Monday, July 30, 2018

Command centers (Becoming Minimalist)

I wasn't sure where we should begin, after my previous post about being influenced/trying to reject the perfection push/overdone-ness on social media, while slowly becoming minimalist...  But I did get quite a few private messages begging for more and the "how it's done" etc.  Personally, I've been spending the week working on a command center that works for my entire family, not because Pinterest told me to, but because we needed a system.   After seeking inspiration all over social media, I was severely annoyed by all the cluttery, unneeded excess out there, so I figured this was a good place to begin, with our series.  Besides, once your family system is in place, you can move outward to the other places in your home.  (We will get there, slowly but surely.  My blogging goal is to post once a week on this topic for some time.)  Keep in mind, my brand of minimalism, is (like I stated previously) a work in progress.  I need more of some stuff now with teens than I will need someday, but I need less than I needed when they were toddlers, in other ways.  It's fluid.  Not beating ourselves up for actually needing some things is okay.  Minimalism isn't about having zero... it's about not having excess that gets in the way of life priorities.  (Because the more excess you have, the less you'll live, as you'll spend so much more time managing that stuff.)

So command centers... here it is. TaDa! Things I've seen other people display in theirs after my extensive "Pinter-research": keys, calendars, mail drop zones, schedules, grocery lists, clocks, chalkboards with quotes, artwork in frames, photos, ETC. Since I'm sharing mine, I will tell you... I didn't need half of that stuff in my personal command center, and if I had included those things, this would have felt cluttery, no matter how cutely it's displayed.  I was going for minimal needs MET, more or less. This corner, beside our desk is perfect.  It's mostly hidden from guests, but we see it daily. That is the perfect spot for something that has potential to get cluttered without constant attention.

 My husband and I work the mail/bills system together now, so we needed a joint game plan/ space/ holding spot for papers, so we each know where things are. My minimalist approach for this system, became "handle each item minimally." I know, duh.  In our home it works like this:

1. Mail comes in from the box, gets dropped into the mail bins on the side of our island, which I have shown you many times, (above.) This is our first line, drop zone for everything. Purses, backpacks, shoes even. It's the only place for one, and though I would love a different system, you work with what you have... (which can I just add, is the heart of minimalism, I believe. Not constantly going out and buying the new thing.  Just simplifying it down to what you've got and what works best for your household- not the ones who live inside Pinterest. Ha!)
2. Once the mail is opened (that same day) we separate recycling and toss it into the bin below our sink immediately. (Tip- always deal with all your papers immediately.)

SIDE NOTE: I hung these metal peg boards in the office earlier this summer, and am just now putting them to work with this new system.  I didn't want them going to waste, sitting in the garage, so I moved them because they were perfect for our family here.  This whole thing took a lot of thinking because we have a small home that operates as a command center, rather than being able to have one spot for everything.  What I mean by that, is it's broken up into places that make sense. For example, our family calendar is on the front of the fridge because that works best and we can all add our events to it and see it at all times. I left it there as we are all very used to seeing it from the dinner table as we chat about upcoming schedules, etc.

That said, before you go creating your command center, sit and think it through.  Think about what already works (probably doesn't need changing) and what you're always fighting.  If things get dropped someplace and you can't fight that battle, make a space for it instead.  (Put a bowl where your hubby always leaves his keys, or a container to hold mail, a hook for the purse, a tray for the shoes, etc.) (Make sense?) Only fight what you can win!
So, back to the mail and papers that come in.

3. After recycling is tossed, bills get swept up by me, and put into the "to pay" bin.  The other mail can get placed wherever it needs to go. Misc, papers to be dealt with later (think voters pamphlets, etc.) get placed in another bin in the office because then it's close to the computer where most of them are dealt with, read, filed or grabbed later. It gets them out of our kitchen drop zone and at least gives them a proper, more long-term space. Which is what my husband needs.  I don't but he does, so I make this work. Ideally nothing goes onto the desktop for clutter piles anymore, since the family shares this desktop space.

4. Receipts get pinned to the board nightly, and now have a spot for the weekly checkbook updating.

5. Our household budget is posted and clear (Flipped backward of course, for privacy).

6. Extra items, such as stamps and reward movie tix for teens are gathered here so we can see when we need more, etc.

7. School papers that need to be posted are pinned here as well. (I get them and put them in place immediately, rather than leave them on the counter. This is KEY to that minimal mindset.  Putting things in their places, right away.  Making a snap decision to keep/post, file, recycle, or snap a photo of it so you have the schedule or info at hand. (Tip- always take a photo of any school info, especially field trip info, even if you don't think you'll need it later or you've posted the paper someplace or filed it away. I learned this the hard way!) (I'm betting there is an app for this and if someone has one, please share!)

I used wooden chalk tags (Joann's+magnets glued to back) for sectioning off the peg board and found the push pin magnets at Office Max.  Magnetic clips are great for papers that need to be hung and when everything is categorized and intentional, you can keep items and clutter to a minimum.  You'll instantly know what needs to be kept and what doesn't when everything has a place to go.

Now for other papers.  Our life binder is still the family command tool. (I shared it here as well.) You may want to put one together, and you could keep passwords, important info to remember, address books, emergency contacts, school calendars, folders for each child through the year, etc. (I keep one envelope/file folder for each child in this binder, and during the year, as they present me with their awards, photos, programs for concerts or other keepsake paper items, I tuck them into that envelope.  At the end of the school year, they remove all the papers, sort them, and file them into their grade envelopes, in the bin they each keep in their closets.) (I shared that system here.) I also keep track of their community service projects in a log with their file. (Looming College applications planning, anyone?)

In our office, we also have some working files, and some long term files that I manage.  This is a whole other subject, but my tip is- use uniform files, folders, and labels for a cohesive look.  Keep things logical and simple and put hanging folder tabs on the same side to streamline.  Shred things or recycle immediately, file things as quickly as possible, and have a place and label for all others.  My man makes a LOT of piles and so I gave him a bin to put them in.  When it's full he tends to empty it out and take care of it. As long as he keeps the piles in the bin, we get along just fine (grin) and when he doesn't, I scoop up his piles, and put them into the bin, then he knows nothing got thrown away and knows it's in there. And we don't fight. Ha!

 There are currently coupons we may want to use in this above holder (not shown) that we got at Goodwill for a couple of dollars. (Score!) I really need to use a windshield replacement one soon, and when I make the apt, I'll know right where the coupon is.
Wrapping paper isn't a standard command center thing, but for us, it is an office thing, so I included it since it's located next to our command center. These are the $1.50 Ikea bag holders.  They adhere to the wall but use command strips instead (trust me) and use a couple for storing your paper rolls. (Only keep wrapping papers you LOVE and will actually use.  So many people have way too many on hand which is pointless and takes up too much space. Edit those bad boys and only keep your faves!)

Also just basic, and not necessarily related to the mechanics of this post....  If it's ugly, hide or disguise it.  (Our family phone charging station hides behind the computer, on the small bookshelf which you may have noticed.) If it's pretty, showcase it.  Our pencils are pretty so they get a glass jar that showcases them. Make sense?

Someone asked me about all the chargers for an entire family's devices. Well...  There is no one size fits all.  Tons of solutions, depending on budget. Just find a gadget that charges many devices at night and try to hide the cords.  That's my best advice.  Real people live in real homes and we have cords.- especially when we're all home together.  Pinterest doesn't show cords but c'mon.  We all know better, right? (P.S. I don't hate Pinterest.  Well, mostly.) 

One bonus tip my boss does that I love, is label everyone's charger cords with their name and what device it works with.  Isn't that genius? Okay shoot me your questions in comments! 


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Becoming Minimal...

Apparently I've become an occasional blogger.  At least that's what I recently edited my Instagram profile to say! (@lemonademakinmama) I'd like to make blogging more of a regular thing though, because I've got so much inside of me that I'd like to share.

As time has passed, especially since my daddy died, I see changes in my life that I'm happy about.  One of them has been the reinforced value that things are simply that... "things."  I've been on the mission to downsize our life and home for a few years now and goodness knows I've bashed those words around this site non-stop... I think that's an awesome thing though, so zero apologies here.  I've shared about becoming a minimalist with my clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories.  Gosh I breathe easier as I type that.  It brings freedom deep into my bones.

And I suppose that is where I'm taking this blog, into the future.  The freedom of less.  I recently wrote on Instagram that I'm making room for more and more "LESS." Deep exhale.  As I work in homes, organizing their belongings, I walk into my own home and think daily, about what I don't actually need. Then I get rid of it.  It's honestly that simple.  Though it can seem so complicated somehow.  It isn't! On the front end, it stops me from the spending habits that had defined my entire life until a couple of years ago.  They were mostly impulsive, joyful, yet thoughtless.  Now they are few, careful, and needed overall.  It of course, all began with the clothing, after years of striving for change.  It's honestly a type of bondage and it was holding me back.

I believe what has spring-boarded this mission in my own heart, has been social media.  I had a moment this month (and perhaps you've been here) where I looked around my feed and every home basically looked the exact same way to me!  All were honestly, and I'm sorry to say, though I'm not pointing fingers... overdone.  Just surface after surface so artfully styled within an inch of it's little life, with groupings of things, that I wanted to walk into each home and clear off just ONE of those gorgeous surfaces. Let it breathe! All had the same basic look, as most of their belongings had all been purchased at the same popular shops, and there were simply too many words on every overcrowded wall. And this, coming from a girl who loves groupings of cuteness and words on the walls. I DO! But.  But oh my!  

It's chaos out there people.  And it's making us bring more chaos into our homes and making us think chaos is normal and that we need that one more thing from that most recent collection from that one store we all love, to add to our own personal chaos and our spending is out of control and our stress is too high and our closets are stuffed.  (Well mine aren't, but it's taken time to get myself there so no judgement, just acknowledgement.)

I'll tell you what I did.  I clicked unfollow on over two hundred "identical" accounts.  I know.  It's crazy, and yet I've never been afraid of being bold with my social media. Hello, closed LMM account from years gone by!  As I try to jump back into blogging more and more, I'd like to show how I've made my own changes, but what keeps me cautious, is the idea that I'm not fully a minimalist yet.  And also there are quite a few visual connotations that pop into one's head when they hear, "minimalist."  Be honest, you see blank, white walls, and flat surfaced tables with nothing on them, don't you? I don't think I'm that kind of minimalist.  If I had to categorize myself, my style of minimalism is more of a, "things I use, but not much more" minimalism.  Does that make sense? I mean I do have STUFF.  But I also have blank areas too!  It's a balance that is working for me, but I keep getting rid of more and more so in the end who knows where it will end up.

I don't want to jump on a soapbox and act like I've got the ONLY right answers. But gosh... there aren't that many people out there saying, "Uh hey... let's stop the madness and do life a little different, hmm?" I like those ones who are.  Y'all got it going on, and I'm joining your minimalist teams! I do also think there is a reason people are flipping out over books about "magic & tidying up"....  People want less to manage, and too much stuff rarely sparks any long term joy. We all know this deep down.  We crave spaces in our lives, homes, schedules and hearts.  It's not unachievable either.

Today I'm not sharing photos.  But I will.  Oh I will!  I would like to take you room by room, and talk about what works, what didn't, what I changed, what stayed the same, and what I plan to do as we prepare for our downsize to a condo in a couple short years.  I might be irregular on blog scheduling until summer is over, but if you don't want to miss any, you can always subscribe in your email.  And if you know anyone who is moving into a more minimalistic lifestyle, I would love to "meet" them, so please feel free to share with me in comments!