5 Principles We Follow That Simplify Our Home

5 Principles We Follow That Simplify Our Home

My husband and I have been married for over 12 years and in those years, I’ve learned and grown a lot.

The first seven years of our marriage were especially hard. We survived the last semester of undergrad, infertility, law school, then three babies in five years, multiple job changes, job loss, starting multiple businesses, moving multiple times, financial struggles, marriage struggles, postpartum depression… and more.

I struggled to figure out how to do this wife thing, this mom thing, this home business thing, and this homemaking thing. There were many rocky seasons and rough patches.

There were many days when I never made it out of my PJs (well, truth be told, I still have a few days like that here and there!), I always felt incredibly behind, I rarely ever got enough sleep, and the house was often near disaster.

In the past five years, I’ve made huge strides in my organizational skills, my personal self-discipline, and in setting up more structure and routine for our days. There are 5 principles we follow that have helped us to find our groove, simplify our lives, and have better order in our days:

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#1: Touch It Once

As I talked about yesterday, instead of moving papers and piles and clutter and stuff around from place to place, I’m a firm believer in touching things once.

If you pick it up, use it and put it away. If you get it out, put it away. If it’s trash, throw it out. If it’s a dirty plate, don’t just set it in the sink, rinse it out and put it in the dishwasher.

By dealing with dishes and trash and junk mail and papers immediately, you save yourself so much time in the long run. {If you missed my post on this principle yesterday, read it here.}

Now if I could just implement a Touch It Once system for my laundry, we’d be all set! The good news? I’ve stayed almost completely caught up on laundry for a WEEK. That’s massively huge for me — especially because we went on vacation and came back during that week!

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#2: Everyone Pitch In

If you are a member of our family, you are required to be an asset to our family. We want to raise our kids to be responsible adults, so that means we are working on training them to pitch in and carry their own weight as part of our family.

One way we do this is by having Non-Paid Chores and Daily Lists. Our kids know that this is what is expected of them and that there are consequences when they don’t do what is expected of them.

By all pitching in and working together, it makes our home run much more smoothly and it means that no one person is having to tackle the majority of the work involved in keeping our home clean and orderly. “Many hands make light work!”

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#3: Pick Up Twice A Day

This simple principle has made a world of difference in our home. I’m not exactly sure when it started, but I don’t plan to ever discontinue it!

Basically, in a nut shell, we aim to have our whole house picked up and company ready twice a day — this means all the main rooms all picked up, the kitchen cleaned up, the laundry started, the bathrooms clean, etc.

We usually have a household clean-up time right after breakfast when everyone does their morning chores, I work on the kitchen and laundry and oversee/inspect the kids’ work. Then, after dinner, we all work together to clean up again — this time with Jesse either overseeing the kids’ chores or helping with cleaning up the kitchen.

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#4: Stick With a Budget

From the beginning of our marriage, we’ve lived on a strict, written budget. This has simplified our lives, made decision-making so much easier, helped us in our communication as a couple, given us greater financial traction than we could have ever dreamed, and allowed us to be able to fulfill our heart passions to be givers.

If you’ve never had a written budget before, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Some people think that it would make life miserable. On the contrary, we’ve found that it simplifies life so much — we don’t have to worry that spending money in one area is going to hurt our ability to spend in another area because we’ve already pre-determined and designated money for all of our budget categories. In addition, it cuts down significantly on impulse purchases!


#5: Shop Less

The less you own, the less there is to clean, dust, and pick up. We don’t do much shopping — except mostly for groceries and some online shopping for necessities like clothes and household items.

Before heading out to shop, I encourage you to really ask yourself why you’re shopping. Do you have the money to buy the item? Can you make do with what you already have? Is there a better use for that money?

It’s long been said, “If you’re not content where you are, there’s a good chance you’re not going to be content where you think you want to be.” So instead of focusing on what we don’t have, for years we’ve made it our practice to focus on what we do have and to bloom right where we’re planted.

It’s amazing how this goes such a long way in curbing the “I wants” and the need to run out and buy something just to to buy something. Plus, the more we stay out of the stores, the less we are tempted to think we need to buy things we didn’t know we needed or didn’t know even existed!

5 Principles We Follow That Simplify Our Home

What principles help YOU simplify YOUR home? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Need Some Help Simplifying Your Life?

I’ve talked some about The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this week and I hope you’ve had a chance to check it out. It’s an AMAZING collection of resources — many that I’ve already read and benefited so much from and many more that I cannot WAIT to read myself!

There are so many great resources in this bundle, including:

You get all of these + many, many more ebooks, printables, ecourses, and free bonuses for just $29.97 total! That’s a steal!

Grab your copy of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle here. It’s only available until Monday so you’ll want to get it while you can!

Best of all, these are all ebooks — so they won’t bring any extra paper clutter into your home! :)


(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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“How we’re living for just $200 per month — all summer long!”

How we're living for just $200 per month

I’ve been so inspired by Lori from Moms By Heart over the years. Her post today on how their family of seven is paying for housing, utilities, water, garbage, cable, and internet for just $200 per month is really impressive.

Read her post all about how they are making RV living work for them and how they made the transition to this lifestyle over the past few years.

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How a Family of 4 Happily Lives in 700 Sq. Ft. Home


After I posted the guest post on Why I Like My Smaller House, Roni left a comment talking about how their family of 4 lives in a 650-square-foot home. I was intrigued and asked if she’d do a post on it sometime.

I loved the post she put together giving us a very thorough walk-through of their small home and how they make it work. It’s inspiring and if you are currently living in a small space or you are thinking of downsizing to a smaller space, be sure to read it here.

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When She Gets That Thing You Really Wanted


A number of months ago, I was approached by a large national magazine. They said they loved my blog and my writing and offered me a position as a monthly columnist.

I was stoked and thrilled.

You see, because I’m a blogger, the mainstream media often doesn’t view me as completely “legit”. So this opportunity not only made me feel so honored, I confess that there was part of me that felt like it would add some sort of stamp of credibility to me as a writer.

That by signing on the dotted line, I would become “official”. I would finally arrive as a “real writer” and I’d be respected by those in the media as a result.

While I only told a handful of people, I secretly was sort of gloating about it. I’d walk past the bookstore racks of magazines and think, “Someday soon, MY article is going to be in one of those every month.”


There was only one problem. When I started working on my first article, it felt flat. I re-did it again and again, but I just didn’t like it. And the editors at the magazine agreed.

They had me try again — this time from a completely different angle with a completely different type of voice. Again, it just wasn’t coming together like I wanted.

After weeks of going back and forth, I got a call one day from my editor at the magazine. It went something like this, “We love you. We love your blog. But our editor-in-chief is asking us to find someone to write this column who has more credentials. We’re so sorry and we hope we can work together some time in the future.”

With that phone call, my hopes and excitement about the doors this opportunity would open were deflated right on the spot. I wasn’t just disappointed, I also struggled with the fact that I was told I didn’t have enough credentials.

It stung and it caused old insecurities to surface and fester. Thoughts ran through my head and ate at me, “Why am I even writing in the first place? I can’t measure up to other writers. I mean, I couldn’t even write one simple article that this magazine asked me to!”

I thought I had mostly worked through these insecurities, but when the glossy magazine arrived in my mailbox announcing the new columnist for this magazine — the columnist who had more credentials than me — those feelings surfaced again.

I’ll be honest and admit that there were even a few thoughts running through my head like, “Really? That’s who they chose? Why her and not me? Am I not good enough? Are my ten years of blogging not enough to earn some credibility?”


I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to contentment and not wanting what someone else has, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. Probably some of you have struggled with jealousy, envy, and hurt at some point in the last few years, too.

Maybe your co-worker got the promotion that you really felt you deserved. Perhaps you’ve desperately been hoping and trying to get pregnant and your neighbor just complained about her aches and pains and difficulties in her own pregnancy.

Or, you’re working so hard to get out of debt and making so many sacrifices to do so and your sister keeps going on and on about the amazing trip they are planning to Disney.

Maybe you feel like you’ve done everything in your power to restore a crumbling marriage and it’s just not working and it hurts so much when your friend whines about her husband not helping her more often with the dishes. And you think, “I’d give anything to have your problems!”

You might be the mom of a special needs child who requires round-the-clock care and it feels like a knife in your heart when someone at church comments about how grateful they are that their baby was born healthy and strong.

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Whatever your season or circumstances, there’s probably someone in your life who has something you wish you had.

Instead of feeling like you got overlooked or that you didn’t make the cut or that you’re not good enough, instead of feeling frustrated or hurt or jealous or bitter, here are three strategies to help you process the disappointment and work through envy:*

1. Remind Yourself of the Truth

Your worth is not dependent upon what other people think of you, how much money you have, the position you have at work, how many people read your blog, or whether or not you get asked to participate in that opportunity.

Don’t buy into the belief that says you don’t have anything to offer. Don’t believe the lie that because you were passed over for that promotion or have chronic illness or struggle with infertility or are in a difficult marriage or are still single in your 40’s that you aren’t good enough.

The truth is: you are enough — exactly as you are. You have gifts and talents and unique perspective. You are the only YOU in existence.

The world needs your story. The world needs your gifts. The world needs you.

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2. Rejoice in Others’ Successes

This is sometimes hard to do. I get it. When someone gets the very thing we were wishing and hoping for, the last thing we want to do is be happy for them.

But there’s so much joy in being committed to being a cheerleader versus being a criticizer. There are plenty of opportunities to go around. And honestly? Sometimes the very thing we want so badly is actually the thing that could end up wrecking our life — or at least making things really difficult.

For me personally, not getting the magazine column gig was humbling. And it was such a needed — and good! — reminder that I have so much already. I want to be grateful for my current opportunities instead of spending time wishing I had something more.

Plus, I think the opportunity would have caused me to have too big of a head. Having it taken away from me knocked me down a notch and back to reality. There are many others who are much more qualified and credentialed than me and I want to rejoice that they are getting these opportunities. They’ve worked hard and their hard work is paying off.

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3. Remember What Really Matters

Sometimes, we get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget to take a step back and look at the big picture. What’s really going to matter in 25 years from now?

At the end of my life, is it really going to make a huge difference that I had a monthly column in a large magazine? Probably not. But it is going to matter that I invested time and effort into loving my children and nurturing them.

Not getting this additional opportunity frees up time every month that I could spend with my family. It also frees up brain space to devote to other projects. And it relieves me of the stress of pressing deadlines and meeting the demands of an editorial staff with high expectations.

Someday, another similar opportunity might come my way. And if it does, going through this experience and learning these lessons will better enable me to think carefully and prayerfully about what is best for my schedule, for our family, and most importantly, for my own heart.

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*Update: One commenter felt hurt that some of these didn’t apply to her struggle with infertility and I realized I should have made an important note on the post and points. I can’t cover every single struggle or situation in one short post and what applied to me in my situation won’t necessarily apply to you in your situation.

The last thing I want to do is cause further pain and hurt, so please know that not all of the points or suggestions would be applicable to every situation. However, I hope that hearing how I struggled through these things and processed them might give you some encouragement and perspective as you work through your own situations.

{Hugs!} to all of you who are hurting and struggling right now. My heart aches for you.

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Gretchen’s Walgreens Shopping Trip: Spent $4.69 out-of-pocket


Walgreens Shopping Trip

Transaction #1

1 Pull-Ups Flushable Wipes – $1.99 (Buy 1, Get 1,000 points)
Used $1/1 printable

Total with tax ($0.14): $1.13, Received 1,000 Balance Rewards Points (like $1)

Transaction #2

1 Windex & 1 Shout – $3 each (Buy 2 participating items, Get $2 Register Rewards)
Used 2 $1.50/1 printable
Submitted for 2 separate $1 rebates on Checkout 51

1 Felt Door Hanger – Marked down to $0.09 (My son loves doing crafts and I’ve been on the lookout for cheap things like this to keep him busy. You can’t beat $0.09!)

Redeemed 1,000 Balance Rewards Points from Transaction #1

Total with tax ($0.44) after coupons, points and rebates: $0.53, Received $2 Register Rewards

Transaction #3:

3 Garnier Fructis Hair Care – 3/$10 (Buy 3, Get 3,000 points)
Used 3 $2/1 coupon from the 3/1 RedPlum insert

1 Finger Paint Cards – Marked down to $0.29 (filler item)

Used $2 Register Rewards from Transaction #2

Total with tax ($0.74) after coupons and Register Rewards: $3.03, Received 3,000 Balance Rewards Points (like $3)

Total for all transactions: $4.69, Plus 3,000 points leftover

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