Getting in the right mindset to simplify… simplify your spaces

It seems like our lives can get so hectic so quickly without us realizing it is even happening. I know that I seem to get one thing running smoothly but then ten other things seem to just fall off the track and then everything turns to CHAOS. We need our homes to be comfortable and not a place we dread being.

For me, the very first thing I need to do before starting this process is to find a little time for me & God… I often find that life feels overwhelming when I haven’t been able to have any quiet time for myself. I have tried getting up earlier but that just isn’t working out right now, I often would take a few minutes after lunch when the baby was down for a nap but our school routines have been out of whack since adding a new kiddo, when the time bedtime rolls around I am worn out. I do find little bits of time here and there to have little chats with God but I just haven’t been able to have my devotional time and I think that may be part of the reason that I am feeling so overwhelmed.

When something is frustrating me I often go to Him in prayer and ask Him to help me and show me ways that I can change or that we can change as a family. I ask Him to give me wisdom and guidance about the changes and things we need to work on so that they will benefit everyone.

Where do we start when it seems like everything is the problem?

We use this process in our home for a lot of different problems, part of it we even use for teaching the kids to make good choices. I’ll give a couple of examples of how we have used this system in the past.

1. STOP and identify the problem.

This might be the most difficult part of the whole process because sometimes it can be difficult to actually narrow down what or where the problem actually is when you are feeling overwhelmed. Many times there are multiple problems and sometimes the problems are not actually what we think they are. If you do find yourself with a multitude of problems then just try to focus on the biggest one first and work on ONE AT A TIME or you may find yourself even more overwhelmed and frustrated.

Maybe your home just feels way too small and unorganized. What’s the biggest problem area? Well, the one that bothered me the most was the kitchen because that was where I spend the majority of my time.

Well, I know from past experience that these things contributed to our home having this issue:

  • to much counter clutter
  • too many things being wasted
  • things not getting put away properly
  • no good workflow
  • hard to find food/supplies when we need them.
  • lights/outlets not working properly
  • appliances not working correctly

2. Brainstorm

Now comes the time to brainstorm ideas that might help with each issue that is contributing to the main problem. Try to envision what your ideal morning would look like and think about the ideas that could help you to achieve your goal. Write down anything that comes to mind, even if it seems silly or impossible, and ask for your family’s input if that is an option.

  • buy a new house
  • build a new addition and dedicate it to a larger kitchen
  • create more workspace
  • throw everything out and start over
  • stop cooking
  • use disposable plates, cups, and silverware and throw away the rest
  • set up workstations
  • fix appliances or get new ones
  • fix electrical issues

A big hurdle I have when it comes to my kitchen is the fact that we do plan to remodel it shortly so I don’t want to spend a lot of time making changes that might not last. I have to remember that life seems to have a way of its own and changing the plans that we have so we just really need to do something now to make things work better for us today.

This actually presents us with a good opportunity to try out things and see how we like them and see how we actually use the different spaces better. When we do get around to remodeling we should have a better idea of what we need and where we need it.

3. Choose a Solution/Create a Routine

This is where you will look through those brainstorming ideas and cross out any that just won’t work and maybe highlight the ones that seem like better options. You probably want to try out the simplest and most cost-effective ideas to start with because you may find that you need to tweak the routine/plan later on.

  • buy a new house
  • build a new addition and dedicate it to a larger kitchen
  • create more workspace
  • throw everything out and start over
  • stop cooking
  • use disposable plates, cups, and silverware and throw away the rest
  • set up workstations
  • fix appliances or get new ones
  • fix electrical issues

4. Act/Put your plan or Routine together

Now you can use these ideas to create a simple routine or plan of action for solving your problem.

The first thing we had to tackle was the electrical issues. In our case, in this particular situation, we had some major electrical issues that couldn’t be put off. Thankfully we had some money saved for another project and we were able to get the work completed.

I would have loved to build a new addition to the house and just put a kitchen there but Mr. Awesome says that isn’t a feasible option right now… I’m not giving up on that idea though… lol.

The appliances were another big issue and we actually were able to get the company to replace the dishwasher as it wasn’t working when we moved in and they had replaced the refrigerator as well. Unfortunately, the new refrigerator went out within a few months so we had to bring the old one back in along with another one that we had in storage. The one we had in storage was new but it wouldn’t fit in the spot for the refrigerator so it just kind of hangs out in the dining room for now.

We don’t really like having two fridges but I am on the lookout for the one I want and when it pops up we will try to snag it. The same goes for the stove as well. When the microwave kicks the dust I have decided that I may not replace it at all.

Having the second fridge allows the food to be more easily put away and organized. I made some labels with masking tape and markers to start with and they are still there… it’s nothing fancy but it works because the labels are big and easy to read.

Our pantry area was in the laundry room but I had relocated it to the breakfast nook which worked pretty well until I decided I wanted my dining area back… I kind of wish it was still in the breakfast nook though because it was very functional and easy to get to. This is part of the learning process where we find out what we like, don’t like, what works, and what doesn’t work.

When I moved the pantry I was also able to set up some workstations in the kitchen. They aren’t perfect but they helped the kitchen flow better. This is something I need to work on again because things have changed around and our lives/needs are constantly changing.

5. Simplify

Once you’ve put your plan into action you may find that you need to simplify things a bit. I have gone through our kitchen and pantry a few times to get rid of things that we truly don’t need or use. This in itself usually frees up a lot of space here and there.

When I come across an appliance that I don’t use very often but that I don’t necessarily want to get rid of then I try to make a home for it in another location… I do have a shed that we use for storing household items. It gets it out of the area but keeps it in a place where we can retrieve it easily whenever we need it. If it goes for a long time without being used then I can reevaluate it and see if it is truly something I need to keep.

My kids and husband would always write a grocery list on a piece of paper on the fridge as they used them up. I would then transfer them to my grocery list when I was getting ready for a shopping trip. This took up more time than I actually realized so I just started printing out copies of my list to have on the fridge. Now they can just mark them off and I don’t need to spend time copying them over.

We’ve also found that keeping a menu plan on the fridge helps out tremendously with others being able to help with meals. This has definitely helped cut down on the food waste problem around here.

When we go to rearrange the room we don’t always try to do a deep cleaning at the same time because that would take FOREVER. The key for high-traffic areas is to get it taken apart and put back together as quickly as possible! You can always dedicate a few minutes every day to tackling a few tasks here and there but don’t get bogged down by trying to clean everything perfectly.

6. Test it out

Give your new plan/routine a trial run… make sure to try it out for a week or two. Write down what is working and what isn’t working… don’t worry if it seems that more things don’t work than do because you are making progress by learning what works and what doesn’t.

I would try the new routine/arrangement for at least a couple of weeks before buying organizers and such as you might find that you don’t need them or that something else might work better. If you already bought something expensive then you can always try to use it in another area of your home.

If it just doesn’t work then don’t give up! Just go back to your brainstorming list and find some more ideas or try some that you didn’t try. This time you will have a better idea of what your problem areas are, what works, and what doesn’t work.

Don’t be afraid to keep trying things and changing things around a little at a time because sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest differences.

If you see someone who seems to have a good schedule, routine, or organizational system then don’t be afraid to ask them what they do so that maybe you can gain a little information from them that may be useful in your home… just keep in mind that what works for one person may not always work for someone else. You may not need to use the whole concept that they give you but you can glean a few bits and pieces from it to use in your own home.

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