As I’ve started to settle into life with three kids under five, my new favorite word has become “minimalism.” The nesting stage of pregnancy turned into a full blown tirade to “throw away all the things.” Basically, if I hadn’t used it in the last 10 minutes or if it remotely annoyed me, into the trash/donation pile it went.

On my journey of discovering ways to implement self care into my life, I discovered that it starts at home. I have been drawn to the teachings of two great but really different women: the young and trendy Allie Casazza and the not-as-young-or-trendy FLY Lady. I quickly learned that having less at home most definitely meant more at home. More time, more freedom, more sanity, more happiness, more self love and care.

I began to minimize areas of our home in as many ways as I could find.  I got ride of multiple sets of dishes, tons of clothes, bags and bags of toys, aged home decor, excess paper, and on and on and on. It was liberating to purge the clutter but it actually began to make life easier too.

Instead of a giant mound of dishes to do every night, I now had a manageable pile. Rather than getting out a new clean glass every single time someone wanted a drink, the cup had to be washed or even reused. Less clothes in the closest meant smaller loads of laundry that wouldn’t sit on the floor for weeks before being put away. Ok, we’re still working on that one…

Perhaps the best improvement? The elimination of toys! I’m not joking when I say that I’ve taken at least ten garbage bags of toys out of my house over the last few weeks. And my kids have barely noticed.

Ok they’ve sort of noticed. The “You want a Lego mini-figure? Here’s a wooden block!” conversation didn’t go over as well as I had hoped. But they’ve significantly cut down on the bickering now that mama’s garbage bag makes a regular appearance.

And, importantly, mom is (becoming) happier! There’s less to clean up, the kids are actually playing with things, world peace is on the horizon my friends! If you’re familiar with Montessori teachings, this sort of “less toys is more toys” concept is not new. I’m hoping that soon we’ll be down to just rocks and sticks as play things. Ok, and the occasional ball, I mean, I’m not a monster.

My husband was mostly supportive of my newfound outlook on clutter… except when it came to his personal things. Suddenly, he became very protective of his clusters of tiny “important” papers, loose pocket “treasures,” and piles of unworn-in-years “favorite” shirts. Weird how a tiny scrap of paper can sit untouched next to a bathroom sink for weeks but the moment you try to throw it away or ask them to put it anywhere else, it becomes a priceless artifact necessitating preservation.

I continued to clean and declutter the rest of the house without him and just collected all of his “valuables” into a laundry basket. I then gifted him the basket and asked him to find a home for the stuff. He stared at me blankly, sheepishly realizing that the majority of stuff was junk. I’m happy to report that today he is fully on board with the garbage bag project and even volunteers a few pieces here and there.

We are by no means living a barebones lifestyle, not even close. But our mindset has begun to shift ever-so-slightly and we’re making conscious decisions about things we keep in our home. THAT is the key. Nothing stays or new comes in unless we really want or need it.

So if you want an easy way to add a little self care to your mom life, get out the garbage bag. Stop organizing the stuff. Step away from the Dollar Spot at Target. Put down the cute baskets. Pick up a garbage bag and just get rid of it!

Now excuse me while I get my own bag. It’s time for another sweep of the house.