Going Dark: National Day of Unplugging 2013


Are you joining me and thousands of others as we ‘go dark’ for the National Day of Unplugging?

I’ll be without cell phone or Internet or television from sundown this evening until sundown tomorrow.

My only exception for screens will be my Kindle. I’ve been saving the last third of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects as my Friday night read and plan to get a few chapters of Alone Together in on Saturday.

It’s just 24 hours. I know for some people this will seem daunting but I can tell you from experience it is so worth it. I did a week offline last year and not only learned a lot but felt so energized and rested from it.

Here are a few links I have liked this week:

Have a wonderful weekend and hope to hear that some of you are joining me for the National Day of Unplugging.

– Rachel

A 24 Hour Challenge to Unplug


I did it last year and I’m doing it again this year.

Last year I took a week offline. It was eye opening and restorative and challenging. I learned a lot. It was similar to a nutritional cleanse: at the end of it I felt ready to commit to better habits.

This year I am committing to 24 hours.

Not because I am not up for the challenge of a week but because I’m not feeling tethered to screens right now. I’m struggling to find the time, and motivation, to open my laptop. I’d rather be sleeping or reading if I have a few moments to myself.

I was using an app on my iPod to keep track of diapers, sleep and nursing with Wil but stopped when I found it kept me up more than I liked. That screen flicking on in the dark to record a feed or poopy diaper was waking me up more than the task at hand.  Also, Wil was gaining weight so I didn’t need to track his intake and outtake for medical reasons.

So this year I am pledging to unplug for 24 hours, from sundown on Friday March 1st to sundown on Saturday March 2nd, as part of the National Day of Unplugging.

No cell phone, no television, no computer.

I will use my Kindle to read. And I’ll be reading Sherry Turkel’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Fitting, right?

Anyone else up for the challenge? You can pledge here and I will make sure to put a reminder up on March 1st. 


Leaving Minimalism

The title Minimalist Mom isn’t that accurate for me. If you’ve read a few posts here you’ll know that I aim for less and what we can live comfortably with rather than a rigid goal of a handful of possessions.

I chose the name while in a burst of zeal for the idea of what Minimalism could give me. I was excited, hopeful and had grand dreams of sparsely furnished rooms and a wardrobe that could fit in a small carry-on suitcase. After many rounds of decluttering I’ve found that the things my family want in our home, the things we use, is often in flux. I’ve found that I’m not interested in counting our possessions or living a nomadic lifestyle. I am interested in the space, time and money having less can give me and my family.

I’m not really a minimalist. We have a television, my son has a push bike he has yet to master and I recently bought a blender and a crock pot.

While I’m not a true minimalist I’m still fascinated by the idea of fewer possessions and the many returns from living with less. That’s why I keep writing here. That’s why I deliberate a lot longer on purchases than I used to. That’s why I have just two pairs of jeans, why we don’t have a car and why I keep a pretty sparse pantry. I like what having less gives me.

Friends Saying Goodbye to Minimalism.

Recently two of my blogging friends have discussed why minimalism is no longer right for them.

Rayna, a contributing writer to Frugal Mama, wrote about shutting down her blog The Suburban Minimalist almost a year ago. Embracing the movement had been positive at first and then lead her to a place she wasn’t comfortable or happy with.

 I’d learned the hard way that although there’s much to be said for living with (much) less than the average American, there are also quite a few things to be said for creature comforts and man-made beauty. Fluffy towels and familiar mugs sweeten our daily rituals. A closet with enough flattering choices makes me feel feminine and confident on the days I’m just not. – Rayna St. Pierre

Her new blog, Bright Copper Kettles, explores simplicity, design and the small things that make her life wonderful. It’s a nice read and I recommend popping in particularly for her links round up. Rayna has a great eye for articles and design that will inspire you to find more beauty in your life without making you feel bad about your living room that is covered in children’s toys or that you have yet to replace the glass on a picture frame that broke three months ago (guilty).

Faith started writing at MinimalistMoms around the same time I started this blog. Later she moved to MinimalistatHome and has written several e-books on minimalism and families. Recently she decided to move her writing away from minimalism.

… it became harder and harder to write a “minimalist” blog after two years. I’ve grown tired of wondering if what I have to say is minimalist enough or even if I am minimalist enough.. – Faith Janes

Faith’s new home online for living with less is a digital magazine called Simplify that launches October 1st. You can sign up to receive the first edition here.

Still Sticking With The M Word

I’ll still be here writing about my own brand of minimalism, the challenges of living counter-culturally and if I really needed that crock pot or blender.

While the term minimalism sounds extreme I think there is a lot to glean from the movement for even non-radical folk like myself. I like the discussion here about how to live with less, the benefits of it and how to go about it happily in a world that doesn’t support slow and simple living.

Real Simple magazine always told me that it was ‘life made easier, every day’ but I found that when I read it, I hated my home and felt the pressure to buy a lot of baskets and label makers and organize instead of truly simplify. I used to flip through those glossy pages and tell myself that I’d have a show worthy home if I just tried harder and made bread from scratch and a jar of lemon curd for an Amalfi Coast inspired luncheon replete with Limoncello ordered direct from Sorrento, Italy.

Life wasn’t made easier. Life was harder and the expectations bigger in ways that just made me tired. I had zero of the 20 must-have classic wardrobe staples for a woman in her 30’s. My vintage mason jar collection was nonexistent.

I wasn’t inspired by the supposed ease of this everyday beautiful simplicity. I was overwhelmed.

There is room in my life for beauty and minimalism. I keep fresh flowers on our kitchen window sill, not the dining room table, because that is where I enjoy them most. When I’m washing dishes I see my vase, sometimes it’s just a water glass, filled with the cheap and cheerful white carnations I buy myself or roses, a gift from a friend, and it’s enough for me.

Because I have less I appreciate what I do have more.

I’ll still be here writing about minimalism and how we’re making it work for us. With our roses on the window sill, our blender and even my expensive ballet flats that fell apart.

Inspiration vs. Inferiority Complex: The Darkside Of Pinterest

Source: google.com via Rachel on Pinterest


Pinterest is fun.

Pinterest is inspiring.

Pinterest is a great way to collect images for motivation or to keep track.

Pinterest is also the greatest online mall.

In this infographic from April of this year, Pinterest is said to account for 40% of all social media driven purchases.

What started as a fun place to share images with your friends has been infiltrated by big brands and magazines. Feels a lot like Twitter where the conversation keeps getting interrupted by sponsored tweets.

I like the inspiration and I like the vision boards and the recipes but the dark side of Pinterest worries me.

Do you pin those gorgeous photos of cupcakes and nicoise salads and then make them? Or do they languish on a recipe board while you make the same old meals for your family?

Do you have a board dedicated to your ultimate style wardrobe with cuddly hand knit angora sweaters and luxurious leather boots and do you save up and buy them? Or do you wear the same clothes and make the same wardrobe shopping mistakes over and over again?

Are you comparing your life to clippings from Real Simple and blogs by professional homemakers with a passion for crafting?

As they say, comparison is the thief of joy.

Pinterest isn’t the only place we compare our lives. Facebook is the greatest comparison platform of them all.

Sociologists at Utah Valley University surveyed 425 college students about their use of Facebook and their beliefs about their lives and happiness. The results aren’t surprising. At least not to me. From an article about the study:

The more time students spent on Facebook, the more they thought others had it better than they did… people who spent less time socializing with friends in cyberspace and more time socializing with them in real life were less likely to report they were  unhappy.

I can imagine that Pinterest users have a similar pattern of happiness tied to how much time they spend browsing and pinning.

We’re not all going to delete our Facebook or Pinterest accounts. We shouldn’t have to. There has to be a way to enjoy the goods of social media.

So how do you stop comparing? How do you turn your back to envy and wanting more?

Less pinning, more doing.

Make those crafts and bake that cake. Pin activities and projects that you’ll actually complete. And take some of your Pinterest time to do them.

Pin for your life today.

Find clothing that is in your price range and suits you. Better yet, pin clothing that you already have. It will give you a clearer picture of matching your current wardrobe with new pieces.

Be real.

Those exquisite handcrafted themed birthday parties, the one with the hand sewn loot bags with each child’s name on them, they take time. Time and a lot of resources. It’s okay to keep things simple and outsource a few things. Be yourself and enjoy it. Maybe you’re not the parent that’s going to bake three dozen cupcakes. Maybe you’re the parent that’s going to lead a group of four year-olds in the Hokie Pokie.

Do you use Pinterest? Does it make you want more or feel envy?

Your Clutter Coach


Sometimes you need more help than a book or a blog can give you.

Sometimes you need a friend to remind you to donate those bags of unworn clothing that are sitting in your basement.

Sometimes you need someone to make a plan for you, motivate you and keep you accountable.

Sometimes you need a Clutter Coach.

I get a lot of emails asking for help. I always respond (even it takes me a while) with advice, suggestion and encouragement.

And I always wonder, did they carve out a weekend to clean out that attic? Are they in the throes of home purging and feeling beaten by the process? Did they pull out some boxes from under their bed, lose a few hours looking through old junk, and then decide it was all too much work?

For some time I’ve wanted to help beyond the posts on this blog. Something very personal for paring down and living smaller.

A book wasn’t the answer. There are already some great books out there like Family-Sized Minimalism and Clutter Bootcamp for inspiration and how-to. A book can’t hold your hand, give you a kick in the butt or suggest another method for dealing with all that mail.

I want to do those things.

I want to see closets go from jam packed to roomy.

I want to help people get more sleep.

I want to find solutions for the mud room clutter that can be so hard to reign in.

So I’ve started something new.

Your Clutter Coach

This is for people that:

  • can’t make the time to declutter even after reading a lot of books and blogs on the subject
  • get sidetracked by old photos and trinkets every time they attempt to clean out the guest room
  • have pared down their stuff but it crept back quickly
  • need motivation and accountability to clear clutter for good

Your Clutter Coach is a personalized decluttering program. It’s tailored to your lifestyle, your needs and your schedule. It’s me kicking your butt and you kicking ass.

You can read more about the services here.

If you’re interested in the program I am currently giving away one free Four Week Clutter Coaching Program at Parenting with Crappy Pictures (if you haven’t visited this site before it is hilarious). The giveaway is open until Tuesday May 8th at 8pm PST. Head on over to read the details and enter.

PS. This will be the only time I mention Your Clutter Coach in a big post like this.

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