Simple Toys Raise Calmer, Happier Kids

simplicity toys kids

Soon after we moved in to our new home I read a parenting book. Over the last thirteen years, I’ve read many, many parenting books. This one stood out. It initiated a shift in my perspective which marked the beginning of my simplicity journey. The book is called Simplicity Parenting.I cannot recommend it enough.

Last year, we moved homes and I had the opportunity to give away a lot of the toys I didn’t want moving with us. Our new home wasn’t built when we sold our house so we were between homes for the Summer. Most of our stuff was in storage, and I was counting on the fact that the kids would forget about the missing toys by the time we moved again. Besides, I could always use the excuse that they got lost in the move(s).

It was just too good an opportunity to pass up!

I kept just one box of toys to tide us over the Summer. As I packed the toys, I noticed that we didn’t own any building-type toys (I like those kind). After a couple of hours on the internet I decided to purchase a box of Magformers. My two little ones still play with these on a regular basis and we’ve had them over a year now.

I also bought my son wooden trains and tracks – his first boy toys. Up until then he’d been playing with the girls’ old baby toys. Although I had already completed a make-over for our toy collection, Simplicity Parenting inspired me to re-assess the situation.

Growing up, I remember having a mere handful of play things. I had a couple of dolls, a teddy bear, a toy record player that played nursery rhymes and a lot of books (I loved reading, still do). As I got older, my toy collection included classic board games like Ludo and Monopoly. One of my favorite pass-times was imagining that I had escaped from the bad guys (my family) and I would spend (what seemed like hours) tip-toeing around the house trying not to get caught, and of course, to stay out of sight.

This kind of imaginary play is not something I often see in my younger kids, and when it does appear on those precious, rare occasions, it doesn’t last for very long. In contrast, my older girls used to make up all kinds of scenarios to act out, and it kept them entertained for hours.

I have a niggling feeling that increased screen time is to blame. I’m ashamed to admit it, but the simple truth is my fist born didn’t start watching t.v. until she was almost three. My son (my fourth child) started at the ripe old age of one. He also mastered how to use a computer mouse as well as how to navigate an ipad by the time he was two! I’m convinced that increased screen time has robbed my kids of their ability for creative, imaginary play.

The niggling feeling inevitably lead to a second overhaul of our toy collection. By the time I was finished, I had filled two garbage bags to donate to the Salvation Army.

Granted, our collection is smaller than what it was a year ago. However, all the toys get played with on a regular basis. The kids barely noticed the change. It helped that I added some items to the collection in order to promote simple play (we still had a serious lack of boy toys)!

Most of the toys in our collection are now made of wood which makes them more durable as well as nicer to handle. Very few require batteries. With fewer toys, the kids are much better at tidying up after themselves, so it’s a win-win.

Flashing lights and fancy sounds can be great for awhile and can certainly entertain, but nothing can unleash the imagination more so than simple toys.

love listening in on the conversations my little boy has as he drives his trains and trucks around the house! After I saw how simple toys affected my kids play (for the better), I was eager to implement some of the other changes outlined in the book.

My journey began with simplifying our toy collection, but it doesn’t end there. One of the goals for starting this blog was for me to have a platform to share my simplicity journey. I’m hoping it will help me to stay accountable to my commitment to change (sometimes it’s easy to fall back into old habits). I hope to share many more of the simple changes I’ve made to our lives in future posts.

Do you reminisce about how things were simpler back when you were a kid? If you could change one thing in your child’s life to make it more simple what would that change be? If you don’t have kids, what would you change to make your own life simpler? I’d  get rid of the email and text functions on cell phones. I think it’s sad that no place is considered taboo and that people EVERYWHERE have their noses buried in their hand-held devices!

Toys

Quinoa Waffles

quinoa waffles recipe

I made these quinoa waffles the same day as I baked the quinoa cookies. I was determined to finish my bag of quinoa flour (it’s constant presence in my pantry was beginning to irk me). Of course, I didn’t know at the time that once I actually got around to using the flour I would just end up replacing it with more!

I made these waffles in the late afternoon, after we had already stuffed ourselves with the quinoa cookies. When the waffles reached room temperature, I lay them between wax paper and froze them in a couple of large Ziploc bags.

Three out of four of my kids liked these waffles. My 11 year old found the texture to be too crumbly and different from regular waffles, but she did still eat it. My 6 year old liked them the best.

Her analysis made me laugh out loud!

If you read my last post, you’ll recall that she had declared the quinoa cookies to be the best cookies she ever ate. Well, a few days later, when she had these waffles for breakfast she declared them to be the best waffles she ever ate. She was so funny when she tried to explain that they reminded her of “those cookies” she had eaten. “The ones that were the best cookies ever!” How cute is that?

  • Great Recipes For Kids:

Quinoa Waffles

(recipe from Quinoa: The Everyday Superfood 365)

These moist, nutty-tasting waffles can be frozen for instant meals. If you don’t have a waffle iron, you can make them as pancakes. Serve with your favorite toppings, such as yogurt, maple syrup, fruit syrup, peanut butter, sliced bananas, pineapple, berries or other fresh fruit, chilled coconut milk, chocolate syrup or caramel sauce.

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cup quinoa flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 Tbsp white or cane sugar (I used cane sugar)
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups 1% or 2% milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used safflower oil)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Directions:

Combine the quinoa flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, milk, water, oil and vanilla.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, mixing well to make a thin batter.
Grease or lightly spray a waffle iron with cooking oil and preheat it.
Pour the batter onto the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions and close.
Remove the waffles when the the lid lifts open easily, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Waffles will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and sealed in a container in the freezer for up to 4 weeks.
Reheat in a toaster or microwave oven.
I have a love/hate relationship with my waffle iron. The instructions state that there’s no need to oil before use. However, I find that if I don’t oil the waffle maker, my waffles get stuck and it takes forever to clean up the mess. Do you oil your waffle iron? If not, how do you prevent your waffles from sticking?
**Update** I’ve been using my waffle iron for awhile now and I love it! The waffles come out beautifully every time – no oiling required. I think my initial difficulty was due to user error 🙂

Recipes

Is organic milk worth the premium price tag?

organic milk brands

Not all brands of milk are created equal. So how do you choose which brand to purchase? What exactly are you paying for when you purchase organic milk in Canada?

Growth hormones and antibiotics

Artificial growth hormones: The use of artificial growth hormones is not approved for sale in Canada or Europe. However, it is permitted in the USA.

Antibiotics: In Canada, if a cow gets sick and needs antibiotics, the cow’s milk supply is discarded for a mandatory period until her system is completely clear of the medication.

Canadian Milk

Purchasing dairy products produced in Canada supports our local farmers and also ensures that your milk, cheese and yogurt contain no artificial growth hormones or antibiotics. It’s simple to identify milk produced in Canada. Just look for the 100% Canadian Milk logo with the blue cow.

Organic milk

Last Spring we watched the documentary Food Inc. I’m embarrassed to admit that prior to this, I assumed that cows were raised on grass. I couldn’t have been more naive. I’ve learned since then that the diet of most cows is not grass, but grains.

Most of Canada is covered in snow for several months so it’s not possible to feed cows green grass all year long. However, farmers do have the option to harvest hay and other grassy forages which can be used to feed the cows in the colder months.

To keep their organic status, farmers must feed their cows a minimum of 60% grass/hay/forage and a maximum of up to 40% organic, non-GMO sourced grains.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m paying a premium for organic dairy products, I want the cows to feed on a diet that nature intended. Ever heard the phrase, “you are what you eat, eats?”

Grass-fed versus grain-fed (dairy) cows

In my search to find the best quality milk for my family, two Ontario milk producers stood out from the crowd. Both are small scale producers who are committed to their organic status, but they also go over and beyond what is required by Canadian law when it comes to animal welfare.

Sheldon Creek Dairy

Sheldon Creek Dairy is a small family owned and operated farm. Here’s the response I received for my email enquiring about their cows’ diet:

During the winter months we feed our cows forges we harvest during the fall. Hay, Barley, Alfalfa. These are grassy forges. Our cows do go out during the winter months, but just like us cannot be out there for long, they go out for an hour and a half a day sometimes 2 depending on how cold it is.

I followed up with a phone call because I wanted to know if these dairy cows were fed grains at any time. I was told that grains make up less than 10% of the cows’ diet.

Sheldon Creek produces Unhomegenized milk (cream on top) that is minimally pasteurized (the minimum that is required by Canadian law). It is sold in 1 litre glass bottles that are reminiscent of the old days. I have very fond memories of growing up in England and of the milkman that delivered bottles of milk to our front door!

Sheldon Creek Dairy products are not as widely available as conventional milk. If you live in Southern Ontario and want to locate a store that carries their milk bottles you can check their website for a list of stores (they also make sour cream and Greek style yogurts).

Harmony Organic
According to their website:

The emphasis on our animals’ wellbeing is the main objective of Harmony Organic. We go above and beyond to provide comfort and joy to our animals, by allowing them to live out their natural behaviour. As a result, our cows are happy and healthy, and are able to produce the best quality milk for you to serve to your family.

This was their response to my email:

In order for organic cows to maintain their organic status their diets must consist of a minimum of 60% hay/grass and a maximum of 40% grains. All of our farms feed a ratio of closer to 80/20 and during the summer months when the cows are on fresh pasture they are fed no additional grains.

There is a great little video Perfect Harmony posted on their website. In the video (it’s about 10 mins long) the co-owners discuss their philosophy and their commitment to animal welfare.

Harmony Organic packages their milk in 1 litre glass bottles as well as in 4 litre plastic bags and in cartons. Their milk is available in most specialty health food stores. Again, you can check their website to find a store near you.

Homegenized milk vs. unhomegenized milk

We buy mostly unhomegenized milk because the milk includes the enzymes that aid in the digestion of milk. To me, it’s a matter of common sense. If nature includes enzymes in milk to aid with its digestion, why process the milk and remove the naturally occurring enzymes?

I’ve tried both Sheldon Creek and Harmony Organic and both taste great. However, I lean towards Sheldon Creek because the cream in their milk is easier to separate. It really does float to the top of the bottle! I just scoop it out and save it for my morning coffee. I also like to use a dollop on top of fresh fruit for an occasional treat!

If the local store is out of Sheldon Creek I buy Harmony Organic homogenized milk. My kids won’t drink milk if they see bits of cream floating in it. For some reason, the cream in the Harmony Organic unhomegenized milk doesn’t all float to the top (although to be fair, most of it does – just not well enough for my picky kids!). I don’t have this issue with the Sheldon Creek Unhomegenized milk 🙂

You do pay a premium for both brands of milk. The plastic bags by Harmony Organic are cheaper than the glass bottles and I would go this route if you can’t afford the glass bottles. As a family, we don’t go through as much milk as we used to. My husband and I both like to use almond milk in our smoothies and cereal/porridge (we love it!) and this has helped to reduce our overall (dairy) milk consumption.

I made a conscious decision to find organic sources of food, particularly food that originates from livestock. This includes eggs, milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, meat, fish, etc.

I am a firm believer in you are what you eat, eats.

Food

16 Simple Living Icons Share Tips on How To Embrace Simplicity

advice living simply

I’m not comfortable with the minimalist label but I am drawn to the idea of living more with less. I like to call myself a simple living enthusiast.

What’s the best way for a “non-minimalist” to begin the journey towards a simpler life?

I recently asked this question to some of my favorite bloggers who are minimalists and/or simple living experts.

Some suggest starting with the physical world whilst others feel that the process begins with a change in mind-set.

Their response to my question has provided me with invaluable insight as well as practical tips for my journey in simple living.

I hope it will do the same for you.

Joshua Becker… Becoming Minimalist

The most important first step is to find a quiet moment and ask yourself this question, “How would my life improve if I owned less stuff?” We never ask ourselves that question. Instead, we constantly think our life will get better if we just owned more… or better… or newer… or trendier… because that’s what society has told us since the day we were born. But when you sit down and ask yourself the other question – probably for the first time – you’ll be surprised how quickly the answers come. And when they do, you’ll find conviction to pursue a new and better path.

https://www.becomingminimalist.com/

Courtney Carver… Be More With Less

The best way for a “non minimalist” to begin the journey towards a simpler life is to remove the labels and comparisons.

What you call it (simplicity or minimalism) is much less important than what you do with it. Your version of simplicity will look different than someone with a different approach or living situation. Once you give yourself permission to make this YOUR journey, you can take advice and move forward without fear or judgement.

https://bemorewithless.com/

Lorilee Lippincott… Loving Simple Living

I believe the best way for a ‘non-minimalist’ to begin a journey toward a simpler life is to dream and read about it. When people talk about minimalism they often first think of things… and getting rid of things, but that isn’t what makes a simple life.What makes a simple life is change in the mind.

Once the mind decides it wants less and simple, it becomes (almost) second nature to purchase less and get rid of excess. Grab a cup of tea and dream about what you want your life to be. Read about it. Then simplify as you see areas in your life that don’t line up with these new ideals.

http://lovingsimpleliving.com/

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus… The Minimalists

Weather someone starts with all of their material possessions or just one room, they should carefully consider what’s truly adding value to their life.

http://www.theminimalists.com/

Colin Wright… Exile Lifestyle

Take a step back and figure out what’s important to you. Not what you think is supposed to be important to you, but what’s really, REALLY important. The stuff that makes you happier than anything else. Then, start removing the stuff that doesn’t help you get/do more of that.

http://exilelifestyle.com/

Markus Almond… Brooklyn To Mars

Anything that doesn’t have sentimental value and hasn’t been used in the past year should be discarded. Whether it’s donated, recycled or thrown away, getting rid of things that don’t hold value is a great place to start.

https://brooklyntomars.com/

Jill Gaupin… The Minimalistas

The best way to begin this liberating journey is to spend some time thinking about the changes you want to make to streamline, to simplify, your lifestyle. Make a vision board. Journal your thoughts. Explore your feelings behind why you want to make a change. Connect with others who embrace simple living. And then start taking action.

Tammy Strobel… Rowdy Kittens

There are many small steps you can take today to start living more simply. First, clear off one surface in your home. For example, a reader recently sent me a photo of her uncluttered desk. She spent the evening organizing stacks of papers, mail, and other random belongings that were cluttering the surface of her work space. Now that it’s organized she’s able to sit down to pay her bills and she feels happier. Taking that one small step made her life feel a whole lot simpler.

Second, ditch the television (or watch a whole lot less). Television is a huge time suck and by watching less, you’ll have more time to do the stuff you love, like taking a long walk in the evening or reading a good book. And last but not least, let go of excess stuff. Start by giving away ten belongings each week to friends or to a charity of your choice.

http://www.rowdykittens.com/

Mohamed Tohami… Midway Simplicity

I would recommend that you start with a small experiment.

There is a very interesting experiment that I’ve done called The One Week Closet Experiment. I learned about the idea from Dave Bruno’s book The 100 Thing Challenge.

Here’s how to do this experiment:

Open your closet and pick up enough clothes for one week.
Store these one week clothes in a separate section in your closet.
Over the next month or two, only wear from the items in this section.
Evaluate the result.
I promise you’ll be hugely surprised!

Rachel Boreing… Intentionally Simple

When you’re beginning to simplify your life, a good place to start is your schedule. Stop over committing and learn that it’s okay to say no to some things. Once you have breathing room in your schedule, life suddenly seems a little simpler.

http://intentionallysimple.com/

Vappu Aneri… The Cat’s Meow

I think it’s a change in mindset that is needed first. One should really think about their life, priorities, and values, and then have that vision in mind always.

Sometimes it works well to start out with the physical realm, de-cluttering one’s possessions, perhaps right-sizing the living conditions, and then the mental change follows.

Anyway, all of the de-cluttering in the world is of no use (and can be harmful if you re-purchase and re-clutter again) if there is no shift at a deeper level.

Joel Zaslofsky… Value of Simple

Some of my best friends are not minimalists, but have lives of simplicity that most people would be envious of. For instance, I have a friend who immerses herself (quite literally) in a float tank and teleports her mind to another place. She achieves a state of raw simplicity unlike anything else I’ve ever seen or heard. But spending money to get into a sensory deprivation tank isn’t the only way non-minimalists can achieve simplicity.

Another friend practices gratitude throughout the day and the calming effect creates this radiating wave of simplifying. Practically speaking, I think the easiest way for non-minimalists to achieve simplicity is reading blogs, articles, or stories about the topic. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca comes to mind as each person can pick out the ways they want to incorporate simplifying into their lives without the disruptive effects that minimalism can have.

http://joelzaslofsky.com/

Patrick Rhone… Minimal Mac

It may seem simple but…
Make sure to ask “Why?”

I think so many of us begin a journey to a particular destination (in this case, simplicity) without really asking this simple question. What is it about your current lifestyle that is not working for you? What it is that is causing friction? Why would simplicity and/or minimalism help?

How often do we find ourselves far down a path, a choice, a decision, without knowing why? How often do we find ourselves with a new shiny device, and new piece of software, a new way of working, without knowing why? I would argue that for most it is far too often.

In fact, I believe that, if we stopped to consider this question more often, and faced it with introspection and honesty, it would lead naturally to a life lived with purpose. Which, to me, is the whole point.

http://minimalmac.com/

Brooke McAlary… Slow Your Home

In a word: Small.

Small is absolutely the best way to begin the journey towards a simpler life.

We are taught that we need to go big, go hardcore, go for it all, and that’s all well and good. But when you’re just beginning a journey like this – one that is life-long – to try and tackle everything right away is the best way to fail.

Instead of de-cluttering the entire garage, start with the kitchen drawers. Instead of the toy room, just clear out the car. Instead of your wardrobe, start with your handbag.

You are more likely to get these small tasks done in one sitting, rather than become overwhelmed with the bigger tasks and give up altogether. Once you have some victories, you will be far more likely to succeed when you do tackle the bigger jobs.

http://slowyourhome.com/

Rachel Jonat… The Minimalist Mom

Take note of what truly makes you happy. Write it down. Bring more of it into your life. That could be down time or hobby time or sleep or a long distance conversation with an old friend. When you focus on the stuff that really gives back to you, and that you can give yourself to, it becomes clear what stuff you can let go of in your life. A new food processor or sweater or the skis you’ve been hanging onto for seven years thinking you’ll start again, they seem much less important and valuable and they’re easier to let go of.

http://www.theminimalistmom.com/

Nina Nelson… Shalom Mama

If you want to begin the journey towards a simpler life, but don’t want to be a full-fledged minimalist, don’t worry. Take note of the things that are causing clutter in your life. Are you over-committed to activities outside your home? Does your house feel like it’s stuffed to the brim? Do you just do too much laundry? Identify what needs to be simplified and write down what steps you can take to simplify them, like saying no to a committment (or four) or decluttering your house (be it one room or drawer at a time). Realize that it won’t happen overnight, but that’s ok. Just take action. Every. Day.

http://shalommama.com/
Thank You All for Your Awesome Contributions!

You inspire us to step out of the fast lane, SLOW DOWN and begin a life, uncomplicated.

I guess the “best way” to begin a simpler life is not defined by what you do, but by the fact that you choose to do, on purpose. And you guys have given us a ton of ideas to get started. Thank you!

Now it’s our turn to take action.

What will you DO to simplify your life? Share your goals in the comments below.

If you were inspired by anything said above, take a moment and share this post by clicking on the icons below. Thanks!

Tips

Gluten-free Almond Cookies

gluten free almond cookies

These cookies are highly addictive. Crispy on the outside; soft and chewy on the inside.

I baked at least a half dozen variations of these before I was satisfied with the texture. Not a single batch of these cookies lasted past the second day. If you ask me, that’s a pretty fool proof cookie!

Gluten-free Almond Cookies:

Prep time:  
Cook time:  
Total time:  
YIELDS: 12, 2″ cookies
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups almond flour (also known as almond meal)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
DIRECTIONS
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, salt and baking soda.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together melted coconut oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  6. Use your hands to form a big ball of dough (mixture will feel quite moist).
  7. Cover dough in plastic and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  8. After 15 minutes, roll dough into 12 golf sized balls and flatten between your palms to make discs (edges may crack, just use the side of your palm to smooth these out). Place discs onto parchment lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges start to brown.
  10. Let cool completely before handling. They will firm up nicely. Promise 🙂
Recipes

5 Minute Homemade Ketchup

homemade ketchup

Ketchup. The evil vice in our home.

My teen daughter can’t stand ketchup. She’s never liked it. I used to think she was odd. Now I wish the other three felt the same way. If I let them, they would eat ketchup with everythingLike their dad.

Don’t get me wrong, I like ketchup too. But there’s a time and place for it. Ketchup on a burger? Go nuts. But with an authentic Indian curry? Is that really necessary?

Apparantly, it is if you live at my house. My husband and three of my four kids will not eat their rice and curry without ketchup. It’s a sad state of affairs. If it was just the kids I would stop buying ketchup.

If only life were that simple.

The thing is, I struggle every day with my own personal vices.

Hmm. Let me think…

Soda, chocolate, cakes (of all shapes and sizes), cookies and well, my list could go on. And on.

So, it’s hardly fair to insist that my ketchup loving better half get over his ONE addiction.

Since I can’t stop serving the darned thing, I did the next best thing. I searched high and low for a home made version so that I can eliminate the white sugar and glucose/fructose that is prevalent in store bought brands. Our family gets enough sugar in other foods (i.e. sweet treats) and quite frankly, we don’t need to consume even more refined sugars in foods where they are simply not needed. One tablespoon of store bought ketchup typically contains 4g of white sugar. That’s one teaspoon in each tablespoon consumed!

  • Great Recipes For Kids:

The ketchup dilema has been on my mind for awhile now and a few weeks ago, Heather aka the Mommypotamus came to the rescue with her home made ketchup recipe. The timing couldn’t have been better!

I tried it out today and this version of homemade ketchup can fool even the most savy ketchup fanatic. The best part is that it takes barely 5 minutes to put together.

Absolutely brilliant!

INGREDIENTS
  • 11 oz no sodium tomato puree (I use Hunt brand which comes in 5.5 oz cans)
  • ⅓ cup honey, or maple syrup (I use honey)
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar (original recipe calls for an additional 2 tbsp but I find this to be overpowering)
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp unrefined sea salt (I use Himalayan, pink salt)
  • ¼ tsp allspice
DIRECTIONS
  1. Place all ingredients in a small pan and mix together with a wooden spoon.
  2. Bring to a boil, then simmer until desired consistency is reached (I had to add ¼ cup water to reduce the thickness of the sauce. I guess it all depends on the brand of tomato puree you use.
  3. Store in the fridge for 1 -2 weeks.

 

You can find the original recipe by Heather at Mommypotamus here.

Recipes

81 Itsy-bitsy Ways to Live a More Simple Life

tips for a simple life

 

Simple food. Simple things. Simple play.

Is your day filled with work, errands, chores and schedules? Do you feel like life is passing you by? Are you waiting to enjoy your life after the kids are bigger or when the mortgage is paid off?

How about when you have more time?

If this sounds like you, you’re kidding yourself. Time is elusive. If you don’t grab onto it, you’ll always be waiting…

Take a deep breath. Or two. Or three.

Take a breath…of Simplicity.

Seriously. The following simple life tips will help you to slow down, simplify and enjoy life, TODAY.

How to Live a More Simple Life

Make your bed when you wake up.

Set your alarm at least 15 minutes before the kids wake up.

Don’t let the kids be your wake-up call.

Hang up/put away clothes when you take them off. Don’t leave them on the floor, or drape them over chairs.

Empty the trash daily.

Do a 15 minute clean up every night. If they’re old enough, include the kids.

Before bed, have the kids walk around the house and pick up/put away anything that belongs to them.

Don’t let dishes sit in the sink overnight. You’ll be glad in the morning!

Get in the habit of putting things away when you get home. Don’t just dump everything on the nearest surface.

Teach the kids to do the same.

Go through the toy collection and purge, purge, purge (best to do this when the kids are out, or in bed!) Invest in a few solid toys that you know will last.

Go through your closet and donate anything you haven’t worn in the past year (in 2 weeks, you’ll forget it was ever there).

When purchasing clothes, buy solid colors that you can mix and match.

Eliminate white sugar, white bread, white pasta from your pantry.

Replace table salt with sea salt or Himalayan salt.

Eliminate trans-fats from your diet.

Keep plenty of fresh fruit on hand.

If you like to snack on chips, try munching on nuts instead or make popcorn and sprinkle with a little sea salt.

Go for a walk.

Read a good book.

Start a gratitude journal.

Go through each room in your house and de-clutter, one room at a time.

De-clutter one closet at a time.

De-clutter one drawer at a time.

Clear surfaces of clutter.

Get rid of knick-knacks. They’re visually distracting. Instead, decorate tastefully with one or two unique items in each room.

Find a home for everything (preferably out of sight).

Get into the habit of putting things away right after you’re done using them.

Take a good luck at the furniture in each room. If there’s too much for the space, move it or get rid of it.

Each week, allocate 15-30 minutes to go through the mail: Pay the bills and deal with the paperwork. Don’t let it pile up.

Start a basic filing system.

Allocate a special spot for school forms and let the kids know where it is.

Clear your kitchen counter tops. Leave out only one or two small appliances that you use daily. Give everything else a home inside a drawer or cabinet.

Do you really need the waffle-maker that you pull-out and dust off, once a year?

If you’re working on the computer take frequent breaks. Stretch. Get a drink of water.

When you feel overwhelmed or stressed, take 10 deep breaths. It will do you wonders!

Blast the radio while you tackle the housework. You’ll get more done.

Read inspirational quotes.

Limit checking your e-mail to once or twice a day.

Watch one less show on TV.

Exercise daily. You can start with a 15 minute walk around the block.

Don’t obsess over little things. Let it go. Breathe.

When you’re schedule is crazy and you have a million things to do, don’t get mad when your kid chooses that moment to have a melt-down. Stop what you’re doing. Cuddle up for 10 minutes and read a story, or sing some nursery rhymes. The distraction will do you both good!

Take a break.

Call your best-friend.

Touch base with your spouse during work days (call, e-mail or text).

Start a new family tradition.

Let the kids make a mess.

Create a weekly menu plan.

Teach your kids to do their own laundry.

Delegate house chores. Kids as young as five can handle simple chores like sorting socks.

Turn your cell phone off in the car.

Turn your cell phone off when you are out with friends and family (if you have small kids at home, put your phone on vibrate).

Make eye contact and pay attention when someone is talking to you.

Leave your credit card at home.

Pay your credit card off every month.

If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it. Save up for it.

Teach older kids to pitch in. They can load/unload the dishwasher, take out the garbage, help younger siblings with homework, etc.

Do you really need 2 different blenders in the kitchen? (I had 3, before I de-cluttered)

Use bins for toys and teach your kids to pack up when they’re done playing.

Place an empty basket/bin (something nice looking) beside the stairs. Every time you come across something that doesn’t belong downstairs (toys, sweaters, books, etc), dump it in the basket. Make a habit of emptying this basket before heading up for bed. The kids should put away anything they find of theirs in it before they go to bed.

Eliminate sugary cereals for breakfast and replace with healthier ones. We enjoy Kashi cereals.

Make a double batch of pancakes or crepes and freeze them between wax paper. They’re a great way to spice up breakfast when you’re pressed for time in the mornings.

Make sure school bags are packed and ready the night before.

Prep lunches and snacks the night before.

If mornings are a mad rush, wake up 15 minutes earlier.

Get enough sleep (7-8 hours).

Enforce bed-times for kids, even older kids (my 13 yr old’s bed-time is 9:30pm).

Set times for snack (e.g. after-school). Say no to snacks at other times, especially before meals.

Don’t schedule after-school activities everyday. Kids need time to relax and just be.

Let your kids be bored. It’s okay to be bored.

Don’t allow computers or TV’s in the bedrooms (including yours)!

Limit screen time for kids (TV, computer, electronic games, etc).

Go screen free for a week. Or longer.

Go on a date with your spouse (aim for once a week).

Get rid of or donate 50 household items (dishes, gadgets, tools, blankets, small appliances).

Get rid of or donate 100 personal items (clothing, books, shoes, trinkets, etc).

Cut down your beauty products by half.

Be present. Stop and Pause. Look around you. Take note of all the wonderful things that surround you: Nature, people, your wonderful home.

Spend 10 minutes a day, doing nothing.

Breathe.

What can you add to this list?

TipsUncategorized