How I Am Embracing Minimalism In The New Year

I walked in the house, took a quick look around and was almost brought to tears…

Sounds a little dramatic maybe, but I know you've been there too!

How did it get like this?  The floor was covered, once again in toys.  The kitchen counter was overwhelmed with dishes, the fridge had not yet been cleaned out from last week’s grocery haul and leftovers, and I had three trips worth of food to carry in yet from the car.

It was 1:30 in the afternoon, Kenna hadn’t yet had lunch and she was 10 minutes away from a past nap time breakdown, and I was feeling much, much the same.

Once the immediate rush of tears ebbed away, I felt anger.  Anger that if I could have JUST gotten my work done this morning like I wanted, then I would have had the time to clean up the house before running to grab groceries.  But instead, I spent the morning picking up an endless amount of toys and chaos off the floor, followed by an unplanned hour at the library before even making it to the store.

The library trip was out of complete necessity to allow Kenna to get out of the house to do SOMETHING besides destroying it with arts, crafts, and puzzle pieces.  

I had Kenna sit at the kitchen table, made up a quick PB&J, and quickly carried in groceries from the car while she ate.  The task at hand allowed my anger to subside a bit, and I quickly realized my feelings had melted away to guilt.

Guilt at my initial response to the house and Kenna.  For goodness sakes, I AM a stay at home mom.  Things like toys, crafts, and reading books from the library should be a top priority, right?  And I should probably spend Kenna’s nap time cleaning up and meal prepping so it looks like I actually accomplished something today…

Then guilt over my feelings of work.  I may be staying at home but I still have WORK to do.  I have deadlines to meet, e-mails to send, and these seemingly non-productive business tasks all help to pay our bills.  I can’t just ignore my responsibilities as a business owner in order prep salads and fold laundry.

Living a minimalist life, Jen Kaiser private photo editor, lifestyle blog

How I thought my year would look

2017 was one of the biggest changes I have ever encountered in my life.

From the time I was 16 and learned to drive I have been working.  I worked in highschool, right alongside school, sports and voice lessons.  I worked in my second year of college, picking up shifts in the evenings and on my days off.  I worked after graduation, balancing two jobs at first and then even managed to return to finish my bachelors while working full-time night shift.

And in 2013, when we purchased our home, got married, and had our sweet Kenna, I knew that things would look different with a family to care for and a home to manage.  Yet, I still managed it.  Even amongst a busy schedule.

The house could have looked better, but I did as well as I could considering the amount of time I actually spent there.

So when I turned in my notice this past March, I suddenly saw visions of a sparkling home, a well tended child, and a business that ran on auto-pilot.  I was going to have so much TIME as a work from home mom, I wouldn’t even know what to do with it all.  Never in my life, had my schedule looked so empty.

And it was, yet it wasn’t.  A “clear” schedule as a stay at home mom is actually full of unknown cleaning, picking up, playing, bruised knees, naptime refusals, “just because” stories, cuddles, and kisses.  It was the best job I could have ever asked for.

Yet I was overwhelmed.  

Initially, I kept chalking it up to my work.  I told myself, I hadn’t really had the time to properly organize and create systems in my business before my busy season settled in.  While that was partly true, it was that day when I walked through the front door with a tired toddler and groceries on my arms, surveying the “stuff” strewn about my home that I finally realized - I was overwhelmed by a lack of SYSTEMS and an abundance of STUFF - literal items in our home that were cluttering our space physically and exhausting my soul.

Why I’ve Decided To Embrace Minimalism

It was that day, sometime around September when I walked in the house, completely overwhelmed that I realized I needed to cut back and simplify.

Emily Ley, owner of The Simplified Planner and author of A Simplified Life said it best when she said “sometimes the smallest step in the right direction, ends up being the biggest step of your life.”  

Jen kaiser, work from home mom, lifestyle blog

This whole “simplified” thing seemed really intriguing and Emily is one of those magic mama’s who seems to be able to accomplish all the things - and that’s WITH three little ones at home.

I knew that I could hire help either at home or in my business, yet I also felt like it would be a band-aid.  A quick fix to cover a wound that actually needed air to breathe and heal.  Hiring help would not be a long term solution.  I hadn't yet taken on that much in my life and business that I was overwhelmed by my schedule.  I was simply overwhelmed by the tiny moments in my day that were completely consuming my time and efforts.  

I dug a little deeper into Emily’s story and read about a creative business mom who was overwhelmed by business, by motherhood, by life.  And so she started not by organizing and systemizing but by simplifying.  She decluttered her home, her business, her schedule and her life.

She’s still a work in progress (as are we all) - but she was a walking testament of how freeing it feels to reduce the clutter.

After one year of working at home, surrounded by all the “stuff” in our home and in our lives, I decided that 2018 needed to look different.  And I mean LITERALLY look different.  So the day after Christmas, I started my walk through.  Room by room, I am going through our home and decluttering, donating, and making life happen with minimal things.  

Two bedrooms and one kitchen down and I am already embarrassed by the BAGS and BOXES of unused clothing and items I have cleared from our home.  THINGS that I have been trying to clean and organize around without any real place or purpose.

My motivation level is at full heights and my need for minimalism has been discovered.

The beauty of minimalism and simplifying is that it goes BEYOND the stuff in our life.  I can apply it to my schedule, my meal planning, grocery shopping, my business, my digital habits my parenting (think more time, less stuff.)

Minimalism improves our mood, it quenches our desire to always want more, it simplifies our daily routines, it saves money, it prevents waste.  I could go on.  My journey towards minimalism will be a constant work in progress.  It’s not something I can immediately step into or for that matter force on my husband.  But it is something I am embracing, leaning towards, and learning to practice.  

Less stuff, more happiness.  Less clutter, more time.

My Plan for Minimalism in 2018

My journey towards simplifying and minimizing started with the clutter in our home.  Like I mentioned, I’m in the process of clearing my home - one room at a time.  From there, I plan on moving through each area of my life and finding ways to simplify.

It’s going to be a journey.  It won’t be perfect but it’s going to be 100% worth it.

Jen kaiser, work from home mom, lifestyle blog

Starting in February, each month, I’ll be detailing in a short video series, different areas of our life that I am simplifying and minimizing and I can’t wait to share with you my plans, what's working, isn't working, and what I’ve learned overall.

This is going to be something FUN and hopefully 100% helpful!!

Here’s what you can expect to find!

  • February - Declutter and Donate
  • March - Cleaning Schedule
  • April - Meals (Planning & Prep!)
  • May - Laundry (Simplifying!)
  • June - Family (Marriage & Children)
  • July - Wardrobe
  • August - Mornings
  • September - Photographs/Memories
  • October - Finances
  • November - Serving/Gifting
  • December - Digital (Smartphone/Online Business)

I am so excited to start this journey and can’t wait to have you join me.  Comment below if you're excited to and if there's anything else you'd love to hear me share over the next year!