Lately I’ve been spinning my wheels….and its driving me crA-zy. Fall came in like a dang mare in heat and she was just plum pissed off. We were left scrambling to get all our last minute fall chores done and buttoned up before Old Man Winter made his appearance, and from the sounds of it he’s going to be extra cranky this year *eye roll*.
There is so much to do when you homestead, no matter the size, and we desperately wanted to have it all done so we’re not out doing these tasks in single digit weather. Here’s just an idea of what we had going on…. hauling and stacking 22 tons of alfalfa hay (660 small square bales), weaning calves and then opening up the storage side of our barn to make room for our ever expanding miniature cow herd, trying to solve the question of how we can provide enough water for 7 cows and 1 horse when they are in two separate pens and I really, REALLY don’t want to have to pay to run two tank heaters this year, remodel and fill “beds” for my expanded raised bed garden, seal up doors and windows, clean rabbit colonies…..are you getting the picture?? yeah me too.
Want to know what makes that even more stressful??, having a house so cluttered and trashed with “stuff” that I spend 85% of my day just trying to knock some of it back, organize, and clean up after two little tornadoes…lol. As I’ve begun homeschooling this fall with our oldest I’m finding I have even less time as I spend 20-30 minutes a day planing and prepping for the following day (I seriously need a better plan for prepping) and then 25 to 45 minutes sitting down and guiding my daughter through her lessons and exploring her world. While I love the time that I get to spend with our oldest learning, and then both kiddos as we do our arts and crafts, I’m finding I have less time for myself and all of the other billion (okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but seriously) things I have to get done in a day right now. While most will tell you that this is just part of homesteading, motherhood for that fact, I refuse to believe this.
Lately I’ve started just purging anything and everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary for our daily life or that didn’t bring us joy. It’s a slow process and I’ve stopped and started A LOT, but I will tell you that I’m finding it very rewarding. The key is to start with small things that will give you immediate victories so that you are encouraged to keep the momentum going. For me the most important areas that needed addressing were: clothes/laundry, dishes, and kids toys…..OK maybe this isn’t that small of one, but seriously there is way too much to pick up, so some of it had to go.
Lets start with dishes, mostly because they’re fairly simple and straight forward. We (OK, me…cause lets face it, mom gets stuck doing dishes 90% of the day lol) cut our dishes down to just 2 sets for each person. Hubby and I each got 2 large and 2 small plates, 2 cereal and 2 salad bowls, as well as 2 tall and 2 short glasses. In turn, the girls each got 2 sets of plates/bowls/and cups. I swear this has cut my “doing dishes” time by more than half, simply because we don’t reach for a clean dish…instead we simply wash something if we’re out or if we’re really good we simply wash our dish when we’re done and set it in the drying rack….we’re still working on this part.
The extras I simply stored in an out of the way cabinet in case we have company and need more dishes, or as we’ve already experienced dishes brake and sometimes its easier to pull one out of the cabinet then try and track one down in the store. The key to this is putting them in an out of the way cabinet, you don’t want to be tempted to pull an extra dish out when you’ve dirtied all your everyday dishes. If you think you’ll be too tempted simply box them up and store them in the attic/cellar/garage, whatever works for you.
Lets talk about laundry. Are you tired of doing laundry? Tired of watching clothes pile up as fast as you can wash them? Well let me simplify things for ya. How many pants do you really need? Come on…be honest. For me, I have 2 pairs of pants that I like to wear around the house when I know we’re not going to town (these are mostly for the winter when I know we are going to be in the house most of the day), 1 pair of nice jeans that I save for “going to town” days, and 2-3 pairs for “work” days or dirty chores. That’s 5 pairs of pants. Now I did the same thing for my shirts, sweatshirts, and other clothes. There is no right number, so I’m not going to give you one. It truly is based on what your average day/week looks like, if you are a stay at home mom your wardrobe is going to look far different than someone who works in town all week and takes care of the property nights and weekends.
Create three piles as you empty your drawers and closet: keep, donate, trash/rags. I only kept items that I was wearing on a regular basis and that I knew fit me well and that made me feel good. I donated items that were too large or didn’t fit me right, since I’m in the process of loosing baby weight I’ve decided to temporarily keep items that are too small, HOWEVER as I am able to fit into my old wardrobe I will be assessing what fits and feels good and donating the rest…I also boxed the too small items and moved them to a spare closet.
This is a process, so don’t feel like you have to get it “right” all in one foul swoop. I’m doing a second round through my closet this coming week and I know I’ll find even more that needs to be donated than I did the last time.
Lets talk about the toys. I can almost guarantee you that the amount of toys your kids have is a direct reflection of your location and weather. Where we live in northern Wyoming we get on average about 6 months of winter. While the kids have no problem bundling up and playing while I do chores in the morning and pitching in where they are able, lets face it no one wants to spend all day outside in single digit weather. For this reason we have a larger amount of toys than some. In the summer I try and take the larger outside appropriate toys like our slide and sand table outside so the kids don’t get sucked into playing inside.
When I made our initial purge I cleared all the toys out to a separate room that the kids don’t have access to, and then gathered toys by use or theme starting with the favorites. For us this looked like their Little People farm sets, wooden train sets, building blocks, Mr Potato Head parts and pieces, drums/pianos/xylophone, Duplo blocks, dinosaurs, and a few other random toys. Those were the only toys allowed back into the playroom. I waited 30 days to see what toys if any the kids would ask for out of the spare room….there were a few but not many. After the month was up I went through the remaining toys and if it wasn’t broken and had all its pieces I put them in the pile to donate. Since Christmas has come and gone I really need to go back through and see what toys aren’t being played with and purge again.
If you find yourself with a ton of toys still you could try something like a toy rotation where you only put out say half the toys and in a week or two swap them out. It amazing how much more toys get played with when kids have fewer choices to overwhelm them and they’re easy to find.
If you’re struggling to simplify your life and your routines I hope that you take my story and jump in. There’s no right or wrong way so just take a step forward and declutter your stress and chore load.
Life on the homestead can be full and busy at times, but I hope I can show you the way we are trying to live our lives and our experiences as we make changes to be less stressful and making time for the things in life that really matter. Now get up and get started. I promise if you spend just 30 minutes today decluttering an area of your life that seems to be taking up your valuable time you will find so much time to enjoy the things in your life that matter to you. Come back here or find me on Instagram and let me know where you started and what changes you hope to see.
Love. Grace. And blessings to your place.