think sounds yummy and will incorporate well. Like treating us with potatoes for mashed potatoes for dinner and egg and potato for breakfast.
- Tuesday – Tacos this is a no brainer. I always keep shrimp in the freezer and will use this for tacos a lot or leftovers of whichever meat I have on hand. Freeze cuts of beef tenderloin or shred chicken and either of these work amazing for a quick delicious taco meal.
- Wednesday – Stir Fry We love rice. So fresh veggies like broccoli, carrots, red onion, mushrooms, or bell peppers thrown together with rice and leftover meat is easy and quick. This can vary greatly by different sauces also. I love throwing in mustard and cream, or soy and sesame oil. The different herbs you put in can also make the same meal dramatically different. Lemon and dill makes any meal light yet flavorful.
- Thursday – Fish I try to purchase only fresh wild caught fatty fish that are high in Omega 3’s. Salmon with basil pesto pops in the oven for 20 minutes and some leftover rice for a side with green beans or broccoli is a simple healthy dinner we all love. If I didn’t find a good fish that week then I make this a full blown vegan day. (my poor husband) Buddha Bowls are a favorite go to.
- Friday – Pasta Pasta is so versatile. I have been loving my veggie spiralizer and making zucchini or sweet potato pasta. Zucchini and shrimp is super quick and one of my go-to’s when I don’t feel like getting too fancy. But this is usually the night I put in some flair and make new dishes or put in some extra love. (If it was up to my husband this would be spaghetti and meatballs night every week!)
- Saturday – Soup / Leftovers This is the day to clear out the fridge. I usually throw everything I have left in a pot with vegetable stock and maybe add some cream or cheese. It almost always turns out amazing and is beyond easy. Who knew pasta night and taco leftovers would make an excellent soup? I love seeing what new concoctions turn up.
- Sunday – Smoothie / Fasting So I know this is going to seem crazy as hell to most but I am a firm believer in fasting and how it can reset your body and mind. It is great for losing/maintaining weight, clarity of the mind, healing our digestive track and other vital organs and increasing mental strength and fortitude. A quick google search will show you I am not the only one and there are a multitude of benefits. If it seems nuts but you are intrigued check out this page for a few starter tips. Just in case your wondering, I do not let my kids fast. They finish up the rest of the fruit and veggies and have smoothies on Sundays!
- FOLLOW MY PINTEREST BOARD for my Weekly Meal Theme Inspiration
This is just one version of A minimalist meal plan though. You can start by thinking of your favorite meals and making a default meal night for it. Try to keep simple meals for days you know you are busy and more adventurous meals for the weekends or nights you normally have a bit of time.
Following this meal plan has saved me Immense amounts of time and energy.
You have no idea how freeing it is to walk into a grocery store and hit up the produce, and an isle or two. I don’t even look down the other isles and I am in and out within 30 minutes.
Food and Laundry were the start of my new lifestyle and I haven’t turned back since. In fact, It has left me with room for more expansion in Living with Less in all parts of my life. I heard someone say Intentional Living when I was going through these changes, and those words struck a nerve in me. Now I strive to remember them and live by them everyday.
Since I have had so much less distraction in my life it has really shown me what I care about and who I am. It was hard seeing pieces of myself while I was clearing out. I didn’t like who I had become. And I didn’t understand a lot of my decisions and was constantly baffled at what I uncovered.
Earlier when I mentioned a deep feeling inside me I would get when I would start clearing out that I didn’t quite understand then… I believe that was the relief that comes with shedding skin.
Shedding layers you use to cover pain, disappointment, troubles you don’t want to face, or just plain fear or laziness to start what you truly want to do with yourself. When you don’t have the crutch of shopping, of filling your life with new things, or eating, you are left with a lot of time and you get a good long look at yourself.
I did not like what I saw. But I am using all that extra time to reconnect with my children, my husband, and most of all with myself.
If you stuck through this post and read a bit about how I started pulling together my life and saved my motherhood and in turn, myself.. Than Thank You. It feels good to get some of it off my chest and out there in the world. If you were having these problems like I was and feeling lost in despair and overwhelmed with your life. Then take a look around and find out what you can’t stand that is taking up the most of your time. I would love to hear from you and about your journey so please don’t hesitate to comment or Join My Tribe!