12 Ways to Simplify Mom Life in 2018
I used to hate it when adults would harp about how fast time was flying and how stressful life was. And now, here I am. A chick in her late twenties with kids (and wrinkles) of my own, feeling just like those adults that used to irritate me. I’m seriously sitting here with my coffee in hand while the babies sleep, and sharing my tips to help you simplify mom life. Ironic, much?
It’s funny how things change.
Time does fly, and life does get stressful. As adults, we have to find simple, practical ways to keep our life and sanity intact. Sure, we can blast our angry rap music and lock ourselves in the bedroom (I think we all did this as teenagers), but it isn’t the most effective way to improve our life.
I’ve been hearing it a lot from my friends lately. They’re strapped and stressed and they want to improve their family life in the coming year. If you’re one of those tired mamas that wants to simplify mom life in 2018, then I’m here to help! Start with these twelve easy ways to simplify, organize, and enjoy your life just a little more in the coming year.
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GET RID OF STUFF
This is always my go-to suggestion when my readers ask me how they can get more out of life. Enjoying life and motherhood is not about having “stuff” or buying “stuff” for your kids. It’s actually about eliminating clutter and improving quality. I seriously don’t remember many of the physical things that my dad bought me, but I sure remember all those times he got down on the floor to play with us. All those times he took us for long hikes, camping trips, and motorcycle rides. The quality time is what really stuck with me.
So, my first recommendation for simplifying life is to get rid of stuff. Get rid of anything and everything that doesn’t add to your peace, happiness, and well being.
First, sort everything into categories of what you need, love, and like. Work in one room at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed. Anything that you truly need and use regularly should stay. Now, look at your remaining physical possessions honestly and practically. If you feel like you genuinely love this item and can’t let go of its sentimental value, then keep it in the “love pile” for now. Anything that’s left over needs to find a new home, even if you kinda-sorta like it.
Remember, everything that you have in your possession requires upkeep, and we’re trying to simplify mom life. Less junk equals less stuff to clean, organize, and maintain. So, have a yard sale or donate your non-necessity items to someone in need. I have made a lot of money from selling my gently used stuff on sites like Offer Up and Let Go, especially the baby clothes and toys that my baby outgrows. I saved a few special outfits and toys and got rid of everything else.
A word of caution though…
Do not get hung up on making a lot of money or getting what your items are worth. We’re talking about simplifying life here. Maybe you wasted money on items you didn’t really need and you can’t make that money back. But, so what? That mindset actually forces you to hold onto stuff that you don’t really need. So, let everything go for a reasonable price, donate the rest, and from now on, think twice before making purchases so you don’t waste money.
ORGANIZE THE CLOTHES, THE CLOSETS, AND THE CUPBOARDS
The truth is, some of our closets are still pretty full even after we’ve simplified and donated the stuff we don’t use or wear. Kids grow fast and make a lot of messes, so we need a decent circulation of clothing to get them through the week. As moms, we often have our favorite stuff, our seasonal stuff, those ugly sweaters that were gifted to us last year, and plenty of shoes for every occasion.
My first recommendation is to get rid of more stuff. If it isn’t your favorite seasonal stuff, sell it or donate it. You really don’t need as many clothes as you think. And I’m not talking to the mom with a balanced closet of cute clothes and accessories. I’m talking to the mom whose closet doors are busting at the seams with a ton of clothes you never wear.
Get rid of it. Simplify.
For those of you that have already simplified and still have a full closet, get a simple closet organizer like this. If you’re feeling fancy, you can even upgrade to one of these fancy wardrobe organizer systems. But I’ll be straight with you: even I didn’t go that far. Simple organized compartments will do just fine.
You’ll have to find the system that works for you, but do your best to get organized. I personally have a dresser for underwear, socks, shorts, and small accessories. I have this closet organizer for hats, gloves, and boots. And I have these plastic storage bins with lids for all of our other necessity junk. I call it junk because we kinda-sorta need it, but I honestly wish that we didn’t.
These bins fit perfectly in my hall closet and they’re easily accessible, easily organized, and wonderful for traveling. Take my word for it, storage bins with lids are going to be your best friend. My husband makes fun of me because I’m often talking about simplifying life as I’m unloading a stack of storage bins from Target, ha!
There are probably more sophisticated systems out there, but this works for me.
Use this same principle for all closets and cupboards: if you don’t need it or love it, consider selling or donating. Clean out the pantry and the fridge at least once each month to dispose of expired food and make the most of everything you’ve purchased.
I resisted automation for a long time. It gave me peace of mind knowing that I was clicking that “authorize” button with each payment I made. When I knew the bill was paid that same day, I felt like I could budget accordingly. But honestly? That is so juvenile and SO LAST YEAR.
Automation is amazing. You simply set up the billing system with each company that you do business with, and then the payment is automatically withdrawn from your bank account on a scheduled date. Your work is done, and you can put bill-pay out of your mind. Talk about simplifying life!
Now, I still have my checklist of monthly bills that are due, and I check my bank account once each week to make sure all bills are withdrawn in the proper amount at the proper time. But I only spend a few minutes on this each week and I don’t have to login to 20 different sites and remember 20 different passwords. It is so worth it, and it’s something that every mama should consider doing.
Once you go automated, you never go back.
Seriously, if you want to simplify mom life in 2018, consider automating every possible bill. If you “go paperless”, you can also cut down on junk mail and paper shredding too. You won’t regret it.
GET YOUR KIDS ON A SCHEDULE
If you read my article on sleep training, then you know how I feel about the benefits of a schedule. It takes the guess work out of every day, for you and your kids, and it allows you to get so much done. Everyone in the house needs to be on a schedule, but especially your young, school-age children.
With my first baby, I totally let her run the show during that first year and I regret it every day. We still struggle with it.
With my second baby, I scheduled him and sleep trained him, and my life has been pretty awesome as a mother of two babies under two. The magic of schedules!
So, if you want to simplify mom life, get scheduled. Take a few minutes to write down all of your weekly essential stuff (like your work schedule, school drop-off times, play dates, appointments etc). Buy yourself a big desk calendar like this one, or a big wall calendar like this one, and HANG IT UP. Look at it every day. Make a plan for every day. And stick to it, every day.
It’s hard at first, but it gets easier.
SPEND LESS TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA
A new year signifies a new beginning for many people. Self-reflection is an important part of new beginnings, right? So be honest with yourself and think about how much time you spend on social media. If you want to simplify life, you need to think about what is really sucking up your valuable time, and limit that.
What experiences do you want to fill your days and weeks, and eventually your whole year? Very few of us would say that we wish we had MORE TIME to spend browsing on our phones. So stop browsing and start focusing on the more important things: spending time with your family, self improvement, working hard, and playing hard.
On the flip side of that, a lot of us have to work from home, and that includes using our phones and laptops throughout the day.
Find your balance, mama. And don’t feel guilty about it.
TURN OFF YOUR NOTIFICATIONS
I’m going to say this one is absolutely essential, especially if you have to do a lot of secular work on your phone or Facebook app.
Because, let’s be honest. Most people check their phone about thirty-two-thousand times per day, right? So chances are, you’re going to hop onto Instagram and see that someone tagged you, or login to Facebook and read the comments on your latest post at some point today.
You DO NOT need your notifications turned on and buzzing at you anytime you aren’t staring right at your phone. I promise.
So if you want to simplify and enjoy your life in the coming year, don’t let those notifications control you. It doesn’t matter what people are “liking” or commenting on. It doesn’t matter how many people liked your latest photo or followed you.
Okay, it might matter on some level, if it pertains to your job or family. But even then, you don’t need your notifications on. Leave them off, and ONLY check into work during your scheduled times.
PAY OFF SOME DEBT
If you have credit cards, car payments, or student loans, then you probably understand the stress that debt can cause. No matter how much money you make, the interest payment on your debt just sucks up your free cash.
Fact is, if you work hard to pay off some of that debt, then your life will be so much simpler. I don’t ever recommend working yourself so hard that you burn out, but I do think it’s a good idea to pay down debt as quickly as possible…or better yet, avoid it altogether.
I worked for a financial advisor for 7 years, so I tend to lean toward saving money, retirement planning, and smart spending by nature. Not everyone is good at this, but practice your saving skills and your budgeting skills.
Debt makes life complicated, period. So limit the debt.
LEARN TO SAY NO
Oh man, I used to struggle with this one. But if you take only one thing away from this article, take this away: your life is your own, and you DO NOT owe an explanation to anyone.
I’m not saying that you have to be a jerk, or that you have to be mysterious or aloof. Be yourself, but remember that you can say no to the things that don’t foster your happiness, peace, and well being.
I’m an introvert by nature, and big social events totally stress me out! Most people don’t know this about me, because I hide it pretty well. But my close friends and family know that I avoid groups and crowds like the plague. I don’t typically like play dates or parties. Small, intimate settings and weekends at home in my sweatpants are absolute bliss in my mind. I know, I know…I’m kind of a loser. But I’m wise enough to know that certain things just aren’t my style, and it’s okay to say no.
It’s okay to skip the explanation when people want to know why you did or didn’t do something. Unless I’m your employer or your spouse, you owe me nothing. Practice a gracious rejection so that you aren’t put on the spot when people question why you don’t want to attend, or share, or join their cause.
Always remember, it’ okay to say NO.
GIVE YOURSELF SOME DOWN TIME
Working moms, stay-at-home-moms, dog moms…. whatever type of mother you are, I would bet money that you’re probably a little tired right now. Mommin’ aint easy!
So make it your goal in 2018 to take some time for rest and relaxation. I know, I know. It’s hard to do when you have fussy kids, and hungry husbands, and work deadlines. But remember the old saying, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re exhausted all the time, then you cannot be your whole, happy, useful self.
You don’t have to take the whole weekend off and lounge at the spa. Most of us don’t have that luxury.
Just soak in a hot bath for 15 minutes. Put some headphones on and blast your favorite music while you go for a walk alone. Wake up ten minutes earlier and sip your hot coffee by yourself. Go to bed 10 minutes later so that you can do some yoga or read a book (not on your phone).
Your sanity is important, and your down time will help you recharge. So, give yourself permission to REST, at least for a few minutes every day. You might have to get creative if you don’t have any help taking care of the kids, but you can do it, and you’ll be so glad you did!
If you really want to simplify life and get some perspective, turn off the electronics and go outside. Most of us have full schedules, full hands, and fussy babies. It isn’t easy to drop everything and go outside for some fresh air, but it’s so beneficial to your mental and physical health.
Playing outside with your kiddos is also the cheapest, easiest form of fun! And it will often be their favorite memory. So take a few minutes to unplug from the online world and get outside.
I work full time from home and I have two babies under two, so I find myself tired and overwhelmed a lot. I seriously have a sticky note on my computer screen that says “Unplug and Go Outside”.
Take the kids for a walk in the stroller or throw your tennis shoes on and find a beautiful spot to hike. The world is a beautiful place. Get outside and enjoy it.
LEAVE THE PAST BEHIND
It isn’t just physical clutter that makes life complicated. Mental clutter sucks too.
When you’re going through a rough season of life, or trying to get over something negative that happened to you in the past, your mind can quickly get cluttered with unpleasant thoughts. Life is complicated, and stressful, and just plain sucky sometimes.
We have to push forward, rise above, stay positive, and learn to LET THE PAST GO. People will hurt you and you’ll hurt them. People will disappoint you and you’ll disappoint them. People will move forward, stay behind, and pass away. This is life.
The best way to simplify our life and calm our cluttered thoughts is to accept things for what they are, and leave the past behind us.
And how do we learn to leave the past behind?
Fill your current day and schedule with things that you NEED and LOVE. We need to work, make money, grocery shop, exercise, etc. And we love a variety of things, like music, dancing, movies, delicious food, road trips, camping, etc.
Fill your life with people, places, and experiences that you love. Don’t focus on accumulating things, but focus on filling your life with quality people and pleasant memories. Some memories from our past will stay with us forever, and that’s okay! But the idea is to push negative memories and negative people far away from us, and fill their space with happy, positive things. This will help you to simplify mind clutter and focus on what truly matters.
There is a big, beautiful world out there, and traveling can really put things into perspective for you. As a teenager, we took a lot of road trips. Being in the car together (with no phones or tablets) really helped my family to bond and cooperate with each other. We also saw tons of incredible sights and ate some incredible food.
When I got a little older, I took a few trains and planes to visit family and friends in different states. That was an adventure too, even though it wasn’t exactly a tropical vacation or all-inclusive resort. Traveling broadens your horizon and helps you to see the world in a different light. It also teaches you to pack light, get organized, and spend money on memories, not “stuff”.
I’m almost 30 and I have yet to travel outside of the United States, but it’s on my list! Where do you think I should go first? Family-friendly destinations, please! If you’re planning to travel for the New Year, just click the banner below to get a discount on your flight.
I know that is a lot of take in! But realistically, these are twelve things that you can start working on today, and hopefully master in the coming new year.
Instead of making a New Year’s resolution that only lasts a few weeks, perhaps try focusing on one of these suggestions each week, or each month, to help you simplify mom life in 2018!
Start today, so that you have a head start before January 1st even hits. Turn off those notifications on your phone, clean out your closet and donate the stuff that you no longer use, take those chunky babies of yours (or toddlers, or teens) and get outside to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine…or snow.
And for more great mamahood tips and tricks in 2018, check out my friends over at ThinkBaby.org. They’re sharing some of the healthiest baby food recipes and greatest survival tips out there this year!
Now, tell me! What did I miss? What are your tips for simplifying mom life in 2018? Share in the comments!