We Almost Sold Northern Nester (But Here’s What We’re Doing Instead)!

Yes, Northern Nester was nearly sold

We had it evaluated and were in the process of signing on with an online business broker, but at the last minute, we changed our minds. 

Why did we almost let it go?

The truth is, homeschooling, no, just parenting, our 6 kids takes more of my time each year, and I felt like I could no longer keep up with the blog. It was starting to run me, instead of me running it

So, we had agreed to sell.

Most of you probably know we are in the early stages of building a house, and a lump sum of cash would be certainly be helpful (isn’t that always the case?!), but after more consideration, we realized Northern Nester is the ideal creative outlet in so many ways: aside from being a revenue stream, it has connected me with some of the sweetest people around the world who inspire me in the kitchen, and with my husband now working from home creating online businesses for other people, he is ideally suited to take care of the technical aspects of Northern Nester that get me bogged down. 

Peanut Flour Chocolate Cake (one of my favorite recipes!)

Recipe creation is an amazing niche,

but I also love gardening.

And house building.

American Kestrel – one of my colored pencil drawings from earlier this Summer (available as a print soon!) 

And art.

And animals.

And woodworking.

And thrifting. 

As our kids get older, their inner entrepreneurs are coming out too.  

With the plans of our new homestead well underway, we realized that we don’t have to stop, pause or sell Northern Nester; we can amalgamate our family endeavors and expand the niche. Northern Nester will be more than just a Trim Healthy Mama recipe resource: Lord willing, it will be rebranded in the near future as…

Northern Nester: A Simple Homestead

All the recipes are staying. 

All the recipes will always be THM-compliant, and/or gluten-free, sugar free, dairy-free, and Keto friendly. 

With hired help, my husband’s involvement, and the Lord’s blessing, we plan to grow Northern Nester! The homesteading niche fits so well with our family’s goals and endeavors, and it’s something each member can have a part in – another thing that’s important to us. Content management is what I was struggling to find my way with, and now I’ve got exactly that kind of help!  

What kind of content can you expect to find on Northern Nester in the future? 

  • Trim Healthy Mama recipes
  • Woodworking Plans
  • Gardening Tutorials 
  • Art Print Downloads 
  • Thrifty Decor Ideas
  • Large Family Minimalism 
  • Our daughter breeds rabbits…(and we’re hoping to get some chickens eventually…), so there’ll probably be a section about that too. 😉 

Coming soon to Northern Nester:

  • a new look 
  • new and improved navigation
  • options to sign up for all updates, or just the topics you’re interested in 

Moving from strictly recipes to a lifestyle niche gives us more opportunity to share our varied passions. In a sense, this blog has come full circle. I started Northern Nester with this genre in mind, but I didn’t have the resources to keep it going, so it morphed into a Trim Healthy Mama recipe resource. Now we’ve been blessed with the resources and the man-power to give it a fresh go. We’re excited to see how this unfolds! 

Instagram will be our primary outlet for sharing progress pictures of our Homestead build, the construction of our gardens, and thrifty farmhouse finds, so we invite you to follow the adventure there for the most recent updates!

Thanks for supporting us from Day 1 and for coming along for the ride! 

All the Lord willing (Proverbs 16:9).

Love,

Brad, Jacinda & the kids. 

The Ultimate Trim Healthy Mama Amazon Shopping List

In the interest of full disclosure, we make a small commission if you choose to purchase something through one of our affiliate links. Your purchase helps keep Northern Nester online! Thank you so much for the support.

The wonderful thing about shopping on Amazon is that you can order everything you need to stock your Trim Healthy Mama Kitchen with the click of a mouse and have it delivered straight to your door!

I’ve put together over 115 THM-friendly products in The Ultimate Trim Healthy Mama Amazon Shopping List to make it as easy as possible to stay on-plan by ordering everything in one spot online. (And if your family is wondering  what to get you for your birthday or Christmas this year, send them the link to The Ultimate Trim Healthy Mama Amazon Shopping List and they’ll have plenty of options!)

The Ultimate Trim Healthy Mama Amazon Shopping List is divided into 6 sections:

  • The Baking Cupboard
  • The Pantry
  • The Spice Cupboard
  • The Freezer
  • Most Used Tools In A THM Kitchen
  • Trim Healthy Mama-compatible Cookbooks

The Baking Cupboard

The Pantry

The Spice Cupboard

The Freezer

Most Used Tools In A THM Kitchen

Trim Healthy Mama-compatible Cookbooks

 

The Uncluttered Homeschool

Recipe creating and gardening aside, homeschooling and minimalism are two other passions of mine. Sometimes the two concepts seem diametrically opposed to each other. Creating a fun and healthy atmosphere of learning requires things, and yet too much stuff feels suffocating! My goal is to create an uncluttered homeschool: warm, friendly, and educational, but free of excess. I want to encourage creativity, but not feel stifled by a mess. It’s difficult to do (especially when you’re family is larger than average!), but it’s not impossible!

Here are some things I try to keep in mind when I’m decorating.

Here’s a short video of my husband and boys putting together these IKEA Hemnes cabinets:

 

Let your homeschooling resources double as decor

Is there anything more beautiful or educational than shelves and shelves of good books?!

We have a series of 3 bookcases upstairs and 3 bookcases downstairs. The books one the shelves shown here are organized by topic (Christian living, marriage/family, homeschooling, biographies, children’s literature, politics, etc.). Books that are too large to stand upright, I stacked on their side to act as a bookend for the other books and add interest to the shelves.

White space and pops of greenery (these Dollar Store terra cotta also double as bookends) keep things looking fresh and minimal.

Treasures we’ve found during our Nature Walks have a designated shelf behind glass doors in our bookcase. I love being able to have their feathers, nests, rocks and bugs on display but out of reach from our littlest people.  This idea was inspired by my friend, Doreen (if you homeschool, or love poetry and nature, you will love her Instagram page, An Every Day Faith).

My friend Meagan (Our Home In The Woods on Instagram, and artist behind Printable Homeschool on Etsy) gifted me two vintage posters from The Paper Place. I loved them so much, that I ended up purchasing 4 more! At $6 each, they are a beautiful and inexpensive way to add color to your home can help us identify the butterflies, birds, and feathers we find, and the veggies and herbs we grow…in French!

Charlotte Mason said that every child needs three things:

  1. Something to think about
  2. Something to do
  3. Something to love (or care for)

Indoor plants (and outdoor rabbits!), are part our “things to love.” They provide the kids opportunity to care for something and reap the reward of seeing growth and life. Currently, we don’t have many indoor plants, but our plans for the Summer include building a console table to fit behind the couch closest to the window so we can grow more of them in the natural light that fills the space.

“Gather” sign was made out of scrap plywood from our neighbor’s garbage pile and leftover house paint; brass pot was found for $2 at a thrift store. Mirror was a freebie hand-me-down that I white-washed with paint.

 

Some of my other favorite homeschool resources that double as decor include:

World Globes

Abacus

Mantle Clocks

Maps

Wooden Art Mannequins

Stick to neutral colors and clean lines

A simple color palette and clean lines lend a peaceful vibe to the atmosphere of a home. Our house is usually bustling with activity and I find it helps to keep the decor toned down to prevent sensory overload. I find neutral colors and textures calming; wood, weaves, grays, whites, blues, and greens are prevalent here.

(Here’s an easy trick to hanging a Gallery Wall with Dollar Store picture frames.)

Another benefit to having one color scheme through out the whole house, is that you can “shop” your rooms and switch up your decor without having to buy new things. Switching mirrors, picture frames and furniture around is easy to do when everything looks like it belongs together.

Neutral palettes can often be created for free of very frugally. The vast majority of the decor in our house was salvaged from junk piles and restored with a little love, or built ourselves with natural materials. It’s easier to purge things that haven’t cost much money to begin with, too.

My husband and I built this farmhouse dining/homeschool table and bench last year using preformed deck posts and boards for the legs and apron, and pine boards for the top.

 

I made our headboard for $9 using leftover fence boards and nails, and a small tin of blue-grey stain.

Hide the mess

The reality of homeschooling is that your children live at home, so don’t expect it to look as though they are off at school (I am so guilty of this!).

The wear and tear on a house is far more significant when it’s being occupied for most of the day. The mess is more significant, too. I often have a small anxiety attack when someone drops in unannounced, but I’m slowly adjusting to the reality that our house usually look like it’s well loved…and it’s a good thing! 

There’s a saying that goes:

If you want to see me, you’re always welcome; if you want to see my house, please make an appointment. 

That couldn’t be more true! When appointments are made, however, it’s nice to be able to tidy up a bit and hide the mess. This is where sufficient and proper storage comes in handy!

Our children’s workbooks, pencils, erasers, pens, notebooks, coloring books, etc., have designated cupboard space in our kitchen (which also doubles as our homeschool room). It’s not always organized the way I’d like it to be, but I love being able to shove everything behind closed doors when I want the outside of the cup to look clean!

Baskets are handy for storing toys that keep the younger kids occupied while I’m working with the older ones (and for stashing ALL THE THINGS into when people pop by unannounced).

Beds are made for so much more than sleeping on – do you know how much stuff you can store under there?! A room full of Lego, that’s what. We store our Lego and army and Playmobil in these handy under-the-bed storage totes.

Under Bed Storage

They come with wheels on the bottom, making access and transport a breeze.

Only allow things in your homeschool that serve a purpose or bring you joy.

If it doesn’t serve a purpose or bring joy, get rid of it. That means selling, donating, or tossing anything that:

  • isn’t used enough to deserve the space it takes up
  • has a purpose that can be fulfilled by something else you already own
  • is irreparable
  • causes unnecessary stress or clutter

Toys, clothes, linens, toiletries, books (I have a really hard time with this one), craft supplies, kitchen utensils, tools, footwear, DVDs, CDs, home decor, appliances, electronics, magazines, paint cans, cookbooks, hair accessories, curriculum, hand bags, herbs & spices, sports equipment, gift wrap, games – there is always something to purge!

You’ll find yourself with:

  • less to clean
  • less to organize
  • less to distract
  • more space
  • more freedom
  • more peace
  • more time
  • more money
  • more enjoyment of the things we have
  • a place for everything
  • things that are easy to find

Don’t allow stuff to breed

This isn’t hard to do if you regularly enforce two rules:

  1. If something new comes in, something old must go out.
  2. When it comes to gifts, give an experience instead of a thing.

You don’t have to keep all of their projects

Really. You actually don’t.

We take photo memories to keep of their projects and accomplishments, and then release most of them to the recycle bin. Their best works that I want to save for posterity, I store in a scrapbook/binder for each child.

The best reason for working towards an uncluttered homeschool?

As much as reading writing, and arithmetic are important, I want our children to understand that this is even more so:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Mathew 6: 19-20

Organizing A Trim Healthy Mama Kitchen

One of the challenges Trim Healthy Mamas face when they start the plan is learning how to organize their kitchen! Even on the Standard American Diet, managing a kitchen can be difficult, especially if you have a large family; add in a whole new array of powders, flours, extracts, and teas, and, in addition to being in the kitchen a lot more often with a lot more messes, keeping the heart of the home running smoothly can feel like an overwhelming task!

If you’re a Trim Healthy Mama that is struggling to keep order in your kitchen and are ready to get organized once and for all, Sean and Caroline Allen’s planner, The Well-Ordered Kitchen, should be your very first step in making sense of the chaos.

The Well-Ordered Kitchen is not a menu planning service or a recipe book. It’s a printable, reproducible organizational tool specifically designed for kitchen use. It’s compatible with every diet plan and works especially well with Trim Healthy Mama (or any other diet that makes use of real food, from-scratch cooking, fuel separation, or in families where it’s important to record dietary restrictions and preferences).

The Deluxe Version of this beautifully designed kitchen management tool comes with over 95 pages of content. It includes pantry and freezer inventory sheets so you can know what you have and what you need at a glance…

…130 pantry organization labels to bring a cute or professional (pick your favorite of 3 blank or pre-filled designs!) cohesive look to all your jars and containers…

…a master grocery shopping list you can add your THM staples to in case someone else does the grocery run…

…weekly and monthly menu plans you can fill out with your favorite recipes from the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook (or your favorite online recipes!)…

…adorable recipe cards and dividers, so you can have your favorite meals on stand-by for anyone to make, and to accompany a meal you might bless another THM with.

It even has hospitality charts to keep your tried-and-true company dinner necessities organized and on-hand!

My only critique of this planner is that it includes a few complimentary off-plan recipes, but since The Well-Ordered Kitchen is a printable, you can simply skip printing off those few pages and zip off a few more blank mason jar labels instead.  Also, a few of the substitutions in the reference chart are not THM compatible (corn starch, for example), so be wary of using all the ingredients referenced.

Over all, The Well-Ordered Kitchen is still the most comprehensive, THM-compatible, well-designed organizational tool I have ever seen for kitchen use. Sean and Caroline have thought of every last detail.

If you’re tired of finding expired, expensive ingredients in the bottom of your freezer and the back of your pantry; tired of forgetting THM essentials when you go shopping; tired of wondering what to make for dinner and too tired to look up a new recipe; tired of all. the. bags. – purchasing and printing out The Well-Ordered Kitchen, getting it spiral bound (or contained in a 3-ring binder like Caroline has), is the very best way to get on top of your game. It contains all you need for organizing a Trim Healthy Mama kitchen.

The basic version starts is just $6.99 (you can print off as many copies of each page as you need!) with the hope that every Trim Healthy Mama can be an organized one.

Or, if your family is in need of a good Mother’s Day gift idea, perhaps a hint at the Premium version ($29.99) is in order. Aside from a video tutorial of how to put your new planner together, and a virtual tour of a real-life well-ordered kitchen, this option gives you an exclusive membership to the Well-Ordered Kitchen Facebook Group so you can inspired and stay motivated by others to keep your kitchen tidy!

Image credit: Country Living

Whip your work space back into shape and discover the joy of cooking once again!

75 Gift Ideas for The Minimalist

75  Gift Ideas for The Minimalist sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Isn’t giving stuff to someone who loathes clutter kind of…cruel? It could be, but it certainly doesn’t have to be! Not all gifts require money or gift wrap, and not all stuff is clutter-y. If it’s useful or thoughtful, it will most certainly be appreciated!

Ask yourself 8 different questions when gift-shopping for a minimalist, and you’ll have a plethora of ideas to choose from!

Is it something they want?

The easiest way to ensure you’re getting them a gift they really love is if they’ve asked or hinted specifically for it. If they’re too modest to do that, ask them! Perhaps they would like certain:

Is it something they use?

Food and toiletries/make-up are two major categories of consumables no minimalist can avoid completely. These things run out and need to be replaced. You could replace their regular products, or maybe take it up a notch, and gift them with a better quality version of what they would normally purchase themselves. Here are some things a minimalist might use that would need to be replenished:

Food:

Toiletries/Make-up: 

Other consumables might use include:

  • gas card
  • essential oils
  • vitamins
  • beeswax candles
  • paper products But, really. Who gives toilet paper as a gift?! Happy birthday! I know you’re a minimalist, so this is all I could think of to get you. It’s useful and beautiful…I think. And it cost a lot more than the paper-y kind I buy, so I hope you see my heart in this.

Does something need to be replaced?

Perhaps your friend has been married or living on her own for several years and standard household items are starting to show signs of needing to be replaced.

Does it serve more than one purpose?

Minimalists are not usually big on gimmicks or single use items. If you can find something that serves multiple purposes for the same amount of space, you’re golden.

Does it take up square footage?

Some of the best gifts don’t take up any room at all, except in the heart. Experiences and digital gifts fall into this category.

  • E-books
  • i Tunes gift card
  • Amazon gift card
  • online service subscription (i.e. menu planning membership)
  • dinner at a restaurant
  • coffee date
  • hike in the woods
  • day at the beach
  • trip to the zoo
  • free babysitting
  • lawn and garden maintenance for a week
  • one week of housecleaning

Is it perishable?

If so, wonderful. Minimalists are know for throwing things out anyway.

  • slice of cheesecake
  • pot of soup
  • fresh fruit bouquet
  • flowers
  • bulbs
  • perennial cutting from your garden

Does it help organize their home?

Gifts that help keep other things organized are typically well-received by minimalists! A couple budget-friendly clutter control tools include:

Would you be hurt if they parted with it?

Remember this if you notice your well-thought out gift has been purged, sold, or re-gifted by its recipient: the removal of something materialistic from their life is a reflection on them, not on you! True friendship runs much deeper than what can be measured by the accumulation of stuff….a part of your heart is the very best gift you could ever give anyway.

Getting Rid of Toys

Getting rid of toys is a continual process in our house. I can think of less than 5 toys we have actually bought for our children; the rest seem to flow in through a steady stream of birthday gifts and donations.

I’m a big proponent of creative play, so while toys are certainly not banned from our house, I’ve discovered that even in this realm, less is more. I’ve found that the less toys our children have to play with, the more creative they become with the ones they have. We’ve purged hundreds of toys from our home, and always pare down to the “basics” – classic toys that withstand the test of time and use by multiple children of multiple ages.

I’ve also learned that “toys” aren’t usually the things our kids get the most enjoyment out of.  They prefer to play with household items that serve more than one purpose; bed sheets become tents and teepees, boxes become cages, the piano bench becomes a kitchen table, stainless steel mixing bowls and wooden spoons become drum sets, chairs arranged in a certain become a defense wall, and crayons inserted in Mega Blocks become miniature canons.

You’re not damaging your child by trimming down an absence amount of toys: you’re broadening their imagination, putting a reign feelings of entitlement, and encouraging cooperation and sharing with other siblings.

Some people have expressed surprise at the seeming lack of toys in our house. The pictures below are of our toy room. I suppose it looks like we don’t have many when they’re all put away, but I can assure you that when they’re all over the floor, it’s hard to find a place to walk that doesn’t leave you writhing in pain.

Our five kids are currently under age ten. The things they like to play with will undoubtedly change as they grow and mature, so our list might look very different than what would work for your family. The point is still the same: less toys = more creativity, more social interaction and cooperation, more enjoyment of the things they have, less feelings of entitlement.

If getting rid of toys in your house sounds as appealing as it does daunting, perhaps the following list will give you a good starting point as you decide what to keep and what to toss. Try disposing of toys that are:

  • broken, flimsy, dried out, torn, or otherwise better off in the trash
  • require batteries to operate
  • easily bored of (Like this Little People Car Garage, for instance. We had one child enjoy it for a while before tiring of its single function.)
  • not appropriate for indoor use (holes in the walls from miniature croquet balls are no joke!)
  • contain hundreds of small parts that are easily lost (Lego bricks are the exception to this in our house.)
  • a very bad invention (Bunchems fit into this category. It’s like giving your child a bag of burs to stick in their hair! If you want a laugh – or maybe a cry? – read the reviews.)
  • not played with enough to warrant the space they take up
  • duplicates (We really don’t need 10 stuffies for each child in our house, or 9 dolls for 3 girls.)
  • conflict with family standards (This will look different for everyone, but certain kids of dress up clothes, plastic weaponry, Bratz dolls, or Barbies, etc. may not be conducive to the ideals you want to teach your children.)

That should leave you with toys that fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • durable
  • enjoyed by multiple ages
  • in good condition
  • have multiple uses or configurations
  • appropriate
  • easy to clean up or store
  • stimulate the imagination

The toys our children gravitate towards the most are:

They would love a quality toy like Playmobil, too, but since its expensive and would take a while to grow, they’d rather expand their Lego and Toob collections. Most of the toys we have can be stored inside the 12 plastic bins of our toy storage organizer. The idea is that one bucket gets removed at a time, played with, and put back before taking something else out, but let’s be honest: that almost never happens. 😉 The kids enjoy having each kind of toy separated into its own bin though. It makes it easy for them to kind what they’re looking for, and helps enforce some semblance of organization when it’s time to put everything away.

Bulkier items like dolls and dress up clothes are stored in a Rubbermaid tote (no Pinterest points here, but it does the job!), and the dollhouse and doll strollers are parked along the wall.

We’ve tried multiple ways of organizing and storing Lego. I’ve tried separating the bricks by color, kind, and kit, but they invariably get mixed together. Having all of our Lego bricks stored together in a single, under the bed tote seems to be working the best for us.

It’s long and shallow enough that the kids don’t have dig for an eternity to find the piece they’re looking for, multiple children can use the bucket at the same time, it’s easy to transport to another room, and it can be stored out of the way under our son’s bed.

Our kids also love to play board games, craft, and read for entertainment, but I don’t include boxed games, art supplies and books under the same category as toys. They deserve a dedicated post of their own in the future, DV.

To help keep our toys from breeding, we’ve tried to implement two simple strategies:

  1. If something new comes in, something old must go out.
  2. When it comes to gifts, give an experience instead of a thing.

I’ve found that our children will jump at the chance to have ice cream with Mom, a trip to the zoo, a hike in the woods, or build something with Dad in the garage over receiving an item any day.

Could your home stand to lose a few toys? Which ones and why? What are the classics you hang on to? I’d love to hear how you plan to apply the minimalist mantra to this area!

 

Minimalist Wardrobe For A Large Family

Managing clothing in a large family is one of the most challenging aspects to Large Family Minimalism, especially if you have young children that haven’t finished growing yet!

My attempt to create a minimalist wardrobe for our family of 8 started 3 years ago. Surrounded by four loads of laundry that needed to be folded one day, I thought to myself, There is no way a family of eight needs this many clothes!

There were clothes in dressers.

clothes in closets,

clothes in the washer,

clothes in the dryer,

clothes in the hamper,

clothes on the floor,

clothes in “Grow Into” totes,

clothes in “Summer” totes,

clothes in the Dress Up Box,

clothes that needed to be ironed,

clothes that needed to be folded.

We were drowning in fabric and yet nobody seemed to be able to put together a single matching, seasonally appropriate outfit!

Something had to be done.

Armed with a notebook a box of large garbage bags (these draw string ones are the easiest to close and tie), I jotted down 5 categories into which every single article of clothing in our house would be divided.

Garbage

Under “Garbage,” I filed any clothes that were:

  • Badly stained
  • Torn
  • Otherwise irreparable

These clothes, mainly consisting of hole-y socks and worn out undergarments, were put out with the trash on Garbage Day.

Sell

Under “Sell,” I filed any clothes that were:

  • in excellent condition, but were difficult to match and pair with other clothes
  • too small and had no one to grow into them
  • duplicates or otherwise unnecessary (more on “unnecessary clothes” in a bit)
  • simply not worn enough to warrant the space they took up

Higher ticket items like outwear, dresses, or brand name clothing, I sold on our local Buy/Sell Facebook Group. Smaller ticket items that were too time-consuming to post in the Buy/Sell Group were brought to a local consignment shop that pays me 50% of every item they sell. 

Donate

Under “Donate,” I filed clothes that were:

  • unnecessary, but given to us gifts by someone else (maybe it’s silly, but something feels “off” to me about reselling a gift)
  • well-loved
  • dated
  • unable to sell through the Buy/Sell Group or to the thrift store

Gifts in very good condition and clothing that could not be sold were passed along to friends or family. Well-loved clothes were donated to a thrift store, hopefully to gain a new lease on life by an up-cycling creative genius.

Dress-Up

Under “Dress-Up,” I filed any clothes that:

  • inspired our children’s imaginations and were guaranteed to be played with

Only a handful of items made it into this category: a knight costume, a construction worker costume, a squirrel costume, and a few princess dresses. (The first week of November, after Halloween, is a great time to find steeply discounted dress up clothes!).

Keep

Under “Keep,” I filed the rest of our clothes if it fit the following criteria. Clothing had to be:

  • in good condition
  • appropriate
  • comfortable and fit well
  • easily matched with other clothes
  • necessary (not excessive)
  • wanted

To determine how many clothes were necessary and how many clothes were excessive, I first divided them all into two categories for each person in our house: “warm weather” clothes, and “cold weather” clothes.

Then, I pared down the clothes in each category to the bare minimum (meaning, just enough to ensure I stay on top of the laundry!) which left me the following garments for each person:

Minimalist Wardrobe “Cold Weather” Clothes For A Boy

  • 3 pairs of “play” pants
  • 1 pair of dress pants
  • 3 long sleeved “play” shirts
  • 1 long sleeved dress shirt
  • 2-3 sweaters
  • 2 pairs of pajamas
  • 3-4 pairs of socks
  • 3-4 undergarments
  • 1 dress coat
  • 1 play coat
  • 1 hat
  • 1 pair of mittens
  • 1 scarf

Minimalist Wardrobe “Warm Weather” Clothes For A Boy

  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of “play” pants
  • 1 pair of dress pants
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 1 short sleeved dress shirt
  • 1 long-sleeved dress shirt
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 pair of splash pants
  • 2 pairs of pajamas
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 3-4 undergarments

Minimalist Wardrobe “Cold Weather” Clothes For A Girl

  • 2 sweaters
  • 2 pair of pajamas
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 3 long sleeved shirts
  • 1 dress
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 pairs of tights
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 3-4 pairs of socks
  • 3-4 undergarments
  • 1 play coat
  • 1 dress coat
  • 1 pair of snow pants
  • 1 pair of mittens
  • 1 hat
  • 1 scarf

Minimalist Wardrobe “Warm Weather” Clothes For A Girl

  • 2 sundresses
  • 1 Sunday dress
  • 2 pairs of shorts/capris
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeved shirt
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 pair of splash pants
  • 3-4 undergarments
  • 2 pairs of pajamas

Clothes that were kept for another child to grow into were stored in a tote box on a shelf out of reach in the upcoming recipient’s closet. Off-season clothes were also kept in a small tote inside each child’s closet.

Clear totes are nice for quick inventory, but dark totes look tidier and are less likely to be broken into by little people. Stackable totes of the same color and a clear side, with lids that can be used interchangeably are my personal favorite, but I’m using what we have until they’re ready to be replaced.

Dress coats and off-season jackets were stored in bedroom closets and every day coats were hung in the main front entry closet. Hats, mittens, and scarves are also stored in the main entry closet in a basket on the shelf.

Dresses and dress shirts are hung in bedroom closets, and all of a child’s in-season clothing can be easily be stored in two dresser drawers. This means that for our children who share a bedroom, only one dresser is needed, and in the three cases where the dresser fits inside the closet, they are left with more open square footage in their rooms.

We don’t know if the Lord will bless us with more children or not, so I always keep a tote of our favorite, clean, unstained baby clothes from each gender. This is stored underneath the stairs.

Once you’ve achieved your minimalist wardrobe, there are a couple tricks or rules you can implement to help your family’s clothing collection stay small and manageable. Here are a few that have helped us:

  1. Get rid of extra hangers. . We only keep one or two extra hangers in each closet. If you don’t have a place to hang it up, it probably means you have too many clothes and something needs to go. (We use sturdy wooden hangers for coats and plastic hangers which we received as a wedding gift  for everything else)
  2. Limit the number of dresser drawers a child’s clothes can take up. I try to keep in-season clothing confined to two drawers. This leaves no room for excessive clothing and everything else must be neatly folded to fit well (no crumpling or shoving dirty clothes in a drawer!).
  3. If something comes in, something else must go. Sometimes our children get clothing for their birthdays. If they get a new sweater, we try to sell, donate, or hand down one of their other ones.
  4. Buy quality, not quantity. This will save you time and money in the long run, especially if there are several younger children that can wear hand me downs. It seems pricier at the outset to buy good quality jeans, but if three children can wear them before the knees wear out, it’s less expensive than buying pants are toast after one child’s use.
  5. Purchase outwear bottoms in gender-neutral colors, if you can. We have 2 girls and a boy that have worn the same pair of black or blue snow pants, splash pants, and rubber boots and another girl and boy who will also get use out of them, hopefully.
  6. Purchase classic styles that aren’t quickly dated. Jeans, hooded sweaters, basic t-shirts, black pants, white collared shirts – these articles have a longer life span than fads. More children will be able to get use out of timeless pieces.
  7. Purchase clothing that is easy to match with other pieces and doesn’t wrinkle. Your outfit options are much more limited with a boldly printed or colored pair of pants than say, a pair of dark straight leg jeans.  Also, who has time to iron? Not me! I don’t even own an ironing board (true story).
  8. Only launder clothes that are dirty. I’m trying to teach our children that they do not need a new outfit every day. They can change when their clothes are dirty, after three days, or if we are visiting – which ever comes first. Babies and toddlers usually need an new outfit each day, but our older kids can usually get away with wearing the same thing several times in a row, especially in the Winter months when they’re not sweating or playing in the dirt outside.

Footwear is a challenge that deserves a post of its own, so I’ll address that another day.

This week’s Large Family Minimalism Challenge: tackle the clothing of one person in your family. (Repeat each week until each person in your household has a minimalist wardrobe).

Divide everything up into 5 categories (Garbage, Sell, Donate, Dress-Up, and Keep), and pare down the “Keep” category to the bare minimum. If you’re playing along with the #largefamilyminimalism posts on Instagram, feel free to tag me (@northernnester)! I would love to see how many bags you can purge for one person, what you made by selling excessive clothing, and how small the lot you end up with is! Or, drop a comment below and let us know how the purge went!

A Brief Introduction to Large Family Minimalism

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At face value, the term “Large Family Minimalism” sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Minimalism sounds like an impossible thing to achieve with a large family, but it isn’t; it’s a real life sanity saver.

‘Minimalism’ simply means paring material things down to the minimum. This can be done regardless of family size. If it doesn’t serve a purpose or bring joy, get rid of it. That means selling, donating, or tossing anything that:

  • isn’t used enough to deserve the space it takes up
  • has a purpose that can be fulfilled by something else
  • is irreparable
  • causes unnecessary stress or clutter

Toys, clothes, linens, toiletries, books (I have a really hard time with this one), craft supplies, kitchen utensils, tools, footwear, DVDs, CDs, home decor, appliances, electronics, magazines, paint cans, cookbooks, hair accessories, schoolbooks, hand bags, herbs & spices, sports equipment, gift wrap, games – there is always something to purge.

Photograph 066 by Ashley Schweitzer found on minimography.com
Photograph 066 by Ashley Schweitzer found on minimography.com

In keeping just what we need or just what brings us joy, a miracle of sorts takes place. We find ourselves with:

  • less to clean
  • less to organize
  • less to distract us
  • more space
  • more freedom
  • more peace
  • more time
  • more money
  • more enjoyment of the things we have
  • everything has a place
  • the things you need are easy to find

The challenge with Large Family Minimalism is knowing how much of what to keep to still be financially prudent. It doesn’t make sense to donate all of our oldest daughter’s clothes after she’s outgrown them when there are two more girls behind her. It doesn’t make sense to donate all the Summer clothes in the middle of Winter, because Spring will surely come again. Nor does it make sense to have only one set of bedding per child when the stomach flu hits all seven people at the same time.

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Over the next few months, DV, I plan on sharing more about what Large Family Minimalism looks like in our home by addressing one “problem area” at a time, the steps we take to pare down, what we do with excess, why we keep what we do, and how we keep it stored.

Let’s make 2017 the year of letting go of things that do not matter so we can redeem the time with those who really do. As we make our way through different areas of the house, I’ll post #largefamilyminimalism purging challenges on Instagram. It’s a fun way to keep yourself accountable!

You in?

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Recommended reading: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo