Tips for simplifying your home & heart this year

Does it seem crazy to you that it was a whole year ago we were throwing out everything that didn’t “spark joy” and de-cluttering our houses along with everyone else in America influenced by the Marie Condo craze?! The year FLEW by and, if the first half of January is any indication, it’s only getting faster! I had every intention of kicking off the new year by freshening up the entire house, making our whole lives tidier and creating blank space for a new-year-new-us mentality, but I’m going to be honest with you… I’m just now starting the January organizing, our 2020 intentions just made their way to our fridge this week [you can print out your own template here!], and I can finally say (as of today) that all our Christmas decor and present aftermath has been cleaned up.

Listen, just because the year starts over, doesn’t always mean life does!

Sometimes January 1 finds us right in the middle of a season that doesn’t spark joy. Sometimes it falls while we’re in the thick of the hard work harvest requires! Motherhood, marriage, careers, your big dreams and callings… contrary to what we grew up believing in school, they don’t all stop for a month long vacation and start blank-slate-fresh when the calendar does! So if you’re feeling discouraged about how your year started; maybe like it’s already off on the wrong foot or you’re already in over your head, I’ve got news: “The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Your efforts today or tomorrow or in February are just as valuable as they were at the start of January! Your heart for growth and godliness matters and honors God just as much this week as it did then. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” In other words, just start! Get working! Don’t be so bogged down by the pressure of resolutions [pep-talk on that topic here!] that you miss out on taking a step towards the worthy goals God’s leading you in. In the words of my latest favorite podcast, figure out what you can do today and do “the next right thing!” 

This week I decided to get over the regrets that I didn’t start on the perfect date, celebrate the fact that I’m doing worthy work today, and get started! My main focus – creating more space for peace and rest in my home by simplifying! 1: specific spaces that need a makeover for function, 2: habits we can implement throughout the month/year to keep things tidy, 3: the way we fill our space and time for the next 350 days.

Want to join me?

Here’s some things we’re prioritizing around our house, sources for what I used, and a few of my favorite organization resources lately:

As a tidying guide through the month, (and something I’m hoping to adopt every month this year.. to some extent), I am taking Emily Ley’s Simplicity Challenge! I’ve done this challenge in the past and even though I haven’t followed along perfectly this month, It’s easy to batch and catch up with. The point of it though, is doing things a little at a time; in practical, doable chunks! And that’s what I love. It doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy.

I also picked up this 2020 Simplified Planner and I can’t recommend it enough! The thing that sets Simplified planners apart for me is the large amount of space for notes and lists they provide in addition to the calendar piece – a must for me!

Another resource by Emily Ley that has been super impactful for me are her books Grace Not Perfection and A Simplified Life. My own mom gifted me these books when I was feeling overwhelmed by my new role as a stay at home mom/wife and I love spreading the word about how encouraging they are for any woman in this same season or another one of change (or anytime really 😉 ).

PSA: In my hunt for the perfect planner I learned that this whole 2020 line has been in and out of stock at Target and on Amazon (they’re popular!) BUT I picked mine up in store at Walmart! They had multiple styles on the shelves and bonus – it was half the price as on Amazon!!

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Also from Walmart: all of these storage containers! The white, stackable bins I used to organize toys. The gold baskets and grey containers (mine not found online, but very similar to these) might get used in the fridge… still determining, but the best part is, they were all under $4!

I organized the toys by category and plan to label them ASAP so we can easily grab from their new home in the closet!

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Another favorite kids room storage solution of mine that comes from Ikea: This set of 6 collapsable bins! They’re multifunctional, but I’ve used them mostly for drawer organization. They’re perfect for keeping those tiny clothes in their place!

Also from Ikea – These simple clear bins making our laundry closet a little less crazy $2.99 at a time. 😉

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Speaking of fridge organization (ours is one of those project areas I told you I identified) my friend Shelby @prettyinthepines has amazing fridge organization tips and resources in this article on her blog. Check them out!!

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Thanks to her instagram shares, I’ve been eyeing this fridge organizer set on sale for a steal at Nordstrom Rack… The best deal I’ve seen so far!

Another instagram account I LOVE following along for minimalism inspiration is @hellojessiemartin. I mainly follow her for her photography tips that she creates and shares as a practical resource for moms (anyone can learn from her and implement her lessons!). But I always appreciate the minimalism information you’ll glean as you follow along with her. She’s saved most of them in her story highlights and I highly recommend! [You can follow her here]

Lastly, I’ll leave you with my top tidying tip: BASKETS! I have one or more “cute” basket in pretty much every room of our house. What I love about this method is that it allows me to quickly and easily condense clutter when we’re done playing in any room and leave a space tidy without much effort. Ours are mostly full of toys and books and every now and then I’ll take the baskets around the house to empty them into the correct spots in the house. This couldn’t be easier, but it keeps random items confined and doesn’t allow toys to take over the house!

Grey coiled rope basketCream coiled rope basketWicker basket

Now here’s a heart simplifying tip from my latest read, The Next Right Thing, that I’ll end with:

Make a life-giving list! In my favorite chapter yet, author Emily Ley encourages readers to reflect on a specific season of time (could be the previous year, could be the last month, she even recommends specific chunks of time, like the holidays that just passed) and to make a physical list of things that were life-giving and things that were life-draining during that period of time. Then, she challenges us to determine how we can be more intentional about making time for the things that brought us life in that season and eliminate things that drained us of life as much as we can moving forward.

I sat down and took this challenge and WOW, eye opening! I realized a lot of time was being taken by things that were draining me and, while some draining things are necessary to ultimately life-giving end goals, I learned there is definitely room for me to make harder decisions that would benefit me and my family in this next season of life. Things can be cut and some things deserve to be prioritized more and just the understanding of this has brought me so much freedom and excitement for what’s ahead!

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So I challenge YOU to make your own list and simplify your expectations for the season ahead. Knowing what you mean to spend your time and energy on (and what you mean not to) is half the battle! Write the list and then make choices that reflect it. Our hearts and emotional/mental/relational health deserve just as much attention as our homes – more! Let’s prioritize decluttering them like we believe that!

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“God cares more about us abiding by His commandments and loving big—feeling deeply alive and free from the traps of perfection and comparison. He’s watching us scurry about, saying, ‘Sweet girls, why are you so hard on yourselves? All this worry and busyness is for what? I’ve given you all you need.'” – Emily Ley, Grace Not Perfection

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