Category Archives: Simple Mom ideas

Bite 35: Declutter Your Wardrobe

You may have caught my post about buying e-books and helping out a family in need. As I mentioned, one of the e-books was Tsh Oxenreider’s One Bite at a Time. The book presents 52 bite-sized ideas that will help you to simplify your life.

I am starting with Project 35: Declutter Your Wardrobe (and focus on your outward appearance) mainly because I have been meaning to get this done for quite some time. With the coming of real fall weather, figuring out my wardrobe has become a necessity. What with a couple of winters spent pregnant and some additional time in “transition” clothing, it appears that my body has finally reached some sort of equilibrium. Unfortunately, this also coincides with the majority of my clothing being too summery, too beat up, or simply disintegrating. I submit Exhibit A: old, beloved shirt + exuberant washer = sadness.

20121015-210439.jpg

The basic principle behind decluttering your wardrobe is that you get rid of (give away, store, etc, etc) all the clothing that doesn’t fit you properly. Thus you are left with only the items that you will actually wear, rather than a bunch of clothes that kind of fit. This process is easier if you spend a little time educating yourself about what kind of clothes work for you and what doesn’t. Forget about trends, just stick with what works. For example, I borrowed (and photocopied relevant sections of) my sister’s copy of The Science of Sexy, which breaks down your body type and gives you suggestions based on your measurements. As much as I would love to be an hourglass, I am a tall, medium rectangle. I need v-neck shirts (goodbye beloved crew-neck t-shirts!) and clothes that define my waist (thank you Spanx!).  I also know that I look good in purple and beige makes me look like death.

So, last Thursday afternoon my Mom watched the kids and I ventured into the bedroom to edit my clothing collection. It was surprisingly exhausting and took a lot longer than I had anticipated. But I did it. I weeded out the maternity clothes, the summer clothes, and the transition clothes. I put some clothing aside for alterations. I also ditched a bunch of stuff that just didn’t fit me anymore. This included a couple of items that I absolutely adored, including a heavenly white angora sweater and a beautiful blue sheath dress. I just can’t handle angora anymore and after three kids I am just not “hourglass” enough to pull off the sheath dress. Ah well, I am working on making sure they go to good homes. The dress may have an owner, but let me know if you are interested in the sweater.

Of course I forgot before photos, but the “after” picture of my tops should give you a good idea of how much my wardrobe has been reduced. I think I used to have about 5 empty hangers. (This evening Ben used some of the spares as bows and arrows and as a special skinning knife – we’ve been watching Edwardian Farm lately and I think he got that idea from the part about the leather tanner). Oh, and the stuff on the right is the sloppy-stay-at-home section.

20121015-205131.jpg

I learned three things from this little experiment.

  1. I really do need to go shopping, otherwise I will be very cold this winter.
  2. Having only stuff that fits you in your wardrobe actually works! This Sunday was incredibly wet, so I needed something more protective than a skirt to wear to mass. I threw on a pair of grey dress pants, a black tank top, a grey blazer that I just recently purloined from my sister, a scarf, and a pair of black flats. And it worked! I should have worn a rain jacket, but I was comfortable and moderately stylish. It was a heck of a lot better than hunting around for a new outfit, trying seven things on, rejecting them all, and then ending up with the same thing I had worn three weeks in a row.
  3. Look at how much unwearable stuff I had in my wardrobe!! That is a lot of visual dead weight. Every time I went to get dressed I had to mentally discount whole sections of clothing. Better to just admit it doesn’t fit and get rid of it rather than holding on to a bunch of wishful thinking.

Hopefully this simplification will relieve stress not only for me but for Darren, who cringes visibly every time he sees me standing in the closet with a pensive look on my face.  And I’m looking forward to actually being excited to put an outfit together and being creative with clothes!

Help a family, snag some e-books!

Now here’s a chance to do something good for someone while scoring some very cool e-books.

The Tuesday post on Simple Mom features the Barlow family, who just recently lost their husband/father.  As you can see from the photo above the Barlow’s have five children, aged 9 months to 11 years old. Their mom, Jenny, is a stay-at-home mom who is, understandably, grieving the loss of her spouse and also extremely worried about how she is going to find the money to raise her children. To read more of her story, you can head over to Life Your Way.

Enter some very generous bloggers.  These ladies, including SimpleMom’s Tsh Oxenreider, have banded together to offer 10 e-books for $5 with ALL the proceeds going to the Barlow family.  The offer is valid until Thursday, I believe.  Please hop over to their website and, if you like even one of the books offered, buy it to help this family out.  It’s only $5.  Oddly enough, I have been trying to buy Tsh’s “One Bite at a Time” for the last couple months, but I was running into troubles with Paypal.  Her book usually sells for $5 by itself, so I was thrilled to get nine extra e-books!

But most of all, keep this family in your prayers.

Preparing for summer

Cultus Lake DocksDid you ever have a brilliant idea, only to turn around and see that someone else had that same brilliant idea and had already acted on it? That is my experience with this Simple Mom post. For those of you with not enough time to read the whole post, it basically advocates pre-packing for a variety of activities: beach, picnic, pool, etc.

I actually did something of this sort this past winter. We have an old diaper bag that was a disappointing purchase (started to fall apart within six months). I tend to hold on to things, so the irritating, broken diaper bag became a winter emergency bag. It sat in the truck of the car filled with a couple of diapers, John’s stroller snuggle thing, and a set of hat and mitts for each member of the family. It ended up saving our bacon a couple of times, and I’m glad I put it together.

Earlier this month I was thinking that I need to do something similar for the summertime. I am planning on getting some sort of portable bin and filling it with summertime outside things, such as sunscreen, towels, hats, and blankets. The kids will be out in the backyard a lot this summer and it would be good to have everything at hand, rather than running through the house like a madwoman every time we want to go to the outside.

[Incidentally, this happened to me earlier thus week. It was Fun Day at Benno’s school and I had to run upstairs multiple times just because all the summer supplies were in odd places. I was also reminded that just because you remembered sunscreen doesn’t mean that it will automatically keep you from being burnt. You have to apply it to your body. Ooops. ]

So, the plan for the next little while (I have learned that setting fast deadlines at this stage in my life is not always a great idea) is to put together a backyard box, a pool bag, and a picnic bag. That way when the kids are whiny and fussy this summer I can get us out the door quickly and into some cooling body of water without going off the deep end myself.

Book basket

We read.  A lot.  And we have a lot of books.  Over six bookcases full, plus a couple of boxes in the garage, but what else can you expect from a couple of bookworms who have their MA’s in history?

Our kids read a lot too.   Every day the kids have a “reading rest” which consists of them sitting in bed with a huge pile of books, reading them and throwing the finished books on the floor.  This gets pretty messy.  While Darren and I can confidently re-file a book in the place where it belongs, our kids aren’t quite there yet.  Especially as I am a bit OCD about books going back in their proper places.

Enter, Simple Mom!  This handy-dandy website dedicated to “life hacks for home managers” is run by Tsh Oxenreider and is a wealth of information for anyone at all, but mothers in particular.  I have been particularly inspired by her book, Organized Simplicity, which I both go out from the library and recently purchased the Kindle version (for free!) for my iPhone.

Tsh’s kids also have the same book-filing-challenges and she came up with a simple and elegant suggestion: a book basket, just like at the library!  When you are done with a book, you put it in a basket and it is filed later.

After the kids have their reading rests, I get them to put all the books from the floor into the basket.  Then, at the end of the day, we all put the books back where they belong.  That way the books go back where I want them AND the kids’ bedroom isn’t a book minefield all day.  Win-win.