Print Friendly and PDF

Decluttering and clearing a home of excess is usually where people begin to tread the minimalist path. Living a minimalist lifestyle looks different for different people. It’s not about perfection, it’s about making progress. It’s about making more deliberate choices when it comes to consuming.

Everyone living or trying a lifestyle with less stuff is on their own journey, doing it their own way.

So if you’ve nailed the decluttering side of things and stopped purchasing stuff you don’t need, you may be thinking, what’s next?

Beyond the physical stuff, we can examine other areas of life for excess as well.

1. TV and social media

After I purged my home of excess items, I began to look at the way I spent my time and what non-stuff things were causing clutter in my life. What were the distractions taking away from the goals that were important to me?


Turns out I had quite a bit of technology cluttering my life.

A few years ago I stopped watching daily TV and now no longer own one. This was a game changer for me. I “found” more time and realized that the old, "I just don't have time," when it comes to pursuing a goal or dream is not an excuse if you are watching TV. Truth is, you do have time, you're just choosing to use it elsewhere.

By turning my attention to this, my appreciation for how precious little time there is deepened—its finite nature became crystal clear. Unless we have a handle on how to manage time effectively, we’ll give it away to activities and people that aren’t deserving of our most valuable asset.

I began to pay attention to how much scroll time I was spending on Facebook and realized I was battling another type of digital clutter—social media. My 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there scrolling festivals were sucking up my time and adding no value to my life.

Four months ago I removed all but two people from my friends list, keeping my account open but essentially removing scroll bait. Then I unfollowed all but a few other Facebook pages, keeping only the ones that added actual value to my life and projects—mostly pages with inspiring, informative content. I don't think there's anything wrong with social media—just be a ruthless curator of the channels in which you participate.

2. Zero waste

When I adopted a minimalist lifestyle a few years back, my motivation was mostly about finance, not the environment. Two and a half years later, my journey in owning less stuff has lead me to become more interested and aware of the environmental impact of excessive consumerism.

The zero waste movement, like minimalism, is a growing lifestyle choice. I’m not a zero waster myself, but I am blown away by the creativity, passion and social consciousness of people who fully embrace this movement. I’ve become so much more aware of the waste I produce related to even my idea of simpler living. This year I’ll be spending more time learning about the zero waste lifestyle and plan to take a few steps down this path myself.

3. Food

I love to eat, and I eat a lot. Roughly 90 percent of my day is spent thinking about what I’ll eat, when I’ll eat it, and then what I’ll eat after that. My goal is to rock a tight but tasty food budget.

It’s all too easy to eat a diet full of food clutter without even realizing. This year one of my intentions is to eat a more simple, less packaged diet. I subscribed to a vegetarian food box home delivery service for about six months last year, which I loved. It made it so easy for me to prepare more fresh meals and taught me a little more about simple, tasty ingredients for vegetarian recipes. But I recently canceled my subscription because I want to take steps to minimize waste—even though it was fresh food, there was a lot of packaging with this subscription. I also want to learn how to plan and purchase ingredients for plant based meals myself.

4. Finances

Decluttering my finances and paying off debt lead me to minimalism initially. I’m a bit embarrassed to say this, but I had about twelve different superannuation funds over the span of my working life, because I never bothered with the proper administration to move one fund around. I knew I needed to sort this out and understand what was going on with my superannuation, but it all seemed just too hard. I had so much clutter from these funds—not just the actual paper statements, but mental clutter as well. I’ve streamlined my fund now and feel much better for it.

If you stop buying things you don’t truly need, you’ll find yourself with more money to pay down debt, establish an emergency fund or grow your savings. Minimizing financial clutter is also about untangling yourself from contracts where possible, so I choose prepaid or month-to-month options wherever I can. The liberation I’ve earned from decluttering my finances is the freedom I’ve gained to pursue things that are more important to me.

5. Tiny home living

I am obsessed with tiny homes. Like those devoted to the no-waste movement, I am endlessly fascinated and impressed by the creativity embraced by those who are committed to living within a space just big enough to house only what is needed. Tiny home living as a lifestyle movement has gained momentum in the United States and Canada and is growing in Australia. Some choose to live in tiny homes for economic reasons rather than the primary intention to minimize. Whatever their motivation may be, tiny home owners are discovering the kind of liberation that comes with living in smaller, less expensive homes.

With so many threads weaving into minimalist living, I feel like I will always be growing and learning more about this lifestyle. And it doesn’t matter what paths others take toward their goal, I'm committed to walking my own.

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.
Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Thanks for subscribing!

Check your email for a confirmation message.

There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.


"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!


In the middle of that postpartum daze, the sleepless nights, the recovery, the adjustment to a new schedule and learning the cues of a new baby, there are those moments when a new mom might think, I don't know how long I can do this.

Fortunately, right around that time, newborns smile their first real smile.

For many mothers, the experience is heart-melting and soul-lifting. It's a crumb of sustenance to help make it through the next challenges, whether that's sleep training, baby's first cold, or teething. Each time that baby smiles, the mother remembers, I can do this, and it's worth it.


Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT a NYC-based psychotherapist and author of Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom, says she sees this in her clinical practice.

"One mother I worked with recounted her experience of her baby's first smile. At eight weeks postpartum, exhausted and overwhelmed, she remembered her baby smiling broadly at her just before a nighttime feeding," Kurtz says. "In that moment, she was overcome by tremendous joy and relief, and felt, for the first time, a real connection to her son."

So what is it about a baby's smile that can affect a mother so deeply? Can it all be attributed to those new-mom hormones? Perhaps it stems from the survival instincts that connect an infant with its mother, or the infant learning social cues. Or is there something more going on inside our brains?

In 2008, scientists in Houston, TX published their research on the topic. Their study, "What's in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues", takes data from the MRI images of 26 women as they observed images of infants smiling, crying, or with a neutral expression.

The images included the mother's own infant alternated with an unknown infant of similar ethnicity and in similar clothing and position. In each image, the baby displayed a different emotion through one of three facial expressions; happy, neutral, or sad. Researchers monitored the change in the mothers' brain activity through the transitions in images from own-infant to unknown-infant, and from happy to neutral to sad and vice versa.

The results?

"When first-time mothers see their own baby's face, an extensive brain network appears to be activated, wherein affective and cognitive information may be integrated and directed toward motor/behavioral outputs," wrote the study's authors. Seeing her infant smile or cry prompts the areas of the brain that would instigate a mother to act, whether it be to comfort, care for, or caress and play with the baby.

In addition, the authors found that reward-related brain regions are activated specifically in response to happy, but not sad, baby faces. The areas of the brain that lit up in their study are the same areas that release dopamine, the "pleasure chemical." For context, other activities that elicit dopamine surges include eating chocolate, having sex, or doing drugs. So in other words, a baby's smile may be as powerful as those other feel-good experiences.

And this gooey feeling moms may get from seeing their babies smile isn't just a recreational high—it serves a purpose.

This reward system (aka dopaminergic and oxytocinergic neuroendocrine system) exists to motivate the mother to forge a positive connection with the baby, according to Aurélie Athan, PhD, director of the Reproductive & Maternal Psychology Laboratory (a laboratory that created the first graduate courses of their kind in these subjects).

These networks also promote a mother's ability to share her emotional state with her child, which is the root of empathy. "A mother cries when baby cries, smiles when baby smiles," Athan says.

While there's a physiological explanation underlying that warm-and-fuzzy sensation elicited by a smile, there may be other factors at play too, Kurtz says.

"In my clinical practice, I often observe a stunning exchange between a mother and her baby when the latter smiles at her. A mother who is otherwise engaged in conversation with me may be, for that moment, entirely redirected to focus on her little one," Kurtz says. "This kind of attention-capturing on the part of the baby can enable and cultivate maternal attunement—a mother's ability to more deeply connect with her infant. The quality of attunement in early childhood often sets the stage for one's relationship patterns in the future."

Whether a physiological response, a neural activation, simple instinct, or the tightening of emotional connection, the feeling generated by babies' smiles is a buoy in the choppy ocean of new parenthood.

And while the first smile may be the most magical by virtue of its surprise and the necessity of that emotional lift, the fuzzy feeling can continue well into that baby's childhood and beyond. It keeps telling parents, you've got this!

[This was originally published on Apparently]


Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."


Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).


Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.


Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.


A fellow mama

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.