April Happiness Challenge

The challenge this month is about finding PEACE.

As a mom of two preschoolers and an infant, my days are often so hectic and stressful that I can feel myself getting overwhelmed.  Anxiety, stress, worry, exhaustion… and on top of it, it’s Spring and everyone seems to be sick.

It can be hard to do more than just get through the day.

So to keep it simple, I’ve made a list of ways you can bring more peace into your life, even if it’s just a little bit a day.

1. Go outside.  Get a breath of fresh air!  If you’re like me and the pollen is screwing with your allergies, you might want to keep it brief.

2.  Play.  Tickle fight with the kids.  Dance party.  Car wash with your hubby.  Just take a few minutes to have fun, even if it’s doing every day things.

3.  Pause electronics.  Spend less time on your phone, and turn off the TV sometimes.  Same goes for the kids.  Spend some time in the real world, without the stimulating and distracting screens we all seem to have in front of our faces all the time, almost like the people in Wall-E.

4.  Sing.  I know it sounds crazy, but it can lift your mood and relax you.

5.  Find time for yourself… even if it’s just a 5 minute break where you paint your toenails.  Take the time when you can.  It really helps.

6.  Take a break from cleaning.  This one can be hard for us moms to hear… but I’m not saying live in a totally messy house.  Just stop worrying about perfection.  Leave the freaking dishes for now.  Vacuum later.

7.  Appreciate the little things.  I know everyone says that but it’s important.  Appreciate how the sun shines after a storm, how your little ones just hug you.  Just notice the details of life.

8.  Let go of ideals of perfection.  Right now.

9.  Forgive yourself, and forgive anyone you’re upset with.

10. Let go of fear and worry.  The Bible says do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Worrying will not add a day onto your life.

11. Remove yourself from drama and negativity.

There are so many other ways to find peace; these are just a few!  Check out my Pinterest board for all of my lifestyle and happiness stuff here. I would love to hear any ideas you may have!  Just leave a comment below, and I might even add yours to this list.  Please subscribe to my emails to get updates whenever I post – which isn’t TOO often since I have three preschoolers, but often enough that you won’t miss me.  🙂

March Happiness Challenge

DECLUTTER!

I bet you don’t realize how much of your stress comes from STUFF.

Cleaning… especially for moms.

Money… need I say more?

Remember.  You’re working for that money, to buy those things.  And everything is overpriced and overrated these days.

It’s gotten to the point where people are so worried about materialistic things… the “American Dream” of having the best stuff.  Take a step back and reevaluate what you actually need.  And think hard about what you actually want!  Then look at what you have.

It might be overwhelming, so I made a list to help.  This month’s challenge is to take a look at everything you have in each of these categories… and start decluttering.  Some things will be pretty simple, like throwing away old food, but for some situations it might help to choose 5 things from that category to toss out.  It doesn’t matter how you do it. The point is to challenge yourself to take a hard look at everything you’re holding on to… and ask yourself if it’s worth the space it’s taking up in your life.  If it’s worth the maintenance and cleaning.  If it’s worth that hour (or way more) of work you did to earn the money to buy it.  If it’s worth you being distracted from life experiences.  If it’s worth the stress.

If the answer is no, throw it out!  It will be hard at first but stick with it and you will be able to tell a huge difference.  I cut out half of the laundry I have to do, as well as dishes and cleaning and organizing.  That alone was worth it for me!

So.  Here is the list, with a few examples.  For other ideas, check out my Pinterest board Minimalism & Life.  I would love to hear any ideas you may have on the subject, so please leave a comment below!!  And don’t forget to share 🙂

  1. Little clutter – junk drawer, purse, etc.
  2. Dishes – Tupperware with no lids, random take out cups, old pots and pans
  3. Decorations – something you can never really find a place for, or just don’t like.  Especially knickknacks.
  4. Keepsakes – keeping some memorabilia is great, but keeping every little scribble your child colors you at 2 years old is a little much.  I’m speaking from experience..
  5. Monthly utilities and bills – for example, we cut out our TV and are sticking with Netflix and other streaming.  So much cheaper.  Then we cut our phone bill in half since we were only using a little bit of data (especially since we have Wifi).  Also think about conserving water and electricity every day, making a food budget, etc.
  6. Clothes – old socks, shirts, scarves… especially the “one day I will fit these” clothes
  7. Toys – be ruthless
  8. Shoes
  9. Accessories – jewelry, scarves, etc.
  10. Bathroom – old toiletries, makeup, clean out the bathroom cabinet and drawers
  11. Subscriptions – things like Xbox Live and Hulu.  If you don’t use it don’t pay for it!
  12. Books
  13. Electronics & cords – especially the ones sitting in a drawer, like old cell phones you’ve upgraded from
  14. Food – fridge door, expired spices, pantry
  15. Linens – old, frayed towels and sheets
  16. Kitchen – appliances you don’t use, cookbooks, etc.
  17. Medicine cabinet – check expiration dates on everything
  18. Storage
  19. Big stuff – furniture, big toys, tools, etc.
  20. Your mind – get rid of the negative thoughts, stress, and all the things that are cluttering your mind and getting in the way of your happiness.

February Happiness Challenge

I have always thought of February as the Love Month.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not huge into expectations on Valentines Day!  For me it’s just a fun holiday to celebrate love.  Nothing wrong with that.  Even if you hate Valentines Day, I think February is a great month to think about the people we love for our Happiness Challenge.

Let’s take last month’s gratefulness to a new level.  Think about the people you are grateful for.  A lot of the time we take them for granted and the sad fact of life is we could lose them at any time, and there’s no going back.

So this month I challenge you to take the time for each person you love, each person who brightens your life a little bit or a lot.  For one thing, forgive them.  Forgive them for taking you for granted, for not being perfect, for whatever they did to you.  Let go of anger and resentment, because it’s stealing your happiness.  And for the people you love, tell them.  Visit them, give them a hug, do something nice.  Tell them something you want them to know but didn’t want to be awkward, so you haven’t told them.  None of that matters when you lose a loved one.

And think about the way you treat others, too.  You don’t have to be a ray of sunshine all the time, but one nice word can really make a world of difference to someone.

Just make the effort to show some love!

January Happiness Challenge

 

So, for 2017 I’ve decided to start something new… I’m going to try to start focusing more on being happy.  Right now.

No more waiting until tomorrow, when the rain goes away.  No more waiting until things are less stressful and we have more money.  No more waiting, no more guilt and no more excuses!

That’s why I started the Happiness Challenge.  I’m not just going to talk about being happy.  I’m going to challenge myself every month in new ways to make small, positive changes in my life.  You can do it with me!  You deserve to be happy, too.

One thing that’s been on my mind a lot lately is GRATITUDE.  Tragedy has surrounded so many of us, not just in 2016.  I’ve been thinking more about how incredibly blessed I am.  And in some ways, how ungrateful I’ve been.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and everything can change in the blink of an eye.  Nothing is permanent.

So here is the #HappinessChallenge for January… Focus on being grateful, counting your blessings, and not taking things for granted.

  1.  Every morning for 30 days, start the day off by thinking of 3 things you’re grateful for.  It can be anything.  Write them in a notebook or your phone to keep track!
  2.  No complaining!  Replace every complaint with gratitude.  Even in your head.  The point of this is to catch yourself every time you want to complain.  Do this consistently for 30 days.
  3.  Every time you buy something you don’t need, take the time to appreciate it and be grateful you were able to buy it.  No matter what it is.
  4.  Donate something.  Part of being grateful is realizing that there are others who need what you might be taking for granted.

Keep in mind that you can do this all year.  Just challenge yourself for 30 days and when it’s over you can go from there!

Bonus:  Challenge your loved ones!  Share this post to friends and family.  You never know who might benefit from it!  We all want the people we care about to be happy.  That’s what love is.  You could even get your kids involved in each one of these steps, no matter what age they are.  The earlier you teach them about gratitude and happiness, the better.

Please feel free to comment below!  I would love to hear about your journey for happiness and some things you are grateful for in your life.  

Happiness Challenge

So recently my husband and I made a decision. 

Long story short, for the past 5 years we have struggled with depression, unhappiness, and lots of stress.  To a certain extent, that seems to be a normal part of being an adult.  We just keep accepting that things are hard, that work sucks, that debt is stressful and that one day maybe things will be better.  Even though we have come a long way in our life in just 5 years, it still feels like we can’t be happy or content with our situation right now.  And the question is, why can’t we?

Don’t get me wrong.  We LOVE being together.  We love being a family, and we love our kids so much.  But the thing is, we should be able to be happy!  We have recently re-evaluated our lifestyle and decided to make some changes.  The most important change is realizing what’s truly important.

And RIGHT NOW is important.  Don’t wait until tomorrow to spend time with your kids, or have a better day, or be content with what you have. 

So here is what we are NOT doing anymore…

We are not going to keep WAITING to be happy… Waiting until this weekend… Waiting on debt to be paid off… Waiting for the stress to go away, for a better job to come along, for life to get “easier”.

We are not going to keep ACCEPTING that this unhappiness is just a part of being an adult.

We are not going to keep allowing ourselves to feel GUILTY or LESS because we have different ways of looking at the world… Or because we don’t have such nice things that “everyone else” seems to have.  Or because we aren’t in the same place financially, or in our careers, that “everyone else” seems to be.

And we are not going to raise our CHILDREN to believe that to be happy, to be successful, you need MORE… More money, more stuff, more of everything.

We are done with that.  And we have decided we are going to choose to be happy NOW.

This doesn’t mean it’s always going to be easy.  We are going to have bad days.  We are still going to have stress, and sometimes it can be easy to forget about your own happiness when you have so much to do.  Bills still have to be paid.  Laundry has to be washed.  The kids need to be fed.  And with a newborn baby on the way, I know sleep deprivation will probably be one of my biggest challenges.

But we are not giving up.

Now, here is what we ARE going to do…  We are going to start challenging ourselves to be happy every day.

We are going to try hard to be grateful and content with what we have, instead of feeling like it’s not enough.

We are going to cut out unnecessary stress and guilt, by focusing on what’s actually important instead of what everyone else is telling us we need to focus on.

We are working on loving ourselves.  Forgiving ourselves for mistakes, and telling ourselves that we can feel however we want to feel, and want whatever we want to want (haha!).

We are going to focus less on the future, and what we don’t have, and instead focus more on enjoying life with our loved ones and each other. 

This is a challenge that we will be working on all year, and we want to share it with the world.  Because we could all use a little less stress in our lives, and a little more happiness!

So for every month of 2017 I’ll be posting a new #HappinessChallenge and I would absolutely love it if you would give it a try… You can sign up by email or follow me on social media (Look over at the sidebar – or scroll to the bottom of the page, if you’re on your phone!) to stay updated!  No matter what your situation is, no matter what anyone is telling you right now.  Even if you only take tiny little steps that nobody knows about.  You deserve happiness, too.  🙂

Leave a comment below to let me know about your own #HappinessChallenge (or tag me somewhere), and please go ahead and share with family and friends!  We can all make 2017 a little bit better! 

 

Why my family of 5 went Minimalist – and we are never going back

Let me start by saying this.  Before I watched the Minimalism documentary (which btw, I normally really don’t like documentaries and refuse to watch them with my husband) I didn’t know much about minimalism besides a few things I’ve seen on the internet… Which made it seem more like a style and a fad (white walls, modern expensive furniture) than anything else.  I thought it sounded dumb.

But by the 1st 20 minutes of the video, I was hooked, and we had already made our decision.

Very basic summary:  Minimalism is about focusing less on materialistic things and more on family and experiences.  That’s really the point.  You can actually keep whatever you want, and there’s no set rules you have to follow.  It’s not about the label.  It’s just about intentionally thinking about everything you have, and asking yourself how much value each thing actually has to you.  If it’s something that brings you joy, or you actually need it, keep it.  But if you only have it because you would feel guilty getting rid of it, or because “it’s a set”, or because society has told you that you need it… Toss it.

You’d be surprised how much crap you have that you don’t really care about.  And also how much impact that one thing might be having on your life.

Think of how much money you could save… Not just on impulse spending, but on subscriptions, DEBT, even monthly bills and utilities… Do you really need “unlimited everything”?  Or that storage unit?  Or DirecTV?

All of this stuff is designed to keep you inside.  Entertained.  Sheep.

Imagine if you got rid of everything… You would spend more time outside.  Doing stuff!  Isn’t that exactly what you want for your kids anyway?

Moms… Think of how much CLEANING you could cut out of your day… I know you’re scared to even let that tiny ray of hope enter your mind, but I’m being serious.  If you could just cut your dishes and laundry in HALF, wouldn’t you jump on that?  We’ve kept everything we need, and what we actually want to wear.  We got rid of the things we only wore because they were there.  We cut down on dishes by only keeping what we need for the day… Which means rinsing your cup and using it all day.  Most of your dishes are in the sink because something else was already dirty.  Think about that.

Also, the toys and clutter… At 7 months pregnant, I had really gotten fed up with picking stuff up off the floor.  All.  Day.  Long.  But since we have gotten rid of everything they don’t actually play with often, and everything else we didn’t need in the house… I have so much less to straighten up around the house.  And it’s easier to get the kids to clean up their messes, too.

Not to mention, my house looks cleaner.  It took a little while to get used to it looking so empty (compared to before)… But now it’s so relaxing.  My office is bare, except for my desk and lamp (and the window).  It’s my favorite room in the house.  I’m taking that as a good sign.

A big problem today is, we live our lives looking too much at everyone else, and what they have… Instead of being content with what we have.  We look at popular styles, home décor shows, how big our neighbors’ houses are… And we feel less because we don’t have what they have.  We see buying new stuff and having MORE as a sign of success.  And I’m tired of it.  I don’t even like decorations… All the clutter on my counters has always bugged me.  I’m finally giving myself permission to feel that way and get rid of it.

As for “minimalism”.  It’s a lifestyle that lets you focus on what YOU want out of life, and not what anyone else says you should want.  It’s more about experiences, teaching your kids what’s important in life.  Letting them know that it’s okay to have hopes and dreams.  It’s about LESS STRESS and less feeling so overwhelmed… And as a mom, with two kids and about to have a newborn baby… That’s the biggest thing for me.