Tag Archives: Simplify

Step 2: Assess Needs

Welcome to Step 2 of the Simplify Your Life Challenge! If you haven’t followed these posts, you can find the Introduction here and click here for Step 1. Step 1 was a long post and an even longer assignment. Eliminating excess is usually a huge undertaking. So moving on to Step 2 doesn’t mean we stop working on Step 1! Keep eliminating excess and simplifying your life one donation at a time!

Step 2 Assess Needs

What are your family’s true needs? In discussing simplicity and organizing, someone made a comment on Facebook along the lines of this: “First, deal with the basic needs of your family: make sure sleeping, eating, bathing and laundry are covered”. I took that comment to heart and went back to the basics and the actual necessities of life. What do you need to address your family’s needs?

For instance, we were storing the dog food in the bag, rolled up with a plastic clip. It was messy and took extra time. I went right out and bought a large storage container that pours. Why didn’t I do that long ago? Mostly because my life was too chaotic to focus on areas of improvement. Once I began to eliminate the excess I could focus better on solving household problems and addressing true needs.

More examples that I discovered of “needs” in my home:

Coffee. I make coffee every single day, sometimes twice a day. It’s an absolute necessity, yet I had made the process ridiculously complicated through poor planning. My coffee pot was on the far right of my counter. About 6 feet over, my coffee filters were in an upper left cabinet. On the total other side of the room, my coffee was stored in my (child-locked) pantry. I wasted time and steps every single day making coffee and never even thought about it. There was so much excess in my home that I couldn’t even identify the problem areas right in front of me! I solved the issue  by putting all the coffee items together beneath the coffee maker. DUH. Now every morning I appreciate the lack of total stupidity that was previously ruining a good thing.

step 2 towels

Bathing. Bathing wasn’t exactly a problem area, but I realized it needed some attention. I hadn’t evaluated our basic hygiene routine in awhile so I pulled up good ole’ EWG/skin deep. I admit I had been procrastinating this step because I knew some of our products weren’t going to rate well and I was right. No more Suave blissfully cheap coconut conditioner, and no more using whatever cheap soap is around. We have officially switched to Babyganics line of bath products, which tends to rate low (which is good) at EWG. (I can personally recommend the bubble bath, shampoo/body wash, hand sanitizer, and lotion). For conditioner, I needed a product that was relatively inexpensive (we go through a lot), and relatively healthy. For now we are trying RenPure Originals (which is free of sodium chloride, sulfates, dyes, parabans, salts and gluten). It is rated 3 on EWG, which isn’t terrible and that’s good enough for me since it satisfied my other big wish: a PUMP bottle. Now we have all the products we need and have discarded all the products we aren’t using. The kids can help themselves with the pumps and the bathroom is de-cluttered. I also have to re-recommend color-coded towels which is such a big sanity saver! Each child has a color, all towels stay on their hooks until I grab them 1-2 per week to wash.

Some questions to ask yourself as you work on Simplicity at each step:

What items should be eliminated all together?

What items need to be moved to another room?

What do I like/dislike about this room and living/working in it?

What items are stored elsewhere but are needed here?

If I was walking into this room for the first time, what would I think?

Step 1: Eliminate Excess

If you missed the introduction to the Simplify Your Life Challenge, please check it out here. To make a long story short, I am simplifying to help manage my stress and household, so that I can focus on what really matters to me. I have a lot going on and I need the absolute best way to help my family succeed at life!

Simplicity to me means not just successfully surviving but thriving!

You can join the challenge by subscribing to my blog to keep up with each step. At the end of each step we will have a challenge and I would love it if you would join me and post your own progress! (Bonus points for any pictures you can take of your simplification status!) Now on to Step 1 and it probably won’t surprise you:

Step 1: Eliminate excess

 In 2012 I did a challenge with some friends to get rid of 2012 items that year. It was such an eye opener as I realized just how much excess our 1400 square foot home had. That was when I really began to acknowledge my issues with shopping and how the “stuff” was stifling us. What I learned that year really helped me to have confidence in getting rid of stuff this time around.

In a similar way this summer I have been going through every single room and purging, purging, purging. Ruthlessly selling, trashing, re-homing. I’m taking a hard look at items, making sure they are serving enough of a purpose to earn their keep. If not, out they go. For example,  in my living room, I had 10 throw pillows. TEN! On only two sofas .The truth was, every day was frustrating because they ended up on the floor. There wasn’t room for PEOPLE on the sofa! How many do we need? Not ten!


The key here is purpose. I have lots of items that are useful (as in they can be used with success) but if they’ve been collecting dust on a shelf or packed away in a closet they do not have a purpose. Think of all the “gadgets” in your kitchen. Which ones are you actually putting to good use? Sometimes this means getting rid of perfectly good, useful items when you realize that the space and clarity they leave behind is more valuable than the footprint they occupy and the chaos they  collectively contribute.

I feel obligated to mention the wildly popular book by Marie Kondo: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I have read it, and I do recommend it for gaining perspective on clutter and minimalism. At the same time, I feel that her method introduces the risk of an extreme and almost compulsive distaste for possessions. I’m also somewhat uncomfortable with the animism that she endorses.

While helpful, her tag phrase: “Does it spark joy?” has encouraged many hilarious memes of housewives discarding their credit card bills and sweeping their homes of all vegetables or dirty laundry. After all, can everything really spark joy?

Well, what if everything around you truly did spark joy or contribute to a joyful existence? How would that change your life?

(Here is a post on whether or not Konmari really makes sense for families. I found the comments really helpful also)

If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend the book Simplicity Parenting. I read it when I first started my parenting journey and I still think about it years later. It so beautifully explains how less is more in the eyes of children and how we can raise them with the gift of simplicity.


This has by far been my most ruthless and therefore productive purging round, and I have to tell you that I am really happy with the results. If you are overwhelmed with where to start, I suggest  either A) attacking room by room or B) attacking category by category.

If you want to get rid of items but are worried about needing them later, packing them into storage or the attic might be a good idea. Oftentimes it will be clear when you retrieve them a few months later whether or not they bring value to your home.

My advice is to find a charity or cause that you really care about and if possible, donate your items to that cause. It’s easier for me to let go of items knowing they are going where they are truly needed. An alternative is to host a yard sale and donate the proceeds to your charity of choice. Sometimes a “higher purpose” is all you need to encourage yourself to purge.

Remind yourself that this first step, though overwhelming, will allow every subsequent step to go more smoothly. This could be an EPIC Weekend project or an ongoing, daily effort but either way keep your eye on the prize. Enlist help, get the kids involved, and don’t give up!


Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

10 Tips for De-cluttering by Peter Walsh (quick read with great tips for beginners!)

How to Declutter your Entire Home Going Room by Room by Elizabeth Larkin (awesome resource with clickable guides to help focus on results!)

Eliminate Excess Challenge:

Choose one room and commit to really eliminating all the excess from it. Look around and imagine how this room would look if it was void of any items that don’t spark joy or add value. Grab some boxes and bags and get to work!

Be sure to check out the other posts in this series:

Simplify Your Life Challenge


Simplify Your Life Challenge

As I approach Fall 2016 with the goal of “Simplicity”, I’m not going to lie: I’m scared. I know that I’m getting in over my head. Homeschooling is a huge responsibility and parenting doesn’t get any easier as the kids get older. So this year requires quite a bit of prayer, committing my efforts to the Lord, and surrendering the outcome. I am reminded that these children aren’t mine, they belong to our Heavenly Father! I’m very grateful for friends who have helped me to see this truth more clearly with their faithful, open-handed approach to parenthood.

(I am so, so slow at learning this truth: yes, He entrusted them to me, but they are HIS treasures, not mine).

In light of the “Fall Fear Factor”, I am working every single day at improving our routine and getting things set up for the School Year. The girls will be in 4th grade (I can hardly believe it), I’m writing on a daily basis, I will be working two days a week, my youngest demands constant attention and money is tight so we can’t afford to pay for convenience. I am also trying to work on diet and exercise for myself and cutting WAY down on shopping as a “hobby”. Here’s a post for BargainBabe that talks about my shift from Shopaholic to more of a minimalist (these are baby steps, for sure).

I’m tired of being pushed around by my responsibilities. I’m ready to push back.

Through this process, I’m seeking a more harmonious schedule that works for us, rather than the schedule working me to death (or just leaving me incredibly defeated).

I have gone through each room carefully and thoughtfully with the long-term goal in mind of cutting down on chaos and complications and smoothing out the day to day. I want to share with you some of my ideas and some resources that I found helpful.


I want to mention right from the get-go that I am not an expert on organization, simplicity, home management, or discipline. Quite the opposite: these are areas that I really struggle with. Because these are weak points for me, I am working hard to improve them. In the past, I have realized blogging about my goals has really helped me to stick with the plan. So the “Simplify Your Life Challenge” is mostly for me as I work on improving our daily routine and seek simplicity! I hope some of you will be inspired to do the same, or at least encouraged that you are not alone if you struggle with this! In the next few posts, I’ll be getting down to the nitty-gritty of simplifying and challenging myself to commit.

Please SUBSCRIBE to my blog (top right corner) to join this challenge and get all of the Simplify Challenge emails right in your inbox!


This is one of my favorite books about parenting and just life pursuits in general! It’s one that has really stuck with me nearly a decade after first reading it. Wherever you are in your parenting journey, I think you could benefit from reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

My Pinterest Board! If you would like to be added as a contributor to this board, please email me at leahprescott@gmail.com. I’d love your feedback on Simplicity and what your goals are as well!