Jul 31, 2019

Making Time for Friends - Realistic Friendships & Stress-Free Ways To Have Fun

July 31, 2019 0 Comments
Is it just me, or does it ever bother you when you're watching a show or a movie and all these fictional friends have limitless time for each other? They're constantly hanging out in the show and never seem worried about their job or adulthood responsibilities. They drop by unannounced whenever the mood strikes (Which, apparently, is often) and their other friend is always home when they do. WHAT? What kind of witchery is that? Who lives like that? Who pays their bills? How do they have so much free time to never work and still be able to afford that apartment in NYC?! Ugh. Unrealistic friendship goals suck. Thanks Hollywood.


If you're lucky in that you DO get to see your friend as often as all that, then that's great! I'm glaring at you, but that's honestly amazing. For the rest of us, it's not that easy. It takes effort to maintain any kind of relationship in your life, and friends are no exception. 

I don't know about you guys, but my friends are like a magical balm that slows down this hectic life and they never fail to make my soul happy. I don't feel as if I see them often enough, though. So, how do I make time to see them more often? I mean, each one of us has our own busy lives to juggle outside of our little circle. As such, I've learned that it's not simply about me making time for them, but how we all put in the effort to make time for each other.

coffee date with the girls! (All Rights Reserved)

Simple Expectations 

Try to not expect the world of your friends all the time. Offer friendship, not stress. If you have a friend who's busy and hasn't made time for you in a while, let them know that that's okay. Be understanding. Sometimes we go through moments that require a little solitude. 

We all get caught up in our own individual lives and families and the next thing we know it's been a month or so since we last saw one another. I totally get it. Being an adult means responsibilities and less free time. That's a-okay. But sometimes you just gotta gather your pals around you and let the rest of the world fall away for a little while.

I have six pretty amazing pals and it is often difficult to get us together at the same time. Usually we opt to meet in smaller groups here and there when we can. The other day a couple of my girls and I decided we need to make coffee dates more routine in our lives. 

Life Tip: Never say no to coffee. Ever

Mudleaf Coffee in Plano, TX

Lost In The Moment  

We found a super cute local coffee shop and spent a good four hours there. Actually, I think we may have been the last people to leave. 

To say it was cathartic to set around and do nothing but enjoy good company is an understatement. We spent our time drinking iced coffees, talking about things we're passionate about as a group, and sharing our viewpoints on how life is going. It was such a relaxing atmosphere that I didn't realize how long we had been there until I saw the baristas cleaning up for closing time. 

Cute little coffee shops give off a vibe of being in the moment. If you or your friend don't like coffee, I'm sorry. Honestly, I don't understand you. I mean, just look at this delicious cup of magic. Blueberry iced latte. Can you say addicted

Cue drool
Anyway, before I get even more distracted with the coffee part of this post, let me get back on track. Friends. This post is about time with friends. (I type this out as I longingly stare at the picture of my iced coffee...) Ahem

Like I mentioned earlier, it's straight up magical when you're with like-minded souls. Souls who share your passions in life. Sometimes we go far too long in between seeing one another, but the key thing to remember is that it's nothing personal. I have noticed some people assume their friends are too busy for them. In reality, they're just simply busy. It doesn't mean they don't want to spend time with you. Patience and understanding are the best building blocks to a healthy friendship. 

(Credit: Unsplash)

Activities That Don't Prevent Conversation Flow

I try to avoid activities that deal with phones, theaters, or other settings that require you to separate or be silent when I hang out with friends. I want to make the most of our time together. If you're looking for a few ways to spend time together where you can all still chat, then I've got a few ideas. 
  • Coffee Shop: I mean, I couldn't start somewhere else. This one is obvious. 
  • Friend's House: Most of the time we'll gather at one of our places and talk for ours or watch conspiracy vids on YouTube. We may pause each video a thousand times while we all talk about what we're watching and our theories, but it's a blast. We usually try to freak ourselves out. Hello, shadow people. (You can't see it but I'm doing a finger cross and hissing)
  • Fresh Air: If the weather is right, get outside and do something together. Picnic, visit the local botanical garden, explore a park, or go for a walk. 
  • Book Store: One of our favorite activities is hitting up book stores. Half priced books is our jam. 
  • Get Spooky: Say what you will, but we love being a bit spooky. We love having metaphysical days and conversations together. 
  • Paint and Wine: I'm the artistic friend in our group. I once surprised everyone by drawing a bunch of images and bringing over my watercolors. We had fun eating cake, drinking wine, and getting messy. I taught everyone how to watercolor paint and we all got to take our pictures home for a nice memento. Actually, we need to do this again. 
  • Nickle Arcade: This one really depends. Sometimes it isn't easy to converse when at an arcade, but they're still fun. Who knows, maybe you can still chat while you dominate them in Street Fighter, causing them to mock you because you lured them in by telling them you're no good at games... Oh, just me? Okay. 
  • Be Moonstruck: This one is more personal to my group, but we're all obsessed with the moon. Spread out a blanket in your back yard, get some snacks and drinks, and head out to stare at the moon and share secrets or just talk. 
  • Girl's Night In: You're never too old to have a sleepover. Ever. 
  • Themed Party: We love planning dinner parties together. We'll sometimes to costumed ones for holidays. Do one just because it's a random Friday. No special occasion needed. 

Spend Time Wisely

Our time is very valuable and I often try to show my friends that I appreciate them. We're not jet-setting off,  taking weekend trips, or spending lots of money on shopping sprees. What we ARE doing is giving each other our undivided attention when we do meet up, though. And that's all it really takes, isn't it? That's why a simple coffee shop date to chat can feel like the highlight of your week. 

Always make your tribe feel valued and let them know that it's okay if life gets a bit hectic. There should be no pressure to always show up. That just causes them to feel overwhelmed, which, in turn, can prolong the time in between getting together. When you do meet up, it's up you each of you to show each other that you appreciate one another. That's best done by being in the moment and finding something to do together. 

What are your favorite activities with your friends?
How do you make your friends feel important?
What is the best friendship advice you've learned over time?

Let's keep in contact. Don't forget to comment, subscribe, pin, save, and share!

Jul 26, 2019

Budget Friendly Date Night - Quirky and Fun Quality Time Ideas

July 26, 2019 0 Comments
The weekend is here!! You know what that means? Yup! Dunkin iced coffee (can you say squee) in the morning and free time for everyone in my household. We like to visit my husband's family each Saturday since they live so close. Belle loves to visit her grandparents and my husband, Sacha, and I get bit of alone time to go out and have a date. Win-win!

But, what do we do on our date?

Sometimes Sacha and I find ourselves scratching our heads, trying to find something to do that's not the same old "dinner and a movie." We like to be goofy and have fun. We're total nerds and enjoy being random with each other. We're not into bars, drinking, painting classes (because why pay for that? I can paint at home) or large outdoor crowds in summer. One would think that the Dallas area has more to do, being so large, but... [Cue shrug]

(Credit: Unsplash)

If, like us, you don't think that you need to spend lots of money just to spend some quality time together, strap on your boots and check out these ideas:

"Disclosure:  This Beautiful Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases."

  • Game Night - Have an intimate game night with just the two of you. Sacha and I have this neat game, Our Moments, and it's more of a "conversation starter" deck of cards. The cards are meant to give you ideas on what to open up and talk about. For example "What personality trait do you admire most about me" or "Which of my passions do you admire most." There are other topics in there as well. Scenario cards and "What-if" situations. It's such a confidence boost to learn how your significant other see you and what exactly it is about you that drew them in and has kept them around.
  • Learn A New Language Together - I've always wanted to learn another language. French would be a great choice for me as my husband already speaks it. (He's from Montreal. Lucky punk) We're teaching our daughter French and I try to soak up what I can. Alternatively, I have a blast getting Sacha to speak with a Texan drawl sometimes. It's simply too comical. 
  • Visit An Exotic Restaurant - Dare each other to eat the weirdest item on the menu. I've never been to a Mediterranean restaurant despite the fact that I've always wanted to go. I'm thinking of crossing this off my bucket soon. 
  • Family Goals - Write down your family's goals for the next five years. Make a list and set a budget to achieve your goal, if you need to. For example, I have a VERY hard time with hot climates. About half of the year is unbearable. Texas summer is the worst. Our goal: We don't want to stay in Texas forever. We'd love to move somewhere with four seasons that has a milder summer. Reality: We need to budget like crazy and plan in detail if we want to move out of state. But that's a bit down the road. 
  • Unplug - Turn off all digital devices and disconnect. In our first year of dating, my husband and I would rarely have our phones on us. We'd go out and leave them behind or in a different room than we would spend time in. We wanted to focus on each other, not a screen.
  • Cringe Contest - Start with small actions or phrases and slowly build up to big cringe worthy things and see who breaks character first. Crown the winner Cringe King or Queen. (Let it be known that I'm the best at this game)
  • Superhero Day - Dress up silly and create yourself a hero or villain costume at home. (Captain Underpants, anyone?) Put on that blanket cape and run around the house being dorks together. Battle it out to save humanity or in my case the local coffee shop. (Hey, if you can't be silly and have fun together then what's the point)
  • Appreciation Jar - Both of you get a small jar or box, slips of paper, and a few pens. Spend a little while and jot down short notes stating what you love about each other, what you appreciate about the other person, or a fond memory. Put those in the box or jar and give it to your partner. Have them read one of the notes after they've had a difficult day. 
  • Date Night Idea Jar - Same concept as the appreciation jar, except you only need one and you both fill out little slips of paper of ideas. Places, events, or things you'd like to do on a date. Each week you draw one slip and cross if off the list.
  • Paparazzi Day - Take fun pictures together, get them printed out, and hang them on your walls at home so you see them daily. Fill your home with fun memories. This is one of my favorite way to reminisce on all the good times. I love looking at my walls and seeing a life of joy. 
  • Arts and Crafts - Spend time doing something creative together - Even if one of you *CoughSachaCough* is not artistically inclined. I've seen those hand molding kits around and I am dying to make one someday. It's on my bucket list for sure. Like this one here:

Spending time together doesn't have to be about how much money you spend. It's not about just being in the same room as one another. It's about actually doing something with one another that keeps your relationship from becoming stale. It can be something small, silly, intimate, calm, or relaxing. As long as your main focus is each other on your dates. 

All healthy relationships take effort. 

A favorite quote of mine is "Treat your friends like family and your family like friends." I'm not sure about you, but the thought of my husband not being my best friend sounds depressing. I am spending my life with him, after all. I plan to make sure it's a happy one.

Laying around after making "sand angels" at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. (All Rights Reserved)

What are your favorite things to do with your partner? 

How have you kept your spark alive and had fun along the way?

Let's keep in contact. Don't forget to comment, subscribe, pin, save, and share!

    Jul 22, 2019

    Entertaining Toddlers At Home - Calm Activities for Under The Weather Days

    July 22, 2019 0 Comments
    So, I want to change gears here for a bit and talk less about minimalism directly and more on quality time with a toddler.
    Today, I find myself with a toddler who wants constant cuddles because of a "boo-boo" she sustained the night prior. She has been attached to my hip all day. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't mind at all. I love cuddles and savor each one because I know one day they'll happen less often. I quickly started to think of ways to entertain her while satisfying her need to have me close and also preserving my sanity at the same time. 

    And, hey. Maybe the next time you find yourself staying home with a toddler and in need of a few calm activity ideas, you can use some of my mine. 

    (Credit: Unsplash)

    The End Of The World

    My husband and daughter had gone for a walk when it happened. I chose to stay home and relax for a while. You know, let them have some time for themselves while I have a little alone time. (any stay-home parent out there knows how desirable and rare alone time is) They had only been gone for about 5 minutes before they come back in. My daughter's eyes landed on me and I saw her little face scrunch up in pain while she drew in a deep breath and I knew it was about to get real. She began to cry and my husband was trying to tell me exactly what had happened all at the same time. (grr) I couldn't hear much of what he was saying over the tears Bug was dishing out, but then he showed me her little knee, covered in blood. He looked so distraught about the whole thing.

    Mom-Mode: Activate

    I took Bug off his hands and went to the bathroom. We cleaned her up, put some pain relief neosporin on her scrape and put a Paw Patrol band-aid on it. (she likes to think the pup on the bandage is hugging her boo-boo better)

    "Disclosure:  This Beautiful Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases."

    This is my favorite neosporin because it helps numb the wound and prevents infection. I've never had any issues with a scrape using this stuff. The only way I can get Bug to accept a bandage is if it's got a show character on it. The struggle is real, yo. 

    Our Day In A Nutshell 

    There. is. not. enough. coffee. I know those of you who know me are thinking, "Ramona, you never think there's enough coffee even on a good day." I have just one thing to say to you. You need to get out of my face with that negativity. Coffee is my essence. I was born of coffee. It has molded me, adapted me. I can't liv-...Wait, I digress. okay, back to the actual subject. 

    Ahem. So our day was spent doing calm activities that didn't require a lot of running around, walking, or jumping. 

    (Credit: Unsplash)

    • Educational Puzzles - One of our favorites is this one here. It has 20 different puzzles and each one has 3 or 4 pieces each. They're big and easy to connect for toddlers to improve fine motor skills and dexterity. 
    • TV - I try to shorten the amount of time we have the TV on during the day, but on days like today I just give in. Call me a weak momma, that's fine. We watched an hour of her favorites and then put some relaxing music on as background noise for a bit.
    • Indoor Picnic - We sat on the floor on a picnic blanket and used our imaginations for breakfast and lunch. Summer in Texas is horrible. 
    • Art Time - We busted out the colored pencils and drew some doodles. 
    • I Spy - We like to lay on the floor and stare around the house trying to get each other to guess what we see. She got me on "I spy something burn." I wasn't sure what she meant and after a while I gave up. She then told me "the sun" in the most duh voice possible. 
    • Fort - I mean, you can't NOT play in a fort on days like this! 
    • Silly selfies - Bug likes to make funny faces with those snapchat filters. 
    • Little Helper - We got Bug a toy cleaning set a while back and any time I do laundry, clean the kitchen, or use a spray bottle on counters she will grab her toy version and try to help me out. It's adorable watching her try to be mindful of messes. We have this set as well as this one. 
    • Educational Books - Bug loves bringing me books and telling me "I want to learn this." We spend a lot of time going over things and I'll let her tell me what she knows about it and I'll fill in little bits here and there for her.
    • Darts - We have this toddler dart board that's made of felt and looks like a big ol shark mouth. The darts are these plushy fishes with velcro on the bottom to help them stick. The goal is to feed the whale. It's a fun little pastime and we even enjoy sticking those little fish darts on each other's clothes and acting goofy. 
    • Dress up - Go all out. Tiara, sparkle skirt, wand, tea set and tea cookies. Invite a few stuffed animals along and have a blast. 
    • Race Cars - My daughter loves anything to do with cars and vehicles of any kind. We got her a little race track rug for the floor. We pulled it out and put block buildings on it to create a town. 
    • Spa Day - We grab our favorite lotions and Bug gets a foot rub. She's bonkers for putting lotion on and loves to be spoiled like this. Hey, if my kid winds up spoiled with love instead of with material items, I'm okay with that.

    Taking A Break

    During her nap I took full advantage to nap myself... HA! Just kidding. Nope, I came here and decided to write about my day for you lovelies. I did drink some more coffee, though, and that's much better than sleep in my book. Reading that back to myself made me realize that my book sounds like it needs a priority check... Meh, I don't have enough coffee in me right now to bother. 

    I opened all the windows, turned off the lights and TV and just sat in the quiet for a while, sipping my cup of magic and typing up this new post. I needed the stillness after my morning of activities.

     Excuse my "tired Momma" face (All Rights Reserved)

    Ending Strong

    Kiddo and I revisited a few of those activities throughout the day, depending on her mood. She's fairly easy to please and I count my lucky stars for that daily. I'm sure there are tons more things you can do at home and even outside, but I was shooting for minimum effort activities and ones that inspired the least amount of motion. 

    The day's not quite over yet and I have a feeling we're going to end with pizzazz. I'm thinking it's a sprinkle pancakes for dinner kind of night. What kiddo doesn't get excited for sprinkle pancakes? Instant mood lifter for sure. 

    What are some of your favorite home-based play ideas with your littles? What is your kiddo's favorite comfort food or activity? 

    Let's keep in contact. Don't forget to comment, subscribe, pin, save, and share!

    Mental Health Benefits Of Minimalism

    July 22, 2019 0 Comments
    Have you ever noticed that the state of your home can have a direct impact on your mental health and outlook? Have you ever looked around your house and felt anxious? Disgusted? Tired? Stressed? Maybe you felt the longing for a change or to get away. Perhaps even smothered by all the "stuff" that surrounds you daily, regardless of it it was clean or not. I mean, I can't be the only one.

    Is it possible to let go and escape those feelings? I believe so.

    Feeling Lost

    (Credit: Unsplash)

    I've never considered myself a glum individual. I always viewed myself as joyful, mischievous, random, silly, stubborn and playful. (Imagine if Ace Ventura and Loki had a love child. You're welcome.) I didn't notice how my mind had gotten a little darker until I took to minimalism. I realized that I had become defensive, curt, shut down, and reclusive. I laughed less and felt irritated much more often. You've heard that saying, "Grumpy and tired are just parts of my personality at this point." I embraced that saying and accepted that that's just what "adulting" is all about.

    It wasn't until I stood in the midst of my new space, with all it's clutter-free openness, that I realized my mind had been in as much chaos as my home. With each item that I purged I found another piece of myself again. Parts that I loved and missed about myself but thought had faded awayFreeing my mind of negativity was an unexpected, yet welcome, side effect of decluttering. I began to build myself back up to a whole little by little.

    (Credit: Unsplash)

    Letting The Light In

    When I let go of all the excess, I realized what I had been doing to myself. I had placed myself in a self-imposed prison; Keeping all of the windows closed to fend off the outside world. After I let go of the junk and excess I was able to relax more and was less stressed. I started drawing and painting pictures again. I put Pandora on daily and had silly dancing jam sessions. And honestly, you should be grateful you didn't have to see that part. Believe me, it's not pretty. My dancing consists of spinning in circles and doing weird bent knee wiggles. (Note the Ace Ventura part of my personality here) 

    There's something refreshing about opening all of your windows, letting the light in, and not feeling ashamed of anyone seeing your house. Almost as if the act of drawing those curtains back also pulls a foggy layer aside in your mind to allow illumination to flow within. When the home is open and bright, your heart and mind tend to jump on board and you can't help but feel lighter yourself. 

    Rediscovering A Passion

    (All rights reserved) One of my favorite paintings! This print is avail. for sale here.

    My favorite benefit is that I've found my creative spark again! I absolutely adore doing simple and colorful drawings. I took a hiatus from art to plan my wedding early in 2019, but I never did pick it back up. I wanted to, but my mind was never in the right place and I lacked the motivation. I was always too tired even though I wasn't doing anything most days. My cluttered space was a major artistic block for me.

    Benefits Of Decluttering Your Space:

    • Reduced Stress - The less that catches your eye means less you're mind is worrying about keeping up with and cleaning.
    • Reduced Anxiety - Chaos can cause the mind to feel anxious. Minimalism results in calm environments. 
    • Increased Creativity - With less to distract you you're more likely to get a bit bored. But don't view that as a bad thing! Boredom inspires creativity. Let your mind wonder and explore where that takes you.
    • Boosted Confidence - My confidence in my home has skyrocketed. It's perfectly "us" and everything within it inspires pride. I feel like I have been awarded the "American Dream" trophy on home life and healthy living. 
    • Improved Mood - The house takes minimal effort to clean, your confidence is higher, you're rediscovering passions during free time, and your anxiety and stress are reduced. How could you not find yourself smiling more?
    • Healthier Relationships - Improved moods will flow into your relationships. Better communication and less stressful conversations. I've noticed that when my space is crazy, my communication skills mirror it. 
    • More Free Time - With less time spent each day on cleaning you can focus on other things. Passions, family, getting outside, marathoning a show, etc. 
    • Increased Energy - There's nothing more energetic that looking around your minimized home and feeling a surge pride. I've even found myself searching for something to clean. I know, right? Ew. Who wants to clean (And you oddballs who actually do like cleaning.... You're not human. That's not normal. You can't sit with us)
    (Credit: Unsplash)

    Redefining The Home

    • You Don't Have To Do Everything All At Once - Maybe you're not ready to do a complete overhaul right away. That's totally okay. Maybe it starts with tossing a pair of old shorts, or maybe getting rid of the clothes that don't fit anymore. Maybe it's downsizing those craft supplies you've been hoarding for years on a "what if" scenario. (Guilty...So so guilty)
    • You Don't Have To Do It Alone - Have your roommate, partner, husband, wife, friend, or a family member give you a hand. If you're willing to let someone else help you purge, using the buddy system can actually help prevent backsliding
    • You Don't Have To Be A Strict Minimalist - Simply purging the stuff you don't use or need can make you feel as if you've accomplished a grand goal. And you absolutely have. Even if, at the end, you still have hundreds of movies or a tons of art supplies. (Did I mention guilty already? GUILTY) If you use it, then you don't have to toss it simply to toss something. 
    • Find Your Motivation - What drives you? What are your goals? Is it to feel free from clutter? To have more playtime with kiddos? To have more time with a loved one or friends? Maybe you want to worry less about home up-keeping and jet-set off to explore. Find what drives you and don't give up. Baby steps are better than none at all, right?

    My goals and motivation revolve around providing a better life for my family. To do more activities together vs being spread across the same room, distracted with different items and not interacting with each other.  I wanted to have less so we can do more, be more, and have moreI'll always be on the lookout for new ways to live healthier. From what foods we eat as a family, how we spend our time, to the state of our environment. I think our society has confused the term "having it all" with "having all of it." 

    I encourage you to set aside what you've been told is the proper formula for a successful and happy life. Create your own idea and fill it with all that brings value into your world. 

    What ways have you noticed your life improving? 
    Has minimalism helped you overcome anxiety or stress? 
    What hobbies have you been able to devote more time to? 

    I'd love to hear from you! 

    Let's keep in contact. Don't forget to comment, subscribe, pin, save, and share!

    Jul 18, 2019

    Unplugging - Minimizing Technology Usage and Increasing Quality Family Time

    July 18, 2019 2 Comments
    My alarm goes off and I grope around for my phone, barely cracking one eye open. My mind has yet to emerge from its haze where it believes I'm still asleep. Despite the unpleasant glaring of the screen on my tired eyes the first thing I do is plug into social media. 

    I don't say good morning to my husband and I don't immediately check the baby monitor to see if Bug's awake. No, instead I check Facebook and my game apps

    (Credit: Unsplash)

    Throughout the day I'm on my phone. Letting the TV entertain my toddler while I stay plugged in. When I go to another room for any reason my phone accompanies me. It's as if it's tethered to my hand. I go to bed at night and instead of ending the day talking to my husband about our day and the upcoming one I am on my phone again. 

    I don't enjoy constantly staring at a screen, so why do I keep doing it? I want to break this cycle of constant distractions and make memories with my family. I don't want to be a slave to technology. 

    Sound familiar?

    The Ugly Reality

    I struggle with reducing our time spent on phones and tablets at home. But I'm trying to change that. I'll have a week where I am able to cut it out of our daily routine but then we fall back into the pattern again. I don't feel as if technology and screen time benefits us as a family. I don't feel that any value was added to my life when I put my phone down. If anything, I feel guilty

    What Example Am I Setting?

    I start to wonder what I'm teaching my daughter. What kind of behavioral traits she's learning from my bad habit. I wonder how many times she's glanced at me during the day only to see me staring at my phone instead of watching her learn, play, and grow. How many times has she done something she thought was amazing, wanting to share that joy with me, only to see me staring at a phone and not paying attention? How many times has her little mind thought that she has to compete with tech for mommy's attention or affection? Does my husband miss me even when I'm sitting next to him? Does he miss our small talks that have faded over the years? It breaks my heart every time I ask myself that. 

    There's Nothing More Important Than Family.

    Nothing. There are NO apps, games, books, or activities that will ever be more important than my husband or kiddo, yet I act like there are by giving my attention to my phone. No more. Easy to say, right? How do I make that a reality? It's easy to start, but how to you maintain a tech-reduced home? I've found a few tips I plan on implementing and I wanted to share some of them with with you. 

    Minimizing And Downsizing Technology Usage At Home.

    • Cutting The Tether: I have found that the best way to not be on any device is to never have it in the same room that you're going to be in. If' I'm spending time playing with Bug in the living room, the phone and tablet gets tossed in the bedroom. I cover them with the comforter for extra measure. Out of sight out of mind. I don't want to see them when I walk through the bedroom and be tempted. 
    • Charging Station Relocation: Relocating where we charge our phones is a great way to prevent ourselves from laying in bed on our devices when we should be sleeping or starting the day. We set up a charging station that's in the living room where our phones go overnight. (an entry area would be ideal, but we don't have an outlet in ours) Let's face it. Phones by your head at night isn't really that healthy anyway. Buy an alarm clock for the bedroom if you need to. It's a better trade-off. I promise.
    • Less TV Time: The TV doesn't need to be on all day. There's nothing wrong with a little quiet. Open the windows, listen to the sounds outside, look at the trees in the wind i/.f you have any. Inspire boredom, I like to say. When you're bored, you're more likely to go into a creative state of mind. Yo/ that of your loved ones without a device acting as a buffer.
    • Daily Schedule: If you're having a hard time staying focused and entertained enough during the day and thinking about your phone more often than not, setting up a command station could be useful. Structure can seem like a total bore, but it's something that the mind craves for some of us. It can be hard going tech-free cold turkey without a fallback activity. Setting up daily schedules that allow you certain times of doing specific activities can help.
    • New Activities: There's no need to stay bored. If you're feeling antsy and need something to do then maybe it's the perfect time to start a new hobby or rediscover one that's fallen off to the side. Perhaps you simply need to get out and about. If you have kids, maybe explore their hobbies more with them. Painting, drawing, singing, dancing, cleaning, exploring toys, going for walks, appreciate nature, or picnics are a few neat things to do.

     Screen Time Effects On toddlers.

    There's a lot of debate on how tech and screen time effects early childhood development. While not all of the side effects are noticed right away, that doesn't mean they're not very real or damaging to children's growth. Researching how damaging my habit is for my daughter has been a huge reality slap. One that, although difficult to digest that I'd been potentially harming my child mentally, was a welcome awakening. I could go into this quite a bit more, but that's a post for another time. I'll share a few of the articles that I read, though. They can be found here and here

    (Image: All Rights Reserved)

    There are so many more articles out there on how technology can negatively impact their social and cognitive abilities later in life. It's been shown that tech time will impair a toddler's memory development and ability to focus on a task. Simple skills that they need to learn aren't being developed as smoothly because there are too many distractions

    A kid who's watching TV or a tablet show isn't eating as well as a kid who's sole focus is their food. They're too busy watching the show to remember to take a bite. A toddler who's potty training and allowed to have a tablet will not be paying attention to their body and learning it's cues. Accidents will happen more often and potty training time will be prolonged. Ask me how I know? Yeah, that was fun.

    Technology Free Family Time Ideas:

    • Go to the park
    • Explore nature
    • Read a book in a tree
    • Build a tree-house
    • Plant a little garden
    • Cook a silly or romantic dinner together
    • Go to the public library or one of their events
    • Go to a local museum
    • Have a family picnic
    • Play disc golf (my husband is obsessed and determined to make our daughter a champ)
    • Family bike ride
    • Messy arts and crafts
    • Do a puzzle
    • Music jam session
    • Bake a sweet treat
    • Play a board game
    • Purge the house of items to donate
    • Scavenger hunt
    • Visit a friend or relative
    • Host a sock puppet show
    • Go on a weekend vacation
    • Watch airplanes land and take off (our little girl loves planes)
    • Go on a train ride
    • Explore your town or city like a tourist
    • Visit a zoo
    • Go "Earthing" (which is walking around barefoot to connect more with nature)
    (Image: All Rights Reserved)

    A Wholesome Life.

    There's an endless amount of things you can do as a family that does not require a phone or tablet. Social media will always be there, waiting. Don't let the time you could be spending with your family pass you by. Course correcting your family's habitual behavior into a more healthy flow will only increase your quality of life. Less is more. Less distractions, less stuff, less chaos. More focus on family and quality. More free time. But most importantly, stronger and healthier relationships with those who matter the most.

    Don't miss out on life, live it. 

    What are your tried and true ways to minimize technology usage in your home? How has it's reduction improved your way of life? 

    Let's keep in contact. Don't forget to comment, subscribe, pin, save, and share!

    Jul 11, 2019

    Minimalism With Kids and Toddlers - Living Without Clutter

    July 11, 2019 4 Comments
    Look, we've all been there. You know what I'm talking about. You're POSITIVE you had the house spotless (or at least somewhere close-ish) before bed the night prior. Yet somehow it's barely midday and you've found yourself standing in the middle of a chaotic room full of toys strewn all about and you're thiiiiis close to throwing in the towel.

    Mommy - 0, Bug- 312

    Let The Day Begin (Credit: Unsplash)

    Isn't that simply how parenthood goes? The mess you endure with a toddler. Maybe it is. Then again, maybe it isn't. I never expected I could dig myself out of the cycle of endless messes, but here I am. I am free of the toy explosion extravaganza lifestyle.

    Stop, Rewind, Explain. That's Possible?

    Yep! It absolutely is. When my husband and I started to purge our home, we saved our daughters toys for last. We wanted to let her see us going through the process of getting rid of things as much as possible before we brought that drama into her life. And, if I'm honest, I wasn't really looking forward to the meltdown I thought would happen when we started saying goodbye to her things. But you know what? There was ZERO meltdown.

    Oh, Yea. You Read That Right. Smooth Sailing. 

    She hadn't played with a vast majority of her toys in so long that she forgot most of them existed. Which, to tell the truth, was what made this such an easy process for us. I was able to purge most of them during her nap. We let her have a say in some of the items we got rid of towards the end, though. I explained to her that we would be keeping some and giving others away. She actually surprised me by giving away a whole trash bag of toys on her own.

    How To Decide What To Purge.

    Books are Forever (Credit: Unsplash)
    This part can be a bit tricky. Personally, what helped us decide was focusing on what Bug's favorite items, hobbies, and interests are. Our tyke loves all things to do with vehicles, art, music, books, and educational items. Anything that wasn't in one of those categories was tossed out. If you're not sure what items your kiddo gravitates towards, spend some time watching them for a few days when they're playing. That should help you narrow down your list of "keeps" much easier.

    Benefits Of Purging Toys.

    I've come to realize that when kids have less toys they find new ways to play with them. They will use what they have to reinvent playtime. Having a few toys vs a lot of play items allows creative thinking and problem solving skills to develop. Those skills, if encouraged at such a young, age will help them immensely when they're older. I ran across an intriguing read the other day on this topic, actually. Psychology Today has an article (hereby Susan Newman that goes more in depth on this topic.

    Bye-Bye Mess!

    My favorite part of this process is that it's so easy to keep the house clean now. I rarely have toys thrown around anymore. With so little to clean, keeping toys under control when Bug's not playing with them is as simple as picking something up as I walk by. I've found myself getting bored and looking for something to clean lately. Just today I felt restless and frustrated that I had nothing to do. It felt so weird... and good.

    Now You're Done, Right?

    (Credit: Unsplash)

    Not so fast there. Keeping the kid's items to a minimum will be a continuous effort. You'll have toys entering your home faster than you can blink if you're not careful. Just think about it. Birthdays, holidays, kid's meals, random grabs at the store... It can all pile back up so quickly. I recommend letting friends and family know that you're taking a more minimalist approach to toys and kid items. In a world where everyone's pushing you to say "yes" to materialism, it's absolutely okay to say "NO." This isn't to say that you shouldn't buy things for your little one, though. And by that I mean...

    Experience Over Materialism.

    One of our family's favorite ways to supplement buying toys is to instead enjoy experiences together. We've even tried to ask our friends and family to give gifts on this line of thinking for holidays and birthdays. Those memories are one thousand times more precious than a new doll or train track. 

    Exploring Outside (Image: All Rights Reserved)

    Some Of Our Favorite Activities:  

    Family Picnic - Finding a shaded spot and then looking at cloud shapes afterwards is super fun.

    Park Days - Who doesn't love slides and swings on a perfect day?

    Foraging - We'll give her a bowl and ask her to go find treasures in the yard. We then spend time talking and learning about what she's discovered.

    The Mall - We live in Texas, y'all. It's not always nice outside (The sun is downright hostile) so sometimes we just like to browse around the mall and let her explore different things there. 

    The Zoo - Because animals are the best ever. 

    Berry Picking - When the season is right this is a great way to teach her the value of food. We also like the Farmer's Market sometimes.

    Movie Night - While we're excited for the day we can take Bug to the movies, I'm talking about a movie matinee at home for now. I'm not jazzed about dealing with a two year old in a theater. Pass.

    Museums - We lucked out with a kid who loves to learn about literally everything. If it's educational she's all over it like white on rice on a paper plate in a snow storm. 
    Bug and Daddy at the Zoo (Image: All Rights Reserved)

    Arts and Craft Day - I've got a few of Bug's paintings hanging around the house. Maybe have a binder where they can save their favorites. 

    Local Library - Story times and other events that are age appropriate are great and free ways to have some fun.

    What are your methods to downsizing kid items? Do you have any good activity recommendations? I'd love to hear about them so I can add them into our rotation! 

    P.s. Let's keep in contact. Don't forget to comment, subscribe, pin, save, and share! 

    Jul 10, 2019

    Embracing Minimalism As A Family

    July 10, 2019 4 Comments
    So, my family and I have recently gone through a major life shift. One that's left us feeling more free, clear, and happy. Our relationships with one another are thriving more than I thought possible and our home has never been more of a haven than it is now. 

    How? I knew you were about to ask that. Well, after my husband and I got married a few months back, in April, things started to accelerate for us. One thing lead to another and we found ourselves embracing minimalism. Yep. It's like a whole new chapter of life unfolding beautifully. 

    A new way of thinking. (Credit: Unsplash)

    The Great Awakening

    The epiphany that opened my mind to "less is more" happened after I watched a documentary on Netflix called Minimalism. I had NO intention of starting a new way of life when I was browsing through movies that day. I mean, who expects to find such an eye-opener when all you had planned was couch surfing while binging on snacks? Not this gal. 

    If you're on the fence or even just curious, I recommend that you check out Minimalism on Netflix. It expressed how I was feeling when I wasn't even sure how to describe it myself. Or check out their website directly, where they talk more in-depth about minimalism.

    Needless to say, by the time I'd finished watching the documentary, I was an emotional wreck. I felt like something deep within me had been spoken to and brought to the surface. I wanted to get rid of all of the things that my family didn't need or use, but I was a little worried. Would my husband be willing to let go of so much in favor of a simpler life? Luckily for me, Hubbs was more than excited to join in. The kiddo? Well, she'd be fine. 

    Time to purge and minimize (Credit: Unsplash)

    Anyway, like I tend to do, I jumped right on board and started purging. I was actually pretty shocked at how much stuff that I got rid of. It's been a few weeks now since the Great Purge (as I'm referring to it as) and I'm still trying to haul everything away. Typical "me" behavior, I researched the living daylights out of minimalism AFTER I purged. (note the implied eye-roll here, peeps) Not that it made a difference, though. 

    I spent days looking up all kinds of images, articles on how to let go of excess, downsizing, etc. I also learned that there were different kinds of minimalists. Did you know that? Well, I didn't. 

    Here are the "styles" I've learned so far

    1. The Essentialist Minimalist 

    This group focuses primarily on "quality over quantity." Own less stuff, but choose items that will last.  Each item adds value to their lives and therefore they appreciate them more. They focus on what they NEED vs what they WANT. The Essentialists will usually have "just enough" and only what holds great value to them in their lives. 

    2. The Experiential Minimalist

    This group focuses on making memories vs buying "things." Often they'll be able to fit their life in a bag or two so that they're ready to jet-set off when adventure calls. The pursuit of happiness and the abandonment of materialism.  
    3. Sustainable Minimalist

    The eco-minimalist pursues a life of less consumption in order to reduce their impact on the earth. Green living and zero-waste are key: reduce, reuse, recycle. These minimalists find any possible way they can to reduce their carbon footprint on the planet.
    4. The Mindful Minimalist

    These minimalists cherish stillness of soul and work to keep mental and spiritual clutter to a minimum. Practices of quiet, mindfulness, stillness, and listening are all essential here.
    5. Aesthetic Minimalist

    This type of minimalism might be what first pops in your head — the super modern, chic, bare walls and counters with little to no decorations. It's not strictly about owning less stuff, but about having less on display. It's all about that fresh and clean lifestyle.

    Less materialism, more value of life. (Credit: Unsplash)

    Where I Stand

    Out of these five types, I identify as the Essentialist Minimalist (ish). We have kept only the things that add value to us and what makes us happy. For my family and I, minimalism isn't about owning less for the sake of owning less. It's about owning less to have more. More free time, more family fun days, more peace of mind, and less time cleaning or organizing clutter. Less stuff, more life. 
    For example, we LOVE movies. We're a movie family. We own hundreds of movies (not joking here) and that's after purging some. We plan on keeping our movie collection because those movies have meaning to us and are a core part of our family unit. Does having so many movies mean we're not minimalists? No. It means we've learned to keep what is of value in our lives and let go of all the rest. 

    Our happy lil family (Image: All Rights Reserved)
    Minimalism looks different for everyone. There's not really a right way, in my opinion. It's about finding what fits you. Maybe you don't fit into the types I've talked about and that's perfectly okay too. 

    Let me know if you can think of another type of minimalism, tips, or advice! I'd love to hear from you.

    Let's keep in contact. Don't forget to comment, subscribe, pin, save, and share!