10 Things I've Done To Simplify My Life

I'm here to tell you all about things that I've done to simplify my life. I sat down with this idea and I started to write down some things that I've done, some things that I've put into practice that have simplified my life and really made a difference.

I'm all about asking the question: What can I remove from my plate in the different areas of my life?

What has to be done by me? What do I want to be done by me? What's dragging me down? Is it necessary that it drags me down? Is it just a part of life?

Is there a way that I could learn to enjoy this more? Is there a way I could learn to do this more efficiently? Is this serving my family? Is this serving someone else in a positive way? What is going on with each area of my life?

I think that's how you really get intentional.

I sat down and wanted to come up with the list of the things that I've done to bring in simplicity. I ended up coming up with 10 things, which is perfect because all the articles that you see floating around out there, especially the ones that go viral are “10 things to do this, 10 things I've done that did this,” and I always wonder, “Do they sit down until they came up with 10 things or what?”

I always feel I come up with awkward numbers (8 Times That I Was A Great Mom) but this time I really did come up with 10. Perfect. Let's dive in.


01: DECIDE WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT

The first thing that I would say came to my mind about things that I've done to simplify my life is I decided what's most important to me. I would encourage you to do this and to keep your list to 5 or less things.

Life is crazy and chaotic. Sometimes you need to come back to what matters most, but you've got to know what those things are. For me, my list is broken down into relationships because really that's what each area of life breaks down to is your relationship with your priorities.

For me, it's: 

  • my relationship with God
  • my relationship with myself
  • my relationship with my husband, Brian 
  • my relationship with my children
  • my relationship with my business.

And frankly that's about the order that it's in.

GOD

The reason that I have it in that order is, well, first of all, God. Not to be cliché, but really He is my most important relationship. And I'll be honest and say sometimes my actions may not reflect that. But in my heart of hearts, that's what's most important to me. That's the relationship that deserves the top priority. And if I feel like my actions are not aligned with that statement, I know that I need to make some changes and some shifts. And I will and I do. That's a constant fine-tuning of sorts.

Myself

Controversially, I put myself next instead of my relationship with my husband. I don't know if that's right or wrong, perfect or flawed, or what, but that decision came out of a lot of reflection and a lot of learning in my twenties. I just recently turned 31, so, I’m no old sage or anything, thankfully.

But I will say that in my almost 11 years of being married to Brian, being a mother and “growing up,” I've learned that if I don't prioritize myself first, I'm kind of a terrible wife, mother, person, friend, sister and daughter, and all the roles that I fall into because I'm an introvert. The way the Lord made me is beautiful and incredible. But it's human. It's flawed. And if I don't prioritize myself and take care of myself at least a little bit, I don't perform well. I don't feel good. I'm snappy. I'm cranky. I'm short-tempered.

Of course, there are times where I feel like that and I've got to suck it up and be a decent person. Do my job. Get through my day. Be a nice wife. Say nice things. Hold back from saying something rude, unhelpful or cutting. But my point is, after my relationship with the Lord, my relationship with myself is important in that I need to make sure that I'm taking care of myself.

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MY HUSBAND

I put my husband first in a lot of ways. But all in all, I will say that I will make sure that I carve out a little bit of “me time” before I carve out a little bit of “marriage time,” if that is what it comes down to, it often does not.

I hope I'm getting my point across that I have to take care of myself so that I can be a better wife, a better mom, more available, more patient, kinder, able to respond and be mindfully present for my husband and for my children.

The order doesn't matter as much as you saying what your priorities are.

CHILDREN + FRIENDS

Friends and family are very important to me, but they're definitely on the outer rings of my life. Not the center ring. They don't come before that other list.

That doesn't mean that I'm selfish. That doesn’t mean that I’m money hungry because my business is on the other list first or anything like that. It just means my relationship with God first, and I've got to take care of myself. I have to make sure that I'm having some quiet time. That I feel OK. That I have taken a shower. That I take a second to myself. That I’m not feeling anxious or like I am lacking something. That I am just not doing good and not able to function. That my marriage is healthy. That my relationship with my kids is going well, or at least it's been taken care of and that I put time into.

BUSINESS

My relationship with my business is so important because my business is not just a business. It's my passion. It’s really a ministry of sorts. It is so important and it is my family's livelihood.

When it comes down to it sometimes (a lot of the time actually) I do have to prioritize my business and my work above having coffee with a friend who's going through a hard time. Every once in a while it just comes down to it.

But usually - because I'm an entrepreneur, I work from home and I've got an amazing team behind me to carry the load of the day-to-day stuff - I can say, “You know what, I'm not going to work today. I'm going to finish up school with the kids and I'm going to go ahead and have lunch with my friend because she needs me.” I do that all the time.

But when I'm writing out my priorities, when I am writing out what really matters, that's kind of where my list is. I think it can be really daunting to come up with that list, but I think you should do it. And they think it's important.

If my feelings about a relationship with my main people and my business are suffering, something's going to have to give, because those are my priorities. So that's one thing that I have done to simplify my life is: I called out and said “what is most important to me?” And I made that decision prayerfully and thoughtfully over time.

I've got that list. I know I can come back to it if I'm feeling a little lost, overwhelmed or burdened by all the things. I can come back and look and say, “OK, what are my priorities? What needs to be top of the heap here in this situation?”

Although it can be daunting at first, once I did it, once I decided what's most important to me in my life, it simplified my life. It simplified my decisions. And it simplified a lot of things because my calendar reflects those priorities. My heart reflects those priorities and the way that I make decisions and say “yes” and “no” to things reflect those priorities. So, simplified my life a lot.

02: Learn to say no

Another thing that I did to simplify my life is I learned to say “No.” Learning to say “no” can be so difficult for some people. It is not super difficult for me. It depends on the circumstance. There are some things that I feel like, “Oh, my heart goes out to the situation. I want to say yes, I want to be there to help.”

I am really passionate about giving. I'm getting a little personal here, but in the first year of my business our family was America's version of poverty. It was really, really, really bad. (If you want to hear our story, you can listen to episode six of my podcast.) We came around to the other side. Our business was thriving and went as a business from zero to seven figures in 18 months. It was so exciting and crazy. I have always been passionate about giving and helping others and my difficult financial experiences in my life with my husband definitely fueled that fire.

I became even more passionate about giving and wanting to do good things with this money. I got a little bit too gung-ho about giving and gave away too much to where it was like, “Oh crap, now we don't really have a safety net here.” We probably should have put a little bit more away because that’s what you want to do. I have a hard time saying “no” when it seems good, when something seems charitable, when it seems like it's going to help somebody else.

I definitely think that sometimes self care and prioritizing your own family can turn selfish. I think sometimes it could turn into you're not really “looking outside of your own bubble.” I never want to get to that point. It's such a hard balance. I really think it's got to be some kind of gut check that you have with your own self and a “heart thing” that you're watching and prayerfully keeping watch over I guess, and asking the Lord to point out to you if you've gone too far one way or the other.

In this case, with the money thing, I had gone too far. Too much charity, not enough being careful, wise and a good steward. I wanted to give back after I felt like we had had to take so much and we weren't able to help at all.

I've since learned to say “no” and to be wise. I'm not talking about just with money - that was just in one small example - but in little things like volunteering for something or having coffee with a friend, sometimes you just need to say “no.”

Sometimes it's not a good idea. It's not wise. It's not a moment to be giving. It's a moment to be wise is in the way of, “I know what my family needs today and this isn't gonna work for us.”

There's a lot of talk, from me as well, about self-care and having time away, taking care of yourself, having girls’ nights, going to get a Mani-Pedi every once- in-a-while. That's so great. But sometimes it's the opposite and while this girl's night that I just got invited to is so fun and a great idea, it's a really bad week for me to leave my family and do that. It's going to end up not serving me and actually stressing me out. You may need to say “no.”

I've got a blog post about saying “no” and it has really simplified my life to have that skill to know how to graciously say “No, I can't do that right now.”

Unapologetically having your boundaries in order is such an act of simplification and it's a habit that will serve you well.

03: REMOVE DISTRACTIONS

The third thing that I have done to simplify my life is I turned off the things that distract me from my life. I'm talking about Facebook, phone notifications, all those types of things. There's recently been a podcast episode about that and I'll link to that in show notes for you guys as well. It's literally called “Phone Settings For A Present Life” and that is exactly what it is. How to physically set up your phone to stop beeping to you and distracting you from your actual life. It’s so funny, especially being a blogger, there's this pull and this almost expectation to share every moment and to not actually enjoy very many of them.

I feel like I have struck a really great balance of sharing plenty, sharing the fun stuff, the silly stuff, the serious stuff, the family moments, the business moments, the processes behind the scenes, but also really not feeling like I always have my phone. I found that balance I feel like. And I'm really happy with the balance I've struck. I want you to feel like that too. Turn off the things that distract you from your life.

I do not have the Facebook app on my phone. Facebook is on my computer and I can log in and do what I need to do there for work or pleasure or whatever. And then I'm done. It's not carried around with me all day long. I don't think it should be.

Your texts, your phone calls, your social media app alerts. All those things are only in the way how much you let them be in the way. I decided to prioritize (back to #1) and turn off the things that distract me from living my actual life, from being present for my God, myself, my husband, my children, my business, my friends, my family, and all these other things.

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04: TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

The next thing I did to simplify my life is I started spending time alone. This was another thing that totally came out of my 20’s, of me figuring myself out.

I say this a lot, but I'll say it again. Extrovert and introvert is not being hyper or super high energy, or loud versus quiet and shy. It's actually where you get your energy from. Extroverts get their energy from being around other people and introverts get their energy from being alone. There's people that are both, and that's called ambiverts. I don't know many of those but I know they're out there.

I am an introvert, and learning to give myself alone time, oh my gosh, it just restores me in such an amazing way. It's unbelievable what less than 10 minutes of being alone will do for me.

Even if you're an extrovert, being alone is so good for the soul.

Just being quiet for a second. Get the kids in bed, check in with your hubby and make sure he's good, and go for a 20-minute drive. Get a Chai latte and go for a drive with the windows down. Don't even turn music on, just be by yourself. It’s so nice to see what good company you are and where your thoughts go. What worries, fears, dreams or joys come to mind?

05: simplify your home

Another thing I did to simplify my life was I simplified my home. You know, obviously this is what I'm really known for, but my gosh, I had a hard time not putting this first. I simplified my home. I got rid of the clutter. I let go of the drawerfuls of junk and crap that was taking up all the nooks and crannies in the closets, under the bed, wedged in between couch cushions, crammed into nightstand drawers and kitchen drawers. Multiple spatulas, spoons, and bowls that were mismatched. Magazines and random clutter.

I got rid of all of it and I've kept it all away by ruthlessly being the editor of my home over the last six years. It has transformed my entire life more than almost anything. It's been huge.

You probably already know this is what I do. This is what I'm known for. This is where my signature course, my ecourse, “Your Uncluttered Home” came from - this has been my process and my journey and let me teach you how to do it. Simplify your home. Watch your life transform. You wouldn’t even believe it if I told you all the different areas of my life that have changed just from simplifying my home. My marriage improved. Relationships improved with myself, with my kids. I was a lighter person, much happier, less stressed out. I found it so much easier to stop yelling and stop reacting to my life because I wasn't living in this place of constant stress. My life no longer reflected the way that my home was cluttered. It reflected the way my home was uncluttered.

Studies show that the way that we have our homes is a reflection of the way we have our lives. And I really believe that. It's been true for me and true for the thousands of students who have gone through “Your Uncluttered Home.” I definitely, definitely would say that one of the biggest things I did to simplify my entire life was clearing my home of clutter.

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06: Establish routines

The next thing I would say is I established routines, specifically my morning routine. That's also a podcast episode. I am not sure what number it is, but I'll link to it in the show notes. My morning ritual is very important to me. I like to call it a ritual because that's really what it is. I don't like to think of it as a routine. I don't know, it just feels like the word “ritual” is so much richer, better, more spiritual, important and beautiful. And that's how I feel about my mornings.

I hate when something is going on that causes me to miss my morning ritual. That happens very rarely because my morning ritual begins pretty early in the morning. It's only when we're traveling and I have to get up early to leave for the airport for a trip or something like that that gets in the way. I feel the difference in my spirit. I really do.

My morning ritual has transformed my life so much. It has simplified so many aspects of my life.

07: DOWNSIZE

Another thing that I did to simplify my life is I downsized. Back before all of this, before I decluttered, before this part of my story began, we lived in a pretty large house. It was definitely pretty large for our family size at the time. We only had two of our kids and it was a lot.

It was so much maintenance. It was so much cleaning and it wasn't really worth it at the time because I was so overwhelmed. I was fighting depression and we only had two of our kids. I was pregnant with our third, Hudson, and it was so much extra work. It was so not worth it. We couldn't even afford to furnish all of it. It just felt empty, dull and high maintenance. Oh my gosh. I mean it was awful.

We ended up downsizing and started to live in smaller houses. Nothing super tiny or anything but just pretty small. Small enough to where the potential landlord would say something like, “Are you sure this house is big enough for you guys?”

Friends and family would comment regularly on the fact that we were living pretty small. It didn't feel too small to us but small enough to where it got comments for sure. It was a little bit against the norm, even now when we have four kids. And now that we're going to be adopting, our family is going to grow even more.

Our house is about 2300 -2400ish square feet. And it's three bedrooms. We work from home, we’ve got an office that's an extension of the garage. So even now our house really isn't that big for a family my size. It's definitely the biggest house that we've had since our big downsize.

I think the original house that I was talking about before was over 3000 square feet and it was just a lot for me, especially at the time. And you know with more space comes more cleaning, more maintenance.

But it's OK; I can handle it now. I've got less stress. I'm not depressed. My kids are older; they help. My husband's here to help. I have a housekeeper that comes once or twice a month and helps. My season is different.

We still live a little smaller than most people with our family size. And it's great. I love a small house. I think there's something really beautiful and there's something to be said for small living. And I love when people message me and they say, “You know, I've got two kids and we live in a thousand square feet and we just love it. We're outside all the time.”

It's so true, you get out and you start to live. You enjoy the outdoors. You really make your little home count, you know? It matters to you more. It's more important to you. It's cozier. I love a small house.

08: GET MOVING

Another thing that I did to simplify my life was I started walking. This might sound silly and you might wonder what that has to do with simplifying, but it really does. I started walking as a way to simplify my health. I think that the health and wellness industry is a money hungry industry of unnecessary advice. And I got sick of it. I just wanted to feel better. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to feel like I had more energy.

I wanted to get moving, but I really don't like to exercise. I just started to walk. What I found was that, first of all, I love walking. I love taking walks, whether my kids come along or Brian's home and they stay with him and I go by myself. I love to walk. I started to let my thoughts wander. I started to get really grateful. Then I started to intentionally think of things that I was grateful for while I walked. I call those my “gratitude walks.”

Sometimes I do that. Sometimes I listen to a podcast or an audio book. Sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I have absolutely no agenda and I just go for a walk and see where the Lord takes me. But walking simplified my health. I lost weight. I feel better.

I do more than just walking now, but I still walk. It's a simple practice that I am really fond of that's really changed my life, that I really love.

09: IMPLEMENT A NOTHING DAY

The ninth thing that I've done that I would say simplified my life is I implemented a “nothing day.” It used to be once a week. Now I guess I still have a “nothing day” once a week, but really a very intentional, absolutely zero things on my calendar day, once a month for sure.

Sundays I like to turn off social media, at least for the most part. I don't look at my phone much. There's no work, unless I really want to. I love what I do. Sometimes I getting inspired and want to jot down a blog post or something. It's just rest, whatever rest looks like that day for me.

“Nothing day” is when you feel pulled really thin and you just need a break. “Nothing day” is no phone alerts, no phone at all, maybe. No capturing things for social media. I just unwind. Maybe my family will go and do something fun. Maybe we'll just hang out and do nothing at home. That's usually what it is, but it's just a day of “vegging out” and just “being.”

It's something that is so overlooked and not very often scheduled and it needs to be. It's so good for the soul. I implemented a “nothing day” once a week, about 1 ½ - 2 years ago and it was so good.

Now I'm in a season where I don't really need a “nothing day” every single week. We have very restful family days on Sundays, but it's not technically a “nothing day” now because we're going to church, Costco and stuff.

I have a “nothing day” on my schedule about once a month, sometimes more depending on my need. Let the day take you. If you want to leave and go do something, great! But, it's OK to stay in with no bra and no makeup and just hang out on the couch with your hubby and let the kids play games. Just veg. Just be. It's good. It's good for the soul.

10: SIMPLIFY YOUR EATING

Number ten is I simplified my eating. This goes back to the whole thing about the health and wellness industry. But you know, it's overwhelming. We eat at least three times a day and making food can be so complicated. It can really take over your day.

A friend of mine, Amanda Wilson (I'll link to her Instagram account) because she is an incredible Instagram-er for the health and wellness industry. She taught me about food prepping instead of meal prepping. Food prepping is when you prep basic foods so that you can put plates together for meals, instead of deciding what you're going to eat way ahead of time, making the meal, and putting it in the fridge.

Because what was happening for me was I eat by mood, so I would make a meal and put it aside and I wouldn't want that later. What if I didn’t want leftover spaghetti or whatever it is?

Instead, I started prepping basic foods that I know I eat all the time, like grilling up some potatoes, grilling some chicken and seasoning it lightly with salt and pepper, so it can be used for any recipe. Making some cauliflower rice and putting that in the fridge. Things like that. Things that could be made as part of a meal but aren't already a designated meal.

That really helped me. I simplified my meal plans. Maybe I'll do a podcast episode on this, but I just simplified my eating. I cut the crap. I stopped trying to be all specific. “Oh, is this exactly Paleo?” I just said, “You know what? I want to eat clean. I want to eat well, but I also want to eat real and not have this takeover my entire life. I want to cook because I want to enjoy the atmosphere that I create my kitchen when I'm cooking, not because I have to.” I wanted to bring some joy into my eating and I really simplified our food in our house and it was so good.

I would encourage you to find a way that you need to simplify your eating, if that's feeling like a point of stress for you. I have a really good friend who just absolutely loves food. She loves everything to do with the creation of food. She would never want to simplify this area of her life. She loves cooking from scratch. She is amazing at it. But that is not me.

While I do enjoy cooking from scratch, I don't want to do that for every single meal. This is an area of my life that it served me greatly to simplify. I found a way that worked for me and our family. I would encourage you to do that if that’s hitting home for you.

And there you have it. 10 things that I've done to simplify my life. I hope that this was inspiring in a different way than my episodes usually are because I'm really just telling you something that I've done and not really telling you exactly how to do it. Which I think can make you be creative and apply this to your own life in a different way than usual. So, I hope that inspired you guys.

 


ARE YOU READY TO CLEAR THE CLUTTER AND FOCUS ON THE AREAS OF YOUR LIFE THAT BRING YOU JOY? 

"Your uncluttered home" is LITERALLY EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BECOME A MINIMALIST MAMA WHO IS ABLE TO BE A LOT MORE PRESENT FOR WHAT MATTERS MOST.

 


Introducing My New Brand! [+ the story behind it]

My brand is a direct reflection of who I am. And since I’m human, I’m always changing.

I’ve been walking further down the path of simplifying and intentional living, and lately, I’ve been in a season of pruning.

In my business and in my life, there have been things I felt like I had to do in order to serve and show up for other people - some things were good and worked fine once, but then they stopped working.

Because of the drain on my energy, those things weren’t actually serving anyone - not even the people I was trying to hard to show up for.

They pulled life from me in a way that meant I had none left to give in other areas that matter.

I have been letting go of those things with a confident knowing that I will be better for it, and so will the people I serve.

Did you know that in vineyards, the vines that are not fruit-producing are pruned (cut back, trimmed) in order to give more water and energy to the vines that are producing fruit?

In the past six months alone, I have cut off two branches of The Purpose Group Incorporated (the official entity of my business, which owns this website and The Purpose Show).

Those two branches were The Purpose Society (my monthly membership site) and These Solid Walls (my print shop).

These two things were vines that needed to be pruned in order to reserve water and energy for the more fruit-producing branches. Even though they weren’t bad ideas or rotten vines, they just weren’t my purpose and they were pulling my focus from more important things.

Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you or for this time in your life, and God set me free by showing me that.

This has been a really impactful, deeply transformative time in my life. Learning what to say “no more” to and what to say “let’s grow more of this” as a business owner and influencer has caused me to really work on my heart and seek God.

When a change like this takes place in you as a person and YOU are your brand, it’s hard to look at your current brand aesthetic the same way. Because, like I said, my brand is a direct reflection of who I am, it starts to feel like you’re producing content on a platform that isn’t yours.

It’s almost like you’re boxed in to the old things you just let go of.

It might sound silly, but seeing the colors, fonts, and feel of my old brand had started to feel crippling to my creativity. I needed my brand to change to fit me better.

The thing is, as a brand, you don’t want to do this often, if ever. It can really harm your reach if people don’t recognize your images on social media, and it is part of my job (and my team’s job) to make sure you see what I’m putting out.

The message I am sharing is something I take incredibly seriously.

I know if any mom hears it and takes action on it, God will use it to change her entire motherhood.

Motherhood is what is shaping the future of our world, so this matters greatly.

See? Told you I take this seriously ;)

So, it was important to me not to change too much about the general “feel” of my brand, as I didn't want to hurt the spreading of the message behind it. 

I weighed it out in my head over a couple of months and finally decided a change was worth a small risk, because the new brand would reflect more of what you get here at Allie Casazza dot com - minimalism, less, simplification tips, encouragement to live well and to live your life on purpose.

This was worth the change to me.

I started opening my eyes to ideas for fresher colors and praying that God would guide the steps of this rebrand.

One day, I was browsing a strip of small local shops and there somes prints of paintings created by a local artist. There was one piece of art that immediately caught my eye and brought up emotion.

It was so simple. It made me think of an open door of opportunity… it made me think of what I do here in this little space on the internet.

I bought it and put it on my mantle, staring at it anytime I sat in my living room for weeks.

I want what I do here to feel like the message in that painting - like an open door of opportunity for mothers all over the globe.

If you make small, positive changes, if you start to look at the things in your home and on your calendar with a little more intentionality, your life is going to rapidly and seriously transform.

That’s a door of opportunity for you if I’ve ever seen one!

The painting I bought, although my new favorite, was a little dark. I like my brand to breathe and feel light and airy, so I knew I wouldn’t be totally borrowing from the artist when I used this piece as my rebrand inspo.

It needed to be a jumping off point, not the end all be all.

After a few more weeks of praying, searching, and just letting inspiration find its way to me, I had put together the new brand in my head.

I had over a month of time off scheduled and it was rapidly approaching. I couldn’t bear to keep this to myself all that time, so I scheduled an evening meeting with my designer in my cozy backyard, and I poured all the stuff in my head into his while he created some mockups of what the brand would look like.

After a little fine tuning and moving things around, we had it.

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I told him I wanted a paint brush stroke in the brand somehow. When you see it on an image, know that the brush stroke symbolizes a couple of things…

First, it’s symbolic of my own creative journey as a mother - finding myself outside of being a mom, and developing my love of painting.

But mostly, it symbolizes you, friend. It’s a nod to your part in all this- taking what I give you and making it your own, creating the life you want and making it happen for yourself and for your family.

I wanted the colors to quiet down and reflect minimalism, and the idea of less better than they were. They used to be happy and cute, but just not right for this space - it was a lot, and I’m not about a lot.

I wanted muted greys, my signature dusty blush toned down a notch, and the exact navy from the painting.

Designer Derek nailed it.

Lastly, we freshened up the fonts to reflect less, to be modern and attractive, and to bring more “happy” to the feel of my new brand.

Done and done.

 

 

I feel so invigorated by these new changes, and I hope you do too.

But here’s what I want you to know, branding aside…

You can do this. This motherhood thing - it’s dang hard and it will pull your energy from you in ways you didn’t know was possible before you stepped into it.

But it’s beautiful and humbling and so full of opportunity! I don’t want you to miss that like I did in the beginning of mine.

This can be so good. And if it's awful - if you're pulling your hair out, constantly cleaning up and getting your kids out of your way so you can "catch up" even though you never do, hear me... 

It does not have to be that way for one more day! You can make changes that last, that matter.

It doesn’t have to be so chaotic and overwhelming that you’re counting the minutes til your kids go to bed.

I want you to have a few days like that here and there (that's normal), not live every day in that place. Because when you live there, you’re not able to pause and really enjoy the gift of this short season of raising babies.

 

 

Intentional motherhood starts at home.

Take ownership, get your time + your life back.

It’s the blink of an eye and then it’s over and they’re gone.

I’m here to walk with you as we step into purpose, as we grab onto hope, as we ask ourselves the questions -

Is this necessary?

Is it helping me live a focused life of purpose?

Can I let this go?

I want JOY and less for you, friend. So that you can enjoy MORE of what really matters. That’s what my brand, and everything that falls under it's umbrella is all about.

A Typical Day in Our House

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Do you ever wonder what someone else does in different areas of your life? Like how other people deal with tough parenting issues or how other moms structure their day?

Me too!

I think it can be really helpful to see how other people do things. Even if the exact system wouldn't work for you, it can be inspiring and helpful in other ways.

Lately on Instagram (@allie_thatsme) and on the podcast, I've been sharing some things about my schedule, such as: 

  • how I run my business
  • homeschool my four littles
  • fit in some self-care
  • and all the other things I've got going on

It's been so fun to hear people's feedback and comments! Since it's been asked a bunch, I thought I'd get specific and share a peek into a typical day for our family!

So keep in mind, this is a typical day.

 
It's not exactly this way all the time - that would be so boring I'd die, cause I love to be spontaneous!

OUR TYPICAL DAY

5:30-6:00

I usually wake up, slip into my workout clothes, and make coffee.

I go through my morning ritual and usually follow it up with some pilates.

7:00

The kids' alarms go off (they play upstairs if they wake up before this), they make their beds, put their pajamas away, get dressed, and come downstairs. I normally put myself together for the day at this time.

7:30

Bella serves breakfast for herself and her brothers (cereal or toast and hardboiled egg, or something similar), they clean up after themselves, then unload the dishwasher (I always run it the night before).

8:15

I sit with the kids and we talk, pray over our day, and dive into Language Arts. During this time, sometimes Brian is working in the office, sometimes he's working on a house project.

9:00

I head to my office to get some work done, Brian comes in to do math and science with the kids.

They take breaks as needed. 

When they're done the older two work on solo work (guitar or reading for Leland, art lesson or reading for Bella) while the younger two play outside.

12:00

We eat lunch as a family.

After we eat, we clean up the kitchen and do a 10-minute pickup around the house. Usually school books need to be put away, the robo vac needs to be run, and things just need to be straightened up.

After lunch, we might go for a walk to the park near our house, run errands, go out to do something fun, or take a family nap if we need it. On busier weeks, Brian and I might have the kids do separate quiet times while we get a little more work done in the office.

Sometimes I'll take the kids out alone while Brian stays and gets some editing done (he's the master behind the photos we use for the business and all my videos). Other times we'll pack up and head to Legoland. It just depends on our workload and what's going on that day.

5:00

Time to make dinner! Brian and I have assigned nights for who cooks. 

It is always flexible, though! 

Usually he cooks two nights a week and I cook three. The other two nights are date night (which means a frozen pizza for the kids and sitter) and the other night is family takeout/game night!

After we eat dinner and clean up the kitchen, we head into our evening routine - another 10-minute house pickup, Bella wipes the bathrooms down, everyone chips in with what's needed so we can go to bed with a clean house. Plus bath/showers for all the kids.

8:00

The younger kids (ages 5 and 3) go to bed.

The older kids will normally hang out together or read separately. Sometimes they play on the iPad together, watch Blue Planet on Netflix or color and chat. At this time Brian and I are either relaxing on the couch or wrapping up anything that needs us (maybe work or a house project or just talking to each other).

9:00

The older kids (ages 9 and 7) go to bed.

I normally go to bed around 10:00, but it changes depending on the night.


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THAT'S IT!

I feel like this is super boring but I know I like reading things like this from other people and so many of you were asking me for this, haha! There you have it! :)

Whenever I share something like this, I get a bunch of emails asking why there's not more time spent on housework and how is my house always so clean on my InstaStory if I don't spend a chunk of time each day maintaining it.

Mamas always write me saying how overwhelmed they feel and their day is so full of chaos and putting out fires. It breaks my heart! I know how that feels because it absolutely used to be my life!

Scroll down for info about "Unburdened", The overwhelmed beginner's guide to a simpler motherhood 

But this is what I'm always telling you beauties - minimalism and simplifying your home and schedule will set you free from that!

Take action on that ish for yourself, mama by clicking right here and choosing what will help you the most right now...

Is it time management?

Decluttering?

Doing a surface sweep of your entire life?

 

Get straightforward help with what YOU need right now.

Whatever you need, I got you and I want you to know there is so much hope!

 

Love sharing with you all and I hope this is a fun read!


“Hey mama!

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I’ve been there!

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Our Minimalist Homeschool Room

Why we chose to turn the loft into the school room

When we moved into this house, the upstairs loft jumped out at me right away.

I’m of the mindset that you can homeschool anywhere, without a designated “school room”, but if you have the space for it, it definitely makes things easier!

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Even with a school room, we still sometimes find ourselves learning fractions at the dining room table and going over Egyptian civilization at the kitchen island while I make lunch. However, I love having a separate space just for learning and storing our curricula.

Homeschooling is messy, and I like that the mess is segregated from the rest of the house most days.


What’s in the room & how we use it

The first thing I did when we moved in was look up the different options for desks. We have four kids, and while only three of them are actively being homeschooled (Emmett is only three so he mainly just tags along), it’s a lot of bodies in a small room at once.

I didn’t want the room to feel cramped or for our set up to be inconvenient.
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I’m not new to homeschooling, so that helped me have a sense of what would and would not work for us in terms of this school space.

I decided to ditch all the Pinterest images I was saving and do my own thing - a dining room table is what we really needed in here. This would give us lots of space for everyone to sprawl out with their books, and it would be easy for me to move around and go from kid to kid.

We got this super modern table from IKEA, and as fate would have it, it was previously purchased, put together, then returned without a scratch on it by another person, so we got the last one for 50% off and didn’t have to assemble it. #winning

The chairs are a collection of what we already had (but didn’t want to use at our actual dining table) and they’re comfy to sit in so this worked out perfectly too!

We use The Good & The Beautiful curriculum, and one of their main selling points is that there aren’t 100 books per subject - their design is very minimal, which I of course love. I knew we wouldn’t need a ton of shelving and storage, but definitely some!

One shelving unit is plenty for us, and we could even do with less space here, which surprises me with four kids!

We keep our Legos in the school room for a couple of reasons. First of all, it worked out in terms of space.

Also, all four of my kids play with the Legos, so it made sense to put them in a shared space rather one of the kids' rooms. 

We store Legos separately from their other toys (which are in a toy bin in the boys' shared room) and we also use Legos for school on a regular basis. It just made sense to store them in this room.

We use the bins to hold segregated Ziplock bags of Legos. Leland likes order, so he’s usually pretty good at keeping the Legos separated by color, but it’s not perfect and I’m not picky.

As long as they’re off the ground and out of my way, I don’t care.

Legos are so valuable for learning and so good for the kids’ constructive play, I think they’re worth the mess they make.

Besides, a little mess is good for you, and raising kids is messy! If you're analytic about every little thing being perfectly organized, you'll probably end up miserable and not too much fun to be around!


How we keep supplies at bay

It is so easy to become overcluttered with homeschool supplies! So many times I find myself excusing myself to keep junk because we “might need in one day”, which I normally don’t struggle with!

I have to check myself and let that ish go.

Homeschooling is awesome but also unpredictable, so it can make you feel like you need to hang on to stuff all the time, but that’s not true.

If you need help with this, read this blog post.

Our homeschool supplies are what we need, and nothing else. I feel like we’ve struck a really good balance with where we’re at.

Currently, our homeschool practice itself is incredibly minimal and “bare bones”.

What I mean by that is that we aren’t doing a lot of extra stuff. We are in a very full season of adoption prep, business growth, and focusing on extracurricular activies rather than extra homeschool activities (things that go beyond the main subjects).

Our supplies reflect the season we’re in.

Someday we’ll do way more art and new languages and science experiments that will cause our supply stock to grow a bit, and we’ll adjust, but for now it’s super basic.

Do you homeschool? What do you love or hate about your homeschool space? Share with me in the comments!


Want to know where we got something you see here? I gotchoo, girl. 

Our homeschool table: IKEA

Leather chairs: IKEA

Rug: IKEA

White book shelf: Target (similar one here)

Lego cart: Target (wheels purchased separately) (similar one here)

Lego bins: Target (similar ones here)

"MAPS" book: Amazon

Panda bear head: Target

Black macrame: Target

Cactus art: By Bella :)

"Seek adventure" and other decor on that wall: Target

All frames: Target

Bean bag: Target (similar one here)

Curtains: IKEA (couldn't find the link! Looks like they've discontinued them)

Pencil holder: Nake Berkus for Target

(Some of these links may be affiliate ones.)

 


How We Use Sundays to Hit Reset + Prepare for the Week

I love Sundays so much. Sunday is the day our family rests and recharges.  It’s the day we set ourselves up for success before the new week begins.

Every Sunday morning I wake up early, have a cup of coffee, read whatever book I’m currently digesting, and let the kids pour themselves cereal. We take our time, we talk and listen to acoustic music, they play in the backyard while I read more and Brian makes avocado toast for the two of us. Sunday mornings are my favorite.

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As a mama with a fairly large family, Sundays are more than just restorative - they’re a key part of running my household. It’s important that I look ahead at the coming week and prepare. I want to wake up on Monday and know that my fridge is stocked, my work is pre-planned, my homeschool lessons are laid out, and I am ready to be intentional and show up for my role. Sundays are huge for us!

Since I’ve been getting questions about our Sundays every week on Instagram (I use my InstaStory as a vlog, so people see what I’m doing most days), I thought I’d take some time to share a written version of what a typical Sunday in our house looks like. I know I get inspired reading things like this from other people, so I hope it does the same for someone reading this!


A Typical Sunday

After our leisurely morning, we clean up and head upstairs to get ready for church, which starts at 10:00.

After church, we usually go out to lunch with friends.

Costco and the natural market are next up. We get our grocery shopping done and stock up for the week! This is also when I get fresh flowers to have by the kitchen sink for the week (part of my self-care and my strategy to enjoy being in the kitchen more).

Once we get home, everybody helps clean out the cupboard and fridge of anything that’s gone bad. We wipe it all down and make way for the new food. I prep our food before storing it away to save myself time during the busyness of the week.

I like to set the tone for a quiet day of resetting even as I’m working to prepare for the week by playing music and diffusing oils while I slice berries and the kids help Brian carry in groceries and prep the fridge.

The rest of the day is usually lazy and peaceful. Maybe we’ll play board games or take a nap. Maybe Brian and I will Netflix it up while the kids play in the backyard. 

Later, after dinner’s been eaten, it’s clean up time. We all help clean up the house, start the week with a sparkling kitchen, wrap up any laundry that’s been abandoned in the washing machine, put clothes away, run our robo vacuum, basically just our normal nightly routine. The kids are included in the clean up too (bath time, yo).

Once we’re done, the younger ones go to bed and our two older kids hang out in Bella’s room with books or toys and quietly play til they’re bedtime. This is the time when Brian and I have our weekly “meeting”. We love our Sunday night meetings!

We pour some wine, snuggle up, and look at what’s coming this week.

 

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Here are some of the things Brian and I cover during our Sunday night meetings:

What’s happening this coming week?

What does he need & how can I help him?

What do I need & how can he help me?

What’s going on with the business?

What’s going on with the kids schooling & acitivities?

Are there any phone calls that need to be made or emails that need to be sent?

When will we need to drive separate and tag team stuff?

When will we have quality family time?

Where do we want to go for our weekly date night?

What is he worried about?

What am I worried about?

It’s important to us that we are on the same page before life happens. I think this is one huge thing that really helps us respond to our life rather than reacting to it out of stress.

And that’s pretty much our Sundays!

Why This All Started

A few years ago, God really laid Proverbs 29:18 on my heart when I was seeking ways to get organized and run our family with intention.

Where there is no vision the people perish.
— Proverbs 29:18

Our Sundays (among lots of other things) were born out of my conviction from that verse.

Think about it - even if you’re not “of faith”, if you don’t look ahead and get some vision for where you’re headed, you’re going to flounder and probably fail, or at least struggle a lot. If we can avoid hardship, stress, tension, and a week full of yelling parents losing their minds, why wouldn’t we?

If you feel like your life is happening to your family and you'd like to pull it together, I totally get it and have been there. And you know what? I'll get there again. Because life is crazy and things ebb and flow and with that, you have to adjust. But I would encourage you to try choosing one day a week, even if it's not Sundays, to look ahead, plan a little, and prepare. 

You can do it, mama! I'm rooting for you!

Tools I use to plan our week:

Simplified Planner from Emily Ley

Google calendar

Asana

 

 


 

 

The Right Way to Have A "No Gifts" Birthday Party

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There are a few questions that make their way into my inbox on a near-daily basis.

“How do you handle gifts for birthdays?” is definitely one of them!

And I totally get it.

You’re trying to simplify, you’re letting go of all kinds of junk that made its way into your home quietly and sneakily, and here comes a birthday party. More clutter on its way posthaste.

What do you do?

You don’t want to undo all your hard work, but you also don’t want to deal with push-back from relatives who want to give your kid gifts.

Don’t stress out! I’m gonna go over how I handle gifts and a couple other options that would work too. As my girl Marie Forleo says, everything is figureoutable :)

In this post, I’m specifically talking about birthdays. If you’re finding this post around the holidays and would like help with that specifically, click here.


HOW I [USUALLY] DO BIRTHDAYS

I don’t usually do “no gifts” for my kids’ parties, although I like the idea and see why people do it. We did it one time for Hudson’s first birthday, but I’ll get into that in a minute.

What we normally do is one of two things:

  1. Celebrate without a traditional birthday party (go somewhere awesome or go out for a nice dinner and dessert)

    OR

  2. Have a traditional party, get gifts, smile and be grateful.

I’m not super strict when it comes to people getting my kids presents. I think it’s nice and my kids love it. Most people ask what the birthday kid wants, and I take advantage of that and tell them!

Bella is really into using charcoal to create art right now. If you got her a nice charcoal art set or a new easel, she would be ecstatic!

It’s not rude, it’s honest. It’s also helpful for both parties when you come forward and answer this question. Now they don’t have to play guessing games and worry about wasting their money on junk your kid won’t care about, and you can rest easy knowing the new “clutter” coming into your home will at least be loved and used by your kid.

Sometimes I do a registry on Amazon or at Target and give it to people when they ask. That’s always super clear and helpful.

We have regular toy purges throughout the year (we try to do them seasonally), so I can relax and know that a few times a year, any toys that aren’t getting played with will get donated and out of my hair. So who really cares if we get some new ones for a birthday party?

My kids have been raised on minimalism and are very used to our lifestyle of simple. Their toys and getting them to let go of things isn’t a point of stress for me.

Side note: with consistency and practicing what you preach, your family will get to this point too!


Hosting A Party?

Ever wonder what to do with all that stuff leftover from hosting a party? Let's talk about what I keep and what I don't keep after I host a party.   

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THE TIME WE DID NO GIFTS

When we passed on gifts for Hudson’s first birthday, it was mainly because it alleviated stress during that period of our lives. We had just moved into a new house and were going through a miscarriage, and Hudson was way too young to miss his presents (or even know that his party was about him).

On our invitation, we simply said “no gifts please!” and asked friends to please consider bringing a gift to donate to a local children’s hospital instead. At the party, we had an empty box for donations in lieu of a gift table.

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I might do “no gifts” again in the future - I have nothing against the idea - it’s the attitude behind it sometimes that I think is wrong.

I see a lot of moms coming at this with an almost aggressive attitude - seemingly angry that loved ones want to give their kids presents.

I’m of the mindset that it’s incredibly narcissistic to expect everyone else to get on the same page as you.

Sure, it’s your kid, your home, and your family’s party (and that’s why you can have boundaries and do whatever you want to do), but do you have to be a jerk about it? Not really.

I like letting people bless my kids - it makes them happy, it makes my kids happy, and like I said, it’s not like it’s causing me a ton of extra stress.

My kids like gifts, and I don’t feel particularly compelled to get super minimal here. Also, I’m minimal in most other areas of my life, so I don’t feel like I need to get crazy with this.

Plus it’s a chance for me to have the kids practice gratitude and writing with their thank you notes, which I really like.

I also feel very strongly that I never want my kids to look back on our simple lifestyle and hate it or become hoarders. I’m careful about not creating a joyless life of deprivation. Most of the time, there’s no real reason to pass on gifts, so why do it? That’s where I’ve landed :)


Want to get totally uncluttered?

 Your Uncluttered Home is my signature e-course, designed by me for overwhelmed moms who are sick and tired of cleaning up all the time. 

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WHY YOU MAY WANT TO SAY “NO GIFTS PLEASE”

>> If you’re new-ish to minimalism and your kids are not like mine are now (you’re worried they’ll get new things and never let them go).

>> If you’ve got a relative who goes completely out of control and you feel passing on gifts as a whole will solve this problem.

>> If the thought of more stuff truly stresses you out and is coming at a bad time for your family (like a super hard season where you can’t even handle one more thing - like I was during the move and miscarriage).

>> Because you can do what you want and you just don’t want to deal with gifts. Maybe toys is an area you’re choosing to really simplify so you can feel freer in other areas of your life. That’s your perogative, mama! You do you!

HOW TO DO THE “NO GIFTS” THING WITHOUT BEING RUDE/ANNOYING/HURTFUL

You’re not an awful person for wanting to say “no thanks” to people’s gifts, it’s just that it’s really easy to come off that way. Ultimately, you’re the mother of your kids and it’s your call.

In fact, there are perks for your guests when you say “no gifts” on your child’s party invite. For one thing, you never know who’s struggling financially, and toys ain’t cheap! Lots of people will feel the sweet waves of relief when they read your party invitation - one less thing on their to do list!

No gifts at parties can feel really annoying, rude, ungrateful, and steal joy from family and friends who want to love your kids. I DO think there’s a way to do “no gifts” parties right though!

1. Don’t have a party.

Do something with your kid instead. No party usually means no gifts. You might get a few straggler gifts from super close relatives who go out of their way to bring your child a present or two, but that is far less than you’d get with a party!

2. Have the party, and say simply on the invitation “no gifts please”.

That’s it. You don’t have to explain yourself or say anything more.

If Grandma calls hysterical, have the conversation with her about your reasons and how you feel. You can decide if you’d like to tell her she can bring a gift and give it to Sally aside from the other guests or not.

Personally, I have seen people make a fuss and use their love for your child as an excuse to be the favorite relative and show up with an outpouring of clutter. Set your boundaries where YOU feel they should be, and stick with them!

You could also ask for an experience gift from relatives who just can’t deal with this sentence on your invite. Say something like, “look, we’ve really been wanting a zoo pass. If you really want to get something, that would be incredible.”

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Sometimes we overthink things and feel like it has to be a big deal. It doesn’t. You can simply say “no gifts” and let that be that. How other people respond isn’t something you have to let stress you out.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Do you have a creative solution for birthday party gifts? Share in the comments!

Keeping Intimacy Alive & Well When You Have 1,000 Kids

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When it comes to intimacy, people usually jump right to sex. Obviously, intimacy has a lot to do with sex. And it can lead to that but, in my opinion, intimacy is more about being close. Liking each other and wanting to spend time with each other - that’s what intimacy means to me.

Brian and I are close, and I share that with my followers on social media. So I get asked a lot, “How do we keep intimacy and closeness alive, even when we have one thousand children?”

It’s time to stop putting intimacy on the back burner, leaving room for it to occur only after the kids are in bed. You absolutely MUST keep that fire burning ALL. DAY. LONG! You want to be excited to spend that time together once the kids are asleep.

So, let’s dive in mamas!

1. Get the overly romanticized, intimate relationship out of your head!

It is so easy to have super high expectations that the time you’re going to spend with your husband is going to be SO romantic. That your husband is going to want to open up and share all these things with you. But maybe he had a day from hell, and he may have no clue what you want.

Rather than setting yourself up for failure and probably an argument, get out of your head. Let go of your expectations and this overly romantic view of how time should be spent with your husband, and just enjoy the time you have.

2. Communicate throughout the day.

Don’t complicate it, yo!

It doesn’t have to be face to face communication. It can be texting or sharing something that’s funny, or just making the time to call during a lunch break. You want to keep that closeness, so that it feels like you are there with one another throughout the day.

Brian and I feel like we have better days when we actually take the time to connect, especially when it’s a date night. When you’ve been chatting on and off all day, you kind of feel like the pressure’s off, and you can just enjoy your time together.

3. Make time for each other.

Life. Gets. Busy. That’s why you need to make your relationship a priority. Trust me, if you get to the end of the week and haven’t done anything with each other, you’re going to feel disconnected.

Make the time to connect, to share, to talk about the day or the things that are going on. Take time to just decompress without the kids.

This can be really helpful for those who have spouses who work outside the home. You’ll both know that you get to stop working, the kids will be asleep and you’ll be able to do something together.

One of mine and Brian’s favorite things to do is sit down on the couch, after the kids are in bed and we’ve cleaned up a bit, have a snack and watch some shows on Netflix. It just feels so good to connect this way!

4. Be OK with scheduled intimacy.

It’s not unromantic or anti-spontaneous OR unhealthy to schedule in time for sex or just alone time. It’s actually really romantic because it shows that you’re prioritizing each other enough to let it hold space on the calendar.

Brian and I have date night scheduled once a week. We’re in the season of being able to leave the house and go out on date nights every single week. It hasn’t always been like that, though. There were times when I’d have to do some work after the kids were in bed, and it always felt off and weird if we didn’t spend that time together.

You need to make it work for you. If you have to take some time in the middle of the day, if that’s when the kids have their quiet time and your spouse is home, use it to veg out together and hit reset. (It’s always worth it!)

5. Be friends.

Ever since Brian and I met, we’ve been friends, and have developed into best friends. There are so many things we can do together because we like a lot of the same things. At the same time, there are times when we don’t like the same things, or don’t really care what the other person is talking about.

But how would a friend act? You need to take a step outside of the marital aspect and ask yourself, “What would a friend do?”

They might hang out together or listen to one another. You have to be respectful of each other. I think when people get married, they get way too comfortable and end up being really rude. If it were your friend and not your husband, you’d never say, “I literally don’t give two craps about what you’re talking about right now, and I want to talk about me.”

So, listen to each other, schedule time to be together, doing whatever you love to do.

Tips for Scheduling More Intimacy into Your Day-to-Day Life

1. Put your kids in their place. Your relationship with each other is the number one priority. You came together, married, started a life together, and the kids came after that. Your closeness and relationship is first! Set the kids up with an activity, and then take that time to spend together!

2. Choose a time of day that works best for both of you. Your time together doesn’t always have to be at night. When Brian worked outside the home, we’d start our day together because he didn’t need to start until noon. We’d feed the kids, get them set up with their school work, and then find a quiet spot in the house to have coffee together and talk.

3. Couch time! This is time before the kids head to bed. This ties into the first tip: putting your kids secondary to your relationship. This is comforting and healthy for the kids to see that their parents prioritize each other. After dinner, just sit on the couch together and talk while the kids play. Don’t allow them to interrupt you unless there’s an emergency or somebody’s bleeding to death or something.

4. Choose a time once a week for prolonged time together. Make it an actual purposeful date. This will look different for every couple, depending on each budget and the season of life, but just set time aside to be together.

5. Communicate that your goal is to be closer to your spouse. Don’t come at this from a combative spot by saying something like “We never do anything.” It can almost feel like you’re saying, “You suck.” Try something more like, “I want to be closer to you, really bad. How can we do that?” Then, talk about what you’d each like to do, and agree on something realistic that you can both look forward to.

Alright, friends. I hope you find this super useful! I hope it answered all of your questions and inspires you guys to open the door to an awesome February that’s going to be full of love and intimacy in marriage.

Why A Family Mission Statement Is So Important

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Prefer to listen to this post? I totally get it. Just click play + I am happy to read it to you while you knock out those dishes or drive the road to preschool pickup!


A family mission statement may sound a little corny to some, but it can be paramount in creating the life you love with the people you love. A family mission statement is just that- a statement that encapsulates your priorities and goals as a household. It is a great way to lay the groundwork for what your purpose is as a family, what you stand for and what you won’t tolerate.

As a parent, things can get tricky as your kids get older. But through it all if you have something solid in place, you can go back and compare the behaviors you’re experiencing to what you’ve laid out in your mission statement.

You can ask yourself questions like, “While we really believe in this, does this align with what we believe, or where we want to go as a family? How would we like this to end up?”

This is the legacy that we want to leave behind as people and as parents.

Everyone ends up somewhere, few arrive somewhere on purpose.
— Lara Casey

Your family is going to be raised, your kids are going to grow, they’re going to become adults, and your life will continue to go by whether you do anything about it or not. So, why not choose to be intentional and purposeful? Choose to intentionally strive for where you would like to end up.

When I think of motherhood, Proverbs, 29:18, really holds a lot of weight for me:

Where there is no vision the people perish.
— Proverbs 29:18

Parenting is messy and just gets messier as the kids get older, so if you don’t know what you want to do or where you’re going, you’re going to fail.

This is also true in business, if you don’t know where you’re going and what you want, if you don’t set any goals, you’re not looking at them and striving for them. You’re probably going to fail because you don’t know where you’re going.

Mama, it’s time to sit down with your spouse and write out your family mission statement. It’s really important, and it’s a great excuse to have an amazing conversation with your spouse.

You’ll want to figure out what exactly you want to do with your family. What mark and legacy do you want to leave on the world from raising them?

It’s not little. It’s not light. It’s heavy and it matters.

This is one area that I believe is really beneficial and important to be intentional about.

I want to share something with you that I haven’t shared in any other place other than in one of my courses -  our family mission statement. It’s something that Brian and I have agreed on. It’s gone through some ebb and flow, and a couple things have changed, but it pretty much has always been the same.

He and I like it. I’m going to share it with you, just to give you an idea, because I think people are afraid to share and be vulnerable. I get it. As an influencer, you’re susceptible to people’s opinions and comments about everything you share. But, I do think that example is one of the best ways we can learn.

This isn’t about having control. It’s not about playing God. It’s about saying “I’m alive, I’m a mother, I’m a wife, I’m a human being raising other human beings, I have contributed to society by having a family, and these people are going to grow up to be adults.” They’re going to be out there interacting in society, and that’s heavy.  I don’t want to just wing it. I want to be intentional.

I want to be intentional and say exactly what we believe and where we are headed as a family.

Our family mission statement:

In our family, we love God and serve people. We are loving, gracious, respectful and accepting, never hateful. We choose kindness, joy, faith, and love. We value curiosity, imaginations that run wild, knowledge, adventure, and each other. We take responsibility for our actions. We pull our weight at home and always offer to help one another. We communicate freely, with kindness and without fear or timidity because our family is a safe space for sharing. We give to the needy, look after others, and stay humble. We have fun together, stay grateful, laugh, hug, and protect each other. We choose collaboration over competition, and cheer each other on any chance we get. Above all else, we love deeply - both within our family and out in the world, because all people are God’s people.

I think writing out a family mission statement might seem unnecessary. You may write it and forget about it. But I have not found that to be true. I don’t do anything to remind myself or our family of the mission statement.  It’s just written down, but we always remember.

We’ve had it on an index card, and on our fridge for a long time. Brian and I took the time together to write it out, and then we share it with our kids. They are really excited about it, and like it too!

Steps for Writing Your Family Mission Statement

  1. Grab a journal and jot down your priorities.

  2. Ask yourself what your core values are and what things you value as a family.

  3. Additional questions that you can ask yourself: What mark do you want to leave on the world? What do you want to raise your kids to believe and be and do and think? How do you want them to act? What do you want to impart on them?

  4. If you feel stuck, look up other examples online, copy ours exactly, whatever you want.

  5. Make sure it lines up with your goals, priorities, mission, passion, purpose and what you feel you’re here to do as a mother and with your family.

  6. Write it out and put it where you can see it, so that you’re reminded constantly of the core value of your priorities.

  7. Share it with your kids, and start holding each other accountable for being a purposeful family.

Remember, friends, where there is no vision, the people perish. Whether you have faith or not, that is really powerful - get to work creating your family mission statement.

I would love it if you create a mission statement, if you feel called, to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram. I would love to see what you and your family come up with.


Words matter. 

Know someone who could use a little encouragement? Grab a print from my shop.

 

You Don't Come This Far - Allie Casazza


 

 

 

How My Blog Got My Husband Out Of His 9 To 5

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Prefer to listen to this post? I totally get it. Just click play + I am happy to read it to you while you knock out those dishes or drive the road to preschool pickup!


One of my most frequently asked questions is: How was I able to get my husband out of his 9 to 5? But answering that is very difficult for me to share. There’s just so much that goes into it.

I'm opening the door for the first time on a very vulnerable, difficult, at times embarrassing, and then exciting part of our story. I needed to get to a certain place in my life, and in my heart, before I felt ready to really open up and share. I’ve been feeling, for a few months, that I’m getting there and now it’s finally time.

I'm taking deep breaths here, guys. Here we go.

So, a little bit of a disclaimer, before I start…

I’m not going to give very specific numbers, just because this is not a business blog and it doesn’t really matter. I have friends and family who read my posts, and money changes relationships, and it can sometimes be negative. So, while I think maybe one day we’ll get there and share certain things because I do think that the specific numbers add to the power of this story, I am not going to tell you everything in that regard here in this post.

I do think that an aspect of this, and this whole story, can help somebody who wants this lifestyle and who’s maybe on the verge of making a change and pursuing their dreams.

The second disclaimer before I begin to tell my story is...

This is NOT luck.

I think when there’s any aspect of fame or a spotlight in something, people think that you got there because you’re lucky - because you were chosen. 

THIS is the life that you were chosen for. I believe that God has plans, that he has a purpose for each and every person, but I also believe that you can make choices that cause you to miss it.

I said YES to this. I worked for this. I planned for it. I put in the hours, by getting up at 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning so I could work on growing my business before Brian left for work. I followed God’s lead and I did the work. It was simply an issue of timing.

Our Story

Let me start by sharing a little bit about where we came from and how our life was before.

Brian and I met in junior high school, and were in the same circle of friends throughout high school and throughout our lives. We were never super close until senior year, when we started hanging out more. I started to really like him. I was attracted to his humility and his character, and he was just really sweet.

Want to hear the cheesiest story ever?

We ended up going to senior prom together, kind of a last minute thing. It was the day before the actual dance, when he asked me to go with him. Just as friends, because neither of us had dates (I’d actually just broken up with the only other person I had dated), so it was kind of a weird point for me.

Brian wasn’t supposed to go either, but at the last minute he was able to because the school band had canceled their event so that everyone could go to prom. He asked me, and I said yes!

 Awwwww!

Awwwww!

From there, we just kind of clicked, realizing we were right in front of each other for years, started dating, and got married about two years later.

About eight months into our marriage we found out we were pregnant with Bella. Which was a surprise, because as a teen, doctors had told me that I may not be able to get pregnant, or that a pregnancy could be very difficult. We found out that was not the case, were thrilled, and just started having our family.

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Brian landed a job doing cable and internet installation. He’d go into businesses and homes and install services like that for a very large company.

It was a very good day when he got that job!

That was September of 2009, so it was a long time ago! This job was supposed to be 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, but it definitely wasn’t. There was forced overtime, but we were grateful for it because we needed it. We couldn’t get by very well on the normal hours' pay. So he would work overtime and take other people’s shifts too.

He was working about six days a week with twelve to fourteen hour days. Every once in a while he’d get two days off, but we would always suffer for it by not having enough money to pay all of the bills.

There was a constant pressure on us to make money. Not because we wanted a ton of it, because we never had enough of it. 

We were in total agreement that we wanted me to be at home with the kids, though. Especially while we were having babies. I was content to be a stay-at-home mom - I loved it. I had a hard time with it for sure, but I did love it and knew it was where I was supposed to be. Brian always agreed, and any time I felt like I should go out and do something to contribute, he would quickly disagree and remind me how much he loved that I was at home with our kids. It was just how things were supposed to be in that season, and we could tell by the peace we both felt despite difficult circumstances. 

Our life, having our kids and living in Southern California was very difficult.

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There were a lot of scary nights. We had cars repossessed, and a lot of traumatic experiences because of money. We scraped by, made things work, and worked very hard together to make that happen. My part was the budgeting - making sure we didn’t spend too much.

That was our life. I'm very, very much just grazing the surface, but I wanted to give you some background so that I can get to the point. But, it was very difficult and dark.

We’d always talked about moving out of state, because California’s one of the most expensive places to live, especially Southern California. But, our whole family and all of our friends were here. We didn’t really know anyone anywhere else and didn’t really know where we’d move.

We went to Texas and looked around to try and find if that was where we were supposed to be, and it was almost comical how hard God shut that door in our faces. Like, "this is NOT where I want you!" So, we obviously didn’t move there.

During this time, when Emmett was a few months old, we really began to feel led out of California, more so than ever before. It was the kind of thing where you know God’s pulling you do to something, and you can’t get away from it. It’s that undeniable force, or tug, on your heart to do something.

We couldn’t really afford to go out and look anywhere. We'd used any excess money that we had to go to Texas.

We started talking to God, asking him to make it really obvious where he wanted us to end up. It was obvious to us that He would have to move and make it happen for us. We couldn't afford to do anything. 

We looked at North Carolina and other parts of Texas. We looked at Oregon and Colorado and places like that. Nothing felt right.

Long story short, of all the places in the country, Arkansas made its way into our lives. At first we were really resistant to moving there. My great-grandfather and my grandmother are from there, so I knew a little bit about it, and this particular area that he was from was not good.

But, then a job opened up in a town called Fayetteville. For those of you who don’t know, it’s in Northwest Arkansas, and it’s a neat little city. Very trendy and cute! It's college town, up near the Ozark Mountains, and it’s just very beautiful.

We decided we’d look into it because it kept popping up and they kept contacting us, telling us that they’d transfer Brian right away. We researched and fell in love with it online. We prayed about it for a week, and just felt like this was it.

So we said YES!

Maybe a month passed (it was a very fast process), and we were saying goodbye to our heartbroken family members.

The only reason we were able to move was because we got two thousand dollars back from our rental deposit we had put down when we moved in. Seriously, we would not have been able to go without that. We were walking by faith that God would provide what we needed right up till move-out day. And of course, He did. 

We got rid of everything and had the tiniest little trailer attached to our minivan as we road tripped across the country. We were moving for a better life.

 Right when we arrived at our condo in Arkansas after a 30+ hour road trip!

Right when we arrived at our condo in Arkansas after a 30+ hour road trip!

The job that Brian was moving for was the same job that he had in Southern California, but because of the lower cost of living, even with a little bit of a pay decrease, it worked out to be more money each month. It was also supposed to be better hours, and no mandatory overtime. Our hope was to not be stretched so thin, and we’d have Brian home more.

Our goal has always been to be together. I’ve shared a little of this in the past, but Brian and I really like each other. We have a friendship marriage, we WANT to be together. We had this really unique conviction on both of our hearts to be together and have some kind of life where we were together a lot, if not all the time, raising the kids together.

It was weird because people would tell us, “That’s just a dream, you need to let go of that. You have to work hard and you have to work away at a job to make money. You go to work and that’s it.” We understood that, and we were doing that, but for some reason we couldn’t quite shake this dream of just wanting to be together, wanting to raise our kids together, and spend the bulk of our days together at home.

We always had this in the back of our minds, but we never thought it was really possible. But we thought this might be close. THIS was at least more time at home together, and so we pursued it even as leaving our loved ones broke our hearts. 

When we got to Arkansas, we were very quickly met with the hard reality that this was NOT what we were promised by the company. 

The pay was a good chunk of dollars less per hour than we were promised. It was basically a lie. The pay was not what they had said and the hours were different.

Our life got dramatically worse.

 Our family in California, who we missed so much.

Our family in California, who we missed so much.

Not only did it get worse, but now we were away from everybody that we knew and loved. I can’t tell you how difficult it was for me and my faith. My faith has never been shaken like it was in those first few months in the Northwest Arkansas area. It was very, very difficult. For a certain amount of time, I completely stopped talking to God.

I was so angry and hurt that He would lead us out here, away from everybody, for THIS. It didn’t make sense. I didn’t understand, and it was very difficult for me.

It was January and it was frigid freezing for me because, you know, I’m a So-Cal girl. I was standing outside letting the kids get some energy out because they were so cooped up from being indoors all the time. Brian called me from work and said, "I just wanted you to know I found out that in Southern California all of the offices for my company are taking away hours. People are losing their homes, they can't pay their bills, and they're losing their cars."

We were already so close to barely making ends meet, that if that had happened to us, we would have lost everything.

I realized that maybe that’s why God moved us out here. I remember praying and apologizing to the Lord. Asking him to help me be grateful for Him saving us from that,  and asking, “But is this really what you want for us? This life? We’re still barely getting by. We missed this difficult time in California, but is this really what you want for us?”

I’ll never forget where I was standing that day in the park. I can see it in my head right now. I felt Him just come over me and say, “No. There’s something coming, and I need you to not move away from me. I need you to be close to me and talk to me so that you’re open to receive it when I’m ready to reveal it to you.”

That gave me a little bit of hope!

During the move to Arkansas, I started to focus on the blog I’d had since Leland was born. Moving away from my family, I decided to really throw myself into it because I didn’t have anyone.

I started to fall deeper in love with not just blogging, but with helping other women through my story and my experiences, with minimalism and simplifying.

My audience had grown by a few hundred, it was still very small, nothing like it is now, but it felt big to me at the time and I was really starting to like what I was doing.

After that day in the park, I was sitting with Brian, and we were panicking because we were going to have to leave our condo. We couldn’t afford to stay.  We were not making our very low rent every month because of what had happened with Brian’s job.

We were just talking, but I kept bringing up how much I loved blogging, and how I wished I could turn it into a business from home.

I was raised by two very successful entrepreneurs and I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit and drive in me. I was sitting with Brian, and we decided to start looking things up. Brian ended up finding Femtrepreneur, a blog all about turning your blog into a business.

I plummeted into this season of googling and learning everything about marketing and being an online entrepreneur, creating courses and growing a very successful business from your blog. I spent all of my late night and early morning time googling and reading and researching and watching YouTube videos.

I created new Audible accounts with old email addresses so that I could get free audio books (they give you a free book credit if you sign up with a new account. I know, humbling) and learn all about marketing and running a business.

I ran straight ahead, full force. 

I had this feeling that this is what God was telling me about. THIS is what he wanted me to pursue.

This became a way to not only contribute to our family income, but also to start getting my message out louder and bigger.

I knew I wanted to grow my blog, and it had always been a frustration point of mine because I just couldn’t seem to grow beyond a few hundred people.

I knew that if I started doing these webinars that I was learning about - these online classes - and inviting people to share and tell their friends about my blog and my message, it would help me grow.

So, the one thing that was really complicated and very new at the time were webinars, online classes like this one. Femtrepreneur had a course on how to do webinars, so I borrowed five hundred dollars from my dad to buy this course. I've never asked my parents for money and it was awful, but I knew I needed saome kind of small bit of help. I knew I would make it. Failure wasn't an option. 

Once I learned how to do that, I just started. I didn’t have a microphone. I was using an old Toshiba laptop that had a fan and would make sounds to cool off and you could hear it in my recordings - it was so bad! But I had to use what we had because we couldn’t afford anything else.

Then, I started opening up and being more vulnerable, and helping other women. Slowly, my audience began to grow, and these women began to ask me for something more, something deeper, something where all the things that I was teaching them and helping them with was consolidated.

This is what would end up becoming my course, Your Uncluttered Home.

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I went right to work, starting to create this thing they were asking for. I would ask them questions and get their feedback, and then began outlining this course and realizing it was going to be the thing that I’d sell on my blog.

I didn’t want to pour all this time into this thing and then launch it and have nobody buy it, so I pre-sold it. I started to do webinars and pre-sell the course at the end of the webinars to make sure that people who were saying they wanted this would actually put their money where their mouths were.

From that pre-sale launch, I made more money than Brian made per month. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a lot for us, and it was enough to get us feeling confident that this was a solid idea and really worth pursuing.

I was learning how to do everything myself, like coding and website building, because I couldn’t afford to hire anybody to do anything for me.

I was a machine!

I had this drive in me that wouldn’t die. I was setting my alarm for 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning, every morning, and working for hours before Brian would leave for work. I’d work when the kids were napping, and then get them busy and work more. I'd make dinner, and work at night, stay up late and work even more. It was like I didn’t need sleep, I was on fire and was pursuing this dream.

I will NEVER forget that season of my life. It was when I became an entrepreneur!

After a few months we hit a wall. I was growing, I was working my butt off, but we were seeing almost no financial benefits yet. I had already pre-sold my course to my audience and that was kind of it. I had sold to a good percentage of who was following me, and in the online business world, I'd sold way more than is "standard" in the industry. 

My focus then switched from selling my course to growing my following, reaching even more women. But to do that, I needed more time to spend on this thing. 

I remember seeing some other very popular bloggers be able to bring their husbands home from their corporate jobs, and I really wanted that. We decided that I was going to be able to bring Brian home from his job, and we were going to work together. It became really exciting!

But God very firmly and quickly let me know that making the money we needed AND THEN bringing Brian home was not going to be my story. He wanted to use our faith to tell a story and make a point to other people someday.

He made it VERY clear to both of us that he wanted us to leave the safety of Brian’s job before it made sense.

It was scary. No, it was TERRIFYING.

What we ended up doing was truly the epitome of a leap of faith. We ended up leaving. It got to the point where I was working so hard, doing everything that I could, but I simply could not do what I needed to do and put the time and effort into this to be a success. And also be at home with the kids. We couldn’t afford help, not even a cheap mommy’s helper or pre-school or anything.

It got to the point where it was either he had to quit, or I had to quit. Something had to give. I wasn’t the mom that I wanted to be. I was frustrated and yelling and being pulled in all these different ways. I needed help so that I could focus.

We prayed about it for a couple months. And we’d talk a lot during the day while Brian was at work. What would it look like? What would we do? How long would it take to get the business off the ground?

And we both felt God's pulling. We knew we needed to do something that would seem ludicrous to everyone around us. 

It came down to a question from God. Are you going to trust me or not?

I know it looked crazy and stupid to everyone around us, and I know we scared the crap out of people, but we had confirmation several times from God.

We knew it was the right move, so Brian went in to the main office one day, and quit.

And you know what they said to him? "Go home now. Forget the two weeks. You're replaceable."

Seven years of work and just like that, "bye." This cemented our desire to work for ourselves and build a company where people would love working. 

Brian came home that same morning and we have never hugged that long or that powerfully ever. It was a very sweet moment that I'll never forget. 

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I began the work of actually creating the course, outlining it, and recording the lessons. I even took a trip to California with a portion of the earnings from my first month making money from the pre-sale so that I could purge some friends’ homes and talk to people who struggled with hoarding.

I spent five days basically not sleeping and going and purging homes and talking to people who needed help. I wanted to make this course the best it could be!

I had a drive to change the world and save my family.

 This was where I planned and created Your Uncluttered Home. The post-its were lesson titles so I could see it all in one place while I planned the content. I was so nervous it wouldn't be good enough for my beautiful readers!

This was where I planned and created Your Uncluttered Home. The post-its were lesson titles so I could see it all in one place while I planned the content. I was so nervous it wouldn't be good enough for my beautiful readers!

God gave me a really powerful word for my business that I still cling to, and that was “I will use you to change the world twice. Once with the message that you’re sharing for mothers, and again with the money you make sharing it.” I truly believed this message, but we faced several incredibly grueling, difficult months first as I clung to it. 

You have to understand that we had followed in faith when we made the choice to leave Brian's job. So as we went into this season of financial poverty, we felt like idiots. We still knew this was the right choice, that God called us here, but dang it was hard.

Brian can do anything, he’s amazing. And he’s very good at building furniture. So, while at home, he was building benches and chairs and things like that, and selling them on Facebook resell groups on the side. He would make a little from building somebody a custom bench, then I’d do another little pre-sale and make a couple hundred dollars, and that was okay. But we had to ask ourselves, now how can we stretch this? That's where we were at for a few months.

 Brian snapped this pic of me the day I got an email from Ariana Huffington, inviting me to contribute to The Huffington Post Parents and letting me know I was a very good writer. SUCH a good day!

Brian snapped this pic of me the day I got an email from Ariana Huffington, inviting me to contribute to The Huffington Post Parents and letting me know I was a very good writer. SUCH a good day!

I was doing everything that I could. I was writing guest posts while simultaneously working on the course. I was taking whatever I could get. I was learning about marketing and applying it to my website. I was doing webinars and falling deeper and deeper in love with this process of spreading my message, and hearing about how women's lives were being changed, and really clinging to that promise that God gave me about changing the world twice.

I really believe that our thoughts and our words shape our beliefs, and that our beliefs form our reality.

I believe that we were made in the image of God the Creator, and that He spoke the world into existence and that we can speak our reality into existence, because of the power He gave us.

I believe that prayer changes things and your words matter. 

During this time, I was working on my mindset and choosing to speak words that felt ridiculous at the time. Every morning I would get up and I would go stand outside in my driveway and say affirmations and scripture. I’d say things like, "I am extremely wealthy. I am running a successful business. Money is flowing to me. I am grateful for it, and generous with the money I receive." While I literally didn't know how we were going to eat dinner that night. I felt INSANE!                                          

This went on for a few months, Brian was supportive, he was helping me, we were working together, we were brainstorming together. How can we make this course better? How can we get this done? How can this be amazing? We had launched the course. It had done okay, but not what we wanted because our audience wasn’t big enough.

I ended up writing a guest post, "How Getting Rid of my Stuff Saved my Motherhood." I poured my heart and soul and story into that post, and did everything that I could to make it viral and change the world. I studied virality, formatted the post in a way that captured the audience while sharing the realness of my story. I learned the ins and outs of writing a captivating post and prayed like crazy over it as I submitted the final draft with butterflies in my stomach (and hardly any food). 

A couple weeks passed and it wasn't getting as much traction as I wanted. I had put a content upgrade in the post, which is something that you can download from the author that will help you take the next step. That content upgrade was The Minimalism Starter Kit that I had put together, and it was how to take minimalism and apply it to your life.

I had been hoping that the viral post and the content upgrade would grow my email list and maybe people would come and find my website through it and buy Your Uncluttered Home. I was frustrated because it wasn’t working.

At the end of this three or four month period (about three weeks after that blog post had been published), and we were at rock bottom.

I wondered, “Why isn't God blessing what we're doing?” We were just confused. There was one point where we had to go to a food bank, and I felt like a thief. We had a job and we left it in faith, by choice, and we still hadn't “made it.”

I felt like I had failed my family. I had applied for and got denied for a job at Target. I remember this one incredibly difficult night, Brian was angry, I was angry, we were confused and upset and scared, and we had stretched one portion of dinner for four kids. Their tummies were full but ours weren't.

I was terrified. We went to bed and I kept saying, "I'm sorry I failed our family, I'm sorry that I couldn't do what I thought I could do. I don't know. I don't know what's going to happen here." Brian repeated my apologies on his own behalf. We just kind of fell asleep scared.

When I woke up the next morning, I went to log into things and check on my work stuff. So I logged into my email service, and I noticed that they had locked me out. I had an email in my inbox saying that I was a spammer, and that they shut my account down because it looked like I was breaking spam laws.

I was already feeling depressed, and this was just the cherry on top of everything that was going on with me.

I looked into it and saw that my email list was now over 15,000 people. Overnight! And that number was literally growing by hundreds every time I hit the refresh button. UNHEARD OF. 

How could this be?

I went and logged into other things and I realized that the guest blog post I had written had gone viral. It was EVERYWHERE!

My story, my face and my family were everywhere. All over the internet, and it just kept getting spread around.

That morning I opened up our PayPal account and there was $20,000 in it.

TWENTY. THOUSAND. DOLLARS. 

I had never even seen that number with a dollar sign in front of it. We were freaking out!

I wish I had a video of that morning. We were jumping and screaming and dancing and sobbing. The kids were so confused!

I got in touch with my email service and said, "I'm not a spammer, but I had a post go viral, and that's why my list exploded.” They fixed my account right away!

There was an email in my inbox in the next couple days from ABC News. They wanted to do a story on me. Good Morning America followed. Then, The Jenny McCarthy Show. Fox News Network. The Today Show. Canadian radio. All of these people emailed me asking to talk to me about my story and about this message.

People were buying the course, and things started happening. My business grew! I had thousands and thousands and thousands of fans on Facebook and Instagram. It was incredible!

 This picture was taken by me just a couple days after everything happened. We'd just gone to Old Navy and bought our kids a ton of new clothes, which they needed so so badly. Such a happy time!

This picture was taken by me just a couple days after everything happened. We'd just gone to Old Navy and bought our kids a ton of new clothes, which they needed so so badly. Such a happy time!

 This was taken the day I bought my family our first new car. Our Suburban was SO old and beat up. Had no air conditioning (and we were traveling in Florida at the time!), and had tons of problems. I spent the day at the dealership feeling confident about my finances and getting asked for business advice from 60-year-old men. Another good day!

This was taken the day I bought my family our first new car. Our Suburban was SO old and beat up. Had no air conditioning (and we were traveling in Florida at the time!), and had tons of problems. I spent the day at the dealership feeling confident about my finances and getting asked for business advice from 60-year-old men. Another good day!

Most blogs grow slow and steady, but that wasn’t our path. All of the work and faith and difficulty that we had poured into trying to grow happened in one fell swoop.

And now after all of what we had done, I had the money that I needed to take and invest and grow my business. I learned all about being an entrepreneur and a CEO, and over the next 18 months I just grew so much. So many good things happened: new courses, new partnerships, new collaborations, new press and media coverage. Our business is reaching women in countries I've never even heard of. It's amazing.

18 months later, we are just about to hit the seven figure mark in our business revenue.

God is so good.

 Snapped by Brian at LAX, on our way to a work event across the country. Traveling together was something we always dreamed of. 

Snapped by Brian at LAX, on our way to a work event across the country. Traveling together was something we always dreamed of. 

I have a message for you. If you’re striving to do what we did, if you have a dream that’s crazy, that people laugh at or that feels impossible, let me just tell you, keep an open mind. Change the way that you talk and think about money. Look for opportunities and clues around you for what you’re good at, and do what you want to do.

Think about how you can make this your reality. Pray about it, put it out there and it will come to you.

If you're struggling and you don't know what you want, if you don't know what to do, if you have a dream that you want to follow and you're not sure if it's ever going to happen, my message for you is:

DON'T YOU DARE GIVE UP. 

The world needs you. The world needs good people to get rich doing what they love - sharing their message, changing the world, and reaching people.

The internet allows us so much. The world needs people like you with good and charitable hearts who have a passion and a mission and a message that will change the world.

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People who will do good things with money, because there are corrupt people out there with a lot of power and a lot of money, and us good guys need to get up there and match where they're at so that we can counteract that and do good things for the Kingdom of God and the betterment of humanity.

Finally, I know most of the people who read my blog are women or moms... no matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter if you've gone to college or not, no matter what money you're making right now, no matter how successful you are right now, or how unsuccessful you feel right now, no matter if you are living in your parents' house with 17 kids because you guys feel like failures and you haven't been able to get out of the rut, you can.

Start telling yourself a different story. Decide what you want and where you want to go.

What is your purpose? What are you here to do? Find a way to do that, and make money doing it, and build your dream life. It doesn't have to be a dream.

Now it's your turn.

Learn how to turn your blog into a business!  

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Download Allie's Blog To Business Resource Guide and start right now.

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One way our corporation is changing the world with our revenue is by partnering with International Sanctuary. They help women who have just been freed from sex trafficking get housing and jobs. They're AMAZING!

Please know that every time you support my family by purchasing one of my courses or digital products, 10% goes to them. You're helping yourself rock motherhood, and helping another girl find hope at the same time. 

Women helping women - that's what our corporation is all about. 

I Don't Have A Capsule Wardrobe, And Here's Why

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Prefer to listen to this post? I totally get it. Just click play + I am happy to read it to you while you knock out those dishes or drive the road to preschool pickup!


I get asked about capsule wardrobes A LOT.

People watch my Instagram Stories or see photos of me on the blog and say things like, "I see you wearing lots of different things. It seems like you have a lot of clothes. How do you deal with that?" So, I just wanted to address it directly.

First off, in case you don’t know what a capsule wardrobe is, it’s basically the idea of having thirty pieces of clothing (or less) - kind of having this neutral wardrobe that’s easily mix and matchable. Basically, it goes hand in hand with minimalism.

There are SO many different ways to do a capsule wardrobe. Some people have ten pieces of clothing or less, but thirty or less is about where most people fall. You basically want to keep your wardrobe really minimal.

The idea is that having less clothing options frees up your time in the morning and helps you make decisions about what to wear. It’s a simplification thing. I definitely agree with it and totally get it. And, I know having less clothing will make the decision-making process easier.

So, then, maybe you’re wondering… Why don’t I have a capsule wardrobe?

I love clothes!

I am a person who loves getting dressed!

Having a larger wardrobe allows me to be creative, and being creative in this way adds to my joy. For me, this is part of an abundant life, and brings more joy to my daily life.

It makes me sad that no one dresses up for things anymore. When Brian and I go out for date night, someone almost always says, “Wow, you dress really nice.” It’s not that we go black tie or anything, we just dress well.

I’ll put on earrings, a cute top, trouser jeans and maybe some heels. I spend time doing my hair and makeup, and Brian will dress nicely, too. We love dressing nice for each other - it’s just how we are. I absolutely LOVE dressing up! 

If we go to events, or even church on Sundays, we’re always the only ones that are kind of dressed up. I was just raised that when you go to church, you’re going into the House of God and you should dress nice. It’s not a legalistic or religious practice, I just really like it. Plus, it makes me feel good!

You could totally dress nice with a capsule wardrobe, but that isn't my point. 

I love putting an outfit together, it’s my favorite part of getting dressed. I feel beautiful and put together when I take the time to really choose my clothes.

I mean, I’m a mom of four and I work at home… Sweatpants and t-shirts are pretty much my daily thing.

It might seem funny to you, especially if you’re not a person who cares about this kind of thing, but it’s a joy for me. A small, simple joy!

My transition began a few months ago. I was not really into what was in my wardrobe.

I felt that since I teach other moms about how to be minimal, I needed to have a minimalist wardrobe. I was also in a season of really needing to simplify every area of my life. I just needed everything to be as simplistic as possible because I had a lot going on and didn’t really care as much about getting dressed.

At the time, it kind of worked for me, but I quickly found myself slipping into this place of not feeling happy - of not being excited to get dressed in the morning. And, not to sound overly dramatic, but I kind of felt a little depressed whenever it came time to get dressed. 

I was feeling unhappy and worn down, and anytime someone would ask about my clothes, I’d just give this automated answer like, “Yeah, here’s about how many pieces of clothing I have. Here’s how many jeans I tend to keep,” etc. It was definitely minimalistic, and it was great for the simplistic part of things, but it wasn’t making me happy AT ALL.

But, then, I had this lightbulb moment where I realized, you know what? I really MISS being creative in this way. I don’t dress really loud or crazy, my style is actually very simplistic, so you’d think a capsule wardrobe would work for me, but I just love having options (and I also really love shopping with my little girl and during my alone time. another simple joy for me!). For me, it’s worth the extra time that my wardrobe takes from me because it’s a joy of mine.

I decided to forget it. I’m not gonna go through the motions and live this legalistic approach to minimalism (which is something I teach against anyway), and I’m just gonna do what I want to do.

I chose to let myself be FREE in this area of my life, and went shopping!

Now, when I see something that is beautiful and I really love, I just get it and don’t worry about how many pieces of clothing I already have.

So, yeah, now I have a fairly large wardrobe. It isn’t massive, but it definitely doesn’t fit into the definition of a capsule wardrobe, and I am SO happy.

I literally run up to my closet and look in it, trying to decide what I am gonna wear most days. Or, if we’re going to have a photoshoot for the podcast or blog, I have fun putting together the outfits I’m going to wear.

I love clothes and I love having things that make me feel amazing. That make me feel beautiful, make me feel thinner and lighter and allow me to dress for my shape in a way that makes me feel better and more confident.

Truthfully, I think if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now, I could easily do something in terms of helping other women feel un-frumpy and getting dressed in a way that flatters their shape. I love that kind of stuff!

I think that the key message here is that minimalism doesn’t have anything to do with following rules that don’t make you happy.

It’s not about suppressing yourself and just deciding that since you’re a mom, you have to be a super minimalist because it will save you time.

Don’t make it legalistic. If you love to cook and bake, and decide to suppress yourself by not buying the kitchen appliances you need for cooking and baking, you’re following minimalism just for the rules. If that is what it’s about for you, you're gonna run out of steam very quickly, and you're gonna find yourself really unhappy.

If you don’t get what the heck I’m even talking about, I hope this message still gets across to you. This is something I deeply care about. The point of all of this, for me, is joy. Living a life and having a home that makes me feel excited to be home, to get dressed, and excited to be with my kids. It helps me to feel focused on the things that matter to me, and my wardrobe is something that matters!

The whole idea behind my course, Your Uncluttered Home, is that minimalism is not about legalism.

It’s not about following these rules or living a certain way and practicing minimalism just for the sake of being a minimalist.

It’s about clearing the clutter in your home and in your life and your heart and asking, what is taking away from what really matters to me?

If something brings joy to your life, like my wardrobe brings to mine, it is not taking away time from what matters, and it isn’t something you should suppress.

I want this to be a message of freedom for you. Here's your permission to make minimalism work for you and make it something that brings you joy.

Let this be your permission to have what brings you incredible joy. And to have what makes you love your life more.


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Are you ready to clear the clutter and focus on the areas of your life that bring you joy?

Your Uncluttered Home is literally everything you need to become a minimalist mama who's able to be a lot more present for what matters most.


The Power of Words and Your Kids

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Prefer to listen to this post? I totally get it. Just click play + I am happy to read it to you while you knock out those dishes or drive the road to preschool pickup!


 

I’ve always had a love for words.

I can remember as a child almost having a relationship with words.

I was drawn to them, and I loved making up stories, or even rewriting some of the classic fairy tales. They’ve always been a powerful passion of mine.

But, on the flip side, I’m a blunt, passionate person, and whatever emotion I feel, I feel it 100%.

I’m 100% angry, 100% happy, 100% bitter, whatever it is, it’s typically a very strong emotion. And, as I mentioned, words are usually something that I’m good at, but when I am 100% angry, my words can be incredibly cutting. I have this knack for knowing just what to say, that will slice right through. This has been one of the biggest struggles with friendships and motherhood, but especially with my marriage, because those of us who have been married or are married know that whatever your flaws are in marriage, those are magnified by like 1,000%.

As words have been one of my biggest gifts, they’ve also been one of my biggest struggles.

Today I really want to focus on the positive ways I’ve been able to use my words. For instance, being able to know just what to say, I rarely have a clue what it came from. And, most importantly I’ve been able to help change my children’s behavior simply by speaking positive words and scriptures over them.

You might know I’m a Christian, I believe that we were made by God in his image, that he spoke the Universe into existence. I believe that WE have power in our words, and that God gave us this power and control.

Now, after giving you that background, do with it what you will. Feel free to stop reading, but I want you to understand how much I believe in the power of words. I’ve seen words change the way my kids act. They’ve helped me overcome difficulties, and they’ve had a massive part in transforming my marriage.

Science shows us that words are powerful.

The words that you say to people have a deep effect on them, and the words you say about other people have a profound effect on how you feel about them

If you’re constantly complaining about your husband and how lazy he is, you’re just solidifying those feelings in yourself. And, if you say those things to him, you’re just solidifying that in him. I’ve really found this beautiful magic, if you have a problem with something or someone and instead of always saying the negative, start giving attention to the opposite. Then, start watching the positive bloom and actually begin to exist.

Giving you that background, I really want to share how this applies to our kids and give you a small example from my life, and how I’ve seen this transform my children, specifically one child.

My son, Leland, has always been incredibly defiant. He was the child that had me locking myself in the bathroom, sitting down and just sobbing on a regular basis. I was completely lost on how I was going to raise him.

I was really struggling. I started saying things to other people and because of my blunt sense of humor I’d always tend to give really extreme examples of things, because it’s just my personality.

It was a really difficult time. I was exhausted because I was sleep deprived from having had another baby. I also experienced a miscarriage, and no matter what else was going on, I couldn’t catch a break with this kid.

Then, I don’t even remember what happened because my life was just a freaking blur, but I remember having a realization….

What if I stopped solidifying his behavior with my negative words, and instead started speaking positive things over him?

I started Googling, doing some research and found this idea of speaking blessings over your children, so I started doing it for all of them.

It was really awkward at first. Leland was probably 3 or 4, and he’d just look at me like, “What the heck, mom? What are you even doing?” But, I just started to say things over him.

If I was doing the dishes I would say things like, “Leland, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Leland you have a big purpose. Leland, I boldly claim that you have a hunger for God and the things of God.” Things like that.

In the beginning, I was always scrambling for what to say. It always felt really forced and weird, and if I’m being honest, I didn’t even really believe these things. He was 3, he didn’t really have a relationship with God, and he’s also still freaking the heck out.

As I practiced it more, I found that doing it while we were driving made it the easiest. I’d repeat things like, “You are called to great things. You are a strong leader,” etc. I was doing this over all of my kids but again, focusing on Leland because he’s the main point. I saw changes in all of my children, but with Leland, he became a different child. I kid you not, over the course of a few months, he became a different person.

The tantrums and freak-outs started to slow and eventually stopped almost completely (because he’s still human). He’s still a normal kid but it worked. My words changed him. My story to him and about him changed everything.

When I changed the words that I spoke over him, even when he wasn’t there, I changed myself too. I’d spend time praying out loud and always worked to stay positive, positive, positive. If I’d have a negative thought, I would take it captive and throw it away. I’d tell myself we weren’t going there, and that I was chosen out of every other mother in the entirety of the world to be this boy’s mother. It isn’t my job to let negative thoughts come in.

I chose to speak life.

I chose light, hope, joy and purpose with intentionality for this child, and it changed him.

We have the power as mothers to intentionally use our words to make a difference for better or for worse. The choice is ours.

We’re all in this together and it’s hard. It’s a habit we’ve got to grow and cultivate and be reminded of again and again. Let this message seep in whether or not you have a difficult child.

The words you say about, into and over your children matter. Why wouldn’t we get intentional with that?

If you’re ready to become more positive and intentional with your words, the easiest way to start is to get some ideas. Make a list of positive words, phrases and affirmations that you can say over your kids. If you’d like to do blessings or scripture, just Google it for ideas.

Pick your favorite ones, and write them down. I’ve got a journal full of them that I reference on a regular basis. I’ve also got a note on my phone that has some of my favorite top 20, that I’ll just look at real quick before we start driving.

I’ve also created a list of positive phrases and affirmations for moms, that I’d love for you to grab and use with your kids.


NEED HELP GETTING STARTED?  GRAB THIS LIST OF AFFIRMATIONS!

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Let’s start using our power as mothers in a positive way for our kids’ sake. Your words matter so much, mamas. Don’t let the frustrations of the day-to-day bring those negative words out, instead choose to speak the positive.

5 Steps for A Purposeful Morning Ritual

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Prefer to listen to this post? I totally get it. Just click play + I am happy to read it to you while you knock out those dishes or drive the road to preschool pickup!


Morning rituals are a hot topic at the moment. People are beginning to come around to the idea that the earlier you rise, the more purposeful and productive your days can be.

I used to be a night owl. I always believed that I was most productive at night, but the truth was that I felt busy all day (not productive) and by the time the kids would be in bed I’d be wiped and nearly ready for bed myself.

The single most transformative thing I did was to start getting up earlier. It has literally changed my life!

One question I get quite frequently is: What do I do when I get up early? So I wanted to take the time to share my current ritual with you.

Over the last few years my life has shifted, like everyone’s does, and I’ve tweaked and changed my routine as I’ve found suits my life best.

For instance, back when my husband was still working his 9 to 5, I had to get up early in order to get any work done. Everything in my business was relying on me because I did not have the income to support a team. Once Brian was home, I still found it very difficult to write while the kids were around so I started getting up early to write. I’d knock out 1,000 to 2,000 words before their sweet little heads would rise from the pillow.

However, I am now in a season of life where I still want to wake up early, but I can now use it for dedicated self-care time. Over time, this is how I've condensed my morning ritual down to a science that works really well for me.

I want to share it with you - each step, how I do it, how long it takes me, and how I make it happen every morning - in hopes that it will inspire you to take action on creating the morning that you desire.

Steps to My Morning Ritual

1. Make Coffee and Get Quiet

I typically get out of bed between 5 and 5:30, and the very first thing I do is make a cup of coffee. While it’s brewing, I get quiet and sit down on the floor, which allows me to feel centered.

I focus on the things around me, like the silence, or how good the coffee tastes (that first cup of coffee is such a small, simple joy for me). Or maybe the smell of the candle I’ve lit or the crackling of the fireplace. I simply let my mind wander.

After a few minutes pass, I allow the time to leak into meditation.

2. Meditate

Meditation is so powerful. It’s also very biblical. It depends on what you’re thinking about and how you’re going about it, but for me, meditation looks like reciting something, (sometimes out loud, sometimes in my head), a word or a phrase, possibly a scripture, with my eyes closed. Closing my eyes allows me to stay present and not get distracted from the meditation.

If I feel like a word is really speaking to me, I’ll focus on that and just keep taking deep breaths, while I continue reciting the word over and over again. I’m focusing on intentionality. I choose to focus on that word, and then I invite the Lord to join me in my morning routine and to be present with me throughout the day.

Occasionally a distracting thought will come. I acknowledge that it’s there, and then purposely let it go. I stop worrying about it, and go back to repeating my word or phrase.

Doing this for 10 to 15 minutes has been proven to reduce your cortisol, so I encourage you to meditate, even if all you can spare is 5 minutes. Set a timer (one without a jarring alarm), and then close your eyes and begin.

3. Pray

After I’ve finished my coffee, I will go into prayer. I give God the day, and I talk to Him about what’s on my heart.

If anything came up while I was meditating, I will give it to God and talk it out with him and pray through it.

Whatever the day may bring, I’ll pray about it.

4. Morning Pages

Morning pages is a type of journaling where you write at least 3 pages a day. The first page is all about your thoughts. Basically you want to do “stream of consciousness” writing. Maybe what’s going on in your life, what’s bothering you, or anything that is going on in your head. It doesn’t matter, just let it out.

If you struggle to begin, I encourage you to just start writing. Usually if I’m unable to think of what to write, I’ll just open my journal and write, “I’m sitting on the couch. The fire’s going. It’s really quiet.” And, then the next sentence just begins to flow out. Try it!

The second page is all about what’s going on that day. Use this page to determine your plan for the day, collect your thoughts and mentally get ready for the day ahead.

The third page is all about gratitude. When you’re writing this page, don’t be vague or obvious, get specific. Instead of just writing that you are grateful for your husband, you could write something like, I’m grateful for the color of my husband’s eyes, or my husband’s mild temper.

Those are just examples, but my point is to just get specific.

5. Read the Bible and Read Personal Development

I start with my Bible and focus on that for 10 minutes or so. I might read my devotional, or wrap myself up with quiet self-growth time with the Lord.

Once I’ve finished that, I will start reading whatever personal development book I’m currently involved in (right now, it’s The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks), and finish my morning ritual off here.

My entire ritual usually takes about an hour, and I realize that may be a lot of time for some, but you don’t need to dedicate an hour if you don’t have it. Dedicate what time you have, and feel strong with the decision to begin making your mornings more purposeful.

For me, this routine has become non-negotiable. I don’t throw it aside, it doesn’t matter how busy the day is shaping up to be. I can always get up earlier to make it happen.

The reason it is such a priority for me is because it has deeply affected my mindset throughout the day. I start in a different place, I feel better, lighter, and more confident. This time also allows me, as a Christian, to invite the Holy Spirit to speak with me, and at the end I invite Him to be with me throughout the day. Doing this is so, so powerful.

Not only that, but it makes me a more patient person, and improves my attitude. If I’m 100% honest with you, my biggest weakness is that I can be very impatient, and I can struggle with anger. But, when I follow-through with my morning ritual, I find that I don’t struggle with these things very often.

And, finally, it provides me with a sense of gratitude in the midst of any difficulties I may be experiencing. It allows me to step back and look at the situation and ask myself, “What is good about this?” and bring my focus there.

You can hop over and follow me on Instagram to see how I practice intentional living in real life.

I hope that you find this encouraging, and that you go and make your own morning ritual that serves you and makes you feel better and more together, confident and peaceful throughout your day.

What follow-up questions do you have? Please share them in the comments!

It's Time to Start Loving Your Body Better

 
 

I totally get it, I prefer podcasts too! Just click play + I am happy to read this post to you! 

Everywhere I turn I see women trying to change their bodies so that they’ll morph into something that they’re not. Our bodies are SO much more incredible than we give them credit for.

What if we changed our approach?

What if we changed our hearts and perspective and instead focused purely on how much we love our bodies, and what we’re grateful for?

I really believe that our actions, what we put into our mouths and what we did with our bodies would start coming out of that love. I think we’d all experience a big difference in everything, whether or not size changed. We’d feel a shift in how much we believe in ourselves.

THIS, is what I want for you, mama!

Let’s just take a minute and really think about how amazing women’s bodies are. They’re beautiful and they’re powerful. Our bodies can literally bring life into this world (let that sink in for a minute, REALLY sink in).

That is so unbelievable! Now, what would happen if you shifted your focus from what you look like to what your body is able to do?

Your body has created the next generation of people that will inhabit this earth. THAT’S INCREDIBLE!

I realize that it isn’t as simple as just switching our minds from worrying about our size, to focusing on our abilities, so we need to work on shifting our mindset. A really great way to do this is to begin showing our bodies gratitude for the many things it has done for us.

Start considering the following:

  • How often do you get your body outdoors and moving?

  • How often do you say no thank you to the foods that are processed and made with bleached flours, or filled with sugar?

  • What would happen if we acted out of love and gratitude to our Creator for our bodies?

How we FEEL affects us greatly!

Trust me, I’ve been there. When we first started living in the camper,  I was feeding myself all sorts of processed foods because I was struggling to adjust. I’d look in my closet and start getting upset because I had nothing to wear. I had nothing that I thought would make me feel good, so I decided to head out and buy some new clothes at Target.

I wasn’t going to buy something new because things didn’t fit. No, I’ve been there, but this wasn’t one of those times. It was all just based on feelings.

The lesson I quickly learned, and one I want you to understand as well, is that so many of the decisions we make (including the money you spend, how you spend your day, etc), comes down to how you feel.

It might seem silly, but I was headed to Target to buy a new outfit because I didn’t feel good. I felt like garbage.

What I want you to take away from this is that we have one body. It is our temple  - how we treat it matters!

We need to take care of ourselves and value ourselves enough to feed ourselves nourishing foods.

It’s hard as a mom to value how you feel, but many of your gastrointestinal issues, or headaches or emotions could be because of the foods you’ve been giving yourself. Take the time to go to the grocery store and get yourself some healthy snacks. Fuel your body instead of filling it with junk.

One side note: I want to be clear, life is about balance. You won’t be perfect and you shouldn’t want to be. Having a treat, or giving into a craving from time to time is perfectly acceptable. (I may or may not have recently eaten an entire bag of flaming hot cheetos in one sitting...) It’s just important to look at your decisions and make the healthy ones the majority of the time.

If this post has resonated with you, and you feel as though you’re struggling, it’s time to show our body that we are grateful. It’s time to take some action!

1. Write what you love about your body.


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Need help getting started? Download these free journal prompts. I want you to love your body more, mama!


Or grab a journal, turn to a clean page and write down what you love about your body. What does it help you do that you love it for? Why are you grateful for it? Get REALLY specific! I don’t want to see less than a page!

2. Taking action from a grateful place.

Turn to the next clean page, and write out how you can begin taking action out of a grateful place, out of a place of love and appreciation for the body that God has given you.

You could write out what your snacks might look like, or how much water you should begin drinking. Maybe you need to up the number of walks you take on a daily basis.

Don’t overcomplicate it!

I really encourage you to complete this exercise and then tag me on Instagram (@allie_thatsme), I would love to see them all!

In the end, my whole goal is for women to stop trying to force their bodies into a different shape, and instead focus on what they’ve accomplished.

The mindset of so many mothers is sad. I really want love and gratitude to become your new weight loss routine. A simple mindset shift will allow you to become so freaking grateful for the body you were given!

Set Goals With Purpose This Year!

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I totally get it, I prefer podcasts too! Just click play + I am happy to read this post to you! 

It’s a hot time of year to begin discussing your goals. With the start of the new year comes the endless list of resolutions that people make (and often never achieve). However, I believe that we should review and reflect on our goals and intentions all year long.

I’d bet you have a list of at least 5 things you want to achieve in the new year. But, without laying the proper framework for those goals, it’s very possible that you won’t achieve a single one.

Unfortunately, you can’t just say you want something out loud, and expect things to begin magically happening. You actually need to put in the effort, thoroughly dissect your goals and put detailed steps in place, then you’ll start experiencing results.

Did you know that between 80 and 90 percent of people who set goals on New Year’s don’t achieve them?

I am frequently asked how I achieve so much with 4 children and a full mom life, and part of it is that I’m a go-getter, but even more than that it’s because of the way I set my goals.

Mama, if you’re ready to make this year THE MOST incredible year yet, follow the next 5 steps to a tee and you’ll begin to see some major changes in your life.

5 Steps to Goal Setting Success

1. Decide where you want to go.

In this step, you want to take some time and think about what’s really speaking to you. Is someone doing something that seems really amazing, and that you might want to try?

Nail down the goal, make it specific, something you should be able to say in a few words, or one pointed sentence.

Then, once you’ve nailed your goal down, make sure that it aligns with your core values and purpose. You want to feel peace around the goal, especially after praying over it. Your goals aren’t evil or bad, it’s just that you have a lot going on. If the goal doesn’t offer you peace, it will only lead to more stress down the line. Drop that goal for now, and reassess at another time.

However, there is never going to be a perfect time to do something. Never. It doesn’t exist.

That doesn’t mean you HAVE to work towards every goal, but just be sure you’re choosing your goals carefully.

2. Write your goals down.

You are 42% more likely to do something simply because you wrote it down.

There are plenty of things that can increase your odds, just having a drive, really wanting something, having a lifestyle that sets you up for success, all of these are great - but writing something down is so powerful.

Write your goals down!

I actually show you how to break this whole process down; how I goal set, how I write everything down and use bullet points to break things down into a simplified, readable, trackable way, in my Unburdened course.

3. Create action steps that will take you to your goal.

These steps should be very small, especially if your goal is huge.

If your goal is really life-changing, you might even have 30 or more action steps that you’ll need to take before reaching your goals. Just try to keep all of your action steps very small, simple and pointed.

4. Write down each action step.

I like to use the bullet point system (the whole system is in my Unburdened course).

To start the ultimate goal is the header bullet point, and then I get super specific and do little sub-bullet points for each action step. This leaves my goal looking very neat and is visually satisfying.

This whole process can also be completed using paper. You don’t have to use the computer!

5. Reverse engineer all of your goals.

Reverse engineering starts at the finished goal. It starts at the end point, and it works backwards all the way to where you are standing in your life right now, on this day.

You should create a step-by-step guide that will get you out of the place you’re at, right now, and will walk you through how you will reach whatever your big goal is.

It’s very hard to fail when you successfully reverse engineer your goals.

After you’ve gone through the previous 5 steps, it’s time to become a person of action. Be a woman of intent by taking action, following through on the action, checking in with yourself or an accountability partner, and never quitting until you’ve achieved your goal.

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Stop putting off setting your goals, go and take the action NOW! I want you to achieve all that you dream of, that’s why I shared this with you. It works!

How I Set My Intent & Plan For A New Year

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This morning, I was sharing a bit of my end-of-year planning process on my Instagram Story, and I received so many questions that it got overwhelming to share there! I love IG Stories for the simplicity and ease of sharing there, but some things need more space for sharing, and I think planning a new year is one of them. 

I don't normally feel compelled to share how I do every little thing, but so many of you were struggling and needing ideas for how to go about this, I really want to share. I think getting above an overwhelming task (like setting your intent for a new year), and sort of gaining an aerial perspective is something that comes naturally to me, so I love to plan things like this. However, if that's not your strong suit, I can imagine it being very difficult, frustrating, and feeling insurmountable. 

I'm actually setting my intent for the year right now, as I type - it makes sense to actually do this and write a blog post about it at the same time ;)

My hope is that seeing me do it will give you some clarity on how to go about it for yourself, or at least inspire you a little. Ready? Let's do it. 

I just use the Notes App in my iPhone. I'm normally a pen and paper girl, but when I do this in my journal is ends up taking up pages and pages, and I want it all on one page, in one place nice and neat. Lucky for you, that makes it easy to take screen shots and share what I am planning :)

The first thing I do is reflect.

What didn't work for me last year? What made me feel disconnected from my core values? What have Brian and I been talking about doing a lot lately - is this a good year to do those things? What needs to be a higher priority than it's been?

Here are some things I have realized in the end of this year, and today as I was reflecting...

1. I am not connected to my core values as a mother right now with my children in school. I miss homeschooling, and the best choice for us is to pull the older two out and begin our homeschool year after winter break. 

Note: this was not how I felt in August when I was completely overwhelmed with my business. Things change, seasons come and go, people change their minds. Flexibility is a wonderful trait to possess. It's okay to go against the grain!
 

2. We really love traveling with our kids and want to take a lot of trips this year. 
 

3. I have slid back into old habits, and my health has not been a priority lately. I don't feel good, Im sluggish and cranky, and my sugar/junk food addiction is in full swing. I need to make healthy choices a higher priority this year. 
 

4. I am tired from last year's whirlwind success in our business. I hired new people, delegated everything I can, and need to remain consistent with my new work schedule of two days per week. 

The next thing I do is write out what matters most to me this year. 

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This list is based off what came from my time of reflection, and it's basically a list of priority focus. For example, I noticed that several of the problems I faced (or am currently facing) stem from not spending much time on my walk with the Lord. I have felt disconnected and busy - that's not how I want to live! So one thing that has made its way to the top of my What Matters Most list is building a closer relationship with Jesus.

See what I mean and how this works?

This is a really helpful soul check that I do every year and it keeps me intentionally focused. Last year, my list looked very different, with a focus on my marriage and learning to manage the business well. Make sure your list is what you need to focus on, not what you wish you needed to focus on. 

Next, I write down what each of these focuses will require from me in terms of time spent.

This is where I see a lot of well-intentioned people fail - they don't realize that meeting these goals, making these changes in their lives... it requires time from you every week, sometimes every day. If you don't plan for that, it's not likely to happen. 

I make bullet points underneath each goal/focus, so there is a list of what it will require from me right next to it. 

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Next, I establish what rhythms will make my life easier. 

Time leaks through the cracks without rhythms. Simple things like rhythmically putting a load of laundry in every night, then switching it every morning make my life so much simpler! 

If there are no rhythms, then the day-to-day stuff will end up filling all my time blocks and I will stay still; and I want to be moving forward, accomplishing things, reaching goals. 

There are two types of rhythms in my life: 

1. Calendar

2. Household

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Sometimes our rhythms need a reboot, sometimes they stay the same, sometimes new ones are added. It's all about where you're at in your life and how happy you are with how things are currently going. 

I have noticed that not getting dressed in the morning (and my "dressed" I just mean under-eye concealer and a bra) I don't feel very good during the day, even though I work from home and don't really have to get dressed. 

I've also noticed that not having the kids' outfits laid out makes for a really hectic morning. I haven't had the head space to make this small change, so by sitting down and planning how things will change this year, I was able to set an intent to lay everyone's clothes out the night before. It's a small change that will have us all feeling better and our mornings running more smoothly. 

I will implement new rhythms by writing them in my weekly planner (here's the one I use) for the first month, and after that they become habits. 

Then, I write down any problems that need to be solved or questions that need to be answered. 

Sometimes, there are decisions that need to be made that I've been avoiding or feel really big and overwhelming, so I just do nothing about them. This is a time to sit with Brian and actually make the decisions. 

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This year, as we get back to homeschooling, it's the first year we've had a very open-ended schedule. We work from home, we'll be doing school at home, we can have whatever schedule we want, and that freedom is great but it also stresses me out to an extent. We have to create our own barriers and boundaries. 

One thing we've been talking about but hadn't decided before today was regarding our weekends. There are lots of pros to having "week day weekends", meaning we can pick two week days to make into our days "off" from school and have a weekend. Less crowds, cheaper prices when you're out doing stuff, less traffic. 

There are also pros to having a traditional weekend. Everyone else is "off" and ready to do stuff, more places are open, etc. 

Brian and I have been talking about what to do with this issue for weeks and just going in circles. Today we sat down, talked it out, and actually made a decision. You know what happened? It wasn't as big a deal as we were making it. 

Homeschooling takes about two hours a day, and my new work schedule is only Mondays and Fridays. We came to realize we can kind of have both kinds of weekends! We ultimately decided to make Sundays and Thursdays our days totally "off" of homeschooling (we enjoy not having two days totally off in a row, but spacing them out a bit), but to also enjoy Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays with no work. 

So with this decision, our homeschool week looks like this: 

Monday: school

Tuesday: school

Wednesday: school

Thursday: NO SCHOOL

Friday: school

Saturday: school

Sunday: NO SCHOOL

We really like this because it's broken up, and we know that the "school days" are only a couple of hours ;)

Do you see how making that one decision gave me so much clarity and I can now see what a typical week will look like for us this year? Such a burden lifted!

Finally, I get detailed. 

The last step is to pick up all the little pieces and put them in place. 

Examples: 

How am I going to get my health in order? (make a list of healthy groceries, pin recipes to pull from on meal-planning Sundays, download a hydration app to remind me to drink water, set workout days, etc)

If the goal is to enjoy homeschooling and not have it feel like a point of stress, what curriculum am I going to choose? (I already went through this step with homeschooling last week, but do you see the breakdown of following through with the goals and intents you set?)

When are we going to have breaks and take trips to ensure we are enjoying this year? (Brian and I sat down and actually penciled in one major vacation, an adults-only getaway, and three small trips to take as a family)

You can do this with any goal or focus, and I encourage you to! Follow-through is something that rarely happens, and I really think this is why! People don't write out how and when they're going to do things they'd like to see happen in their lives. This is the difference between a sayer and a doer. 

This is a lot of planning. One thing I want to say here is that flexibility is KEY! 

The heart of man plans his way, but God directs his steps. 

Proverbs 16:9

The goal with this process (for me) is to be intentional, and to use the past year to reflect and learn and grow. I do not want to be stagnant; I want to leave a legacy of purpose behind me when I'm gone. That doesn't mean being a control freak or unadaptable. In fact, it means just the opposite. 

I hope this helps you guys! Share your planning session with me on Instagram by tagging me! @allie_thatsme

Want to declutter your life this year?

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Wrapping up 2017 & Running Toward 2018

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At the beginning of this year, I was hopeful, but sort of terrified. I was just a few months in to my blog turning into a business with global reach, going on Good Morning America, ABC News, The Today Show, talking to Jenny McCarthy in my living room, and being featured in every major news site across the world.

I was getting used to (more like trying to get used to) being exposed to the world of virality, living in a fish bowl, and cyber bullies. We were moving out of our little rental in Northwest Arkansas and gearing up to embark on our full-time travel journey in our camper. So much has happened, so many things have changed. I'm looking back on this year and feeling shocked. 

How does so much happen in such a brief period of time?

I thought it might be fun to talk about what happened, what's changed, and what's coming in the new year in the different areas of my life and the blog. I've been getting lots of questions on Instagram from you guys about what is going on with the podcast, why the blog has been so silent, and all that stuff. So let's catch up a bit. 

Let's start with the blog.

To be honest, things have been silent here for longer than I planned. What started as a "quiet month" in October turned into a nearly-three-month hiatus. I needed a break, quite simply.

I was burned out and writing had turned into a source of stress instead of the relief it used to be. I've always struggled with spotlights, being seen, and being judged, and I think knowing my posts were being seen by so many people all of a sudden freaked me out. I'm a very vulnerable, open person when I write. What used to be 350 people exploded into millions and that really effected me. Coupled with exhaustion, traveling full time with four kids, and lots of life changes, I just needed to press pause on blogging and not share everything for a bit. 

All in all, the time of rest served me really well. I was able to take a step back, get some perspective, and make some decisions and changes that are going to be better all around. I found a love for Instagram Stories and began sharing my day-to-day life there since I was writing less, and now that's turned into a super fun community that I look forward to sharing with each day. I got lots of new ideas during that time of no blogging, and God restored me in many ways. 

I'm excited and expectant instead of exhausted now. 

Your Uncluttered Home now has THOUSANDS and thousands of students enrolled, and lives are legit being changed every week - it's absolutely incredible and invigorating to see! I wake up every day with the best job in the world. I love helping you let go of the clutter that's been weighing you down. 

I launched Unburdened - a mini course for mothers who are overwhelmed to the extreme and can't focus on just their homes just yet - and it now has over a thousand mamas enrolled. Crazy!

I launched The Purpose Society - a monthly membership site for moms who want community as they reach their goals. 

Brian and I started and quickly stopped a family vlog - totally not our thing!

I launched Made For This Mom with Kendra Hennessy, and we turned our collaborative project Rock Yo' Mom Life into its own entity. 

Look at all that good right there! Ahh thank you Jesus!

We grew and grew and GREW. 

I started this year with two part-time sub-contractors helping me with emails and social media. I thought that was a lot! God must have been laughing when I thought that...

We are ending this year with SIX contractors working for us plus a full team of creatives managing Facebook and Pinterest. 

We were able to take our friend (who's also an amazing husband and father) out of a terrible job that was sucking the life out of him, exceed his pay, and bring him over to do what he loves and work for us from the comfort of his home as our designer. 

We were able to fly my Chief of Staff from North Carolina to San Diego and spend three days in a seaside hotel and plan out the entirety of 2018 while also figuring out how to get my weekly work hours from 38 to 6. SIX! 

This year, I left "blogger" behind me and stepped into being a CEO. It's been dang hard. 

Firing people sucks. Giving bad news is so hard. Laying down the law feels weird sometimes.

But you know what? This business isn't mine, it's God's, and I have a responsibility to run it well. I am still learning and have such a long way to go, but I do feel like I'm getting the hang of this more and more every week. 

What's changing in the new year?

Last month, Kelsey and I made the announcement in our final episode together that The Purposeful Home Podcast is becoming The Purpose Show (with just me) and Kelsey's starting her own podcast next year. 

It's been weird and sad, but also incredibly exciting. The split needed to happen and was covered in prayer (Kelsey and I are friends and our relationship had nothing to do with this decision), but it's always more fun to record with another person. 

The Purpose Show has been getting situated behind the scenes and it's been so fun! There's been lots of branding, photo-shooting, planning, editing and recording. 

I will be producing two episodes a week, and a special Friday segment with Kendra Hennessy is making its way into the schedule in February. 

The new show launches January 1st with new episodes every Monday and Wednesday. 

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One thing you can really look forward to with the new podcast is the fact that I get pretty vulnerable and am opening up a lot to share stories and experiences I've never shared anywhere else, including the story I've had the hardest time sharing - the story of the blog and Brian leaving his job and how my business saved our family. I end that episode literally sobbing into the microphone, and I can't wait for you to hear it. 

If you were subscribed to The Purposeful Home podcast on iTunes, you won't need to do anything to find The Purpose Show - it's the same thing on there, I'm just taking over it. If you're not subscribed and you want to be, click here. (you can still listen to all of me and kelsey's episodes, but just subscribe and you'll see my new show when it starts! i'm just taking over the old show)

What's going on with us...

Our family has gone through so much this year, and for the first time I don't mean that in a negative or difficult way. Of course, we had hard days and problems, but this year was really great! It was our first year in the green pastures God promised us a long time ago after wandering in the desert in a lot of ways. 

We pursued our dream of traveling full-time while also taking on sort of a dare and seeing how small our family could live. We did our traveling in a 26-foot travel trailer with no pop-outs. You can read my very honest post about it here

We prayerfully decided to stop homeschooling and enrolled the kids in school in August. That was hard and weird and a relief all at once. I'll be really honest with you... I've cried a lot, questioned myself a lot, and run to the feet of Jesus a lot.

Here's what I know: 

Sometimes God gives you peace and asks you to do something, and it's our humanness that causes us to feel like the decision is final.

He never told me homeschooling was over for me. I took the peace I felt about public school and read it that way - final. Now that we're on winter break and I've run to Him a thousand times with tears on my face, I see that I needed my kids in school for a period of time. I needed to work extra for a little while. I needed to get the business ahead of schedule. I needed it to be able to run without me every day. I needed to hire and train people to take over so that I could get back to my roots and handle homeschooling and business owning at the same time. 

Before we hired six new people, I was overwhelmed. I couldn't run my business and do all the work I was doing AND home educate four kids at the same time. There are only so many hours in a day and there weren't enough for me. 

Having the kids in school was a relief and a wake up call for me. It gave me the time and space I needed and it lit a fire under me that had me moving quickly, delegating everything I could, and working hard towards a meaningful goal. 

We will be getting back to homeschooling very soon (I'll share more with you when the time is right), but my message for you readers for now is this: 

Don't put your own meaning or limitations on what God tells you. Just listen. 

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2018, here I come. 

I am so freaking excited for this year, you guys. There's going to be so much good!

Don't think that the blog is going to die now that the podcast is my main source of content. Each episode is being transcribed into a blog post, so you can still read my voice if you prefer. I'll also be writing posts that aren't podcast episodes as the inspiration strikes (like right now... it feels so good to be inspired and not forced!). 

I have big goals both in business and in my personal life. I've found myself slipping back into some old habits that don't make me feel very good, and I'm really looking forward to breaking them again and stepping into more joy in those areas!

I am so grateful for the place that Brian and I are in as a married couple after this year. We celebrated ten years of marriage in September and I feel like it was a pivotal turning point for us. Something just clicked and we are more in sync than ever. God is so good. It has NOT always been this way! We have a ton of episodes on marriage coming in February and lots of them feature the two of us talking together about this kind of stuff!

We have some big announcements coming soon about our family and where we're headed and how we're growing in the coming months. There's just a lot of GOOD, and no matter what happens or how life tosses and turns as it always does, there is always grace, love, hope, and the joy of Christ. 

Merry Christmas, my friends and happy new year!

xo Allie

3 Steps to Prepare for a Merry & Simplified Christmas

A Merry Little Christmas Allie Casazza

 

Christmas has the potential to be the MOST joyous time of the year. But it can also be the most stressful if you allow that to happen.

Every year, I sit down with my family to create a mission statement for our Christmas. We discuss things like whether it’s our beliefs that take center stage, or if we want to make it about giving or serving, or any other heartfelt experience that can increase our joy.

Once we have that mission statement in place, creating the holiday that we desire becomes easy. We’ve determined our “why" and that determines how we will celebrate our entire season. If people try to push back or veer us away from what we truly want out of the season, we have a strong leg to stand on and it doesn’t feel as hard to tell people no.

If you feel like your holiday season is being ruined by your kid’s stuff, it’s time to consider simplifying Christmas.

Many women turn to minimalism hoping that it will change their lives. But then the holidays come around and relatives begin asking what sorts of gifts the children would like, and before you know it your home is full of new toys again (and they’re still barely being played with).

If that statement sends you into a panic...

Mama, I gotchyo back! It doesn’t have to be that way!

How to Get Started

1. Be frank and honest.

If someone is coming to you and asking what your children would like for Christmas, be frank with them. Explain what types of things your child may be into. Maybe your daughter is really into drawing, so you could suggest a new art set.

I always find that it’s super helpful to make the other person feel like they’re going to be a superstar to my child. It makes them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

If you want to make this even easier, you could have your child create a wishlist. Then you can provide that to people who might be buying for them. I also have a list of toys for minimalist parents and their kids in a PDF right within my FREE course, A Merry Little Christmas.

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2. Remain Gracious and Selfless

You can’t expect everyone to jump onto the same page as you when it comes to simplifying things. Asking them not to get your child anything can be really hard. Especially if their love language is gift giving.

Try tweaking the gifts so that they are working for you.

Provide a gift idea that your child would absolutely love - maybe something that would pull them away from technology. Or you could always ask that they get your child a game for their game system they’ve been wanting.

Spin it in a way that helps you and still allows them to feel joy for giving your child a gift they will love.

3. How to Handle the Out-of-Control Gift Giver

It’s pretty common to have someone in your life who is out-of-control when it comes to giving gifts. They claim “it’s their joy,” but it’s your home, and your holiday, and you don’t want to be completely stressed out because someone won’t stop buying presents.

Communication is the key here!

Talk to them. Let them know you love their heart, and that you are grateful that they can give so much to your children, but that it’s overwhelming. You could even mention that your children don’t even get the opportunity to play with everything because they’ve received so much.

In the end, if they choose to give a crap ton of gifts, that’s fine. There’s NO contract that says you must keep everything. You can always donate some of the items instead.

Don’t allow yourself to become handcuffed to the idea of minimalism. Allow things to stay if you or another family member love them, and if it makes them happy. Don’t make minimalism an idol, because all it does is shift the way you’re handcuffed to your stuff.

Communicate with people, set strong boundaries, control yourself when you respond to people asking for gift ideas, and allow yourself to feel the true joy that this season brings.

A Merry Little Christmas Allie Casazza

If you’re ready to put a lot more purpose in your family’s holiday, you definitely want to sign-up for my free course! A Merry Little Christmas is a guide to a simplified holiday for moms pursuing less.

How to Raise Unplugged Kids in A Tech-Obsessed World

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I have always wanted to raise unplugged kids. When you live in a tech-obsessed world, where most kids’ weekends are spent beating the latest video game and even doing homework requires a screen, it gets hard.

Six years ago, finding minimalism changed my life and restored my motherhood. I got my time, my joy, and my home back. I also feel that I gave a huge gift to my children. First of all, they got their mama back. I was no longer spending every ounce of my time cleaning up and folding heaps of laundry, and they developed wild imaginations. What does that have to do with minimalism? Well, everything.

The thing about minimalism is once you start, it doesn’t really stop. It’s like pushing a large snowball down a steep hill - it just keeps rolling, collecting more and more snow as it goes. You begin to look at the way things have always been done with fresh eyes, and you desperately seek a simpler way of doing pretty much everything. Minimalism will touch every area of your life once you realize what a truly freeing gift it is. For our family, our use of technology has been no exception.

Now let me be clear - I’m not the mom whose kids never play video games or don’t know how to use an iPad. We have plenty of technology in our house. I’m a professional blogger for pete’s sake. My boys’ biggest obsession right now is the Mario Brothers (my littlest is usually tasked with being Bowser while the older two run away from him screaming). The difference is, there are boundaries around technology. There isn’t constantly some kind of screen on entertaining everyone, and tech time isn’t something that’s expected by my kids.

My boys spend far more time actually pretending to be Mario, Luigi, and Bowser than they do playing the video games that made the trio famous.

Most people think limiting technology has to feel like some kind of punishment, and that is simply not true. All things need to be limited - it’s just not good for you to have too much of pretty much anything! By limiting technology, we are simply setting healthy boundaries, teaching our kids how to be well-balanced human beings, and encouraging the power of their imaginations. That is such a gift!

Kids played happily (and a lot better) without technology for generations before us, and I think sometimes we forget that.

In 1950, 10% of American households owned a TV set. By 1954 this increased to 50% of households and by 1970 98% of households had one. We grew into constant entertainment very quickly, not realizing the effect it had on our family time and our kids’ imaginations.

Let’s take a quick look at the deep impact technology has had on our children:

  • A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates kids ages 8 to 18 spend an average of seven and a half hours a day with cells phones, computers, televisions and other electronic devices. That means the only things keeping kids away from electronic devices are eating, sleeping and school. And, during the summer months, of course, you can generally remove school from the equation.
     
  • Childhood obesity has reached an all-time high. Tech time has surely contributed to that.
  • Imaginative play is also influenced by screens- instead of creating their own play themes they often reenact characters from shows in a repetitive and stifling way.

  • TV often creates a sense of detachment in our feeling life- for example, we sit in a warm house with plenty of food in a comfortable chair and watch a show about homeless people and our hearts go out to them but rarely does this actually call people to action. This detachment also happens for children- violence, sarcasm, adult-themed innuendos or jokes become the ‘norm’. You may argue action-packed books could lead to the same effect- but when a child reads, his mind creates its own pictures and has time to think about them, digest them and make them his own. These thoughts could lead to new ideas that lead the child to action. TV does not give time for this higher level of thinking. When children are accustomed to lots of TV they are not used to using their imaginative thinking at all and don’t exercise that part of the brain (the neocortex). By telling stories and reading books children are able to create pictures which inform our dreams, intuitions, inspirations and imaginations.

  • Recent studies have shown that regular screen time causes atrophy (shrinkage or loss of tissue volume) in gray matter areas (where “processing” occurs) of the brain.

  • When a child is watching a show or video or playing a game and it is then taken away there is a withdrawal period. They often become anxious, nervous or irritable. Their movement becomes impulsive, erratic and uncoordinated.

Compare all of this to when a child is in nature for a period of time- playing in the dirt or sand, digging with sticks, building with fallen branches, exploring, looking at bugs. There is a sense of groundedness, calm and steady energy about a child who has been outside playing freely versus inside looking at a screen.

You will be amazed at how easily a child fills up his day without a screen. “I’m bored” happens in our home on occasion but it’s not a common thing to hear.

Jean Piaget, a pioneer in child psychology said,

“Children should be able to do their own experimenting and their own research. Teachers, of course, can guide them by providing appropriate materials, but the essential thing is that in order for a child to understand something, he must construct it himself, he must re-invent it.
Every time we teach a child something, we keep him from inventing it himself. On the other hand, that which we allow him to discover by himself will remain with him visibly.”

Screens put everything on the table so that there is nothing to uncover. But when we get out of our children’s way and let them be bored they come up with all sorts of exciting things to do and learn.

I have seen absolutely incredible benefits of limiting screen time in our home, and let me encourage you by repeating myself - we do not ban tech time - my kids regularly enjoy screen time. It’s simply that we limit it. You do not have to throw away all your devices and forbid the TV be used by anyone but you. This doesn’t have to be a thing that turns you into a monster or a tyrant, I promise!

Before we get into how you can start encouraging your kids to play more and stare at a screen less, let’s go over the positive effect of limiting technology in your home…

  • My kids get along much better.
     
  • They are more grateful. What I mean by this is that my kids seem to appreciate what they have more. They play with each other better, seeming more grateful for their siblings, and they come up with new games to play together. They are more grateful for their Legos and blocks and simple toys that were "boring" before we limited toys and technology. Their imaginations and creativity expand.
  • They spend their time reading, creating art, running around outside, making up games and stories together, reading stories - independently and with you.

  • They just seem a lot happier. They are less moody/cranky/irritable - no withdrawal symptoms.

  • You are empowering your children to connect with nature, the seasons and real people.

  • You are teaching self-discipline through example- carving out specific times that screens are appropriate and disengaging at times when they are unneeded- prioritizing your life and time without wasting it.

  • You are creating more time to be together as a family.

  • When you are clear with the boundaries you decrease whining, bargaining or constant negotiating.

  • They are allowed to be kids! This means more messes, more energy to be expelled, more attention required from you as the parent but you are gifting them their childhood. They are not chained to a screen for your benefit- this limitation is actually totally freeing for them.

Okay, so you’re convinced. But…. how do you start? When you realize your kids are spending way too much time with screens and you know you want to begin limiting, what do you do exactly? Sit back and take a deep breath, girl, cause I gotcho back.

How to Get Started

1) Get clear on your family’s values.

You can’t copy mine or ask your neighbor about her’s. You need to be deeply connected to what matters to you for your family. Grab a journal or open a note in your phone (See? Technology isn’t all bad, it can be super helpful!) and write out what matters a lot to you. How do you want your kids to grow up?

Some of my biggest values are:

  • That my kids have wild imaginations and know how to play like kids should
  • That my home be a beautiful haven we all love spending time in

  • That my kids see my husband and I intentionally spending lots of time together

  • The pursuit of minimalism in our home, calendar, and lifestyle

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts from it.
— Joshua Becker

Get the picture? Now go and do this for yourself. Without a clear picture of what matters most to you, you’ll find it impossible to implement new rules and boundaries, especially when your kids push back. You need a super solid why in order to be in this for the long haul.

2) Decide how you’re going to do this.

You can go about the pursuit of less technology a couple of different ways. You can do a full-fledged detox and not have any in your home for a set amount of time, or you can slowly pull back from it, limiting it more and more as time goes on until you hit your personal sweet spot.

Personally, I think a detox is incredibly beneficial for most families, especially if you’re reading this post and feeling the tug to take action. A detox doesn’t have to be super long or extremely painful. My advice is one week of no screens (or as few screens as possible if you need them for school).

One week is a great amount of time because it’s just enough to reset your kids’ brains. Just know that if you reintroduce your old tech habits after this detox, you’re going to undo all your hard work, so be sure to reintroduce technology on a very limited basis. For example, Netflix and video games for one hour on weekends only, or whatever similar boundary feels good to you.

3) Plan your first screen-free day.

Grab that journal again and come up with a gameplan, girl.

  • How are you going to find a moment for yourself?

  • How will you handle “witching hour” when you and everyone else in your house are just done.

  • How will you help your kids find media alternatives?

Without a plan you are much more likely to cave, drink an entire bottle of wine, and think I’m a jerk for even suggesting the idea of a tech detox. We don’t want any of those things….

4) Create a connected and consistent family rhythm.

Rhythms in your day help everyone feel at peace. The kids know what to expect, you know your day is already somewhat planned and you aren’t trying to come up with on-the-spot entertainment for your kids. How will you fill your day? What are you going to do with each time block?

Start with the blocks that are filled for you - school and work hours, meal times, nap time, etc. From there, come up with ideas of how to fill your day with intentional, family rhythms.

Another thing to think about is balancing inside play and outside play. This can help you find a consistent rhythm for your kids’ play because it feels like a transition. Instead of just two hours of straight playtime, you can guide them to play for a bit in their playroom, then outside, then in the living room while you prepare lunch. It doesn’t take much to change things up!

5) Help your kids get into their play.

We can’t go about life doing things one way and then rip the carpet out from under our kids and expect them to know exactly what to do and how to be, right? Nah, that’s not gonna work! We can, however, gently guide them and offer them alternatives and new ideas. #MommingSoHard

  • Give your kids something tactile and new to play with

  • Provide them with a clean, uncluttered space to play in #minimalism

  • Have open-ended, simple toys on hand (think Legos, blocks, puzzles, dress up clothes, art supplies)

  • Be prepared to spend more time with your kids as they re-learn how to play

6) Set yourself up for success.

How are you going to handle this big change? You have to be prepared and equipped, and that takes a little preparation.

We talked a couple points ago about deciding how you’re going to have a moment to yourself in order to go the length of a full day without relying on technology. Here are some ideas:

  • Seek support from your “village” by reaching out to a relative or friend to come over, break up the day, and help a girl out!

  • Lay the foundation for good self-care or “quiet time” by setting time for yourself before the day even starts. This way, you sort of give yourself a “moment” before you need it, and it can really help!

  • Make sure you have a strong bedtime routine. This will give you the evenings to yourself.

  • Get outside. One of my favorite things to do when I feel overwhelmed and stretched super thin with my kids is head to the park with my headphones. I listen to music or an encouraging podcast while they play on the playground and I watch. Win win.

  • Play an audio story to give the kids something calm to entertain them while you drink some coffee and take a break. We love Story Nory!

  • Make or prepare dinner early. This gives you a break during one of the hardest, busiest times of the day.

7) Set up a home that allows you to be a present mom.

It’s hard to ditch technology and apply family rhythms when you’re overwhelmed by a long to-do list, endless chores, and that feeling of dread you get when you know you’ve got tons to do but are spending time with your family instead. I want you to be able to pour into your kids and know your house is maintained without you having to constantly catch up. Believe me, it IS possible!

Here’s how it works:

the clutter cycle

When our homes are cluttered, we have more to clean. When we have more to clean, we feel an inner overwhelm and a pressure to keep up. We wind up feeling like we are always cleaning, and unable to pause and spend quality time with our children unless we are willing to pay the price later on - catching up on the housework.

I used to tell my kids to “go play” almost constantly! I realized it just really wasn’t the type of mom I wanted to be. I’m all for unentitled kids who know how to play, and my kids do- they use nearly all their free time to make up stories and games and play with each other, but sometimes, especially when you first start this or your kids are very young, they need a little help. I started saying “let’s play” a little more often, and some of my sweetest memories were born out of that switch.

What takes up your space takes up YOU.

  • Less stuff, more joy.

  • Less chaos, more peace.

  • Less busyness, more intentionality.

I used to be a very unhappy mom. I struggled with depression, I always felt overwhelmed and like I couldn’t keep up with all that was on my plate. Every day felt like a battle I lost.

I noticed I was spending the bulk of my time wrangling the kids’ toys, so one day I decided to get rid of almost all of them. All the useless toys that were doing the imagining for my kids, all the mismatched pieces of toys, everything except toys that inspired creativity and constructive play was donated or thrown away.

I noticed an immediate shift in our home. My kids began to display the benefits of an intentional home. I brought my new minimalist outlook into the rest of my house and my whole life changed.

Suddenly my to-do list was much shorter on a regular basis, the laundry didn’t need to be done every day (even with six of us in the house) because I had also purged our clothes down to only what we needed, the house was almost always picked up and ready for company to drop by, and that was a great feeling.

I had so much free time! I was able to play with my kids, take them on hikes, pour into them, homeschool them, even start a business from home (something I never would have been able to add to my plate before minimalism) and I was so much less stressed. I finally felt like I was looking more like the mom I wanted to be.

A life of less freed me and allowed me to be more intentional, more present with my family, and to fulfill some life-long dreams as well!

Eliminating the clutter and the chaos in your home gives you a firm foundation for raising unplugged kids because you are more able to pour into them! You’re able to be centered, calm, at peace with yourself and much less stressed. You’re freed up to replace some of the TV time with family adventures, sitting outside together, playing together - better things than sitting in front of a show.


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Don't give stuff that kind of power in your life. 

 

 


I want you to feel capable as this long post comes to an end. This doesn’t have to be a burden, a stress, or scary. Let it set you free to confidently and happily limit technology, throw away the crutch in your motherhood (do we really want to go through this thing relying on Paw Patrol to babysit whenever we get uptight?) and step into present, sweet, abundant life as you raise your sweet babies.

You were chosen out of every woman who has ever lived in any generation for all of time, to be the mother of your children.

- Allie Casazza

Three Lessons I Learned the Hard Way as a Minimalist Mama

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A guest post from Lisa Avellan of Simple & Soul

Minimalism isn’t about the stuff we get rid of; it’s about the life we uncover.  That lesson came hard and fast in my minimalist journey.

In fact, minimalism swept up my old life with such a fury that I hardly had a chance to properly welcome the new me – you know, with a bottle of wine and a pedicure.  It was more like a pressure wash of the soul, as if to test the resilience of my resolve to take back my motherhood.

Everything I thought motherhood would be had faded behind the constant to-dos and the overwhelming pressure to lose the weight, wear the brands, play the part, volunteer and participate, play-dates and socialization… I couldn’t get comfortable in the role of my lifetime as Mom.

I stepped into minimalism expecting more time and energy to spend with my kids and husband and what I got was an overhaul of my identity – my soul came alive. 

My soul awoke to all the ways it hadn’t been living fully, and it pushed me into a series of reboots and refreshes and power downs and restarts. And thank God it did because now I know what minimalism is really about.

There was a lot of stuff we decluttered and donated, and we were free of the excess, clutter, and overwhelm in our home.  But I also found freedom from living in that place of expectation and comparison and performance.  It was hard, really hard – still is sometimes – but these three have been the most grounding and liberating experiences minimalism has given me:

3 Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

1.     I am only this moment.

When I detached my worth from the things I owned and my need for validation from out there I had to sit with my soul in its rawest moments. Exposed and tender, I battled guilt for having abandoned it for so many years and shame for having believed I wasn’t worth more than the things I owned or activities I planned.

It was in this process that I learned I can’t be anything other than what I am in this moment.  I spent most of my moments either in shame or regret of the past or in worry and preparation for the future.  I was missing the life happening in front of me, the only moments I could do anything with.

I can only be this moment, this breath God has given me. I began asking questions like who am I in this moment? What can I bring to this present that will matter in the next?

Every moment is a possibility for the soul.   That means this moment – any moment – is sacred space to become fully present; aware of the opportunity for something really amazing.

2.     I become whole by emptying myself.

I had to learn what whole meant for me. Before minimalism it meant fitting in, receiving validation from others, and being self-sufficient. Simplifying showed me those beliefs were the cracks where my joy and purpose leaked out.

The more I emptied drawers and cupboards and toy bins I felt renewed, filled up with a whole spirit of simply becoming myself.  It turned out, the security I’d been searching for by buying and doing and comparing was within me the whole time. It was buried underneath all the things I filled my home and life with.

The joy of surrender – ceasing to resist the spirit within me – was the key to becoming the mother I hoped I could be.  The pouring out was filling the cracks with light.  Not only was I able to be present and available for my girls, I was confident that the light-filled cracks mapped the way to the center of my best self.

3.     I am not perfect.

I didn’t realize it, but I was striving for perfection as a mother.  I was determined to spare my girls the struggles that burned inside of me.  I’d never say a negative word about my body out loud, but my internal voice body shamed me constantly. I’d plan the perfect birthday party and justify the cost later. I’d always be happy and willing to help but inside I was depressed and introverted out.  I determined I’d never show my vulnerabilities to my girl, for fear they’d adopt them for themselves.

Perfectionism was killing me. Inside, I hated my body, I spent money we didn’t have, and I couldn’t admit that I needed space and quiet to recharge.  But I thought I had to be perfect to give my kids the mother they deserve.

Minimalism taught me to embrace my imperfections, to find the lessons in them. I stopped being afraid to fail and stepped into not getting everything right so that I can get right on grace.

Getting rid of the things is a tool to recover what’s been inside all along. The life we hope for isn’t out there waiting for us to do enough or be enough to have it, its right there – under that list of to-do’s and weight of expectations.

It’s in the moments we least expect, when we open ourselves to experience the now, the present, and the perfect imperfections of becoming minimalist mamas.

10 Ways to Simplify Your Groceries & Meal Planning

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I have kind of a funny history with meal planning and cooking. The thing is, I always hated it. When Brian worked his dawn-to-midnight job, I was super overwhelmed. I would get to dinner time and be...done, to say the very least. Dinner often meant cereal or protein plates or snacking around because Brian was the only one who really cared, and he was very rarely home for dinner.

Fast forward to last year when we lived in Arkansas and I started my business. Brian’s job was less hours and he was usually home for dinner, which meant more cooking for me. However, I really needed time to work as I grew my business. Things very quickly moved forward and it became a full-time thing.

In order for me to focus on what was most important in that season of our family’s life, we decided that Brian would take over dinner time and all things grocery. He’s basically a chef and enjoys cooking, so it made the most sense for us.

We lived that way for about a year, and now here we are, back in our home state of California with a thriving business that I am no longer running myself (I have five amazing team members I delegate tasks to) and I have taken back the part of my role that entails meal planning and preparing.

I actually started to miss it! Preparing food for my family is important to me and something that makes me feel good, even if it wasn’t elaborate. Plus, I never want to stay stagnant in any area of my life. If I suck at cooking then I want to get better, so I am.

Now that we have the business to run together (Brian does all media work, so he’s actually busier than I am most days), plus four kids, a house, and extracurricular activities to juggle, it’s more important than ever that I keep this area of my life streamlined.

Brian has taken up Crossfit recently and is even training for a competition, so he needs A LOT of food prepped and ready to grab and go. He also needs big meals to provide the protein, energy, and stamina his body needs to perform during his workouts.

I can’t have gluten, have to be careful with dairy, and generally have to eat extremely clean because of my gut and skin issues.

All of this is enough to be super intimidating for someone who took a year off and is already not a natural at this area of homemaking, but I’ve figured out a pretty solid routine (thank the good Lord), and since I get asked about this a lot, I’m sharing my tips with you today!

10 Ways to Simplify Your Groceries + Meal Planning

1. Choose a few pre-planned meals, just get staple ingredients for the others.

I think a lot of us feel the need to know exactly what we’ll be serving for dinner every day of the week. If that works for you, stick with it! But for me, I’m a little too sporadic for that, and whenever I plan my week that way we end up not cooking one or two of the planned dinners and groceries get wasted.

So now, I only choose about three exact dinners, and then get basic ingredients like chicken breast, bacon, sweet potato and other veggies to make a spur-of-the-moment, simple meal the other nights.

I might also make those other nights a repeat meal that we have all the time, like tacos.

2. Get all your planning done in one day each week.

Every Sunday night, I pour myself a glass of wine and sit down with a notebook, my cookbooks, and a pen. I choose my meals, make a shopping list, and map out exactly what I’ll be buying for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.

I make sure I’m planning all the way through the following Monday (the day I shop) which leads me to….

3. Choose another day for all shopping.

On Mondays, I do my grocery shopping. What isn’t being delivered by Amazon Fresh (more on that below) is purchased and ready for the week.

4. Prep immediately after shopping whenever possible.

Instead of bringing in groceries and putting them straight in the fridge, I’ve started washing and slicing and prepping everything as soon as I’m home from my errands.

I got this handy trick from my new favorite book by Brooke Sailer, (I’m Failing At) This Thing Called Home.

5. Food prep, don’t meal prep.

Meal prepping may totally work for you, but it doesn’t for us! We’ve found that food prepping is much more doable. Food prepping looks like sauteed potatoes, sliced fruit, cooked and shredded chicken, baked sweet potato fries, all stored in the fridge, ready to use. It’s pieces of meals that you can grab, reheat, and eat based on what sounds good and how much time you have.

6. Base it on your schedule.

If you know Wednesday nights are super crazy for your family, have that be a Crockpot or take-out night every week.

7. Keep a running list of everything you’re out of.

This one is obvious and overstated, but worth saying one more time! My list is on my fridge and in my phone. I check both on Sunday nights when making my shopping lists.

8. Amazon Subscribe + Save and Amazon Fresh.

Amazon is KILLING IT. They just bought Whole Foods, so more organic goodness is surely coming our way, and they now offer subscriptions for your most-used food and household items. Some things on my Subscribe + Save account include; toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes, snack bars, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, and cleaning sprays.

With Amazon Fresh, you can do your grocery shopping from your couch (if it’s offered in your city) and get organic fruits, veggies, and pretty much anything. Amazing!

9. Don’t overthink it. Know what works!

Don’t over complicate meal planning because it’s daunting or you dislike it. Streamline, simplify, cut out the things that aren’t working and stick to what is.

10. Stop being afraid of repeating meals.

No shame in repeats, yo. I know a friend who rotates ten meals, exactly that way, all the time. It’s been that way for years and her family has no complaints. It’s easier for her, too! Win win. If that works for you, embrace it and count yourself as one of the lucky ones!

Other Things That Work For Our Family

- Prepped food becomes lunch plates we can fix up in less than ten minutes.

- Breakfasts are the same meals rotated.

  1. Coffee and a bar (cereal for kids)

  2. Smoothies

  3. “Big healthy plates” (this is what we call eggs topped with avocado, uncured bacon, grilled tomatoes with salt and pepper, and sweet potato hash).

  4. Pancakes + bacon (GF, of course!)

- Bars instead of lunch for the really busy, on-the-go kind of days (our favorites are Lara and RX).

- Prepped foods that work on-the-go.

  • Fresh sliced fruits
  • Grilled chicken (cold in a Ziplock)
  • Snackable veggies

- We always have a couple easy/frozen meals on hand for “emergencies”. Like when the babysitter shows up on time and you were so excited for date night that you forgot you have kids….

  • Mac + Cheese
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Frozen pizzas

- I (try to) always have kid & adult snacks as well as water bottles in my bag or in the car.

Phew! That pretty much sums up what I’ve been doing to keep meal preparation as simple as possible with four kids and a Crossfit hubby. I hope it inspires and helps you!

What do you do to simplify meals in your house? Let me know in the comments!