4 quick things you can do to minimize your wardrobe

Take everything out of your closet and drawers and pile them all onto a space you’ll need to use later (like your bed). Then spend hours thanking and touching and appreciating every piece for all the memories it has given you and focusing on your true inner-self to detect any joy or value  and then one-by-one put everything back.
Sound overwhelming and “ain’t nobody got time for that”? Yeah- me too. So today I’m sharing some simple ideas you can do before bed or during nap time TODAY. If you have extra time, do more than one. If you have 5 minutes- that will be enough for at least one (maybe more if you’re quick at making decisions) and these baby steps will help you get the ball rolling on that overwhelming closet/wardrobe issue.

1. Find one item you didn’t wear this season.

The seasons are starting to change and if there is a pair of summer shorts you didn’t wear this summer- it’s time to let them go. This can apply to a winter jacket, fall boots or a spring top. If you didn’t like it enough to wear it this year- you won’t be missing it next year.  (If you’re feeling motivated go ahead and find two, three or a dozen things you haven’t worn and give yourself permission to let them go.) 

2. Find that pair of jeans you’re never fitting into again and just…get rid of them. 
I saved one of my favorite pre-baby jeans for more than a year after my daughter was born. Even after I lost “all my baby weight” (gag) those pants still didn’t fit. My hips were never going to be the same at 26 as they were at 19. And there is nothing to be ashamed of. But it’s time to say goodbye to those jeans.
This also applies to any fat jeans you have laying around. I also had a pair of fat jeans, but guess what? Even when they fit after my baby was born, I didn’t like them. They were out of style. They didn’t fit my new fat body the same way as my old fat body (I’m using the word fat here very facetiously–no one get upset.)  The point I’m trying to make is that our bodies are constantly changing. The pants that fit you a few years ago may or may not fit you again. And if they do, are you still going to want them? And is there a reason you can’t go intentionally purchase a specific pair of pants when the time comes?

Long story short- stop holding on to clothes from the past or clothes for the future. Allow yourself to appreciate and dress your TODAY body. Not wait for tomorrow’s body. Your self esteem and closet space will thank you.

3. Next time you take a shirt off because you don’t like it- don’t put it back in the closet. 

This is my favorite way to maintain my wardrobe. I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule (does anyone have a great fashion day on day 2 of their period? I say no.) but you’ll know the difference. I bet you can picture an item in your closet right now that you don’t really like whenever you wear it. Halfway through the day you’re thinking how much you don’t like it, or you take it off and change. Time to say goodbye
4. Do a quick initial sweep. 
Just go to your closet and look at your stuff. Maybe it’s overflowing and overwhelming. Maybe it’s simple and intentional. Be honest with yourself and trust your first thoughts. Grab what you want to let go of, and then don’t second guess yourself.

(Tip: get in the habit of doing this. Every time I walk into my closet my eyes are now in the habit of seeing my things and asking myself “is that still working?” If the answer is no- it’s gone.)
 So there you go! I hope these simple steps help you get started on that closet purge. Good luck!


Out of sight. In my heart

I hope I can put into words how I was feeling today!

This morning we stopped by the park. Two boys came over (around 8 and 6ish) and Kenzie started playing with them. They were all playing so well at the playground and eventually their games took them away from the playground and toward the walking trail behind it. Soon she was out of my sight. I could still hear them every once in a while. But I couldn't see her. I realized it was my first time ever that she was playing away from me and I couldn't see or hear her at all. Not only that, but she was even playing with complete stranger kids. This was a whole new experience for me. As I sat in the grass with Cooper my mind was racing. 

Should I go check on her? But it's good for her to feel safe and independent while she plays. I don't want her to see me and think she needs to be checked on as she plays. 

There's really nothing dangerous over there. But what if something happens- will I be able to hear it? What if she wanders off and gets lost? 

The boys are playing with her and being really attentive. But what if they get bored with her and run off? Or do something physical that she can't yet but wants to? (Climb walls, scale the hill, etc). 

On and on and on. 

I'm not a helicopter mother. I don't mind them (you do your thing mama) but that's not how I am. And sometimes I think free range parent's are seen as taking an easy route. Look at that mom sitting on the grass in the cool shade instead of going down the hill and following her daughter in the sun. 

But you know what? My heart and brain were ON FIRE as I was letting her be a kid. I was a hot mess inside while she was out of my view. But I believe it's important for kids to be able to play semi-unsupervised with other kids. Even at age 3. And because I believe that, I stayed on the grass with my baby. It wasn't easy. No parenting style is easy. And maybe there are moms out there that don't blink an eye when their kids aren't in their view. Maybe I was a hot mess because she's my first, and I can't believe she's old enough! Maybe it's my anxiety that gets triggered and I go to all those bad scenarios in my head. Maybe I'll send Cooper out the door without a second thought. Or maybe not. 

But either way, I was really happy when the games were over and we could go home. 


Hi Baby: Happy 3rd Birthday

Happy birthday my sweet baby girl.

 I know every mom says this on every birthday- but I can't believe you're already 3! Today after your nap you cuddled with me for a full 15 minutes. And while that might not seem that long to some, for you and your world with big, explosive feelings and energy- it felt like forever. And it was just what this mommy needed. Your sweet soft skin clutching onto that stupid old puppy and still fitting your head right where it needs to be. It was the best 15 minutes I've had this week. You can tell everyone your birthday is "August 5th!" and when asked what you want for your birthday you immediately yell "CAKE!" and then a notch quieter yell "AND POPPY AND NANA AND JAKE". You're an easy girl to please.

I remember August 5th 2014 and being told you were coming TONIGHT, not in 3 days like we thought. I was in labor but your stubborn body was breach which meant we had to do things a little differently. But you came out perfect at 6PM and I've been enamored by you ever since. You have made me a better person. You have shown me my purpose here on Earth. Being your mom is the most satisfying and fulfilling thing I have ever done. Not a day goes by that I don't thank my Heavenly Father for trusting me to be your mom. I pray that I can raise you and love you and mother you in the ways that will help you grow and succeed and flourish. I never want to be the person that dulls your sparkle or rains on your crazy little person parade.

 I've learned to give you space and independence and you're thriving. You have such amazing control over your body and strength. You're such a physical person and I love watching you experiment and test your body's limits. You're starting to draw and I'm pretty impressed by you. You can draw circles and faces and lines that are "mom and daddy and Booger and Kenzie!" You love to use your scissors and still aren't super into toys. You still yell "I'LL HELP YOU!" and proceed to drag a kitchen chair over to the counter to help me cook. You get frustrated, but can be talked down pretty quickly. You throw tantrums, but only when you're tired. You love to watch movies/TV and we usually watch a show in the evening to help you calm down a little bit. You're starting to become sweeter and nicer to Cooper and you two actually played together for 20 MINUTES and I thought I died and went to Heaven.

You're smart, sassy, funny and quick. You ask questions when you don't understand something. You repeat until you totally comprehend what I'm saying. You love making new friends and can play for hours with others. You also sometimes like to act like a "little baby" and need to be held and I don't mind it one bit. You're starting to test bedtime and try to pull the "I need a drink. I'm hungry. I want dad to sing me a song" but I'm still winning that game...for now.

I don't know how to express my love for you. And this last year has been so much FUN. I've loved being able to talk and communicate. I love your funny sayings and demeanor. You make me smile and laugh every day, and I try to make you laugh every day too. You're my best girl. I say a silent prayer every day that we can always be best friends. I hope as I write you something on your 13th birthday I can say that same thing. But for now, I will soak up every sweet moment with my little 3 year old. I love you Kenzie girl.



A little life update

I thought it might be time for a little Bowen family update. Mostly because I'm sitting at the computer and finally have some time and motivation to write something- but a particular topic doesn't come to mind.

We're all settled into our apartment in Herriman and it's totally great for us. A little more space, but all on one level and it's starting to feel like a new home. I feel like we're pretty adaptable and since nothing else in our lives changed, the move actually didn't end up feeling like that big of one. I miss my friends and neighbors, but I know I will make new friends and have new neighbors. We've already met a few and I look forward to getting to know more people as time goes on.

Football season has officially begun and Bart is pouring his heart and soul into the Cottonwood HS team. It's overwhelming and exhausting but also exciting and it's going to be a good year. Kenzie already walks around the school and field like she owns the place, so I don't see us having any problems adjusting.

Cooper seems to be crying more than smiling these days, but I remember reading that same sentiment about Kenzie around the same time frame so I just have to remind myself it's a stage! And his big smile still comes out on a regular basis, so he knows how to melt my mama heart. He's pulling himself up and even starting to stand on his own for a second or two at a time...we'll see how long it takes him to figure out that walking is an option. He's a fun loving little boy and I'm still his favorite. But Kenzie and Bart can get him pretty happy and excited too, so it might be a tie for second place favorites.

Kenzie never ceases to amaze me and I love just being around her (most of the time). She's so dang smart and the stuff that comes out of her mouth makes me laugh. Today she started saying "what the heck are you doing mom". I don't think "what the heck" is a catch phrase of mine...but I'm sure she heard it somewhere. She did start saying "that happens" after an accident (spilled drink, broken something, etc) and I know she got THAT from me. That one made me laugh pretty hard hearing it for the first time.

In general I've really loved having two kids. They both just add something totally unique to the family dynamic and it's a perfect fit.

That's all I have for now- but like I said, football season has started so this single mother and lonely lady will have plenty of time at night to write away all her feelings while her husband abandons her for a group of teenage boys. Don't worry- I'm making him take me on a vacation at the end to make up for it!


Our story behind small and simple living

This is another post for the Small Living Series I've been doing with a group of amazing women all over the world! I love being part of this community and I hope you take the chance to read some of their stories linked at the bottom of this post.

It's funny that I'm writing this "how did we end up here" just weeks before we move away. We're selling our home and renting a different one a town away. The square footage won't change much, but I know that's probably the only thing escaping big changes. So while I could talk about how my husband and I ended up here, I think I'll talk instead about the lessons we have learned as we look back. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, moving into a two bedroom townhome at the time 4 years ago seemed pretty typical. It was just us and we didn't feel the need for a "legit" house with a yard and more rooms and bathrooms than people. We just are very budget conscious and the price range we could afford was a townhome. It's not a very romantic story- but that's the truth. We didn't drastically change our ways and downsize to "start over". Our story was only just beginning. 

But what have we learned since? A few things. Probably the biggest thing we've learned is that life happens and with our life came kids and STUFF. Our big roomy two bedroom didn't feel as roomy as soon as my larger-than-life daughter came into this world. Again, we're pretty frugal/budget friendly and I personally am kind of cheap, so we didn't have all the new baby gadgets and toys and equipment for every stage. But we still had plenty of stuff to take up plenty of space. Soon shelves in the garage were built to store things. Her bedroom went from a simple nursery to a play space to now a bedroom for both kids and a place to play. Our home has evolved right along with us and we have really loved it. 

But a big shift has come over our home and family the last 4 months after I discovered Minimalism and implemented it into our family. Bart caught on pretty quickly because he was too busy to care otherwise (insert emoji here ;) He has appreciated my new habits and I think he's starting to see the lifelong changes I have made and is no longer thinking it's some fad I'll get over.  As I pack up our home I can't help but be thankful I discovered simple living and minimalism when I did. I have thousands of less things to put in boxes and move across town. I'm not as stressed about the things and the errands and the "we need that" and I've been able to slow down and enjoy the ride. 

So while our first move into a small space wasn't based on the notion that "less is more", this new place is. We didn't look for the biggest house we could afford to rent. We focused on things that mattered more than square footage (location, price, quality) and found the perfect space for our little family of 4. It adds a few hundred more square feet, but takes us down from 2.5 bathrooms to one. Its going to be enough. Big enough. Nice enough. Because if I have learned anything these last few months, it's that we don't need a lot of stuff or a lot of space. "Enough" actually starts to look like "plenty" and the gratitude for everything you do have grows exponentially. We have a lot of love and a lot of dreams and living simply is helping us accomplish those goals and dreams in record time. 

For now I don't have a big amazing story of "how we ended up living this way", But I know that down the road we will be able to look back at the beginning of our simple living journey and have many great stories to tell.

This post was written for inclusion in the July collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!

Little Bungalow-- "Accidental then Intentional" : A visual tour of all the small homes we didn’t buy before we bought our most recent smallish home in beautiful Victoria, BC.

Fourth and West-- "The Home That Chose Us" : Realizing the home we had was actually perfect all along.

Tiny Ass Camper-- "Casita Life" : How and why we chose a 17' Casita Spirit Standard as our home on wheels.

600 Sq Ft and a Baby-- "How We Ended Up Living Small" : Looking back on why living small stuck for us.

Fancy Pigeon-- "Why We Live Small" : A vlog on why and how our family has consistently downsized over the years.

The Streamlined Life-- "Why I Fell in Love with Small House Living" : Sometimes our earliest memories have the strongest impact.

This Lovely Day-- "Tiny Transitions" : Follow along with Kate Shaw, a retiring Air Force pilot, as she transitions her family of five from living in a 3200 ft.² century home to a 900 ft.² downtown high rise condo in the city.
The Justice Pirate-- "Minimalism: My First Tiny House" : Once upon a time, a little girl dreamed of having her own tiny house and her dream came true...temporarily.

Family Pedals-- "Finding Abundance in 1500 Square Feet" : In our culture it would be easy for us to view our house as a stepping stone to something bigger, something nicer. For us, the next step we’d like to take is to something smaller, something simpler.


2 Cents: Not every mom is tired

I was reading THIS article this morning and it just got me all sorts of riled up with opinions. They might not be popular opinions, but here they are.

First, I don't agree that every mom is exhausted. I have a 3 year old and an 8 month old and I'm not exhausted. I'm not even tired. Does that make me a bad mom? I don't think so.

There are definitely times I have been exhausted. That newborn stage for 3+ months- I'm a crazy person two steps away from killing over because I'm so tired. After a night with a sick baby, I'm exhausted. But after my newborn gets a little older- I wouldn't say "tired' is on the description list of my life. But this article makes it sound like all moms are tired all the time. And why is that? Because they need some "me time". And since that "me time" doesn't come until after the kids go to bed- that must be why everyone is so perpetually exhausted all the time.


Are you all of a sudden incapable of going to sleep? Can your body physically not close its eyes unless you have browsed the internet for 3 hours? Is someone standing over you with a bright light and loud music telling you you're not allowed to go to sleep yet? I didn't think so.

If you're really THAT tired after the kids go to bed....GO TO BED YOURSELF. It's this crazy thing called going to bed early. Without watching TV or playing on your phone. Don't want to go to bed yet because this is the only free minute you've had to yourself all day? fine. But don't complain or be confused as to why you're always tired. You're tired because you are choosing to stay awake instead of go to sleep. End of the story.

My kids wake up really early. Like- 6AM is our typical day and all this week they've actually been waking up around 5/5:30AM. And while I wasn't the happiest about it- it wasn't the end of the world. But after three days of really early mornings and no time for mommy rest, guess what? I crawled into bed at 8:30PM and went to sleep. I didn't catch up on any TV shows. I didn't chat with friends online. I chose to go to sleep early because I WAS TIRED. And guess what? When I woke up the next day at 6AM....I wasn't tired anymore. Weird how that works.

If this article was titled something different I probably wouldn't be so annoyed by it. Because I absolutely agree that at the end of the day it's amazing to have a few minutes to yourself. To not have to get up and get someone a snack. Or to share your own snack. Or to watch something that doesn't have a catchy theme song. I personally like to unwind and spend 30 minutes scrolling through Instagram and watching the IG stories. Or I'll take a bath, write, watch TV with Bart, etc. And yes, that only happens after the kids go to bed. But if I'm exhausted, or if I've had a really emotionally draining day- I actually choose to take care of myself and give me "me time" by going to bed and getting some sleep. It's OK to give yourself permission to be in bed by 9PM. You're not a loser. You aren't wasting your life away. You're taking care of yourself. And if you feel like you're "always tired" and your kids are sleeping just fine- then maybe it's time to reevaluate the priorities you have at night- and go to bed early once in a while.

*The article on Babble isn't talking about moms whose kids are still waking up every few hours. And neither am I. That's a whole other hell world and I'm not talking about that situation here.*


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