How to be a Minimalist With Kids: Figuring it out Part 3 (Say NO to Getting More Stuff; Opt for Experiences Instead)

My husband and I have long discussed this somewhat new idea that if you don’t make money from something, if you don’t tweet a picture or video of an experience or plate of food, or if you don’t get some kind of acknowledgement for your actions, then it doesn’t seem to count that you’ve done it or experienced it. Or this other idea that if you don’t have a certain, conventional lifestyle, then you’re living in some ridiculous bubble that will pop at any moment.

While validation is nice and important in some respects, I want my children to know that success, happiness, and fulfillment come in many wholesome ways that don’t necessarily require validation from anyone but their conscientious selves.

In this post you’ll find: Saying NO to bringing more items into the home and finding more meaning in LIVING LIFE instead of GETTING MORE. Read on to hear more about our ongoing minimalist journey as a family, or scroll to the bottom for bullet-pointed useful tips and suggestions!

My husband and I have done some things as a couple that people have considered us crazy for. And I agree. But we did them anyway and I wish I had the adventurous spirit to do such things more often. One of said choices is my very favorite crazy thing that I have never regretted one bit . . . and am always glad that we were brave enough to try.

Several years ago when my husband was graduating, we had a job offer in the Pacific Northwest that would require a move to a town six hours away. It also wouldn’t start for about three months after grad school. While we loved where we lived, we weren’t sure that staying for those three months was the best idea–we could take the last of our funds and stay put, or spend the summer traveling in our tent trailer.

Ultimately, we chose to move our things into a storage unit and spent the next two and a half months in our tent trailer visiting family, beautiful coastal towns, getting ants in our tent trailer (twice), two (separate occasions) flat tires, and figuring out how to best keep our two and four-year-old kiddos happy, as well as our dog and cat calm.

With all of the craziness, both good and bad, our family became so welded and bonded together that, to this day, we still feel the positive affects of that moment in our life. Years later, my husband and I still look back on that experience and wish we could relive it once more. And . . . we might attempt that at some point. You never know! Though maybe not in a tent trailer but a motor-home.

Biggest Lessons Learned From the Trip:

1. Struggles and trials will always come our way but we get through them best when we support each other.

2. Arguing with a spouse is absolutely ridiculous in a tent trailer–there are no dramatic exits when the space is so small that there are only five steps to get to the next living area. And! You must whisper so you don’t wake sleeping children.

I remember being upset with my man at one point and walking those five steps. Laughing at myself on the inside and feeling completely silly, I walked right back to him. Because we’re both so chill with each other (and because my husband totally puts up with my nonsense), we don’t disagree very often at all. But I still miss tent trailer arguments–the space and atmosphere quickly put things into perspective and forced us to resolve issues in a much more timely manner.

3. We need so much less than many people in first world countries actually have. I believe that I packed the tent trailer well, however, I began to ditch things because I wanted more space (not more stuff) as we went along. It was a daily realization how little we actually need.

4. Because we had so few things, our experiences became KING. Nothing was more important than our beautiful conversations about our dreams, playing with our children in lovely places, visiting with friends and family, and experiencing stuff we never would have otherwise. That tent trailer was fun and I’m glad we had all that we needed but it was simply our vehicle to living our experiences.

Sounds incredible, right? You should totally try it.

The one thing that bothered me and that my core beliefs have learned to rebel against: People told us over and over again that we would soon have to head back to REALITY. To me it seemed as if — though well-intended — people were uncomfortable with the idea that somebody could live in a very different way to them.

While yes, we did have to head back to our town and get to work, everybody has a different reality. So if I have been given an opportunity to live, why not do so in the reality that I see fits my family best. The way that my husband and I believe will make for a full and enriched life for our family, even if it looks different? What does it matter if it’s a tent trailer, yurt, traditional home, tiny house or motor-home? What we really need is a home, not necessarily a traditional house structure.

Heading back to my opening thoughts, more than anything, I want my kids to work hard, to be creative, to live wholesome lives and be good, contributing citizens. However, I do not want them to feel pressure to be conventional in all things.

I want them to know that they can be confident and assured in themselves and their lives as they make good choices. And I want them to know that they don’t need to share a picture with everyone they know in order to make them feel better about themselves. Or have a fancy this or that not because it makes them feel happy, but because it is what is acceptable to friends/society.

Now, if they enjoy their items, or if they have fun posting pics and doing or not doing so doesn’t make them question their well-being, then social post away! It’s not about the action or the possessions–it’s the why behind it.

What I really want is for my family to value experiences over having things. And I want my kids to know that those experiences are valued differently by various people, so they should pursue those activities for their own wholeness and well-being–not for the approval of others.

Here are some tips on finding your way to Living Life:

  • When people offer you stuff, make sure they’re things you actually need/want in your life – don’t just accept them because you feel that you ought to, or society says you should. If you don’t want an item, you don’t have to be rude, you can simply say, “Thanks so much for thinking of me, but we don’t actually need that right now.” You can even offer a name for somebody that does, or your favorite donation center.
  • If you’re on the brink of buying a house or considering selling yours, definitely consider your family/kids’ needs, but also take into consideration what kind of life you want. Are you spending so much on the care of your home and cost of your mortgage that you aren’t able to do things that your family would really benefit from? While I’m not necessarily suggesting that you sell your house and buy a tiny one, exploring lots of options for either becoming debt free or choosing a more modest home is a wonderful idea if your finances are keeping you from living the life you dream of.
  • This year when my kids’ birthdays came around, when people asked, I actually opted for cash – that way they could carefully select what they wanted. That kind of sounds terrible as I write it but my kids have so much stuff as it is, it ended up being the right choice for us. If your kids don’t want/need anything and they receive cash for holidays, taking them to a special event, trampoline park, or getting nails done, archery range, or something else is definitely buying an experience instead of “stuff” that will eventually end up in the garage sale/donation pile.
  • When given well-meaning advice, be sure you carefully ask yourself if it’s suitable for yourself, then try to let go of what isn’t right. My husband and I will likely full-time in an RV for a period once we sell our house so that we can fulfill some dreams. It wouldn’t work for everybody and those people aren’t really too keen on the idea. And some of them let us know. That’s ok. We’ll try it out if we see fit when the time comes and see if it works for us.
  • You don’t need to document every single moment. I don’t need to document every single moment. Sometimes we miss out on what’s happening right under our moments because we’re trying to film it. We often respond with a “no” when our kids ask to take a picture of something due to the fact that we want them to actually enjoy the moment. Of course, we don’t say no to everything! But we definitely give gentle reminders to appreciate what’s happening around them in the moment.
  • Create a goal journal or list of what you envision for your minimalist lifestyle – that way you can stay on track. When those spontaneous moments strike and you find your cart loaded with things that aren’t going to support your goals, it’s easier to put things back or say no before you walk out the door if you actually know what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Opt for experiences instead of things–about 99% of the time, it will bring more happiness into your life than a thing that will likely end up in a garage sale/donation pile. Memories last a lifetime, bond people together, and bring good feelings at the remembrances over and over again. And they don’t take up any space in your house!

Good luck on your journey and please be sure to leave any comments below!

Also, you might be wondering, what does Minimalism have to do with my author blog and author efforts? If you remember in this post, I talked about my goals to be a successful independent author and the sacrifices that I need to make in order to do so. My husband and I have a major goal and getting rid of the excess “stuff” is one of many steps toward said goal. And, as we take certain steps, I’ll be sharing our goal with you. We’re just not quite ready for that yet!

So, I want to be a successful author and am sacrificing in order to do so. What goal is your “stuff” sucking time away from?

If you’d like to support my efforts to become a successful author, please take a look at my books HERE–every purchase or kindle page read makes a difference! Thanks in advance!

Book Release: A Boyfriend for Graduation, Clean & Quirky Romance #3

I’m super excited to let you all know that A Boyfriend for Graduation, Clean & Quirky Romance #3, is now available!! You can find it on Amazon by clicking HERE. As with the other Clean & Quirky novels, A Boyfriend for Graduation is a great mix of a Hallmark romance, a classic Romantic Comedy, and Quirky romance. And, yes. I got the idea when I saw the millionth A Husband for Christmas/A Princess for Christmas/A Prince for Christmas/You Get the Idea.

It is available via ebook purchase or you can read it for free if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription. If you’d prefer reading it in paperback, that’ll be available very soon and I’ll post on the blog as soon as it is. Likely, the paperback will be up early next week. Also, if you just can’t wait to get started, feel free to take a Look Inside by clicking on the image HERE to get a taste of this RomCom.

In all of its glory, here’s the Back Blurb:

Charlie thinks that her life is finally going well. Between getting ready to graduate from college and having the perfect boyfriend, Charlie hopes that she can get her parents off her back and feel good about herself. The only thing rocking the boat is fellow classmate, Ashley, who can’t seem to keep her eyes off of Charlie’s man, Joel.

When everything falls apart, Charlie finds herself trying to pick up the pieces and feeling completely lost. Left with only a little hope that she and Joel can make amends, Charlie finds herself supported by two friends – Damon and Olive – who encourage her to look for a happier and more fulfilling life. And help her discover who the real Mr. Right is.

This book was great to write – the cheesy, feel-good, romantic comedy flavor is fun and flirtatious. I really enjoyed putting the words on the page and I hope that you enjoy it, too. And as always, thanks for reading! I can’t tell you how much it means to me to receive your emails, reviews, follows and likes on social media.

Want more romance? You can find the other Clean & Quirky novels – Happy Scoops and Twenty-Five Candles – by clicking HERE. And don’t forget! Twenty-Five Candles is available for free with newsletter signup!

FREE Sweet Romance and Other Reads

Hey all! Just a quick check-in with you to give you a heads up about some fun reads for the weekend! Two of them are even FREE!

First off, Little Miss Lovesick (FREE until Sunday!):

Little Miss Lovesick

The Blurb:

Sydney Riley hears voices in her head…

Voices that keep her sane and voices that drive her crazy. The one thing they all agree on – forget Dirk the Jerk and move on.

So Sydney lets her friends drag her into the wilds of Northern Michigan where Little Miss Lovesick, the loudest voice in Sydney’s head, runs into – literally – the perfect man. Is hot fishing guide Matt Engel the man to vanquish heartbreak?

With the vacation flirtation behind her, Sydney is ready to start again. Soon after, however, a difficult – and must keep – client demands Sydney work with his new contractor. Yes, one and the same Matt Engel, hotter than ever and right here in town.

But when Matt’s past comes between them, Sydney wonders how to prevent another broken heart. As the rest of her life spirals out of control, she learns that sometimes a plan isn’t enough without friends to share the load.

Maybe together they can even help Little Miss Lovesick find what she’s been fishing for.

Little Miss Lovesick is next on my reading list! And here’s some awesome news–right now, it’s FREE!! You can snag Little Miss Sunshine when you sign up for the occasional and non-spammy Reader List of Kitty Bucholtz. JUST CLICK HERE. Her other books look awesome, too! Check them out HERE.

Next up, my very own Happy Scoops (also FREE today and tomorrow):

Here’s the Blurb:

Chryssa Parker is about to start her senior year of high school and she knows that it’s going to be totes amazing.

As Team Captain of the Cheerleading Squad and President of the Student Body Government, Chryssa is ready to be the smartest and hottest that Intellectual Elite has ever graduated.

However, when a pile of traffic infractions show up in the Parker mailbox, Chryssa’s lawyer parents decide it’s time for Chryssa to learn some responsibility.

Forced to become a sign dancer dressed as a cone at her parent’s ice cream shop, Chryssa doesn’t think she’ll ever survive the job. Obligated to give up so much of her life, Chryssa is completely surprised when she learns what makes her truly Happy.

If you enjoy the parody of romantic comedies like Clueless or Austenland and that sweet quirkiness of Hallmark romance, you’ll enjoy Happy Scoops.

Today and tomorrow, Happy Scoops is free! That’s right–showing you a little reader love with a free book! And if you have a moment to write a quick review (1-2 sentences are fast to write and super helpful), that’d be showing me a little author love. I totally appreciate it!!

Our Sweet Guillotine:

OUR SWEET GUILLOTINE by [Gray, Mary]Here’s the Blurb:

Tempeste has survived much choosing to live on Paris’ streets–scavenging for food, learning survival skills from a deserter whom she paid to attack her in her sleep, and living a life her mother would approve of, one devoid of luxury. But denying oneself of food and proper bedding can stir a madness in the brain. So, when Tempeste witnesses the quick and painless death of the guillotine–the death her mother should have received–she vows to find her mother’s accuser and vivisect his spleen.

Quite by accident, Gabriel, the young executioner responsible for Tempeste’s mother’s botched hanging, falls for Tempeste. So, instead of strolling arm-in-arm with a respectable mademoiselle through the gardens of the Palais de l’Égalité, Gabriel finds himself traipsing after an axe-carrying siren through the catacombs and facing off a hostile sans-culottes army.

With little choice but to fight, Gabriel determines to win the hearts of the sans-culottes, while Tempeste proves she’s quite adept at swinging the blade. When the pair finally make their way to Tempeste’s sworn enemy, though, a secret is revealed which promises to sever far more than they ever hoped to gain.

Just finished Our Sweet Guillotine and it was great! I highly recommend this historical romance. Find it HERE.

 

Lastly, if you haven’t signed up for my Clean & Quirky Romance Readers’ List, you can grab my novella, Twenty-Five Candles, for FREE when you do!

 

Here’s the Blurb:

When Anna Lewis was young, she made a wish to be married by her twenty-fifth birthday and just knew that her dream would come true. The problem is, becoming an adult isn’t as easy as she thought it would be.

Between giving up her nursing career and caring for her home-bound mother, Anna feels her dreams are passing her by. It’s only when—on her twenty-fourth birthday—Anna learns that a doctor is moving to town that she begins to hope once more.

However, when Anna finds out who the doctor is, conflict arises and her emotions are torn between her hometown boyfriend and the boy she always loved.

Tell me where to send your book by clicking HERE!

Or you can learn more about the list right HERE

Fairy Wings and Dragonflies Cover Reveal

 

Fairy Wings & Dragonflies (Book One)

Back Blurb:

Summer break is starting tomorrow and thirteen-year-old Willow is dreading it as she drifts off to sleep. With only the daytime company of her big, black cat, Sammy, Willow would much rather be in school than spend all day at home where she will have to face boredom and loneliness.

Waking up in the night as Sammy heavily lands on her, Willow’s eyes pop open to find her cat wildly chasing something around the room and thinks it must be a bird. Jumping out of bed to throw the window open, Willow frantically rushes after Sammy, trying to keep him from attacking so that the bird can fly free.

A pouncing Sammy catches the creature and Willow hurries over, finally getting a good look at what she can’t believe is there. Shaking her head and squeezing her eyes closed in disbelief, when she opens them again, the shimmery wings that Willow just saw haven’t disappeared. They are still there.

Before she can get any answers, the enchanted creature escapes and Willow realizes that a magical realm surrounds her–a world she hadn’t believed in. A world right outside of her window. And, although completely unaware as she looks out into the night, Willow will soon discover that she is very much a part of the magic.

How to be a Minimalist With Kids: Figuring it out Part 2 (Finding YOUR Kind of Minimalism)

If you remember my last post on Minimalism and sacrificing the junk–both physical and emotional–in your life to get what you want, you might remember that I said that I would be spending the next 30 minutes cleaning with my kids. Well, life happened and my son ended up getting a pretty nasty cut instead. He’s fine–just really freaked out by wounds, though his pain tolerance is super high.

Anyway, I went upstairs later that night, looked in my son’s room, then my daughter’s room and I was reminded of a light bulb moment that I had previously had. Everyone needs a different amount of stuff, so everybody’s version of minimalism–should they choose to practice it–will look different.

Feel free to read our ongoing journey, or skip to the tips bullet-pointed below!

Did you know that I happen to not eat meat/fish/chicken? I also happen to try to avoid most dairy products and try my best to eat lots of whole grains, fruits and veggies. If you were to put a name to this, it might be Vegetarian, Plant-Based, Vegan, Herbivore, Crazy or who knows what else! After having lived with a few health issues and completely involving myself in the world of Vegetarians and Vegans, I’ve learned that my body isn’t stereotypical and I just can’t camp 100% with most of those titles.

What it comes down to is that I don’t want somebody’s ideals imposed upon me–I want to eat to choose for myself. To illustrate this point, I’ve got the perfect story for you. I was once given a plate of rice and veggies at a social event. I was very grateful that they had made a plate for me that didn’t include meat and was about to take a bite when the person that gave it to me questioned whether I would eat the rice or not–it had been made with chicken stock.

I thanked said person that seemed to be testing me, told them that I had noticed, but that I would go ahead and eat it anyway–I didn’t want to make a fuss when they had already gone to the trouble for me. What I didn’t say aloud was that, along with not wanting to be rude, I also didn’t want to disrespect the life of the chicken by wasting the food that graced the table due to said chicken. While I wouldn’t eat full-on pieces of meat due to health reasons as well as having gotten an aversion as a child that led to not wanting to eat animals, at the time, I just didn’t feel it would be right to not eat the rice and throw it in the garbage.

The woman then said some of the words that made me begin to realize that I didn’t like sharing with others that I was Vegan. In a snippy tone and loud enough for everyone at the table to hear, she said, “So then, you’re not really a Vegan,” and walked away. Honestly, it was humiliating. And it made me mad. As I’ve thought about it over the years (yes, I need to let it go), I’ve decided to not stand in those camps and I created my own because this is my life and I want to do things my own way.

Why do I tell you this? Well, calling yourself a Minimalist might bring on strong reactions from others and I want you to know that–in my opinion–it’s ok to find your own kind of Minimalism. That’s exactly what my husband and I are doing.

Honestly, this is what I didn’t understand when I rejected Minimalism after clearing out 75% of our stuff five years ago. Making Minimalism work for 1-2 people is very different from 1-2 people plus 1 or more children that are four years old or older. Instead of rejecting it, I wish I would have made it work for me/my family in our own way.

Everyone needs a different amount of stuff to be fulfilled in their lives. My son needs more stuff than my daughter. Not realizing this fully simply caused me to ditch minimalism, which resulted in too many toys for my kids–particularly my daughter–and then not teaching my son to share with others what he didn’t need anymore. So, now they have too much stuff because we bought things for our daughter that she would never play with, while I indulged in allowing my son to accumulate and not let go.

As I talked about in my last post, too much “stuff” gets in the way of actually living. It takes too much time to care for it all, costs too much money to purchase it all, and gets in the way of achieving dreams. On the flip side, not finding your kind of minimalism might make you give up if you find it overwhelming to persuade your teenager, spouse or ten children to donate/sell 75% of their stuff.

Here are some tips on finding your kind of Minimalism:

  • Your kind of minimalism might mean none, one or two of an item–it’s all about what is actually useful to you. A question you might ask yourself–and your family–as you sort through items: Is it more valuable to have this item and all of the care/space that comes with it, or is it more valuable to donate it and have that time/space back? What will bring us more time and value to our lives?
  • Our kids are going to have a different kind of minimalism. Work with them to get their spaces in order, be calm, and remember that they may value certain items differently than you do. Letting them choose to keep one item over another will help them feel empowered, in control of their possessions, and (even if they get rid of something that they regret down the road) will help them to practice decision-making skills.
  • My kids have more hobbies/sets of items than they have time to use. We will be sorting said items into groups, then doing the following: We’ll require them to sell/donate a determined number of sets, then we’ll require them to box up a determined number of sets to go into the garage for a few months in order to swap toys out and make space in their rooms. If the toys in the garage haven’t been asked for or missed, we’ll address whether they should be kept or ditched at that time.
  • Set a 30-minute timer to sort through items to give away! Since the last post, we’ve been doing this and it works very well. As I work in their rooms with my kids, I know the clock is ticking, so we work quickly. Decisions are made more easily because we work fast and don’t have time to think about emotional attachments. Pull out a timer–you won’t regret it!
  • Offer a reward! Although I put this in the last post, I think it’s worth noting once more. I want my kids to know that having less has its benefits! Just don’t give them an object as a reward. It needs to be an activity or something that is used up; i.e. candy, going out for french fries, going to the park, watching a movie, going to a museum, going for a nature walk, etc.. I’ve been offering a reward for each cleaning session that we get rid of stuff. They really want the reward, so they’re more willing to part with stuff!
  • Make a goal and then work on it together! Although I am overwhelmed by their mess and all that needs to be done over time, I’ve been making goals for each of my kids, as well as myself, for each cleaning session. For example, today I worked on books and stuffed animals while they cleaned up crafting projects in their rooms. Once we were done, I didn’t complain about how much was left, I simply told them that they’d done a good job, told them it looked better and let them know that I was glad they were working hard, even though they aren’t really happy about letting go of so much stuff.
  • If you know your kids have way too much stuff, but they’re not too keen on letting stuff go, set a number of items to be donated, or assign a space that a certain collection must fit into. As an example, today when we worked through the stuffed animals, I told my kids that the stuffies had to fit in our toy bench. I would hold up an item and ask if it was ok to donate, if they said yes, it was tossed into the bag quickly so that the little stuffed animal eyes didn’t get to them with their sad, pseudo fur faces. If my kids said no, then I said, ok, but find something else that you will donate instead. It worked quite well and I have a garbage bag of donated stuffies, now. While somebody else might not think that the toy bench full of stuffed animals is very minimalist, for my kids, it is. They actually play with the ones that are left!
  • Accept your goals, efforts, and journey to your kind of minimalism! It’s ok if your kind of minimalism looks different to somebody else–isn’t Minimalism living with less and only what you need in order to live a richer life? If you’re doing that or making your way to it, I’d say you’re right on track. Even if it means that you have a few more items than the Minimalist Next Door.

What does Minimalism have to do with my author blog and author efforts? If you remember in this post, I talked about my goals to be a successful independent author and the sacrifices that I need to make in order to do so. My husband and I have a major goal and getting rid of the excess “stuff” is one of many steps toward said goal. And, as we take certain steps, I’ll be sharing our goal with you. We’re just not quite ready for that yet!

So, I want to be a successful author and am sacrificing in order to do so. What goal is your “stuff” sucking time away from?

If you’d like to support my efforts to become a successful author, please take a look at my books HERE–every purchase or kindle page read makes a difference! Thanks in advance!

Also, if you’ve already read my books, will you please leave a review? I honestly can’t tell you how important that social validation is on Amazon! It makes a huge difference in determining whether a customer will try my book or not. Thank you!

Live Piano Composition Session

Did you know that I’ve started performing LIVE piano composition sessions on Instagram Live?

It’s true! I sat at my piano and composed piano pieces on the spot tonight. It was really fun!

I have a Bachelor’s in Piano Performance and music composition is a major part of the way that I create story lines and develop characters. I’ve been trying to find an interesting way of showing/sharing this part of my creative process with you, so I was excited when the idea came to me–why don’t I compose live?

Honestly, I’ve been playing through my stories for so many years now and I do this several days of the week, anyway, I decided I might as well let you all be a part of that process!

So, you can find me on Instagram HERE, and I’ll be performing another live piano composition session again on Monday, April 17th if you’re interested in hanging out with me while I jam. I’ll likely start playing around 8:30, though that time is tentative and I will post on Instagram on Monday the exact time. Go ahead and click that FOLLOW button in order to stay up to date if you’re interested. I hope to see you there!

How to be a Minimalist with Kids: Figuring it Out Part 1 (Words into Actions)

If you remember my last post, you’ll recall that I was talking about becoming a successful author. And minimalism. And yes, they were related topics! We definitely need to sacrifice physical and emotional things in order to change and get something that we want. This post will include key parts of our ongoing journey to living intentionally, as well as some tips below!

Some of you may know that about five years ago, my husband and I got rid of 75% of our things and our house was usually super clean. We also had more time and money to do some things that we wanted to do. It was great! However, our children were two and four at the time, and the four year-old was never terribly interested in “things”, but rather, events or activities. Smart girl, that one. I want to be like her when I grow up 🙂

As our son got older, he had many stereotypical boy interests and he soon had trains and building toys and cars and remote control whatevers. It was a slow build-up over a couple of years and it was at this point that I sort of rejected minimalism as something that only worked for singles, couples, and people with very young children–not those with kids that accumulated things due to hobbies. I mean, have you seen those lists of “toys” from the most extreme minimalists? I think the last post that I read on how to be a minimalist with kids included a picture of a–YOUNG–child that had a shoe-box sized box of toys. And that was it.

That would not work for my boy.

It was during this time that I felt that my kids were accumulating belongings and then that stuff would stick around as they got more things and it seemed as if they used all of it, so how could we get rid of it? We also try to live within our budget, so buying toys again after we’ve gotten rid of them isn’t something we’re interested in.

However, there has been a shift. I’ve realized that my kids really have grown out of certain things (whether I like them getting older or not). My daughter has become more invested in books and activities while my son has stopped playing with certain toys as he focuses on others.

The outgrown toys have remained on their shelves, though. We haven’t gotten rid of much of anything in a while and my son’s room now kind of looks like a hoarder’s room. Looking around, I wonder how on earth it happened and how many hours it’s going to take to clean it up and sort it out.

The other problem? While my daughter has willingly and gladly given certain toys away, my boy has become sentimentally attached to his belongings. So, now he has a room full of stuff that makes a giant mess, that he can’t even imagine living without. And it’s more than he can care for on his own.

Yes, you’re right. Maybe I shouldn’t have scoffed at that shoe-box of “toys” that included a string of beads and a wooden sewing needle with yarn.

Going through their rooms with giant giveaway bags is probably a horrible idea, but I’ve come to the point where something must change. So, what have I done? I’ve decided to be the example. I’ve been piling things up that I’m ready to get rid of and sticking them in plain sight so that my children can see my sacrifices for change.

I went through my kitchen and wardrobe first and found the things that had lost value, usefulness, and meaning. I think that these two areas have been pretty easy to start with. First off, if you’re the in-home chef and like me, you get tired of looking at certain things anyway, so getting rid of them isn’t too bad. And certain items of clothing have been classified as traitors because they’ve grown too small, so it’s easy to get rid of a bad relationship with a shirt, as well.

Wherever you start, though, here are some tips that will, hopefully, add to your success.

BEGINNING THE “MINIMALISM WITH KIDS JOURNEY” TIPS:

  • First off, possessions hold memories, both good and bad. KEEP CALM!! It’s ok if it takes a little time, or if you aren’t ready to let go of certain things yet. Do a little at a time and you’ll be able to work through the process much more happily. This applies whether you’re working through your stuff, or others’ possessions.
  • SET A TIMER. I’m going to spend the next thirty minutes working on my kids’ rooms. WITH THEM, of course. It might be frustrating, difficult, or emotional. Isn’t cleaning kiddo rooms always? Setting a timer will help all of us to have a goal and a vision of relief from a possibly stressful situation. Whether you’re working with kids or alone, setting a timer is a great idea!
  • OFFER A REWARD. I told my kiddos that, once we’ve worked through our timer, there will be a reward when they are done. I want them to immediately feel the benefits of having less stuff, so I’m going to offer to take them to the park, the library, have a popsicle, watch a movie together, read a book to them, play a game with them, work in the garden together, or something else. This gets a little tricky, because our rewards are often things. I want them to know that they are missing out on experiences when we aren’t living intentionally and our stuff takes away our time as we have to spend excess time to take care of it. Ultimately, I want my children to value experiences more than things. And, don’t forget! Offer a reward to yourself! A beautiful truffle, cup of tea, manicure, a nap, an extra chapter of a book or going on a walk.
  • PICK AN EASY AREA TO START WITH. I chose the kitchen on purpose! When I had finally found a much-needed set of pots to replace the ones I’ve got, I knew that I didn’t want to have both sets cluttering up my kitchen. So, getting rid of those pots was the first step and replacing them with a new, more functional, WAY SMALLER set felt great. Once those pots had started a pile, I added several items to it, then full-on attacked it the next day. One last attack, and the kitchen will be much less cluttered and full of things that are useful to me. Starting with sentimental items, or things that’ll take a lot of time to sort out will likely be discouraging.
  • GRAB GARBAGE FIRST. If you feel overwhelmed by your stuff, getting rid of things sounds awful to you, or you have a busy schedule, easier is better–you need doable! Grab a garbage can or bag and go through an area, room or your whole house. Toss old receipts that you don’t need, junk mail, that sock with a hole in it, or things that can’t be sold/donated that you don’t want around anymore. Going through it quickly makes this process easy and fast! You’ll notice the difference quickly, which will be motivating, and you will have less to visually overwhelm you so that you can actually see what you need to get rid of.

One thing to note is that, while many things can be purchased again if you free yourself of it too quickly, sometimes that’s just a hassle. Try putting items that you’re uncertain of in a dated box. Items that you pull out to use might be worth keeping and in fitting with YOUR kind of minimalism. For instance, I cook and bake a lot. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth it to keep my two sets of measuring cups and measuring spoons–often having two sets makes the process a lot quicker. However, it’s also more to clean up and store. I’m going to decide what has more value, then keep or get rid of the items.

While being an example isn’t going to make my kids suddenly want to get rid of everything that they don’t use anymore, I have noticed them adding a few things to the pile, which is extremely encouraging. Now that the pile has been started and as we discuss the benefits of having less, we will slowly go through their things together, so that they feel comfortable and confident that their opinions and possessions are respected.

That confidence is important–I feel strongly that kids need to be respected in regard to their belongings. I do not want to create hoarding tendencies in my children simply because I forced them to get rid of stuff that they weren’t ready to let go of yet. This can often make kids hold on to things even tighter because they feel that they could be taken away at any moment.

Going back to my first post: I want to be a successful author. I will be sacrificing a bunch of my “stuff”–emotional and physical–in order to have that dream become a reality. Amidst trying to flip our house in order to live that and other family dreams, I don’t have time to take care of a whole bunch of possessions that have completely lost their meaning and value.

Ultimately, if I feel that way, I know that it’s affecting my kids, husband and our family as a whole. So, I’m beginning by putting my words into action and helping them to see that I’m happier with having less to care for, more time to enjoy life, and feeling great that my old possessions can better the lives of other people.

What about you? Has the spring cleaning/minimalism bug bitten you, yet? What are you doing to add value to your life?

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How to Become a Successful Author – Beginning the Winding Journey

My kids and I went on a walk recently and when I looked back, a profound thought struck. I’d been thinking about my journey as an author and this little pathway that my kids demanded I adhere to, and strictly, was a lot like my travels as a writer. Winding and wavering, but still, mostly a straight line from point A to B.

It seems that most people (including my old self) make a lot of assumptions when you say that you’re going to publish a book. They make assumptions about how long it takes to get published, the actual process of turning your manuscript in to publishers/agents, the amount of money you get, how much marketing and publicity you’ll get once a manuscript is actually contracted by a publisher, and where they will find your book. No, it likely won’t be on a physical bookshelf at any major retailer, let alone all of them.

After a short dabbling with rejections and offers of publication, followed by a whole lot of study of the independent author journey, I decided that I didn’t like the realities of the prospects of getting traditionally published and decided to take the indie author path. And, even though I’m just starting this journey and I can’t predict the future, I’m glad I chose this path.

As I’ve looked back, though, it hasn’t been a straight shot and the road of this path behind me is so similar to many in life. We sometimes believe that our road will be a straight line from point A to point B and, although we know that achieving our goals won’t always be easy, we don’t realize what this path will really be like. As in, we don’t realize that A to B is more like a zig-zag line with about 50 different points.

Also, B isn’t usually what we think it will look like, so it’s really more like A to D–just a little off from that B that we were trying to achieve.

On this journey, I’ve been finding a question placed before me over and over. The question is, “What do you really want?” As I answer that question, I believe that I can have what I want, but like point A to B, I’m find that what I really want is point D…or E.

Once again, answering this question has led me on a different journey than I thought I would face, but I feel that being honest with myself is going to help me to have a life that I want for myself and my family.

The difficult part? Sacrificing those things that aren’t helping me to get where I want to go or that are directly or indirectly blocking my way. Things that take up too much time, things that take up too much energy, and things that take up too much emotion.

A few years ago, my husband and I got rid of 75% of our possessions and it was awesome! I felt free to do what I wanted and we focused on life instead of things. However, things have a way of creeping into life and so I would definitely say that we are no longer practicing minimalism.

I’ve realized that some of these possessions are keeping me from my author goals and as I look around, we’ve traded a certain amount of our life for things again.

Minimalism and becoming an author don’t really sound like they have much in common, but becoming a successful author is my goal and my things are taking up too much time and energy. They’re taking up writing time, editing time and when my house is messy, my creativity is stifled.

It’s interesting to me how, when we have a goal that we are completely determined to succeed in, light shines on the stuff that we have ignored for a long time; stuff that we didn’t realize was getting in the way and sucking away our energy.

So! I’ll be filling you in about our journey to living that more intentional life–one where stuff doesn’t get in the way of goals, happiness and those experiences that are truly important.

To be successful at something always requires some kind of sacrifice. I feel that this idea of asking yourself, “What do I really want?” combined with ridding yourself of long-ignored road blocks can make us successful in any goal. So, for me, becoming an author means getting rid of the material possessions in my house that are killing my creativity and taking up too much time to maintain. It means exercising so that my physical and mental health are on track. It means ruthlessly scheduling creative time. Ultimately, it means sacrificing the garbage in my life, which, when put that way, sounds like it should be easy! Of course, I know it won’t be.

Once again, I’m grateful that my books, writing, and generally being creative have thrown in front of me that question; What do I really want? It makes the winding journey much more meaningful.

What about you? Any goals that you’ve been working on?

Mary Gray Interviewed Me!

Video #4: Interview with Katie Coughran | Shifting to the Indie Author Mindset

I had so much fun doing this interview with Mary Gray! Not only was it great to geek out about author stuff, but Mary Gray really influenced me a lot when I was deciding whether to be an independent author or not. Her openness and kindness will always be appreciated.

https://i2.wp.com/marygraybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/OUR-SWEET-GUILLOTINE-004.jpeg?resize=228%2C365

 

As mentioned in the video, her latest novel will be out soon! Our Sweet Guillotine is a Historical Romance and if you act quickly, you might even be able to snag an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for an honest review on Amazon (I think it’s Amazon). Just head on over HERE to sign up in the sidebar.

Isn’t it pretty? And the synopsis sounds awesome, too. You can read that HERE. I loved A Tale of Two Cities, so I’m super excited to get my hands on Our Sweet Guillotine!

Please feel free to like the video, share this post, sign up for Mary’s Advanced Review team, or just snag her book when it comes out!

Happy Reading and Writing!