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Question for you (no, really!): How are you currently simplifying?

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

While I was gone the past few weeks, Kyle got down to work here at home. I’d get occasional texts from him like, “Can I get rid of your teacup with the broken handle?” or “I’m getting rid of more clothes—hooray!” One time when we talked, he told me he had a surprise for me—he donated the armchair and ottoman from our master bedroom.

I breathed a sigh of relief. They needed to go ages ago, and he just up and did it. Love that guy.

I’ve been passionate about living simpler since before I started this blog five-plus years ago, and I’m still reminded that it’s a constant journey. I will continually be getting rid of stuff in my life I don’t love or need. We will forever be gut-checking our calendar commitments with our family’s real priorities. Day by day, week by week, we will do the work of living simpler, of making daily little sacrifices so that our life is fuller to give.

There is a marriage between art and science when it comes to living a simpler life. It involves both learning—and living from an outpouring of passion about—the real needs of the world so that our choices propel goodness, but it also involves cutting up that old t-shirt into rags so that you buy fewer paper towels. You read this blog to get a shot in the arm instead of strolling the mall and coveting All The Things, but you also manage your daily budget for fifteen minutes each night so that you don’t accidentally overspend.

It’s about painting a portrait of a life well-lived with the ins and outs of our little choices. It’s about the discipline to say no so we can say yes to more time, more freedom, more to give back. It’s why we write posts about both why we need mentors in our lives, and how to make a simple bunting out of a tablecloth.

kids picnic 02

A simpler life doesn’t just happen to us—we make it happen by being good stewards with our brains, our wallets, our calendars, our relationships, our things. And so I’d like to hear from you.

What are you doing right now to pursue a simpler life? Are you purposely not eating out so you can get out of debt by a certain date? Are you making a commitment to only buying Fair Trade chocolate so that you don’t unintentionally support slavery? (More on that soon.) Are you reading a particular book about simplifying? Are you line drying your clothes? Riding your bike to the store?

I have no agenda here, other than being sincerely curious about the community here and what’s going on in your lives. What is driving you towards simplicity right now? What habit are you practicing, today, that is propelling your family towards a life with more meaning?

Please share in the comments what you’re working on. What’s up, friends? I’d really like to know.

(click here to leave one if you’re reading via email or feed reader)

And along that note, how can I serve you in this goal? We may not live near each other, but I’d certainly like to hear from you how this online space might inspire more passion or fuel you with more ideas.

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Comments

  1. We are simplifying in passing on clothes from the summer season to our neighbor -kid friends who will need them next year. My dear husband (while I was away at Malibu in BC for 4 days, God bless him) simplified our little apartment by cleaning up my piles of books that were overtaking our extra spaces and making them into stacks on a dresser (it looks much better and ‘clean’), and we’re always selling things on ebay to downsize more. We’re keeping our daily life schedule neat and tidy with plenty of evenings free for family meals and plenty of cooking time for more healthful dinners. We only eat out on date-night; once a month. These things have all been our lifestyle the past couple of years, and we survive on very little. Our life is simple, but it is rich!
    Sarah M
    Sarah M´s latest post: We have a Tiger Scout!

  2. We dream of moving to an earthbag-home in Colorado. It’s not going to happen for another 6-10 years, but we’re already saving & planning. To make the move, we’ll be downsizing by 300 square feet, and our house is NOT large right now! We’ve been weighing every item in the house (and all new items) against the question, “Do we want to bring this with to Colorado?” It’s a bit tough right now, as we’re homeschooling two high-schoolers & books are a HUGE part of the household “clutter,” but we’re making slow yet steady progress.

    Your books have been wonderful to pore over again & again, for inspiration in getting & staying organized! We’ve worked since the kids were babies on living simply… but as they’re now both in their teens we’re finding it tougher to live with the same level of deliberateness there was when they were younger. I personally would LOVE any insight on how to raise TEENS simply!
    mamahousemouse´s latest post: Teacher Appreciation Week – a different view

    • Earthbag home… now I have to look that up because that’s quite a name. ;)

      Thanks! And yes, there’s not tons of info about simplifying with teens… we should do something about that.

  3. We’re preparing for a move. Again. Thanks, Uncle Sam. Giving away a lot of clothes and getting rid of things William Morris style. Preparing to super simplify in case our elected officials can’t get it together and we have to get by without a paycheck.

    I’ve always loved your blog and your books because I like to organize and try to improve my family’s life. But right now, in this season, I need to feel like I’m not the only one who’s being forced to simplify. Does that make sense?

    • It does make sense. And I love that you can say “William Morris style” on this blog, and many people hear will know what you’re saying. :)

  4. I’m in my last year of graduate school, writing my dissertation and beginning the process of sending out eighty-eleven job applications. Since we know we’ll likely be moving next summer, we are attempting to downsize throughout this year to make the move a little less painful. This translates into editing unused kitchen gadgets, paring down wardrobes and toys, and being very selective when I visit thrift stores. I’m also eating low-carb (happily, my family is fairly accommodating) so I’ve super-simplified meal planning to a protein and a vegetable.

    I enjoy Simple Mom posts on practical ways to downsize and make do. It’s so hard to let go of things when I think there’s a chance I’ll need it and won’t be able to afford a new one (even though this rarely happens). I’d also love to hear more about getting rid of stuff–as in, getting it out of your possession responsibly. If I could just put everything to the curb, downsizing would be super easy. But I don’t want it to go to the landfill and before I donate it, I want to offer it to specific people who could perhaps use it (or I could Craigslist it and make some money!) so I hang on to it and it never actually leaves the house. Multiply this scenario many times over and downsizing becomes impossible. Help!

  5. I’m using the phrase “delete it” in my head to remind me that clearing out clutter in my home and my life is something I can take action on right this second.

    For example, the other day I got out the Neosporin for a scrape and noticed it was expired. “Delete!” I threw it in the trash.

    This works equally well for commitments, email subscriptions (unsubscribe!), undone projects, Twitter feeds I no longer enjoy… delete, delete, delete!
    amber´s latest post: Find Your Happy Place with Rain Tracks (5 Faves less than $1 each)

  6. We are simplifying by moving from a 2400 sq ft. house to a 1424 sq ft. apartment with our three young kiddos. We love to travel (weekends and months at a time) and don’t want to be weighed down by a mortgage or a yard. We’d rather be hitting the roads of the Texas hill country than mowing our grass on a Saturday morning.

    So my current question is how do I decorate and live simply without being cluttered in a small rental? We also homeschool, so I am looking for fun ways to store our school stuff. We have gotten rid of so much stuff. It’s awesome!
    Amanda Espinoza @ Life With a Mission´s latest post: Leaving Conventional Wisdom Behind

    • Love your heart and your vision there! Way to live unconventionally.

    • Thanks for this inspiration. I feel like our current house is “too much” for us, but once you’ve filled the bigger space, it seems like a big mental leap to picture living in less. I want to get there badly!

      • Alissa, you are right. It is a big mental leap. For us it started with a dream of traveling a lot. Then last year we did a huge purge. Then we did another huge purge this year before putting the house on the market. Reading blogs like this one and other minimalist blogs are huge inspirations for me to live with less. It’s all in determining what you want for your family!
        Amanda Espinoza @ Life With a Mission´s latest post: Leaving Conventional Wisdom Behind

    • We just made the move from less then 1000 sq feet to bigger, but still my decor is stuff I use. For example I hang my cast iron skillets on the wall in a modern way, lanterns are beautiful and needed at times. My kids have only toys they play with, watch for a month and see what they use then get rid of everything else, even the one grandma gave them! Keep what’s needed, buy for beauty and function so you don’t store your hard earned money. Just my two cents

  7. This school year I’ve promised myself that I will not overextend myself. This means not signing the kids up for sports so we can have pancakes and sleep in on Saturday mornings. We still have the kids in some after-school activities, but we’ve only limited them to two activities. That means evenings in and dinner at home and Friday family movie nights.

    • June, we did this, too! If my daughter had absolutely, unequivocally loved soccer, we may have made a different decision but ultimately we said no. I don’t want every Monday night to be stressful and hurried and we were missing Saturday mornings of big breakfasts and lots of family play time. We have been thrilled with the results. A big win for everyone!

    • This! My son turned 3 this summer and everyone and their mom was asking us if we were going to sign him up for all the youth soccer, t-ball, football stuff. Geez, he’s 3. He wants to ride his bike and stop to watch bugs and slide down the slide. He’s so not interested in a cooperative group activity. And the thought of being out of the house in the evening multiple times a week makes me want to scream. We tried a 2 week session of swim lessons this summer and it was utter chaos on our routine. Luckily my husband agrees with me that sports/activities can wait until he’s quite a bit older.

    • One of the most memorable (and happiest) days of my life as a parent was the first day of the soccer season that my sons decided to quit. They were about 7 and 10, and it was unusually hot for that time of year — about 90 degrees outside. Everyone on our street was heading to the soccer fields in the afternoon to sit in the hot sun and watch a bunch of kids run around and overheat. Instead, we went home, hung out in the AC and watched movies all afternoon. No one in my family has ever regretted the decision to quit a sport that no one in our house even liked!

  8. We’ve just moved to a new city and have a lot more space- plus we are hoping to grow our family. Its tough to figure out how to simplify when we’re trying to meet new people, get connected and gear up for family life.

    In general, I do love going through clothes and possessions seasonally to donate. And I’m always looking for ways to re-use items and organize- when I do this I usually find that I don’t need to buy as much as I anticipated.
    Katie Truelove´s latest post: Monday Gratitude

  9. Hubby & I are selling a lot on craigslist- spare bikes, big furniture pieces so that we can downsize to a 1 bedroom apt. to save $. We agreed either way, when we move if we end up in a 2 bedroom- it feels so good to get rid of some of these things we won’t miss anyway!

  10. I’ve been decluttering a lot this year, although I slacked down during summer. But now I’m in full swing again. My Mantra is “Less But Better”.

    The hardest part for me is the kids’ stuff. I just didn’t know how to begin. Well, I finally stopped complaining about the state of their room and started decluttering last monday. What helped me most was to shift from “What can I get rid of?” to “What will I keep?”. I do a bit everyday and the results are amazing already. The kids love that they have room to play now and are happily doing so for hours.

    I’m in the middle of reading Simplicity Parenting and I think it’s great. I’m going to simplify our routines and schedules, too, as advised in this book. I feel so much better without all the clutter in our home.
    I’m off now for my daily round of tossing.

  11. Well, I’m currently working through One Bite at a Time and finding it a really useful tool. My husband and I have started by choosing 10 projects we feel are a priority for us and we’re now half way through this mini list and feel we’re gaining momentum in simplifying.

    We’ve recently switched to using cloth diapers, which amazingly makes life so much simpler for us! No more dashing to the shop because we’ve run out of disposables, plus we save money and time and the environmental benefits are great. I’m getting more and more interested in the idea of simplifying and going green, going hand-in-hand and am currently thinking, what can I do next?

    I think what spurs me on to live more simply is my family. I want a simpler lifestyle for us all, I can picture it in my mind and every step and change takes us closer to this dream and it’s a big motivator.
    Jessica´s latest post: {Be Inspired} Odyssey by Homeland

  12. I fell into simple living about the time you started your blog. Our son was sick and Life was chaotic, unpredictable and full of fear. But the amount of stuff we had–that was something I could control. And I have! Recently, we moved from our large suburban house to a city apartment and I can honestly say that everything in our apartment is something we need and I know where all of it is. I love that! I’m the girl who cleans closets on her day off and goes on the family vacation for a week with just a backpack. I love it.

  13. I’m not allowing myself to obsess over the way others feel- by the same token, my energy will be about fulfilling my obligations instead of worrying about being liked. When I had to call out of work for a sick baby, I didn’t allow myself to perseverate on whether or not my principal would be annoyed or whether they believed my son was really ill. I confidently explained my situation and moved on to care for my kids. I hate to admit that this is some of the hardest work of my adult life, but it’s incredibly freeing.
    Ashlie´s latest post: Good, good things

  14. After a summer of living family life to the fullest out home took a back seat – or a trunk? A bumper? It was neglected. It got filled up with the stuff of busy-ness. Rather than be overwhelmed I am taking 15 minutes a day to declutter. That’s it. While I do that I’m “reading the clutter”. What is it that needs a home in our home? What activities are we missing a dedicated spot for. That’s leading me to revamping our playroom to include more space for art – we are armpit deep in arts and crafts. It needs an intentional home.

    Oh, and we paid off all our consumer debt. All of it. Wahoo!
    Robin from Frugal Family Times´s latest post: Easy Ways to Save $$$ on School Lunches

  15. I get up 30 minutes before the kiddos so I can have some quiet time with God. I am reading “An Unhurried Life” by Alan Fadling.
    We are switching out clothes for the season, and even if something will still fit my kids next year, if they don’t particularly like it, it goes on the giveaway bag. No need for unwanted things to take up valuable space.

  16. As a (somewhat) reformed pack rat, I’m consciously weeding down my home room by room really pushing myself. In particular, I get super hung up on letting go of relatively nice things that could–theoretically–be useful in the future.

    In terms of future content, I’d love to see you address how to deal with situations where two simplifying values clash. For me, this most readily comes up with wanting a life open to new people/cultures/experiences through travel vs. the environmental impact of travel. Or eating organic (maybe flown in from Argentina) vs. local conventional produce. I’d love to hear about how others reconcile those choices.

    • I like this idea! We also struggle with travel. Sometimes living intentionally carries a lot of guilt. Is it ok for us to take a family vacation “for fun” when other families lack clean water and sanitation? Currently all of our “vacation” time goes to seeing out of state family so we haven’t had to work through that one yet, but whenever I mention taking a vacation one day, my husband brings that up, and I certainly see his point.
      Sarah G´s latest post: May 2013

    • I’ve struggled a bit with this too. As far as travel is concerned, we happen to live in a college town full of people from all over the world teaching and studying here, so learning about other cultures isn’t any harder than getting to know someone new. And that’s easy because our kids make friends first and then we get to know the parents through them. I’d still like to travel, though, but our finances don’t currently support that. So I guess our limited budget is what’s saving the environment around us!

      As for food, we have become much more aware of the dangers of conventionally grown food and are also forced to decide between the much healthier organics (often coming from far away) and the locally conventionally grown food. For myself and my family, health takes precedence over environmental impact. I can only hope that more organics grown nearby become available as time goes on. But, when you live in KS, the possibility of locally grown tropical fruits is out of the question, so what can you do?

    • I struggle when two simplifying goals seem to compete as well! How do I do what I can do to simplify without getting stressed out that I can’t always meet my goal. For example, I don’t want to contribute to fast fashion because it wastes money, exploits natural resources, and hurts workers in textile factories. But there’s really no way to ensure that every item of clothing I buy is completely free of human suffering, you know? It’s not realistic to grow my own cotton. It’s hard to navigate globalization.

      • Oh yes, Globalization Guilt. I definitely struggle with the feeling that everything I DO choose to buy comes to me at a great price because we have out-sourced slavery to the 3rd world. I try to minimize my impact by shopping thrift and buying less, but I admit, when it comes to what I do purchase, I shrug and shop conventional. I just can’t stomach the prices (and most looks) of most sweat-free products. So maybe a round up of great places to shop sweat-free products would be a nice addition to the site as well, especially as Christmas gift giving season is nearly upon us.
        Sarah G´s latest post: May 2013

  17. I have made a commitment to toss, sell or giveaway 3 items a week from our home. I post them on my blog as part of my weekly goal list. 3 things does not seem like much but that adds up to 156 things over the course of a year.
    Victoria´s latest post: Home To Heather Creek by Kathleen Bauer

  18. 1. Living slow. I’m trying to convince myself that I do have time to live in the moment right now. I *can* be all here. I will survive and my work will get done if I take the time to linger with my family.
    2. I need more stop surfing the web during the day.
    3. I’m moving the things I don’t need into a spare room (because I have no idea who would want them/what to do with them).

    Thanks for being an inspiration!

  19. avatar
    Sandy Rieder says:

    I’ve been tackling the piles of paperwork and bills and scanning them into my computer and putting our bills in a spreadsheet. Then I put everything into a big folder organized by category. I’m looking forward to being much more organized for tax season.
    I also give my kid’s clothes to 2 of our friends when they outgrow them.

  20. avatar
    terri in the finger lakes says:

    We keep my work committments simple. I work one day a week, so I can focus on family, home, and others (I have two non profits that I support with time and energy). My husband is fully behind me on this even though it means we live on a small salary and its always a challenge to make ends meet.
    My challenge is going through stuff especially stuff from our previous busy corporate life and our older collage age kids, which has filled up a shed and half a bedroom. I am starting by going through the little ones clothes.
    One queston I have is what kitchen gadgets are absolutely neccessary? I just convinced my husband to take a 30 day sabbatical from the microwave. We needed the counter space and he was amazed at how little it was missed when it was gone. Previously I have been very minimialist in gadgets but I am now thinking a small food processor or blender might be useful (need someway to make hummus)

    • That’s a good post idea! I know Aimée (Simple Bites) wrote one awhile ago on her 10 fave kitchen tools, but I don’t think it covered small appliances… at least I don’t think so. But that’s a fun idea!

  21. My latest move towards more simplicity was installing Leechblocker on my firefox browser. It limits my time on facebook, email and pintrest from 5am-9pm. I read Sarah Mae’s Unwired Mom and was so convicted by how often I was popping on to “check” these things throughout my day (and, inevitably, getting sucked in when “motherhood was hard and the internet was easy” as she so aptly puts it). I’m so thankful for this (free!) software and the difference it’s made in my focus, parenting and marriage already. And I’m pretty sure you are the one who linked me up to that post. Thanks Tsh!

    As far as how you could help our simplicity journey, I would love an occasional link roundup to *very simple* crafts/activities to do with kids as the winter months close in. I know pinterest abounds, but wading through them is not my forte! I also love personal stories of people getting out of debt or staying in budget. (Thanks Kara for sharing yours!). Like you said, it’s a shot in the arm :)
    Sarah G´s latest post: May 2013

  22. I am currently very happy with where we are on our spending habits, time commitments and amount of clutter. I am pregnant with our third and I feel like we have mastered living simply during the baby phase. But, we are starting homeschooling this year and I already feel very tempted to buy lots of stuff for my oldest son for school. And I feel like this is just the beginning of choosing extracurriculars, allowing him to go spend time with friends, etc. So, I’m going to echo Mamahousemouse from above – I know it’s still a ways away for me – but how do you parent teens? Or how do you balance living simply with letting go and giving your kids more freedom?

    A few other things I’d love to hear about: Setting gift boundaries for your extended family with your kids, how to intentionally create deeper relationships between friends, how to build a fuller life without losing the simplicity you’ve worked so hard to create.

  23. We are cleaning up and cleaning out all the stuff we don’t “deem to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. In doing so, we are making more room for our toddler to play safely. We’re organizing and storing baby things for easy finding for when we end up with more children. We’re making time in our lives for each other, our families, and church rather than silly hobbies that just add stress. We’ve never been much for going out to eat or spending a lot of money out and about, but the money we save allows me to be a part-time stay at home mom, and allows me the time and energy to cook every meal from healthy, fresh, real ingredients. This blog is just a part of the overall reading and studying we do in the pursuit of a simpler, healthier life. Thank you for your support!!

  24. Hello Tsh. I love your site and can’t thank you enough for all that you do, you are an inspiration and I appreciate how generous you are to share so many of your thoughts. some things I am doing to simplify are…I choose not to have a microwave or dryer; to walk to the shops as much as I can. I have also started to ride of a couple of things each day that I do not need. Also, I am giving myself more time to sleep so I can think more simply. I look forward to your posts. Thank you again.

  25. Our journey toward a ‘family life simply done’ began back in February 2009. It was a difficult time for us, for me in particular. I had a baby still in single digit months and was coming to terms with losing a family member. A walk to the library to get some fresh air led to me finding a UK book called ‘simplify your life, downsize and de-stress’ by Naomi Saunders – which led me to Zen Habits (in the further reading section) and I was hooked!
    Gosh over 4-years on (and almost 3 of blogging) we are still on that journey. There isn’t, as the cliche goes, a destination.
    Decluttering is a daily task…but its getting easier as there’s less flow of stuff into the home. My work-commitments have reduced dramatically. I’m consciously focusing on what is important to us as a family. Time together, creating, learning, getting outdoors, travelling, having fun – paying attention to where we are now and enjoying it. Personally (when it’s just me) I’m focusing on baking, reading, running, writing and trying to form a meditation habit. Simple things.
    Jo@simplybeingmum´s latest post: The Definition Of Clutter

  26. Things I’ve done to simplify…… saved all clothes from my oldest son for my youngest son has used, make our own laundry soap & cleaning products. We’ve also had a garden for prob. 4 years now & last year I started canning & freezing zucchini bread for Christmas gifts. This has been a HUGE savings as lots of our family/friends love the homemade pickles/jam plus I love homemade gifts & teaching our children the value of that. It’s also been a huge time saver around the holidays… the gifts are already made!
    I really need help with decluttering/simplifying my house especially the kids room & my room. We live in a small home & I just feel like we have SO MUCH STUFF!!! This is my goal for next month!! Another area would be financially. I really want to get out of debt, stick with a budget, & save. It’s just so hard when we live pay check to pay check and are behind on bills.

  27. Wow! I am loving these comments. I’m new to the blog and living more simply. My husband and I are newlyweds and between us we have a TON of stuff. We are trying to move back to his hometown (Knoxville, TN) and decided we are going to declutter as much as we can. The goal is to live more simply, get out of debt, and move less. So far it’s been liberating! What we don’t sell we donate. I’m always looking for tips to help our little household.

  28. I have not always been the best homemaker but when surfaces are clear and our home is tidy, I feel at peace and can think and breathe easier. This leads to the feeling of leading a more simple life. So I need to develop better habits and routines to do this and get my family involved especially while homeschooling as things tend to get let go more during the school year. Also, I have been thinking through how I can simplify the information overload I feel sometimes. Pinterest, blogs, Facebook, my iPhone, email, my Winderlist task manager, ideas in Evernote…it’s overwhelming at times!

  29. I’m the one with the hoarder tendencies in my family so just making a conscious decision to declutter every day is huge for me. We also just kicked a couch, hutch, table and six chairs to the curb during bulky item pickup. All of them were picked up by someone before the trash truck came! Yay!!

  30. We recently made the decision that I would stay home. We want to have a big garden, learn to put up the produce and maybe even have chickens. We also want to get a budget together so that we can pay off our home faster, get our house decluttered a bit, and do some other things. But that was a real challenge to do with both of us working, especially knowing that when we have children I would stay home anyway. And also, my income wasn’t a huge, make or break contribution. So my husband and I decided to make the change to a one income household now. Now I just need to get started!
    Your books and website have really been an inspiration and given me a lot to think about!!

  31. Morning! While I have been taking steps to minimalize our lives over the past couple years, you are right – it is constantly on-going! Three years ago my Husband and I each sold our homes (both 2000 sq. ft +) in the city and moved our newly made family to a 980 sq. ft. modular in the country.

    The first year there, we down sized “stuff” and got rid of the storage unit. The following year we purged every closet, shelf, and the shed.

    This year, I can tell you what is in the shed (even those few personal items my husband and son can’t part with).

    Currently we are taking a box to goodwill each week in the preperations to move out of state next spring.

    All the while, We have reduced our waste to one trash bag a week, paid off over half our debt, eat only food that comes from the earth (w/o being g.m.’d).
    My son has participated in the 6 item challange with me & we bath have adopted the Project333 as a way of life.

    Now to finish scanning all the photos in the house and clearing out the photo files on my laptop (good winter project).

    We are getting there slowly but surely!

  32. In January I commited to buying no clothes/shoes/bags/accessories for a year. As someone who ‘liked to shop’ I thought this was going to be a real struggle. But, almost nine whole months in, it hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought and, furthermore, I completely believe it has changed my life. I haven’t missed buying clothes very much at all, I’m wearing almost everything in my wardrobe (closet!) and I haven’t had so much as one outfit meltdown. At all.

    Now I realise that having a great new outfit for a night out, party or even a wedding doesn’t have any effect whatsoever on my enjoyment of the occasion and I love, love, love that I have (almost) completed this challenge I’ve set myself. Simple.

  33. avatar
    MicheleStitches says:

    Here is just a very simple, small thing…I make my own pumpkin spiced lattes! It is so easy. It takes less than 5 minutes and I don’t have to get dressed, leave home, or spend money.

  34. We moved to another state this summer and boy was that an eye-opener on what purging we needed to do in our possessions. We down-sized and really got radical with what all we sold or gave away. And it continues. I’m reading “Zero Waste Home” by Bea Johnson and lesson #1 is, don’t even let the stuff come into your house in the first place. I went “green” in little things by having school reports sent to us online only and we do it with bills as well wherever the option is offered. It’s a total high to lighten the load. I’ve never been one to shop recreationally, go to the mall for browsing, so it’s not as hard as one might think.

  35. I’m getting so much inspiration just from reading other responses. :)
    Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake´s latest post: Glowing & Growing

  36. We are living off as little as possible in order to pay the house off early! We started January 2012 and have about a year and a half left – YEAH!!!!

  37. avatar
    MicheleStitches says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention…I am also practicing a “zero net gain” policy in regards to our household items & my wardrobe, etc. In other words, if one thing comes in, another (preferably two) must go out. We already went through two major down-sizing events last year (sold our home & moved to a condo, then later moved cross-country) so I have gotten The Stuff down to a mostly things that are either useful or loved. Chances are we will be moving again in the next year, and the thought of packing up all my worldly goods is great motivation for letting go of more!

  38. I recently left my job to become a SAHM to our three daughters, aged 5, 3, and 1. We are being very careful and deliberate with our spending to allow our family to live well on one income, without sacrificing our savings goals. We don’t eat out, and I’ve been carefully menu planning and using grocery store sales to stock up on our staples at the best price. We also just did a lot of canning to stock our pantry while all the lovely produce is in season.

    I’d love to hear more about living within your means, setting priorities, and determining needs vs wants.

  39. We live simply by keeping our focus on Jesus! Through letting him live in us we automatically choose much less complication… He doesn’t want us running ragged trying to “do” being a Christian all the time. He wants us to BE in love with him and when we are our lives will reflect that. What it looks like is different for each person according to the grace and callin on their life! But him first makes for peace and the fruit the spirit bears, without our striving!

  40. I am simplifying my shoes! I have way too many that I do not use. I had a bad habit of buying a ton of cheap shoes that are trendy. Now I am investing in nice standard shoes that I know I will wear and last for years. Two casual shoes, two saddles, two boots and two flats (I never wear heels). The rest is donated and my life is more simple in the morning when getting ready! Next is my makeup, clothes and recipes (yes, sometimes it too overwhelming to pick what we will have for dinner). Less choices the better.

  41. avatar
    Kristi Goldsberry says:

    Trying to conquer clutter, getting rid of stuff.

  42. It’s true that it’s a constant battle. I’ve recently resolved not to buy anything new for myself (clothes, accessories, books, etc.). Usually at the change of a season I find myself coping with that change by getting a few new things. Not this year.

    I’ve also been experimenting with mixing and matching my clothes – what I already have – to create new to me outfits.
    Jill Foley´s latest post: One Dress ~ 5 Ways

  43. Before we listed our house this summer, I did a TON of decluttering. I would have sworn that my house wasn’t that cluttered…but the many (SO many!) boxes and bags that we took to Goodwill (or are now storing in my father-in-law’s shed) say otherwise. It turns out – I really like being decluttered.

    As the weeks have gone by, though, I’ve faced two new dilemmas. First, what do I do with NEW junk? You know, until I have enough to take to Goodwill? Because those three books that I’m never going to read need a home for now…but where? And second, I’m realizing places where I decluttered TOO much. For example? The coffeemaker really DOES need to live on the counter, not put away in the pantry. (Duh.)
    Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect´s latest post: Poverty, Donkeys and Hard Choices

  44. Not buying stuff to begin with! That has been my key goal for simplifying, and it’s so easy to convince yourself that you need this and that. Usually I’ll bookmark something I’ll see online, and weeks later run into it and am actually *thankful* that I didn’t end up buying it. It’s great at that moment, but after the high, you realize it’s not all that wonderful as you originally thought.
    Nina´s latest post: Don’t do these 8 things when hiring a nanny

  45. We are always Talking about simplifying and decluttering and not bringing as much into our home. We Talk about farming and compost and keeping bees (we do now but not well) and worms etc. We have yet to take action. Part of the problem for me is where to start! It is such an overwhelming task with 5 kids and a house that is a magnet for stuff. I’m struggling with being a good steward.

    The question was what I am doing right now to simplify…Talking about it! Reading about it! Trying different ways to organize and rearrange. Failing to bring less in than goes out. Trying to figure out what it means to have a middle schooler involved with activities and not let those take over the rest of our lives! Now, I need to go purge something!

  46. My most current project is going through books. I went through a time of buying books from yard sales and thrift stores that I thought my kids would want to read when they get older. Some of them were books that I read as a kid, some were books that I felt like I should have read as a kids.
    I am going through the bookcase over and over and weeding out more each time. My attachment to the books is dwindling. I would like to have just a few. We are blessed by amazing libraries which hold more books than we could ever read. Going to the library more will also create more quality family time. It will also teach the kids a sense of responsibility as they care for the borrowed books.

  47. I tend to let tasks pile up, so for the last few weeks I’ve been making the effort to either get them done or to let them go. I guess if I’ve lived with them undone for so long then maybe I don’t really need to do them.
    Maia´s latest post: Mud Run

  48. It is a very busy season for my teens and I am acutely aware of how soon they will be on their own. I am simplifying my expectations and delaying some of my priorities until Nov. when they aren’t so busy and stressed. I am literally trading some of my simplicity to give them a little more. The kids are looking forward to the simpler days afterward, but these are activities that they really enjoy… enough to submit to a few crazy weeks. With lower expectations I can join in the fun.

  49. You would think that 4 houses on 3 continents in 5 months would automatically equal simplifying, but it doesn’t. It has to be a state of mind, a constant battle (for me anyway) to choose the simpler, better, less stressful option. We’re about to move into a very tiny house and have to start from scratch on a very limited budget in a country where I do not (yet) speak the language. I needed your reminder today as I make the ‘stuff to buy’ list, that a simpler life is a better life, a life with more space for loving and giving.
    So practically speaking, this is my new plan: I will ask myself every time I pick something up at the market or store “Will this clutter or simplify? Will it make life easier to live well?”
    Rebecca´s latest post: We’ve Arrived

  50. We are hoping to move in the next year or 2 so I find myself constantly looking around at all our “stuff” and evaluating the necessity of it…I have piles and piles of give away stuff in the basement that will get donated THIS week. I’ve started asking friend and family if they need certain pieces of furniture we no longer need and I am getting rid of 2 large pieces THIS week. Yay!

    I’m also trying to get out of debt (small home equity loan we have) AND declutter by NOT buying stuff we don’t really NEED! My husband called me on this last week when I felt I needed something to store toys in b/c we were getting rid of the train table that has great storage. I really thought we needed something new, but he asked me to reconsider and I got creative with some pieces we already have in the house!

    This simplifying thing IS doable but I find I must stay mindfully vigilant about not acquiring too much STUFF!

    So appreciate your blog and all these great comments! Today’s “gotta have it NOW” mentality can creep so easily into my life and the support and reminders to keep it simple help keep the desires for the “stuff” at bay. Thank you!

  51. I have a 7 year old hoarder whose already precarious mental and emotional health is directly impacted by the chaos in her room. There is a “home” for everything and a great organization system in place (because that’s my preference), but it is a struggle to get her to use it. Genetics as well as her special combo of learning disabilities plays into this!

    Because it would destroy her if I swept in and decluttered her room of every bottle cap, bird’s feather, and rock she finds on our daily walks, I have to find a way to get her on board with the idea of “less is more.”

    So, we purchased a small bean bag cover ($10 at BB&B) in which to store her stuffed animals (out of sight, out of mind – maybe they won’t be strewn daily across the room), and she has agreed to a toy rotation plan (hallelujah!). It’s a start.

    Mostly, my simplification process has been to relax about her mess. It drives me crazy (and worries me somewhat due to it’s rather neurotically compulsive nature and her inability to see “the trees for the forest”), but our relationship should not hang on whether or not her room is tidy to my standards. We made some ground rules that we both agree she can keep (there has to be a path to the door) and I’m hoping this next phase will help tidying up not be so overwhelming.

    Oh, and Tsh, I simplified my homeschooling process by trying her out on DreamBox, thanks to your recommendation on your blog. Thank you! She loves it. It allows me to let her do some things independently (which I desperately need since I’ve got a very demanding 4 month nursling), and both my husband and I are super impressed with the DreamBox method/reporting.

    Okay, wow. I wrote a book here. :D

  52. I have recently been convicted that I need to start a life coaching small business so that I can do work more in line with my natural gifts, work from home, and homeschool my kids (age 2 and 1, currently). So my life seems like it’s going to get momentarily more complicated (as I am keeping my day job as an engineer while I try to get this started) so that it can be simpler in the future. I am scared and inspired and excited and feeling inadequate. It’s very emotional and personally challenging.

    I also am in the slow process of trying to organize my house. I did the kitchen with much success, but have fizzled out in favor of working on my new business. I need to figure out how to dedicate some time and energy to that effort while keeping my momentum on other things.
    Amy Simpkins´s latest post: Utilitas

  53. I have a bit of the hoarder gene, and recently when I was getting ready to move and the “love it” or “need/use it” thing wasn’t working for me. A friend suggested asking “Can I let it go?” That was (and still is) an amazing tool for me.

  54. After caring for my parents in our shared home for the last 8 years, my husband and I have begun to re-discern our purpose in this new season of our lives since my father passed away in July. My parents were children of the Depression, so they tended to hang on to stuff “just in case.” Fortunately we live in the country with some spacious out-buildings to contain their treasures. Unfortunately, we have the accumulation of their nearly 70 year life together to sift through. As we sort through things, a little bit each day, I am thankful for the blessing of the memories and the opportunity to grieve. It’s a challenge to choose what stays and what goes, but I’m determined to really honor the items we keep, and to release the rest to find usefulness in someone else’s life.

  55. Skipping Christmas.
    Marla Taviano´s latest post: deepening the soul for justice {week 3}

  56. We are taking every extra dollar over $XXX amount in our account at the end of the week and putting it into an emergency fund. It makes us think about little purchases more. It’s really fun every week to see how much we have! We also made a little chart so we can color it in every week to see how far off we are from our goal of $1000. In 2 weeks we have already $479.19.

  57. I am in the process of simplifying our paper (cue collective shudder…now). It has been (and still is) a looong process of culling and examining each and every piece of paper that has been filed or piled, scattered or tattered, so that we only have what’s relevant and useful. And with an impending move in February, the thought of packing and lugging pounds of paper trash is a big motivator to my cause! I would really like to see some posts on how to help (cough:::force:::cough) your significant other to catch the culling bug :)

    And, thank you for this website, what a blessing and breath of fresh air.

    ~Sarah
    Sarah Vaughan´s latest post: On Happiness, Marriage, and Drinking Wine

  58. I have been reminding myself of my priorities ( I have to do this especially since I started a blog two months ago):

    1) God
    2) Husband
    3) Kids
    4) Everything else

    This is not easy for me. I’ve been focusing on filling my life with beauty: listening to classical music and looking at art with my children.

    And:
    I have other people clean my house
    I make a weekly menu and only go to the store once

  59. We are making lots of adjustments…to Kindergarten to a whole new world of school and routine that is working some days and others seems a struggle. One mission I had before the school year began was to not overfill our down time. There are so many options for after school activities and weekend classes. But despite my urges to give my boy more options I’ve kept myself in check. He needs his free time more than all these other learning opportunities. That is how I’m simplifying right now.
    Jen´s latest post: Sunny July

  60. We are really working on organizing and it helps us in the downsizing. We have a basket full of stuffed animals and if my daughter gets more than can fit in the basket then we are going to get rid of some (she is one and really does not need or want a ton of toys). Her other toys are separated into individual containers. This helps me see what we have and get just one set of things out at a time which saves us in our tiny apartment.

    We have also been organizing my things and my husband’s. By putting things together in boxes, shelves, drawers, bags, or other containers it gives us a better limit on what we can keep or add. For example, I cannot go crazy with clothing purchases because we do not have the space (or the budget).

    One other thing that has been helping is as we go to clean each space, we clear it out entirely first. This helps us get all the dust out and really clean it before putting things back. But more importantly it gives us a vision of clear, open space. We really like the way that looks and feels and it helps us be more selective as we put things back. Do we really love this enough to let it take up our space? Do I really want to look at this everyday?

    I have lamented the lack of cupboard and closet and storage space in this tiny apartment, but it is really forcing me to look at our stuff and clear things out. What a blessing.

  61. My husband, 13 month old, baby on the way and I are moving into a 16 by 16, two story bunk house so that I can stay home with the babies. I am looking forward to living with only what we need and getting rid of everything else, not to mention leaving a preschool job of spending time with other people’s kids all day to staying home and teaching and raising my own children. We are praising the Lord for answered prayer in the form of a bunk house!

  62. We bought and renovated a mobile home, so we can live without a house payment/rent and pay off our debt! 800 square feet is not a lot for 5 people, but doesn’t take a lot to clean up either.

  63. I find it interesting how everyone has a different view of ”simple living”. This is why i love your blog and reading the comments to articles like this. My idea of simplified living is making sure never to schedule too many events into a week so that we are always available to hang out with friends and make last-minute plans. It means keeping my home clean(ish) so that we can always invite people over for a game, or a cup of coffee, or a meal. It means not stressing out about money, so we can always treat those we love to something special, and being able to bless their lives without worrying that ”it’s not in the budget”. It means being willing to let go of the ” I need to always have homecooked, homegrown meals on the table” and just stopping at the grocery store to pick up some bananas, cheese and bread so we can take our 3 kids on a picnic since the rainy forecast turned into beautiful sunshine! But many people i know have an entirely different view of simple. TO them simple living means scheduling your days to avoid confusion, budgeting every penny to avoid financial stress, spending days, weeks and months of their lives planting, weeding, harvesting, freezing, canning, so you can have the satisfaction of always having a full pantry and feeding your family the best food available.
    I guess i love the variety of people that God has created, and I think that living simply means living to our strengths, and being thankful to be the best person that we can be and not trying to live somebody else’s life for them. Thanks for the awesome blog posts!

    • I’m really glad you pointed that out. Simplicity isn’t the same for everyone, and it’s easy to get stuck in the “keeping up with the Jones” even in this!

  64. I get a little anxious when I throw things out (just in case I need them later!) so I keep a one-week cubby. This is an empty cubby in my bedroom where all potential donated / throw out stuff (mostly clothes) life until the next Saturday. If I haven’t missed them by then… they need to leave. :)

  65. Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out how to pursue writing without getting overwhelmed. This past year, we did this: http://theothersideofcomplexity.com/the-6×12-project-8-people-moving-2400-miles-with-1-tiny-trailer/. And now, I’m writing every week about simplifying, while constantly fighting off “too much”. Funny the way it is…. :)
    Mike´s latest post: Words Are Important

  66. choosing to live simply is so much easier said than done. but choosing to do so has been sonic fun!

    my fiancé and I are recent college graduates and will be married in about a month. for a host of reasons, he recently sold his car and we decided to not purchase another one but to share mine though we live twenty minutes away from each other. we work and grocery shop in the same town so the one-car thing has been a lot of fun allowing for opportunities to work on intentinally managing our time and even giving us more chances to spend time together :) not to mention all the money it has saved us already! it’s also helped us realize that intermittently asking others for help (e.g. asking for rides) isn’t as scary as we once thought.

    we also came to the conclusion together that it would be most beneficial in the long run for me to resign from my full-time salary job in exchange for a minimum wage position in the private sector which has brought with it more freedom to serve as a wife soon and be more involved in our my community. sure, the decision has come with its own challenges, but I wouldn’t trade them for the hectic and draining life I had beforehand.

    all this to say, so far the journey has been incredibly rewarding despite pushback from personal fears, culture as a whole, and even well-meaning peers.

    keep posting! it’s amazing and encouraging to this young adult to read the tips and stories from others much wiser. we need each other!

  67. I’m actually doing a number of things to simplify right now but one of the most impactful is the 91 Day De-Clutter Challenge from MaryOrganizes.com. It has been so encouraging seeing others get rid of their clutter and create more peaceful homes. I’m also on the Facebook page and am very inspired by the photos people post of their before and after rooms. The snowball effect of decluttering is powerful…it’s truly changing people’s family dynamic in some cases!

    http://maryorganizes.com/2013/08/91-day-de-clutter-challenge/

  68. I am getting rid of all of the clothing that doesn’t fit me as a woman — read, girl clothes. I am cleaning out all of our old plastic toys, replacing them with natural ones, and I’m cutting back on the crazy — all of the things we do that make life more stressful. We are taking as our cues the lessons from Simplicity Parenting. It’s like a bible in our house.
    Emily Grosvenor´s latest post: Lessons from a Pick-Your-Own Flower Farm

  69. We’ve set a goal of getting down to one income at the end of this school year. I’ve found it’s just “too much” for my brain to multitask a career job with the attention (and intention) I want to give to my kids. We’re trying to figure out what additional steps we need to get to that point.

    I’m finding that I really enjoy many of the things I’ve taken on in order to reduce our expenses – cooking from scratch, gardening, etc. Could it be that old fashioned home-making is really at the heart of living simply?! Living like grandma did looks very close to my vision for living simply…

    On a totally different note, I’d love to find out what other mamas are doing to keep their exercise routine simple, yet effective. I’ve fallen WAY off track – I know the most effective way for me to get back on it is to sign up for classes, but that costs $$ and then childcare, and then a zillion other excuses. I need help and motivation.

    • I’m not a mom of littles anymore, but I also have never been able to stomach the thought of spending a bunch of money on classes or a gym membership. I instead found that doing a series of basic old-fashioned exercises (push-ups, crunches, squats, wall-sits, etc.) combined with walking up to two miles daily have transformed my body, free of charge! I found some equipment-free routines on Pinterest that just do amazing things for you.

    • I have 3 babies. 4yr old, 2 yr old and 1 yr old. I bought some Jillian Michaels workout DVD’s (my fav is Ripped in 30) and I’ve been putting the youngest down for her late morning nap, putting the 2 oldest up in their rooms for rest time and popping in the DVD. Some days I let my 4 yr old watch & copy as long as he promises not to talk to me!! (it messes with my concentration) the workout is an intense 25 minutes, so it really works without being too much of a time waster. I used to try to get up early and run, but my kids wake up at at such unpredictable intervals, i was having to get up at 5:30 just so i could get back and shower before the craziness of breakfast time. So I was exhausted and going to bed super early, which meant missing out on kid-free time with my husband. So this works much better for me!
      Also i get bored of any DVD’s music, so I usually put on subtitles, and mute it, then crank my favorite music and go nuts! It’s kind of like my own time-out away from the kids. mmmm. :o)

  70. Walking to school and making gifts instead of buying them have become our latest targets. Apart from cutting back on fuel and running costs for the car and the exercise aspect, it’s great family time! Thanks for all the inspiration from your blog, it’s wonderful to experience the increasing freedom that comes from living more simply with a purpose.

  71. Reading You Can Buy Happiness by Tammy Strobel and following her tiny home journey through her blog (Rowdy Kittens, how awesome is that blog title). My husband and I are building our own tiny home right now (140 sq ft) on a trailer. So we’re constantly thinking and planning for what needs to go, how much we need to get rid of, etc.
    kelly summers´s latest post: Our House, In the Middle of Our Garage

  72. My daughter is home in a break between her summer job and beginning an Americorps-type job 6 hours away. She has been antsy so she is doing things around the house, and her idea of doing things is pitching as much stuff as possible.

    I used to resist this because I tend to hoard possible project material. Now I am seeing that the space created is making everything work freely. It is nice. So my simplifying is more non-resistance at the moment and cherishing the time we have before she leaves.

  73. We have moved several times in the past few years, so getting rid of things has been second nature to me. Just last month we moved back to our home town with our adult kids and grandkids, which I’m thrilled about.
    My husband and I are down to sharing one car, and it’s 11 years old! Our entertainment is usually evening walks, and having family for weekend BBQ.
    I have learned a new craft, which is traditional rughooking. Making rugs as gifts from old unusable wool clothing found from thrift stores. Not latch hook rugs, but rugs made from long strips of wool.
    I love your blog and your inspiration.

  74. I’m working towards simplifying our eating – trying to grow/raise as much of our food as we can and eating what we have here rather than run to the store. At one time I tried hard to do the coupon thing (which lead to a lot of prepacked/processed stuff), then swung the other direction towards whole foods. Working towards finding our sweet spot in the middle where our budget, conscience, schedules, and waistlines are all at peace with it. Easier said than done.

  75. My family and I are trying very hard to not eat out so much. This is a big one for us, but in the past few weeks, we’ve been having a lot more meals at home.

  76. I knew I would find a wealth of wisdom within these comments! I read every single one. Like Mike above, I want to simplify in order to find more time for writing and still be able to cook meals, keep house, and homeschool my five kids. I’ve managed one blog post so far. I hope to build it into a bit of an income generator. Right now we calculate whether or not we can do something extra by how many hours of overtime my husband will have to work. We’re fighting and scraping to pay off debt, and I’m fighting myself every tired evening to cook something for dinner instead of hitting the drive-through. My husband works until 11 pm each night of the week.

    My youngest is three months old today. I am in the land of celebrating the small victories.

    The house is a wreck so I’m kamikaze cleaning. I am boxing up every bit of clutter so I can clean! I’ll go through the boxes later.

    I’ve put it on my daily routine to get rid of seven things every day. When I get to the point that I can’t look around my house and find seven things, then I’ll open a box. First though, I’m going to start tackling the children’s books. We have a nice kids’ book shelf, and we just don’t need more kids’ books than will fit on that shelf. The library is our friend.

    I’m debating revolutionizing my approach to homeschooling. So many great things to do out there! I always over-plan and get so overwhelmed. My dream is to homeschool on the road, but that seems impossibly far away right now.

    One victory at a time!
    Rebecca Burgener´s latest post: Thankful for Ruined Dreams: Thoughts on Turning Thirty

  77. Lately I seem to have been “complicating” much more than “simplifying.” A larger house and growing children’s commitments and schoolwork have exploded into clutter and paperwork. I do know, though, that I can always refocus, even after a crazy period, and look forward to the quieter winter months for that process. Right now, though, self-care is my most important means of simplifying. Taking care of my physical and – though it’s taken me a long time to accept it, mental – health, is paramount. This is absolutely critical for being able to ride out the rough times.

  78. I’d love to hear your thoughts on balancing different domains of simplifying. All of us have finite resources, and I have a difficult time knowing how to balance time, money, and energy. How do you know if something- say cloth diapering, gardening, or making your own detergent- that may save you money is worth the additional time and energy required? I know it’s a personal decision, but I’d love to hear how others come to the conclusion of what fits for their families.

  79. My mom, my husband, and I all learned to can this summer. We are blessed with a pear tree in our backyard, plus two pecan trees, which we are definitely taking advantage of.

    I learned to crochet last summer, and have finally gotten good enough to make something besides scarves! Lots of homemade goodies are going to be given as Christmas gifts, and I am even starting lessons with a little girl to teach her how to crochet, too. I am looking forward to passing on the skill.

    Also, we are moving to Minnesota soon (from Georgia), so I am really trying to plan ahead for getting our cold weather gear inexpensively. Plus, I am getting rid of stuff! My mental process goes like this: would I pay to ship this to Minnesota? If the answer is no, then there’s no point in taking it with us, so out it goes!

    • Hi Emily! I’m from Minnesota, so I just thought I’d throw in my two cents about cold weather apparel in case it helps you out.

      Depending on which month you’re moving, you can probably get by with whatever you have and wait till you’re here to shop for coats, gloves, and such. Thrift stores and Goodwills are chock full of gently used winter gear, especially kids’ stuff that was simply outgrown. Some churches will also have an annual sale that brings in lots of good winter stuff. Be sure to buy heavy duty snow boots for everyone, even if you don’t think you’ll need them! At some point, you will. (And always get snow boots a size or two big to fit fuzzy socks and leave room for air round your toes–the extra air is what insulates them and keeps them warm!)
      Ashley Brooks´s latest post: When You Don’t Think You Have Anything to Offer

  80. We are trying to get rid of things through any means possible. I’ve had things on Craigslist with no results, so we may just donate it all to Goodwill. We have 4 bedrooms and currently only 2 are useable – pathetic!!! The storage in our home is very limited, so bedrooms became storage areas. We are cleaning out to make room for a new addition in 2014 and to allow us to use our entire, wonderful home. It is not easy to do with a full time outside of home work schedule, our son in all day K (with homework, and 1 sport at a time and church) and my husband working opposite shifts than us, but we are trying!

  81. We are a family of 8 living in a fairly tiny bungalow… endless decluttering. One of the best/recent thing our family has done to simplify is by having zero child activities for the fall season: no sports, no music, no nothing.

    What a relief to be free to enjoy fall without racing to and from… and just be able to play, and have dinners together. Whew!
    jennifer´s latest post: Seriously, American Apparel?

  82. I love this post- and your blog for motivating me to pare down to live fuller. I’ve been going through a pretty rough time lately- tons of mental clutter and all of the challenges that spring up because of this- and I believe that the state of my cluttered home is a perfect reflection of my mind.

    Today, my youngest and I took four huge garbage bags of clothes and shoes to consign / donate at an annual sale in our town. It felt amazing. I’m also curating my own closet to be more sleek and multi-functional. It’s really difficult for me to get rid of stuff- so every little step counts. I really like how you said “We will forever be gut-checking our calendar commitments with our family’s real priorities. Day by day, week by week, we will do the work of living simpler, of making daily little sacrifices so that our life is fuller to give.” That’s exactly it! Living simply isn’t just getting rid of extra clothes and superfluous housewares. It’s about intention- and choosing simplicity across the board.

    I left my job at the end of June because we felt like we were spiraling out of control. Our debts were mounting, we couldn’t afford childcare and everything just felt wrong. It’s been quite a journey since then! We realized that we make less money than we have to pay for our home, cars and utilities. We’ve cut and cut and keep cutting. We’ve been denied mortgage modification because we pay our mortgage still- we’ve been burned on trying to sell our cars, completely burned on my cell phone since I had to give my iPhone back to work. I liken it to falling down a really, really long flight of stairs and bonking my head on every single darn step.

    It’s been a rude awakening- but I truly feel like this is the path that we need to be on now. Reading this post makes me well up because I realize this is true and that things won’t come easier just because I feel like I can’t take any more bonks.

    It’s my life’s ambition to travel the world and I’m so happy to find such a kindred spirit in you, Tsh. I am so impressed that you are making your dreams a reality- and I’m trying hard to clear the clutter and to do the same.

    Thanks, Tsh. <3

  83. I love your blog, and while I don’t usually pipe up, since I’ve been on a simplifying streak lately, I thought I’d chip in.

    We just moved to a house (yay) and I want to pare down to combat the creep of stuff that seems to come with having three little kids (4,3 & 1). This means that while unpacking, I have to be honest about what I really need. We’ve made lots of trips to Goodwill and a rummage site for our city.

    I’ve weeded out clothing, office supplies, toys, and an astonishing amount of miscellany. Now when I’m at the store, I try to only buy what I know we’ll use, not just what I think we might maybe use someday.

    Keep up the good work and thanks for the encouragement!
    Rivki Silver´s latest post: When There’s No Family In Town

  84. This post was perfect timing for me! I’ve been thinking about this for the past few days, especially in relation to food. I’ve never been on the organic bandwagon (too poor for that trend!), but lately I’ve been thinking the idea of simpler food sounds refreshing. My husband already hunts/catches a good portion of our meat, and the rest comes from local farmers. We’ve been meaning to do a veggie garden and haven’t gotten around to it yet, and I spent today researching how to mill your own flour for bread-baking endeavors!

    Of course, I struggle with the “stuff” side of simplicity too. Our house is fairly little, and we’re newlyweds with no kids yet. Even though I feel like we don’t have that much, what we do have creeps up on me even as I buy more. I was just out shopping for fall decor to use in a room that wasn’t finished last fall. Even though I didn’t buy much and I like the way it looks, I’m already feeling a little weary at the thought of lugging it up to the attic to trade out for Christmas decorations in two months. That’s my biggest struggle: I love changing up centerpieces and mantel decor for each season, but THAT’s where too much stuff starts to build up! I’d love to hear any advice you have on that sort of seasonal clutter. Do you just not decorate? Or go really minimalist? (Compared to most of what I see on Pinterest, it looks like I hardly decorate at all, so I’m not sure where to pare down!)

    Thanks for a great post!
    Ashley Brooks´s latest post: When You Don’t Think You Have Anything to Offer

    • I don’t decorate! If I want to see seasonal decoration, I just look outside :) Last year, because I had a fresh baby, we didn’t even do a Christmas tree – we drew one on the chalkboard and it was awesome (I didn’t have to water it, it didn’t drop needlees and it took 20 seconds to take down) my 4yo loved it!

    • I herd last season to decorate with eddible stuff or things that can be used in every season. For example a great glass container can be filled with minature pumpkins (throw, plant or pie) for fall and cookies, or candies for Christmas, flowers in the summer and the kids easter eggs in the spring. It saves on space and makes its fun to see what variations you get each year.

  85. Your book changed my life! It’s hard for me to let go of emotional attachments to things and not get overwhelmed with big projects. Both your tips and your notebook downloads have been *invaluable* to me.

    Six months after a move out of state and a downside from an in-home childcare house to a small rowhome, we are so much happier without the things I was sad to get rid of, but I want to downsize more.

    I have two questions:

    1. How can I teach my four-year-old daughter to have joy in getting rid of things? We talk about children who don’t have enough clothes or toys and that helps. A clear floor for dancing is a good motivator for cleaning. Still, having a mind like a steel trap is leading her down a path of sentimentality already! She also has a little sister she likes to give things to (which really is great).

    2. How do you decide what to get rid of as your children grow older when you have a same-gendered child two years behind and hopefully more down the road? It’s wise to keep some but it’s piling up to be more than I know we’ll need. I’m too used to bring to be stocked for a six-child in-home daycare …
    Thank you!!

  86. As with everything else in life, I have found over the years that, for me, simplifying is one of those “two steps forward, one step back” sort of dances. I have periods where I go crazy for a month and my husband ties the cat down to keep her safe and then I will go back into a less intense time. Each time this happens I am finding that things are getting generally better. I buy so much less than i did when I was younger. I have just put summer clothing away in preparation for a 1st Oct 333 project restart. I get closer to 33 items every quarter and enjoy “shopping the boxes” in my loft for each new season. It is amazing how many things I find to release each time and how much I enjoy the process. It also always inspires me to gather “unwantedness” from around the house as well. I find I ask myself all the time, “How on earth did I manage to accumulate all this STUFF?” I can only liken it to a form of sleep walking!

  87. In addition to things others have already mentioned, we gave up cable TV a few years ago, and it has done wonders. My kids almost never ask for anything because they never see commercials (we have Netflix only), and I never get the brain-washing messages of: “If you only had this couch or dress or house, etc., etc., you would be happy.” I also box up things I can’t decide what to do with. If I have never thought about the contents weeks or months later, then I’m usually ok with giving them up when I open the boxes again. Lastly, I process all paperwork coming from school immediately. The kids know the routine: empty your backpack, give mom all the papers, hang your backpack up. I sign what needs to be signed, comment on their work, then put papers back in their folders or directly into recycling. Artwork is my only bug-a-boo. I try to either hang it right away or file it until it can be hung up.

  88. Today, my husband and I are in the midst of a life overhaul so that we can do the things we love. We’ve spent the last four years living simply so that we could pay off car and medical school debt, which we were able to do this summer. By paying off these debts this summer, we were able to change is work hours to part-time, which allows him time to do more of the things he was made to do (specifically pray, lead retreats, and speak at conferences). His part-time work hours also allow him to have more time at home with our *little* boys, which gives me more time to write. We’ve found ourselves coming alive as we’ve cut his work hours back to part time and arranged our schedule in such a way that we are both doing the things we were designed to do.
    Katie May´s latest post: Lift a Finger

  89. We are… today actually (probably as soon as I’m done typing this)… going room by room with a giant bucket and simplifying ‘stuff’. We’ve been trying to simplify for a few years now, and we’re doing an ok job at it (William Morris style as I learned from here, and another comment already said)…. but we’re a family of 4 in a 600 sq ft apartment and we just have too much still. We’re hoping room by room will help. Thankfully I have a husband who is VERY MUCH on board with simplifying our space. Rotating toys is a huge huge huge thing here too. We have a closet full of the out of rotation toys and everything has a place when it’s in rotation. We’re homeschoolers, but in the beginning of our journey (with a pre-k student and a toddler), so we’re trying to figure out how that balances in it all too.
    Ashlee´s latest post: Instagram Giveaway

  90. I just got a toy rotation going-the amount of toys was making me crazy and probably my daughter, too. I’m always trying to deck utter-getting rid of things we don’t need or want. My husband and I are trying to use some weekly checklist tools to keep us organized and efficient each day.

    It feels so good to simplify!!!

  91. I hope this isn’t off-topic, but I’m wondering if anyone here has gotten rid of their wedding dress? Mine is in a gigantic box that takes up so much closet space. I’m obviously not going to wear it again, and it frustrates me every time I open the closet door. I don’t know what to do about it though, and I’m afraid that I’d really regret getting rid of it, even though all that would happen if I kept it would be frustration about the size of the box! Anyways, I’d be curious about other people’s stories. Might be a good topic for the blog—parting with (or keeping) sentimental clutter.

    • Great idea! I don’t know how to deal with sentimental things…including my wedding dress!

    • My mom kept her wedding dress for over 35 years so that I could wear it for my wedding. Guess what, it didn’t fit and it was yellow. I cut it up, used the silk for my ring bearer’s pillow, the flower girl’s basket, and to cover my wedding album. After I wore my dress, I gave it to my mom to deal with since I was moving 3,000 miles away. She either took it to a consignment shop or sold it another way. I think the key was to sell it quick while it was still in style.
      If you want to save a part of your dress for your daughter’s wedding, you could just cut some pieces and make a handkerchief, a veil, or something like that to save. Put the rest of the fabric on freecycle or recycle it at goodwill.

  92. In this busy season of rearing 4 kids 8 and under, these are some choices I made this year to simplify my chaotic and busy life:

    *No extra-curricular activities right now
    *To simplify homeschooling without cutting corners we are doing Classical Conversations and LOVING it!
    *I buy biodegradable paper plates and it saves me 1 dishwasher load per day (saving on soap and water and more than worth it for the time it saves on dishes, a chore I hate)
    *I cut the kids down to just a few toys each and a few favorite outfits each. I was sick of them not cleaning toys up and also refusing to wear certain clean clothes and spreading them around their room, on the floor, getting them dirty.
    *I’ve cut back on church commitments and women’s groups, preferring to invest in relationships that are most encouraging to me and most beneficial to others rather than trying to be friends with TONS of wonderful people.
    *I shop locally and hit the local sales instead of driving 30 minutes to Walmart. I buy tp and pull-ups on Amazon Prime.
    *We make simple meals that are healthy and frugal.

  93. This year I have been trying to focus on doing less, both for myself and our family. Everything we were involved in was good and useful, but our afternoons and weekends were so unenjoyable! We cut back on kids activities and being involved in so many things at church. I have noticed a subtle shift in my stress levels and my kids behavior has improved so I am guessing they are happier too. for so long I looked at other families who seemed to be doing it all and wondered if there was something wrong with us that we couldn’t be super busy and happy as well – now I don’t really care – we have found what works for us and ironically we have more quality time to spend with people than we used to.

  94. Hi Tsh! I love it when you ask for such specific feedback :)
    I’m simplifying in 2 main areas – by doing less social stuff – going out less, less play dates in favor of time at home as a family. This is a huge help with stress levels and also feeling less resentful as a mum of 3 little kids, I feel like I get a chance to do my thing when I’m not rushing about doing stuff with other people all the time. The 2nd area is spending less money – I LOVE buying new things, it’s something I really struggle with. So I’ve been trying hard to change those habits, and if I need a new thing I’m looking around at what I have and working out how I can perhaps create something new. So I’ve done paintings for the walls and today was sewing a patchwork blanket thing for my baby girls bed :-) xx
    Sarah Silvester´s latest post: Holiness, Worship, and the Refiners Fire

  95. I’m currently downsizing to move into a 1 bedroom apartment from a 2 bedroom duplex. I’m selling lots of furniture and things that were my mother’s and grandmother’s – things that just take up space and that I never use. Every season as I put away clothes, I regularly donate what I no longer wear. Time to live lighter on the planet.

  96. The older the kids get, the harder it is to simplify. Especially when it comes to time. 5 kids who would love to go in 5 directions. Sometimes it is overwhelming. Over the past month we have sold things and delivered many a box to the thrift store in hopes of simplifying the ‘stuff’ in our lives. As for the extracurricular we say ‘no’ to some and yes to others depending on how we can fit it into our lives.

  97. Hello Tsh! I was fortunate enough to be at Problogger on the Gold Coast & sat in on your sessions. So much of what you said is echoing still in my mind & I realised how much I want/need to simplify my life right now!

    I am reading this great book called Organised Simplicity as a starting point! ;) Also, since returning from PB Event we have had a big clean out of clothes & no longer used toys, that have been donated to charity. Small steps, but we are feeling the rewards already!

    Thanks for making the trip & sharing such valuable stories & inspiration! :)
    Jodie@FreshHomeCook´s latest post: Chocolate Brownies with Zucchini & Pumpkin

  98. I feel like I’m all alone on this topic (due to lots of previous comments saying “me and my husband) , but I would love to hear more about getting the hubby on board with simplifying. I’ve made choices to keep our 2yo daughter’s toys to a minimum, but every time my husband takes her to the store she gets a new plastic $1 toy that only works for a day. He knows that the toys are just going out with the garbage and that I don’t want too much clutter, but still he buys. This isn’t the only area that I feel he ignores my requests to simplify, but it’s a hot topic right at this moment.

    • I totally hear you. My DH is not a hoarder, but he likes/needs more space than I do, and so we live in a much bigger house than I ever wanted to. He wanted the extra space to get away from the family and decompress form work. The funny thing is, despite all this space we have, the 4 of us still spend the vast majority of our time together in just 2 rooms! If I can just get him to see that, maybe I can get him to agree to downsize/right size our next home.

      • avatar
        laurajoliza says:

        My DH works from home, and no house was ever big enough to contain both our family life AND his office space. We had a 2500 square foot rental with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, and it STILL was not enough of a buffer.

        But now we are in…maybe 1200 square feet (family of five, one bathroom – whee!). And it’s the most comfortable situation for us, work-from-home-wise (and otherwise, actually – I love that we live in every nook and cranny of this place), because we converted the old decrepit 1920s “garage” into an office space for him. It’s across the back yard and it is enough isolation for him to truly be away from our family chaos and decompress in peace before he rejoins. Gotta take care of my sweet introvert!

        So maybe you can downsize house-wise with that in mind – a detached space for your husband (and maybe you, too!) to escape to. :)

  99. I will echo what someone said above about figuring out how/where/when to best get rid of things. I love the idea that someone may be able to get use out of something we no longer use, but then since it’s more work to find the right place to donate, I end up just piling stuff up in my attic. For example, one of my kids’ puzzles that I had in the pile to sell at the consignment store is missing one piece — I know I’ve seen it somewhere, so the un-usable puzzle is in a pile waiting for me to find that piece…. I could just toss it, but it is so much more satisfying to think of another child using it.

    Recently I’ve been simplifying what we eat in terms of leaning nearly-vegan and cutting back drastically on processed food. While I love this approach to food, it’s enormously complicated. It is not unusual for me to spend 2-3 hours in the kitchen every evening between making dinner, prepping tomorrow’s dinner, making school lunches, work lunch and snacks. I work full time outside the home and have 5 year old twins, and all of the work that goes into simplifying our diet is a little overwhelming.

  100. I hoard books and leftovers. I’ve learnt to put all of the leftovers at eye level if in the fridge or freezer so that I see them and they get eaten. And I’ve just done the same (sort of ) with books – I have a bookshelf outside the toilet where all the ‘will I, won’t I keep them’ books go and I’ve have started to slowly donate them as I keep glancing at the them on the way out of the loo and thinking ‘I’m just not going to cook anything from this book/I’ve got four other books on using a slow cooker/that Barbara Cartland cookbook is a hoot but it is just isn’t adding anything to my life’.

    And the donate pile goes straight in to the car to be dropped off whenever I am passing a charity store – it doesn’t hang around at home waiting for me to change my mind about donating!

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