As modem moms we are doing more than ever, juggling more than ever, and tap dancing as fast as we can and still walking around feeling like we aren’t doing… enough? There’s this sense that if we do less, have less, earn less, achieve less, hustle less… we might… miss out? We might… harm our kids in some way?
Motherhood today lends itself so easily to the everpresent doubt, mom guilt and general overwhelm. Wouldn’t you rather spend your days feeling confident, basking in clarity, part of a community where you feel seen and heard and connected and most of all – have the opportunity to enjoy your life?
What if I told you that today, in this very moment, you have all that you need for you and your family to live the life you want? In fact, you probably have way more than you need, and maybe that’s part of the problem.
Here’s the thing: You have enough time, money, and knowledge. You have the intuition you need, all the love, more than likely more than enough stuff. You’ve got too many extracurriculars on your calendar, probably too many pairs of jeans and definitely the confidence to conquer all of this hiding underneath all that other crap.
We have too many choices. Too much stuff. Too many obligations. As modern moms we are drowning in a sea of shoulds and it’s preventing us from enjoying life.
The choices are overwhelming. How do you know what’s right for you and your kids? Which 529 is right? How many extracurricular activities IS to many? Which parenting philosophy fits you best? What work schedule is ideal for your family during this busy season that you are in? Are you saving enough for retirement? What about nutrition and exercise? Are you teaching your kids how to eat healthy, but not too healthy, and being careful not to give them issues around this when they grow up? Where do your kids go to school? Is that the best way for them to gain the knowledge and critical thinking skills they’ll need in the future? What about the latest tech, gear and gadgets? The list of choices, truly, is overwhelming to even the most organized of parents.
So I’m only a little bit embarrassed to share with you that I used to think that minimalism meant getting rid of everything you own, moving into a tiny house, only having one pair of jeans (gasp) and zero hair products and I simply wasn’t down for that. As it turns out, minimalism isn’t having as little as possible, it’s not living this monk-like or spartan existence, it’s figuring out what just enough is… then crafting your life to include just enough of what you actually love, want, and need.
This is a process wherein you edit your life, your schedule, your belongings, your finances and the paradigms through which you see the world – so that you can live a life of things that you care deeply about and leave the rest behind.
Minimalism is about creating margin in your life. It’s about making room to breathe, to be spontaneous, to create joy, to stretch imaginations, to grow and learn, to connect and adventures – to be with and to the things that you find value in.
Minimalism as a part of your motherhood journey is living a life according to your values and this brings clarity to your decisions.
The bottom line is that, once you get the hang of it, you aren’t doing all this shit in your life simply because you think you should. Instead – you can work, run your household, your kids can get their homework done, and there is time for hiking, biking, family game night, exercise, reading, self-care and spontaneity.
You start living your life with a sense of choices and freedom instead of the guilt and obligation that’s been plaguing you for years.
Domestic perfection is no longer the goal (because let’s face it, with young kids in the house, it’s just not happening). Instead you focus your time and energy on prioritizing things that you value.
Here’s the best part – no tiny home (unless that’s your jam), as many jeans as you care to include in your life and curly hair products galore, if you so choose – you still shop, buy things, add things to your life… but you do it through the lens of the things that you value with the goal of increasing your long term joy and decreasing the stress.
If you think about it like a control board – maybe like the sound board you see in audio and video studios like to one I’m recording this in. and you think that on that board there are two nobs. One is for joy and one is for stress. Obviously in life there are so many more factors than just joy and just stress, but for the purposes of simplicity and this illustration, let’s go with two. So there are two nobs – one labeled joy and one labeled stress. The goal, with purchases, choices, editing and decisions, is to turn up the joy and turn down the stress.
It’s like that Meghan Trainor song – all about that base, no treble – but it’s all about the joy, no stress. If the thing that you are thinking of doing or buying is going to bring more stress into your life – don’t do it. Just say no.
Walk around with Meghan’s awesome voice in your ear saying – I’m all about that joy, all about that joy, no stress – and use this, along with your core values to inform your YESs and empower your NOs.
THE HAMSTER WHEEL
If you look around you you’ll see many parents on a hamster wheel – running all day and well into the night chasing some impossible standard or ideal – wanting their kids to have all the opportunities, for things to be better than when they were growing up, and to want for nothing – as it turns out that’s not the best way to raise kids who know themselves, what they love and how to function as a an adult in this world. And also… it’s exhausting.
I see this process of embracing minimalist parenting as stepping off the hamster wheel and being intentional about defining what matters most to you. The scary thing? It’s different from what those around you are doing. The good news – what they are doing is flipping insane and it’s not what you want for your life, anyway!
This approach of clarifying your values and living in alignment with them… will it forfeit your opportunities and the opportunities for your kids for traditional success in the way society defines it… you know, college, the house, the job, marriage, kids, and the dog? No way!
In fact, by living in alignment, defending what you value and being judicious about what you allow into your life – instead of painting that traditional picture of success as the one path to happiness, using your values as the compass and trusting your gut, modeling, getting bored, being creative… It helps kids to learn how to discover who they are, what matters to them, and what they are interested in.. instead of being told who they are, what they like and what to do with their lives.
THE MINDSET RESET
Minimalism is really, at its core, a reset of your mindset. It’s a change in your perspective, an adjustment of the paradigm through which you see the world and a shift in the practices you use to run your household.
This mindset shift is one where you move away from more, more more and towards margin and creating room for magic.
With this mindset shift towards margin, there has to be some editing. Editing of the stuff in your life, the “shoulds” on your shoulders, the activities you do, the expectations (yours and others) that you carry, and even, and this is a hard one, the humans in your life. All of that editing, the elimination of things that don’t align and aren’t serving you, is to make room for the magic.
STEP 1 – KNOW YOUR VALUES
That’s all well and good, but what if you kind of sort of know what you value or what if you’ve been listening to me this whole time wondering what the heck your values are?
You absolutely positively cannot skip this step.
Your values – those things that you believe deep down – are crucial to living a life of magic, joy and minimalism.
Taking the time to clearly identify what matters most in your life, excavating, uncovering and clarifying your values is vital.
I have a Core Values Curator that will walk you through a three step process to get clear on what matters most to you. Head to tracybingaman.com/corevalues.
The great part about discovering your values is that there are no wrong answers and it’s not set in stone. Studies show that we generally value the same things over time, but the way that we express those values and are able to act upon them change as seasons of life ebb and flow.
Set aside time in your schedule this week, bonus points if you can do it today, to go download that Core Value Curator and walk through the activities to uncover what is most important to you.
It’s a process – not an overnight – snap your fingers and poof – you know your values without a shadow of a doubt and you are peacefully living them out in perfection. The good news is that perfection isn’t the goal, adjustments are normal, and forwards progress is the desire!
Here’s a reminder in this process to trust your gut. That mama intuition exists for a reason. You are the leader of your own life. You know what’s going to fill you up, drain you, cause you angst and create peace on this parenting journey. Trust that intuition, even if, and maybe even especially if, it’s at odds with what’s common and popular during this season.
You have the power to use these core values to shape your life and sculpt it into something that is a fulfilling expression of your unique talents, skills, loves, and abilities!
STEP 2 – EDIT BASED ON YOUR VALUES
At this point you are likely wondering how to go about this magical editing. How to you know what stays at what goes?
Things to add or keep:
- Things that bring you joy, leave room for magic, infuse meaning, make memories, hail happiness and create connection.
- Essentially, things that you value or activities that make way for things that you value.
Things to eliminate or reduce:
- Things that don’t increase things you value, improve your life or make way for what you value to occur more often.
It’s kind of like the Marie Kondo approach – Kon Mari – holding up each item in your home and asking you if it sparks joy. The same is true for items on your calendar, people in your life and the way that you spend your money.
You can use this editing approach for your stuff, the physical possessions in your house, the appointments and obligations on your calendar and also for the stories, limiting beliefs and forgone conclusions in your mind. When it comes to more abstract things like what’s in your mind and how you choose to live your life, it can be harder to choose what to keep and what to eliminate.
The bottom line… Joy – make way for prince ALI – the JOY – comes from living in alignment with your deeply held values.
Time and money are limited resources that you’re going to want to spend wisely, and in alignment with your values.
When it comes to minimalism and money – it really doesn’t mean that the goal is to have less money! It is again, this mindset shift. It’s changing the question you are asking yourself from “How can I get more, have more, or even Do I have enough?” to “What do I care about?”
Less clarify the difference between an expense and an investment. An expense is something that costs money (think gas for your car or electricity for your home). An investment is something that enriches your life. Things go from expenses to investments when they have significant meaning and result in long-term gain, joy, and magic!
Focusing on investing your money into things that are going to make your life easier, simpler, and more streamlined helps to provide a framework for your spending.
Think about how your relationship with money would change if you felt confident spending on things that you need and love (not those that you see and kind of want). Money touches every part of our lives and growing in confidence about saving and spending decisions will grease the wheels on the train to minimalism.
Focus on your why – the reason that you are saving, the reason you are motivated to invest, and the reason you are tempted to purchase something. This necessitates slowing down before you purchase – in person and online – and seeking the buy in from your partner before making those decisions.
If you can start spending on things that you matter, focusing on investments that are going to enrich your life, and remember your why, you are well on your way to money management with your new minimalism mindset!
Here’s the reminder you’ve been looking for to give yourself permission to do less. You can do less – less volunteering, less activities, less extracurriculars – and still raise kids who grow up to be incredible human beings.
When thinking about how you are choosing to spend your time, filter these through your deeply held values.
In doing this, you’ll go from asking “How do I do it all?” to “What is important enough to get on my calendar?” and start spending your precious minutes on only those things that are important to you.
Being intentional about what you say no to and what you say HECK YES to creates this buffer, this white space, this free time for you and your kids. Everyone has the chance to explore, to exist in boredom, to stretch their imagination and to flex their creativity… all of this leads to the ability to freely discover what they enjoy.
This means you are able to relax, lean into and enjoy the magic and the mess of your life. Living in alignment with your values means more peace, contentment, health and wellness as well as less stress, overwhelm, hustling, rushing, juggling and tap dancing as fast as you can.
Minimalism isn’t about saying no to things that you want or that your kids want, although this may sometimes happen, it’s about optimizing your life on your own terms. You can create margin, space and room in your mind, your heart, your home, your schedule and your budget.
Doesn’t that sound amazing?
Having more time than you know what to do with? Leisure time. Time to relax. Time to enjoy things together with your family. Time to be alone and pour into your own self-development, passions and purpose as a human?
The ability to give yourself breathing room is a gift.
In fact, I want you to take a deep breath right now. Inhale through your nose, filling your lungs with air, letting your ribcage expand up and out, stretching your spine up, expanding your breath deeply into your belly and exhale through your mouth, contracting your ribcage down, blowing all of that air out of your lungs.
Doesn’t that feel amazing? Breathing room! The solution to the modem mom conundrum of doing too much, wearing all the hats at once and trying to be everything to everyone all at once!
Honing in on what you and your family value and eliminating the mental, physical and financial clutter is what gives you that breathing room and makes way for joy.
Remember in Aladdin – I’m talking the old school, lives somewhere in the Disney vault version of Aladdin. He rubs the lamp, out comes the genie and Aladdin eventually thinks to wish to be a prince so that he can have a shot as his dream girl, Jasmine. There’s this parade leading him into town on the back of this big ass elephant with all of this fanfare – there are camels and dozens of dancing women – and of course the genie who is clearing the streets and eventually knocking in the door of the palace to announce the arrival of Prince Ali.
What if we made that kind of fanfare in our lives for Joy? What if we made way for Joy? What if we treated Joy like it was a welcome guest? What if we eliminated the other crap – the shoulds and the coulds and made room for the Joy?
The entire point of adopting this minimalist mindset… creating flexibility, manifesting magic and making way for joy. All of these things, the clarifying of your core values, the editing of your life, the prioritizing your time and optimizing the way that you manage money – the end goal is to make room for the remarkable to occur in the everyday of your life.
Life is too short to wear busy like a badge of honor. Your time and your money are precious, limited resources and they are yours to use, spend, enjoy and savor as you see fit. At the heart of this process, the editing, embracing the minimalist mom mindset are your deeply held values & spending your assets in alignment with your values – is the peace that comes from the deep knowing that you are living for what matters most to you, not what society tells you matters!
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