Hey everyone! While I am rocking it out on vacation, I had a wonderful guest blogger come in for me. Everyone, meet Jess. Jess, meet everyone………………………………………………
Thanks for joining me today on Anna’s wonderful blog. She’s so classy, talented, and creative. It took me about three seconds to say yes to guest posting for her today!
By way of introduction: My name is Jess and stuff makes me crazy. At least, superfluous stuff makes me crazy. I’m a wife and mom of three currently recovering from a lifetime of messy habits and overwhelm. The thing that is helping me most of all on the journey is a term I’ve coined: “Minimal-ISH-m”. Not bare and sparse, not plain white and cold, and certainly not perfect, but a home and life full of only things that are useful and beautiful to me and my family.
The holidays can feel extra stressful if you are someone who can’t handle stuff very well. Over the years, I’ve come up with some things that help make it a little easier. Are any of these ideas earth-shattering? Nope. But my hope is that they can spark something in you and me and we’ll be able to breathe a little easier this year.
Do a quick declutter before the mad rush of the season begins.
As someone who is slowly digging herself out of the clutter I’ve created over the past years, I pretty much always have a big decluttering project going. But now is not the time for big projects like overhauling closets or tackling the garage. Simply go through some of the most used areas of the house, quickly removing easy stuff that you know you don’t need. I’ve found this to be especially important in kids’ rooms. Throw away broken, unused, or lackluster toys (I’m looking at you random McDonalds junk) to make way for the coming wave of new stuff. It doesn’t have to be perfect, meticulous, or take a lot of time. Just swoop in, throw some stuff in a donate box and immediately take it to the thrift store.
Be really creative and intentional with your gift giving, especially if those items will be living in your house.
My husband especially loves gift giving and we will spend a long time talking about what we want to give to our children, family, and friends, focusing on gifts that will inspire creative play, togetherness, joy, or to meet a genuine need. Ask yourself, “What will this gift add to the life of the person receiving it?”rather than, “Oooooh, this person will think this is neat!” or “Ahhh, I haven’t spent enough money on this person, I better grab some more stuff!”
Make a daily routine of chores and stick with it.
Do the dishes every night, wipe down the counters, tidy up for ten or fifteen minutes every single day during the holidays. Even though you may have an extra busy schedule and it seems like there is no time for these daily menial tasks, still do your best to plod through them. I’ve found that making the backdrop of the holidays as clutter free as possible really adds to my joy in the season. When you take the time to do these simple tasks everyday, they don’t even take all that long! Just make sure that once you’re done you grab some hot tea and a blanket and enjoy some cozy time to soak in the peace before it all gets chaotic tomorrow.
Have less, but make it more meaningful
When I was a kid I LOVED decorating our family Christmas tree. Each ornament held a memory and I looked forward to seeing them all again year after year. Walking around in stores like Target and Hobby Lobby can make you feel the urge to get all new Christmas decorations or add tons and tons more each year. Instead, have made it a rule to add one or two meaningful items each year to your holiday décor, tying a sweet memory to each piece. This year, I passed up wreaths and garland for matching family stockings (since it’s our first year with our completed family!) and a set of Rudolph toys, which is my three year old’s very favorite movie right now. No magazine is going to come knocking on my door to take pictures, ever, but my family will delight each year as we pull out our beloved and long-lived treasures.
Be present, offering yourself fully to those you love.
It is so easy to be distracted by the stuff of the season. Food to be made for parties, gifts to be bought and wrapped, parades to wrangle kids during, decorating, and forced “memory making”. As cheesy as it sounds (and trust me, it was really hard to word this in a way that didn’t involve the phrase “the present of your presence”) your friends and family would rather enjoy moments together with you, having fun and meaningful conversations. Think of ways to increase connection as you journey through the season. Ask about your parents’ childhood Christmas traditions, sit and watch your kid play a game on the iPad, asking questions of genuine interest. It doesn’t have to be fraught with intention and glitter and specialty sugar cookies you stayed up until 2:00am making, it just has to be face-to-face, loving connection.
Relax and remember that you can always deal with the clutter later.
I love, love, love the new year. The clean slate and rush of decluttering energy is totally my jam. Taking holiday decorations down and sorting through things and putting the house back in order seems to come a little more easily in January. So as the onslaught of stuff comes in December, don’t stress. You’ll find a home for everything eventually .
I am not perfect at doing these things. It’s not easy to keep from being swept up in the duty and materialism of the season. But every time we take just a few moments to cut clutter and rush out of the season, we will find we have much more room for peace and joy.
Happy Holidays, everyone!