We've been in the pursuit of simplicity and the practice of minimalism in our home for the past 4 years, and not only has it made life so much better and and our easier to clean (especially coupled with the tips I'm about to share), but it has also eliminated so much stress from our home! While we're not perfect, and are always learning more about minimalism and trying to find new ways to implement it into our lives, we have learned some great tips and tricks to make it become second nature over the past few years, and I'm excited to share them with you below!

One thing I've done over the years to help ensure an always clean home is to carry it with me. When walking from one room to another, I'm almost never empty handed, there's always a toy that needs to go back in the toy box, an item of clothing that needs to go into the laundry hamper or a dish that needs put in the dishwasher. I've found that by carrying an item or two from one room to another, it saves time later when it comes time to actually straighten the room up, and it makes straitening rooms up not as big of a project.

This is one I've been trying to remember more lately. I'm sometimes kind of bad about remembering to put things back right away after getting them out (mostly when I'm cooking or baking), but the more often I do it the easier it becomes to remember. Cleaning up while in the midst of doing whatever it is that you're doing keeps your space so much more tidy and makes less to clean up afterwards! 

I started this about 4 years ago after reading a blog post about staging your home for your life and enjoyment. The blog post said something basically along the lines of how straightening your home up every night before bed, fluffing your throw pillows, setting some nice flowers out on the table, lighting a candle during the day, etc. can make your home feel so much more put together and make life more enjoyable. Pretty much everything you would do before company arrives or before a realtor showed your home to a potential buyer, but you do it for yourself and your family. Honestly it makes such a huge difference, not only in our moods, but it just makes our home feel so much cozier. There's nothing better than waking up to a clean home every morning. By clean, I mean taking 5 to 10 minutes before you go to bed to put things in their place, toys not scattered all over the floor, throw pillows not haphazardly thrown on the sofa and no crumbs on the counter tops, what I don't mean is that you have to deep clean your entire home every single night before bed haha. 

Another way we have a cleaner home, is because I limit the number of items brought into our home, and with every new thing brought in, I try to get rid of at least one thing, possibly two depending on what the item is that has just joined our home. Last year we got all new silverware, so of course I gave away our other set because no one truly needs more than one set of flatware in their home, when we purchase clothing, I always sell or donate another piece or two that is in good condition, or toss a piece or two that has stains or holes. Every time Bella gets a new toy, I ask her to choose 1 to 2 toys to donate to children who don't have any toys, and not only is it fun because she's getting a new toy, but it also helps foster a spirit of giving in her. Personally, I only own a few pairs of socks since I never wear them often except during the winter, and I only own 6 high quality pairs of underwear which leads me to my next tip... 

Quality over quantity is something I've begun to love so much over the past few years as well. Talking about undies above, I used to own about 15 to 20 pairs, because let's face it, Walmart undies just don't last very long (they're also not comfortable at all), so eventually invested in several packages of organic cotton undies from PACT Apparel, and they have been worth every single penny not only quality-wise, but comfort-wise as well (they're soft as butter). They've lasted me almost 2 years now and before long I'll have to buy some new ones, but the life span of these are so much better than cheaper brands that only last a few months at most before losing their elasticity, getting holes or showing signs of wear. We end up saving money by purchasing higher quality pieces (even though the initial price may be more) because when you purchase higher quality items they last much longer than cheaper items. Another thing I do this with is shampoo + conditioner. I used to purchase toxin filled one that smelled amazing for cheaper but they would only last me 2 weeks or less because they didn't clean very well, then a couple of years ago, I switched to buying the more natural Jason brand shampoo + conditioner, and even though it costs more, it also lasts me 6 to 8 weeks and keeps my hair looking and feeling clean! 

Another thing that a ton of studies have been done on, and that we also know from experience as parents, the fewer toys your kids have, the happier they are (also the happier that you are). Children are more likely to play with toys if they have fewer, because having toys on toys on toys in your home creates an overwhelming sense of "I have no idea what to play with first" state of mind for them and they end up not wanting to play with any of them! Go through their toys at least once a month (I do with Bella's toys) and whatever they never play with or maybe you or a relative wanted them to love and they really didn't, donate, toss or sell. I promise they won't miss them, and while don't make a huge deal of getting rid of unwanted items to the people who gift them, also don't stress yourself about possibly hurting the feelings of relatives who gift items your child doesn't love. They don't have to live with the item sitting around being un-played with and it also creates the perfect excuse to be able to offer gift idea suggestions for next time that they'll actually love and use. Books, art supplies (crayons, paints, paper, coloring books, play-dough, etc.), pajamas and of course gift cards or money (that can be put away for when they need new clothing, etc) are some of our most favorite go-to gift ideas. One of my best friend's also creates an amazon with-list for each of her children filled with items that they'll actually love and then she sends that link to family and fiends whenever they ask about gifts for her little girls. I ended up loving the idea so much I created one for Bella too! 

This is such a huge one. I try to make our beds within an hour of getting up every morning, it makes me feel like I have such a head start on the day and get's me in mindset that I can accomplish so much more because our home feels so more put together, which in turn makes me feel more put together as a woman, wife and mom. Now if I'm being completely transparent, I don't always do it, some days I just don't feel like doing it right away, and on the days I wait longer, I get much less done that day and end up feeling kind of blah, so that's another reason I always try to do it sooner rather than later. 

It's an investment of time, even though it saves time, you do a little all day... carrying items from one room to another and put them in their rightful place when you go from room to room, instead of having to take hours to clean and organize your home. It's an investment of money at first, since you pay more upfront usually for high quality items but in the long run, it saves you money since you're not having to constantly replace broken and ruined items. And it's also an investment into you and your family's happiness and life. By owning less, you have more time to spend with the ones that matter and doing the things you love, rather than spending all of your time cleaning and straightening up. It's also a known fact and so many studies have been done on it, that the more you own and the more clutter there is, the more stressed out you (especially women) become, and I know personally that that is so true. Also, by buying less, you have more money to spend on the things you love doing, taking your family to the zoo or the museum, hiring a babysitter and going on a date night with your spouse, even be able to donate to your church or charities that are near and dear to your heart, and save up for that dream home or that kitchen remodel you've been dreaming of.

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