Tag Archives: Wants and Needs

What’s In My Hospital Bag for Baby #3

It’s nice to have some extra clothes and home comforts in the hospital with you when it’s time to deliver your baby. And of course there are the things you need, which is actually a lot less than you might think (especially for a baby born during warm weather).

I’m speaking from the vantage point of delivering a baby in a hospital as opposed to anywhere else because a hospital is where I birthed my previous two babies and plan to birth my third. I really have no idea what other situations might be like or the accessories they might entail. Judging from experience, I like how easy my hospital makes it for me.

First, a list of what is in my bag.

The Essentials

  • A postpartum outfit. For me, this summer, this means maternity waisted (as in not full-panel elastics) shorts and maternity waisted jeans (I highly doubt I’ll wear the jeans, but who knows, maybe there will be a cool night); a loose v-neck t-shirt; and one nursing bra. I will have the shoes I wear to the hospital – either sandals or flip-flops. A nice summer dress would also do nicely, but I’m wearing them constantly pre-delivery and I don’t want to take even one out of rotation to make sure it’s clean and packed and ready to go.
  • 2 outfits for the baby. Outfit 1: A Newborn Size short-sleeve onesie; tiny shorts; a thin cotton hat; and Outfit 2: a Size 0-3 Months short-sleeve shorts romper; with previously mentioned thin cotton hat.
  • Baby mittens. So the silly baby doesn’t scratch himself up with his newly exposed fingernails.
  • 2 thin baby blankets. Many people take the blanket from the hospital, but they really don’t want you to. I use hospital blankets whenever possible, however, so if they get messy they will be laundered right away. I wrap my newborn in one blanket for a while and then send it home with visiting family so they can introduce the scent of the new family member to our cats. The other thin baby blanket should be more than enough to keep the baby warm if his outfits aren’t enough.
  • Extra contact case and solution. I am in the habit of removing and cleaning my contacts every night and I suspect my eyes would hate it if I kept them in for 2-3 days straight in the hospital. I just don’t like sleeping with contacts in either. I want to be able to put them back in during the day, though, because my glasses aren’t comfortable enough to wear all day.
  • Eyeglasses and case. Okay, these aren’t technically in my bag yet because I still wear them every night. But I have a Post-it Note next to my bag reminding me to grab them out of my nightstand before leaving for the hospital. As it gets closer to my due date, I will just store them in my hospital bag, taking them out for whenever I need to use them at night.
  • My purse. This includes my wallet with all necessary ID, insurance cards, and money, and my cell phone.

The Comforts

  • Nursing pads. At home I use washable organic cotton nursing pads. A cousin had given me a box of disposable ones that I kept forgetting to use at home when Pigpen was nursing. I’m packing them mostly so they’ll get used, and somewhat because I think they might be convenient to have.
  • Cell phone charger.
  • Camera and charger.

Now a list of things I am not bringing.

  • Diapers/feminine pads/disposable underwear. The hospital provides all we need and more to take home with us.
  • Toiletries. The hospital provides it all. And I’ve actually never showered in the 2 days spent at the hospital after giving birth. I’m too busy sleeping, nursing, interacting with doctors and nurses, and generally recovering. I’ve already established that I don’t need to shower very often to feel good. You may want to shower, but the hospital should provide all you need to do so.
  • Slippers or socks. My hospital provides comfy, fuzzy, grip-y socks with my gown as soon as I get a room.
  • Baby socks. Summer here is quite warm and, again, the baby blanket can pick up any slack.
  • Book or magazine and journal. I’ve brought these before and never used them. During the day, I’m busy. At night, I try to sleep. For entertainment, I talk with my husband or we watch the luxury of cable tv, which we don’t have at home.
  • Snacks. The hospital provides me with all the food I need. Andrew isn’t included in the meal plan, but that’s up to him. I’ve got enough to worry about. If I get hungry, I send Andrew out to bring me extra food.
  • iPod.

All that I am bringing fits in a medium-sized backpack with room to spare. I am a minimalist so I am not bringing much. But I will definitely have everything I need. I’ve learned I don’t need other “comforting” items, because as long as my husband is there and my baby is healthy, I’m good.

2-3 days is not a long time and there is actually a lot to do. Mind you, I believe that rest is a very important thing to do in the hospital. (Especially before we bring our tiny new infant home to two toddlers.) I don’t need my hospital room to emulate a luxurious hotel room or spa experience to accomplish the simple act of resting. We are there to get our baby safely from my belly into the world and to ensure he’s healthy enough to go home. Then we get comfortable, in our family home, together.

The Fear of Downsizing… My Computer

What if it’s not enough? What if I can’t do what I need to do? What if I can’t do what I want to do? Is it even worth the investment? Should I wait for something bigger or better to present itself? What if it’s not what I expect? What if it’s not enough?

I am in need of a new computer and I have made the choice to downsize. And I’m a little scared.

I have owned 2 personal computers in my life. My first experience with a computer was a Gateway desktop, with dial-up internet. Man, I loved playing in that cow-colored box. Next, when I was in high school, my parents bought me my own black Dell desktop that I kept in my room. We got better internet in that era and it was awesome. And finally in January 2006, after a semester of excellent attendance and grades in college, my parents bought me a sleek white MacBook.

I love this MacBook. It has served me very well in the past 11 years and 5 months. And it’s still going! I debate getting rid of it at all, but, truth be told, it’s just getting too outdated. Can I use it for what I need to do? Yes, most of the time.

Here’s the deal.

  • I don’t have much storage space. I store all of my music on an external hard drive because there is no room on my actual computer. Same for photos. So then I just started storing all documents on the external hard drive, too. All of the storage space on this computer is basically used in a way so the computer itself will function — it’s not storing any of my personal files anymore.
  • The battery is pretty much dead. I need to keep this computer plugged in all the time when I am using it. It will stay on for a few minutes between outlets if I need to move it, but that’s it. This has essentially made my laptop into a desktop for the last 5 years. I just never got around to replacing the battery and now it seems too late.
  • I always need to keep this laptop open. I mean, physically keep the screen up. There is some sort of loose wire in the hinge and whenever I close the laptop, it is very, very, difficult to open it again and still see the screen. I can see an extremely faint outline of items on the screen, but it is essentially black. It can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to finagle the screen back up with a back-lit picture showing. So I just leave it open all the time to avoid that hassle. But that creates other hassles, like dust collecting in the keyboard and cats stepping on it and opening unexpected windows and menus.
  • It just can’t handle another update. I needed to update my operating system about 2 years ago to be able to connect to our wireless printer. This took up even more storage space and was not compatible with a lot of my software, such as Microsoft Office. I’ve been able to get along just fine without the software, thanks to things like Google Docs and online photo editors. But even though I just updated the operating system, this system is not supported for many other updates, including, most importantly for me, Google Chrome. Sadly, the hardware of this system just can’t support another operating system update and it doesn’t seem worth the money to essentially rebuild it with components that will.

I would love to replace this MacBook with the current equivalent, but now that the money is coming out of my pocket, I think, that starting at around $1,200, it’s too expensive. We have student loan debt and a mortgage and home repair debt. We could take some of our income and put it towards a new MacBook, but it just doesn’t make sense to me if it’s going to slow down our debt repayments. Even if we had no debt… well, maybe I would buy a MacBook then… but really I would want to do even more home improvements — like finish our attic and basement to better utilize the space we already have.

So I decided not to buy another MacBook. Thus began my quest to find a suitable replacement. One that didn’t run Windows (I really dislike the Windows operating system). Eventually, for $214, I decided on getting a Chromebook… And that’s where the major downsizing came in.

I am losing some functionality, but I think I can make it work. (I hope it works!) It satisfies 3 out of the 4 problems listed above with my current MacBook — it’ll have a new battery with a long life, it will be mobile, and it will technologically up-to-date. The thing is, it still doesn’t have much storage space.

Chromebooks are designed to have most, if not all, digital matter stored in the Cloud. I’m a little weary of storing everything on the internet, but I do still have my external hard drive to store back-ups and super personal files. My husband has a Toshiba laptop running Windows to which I will transfer my iTunes account, since one cannot run iTunes on an Chromebook at all. I fear that not having my very own iTunes will be the thing I miss the most — after all, I’ve already been dealing with no storage space and loss of software for a few years now — but it will definitely be manageable.

There’s probably a lot more that even my current obsolete MacBook can do that a Chromebook cannot, but when I really thought about it, I decided I didn’t really need it. I asked myself “What do I use my computer for on a day-today basis?” and “What do I want to use it for in the future?”

Right now, I basically use my computer for the internet — things like online banking, email, domestic shopping, connecting to the library, searching for information, reading blogs, etc. — and a Chromebook should be ace at allowing me to do all that.

In the future, I want to do more writing. It certainly does not take a powerful computer to do word processing, so a Chromebook should manage fine. I will have to give up Scrivener, but as much as I like Scrivener, I am looking forward to the simplicity of writing without all the bells and whistles. Like, a typewriter has been seeming very appealing to me lately — no distractions. A Chromebook will be full of internet distractions, but I can also just physically disconnect from that for a while.

There are lots of other things that I’ve used a computer for in the past, like editing videos and photos, but I’ve grown away from them and have no desire to go back to it. I have a family now and want to spend more time with them and less time in front of a screen. And since I’ll be sharing iTunes with my husband, maybe that’ll bring us closer, too, ha. I’m diving in — the Chromebook should arrive in the mail sometime next week — and I’ll just see how it goes.

Hopefully it’s enough.

Debt Feelings

I hate debt. Our family experienced a hardship a few months ago in the form of a car crash last October. We are all healthy and well, which I am super thankful for, but our finances took a hit and it’s been a hard battle getting back on top again.

My husband and I usually never carry credit card balances, but we have $3,000 worth of credit card debt right now and it is really weighing down on us. Not only are we stressed out, but we feel a bit hopeless. I feel stuck on a hamster wheel of work, work, working toward paying it off and yet we’re not getting anywhere.

There are a few unfortunate circumstances and mistakes that have put us in this position.

First, of course, was the car crash. We lost the value of the car we crashed, we had to pay towing and other varying reparations, and we had to buy a new car. That totaled at about $9,600. (Ugh, it’s painful to see it written out here.) That wiped out our meager savings and then some.

Then, it was Christmas and the whole holiday season in general. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get comfortable financially during that time of year and I just can’t seem to manage it. We don’t spend a lot on gifts, but we do get some things. Like, I bought the clothes Wingnut and Pigpen needed for Christmas because I still feel this obligation to have something under the tree for them (I want to get rid of that nagging feeling of duty). We get a tree, we go to parties, we go out with friends. It’s a season of celebration and it cost us money. Money we didn’t have.

Next, Andrew and I needed some clothes, too. He really needed new sneakers. The soles on his old ones were smooth with wear and his socks got wet in the rain. So we went shopping. I also bought some clothes I “needed”. That is in quotations because I did kind of need the stuff I bought. I am wearing them all now and getting tons of use out of them. I am very happy and satisfied with the purchases. The only problem was: we bought them on credit. I bought these wonderful pieces of clothing without the cash to do so. And if I am really truly honest with myself, although my old clothes were uncomfortable and deteriorating, I really could’ve gotten by without buying new. The old stuff was falling apart, but it was still keeping me warm.

The anxiety I’m feeling now, makes me wish I was more discerning then. But then that’s the problem with credit — it’s easy to justify purchases because it’s so easy to swipe the card. We can afford this swipe and this swipe and this swipe, but not all these swipes together. Because even if the purchases are perfectly legitimate, we still didn’t have the money to buy them. And I don’t know, that makes me feel poor.

And now I get into the controversial bit. I really don’t think I’m poor because we have a house and eat pretty well and have an annual income pretty dead-center in the average range for middle-class households of 3 in New Jersey (although we are a household of 4). But when you calculate in our debt, it starts to look a lot more dire.

We already paid off about 50% of our student loan debt, which is awesome. But the remaining balances are 71% of our annual income, which is definitely not awesome. They come out to be 26% of our monthly budget. Our mortgage is another 25% of our monthly budget, leaving less than half for all other living expenses, like food, heat, and transportation. Which brings our annual income clearly below what is considered middle-class, but still not technically under the federal poverty line.

Truthfully, I grew up comfortably middle-class, maybe even upper middle-class, and I’m just not used to saying no to a new coat when my current one is falling apart. But this winter, that’s how it’s been for us. It’s a personal experience and it hasn’t been pleasant for us. We’re stressed and despairing. I believe that we will get out of debt, but the wait is excruciating. I’m hoping to at least get these credit cards paid off within the next month or two and I hope that’s realistic because I really, really want it gone. Then it’s back to work building up our emergency savings before we can even think about tackling any more student loans.

Having debt sucks. I want to feel free and content and comfortable buying things we need. I want to feel secure in our finances, especially our savings, in case we experience another hardship. Regardless of whether we are or not, I don’t want to feel poor. I don’t want thousands and thousands of dollars of debt hanging over my head. I don’t want to be overdrawn or in perpetual service to indebtedness.

And to do that honestly, I think I’ll need to reevaluate my standard of living.

Some Thoughts on Minimal Privilege

About a year ago, I wrote about increasing satisfaction through deprivation. I tried my best to turn a difficult situation into something from which to learn and grow. I wanted to feel good about a state of lack and so I decided to be appreciative.

Last night, the blower on our furnace broke down. We had no heat, save for a small space heater we borrowed to keep the children’s bedroom warm (Andrew and I piled on blankets to stay warm while we slept), while a snow storm blew outside.
During the day, with the snow falling harder, the space heater actually did a pretty good job of keeping the house warm while we waited for an available HVAC technician to come take a look at our furnace. The temperature in the house never even dipped below 60°F.
As we endured this slight inconvenience, I kept thinking about what I wrote about in my Increasing Satisfaction Through Deprivation post and I didn’t feel as comfortable with it. I mean, I think it still has its merits, but since I read a guest post on Becoming Minimalist about Minimal Privilege, I just haven’t been able to think about it in the same way.
All of us are permitted to have our own feelings and experiences. My experiences are not less valid because someone else experiences something harder. But being aware of what others may be going through is a powerful concept. I feel less flippant about using deprivation as a tool — using my privilege to choose how and when to deprive myself — when it is a real life struggle for some people.
I sometimes feel bogged down by our debt, but I don’t really have to worry about having enough food for my family or having the electric cut off or being able to keep the family warm enough. We are quite fortunate and it will serve me well to remember that.
It’s also good for me to remember that others may not be as fortunate as myself so I can do what I can to help, whether that be by donating to charities, helping a friend, or by being more mindful during conversations.

The Importance of Rest

I’m not an expert on anything. But I do know that when it comes to myself (I guess I am kind of an expert on myself), rest is key.

For me, the daily rest I need is at least 7 hours, preferably 8 hours, or sleep per night. But when I’m feeling exhausted, I need to take a break — even if it’s just sitting on the couch for 5 minutes. Rest is the only thing that can properly recharge me.

Now that I’m pregnant with my third child (surprise!), rest is even more important. Hurray naps! And we all need to remember to pay attention to any special situations that may require more rest for our bodies.

For example, when we’re sick, especially with something as seemingly harmless as a cold, we sometimes kind of just power through it. We acknowledge we’re sick, feel miserable, maybe take some drugs, and then slog through so our daily lives aren’t interrupted. We may want to just magically feel better, but we need to take care of ourselves.

I think this may be because we’re afraid of seeming weak, or asking for help, or just dealing with an inconvenience in our lives. But the truth is, sometimes we just need rest. Science has come a long way, but there is still no substitute for some good, solid, rest.

And, man, do we need it sometimes. Let’s give it to ourselves! Just like our bodies need food, water, and activity, they need rest. Let’s not forget this important part of our lively balance. Sometimes, I even schedule it right into my day.

Remember, balance is poise — a graceful and elegant bearing in a person.

Over 45 Baby Things We Didn’t Need

Expecting a baby can be scary because you may not have any idea or frame of reference for what to expect. I know I didn’t. So when Andrew and I were expecting our first baby, we did a Baby Registry. (I also hadn’t heard of minimalism yet.)

We were the first of our friends and semi-extended family to get pregnant so we couldn’t expect a lot of hand-me-downs. Without knowing what having a baby would be like, we followed the big box store’s Baby Registry Buying Guide to make sure we had everything we could possibly need to care for our hypothetical baby. Two actual babies later, I’ve been able to see that we didn’t need a lot of what the store said we would.

Sleep/Bedroom Nursery

  • matching furniture – we were gifted a beautiful crib and glider that we use everyday. We got a secondhand changing table, bookshelf (for toys), side table (which we don’t really need, but is nice for holding a plant and a glass of water for me during nursing), and toddler bed. The closet attached to the room is more than ample for their clothes.
  • matching crib bedding – we used a breathable crib bumper (only from 0-9 mo.) and just 2 sheets per baby. We were gifted so many blankets we donated a bunch. We kept only a lightweight and heavyweight blanket each (we like homemade crocheted blankets from family the best).
  • waterproof mattress covers – most crib mattresses are waterproof anyway. Ours is. So we got rid of the covers and cut down on a lot of laundry.
  • sheet saver – again, just another piece of laundry to wash. And I worried about it as a suffocation hazard.
  • wearable blankets/sleep sacs/structured swaddlers – muslin blankets satisfied the purposes of all of those things. And don’t worry, with practice, you will get better at wrapping a swaddle.
  • table lamps – our ceiling fan/light is extremely useful and out of the way; a nightlight is nice for late-night feedings or diaper changes; but table lamps can be a space-eating hazard
  • any decor – babies don’t care. They want to see their parents’ faces, and that’s it… well except for some breasts or a bottle. We have decorated our boys’ rooms over the years with posters that have come with books or DVDs.
  • mobile/white noise machine – yes, the mobile is very cute, but we only used it a handful of times and didn’t really need it.

Diapering/Bathing

  • wipe warmer – superfluous
  • wipe dispenser – extra-superfluous. Wipes have their own dispensing mechanism built-in. I’ve never had wipes in the pack dry out on me and I’m not even careful.
  • changing pad cover – we used these because we had them, but the changing pad is waterproof so it is easily cleaned without the extra piece of laundry
  • changing pad saver – again, just more laundry
  • 6-8 baby bath towels – we have 4 (for 2 boys), but now I’m thinking we could have just used our regular bath towels.
  • 10-12 wash cloths – we have 6 and don’t need that many.
  • grooming kit – we only used the baby nail clippers
  • air purifier – I believe that babies should learn to breath the same air as everyone else; it builds strong lungs
  • baby bathrobe – cute on the hanger, but I don’t even know what it would’ve looked like on my babies… we never got it on them. Being wrapped up in a towel was always good enough. And just easier.
  • dental care – wait until your baby has teeth, then your dentist will give you what you need for free
  • tub faucet cover – I don’t understand why this would ever be needed. Because it’s cute? Look at your baby – I bet he or she is 1,000x cuter.

Travel

  • car seat saver – I’m not even entirely sure what this is exactly, but it sounds like more laundry
  • sun shade – We use a blanket with little babies and sunglasses for our toddler.
  • mirror – We registered and received one, but it did not work out very well. First, it was hard to find a good place for it in our car. Then, it didn’t stay in the correct position so it reflected things like feet or just seat. Finally, it kept falling down. Much more hassle than it’s worth.
  • bunting and foot muff – Infant carseats come with enough safety padding for infants. For warmth we just used blankets.
  • booster seat – we will probably need this, but we didn’t need it in our pre-baby preparation. We will buy it when our boys outgrow the carseats they already have.
  • car seat travel bag – Another thing to carry around more things? Definitely not essential.
  • any stroller accessories – We just used blankets for extra shade and brought a toy or two from the house when needed.
  • fancy expensive diaper bag – We’ve used backpacks, totes, and duffels we already had laying around the house. Keep your travel accessories simple and a simple bag will do. I like using my small canvas “gym” duffel the best.

Feeding

  • more than 6 bottles – that’s about 3 small bottles and 3 bigger bottles with 3 slow nipples and 3 fast nipples. I breastfed for the first 6 months with Wingnut and 10 months with Pigpen with some combination feeding before going solely formula (a little over 4 months with Mo and 2 months with Pigpen). Wash your bottles daily or twice daily — preferably without a dishwasher — and you’ll be fine.
  • infant positioner – We used our laps and arms for the infant stage and the high chair when the babies could sit up on their own.
  • 6-8 pacifiers – pacifying is a totally personal choice. We allowed it. We got buy with 2 to 4 pacifiers.
  • bottle warmer – Used a mug filled with warm water.
  • bottle sterilizer – A pot with boiling water.
  • special bottle drying rack – Our plain drain board in the sink worked fine.
  • dishes and bowls – we use our Corelle flatware for our children. Some times we let the baby eat off of his tray; we taught Wingnut to be careful and he has proven to be quite responsible with with porcelain and glass as early as being 1.5 years old.

Clothing

  • baby shoes – annoying and useless. I like getting shoes when the baby (toddler) is standing and starting to walk around — the shoes are good for outside when they want to be a part of the action and explore on their own.

Playtime

  • door jumper – we were excited for this classic piece, but our babies are small so the sizing never worked out. They were either floating and sliding around the big bucket seat, or old enough to walk around and very unhappy about being trapped in a hanging seat.
  • play yard – We have a small house and let the babies explore most of it on their own.
  • play mat – Replace with a blanket and toys.
  • seat walker – Like the door jumper, it wasn’t a good size for our boys. They prefer(ed) the standing walkers. We were lucking to receive one that did not require batteries or have too many bells and whistles.
  • DVDs – We limited screen time until Wingnut was 2 years old. Even when Wingnut watches now (we use a streaming service), Pigpen isn’t interested. He’d rather play with toys or people.
  • a lot of toys – We keep the toys limited to 3 shelves on a bookcase in their room. We rotate the toys a few times a year to cooperate with the seasons and keep things interesting.

Wow. That was a lot of stuff. And I’m sure there’s even more stuff you don’t need out there that stores are trying to sell to you and your baby. Maybe I should have made a list of all the things I actually did need and find to be useful, ha.

But anyway, maybe some of my little stories and tidbits will help you decide you don’t need a few things you were considering after all. You’ll save yourself and/or your loved ones some money. And you’ll save the planet the cost of more consumerism and waste. It’s a win-win.

Cheers!

The Art of Contentment

I’m writing yet another post inspired by Joshua Becker, but what can I say? The guy’s kind of a genius when it comes to minimalism and, in this case, contentment. He actually writes about completion and the satisfaction it brings.

When confronting the desire to buy yet another thing, he uses this as an example:

The next time you have a desire to buy something you don’t need, say to yourself, “Nope. I’m done buying clothes. I already have enough. I have met this desire and I am moving on to something else.”

Such a simple thing! Just decide to be done buying clothes. I had honestly never thought of that before, even with the pursuit of a capsule wardrobe. I always thought that it would be growing and changing with me — that I would have to constantly think about and curate it. But, no! I can just stop and be content.

Maybe contentedness doesn’t last forever, as life is fluid and change is constant, but it does exist. And it can exist for a time. Decide to be content and it will be until you decide something needs to change again. Being in control sounds much better than constantly chasing dreams advertisers are constantly presenting.

But maybe it isn’t marketers fueling your discontent. Maybe it is brought on by yourself as you consider all of your life’s what-ifs.

I’ve lived in my hometown my entire life. I’ve done a fair bit of traveling, but have never lived outside of New Jersey. When my husband’s company recently offered him a job in Indianapolis, I began to imagine how my life could be better and happier in another place. I weighed the pros and cons of Indiana vs. New Jersey, a city vs. a small town, the country vs. the coast, anywhere else vs. here. And in doing so, none of the places seemed good enough… Until I went full circle, remembered what I love about where I live, and decided that right here is good enough.

I will be more mindful of how I spend my time. Is it pursuing something that doesn’t really need more attention? Like filling a closet that is already full? I will be content in matters where I already have enough and instead focus on matters where I really can improve myself. Or, as Joshua Becker highlights, on matters that will never be completed, such as being a calm and patient mother, a loving and fun wife, and a considerate and contributing member of society.

The Art of Contentment: A change in thinking can create a change in being.

 

Minimalism In My Family | Stash-and-Trash

I dunno how to compromise about getting rid of stuff. I mean, is it even possible to compromise on something like that? You either keep it or get rid of it. Not much grey area in there.

I wish there was one fail-safe rule that we could follow. Like, if at least one person wants to get rid of it, it’s gone. Or if at least one person wants to keep it, it stays. Or if things had clear owners as opposed to being owned by no one and everyone. Or if it hasn’t been used by anyone in X amount of time, it’s gone. Or name one good reason and it stays. But things just don’t seem to be so cut and dry in my home. I mean, who decides what’s a “good” reason?

Maybe it is or could be so decisive in your home. And if you feel that’s the case, pick a rule and go for it! See how it goes. And let me know all about it!

Unfortunately, I’ve found so far that for us, the process for almost every shared item is unique. We usually disagree about something, discuss it, forget about it for a while, bring it up again, there’s some persuasion, perhaps we argue about it a bit, maybe forget about it again and repeat the persuasion bit, and then perhaps agree. Moooooostly, it is me trying to convince Andrew to get rid of something or other.

The one thing I have found quite effective — probably because it’s pretty difficult to make an argument about still needing the stuff — is gathering stuff up, putting it in a box labeled “stuff no one will miss” and the date, and stashing it out of the way somewhere (I use our attic). Eventually, we’ll see the box up there, months later, and feel pretty good about getting rid of that stuff. 97% of the time, I don’t even remember what was in the box, and I put it there myself. 98.5% of the time, Andrew never notices anything missing.

Aha. So I guess that’s the way for us then. The Stash-and-Trash, we’ll call it! Kazaa!

What’s your method to coming up with family minimalism solutions? Tell me, tell me, tell me!

9 Tips for a Simple Kitchen

I can’t say that the kitchen is the most used room in our house because we have a small house and, frankly, all of the living areas get used a lot everyday. The kitchen is, however, the hardest room to keep clean.

We are in other rooms a lot, but a lot happens in the kitchen. Our only table is in our kitchen, so in addition to cooking and eating there, we use that surface for playing and working, too. Things are always being used and moved and dirtied and cleaned. Here are some tips I use to keep this complex area just a little more simple.

  1. Get rid of appliances and specialized or redundant tools. You don’t really need a hand mixer, an ice cream maker, a quesadilla maker, or a toaster oven and a toaster. You can use a spoon (or a stand mixer), a blender, a pan, or just the toaster or an oven. Keep only multi-use tools or appliances completely necessary for your style of cooking. Remember: owning less things means less storing, finding, cleaning, and replacing.
  2. Stash appliances and tools in the cabinets, cupboard, or a closet. Even the toaster. You probably don’t use it as often as you think, therefore, you don’t need it within reach taking up counter space at all times.
  3. Make your tools versatile. I used storage bowls as mixing bowls and cutting boards as serving trays.
  4. Embrace your ugly or “outdated” kitchen. Reading this post made me completely release a pesky renovation list from my head. Replace “ugly” with “quirky”. Styles come and go, but that doesn’t mean your kitchen can’t still serve its purpose. Embrace your quirky kitchen. As long as it works, right?
  5. Pick a few colors or one theme. We used to have an assortment of hand-me-down and thrift-shop plates, cups, bowls, etc. There is nothing wrong with second-hand things in themselves, but having a cohesive set makes things simpler. Dishes stack better, fit next to each other better, and reduce visual clutter (ex: multiple dish patterns in multiple color schemes). I’m all for second-hand, but get a complete, matching set to simplify things.
  6. Use a small refrigerator. Food won’t get shoved to the back to spoil if there isn’t any room for you to add new food in front. Eat what you have and shop fresh. Meals are more flavorful that way. You will waste less, be more creative, and save space. And a smaller refrigerator uses less electricity — good for your finances and the environment.
  7. Get rid of your dishwasher. Read this post explaining 8 reasons why.
  8. Organize by use. When we first moved into our house, we didn’t have a plan on how to use our kitchen. My husband and I never had a kitchen of our own before and we were unfamiliar with this one in particular. 4 years of trial-and-error later we finally reorganized and I LOVE it. Tools, cans, grains, nuts, flatware, spices and flavorings, baking supplies, and storage pieces each have their own designated areas. This makes cooking A LOT easier.
  9. Organize by ease of cleaning. This is a tip from Marie Kondo. (She is the tidying boss.) Keep surfaces clear — utilize all of your drawers and cabinets. When everything is out of the way, cleaning counters, tabletops, and floors is much simpler.

Enjoy your kitchen and the delicious food you prepare!

Do you have any tips for a simpler kitchen to share? Post them in the comments below!

Why I Donate Instead of Sell

I’m reading The More of Less by Joshua Becker right now and I think it’s really good. He hits on so many great points of minimalism. More importantly, he highlights things little known and things easily forgot about minimalism that are so important and make minimalism so much more wonderful.

One of the things he writes about is how to get rid of unwanted items.

So many resources recommend selling unused or unwanted things. And it sounds really great. I’ll get money back! Sweet. Because I feel like I deserve that money. I put money out for it, why shouldn’t I get some back? And when I say “some” I mean “a lot”. I mean, I want most of it back. When I think of the money attached to an item, it is so easy for my mind to gloss over the value I’ve already gotten from the item — the actual value for which the item was intended.

Joshua, on the other hand, recommends just giving them away.

He writes about his experiences with yard sales and online selling and how they usually end up being more trouble than they’re worth. I’ve tried yard sales — lugging out all of that stuff and spending my whole day waiting for someone to give me a few bucks is defo not worth it to me.

It’s hard for me to figure out the best way to sell online, too. I don’t like taking pictures of things (how is it that none of the photos I take are the least bit flattering or accurate of the object?). I don’t like filling out all the needed information. I don’t like monitoring the items selling process. I don’t like re-listing it if it doesn’t sell. I do like packing it up to take it to the Post Office, but I don’t like having a time constraint in which to do it. And, again, I rarely get the price I really want for it. The price that would make all the trouble worth it.

Giving things away relieves a bunch of those hassles. There are some things that just need to be done, like the sorting, boxing, and sometimes delivering of unwanted stuff. But every time I do a load, I’m reminded of why I shouldn’t buy so many things in the first place.

Joshua also writes about how donating benefits those on the receiving end and it makes you feel good to have helped someone in need. Those things are great. But they are really just side-benefits for me. I donate instead of sell because it’s just easier. Any money I have made by selling has been eaten up by frustration, strength, and time. Donating enables me to feel the lightness and freedom of owning less straight away.

So the next time you feel the need to sell something to get a “return” on your “investment”, consider just letting it go. Unless it’s a really big ticket item and really worth it or necessary to you (do you want to sell it, or do you need to sell it?), I recommend giving it away. Then you, too, will be able to feel the lightness and freedom of owning less… without the hassle.