Embracing Minimalism: How to get started

Over the last several months, I’ve been on the journey of embracing simplicity in my motherhood. I came across Allie Casazza and just knew she was on to something with this whole minimalism thing.

Now I have more time with my daughter and my husband, I was able to start a blog (*finally*) and live with less stress at home.

When I talk to friends and family about how simplifying has really changed my life, the most common reaction from them is “Oh, I wish I could do that, but I don’t even know how to get started.”

Want to know the secret to finally getting started living a life you love?

Wake up and do it.

I saw this great post on Instagram the other day: “I stopped wishing that I would one day become the woman I wanted to be. I simply just woke up and became her.”

You can do this, just decide that you’re going to do it and get started!

5 tips to win at minimalism

1. Don’t let fear of the process keep you from getting started

Yes, your basement is a dark and scary place full of memories, cobwebs, and things that go bump in the night. But it’s only going to get worse unless you do something to change it. Start somewhere in your house that isn’t full of sentimental items like the bathroom to gain some momentum, then move progressively from room to room. When you finally get to those places where all of your stuff that you just don’t what to do with, you’ll be an old pro and ready to take it on.

2. Donate! Don’t sell.

This is a hard one for a lot of people, especially budget hunters like me, but it seriously in the best interest of your success to just donate whatever it is you’re trying to sell. You need the items out of your life. You don’t need to worry about taking pictures, posting, meeting up with people, having sales fall through, shipping, and on and on. If you really can’t bear to just take a particular item to a donation center, set aside out of your house or in your car and give yourself a couple days to find a person or organization that can put it to good use. If you can’t find someone after a week, just get rid of it!

3. Triage

During an emergency situation, medical personnel have to triage victims based on the severity of injury, I want you to have the same mindset with your stuff. Keep. Donate. Trash. This is your triage mantra. When you’re decluttering, only allow yourself three piles: keep, donate, and trash.

Example: Triaging your closet

If you love something and it’s still in good shape (no rips, stains, obvious signs of wear), it goes to the keep pile or stayed on its hanger.

If you’re not sure and you start to go “Well I haven’t worn this in forever, but…”, or “This dress was so expensive, but it’s uncomfortable/itchy/doesn’t fit, it goes to the donate pile.

If it’s in terrible shape, trash.

4. Schedule decluttering time

We schedule things that are important to us, that we want or need to take up time in our lives. So just like we schedule appointments, meetings, and family gatherings, schedule decluttering time. Whether it’s 30 minutes every night or 3 hours once a week, get it in your calendar and stick to it! You can’t make progress if you don’t get started.

5. Be ruthless

This might be the most important. Be ruthless. Don’t let old memories, perceived obligations, or societal expectations paralyze you. You don’t need to keep something that was a gift. You don’t need to keep a family heirloom that you hate. You don’t need a reason to get rid of something! This is your life. This is your home. Everything in our lives takes up our time and our mental energy. Only keep the things that you need, bring you joy, and add value to your life.

Minimalism isn’t about only having the bare number of items you need to survive. Minimalism is about living life with less, so you can enjoy life more. My minimalism will look different than your minimalism, and that’s okay! I can’t wait for you to get started so you can discover this amazing lifestyle for yourself.

I love connecting with other women who are making minimalism a lifestyle. Check out this post on tips to declutter and organize your home from Jen and Wendy at My Bubbles and Bubbly — a lifestyle and local guide blog based in the Windy City. Their blog is full of amazing tips and definitely deserves your time.




The secret to getting out of survival mode

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The other day in Kroger, I was paralyzed in the mustard section. Spicy Brown? Dijon? Yellow? Name brand? Store brand? Oh yeah, we also need diapers. *Adds diapers to the list* What was I doing? Oh, right. Mustard.

I stared at rows and rows of the yellowish-brown condiment for nearly 7 minutes. I could not for the life of me, just pick one. So what happened? Did I just not sleep enough the night before — probably, but I think that I was a victim of decision fatigue, which is a fancy way of saying that my brain was exhausted from doing the heavy duty of making thousands of decisions every.single.day.

Pause. I know what you’re thinking. Sarah, there’s no way you made a thousand decisions in a day.  

Oh but I did. You definitely do too, every.single.day.  

According to recent research, you are going to make 35,000 “remotely conscious” decisions today.

By contrast, our adorable chitlins are only going to make about 3,000.

So while you might not have stared aimlessly at the mustard section of your local supermarket for an inordinate amount of time, I’m sure you’ve experienced the moment when you literally couldn’t make another decision even if you wanted to.

Enter: Rhythms.

A heartbeat. The thump of a bass drum. Despacito. They all have rhythm, so why not your life?

Rhythms are these beautiful things that we just do. We do them every day, so they just happen in the background of our lives. We don’t think about them. We don’t stress about them. And we all already have them.

I love how Allie Casazza puts it on her blog, rhythms have been part of the key to “escaping survival mode in motherhood.” By having to make fewer decisions about day-to-day things, I’m happier, lighter and able to put more focus on things that actually matter: my marriage, my baby, and my brain!

My Rhythms

Since Ava was born, I realized that my old way of doing laundry just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I couldn’t just set aside an entire day to do a MOUNTAIN of laundry anymore. So I established a rhythm.

Now, first thing every morning I get up, grab the basket and start a load. At some point during the day, but usually after dinner, I’ll fold it and take it upstairs where it will get sorted and put away in 3-5 minutes by morning. It’s a little thing saving me a meltdown, raised cortisol levels, a sassy attitude with my husband.

It took a couple weeks of reminding myself, but now it just happens. And for the first time in forever, I don’t stress about doing the laundry because it’s always done. There aren’t piles and piles of it everywhere taunting me.

Some other rhythms I have:

  • Getting up early and tackling the most pressing things on my to-do list first thing in the morning

This one has been a game changer for personally, because even if my entire day hits the fan later, it’s okay because I got the most important thing done before anyone else was out of bed. It totally changed my life and my marriage.

  • Wiping down the counters, rinsing the dishes, and placing them in the dishwasher after every meal
  • Doing a quick 10-minute pick-up every evening after Ava goes to bed

So, if you want to stop feeling like you’re just surviving motherhood and really starting thriving, establish some rhythms in your life.

Start by asking yourself: What are the things I HAVE to get done in a day in order to not be anxious/stressed/feel like I’m behind?

These aren’t the things that you want to get done, these are things that stress you out like crazy and you will not go to bed until it’s done.

Write them down.

Now write down how you would feel to walk in the door after a long day knowing that those things were taken care of.

Pretty great, right?

Set aside a few minutes today (I know you’re crazy busy, but trust me, you have 5 minutes to spare to do this) and write down a couple rhythms for your own life. Then commit to doing them for a week. Just one week!  Do whatever it takes to hold yourself accountable, even if you miss a day, that’s okay! Show yourself some grace and get back after it.

Tag me on Instagram @simply.sarahmae! I can’t wait to see all of the rhythms you guys establish to make your life more intentional, less stressful, and much much happier.

Peace, Love & Cookie Dough — Sarah

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