Start with You

I find advice that begins with ‘start with yourself’ to be the best. I love Dave Ramsey and when my husband and I took Financial Peace University together I used to lay in the bath at night and watch his success story videos. Dave Ramsey has always recommended to ‘Pay Yourself First’. And it’s great advice. It’s worked for me and it’s worked for other people I know. Airplane stewards always direct you to place your oxygen mask on yourself before helping others around you, even including your children. It’s not just good advice it is life or death, even though in an emergency I imagine I’ll hold my breath to help my kid. But I know it’s not the right choice when I really think about it because who will help my kid when I’ve passed out from no oxygen!?! So basically pay yourself first, take care of yourself first because I bet no one else is going to do it for you.

My advice regarding minimalism is to focus on yourself first. There are many minimalist writers and bloggers out there and most of them recommend cleaning out that garage or basement first or even going for the easy trash in the living room method. I don’t recommend that. What you will get is trash removed from the living room and nothing else. I know this from experience and I’m sure a lot of people out there are just as overwhelmed as myself. So instead, pay yourself first!

Take some time and talk to a couple friends about ways they have simplified their lives. A great friend gives you energy. Find them, keep them, use them and support them in return. Don’t bring those people into your life that use, use, use and never give anything back, this person is NOT a friend! Your life will be so much better. You will have a support group, your own little cheerleaders leading you through life. Talk to your friends about what drives you crazy, what fills you with the most dread, what you miss doing the most and what you wish you could change, and what works for them. I bet you’ll learn a lot about your friends and how they keep a home, manage homework, pick-ups and drop-offs and so many other great things that could make your life easier that you never thought about. Plus, coffee and brioche with a friend is always a good thing.

Some great advice I’ve come across from books and my own friends and family are:

  • Drop perfectionism and the guilt it produces.
  • Get a relaxing hobby, like yoga. Or any other hobby you thoroughly enjoy just for you.
  • Learn to say “No” when you really don’t want to do something.
  • Treat negative people like the plague. They will only take your energy and give you none in return.
  • Find something to fill the shopping void. Do you shop when you are bored, stressed? Fill that gap with something you love…that isn’t shopping.

My favorite book on minimalism (“30 Days to a Simpler Life”) is quite outdated but has some great tips:

  1. Make forms for everything you do repeatedly (i.e. grocery shopping, chores, parties, volunteering). You can keep all these forms in a binder or in a family command center.
  2. Teach your kids to be responsible for their things. This one will save you more time than any other advice. Teach them young and save yourself time later.
  3. Make lists of all the things you need to do and create a management center on the fridge or open wall. Make sure your husband and children know these lists and are involved in helping you cross things off. Lists can include menus, shopping lists, activity lists.
  4. Pick one night a week to catch up on calls, emails, bills and forms. Sunday night is a good night, right before the next week starts. Forget about these tasks the rest of the week.
  5. Buy clothes that do not need dry cleaning, sheets that do no need ironing, an easy to manage hairstyle and other things you think will make your life easier. Life can be easier when we choose things that simplify our lives.
  6. Install a stacking washer and dryer in a closet near a teenagers room. You’ll never talk about wash again when it’s their own responsibility.
  7. My favorite advice from the book! “My major strategy for simplifying is to get as much exercise as possible, eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, look for the best in everyone, and have a regular and exciting sex life. The rest falls into place.”

7 Minimalist Indulgences

‘Minimalism’ can sound like a harsh word. It conjures images of living in a white room, with white furniture, white clothing and maybe even pristine white children in shift dresses. I promise you it is not. What it is, is freedom. Freedom from always being behind on cleaning, freedom from a job that feels like slavery, even freedom from mundane tasks that seem to take up your whole day. There is room in minimalism to enjoy life immensely. I’m not talking about $10,000 vacations but little joys that you can find on a daily basis. Here is a list of 7 indulgences or extravagances I allow myself quite often for free (or very cheap).

1. BATH TIME: Bath time had to be number one on my list. It’s my time, all mine. Sometimes I read in the bath, sometimes I just soak and let my mind focus on my breathing to recenter myself and sometimes I give myself a real spa treatment with oils, bubbles or salts. Try it, on a weekly basis, I dare you!

2. A REALLY GOOD BOOK: It seems that there are readers, then there are non-readers. I’m of the belief that the non-readers have just not found what genres of books they enjoy, or even just a really great author that they just can’t put down. Cultivate your interests, dig deep to find some excitement in books. I promise a really good book is so much more rewarding than any movie. Right now I’m reading ‘Nefertiti’ by Michelle Moran, I’m into historical fiction and this is an exceptional one (my second time reading it) but if you’re not into historical fiction, please yawn and continue on your way to more exciting genres.

3. A TEA or COFFEE with FRIENDS: Nothing compares to downtime with a friend, to chat, to gossip, to create wonderful ideas with or plan great trips with. All mamas need to find the time to do this. I usually put my child in care during the week to find girlfriend time, but if this isn’t available to you, I insist you illicit your husbands babysitting skills on the weekends and find an hour or two to just get away with a friend (or sibling). If all else fails, invite your friend over for afternoon coffee and watch the little ones destroy your living room while you nonchalantly chat over your steaming cups. It will be worth the 15 minutes of clean up after they leave.

4. SEX: Sorry Mom. Earmuffs! Nothing is more indulgent than sex and I’m assuming that if you’re a mama that you’ve had sex and continue (although much less regularly) since the babies were born. Find time for this, SERIOUSLY! Enough Said.

5. A GREAT OUTFIT: You know you have that outfit (or at least you have it pinned on Pinterest) that you just love. It makes you feel like the best possible you. Wear this outfit on any regular day, not a special occasion, just a day where you run errands or pick up the kids or go to work on a normal Monday. Wear this bad ass outfit and feel awesome, if for no other reason then that you are awesome! (If you don’t own this outfit that you have in mind, save up for it and buy it. Oh and be prepared for the compliments!)

6. MASSAGE: Now this might be a little pricey, depending on where you go. Word of mouth is usually the best way to find someone who is good, but if you don’t know of anyone then I would recommend a massage school. Google it for your area, they can be really cheap and although the students are still learning I find that the massages are pretty close to any regular massage therapist. I’ve been to one amazing therapist when we lived in Tennessee and I can’t seem to find anyone that good ever again. When you find THE ONE, go to them, regularly. They will get to know your needs, where you are tight, sore, etc. I find I can always do my own nails and facials at home but I can’t massage myself (and my hubby doesn’t compare to an actual therapist, sorry babe).

7. DATE NIGHT: I love date night. It can get boring if you let it. Just dinner and a movie every time is boring. Soon we are trying a ‘date day’, going to a museum not far from here that I’ve been dying to go to and spending the day near the water and eating a wonderful lunch (I hope it lives up to my expectations). Next ‘date day’ we are planning on snowboarding because that’s what my husband likes to do and we can’t do it with two little ones. Make sure you are trading off and on for things you like to do with what your husband likes to do, makes it fair and interesting.

Single? Take yourself on a date, a place you’ve been wanting to go but have been waiting for someone else to take you. Just go!

Do you have any other indulgences you would consider minimalist? Things you love to do that don’t require shopping and bringing more junk into the house?