This winter season has been a real struggle. Yes, the entire past year has been a struggle, but I hit a pretty rough depression over the winter. Sitting with these feelings made me feel even worse because…I’m a life coach. How can a life coach be depressed? I literally teach other women how to live a more abundant, joy-filled life. I felt like an imposter.
Each day felt heavy. More and more stuff piled in the house, whether it was from Christmas with the kids or our consumerism trying to lift spirits in our winter unhappiness. The cleaning up felt like it was never-ending — from constant laundry and dishes to the kids’ toys being literally everywhere.
I would talk to other moms who wore their exhaustion and constant messy house like a badge of honor. “Oh ya, I haven’t slept in ages!” or “You’ll never have a clean house with kids, and I’ve accepted it!”. This didn’t sit well with me. This didn’t feel like the motherhood I signed up for. How was this enjoyable? Wasn’t having kids supposed to be about feeling excited and fulfilled watching them grow?
Instead, I was asking them to stop putting magic sand everywhere and cleaning up after them every 15 minutes, leaving me exhausted, less patient, and definitely not present with them. It felt like the past year and a half of my now 20-month-old’s life had flown by, and I spent most of it getting irritated with her wanting to cling to me. There was just…So. Much. To. Do! How can I play with you all day, get the dishes done, clean up your play-doh, feed you, AND get work done over and over again all in the same day? When’s the last time I even went to the bathroom? Do I have to pee?
This wasn’t enjoyable parenting. The days felt longer and redundant. I felt overrun by the number of things to do in a day. Work felt miserable because I was trying to squeeze it in in what little time I had. The clutter in my office made my workspace feel heavy. And wait…we’re having someone over tomorrow? Oh man, time to start cleaning up NOW.
I didn’t want to live that life anymore. And no, I don’t mean in a getting rid of my kids kind of way, I mean in a “there has to be another way to enjoy motherhood” kind of mentality. I had had enough.
I grabbed two trash bags and went into the playroom. I’ve purged the playroom before, but never like I was on a mission to an easier life. One bag was labeled “donate” and the other “trash”. I went through that toybox and got rid of everything I hadn’t seen my kids play with in months. I parted with the precious artwork that was constantly coming home, the McDonald’s toys, the billions of tiny LOL doll pieces that my daughter would probably never realize were gone.
Then I went to my bedroom and opened my closet. I had shirts in there I hadn’t worn since before kids 6 years ago, yet I swore I’d get back to that shape and wear them again. That was the day I came to terms with my body as a mother and my changing style. I filled another trash bag with clothing to donate.
This felt SO GOOD. I had to keep it going.
So, I headed to my office, which is also the guest room where the miscellaneous items tend to pile up to be “put away later”. Trash. Trash, trash, trash. Some things to donate. When I was finished, my bookshelf had about 15 books on it and some décor, my desk had only the priority paperwork, décor that made me feel happy, and my calendar. The guest bed was clean and put together.
Holy cow. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
A couple of years ago, I had started the journey into the idea of what I would do with my interior design certification. My life coach at the time made me realize the way I organized my kids’ toys wasn’t the average. “Most people throw it all in the toybox and call it a day.” We played with the idea of a career as a professional organizer, so I would practice organizing in my friends’ homes.
Then I realized it made me frustrated. Frustrated because I knew there were so many items in there that weren’t being used. Frustrated because I knew it would all be a disaster again by the end of the week. I decided the career wasn’t for me and didn’t give it any more thought.
Well, that day that I began purging was the day I realized why I was truly so frustrated doing that organizing for people. We didn’t need all that stuff! Organizing a mess means you will have to continue to organize that mess. The answer wasn’t organization, it was living with less.
When my 6-year-old went to the playroom the day after my first purge, she didn’t notice anything missing. She still hasn’t. In fact, both girls have started coloring and doing arts and crafts more. They’ve started using their imaginations more.
I felt a shift in our days. There were less toys to pick up and I stopped putting things aside “for later”. My stress level had decreased. I felt more present when playing with the kids. And at the end of the day…I was less tired and more upbeat in conversations with my husband. Life felt…enjoyable again. I have since hit up the kitchen pantry and cabinets and the bathroom. The basement is next.
Why did purging so much stuff change how I was as a mother? Why was I all of the sudden feeling less depressed and more patient with my family? Well, it turns out there are studies on the number of items you have in your home and your stress levels. UCLA posted a study that linked higher levels of stress hormones to the amount of stuff that person had in their house. More clutter in the house = more chaos = a less happy mother. This explains why a clean office space can make someone feel more productive or why “spring cleaning” leaves you feeling in such a positive mindset.
I knew in my soul there was more to motherhood than being run ragged and exhausted. Our lives are filled by consumerism and feeling like the more stuff you have, the better off you are. But it’s just not the case. Motherhood doesn’t have to be the tired and hard life that society tells us it is. I encourage you to explore what it’s like living with less. I want you to find the happiness and presence in each day like I have. I want you to feel like you again.
That’s why I’ve created the Kickstarter Guide to Living With Less, so you can feel less exhausted, less overwhelmed, and start living a life of more abundance. I KNOW how overwhelming it is to get started. I also know how you’ll want to keep going even after your home feels good, so I’ve included how to simplify your life and create days that feel good in the guide as well.
Download the guide here then let me know all about your adventure to simplicity!