Category Archives: Minimalism

Step 3: Attack Problems

This is Step 3 of the Simplify Your Life Challenge! This is a general outline of the steps I am taking with my family to simplify our life and become more minimalist. If you haven’t seen them, please click through to Step 1 and Step 2 for more details!

Step 3: Attack Problems

This is where the rubber meets the road, guys. Prepare yourself, because this step is crucial and you can’t back down. This is the time to really recognize the “issues” your family struggles with and be totally honest with yourself. This is the step that will mainly focus on attitudes and how we approach parenting, and less on physical action. (Which means it could be the most difficult step of all). Keep reading, this is an important part of simplifying your life!

To attack the problems, you first need to recognize (or admit!) what they are. I made a list of some of our “problems” that I wanted desperately to address. I tried to stick to broad, overlying issues that were affecting our family’s “big picture”. This isn’t a time to list every petty complaint you have about your spouse or children, but a time to think about what small changes could make a monumental difference in the atmosphere of your home.

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Attitude & Chores:

I’m so sure that we are the only family ever to struggle with children who don’t want to do chores, right? That’s not a common issue at all! (heavy sarcasm) I was frustrated because there was constant competition between the twins with sharing the workload and almost complete belligerence from my four year old son when it came to simple tasks.
(Like, “Go wash your hands”. “No”.  Seriously? You’ve had to do this multiple times a day your whole life. You really want to fight this?! )
I knew we needed a smooth and full proof system, so I started asking friends and working on solutions.

Attitude & School:

How shocking that the second category was also related to attitude! (Perhaps, next I need to tackle the personal problem of excessive sarcasm). My older girls have the complex challenge of being identical twin girls who are also sharing the first-born role and descended from two high-stress strong (stubborn?) personality parents. Don’t you just feel like weeping for them? Seriously, I am fully convinced that my three children are going to do truly great things one day, but for now, where is the balance between loving them where they are and addressing pride issues that arise from chronic perfectionism? This has been one of the main difficulties with homeschooling and one I am fairly certain will persist in challenging me.

Attitude of Entitlement

Noticing a trend? I must begin by saying that this a family issue (well, I won’t blame my husband but I do fully implicate myself) not just something the kids deal with. Despite our very blessed life, we are all finding it difficult to have gratitude and temper our entitled expectations. I’m pretty sure this is also a universal issue among humans (and particularly Americans) but does that mean we should just accept it?

 

I will probably create more detailed posts about what we have done to improve the three areas above, but for now I will just promise you that the more you simplify your life, routines and living space, the easier it will be to actually deal with problems.

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I want to treat parenting like my life’s mission field, which means taking this job seriously and not allowing the mundane tasks of unloading the dishwasher and washing the clothes to take the place of the true battlefield that is parenting. This is about so much more than cooking and cleaning and carpools! This is about shaping the next generation and responding to God’s call on my life to glorify Him as a mom. For me, all the stuff has kept me from my calling….and I refuse to allow that to happen any more. I don’t think that minimalism is the cure to every ailment, but in my life it is making a profound difference.

Before I started down the minimalism path I felt so overwhelmed all the time that discipline issues came down to the quickest possible end to whatever was currently disturbing the peace. I had trouble actually addressing the root of problems. The more I simplify, the easier it is to focus on the big issues. We’re a work in progress, for sure, but at last I finally feel like the progress is moving forward!

I encourage you to ask yourself, what is preventing you from fulfilling your calling? What is keeping you from the greater good? Is it stuff, or commitments, or money, or work, or debt? Is it selfishness, jealousy, or pride?

 

Lessons as a New Minimalist

I’m tentatively thinking of myself as a minimalist now. It feels very strange, as if I am wearing someone else’s shoes. But I feel like I have spent enough time to warrant the title at this point. And I remind myself that minimalism is a choice I have made, not something that requires years of education, special equipment or a particular skill set.

Don’t worry, I’m not going around introducing myself to new people as a “minimalist” or ordering business cards or anything. I’m just telling myself, “it’s different now. I’m going in a new direction.” And I know this change is for real.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned a few months into my minimalism journey, in no particular order. (By the way, I used to roll my eyes at the term “journey” but now I sheepishly admit, a journey I am on and there isn’t really a better way to describe it). If it sounds snobby, please forgive me. There are times when the best words sound obnoxious, and this is one of those times.

  1. Yes, I really am materialistic. I had no idea the hold my stuff had on me, until I started to let it go. I’m still materialistic but admitting it is helping me to make better choices for the future.
  2. Our house isn’t small. I had spent so much time trying to squeeze “stuff” into my little house, I had forgotten how much space there actually is here. 1400 sq. ft. is really not that shabby for five people and one beagle.
  3. Working towards a positive goal is so much easier than giving yourself restrictions. All the times I have told myself to “stop shopping” have been difficult because the bad habit wasn’t replaced with something positive. Now that I am working toward a specific goal, I don’t miss shopping (yet). “Stop wasting money and filling the house with more and more stuff” just wasn’t working for me as a goal. “Focus on the important things and eliminate the things that get in the way” is a motto I can stick with. Maybe semantics, or maybe the secret elixir of life?less-to-clean
  4. Organizational tips can become traps. I was constantly trying to organize and constantly struggling. I had believed so much false logic in regard to organizing and I didn’t even realize it. One of my main mistakes was storing things in multiple spots. Since we had “limited space” I thought I should utilize every nook and cranny even if it meant spreading out the junk so that nothing was easy to find and I had no idea how much we actually owned.

    Then I proceeded to spend time every day searching for items that I wasn’t sure were even there to begin with. Making my life constantly frustrated.

  5. Allowing clutter is just another kind of procrastination. I am not sure where I originally read this statement but it has really stuck with me. For multiple reasons, we tend to let clutter build up even knowing we will eventually deal with it (or at worst others will deal with it). Whether it’s from guilt (“I never should have bought this”) or dread (“I’ll never really be able to get this taken care of”), we can be paralyzed. But I want to enjoy my home NOW. So no more waiting and no more putting it off for later. Seizing the day and acting can be very empowering and I love that I’m finally DEALING with issues rather than burying my head in the sand.
  6. Just because I love it, doesn’t mean I have to re-create it at home. This is something I never realized I was doing but it has been another light-bulb moment. I made choices of purchases and preferences rather randomly, based on a vague notion of re-creating things I enjoyed outside of my home. If I like eye-catching colors, I wanted them all over. If I enjoyed visiting a home with tons of tiny details, I thought maybe that’s what my house needed too. What I ended up with was a busy, eclectic combination of unrelated styles with no common thread. I have finally realized that I can go outside to enjoy nature, go to a museum to enjoy art; I could go to Cracker Barrel to peruse random collections of dusty collectibles, for Pete’s sake. I do not have to have each of these aesthetics in my home! My home is about creating a restful space for my family to re-charge so that we can go out into the world again. That takes a lot of pressure off me and helps me make decisions with clarity. 

I also have one item I would like to recommend for Friday Favorites. This is one of the cheapest diffusers I have found and we have been very pleased with it at only $12.99! Check it out here via my affiliate link!

That’s it for now! Keep simplifying, friends!

Minimalism, menus and buying in bulk

Right about when I started my official “minimalism” conversion, the much-awaited Costco opened up near me. I had been waiting for this moment for YEARS. Remember, I am a Shopaholic at heart. I was afraid Costco was going to become a major stumbling block in my journey, but that hasn’t actually been the case. In fact, buying in bulk has actually helped me simplify our meals. I never thought of cooking in a minimalist way, but now that I am devouring minimalist literature like there is no tomorrow, I’m finding that nearly every aspect of a simplified life appeals to me. With three kids, a part time job, homeschooling and all the details that come with mom-life, I’ve simplified our menu significantly. Check out some of my easy meal ideas here and here. I want to share a few ways that buying in bulk has actually helped my kitchen become more streamlined, efficient and enjoyable to my family.

I should preface this by saying that my children, especially my girls are remarkable open-minded and cheerful in their diet. All three of my kids try whatever they are given. I know that isn’t typical so some of my ideas will not apply to everyone. If you are dealing with a picky eater, you have my sympathies. My kids eat like champs but none of them ever sleep past 7 AM, if that makes you feel any better.

Also, I would like to say sorry I haven’t included any of the prices. I will try to add this info in the future for a post update.

  1. A signature salad: We have never eaten as much salad as we have this year and it’s totally due to bulk-buying. First, we buy the huge container of Organic Baby Spinach at Costco, the huge bag of Craisins, the huge bag of croutons, the huge bag of bacon bits, and we found a salad dressing we all love: Vidalia Onion Vinegrette (we are still using up this dressing from Sam’s Club, but I would like to try a similar one from Costco next). We mix the salad up in a big bowl and the girls have gotten great at gauging the perfect amount of each add-on. Since we always have these on hand, it’s great to always have a healthy side ready to pull out. (Note: sometimes we throw in other veggies or strawberries or cashews. The nice thing is that the base “recipe” is very simple and shelf-stable. I realize the dressing could be healthier, but I’m striving for small steps. Eating a big pile of organic spinach is still a win, in my book. Also, I’m convinced that when a salad is properly tossed in a large bowl, much less dressing is used.)
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  2. Beans & Rice: Sorry to mention it again, but it is still a favorite for the Prescotts and it is so crazy easy in the Instant Pot. At Costco, we can buy pretty much all the ingredients in bulk and just have that recipe ready to make any given day. We have loved having a HUGE bag of black beans and a HUGE bag of rice on hand all the time. minimalism-and-buyingbulk
  3. Parfaits as a main course: I totally get that this doesn’t appeal to everyone, but for my kids it’s like they’ve won the lottery. From their response, you would think we were giving them ice cream sundaes for dinner when it’s actually: vanilla yogurt, strawberries, blueberries and/or bananas and granola. We really like the big double bags of granola from Costco and they are insanely cheap compared to granola at the regular grocery store.
  4. Limited Options: One more mindset-shift that fits in nicely with minimalism and bulk-buy is limiting options. Now, I know this sounds like a negative thing, but please bear with me. As parents, most of us bend over backwards providing for our children. We want them to have the best of everything that they might want or need and we want them to have all the choices in the world. One thing I have really been working on in an effort to cultivate contentment in our home is limiting our options.
    Examples: instead of having crackers and cheese, tortilla chips with salsa, potato chips, popcorn and pretzels all in my pantry at once, I am aiming for one main snack for the week (or shopping period). Instead of filling the fridge with all the veggies and fruits, we can maybe have pineapple and carrots this week, apples and broccoli next week. (The exception is bananas, we try to always keep those on hand for smoothies and snacking). This is something new for us, but so far it’s working pretty well and there is less produce wasted. This is so much easier than constantly feeling like I need to provide an entire buffet & salad bar of healthy options for the kids at all times. (When I tried to do this, produce was becoming so wasted and I was exhausted from prepping food or guilty when I handed them a Popsicle instead of prepping the rapidly-expiring food. Live and learn.)

chalkboard-magnetic-menuOne last quick thing and it’s an affiliate link for a product I have really loved having! We ordered this HUGE chalkboard style magnetic menu for our fridge and we have really enjoyed it. It totally helps me to have a cute visual reminder of the menu plan for the week and I’ve used the grocery list spot a lot as well. The magnet is super strong and it goes so well with our other chalkboard items in the kitchen.

What are your thoughts on bulk buying and minimalism?

 

Minimalism Journey Ramblings

When I re-branded my blog a few months ago, I wasn’t 100% sure where my posts would take me. I knew that I wanted to write and that I loved connecting with others through blogging. I was determined that this blog wouldn’t fade into the past (like so many have before), and that I would stick with this project. I painstakingly chose the title “Chasing Santee” after a place that is incredibly dear to my heart. I wrote the tagline “sweet and simple things of life” because I knew that’s where my heart was and where I hoped to take the blog. At that moment, though, I had no idea how I would get there or where Chasing Santee would lead.

At the time, I felt like my “niche” was shopping and finding deals. It had been such a big part of my life and a hobby I had enjoyed for a very long time. It was something I was good at, which I sometimes admitted sheepishly. I didn’t really love the fact that my talent was tied so closely to material things, and really didn’t line up with my personal values.  Even though it didn’t perfectly mesh with the “simple things”, I kept sharing the deals as I hunted them down. This was what my audience wanted, I assumed. This was what I enjoyed?

In an unanticipated metamorphosis I could hardly follow, I began to realize my perspective was changing. Slowly, at first, then much more akin to a rock slide, I began to reject some of the ideas I had been repeating to myself for years. “That purchase will make my life easier”. “This system will improve our day to day struggles”. “If only I had __________ I could better enjoy ____________.” I started to feel like I was finally waking up from a hazy dream where I just wasn’t seeing clearly. One minute I was stressed, overwhelmed and defeated. The next minute I was committed to becoming a minimalist.I was optimistic and confident. I can hardly imagine a more unexpected change.

When I started the Simplicity Challenge, I really wanted to call it the minimalism challenge. But I felt like that was too drastic, too extreme, and that maybe my readers would doubt my sincerity.  I was afraid to commit, knowing once I typed it in cold hard Helvetica 12, I wouldn’t be able to go back.  It felt like a decision too big for me, almost like moving my entire family across the country. Were we ready for this?

To say my mindset was transformed does not seem like an over-statement. I want to be authentic as a writer, so I truly try to live out my thoughts of changes of direction before writing. So you can know that I have been pondering this for awhile. Is it too much to say that God led me in this direction? Is it off-base to feel that by changing in this way I am closer to the heart of Scripture?

I know that only time will tell or prove that I have experienced a true change of heart. I am in no way preaching, or even suggesting this is the right change for anyone but myself. However, I am stunned at the weight that I have felt lifted in the last month. I never imagined a shift in perspective would change me so much.

If I were a really good blogger, I would have been taking before & after pics and vlogging every day and making tons of posts from each step of this process to help encourage everyone and motivate myself. But the truth is, I’m slamming through this process so quickly the thrift store can hardly keep up with me. I haven’t taken before pictures and I am not ready to post after pictures. I haven’t really made it to the point where I am able to give advice (but I will try anyway). I’m moving so quickly that I am a little dizzy.

My ultimate goal is to get our home to the point that I can photograph every nook and cranny of it. That I can know what we have and where we have it. That I can know the things we have kept are being used or bringing joy to us. That our possessions are actually getting us closer to our goals as a family. That we aren’t being hindered or held back by upkeep and cleaning. I want to be able to open my home at the drop of a hat and not feel that my stuff is in the way of people. Yes, in the past my stuff has been in the way of me fully loving my family and my friends and expressing the love of God to strangers.

Let me repeat this: In the past: jump ropes, crumb-filled toasters, building blocks, dog-eared books, tangles of costume jewelry, scratched CDs, dusty vases, stacks of photos, piles of unworn clothes, all of these THINGS have interfered with my opportunities to LOVE PEOPLE. And my heart is really broken about this.

To be continued

A season of change: minimalism/simplicity thoughts & resources

Happy Labor Day  to you all!

I am still struggling to spend the time blogging that I’d like to, but I have been taking a brief time out to read, watch and think about simplicity/minimalism and what changes we want to make towards that end. I’m feeling super conspired (yep: convicted + inspired = conspired).

The last month has probably been our smoothest month of chores and household duties ever. The house has stayed neater and the girls have really done a great job stepping up with our new chore system (blog post to come). It’s been a lot of ground work (planning, list-making, reminders, etc) but we have been enjoying the benefits. Also, this has been our smoothest school transition ever and we have fallen into homework assignments, schedules and new curriculum with much more ease than in years past. (There have been a few tears, but MUCH less turmoil than anticipated. We are still human, and three of us are female).

In addition to that, we have joined a family group with our church that has been a true answer to prayer (especially for me). The truth is, parenting really put us in survival mode….a decade ago. I believe that’s a normal family phase but for various reasons we are just now pulling out of it. You heard me: ten years later. I could go on about this, but by God’s grace I do not live in the past. I am right now so grateful that God has helped us find the resources we needed to plug back in to the body of Christ, and it has been incredibly refreshing. We are also going through a wonderful series at church that I am honestly on the edge of my seat listening to; I mean, can’t wait to get to church, taking furious notes, thinking about it all week kind of sucked in. Like, praying to God to help me soak it all in kind of good stuff. I feel like I have been thirsty for way too long. I’m so so grateful!

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Finally, I feel like I am ready to work harder at being the best mom and wife I can be (rather than just managing to survive the rat-race of life). It’s very overwhelming, but I also know it’s the right thing! (note to self: the right thing doesn’t mean the easy thing). Deep breaths, this won’t be easy.

I have danced with the idea of minimalism for years. It appealed to me for it’s educational benefits, it’s mental benefits, it’s hygienic benefits; but I’m just starting to seek what the spiritual benefits could be for us. And I don’t mean becoming a yogi with a candle in the middle of a stark-white room, seeking enlightenment.

What I mean is, could shedding excess STUFF in my life equip me to better seek and serve God with all of my heart???? For me the answer is  undeniable, obvious, and crystal clear:

Yes.

I know that many of you are on the same page. If you are interested in this idea of having LESS for God, here are some of the resources I have been studying over the last few weeks.

Please read this article, it is so very thought provoking for me. (How Getting Rid of Stuff Saved my Motherhood by Allie Casazza). This isn’t a faith-based article, but as a Christian mama I’m still mega conspired by this. (Note: I do realize I am mis-using this word, but I would like to point out that my definition is much better than the common use, so I will continue).

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. To my memory this is also a secular book, but very inspirational and something I constantly reference mentally. I need to read it again in light of a new phase of parenting tweens.

Christian Faith & Minimalism from Nourishing Minimalism. Short and too the point. This article helps us ask ourselves, “what if?”

I have recently joined a minimalist/motherhood facebook group and I am loving the food for thought that is constantly tossed around. I was completely captivated by one mama’s statement about what minimalism had done for her family. Her statement was very simple, but so impactful to me: (paraphrasing) “minimalism allowed our family to adopt.” Period.

I don’t know what my family’s whole story will be. I don’t know if we will live all our days in this tiny house. I don’t know if we will continue to homeschool. At this time, it seems our family is complete and will not include any more children. Nothing is set it stone, we do not know what the future holds. BUT I know that God is not finished with us. I know that we have more glory to bring to Him yet. I know that we have more to give. I know that we have more worship, more love, and more to learn of His amazing grace. 

If having less stuff enables me to give MORE, then what is stopping me?

What if God wants LESS from me?

I would love to hear from you on this topic.