Here a few changes that I have noticed in our family’s habits and routines since more fully implementing minimalism, Simplicity Parenting and after our “tidying festival”:
We hold family scripture study pretty regularly now that we have a better nighttime rhythm, whereas before this year we were simply dismal at this goal, we read maybe once a week together. Usually the twins are in bed before this study time as they are very noisy during this time and I admit it’s only a five to ten minute scripture study since D is 5 years old, but I think our habit is finally solidified. I hope my twins can soon join us if we take measures to study earlier before everyone gets cranky.
My kids complain less about cleaning up and clean up is a lot faster than it used to be. D and Q are actually very good at putting away toys. d needs to do better but she has improved. Sometimes if I have them clean earlier in the evening, like after snacktime before watching Qiaohu or before Dad gets home, it’s more successful. Then the nighttime cleanup isn’t as bad. The homeschool room stay surprisingly clean. I joke about how I need an Instagram account to be held accountable for my school set up, but it’s only partially true—the room maintains itself because we have limited space, some organization and not too much out at once. It is nice to remember once a month to do some deep cleaning so I still post monthly but generally the room looks like it does in my posts.
I made radical changes in my email inbox, to do a mass unsubscribe-fest. This has been huge for me. I have mostly decluttered my house but I find my digital inbox is still a mess. I used to have a junk email to collect all advertising and newsletter-type emails but I have discontinued the practice! I keep only Madewell emails (which I may discontinue later when I’m done rehauling my wardrobe), playgroup emails and news from TGTB curriculum. I have stopped emails from Carter’s, Bath and Body Works, and even all the wooden toy shops we use online. It’s not that I don’t love these brands, I do, I absolutely do, but I cannot continue going through emails day after day. The strategy is to plan in advance, for example, when you’re in the market for something for the wardrobe, to subscribe to your brands for codes or sale news, but then once you’re done, to hit unsubscribe. Believe me, it’s the best decluttering move you’ll do.
I find I am addicted to Facebook and Instagram despite unfollowing or snoozing. I find with my newfound quiet time at night that I am bored. This is obviously a tough one for me and will take some time. I would like to replace social media time with leisure reading, planning for outings or just exercising (I hardly have time to do these things so it would just make sense to replace brain numbing with productivity.)
But having *less* to look at on Facebook has helped a lot and my time on social media is better spent following homeschool groups, church groups or pages and our private family page.
We go to the mall and other stores less. This may not seem like a big change to you, but it is for me.
We used to go to Wal-Mart, Target or the mall as a fun activity just to window shop and play in the mall play area. When my kids were 0 and 3 this was a way to get out of the house but close enough to food, water and bathrooms in case we needed them. We do this a lot less, it wasn’t even a conscious decision, it just sort of happened. I am not putting down retail or shopping—I love shopping—but I now choose to do less shopping with my kids. I usually shop online and usually (not always but most of the time) in-store pick up or return things without my kids.
I try harder to give them time outside, even if it’s in the backyard or in our neighborhood: this is a much more healthy and sustainable recreation.
Just think about it, the more you buy, the more opportunity there is to return things and go again and again, each time seeing the seasonal displays and the clothes and the new decor in the Magnolia Home and Hearth section. (You know what I’m talking about!)
I still love an occasional shopping trip but I do not buy implusively as much, like things from the Target Dollar Spot. Don’t worry, I’m still human—I still go look once in a while but I am not as eager to buy things since I know I will need to declutter most of those things a year from now and I’d rather not buy most of those things in the first place. I’ve learned my lesson. I hope.
We will see if we can keep this up when the weather gets less desirable here in the summer.
We shop the circular ad for Kroger, 99 Ranch, Wal-Mart and Costco coupon books so we buy what is on sale and what we will actually use. Years ago I was an avid couponer, but with my current load at home I do not actively coupon anymore. Time is precious and just checking the weekly sales is good enough for me. We try to buy what we plan to use that week. We do have food storage but I’ve limited these to what we use all the time such as canned corn, canned diced tomatoes and canned peaches or pears. We have a lot of Trader Joe’s marinara sauce.
We shop by a list. The only exception is Trader Joe’s where I am slowly trying out a few of the different frozen entrees at a time (they taste amazing and are convenient for those crazy days where I need a fast lunch).
We have meals planned with our schedule in mind. Gone are the days I used Cook’s Illustrated recipes with 15 ingredients and 4 page explanations. We stick to pretty similar recipes: teriyaki chicken, rice and veggies; chili and cornbread; chicken enchiladas; pasta, salad and chicken; sandwiches; potstickers to name a few. We try to eat things the kids can and like to eat. I also use a lot of Costco frozen or premade food. Our favorites from Costco are rotisserie chicken, frozen lasagna, raviolis, wontons, local tamales, salad mixes and soups. These products are really well made and there is very little food wasted when you use this option. It of course is not the healthiest so we try to mix it up every week, some homemade, some Costco. We try to use a variety of fruit and veggies daily even for snacks.
Overall, life is less demanding and hectic even though I’ve enrolled D in two activities and the three of them and I are doing a 8 week session of Tinkergarten just for fun, just because we can (i.e. because we homeschool). I like that my kids can have experiences rather than just things or be dragged from errand to errand.