I'm simplifying my life to make room for things that matter

I am so NOT a minimalist. Like, at all. In this exact moment, I have on my kitchen countertop the following items:

  • 32 diapers (clean, not in a box, just spilled out across my counter)
  • An empty coffee mug
  • My daughter's hairbrush
  • An envelope that is stamped but has no address on it
  • A pen (apparently intended at one point today to write aforementioned address?)
  • Two frames from Ikea, still in the plastic wrap
  • An egg poacher—for the record, I have not poached an egg in about five years
  • An empty vitamin container (that is less than two feet away from the recycling bin, but miraculously not in it)

Yeah, not exactly embracing the life of simplicity.

But with spring finally upon us, I am not going to let that stop me from doing a major spring-cleaning decluttering session.

Until fairly recently, I've had this sort of all-or-nothing view of the clutter—if my house couldn't be immaculate, what was the point of even trying? But like everything in motherhood, "perfect" doesn't exist—and honestly, I don't think I want it to.

What's that quote? Perfect is the enemy of good enough.

That's my spring-cleaning goal this year: good enough. I just want to make my home good-enough-er, for these six reasons:

1. Clutter makes me anxious

Motherly's Anne-Marie Gambelin wrote that "Chronic clutter can create prolonged stress, throwing us into a state of low-grade, perpetual fight-or-flight—the system designed to help us survive. The fight-or-flight response involves the complex interaction of many body systems and organs that activate needed functions and minimize unnecessary functions during times of stress. These systems must remain in balance to maintain optimum physical and psychological health."

I feel that fight-or-flight every time I walk into my kitchen and see a sink full of dirty dishes, or a stack of disorganized mail. But when I walk in and it's clean—I can actually feel my mood improve immediately. I want more of that mood this spring.

2. I want to spend money on experiences, not stuff

I think that when my house is more cluttered, I end up spending more money… on more stuff. Either because I can't find something I need that's lost in the clutter, or because of a "not enough" mindset, I find that I am much more tempted to make spontaneous purchases when I'm not actively pursuing a more minimalist lifestyle.

When I am in declutter-mode however, I am much more likely to pass on the random purchases, because I have worked so hard to get rid of stuff—why mess that up?

And that means more money to spend on experiences with my family this spring and summer. I just found out about a local farm where you can milk cows and feed calves (for the record, I am about 6,000 times more excited than my kids about this one), and a motel made of converted train cars—those are the things we will remember and cherish, not the stuff.

3. I am craving get-up-and-go adventures

Spontaneity definitely gets harder when you have young children, but to the extent that it's possible I want to have the freedom to pick up and set off for a random day trip, or simply spend all day in the backyard looking for bugs. That is so much easier to do when my house is organized.

A professional-organizer friend of mine once told me that the average American spends 55-minutes per day looking for stuff. I am certainly not willing to sacrifice an HOUR every day looking for sneakers, butterflies catchers and bathing suits.

Decluttering my house gives me my precious time back. And that means more fun.

4. I want my home to feel like a haven

Spring and summer always get so busy. No matter how hard I try to have a relaxed schedule, it ends up being pretty full. End of year school activities, sports, birthday parties—it's a lot of running around. So at the end of a long, busy day, I want my home to feel like a haven, where I can truly relax, and get that calmness I crave.

5. Less screen time for my kids

I wish I was better at ignoring the mess and just playing in spite of it, but it eats at me and before I know it, I am up and cleaning.

Confession: When I clean, my kids are often in front of a screen.

By the end of our Pennsylvania winter, the screen time has definitely climbed up, so come spring we are always yearning to knock it back down to next-to-nothing. If the house has less clutter and is more organized, there is simply less cleaning to do. No excuses, we're going outside, kids!

6. I want to take care of myself

I have learned that if I am not actively and intentionally taking care of myself, self-care quickly falls away, almost completely. And that's not okay—for me or my kids. So this spring I am re-prioritizing me. I want to plant that little flower-garden I have been daydreaming about for years, take the occasional nap with the windows open, cook healthy meals with food I've bought from our local farmer's market, and go for walks on trails with my dog.

Again, I am working to get better at doing those things regardless of the state of my house, but the truth is that I enjoy them so much more when I know I don't have piles of mess to come home to.

By decluttering my home and my schedule, I can get more intentional with my time and actually spend some of it on me.

Maybe I'll even poach an egg.

You might also like:

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

Keep reading Show less