Favorites Found in My Quest for Simplicity & Connection

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Welcome to our series Charleston Moms FAVORITES! In a season of parenting that feels especially hard, our team is excited to share some of the things that are making us happy and helping us get through the days. 

I have been on a quest for simplicity for quite some time now. For one, I’ve been walking a decluttering journey, which I am finally starting to reap the benefits of. But I still crave more simplicity and yearn to make mindful changes toward less environmental impact. And overall, I have struggled feeling overwhelmed by the countless decisions motherhood (AND pandemic life) presents. Through the gift of slowing down in recent months, I’ve been able to hone in on some habits, resources, and items that help me limit decisions and find more joy and peace of mind in the everyday.

How I’m Finding More Peace of Mind in the Everyday

1. Cycling Through Clothes

I’ve donated MUCH of my wardrobe since becoming a mother. I now value comfort and practicality in my clothing. But regardless of what you need out of your wardrobe, I’ve found a way to ditch one decision in my day: to cycle through my clothing.

My clothes are organized by season in my closet. Whichever season we’re in, I’ll pull a top from the front of that section. When it’s washed, I’ll hang it in the back of the section. So every day I pull whatever shirt is next in line, quickly pair a bottom with it, and be on my way. This has also helped me decide what more I can purge since I’m forcing myself to wear each item throughout the season. I can naturally evaluate how well that item is serving my needs at this time.

2. Textile Recycling

In becoming more mindful of what I’m putting in the landfills, I’ve found a new love: textile recycling! The Charleston area is so great with increasing opportunities to do this. There are several store options to recycle old clothing, shoes, and other textiles — but here’s my favorite, least complicated solution!

These bins are conveniently located all around the Charleston area, including schools, gas stations, and beyond. Bag up your (clean) stained or torn clothing, linens, purses, shoes, sewing scraps, even suitcases (as long as it fits in the bin) — and drop it in! It’s that simple. Here’s a full list of items they’ll accept: Fill The Bins.

3. Buy Nothing Facebook Groups

I recently joined a Buy Nothing group in my area, and it is AWESOME. It is exactly what it sounds like: score free stuff you can use, and give away what you don’t need. Here are some groups for different parts of the Charleston area:

Here’s a MASTER LIST of links to Buy Nothing project groups around the globe.

4. Setting Physical Boundaries on STUFF

This has made decisions about what I hold onto so much easier. For a more tidy life, I’ve tried hard to make a home for every type of item. I no longer buy new organizing solutions, and instead, try to use what I already have. If a container/shelf is too small for a specific category of things, then I get real with myself and purge some of it! I value my peace of mind, and using my time wisely to manage my household/children/health — and for me, that means reducing stuff. I no longer accept piles of stuff lying around my house! I find a place in a cabinet or closet shelf for like items, and make the boundary the bad guy if things start to multiply. Our towels don’t fit nicely in the closet anymore? Time to get rid of some.

Using a Buy Nothing group, as mentioned above, is an easy, conscientious way to declutter items that may otherwise end up in the trash if donated to a second-hand store. (Ex: sewing needles, various office supplies, etc.)

5. Everyone Soap

In my decluttering journey, I’ve used up all my various soaps and shampoos in the house, and have since opted for ONE solution for my whole body! One less decision and less need for thinking in the shower? I’ll TAKE IT. I found Everyone Soap, and I’m enjoying the lavender version currently — because I’ll take all the help I can get in remaining calm these days. I will say though, I currently have very short hair after shaving my head. As my hair grows out, I’ll be able to evaluate more if this is a good option for me long term. If you have longer hair and have found a good, simple option for the shower, I’d love to hear about it!

Once I use up all my lotions, I plan to also try out the Everyone Lotion!

6. Using the China

I now own the china set from my grandparents’ house. We would use it on every holiday. It was well-loved (read: has some chips), but I have many sweet memories with these dishes. In my decluttering journey, I’ve largely detached from the love of stuff, but also decided that when I do have a sentimental attachment to something — I want to use it or display it! I don’t want all my favorite things disintegrating in storage. So we use the china.

When I’m gone and done using this china, it’s probably not going to be as meaningful to anyone else in this world. Even though using it risks breaking it, I’m the one with the sweet memories attached to it. Using it honors that and brings me joy in the day-to-day.

(There were some pieces of the set that I knew I would never use. So I donated those pieces to a local non-profit dear to my heart that WOULD use them for their fundraising needs!)

7. Artwork Hallway

Speaking of items that are special to me, I have loved establishing an artwork hallway. It’s nothing fancy — just a rope and clothespins. But it’s become a sweet decor piece that changes WITH my family. It celebrates my kids’ hard work, creativity, and growth. And my kids are proud when they see their work hanging up as decor in our home.

It also serves as a boundary. I’ll occasionally change pieces out, and use it to hang cards we receive. This keeps the whole piece cycling. We can’t possibly keep everything our kids make, but this is a way to display it for a while. The items that are particularly meaningful, I eventually place in a special keepsake box. That way we aren’t overwhelmed by artwork to display and can treasure the really meaningful pieces long term.

My mom has given a great example of this display of favorites. She has used our really special childhood artwork like wallpaper in her home hairdressing shop and garage. I love that idea and plan to implement that in our own home once we have our box full of the most treasured pieces from our kids’ formative years.

8. “Connecting Outfits” with My Kids

Another fun, simple way I’ve enjoyed connecting with my kids is through my wardrobe!

My mom and I stumbled across a t-shirt one time that incorporated one of my favorites (giraffes), with that of my older son’s (cars). There was no question about it — we got one for my son and one for me! He and I love to match with these shirts!

My littlest is OBSESSED with dinosaurs; I have loved relearning about them along with my kids! Since my son will only choose dinosaur shirts to wear from his closet, I’ve found a couple of fun dinosaur shirts for me to coordinate with him! It brings my little guy so much joy when we’re both wearing a dinosaur shirt! And his joy is my joy. The photo below shows my kids coveting their mom’s new shirt. 😉

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9. Daily Family Movie Nights

In this season of life, we’re having (almost) daily movie nights! We’re lucky that my husband’s work schedule is flexible, so we’ve been able to do an early dinner most nights. This allows us the time to snuggle up as a family, chill out (read: kill some time), and watch a movie together after dinner. I love that we’ve made time to introduce our kids to classic movies from our childhood too! We also started putting the kids to bed a bit earlier than usual, so my husband and I can have more “grown-up” time in the evenings while we’re stuck at home so much! These new habits have made for a really great evening routine. Win, win, win.

10. Family Dates to the Playground

I know this isn’t profound. But I’ve spent many a day taking my kids to the playground by myself in the past while their father worked. A new, simple favorite of mine has been loading our WHOLE family and finding a playground to explore together. Due to the pandemic, we opt to find something small and unpopulated for our family to enjoy just ourselves these days. There’s nothing like a hysterical, nonsense-filled family game of hide-and-seek around playground equipment! The giggles are endless, and we leave feeling so connected.

#11 BONUS: Ben & Jerry’s (dairy-free) “Netflix and Chilll’d” ice cream

“Peanut Butter Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert with Sweet & Salty Pretzel Swirls & Fudge Brownies”?: You’re welcome.

I’d love to hear about your simple favorites — whether it’s an item that’s helping you simplify your life or a joy-filled habit! Leave a comment and share with us.

Check out more in our Charleston Moms FAVORITES series!

Charleston Moms FAVORITES: 8 Things Giving Me Life Right Now
Charleston Moms FAVORITES: 5 Things That Keep My Head Above Water as a SAHM
Charleston Moms FAVORITES: Fast Food App Hacks Every Mom Should Know
Charleston Moms FAVORITES: How to Look More Put Together at Home

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Amanda Gibson
Amanda is an upstate New York girl who married a Tennessee guy in 2011 and moved to Charleston the next day. They have adopted two toddler boys from South Korea in 2017 and 2019. She loves to share her heart ponderings and humor lent by beginning motherhood with her toddler who spoke another language. She has a background in non-profit work, but currently stays home with her boys. She enjoys her awkward floppy hound, assertive cuddly cat, but can't keep plants alive. In her "spare time," she loves to create, serve as drummer at her church, dance around the house, or provide harmonies/percussion for her sister's music.

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