Minimalism + a Toddler: Multi-Use Items

My favorite multi-purpose items!

One of the best things we’ve done in an attempt to have a more minimalist lifestyle is to review what we own and decide if there’s a more efficient way it could be used or if multiple things could be replaced by one item.

Here are four items we love and intentionally chose because of their functionality!

LIVING ROOM COUCH + STORAGE + GUEST BED 7516777776-IMG-2791 (1)7516777776-IMG-2790 (1)

I love our couch. We used to have a large couch and loveseat set from IKEA that took up our entire living room when we lived in Madison. We decided to look for something that made more sense in smaller spaces and opted for this couch + our yellow wingback chair.

I picked this one out based on the look but when I realized it pulls out for an easy guest bed – I was sold. It’s also fun for movie nights since there’s plenty of room for the whole family and then it’s a super easy clean up when you’re done!

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The chaise provides easy-access storage for games, blankets, and spare bedding.We also have two twin air mattresses that we store in the chaise – it stores an impressive amount of stuff! When we have guests over everything we need is right there IN the couch and it goes right back in the morning. Easy setup, easy clean up!

CUTTING BOARD + COLANDER

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After buying three sets of cutting boards in four years this was one area I thought we could use some serious improvement in. Why have a small, medium, and large cutting board when you can honestly just use one large cutting board for ALL your needs?

I happily parted ways with our multiple cutting boards when I found this beauty on Amazon! And yes, we got rid of our colander as well. The collapsible colander works great standing on it’s own but it also locks into place so you can use the cutting board over your sink and rinse what you need to right there. And so far, it hasn’t been a problem to just have ONE cutting board.

CALVIN’S DRESSER + HAMPER + CHANGING TABLE

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Mr. Layland actually picked this out, I took some convincing but I’m glad we went with it. We knew that we were going to use a dresser as Calvin’s changing table so we could use it long-term but this design is more functional than we were originally looking for and it’s been awesome!

I use the right basket as his clothes hamper, two of the drawers hold his clothes, the bottom drawer holds extra wipes, his second set of sheets, and spare towel. The top drawer is where I keep all his diapers, lotion, hygiene items, socks, etc. The left basket currently stores his blankets and any 2T/3T clothes we have.

SORTING HAMPER + IRONING BOARD

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We got this hamper when we moved to Hoboken and it has been exactly what we needed. We chucked our ironing board and old broken hampers and fell in love with this sturdy bad boy. I can’t say enough good things about it…and if you’re in a similar situation to us I would seriously consider adding it to your home!

It actually comes with three baskets…but a certain someone got into one of the baskets and ripped one of the sides from top to bottom. So that’s currently in the “fix this” pile.

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The baskets have super strong handles so the individual bags are well supported from the top and they are easy to carry when doing laundry. My biggest concern when we decided to order it was the shape of the ironing board. Since the traditional ironing board comes to a point at the end I was worried this wouldn’t be as functional – but it’s been fine! The wheels lock into place so it’s sturdy and sits where it’s supposed to.

 

So that’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

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Minimalism + a Toddler: Where to Start

If you’ve ever felt like it’s impossible to keep your home clean and you’re wondering why you have so much stuff — this is for you. And honestly it’s for everyone but especially for those with little ones at home!

Right before we moved to Hoboken we watched “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” on Netflix and I realized this was the answer I had been looking for.

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Watch it! If you only have 10 min check out this TED Talk featuring Maura Malloy for a quick rundown on living simply.

Most of what I’ve watched and read on minimalism is created by singles, married couples without children, or by one couple with children in grade school. Which left me empty-handed in my search for how to live a minimalist lifestyle with a toddler at home.

So here’s how we’re doing it!

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WHERE WE STARTED: Clothes. A big inspiration for me has been Jennifer L. Scott who lived in Paris as a foreign exchange student and wrote a book about what she learned from the family she lived with about always looking your best with a small, high-quality wardrobe. We got rid of any clothes we hadn’t worn in the past year, anything with holes, and anything that we didn’t fit into anymore. We’ve gone through our clothes a few times over the past two years and gotten more serious about getting rid of things each time. Eventually we decided to develop capsule wardrobes so that’s what we’re in the process of putting together right now – even for Calvin.

Having a capsule wardrobe for your kids means they can get themselves dressed and no matter what they put on – it’ll coordinate! It means less decision confusion – that feeling you get when you’re staring into your closet and think you have nothing to wear – because all of your clothes will go together and you’ll love each piece you have.

It also means less laundry! Wahoo!

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Calvin’s tops go in the second drawer and his bottoms and pajamas go in the third drawer. That’s it!  He wears 75% of his clothes every week and I don’t feel like I’m wasting space with those clothes kids never wear. The right basket is his laundry hamper so it’s super convenient when I’m changing him.

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RULE OF THUMB FOR TODDLERS: Designate a space for toys. Toys can take over your home if you let them, which is why I’m SO glad we’re working towards minimalism while Calvin is still young. We don’t keep any toys in the living room — all of Calvin’s toys stay in his room and have a place to go. We bring them out to the living room to play sometimes but they always go back before naptime/bedtime.

For the most part, we’ve been trying to limit his toy collection to the two white bins at the bottom of his bookcase and his books to the shelf above it. We went through his toys before Christmas and I set aside anything that was either no longer age appropriate or items he didn’t play with as often. We were in a really good place…and then we had Christmas! We had a wonderful holiday and enjoyed our time with family but I had to go back to the drawing board to figure out if and where to keep everything.

It happens more often than I’d like but it’s always good to assess where you’re at on a journey and look for ways to improve along the way.

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We gifted the kitchen + play food to Calvin this year for Christmas and he absolutely loves it! It’s been a great new addition that’s added value to his imagination play and I love seeing him cook and be more interested in helping me in our kitchen.

His closet is currently housing a shallow bin of Duplos, two puzzles, his grey/white teepee, this IKEA rug for driving his cars on and a puppet that Mr. Layland couldn’t live without named Pedro – he’s teaching Calvin Spanish 🙂 Right now this works for us but I’m considering a roll-out bin that will fit under his crib for those toys.

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THE BEST PART: Having less to keep up with! Even when Calvin pulls out ALL of his books and toys from his bins (like he did last week) it takes less than 5 minutes to clean it all up. It’s helping him really use the toys he has and helping us both have less stress in our lives. So far it’s working really well and he’s a fantastic picker-upper!

THE HARDEST PART: Gifts. You control what you bring into your home but you can’t always control what others give you. We’re doing our best to ask for things our entire family can enjoy, things we need, or experience-based gifts. Despite a few bumps in the road I think it’s going pretty well so far!

So that’s where we’re at in this journey towards minimalism with a toddler!

If there is something specific you’re curious about please leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to fit it into a future post! I’d also love any ideas you’ve tried and love!

How to Love Your Tiny Apartment

After living in Arizona for a few years I needed a change of pace (and weather) and that’s how we ended up in New Jersey! We lived in Madison for a year and a half in a small 1 bedroom + den and really enjoyed it but we ended up in Hoboken or NYC most weekends and loved the idea of an urban lifestyle.

We casually looked at apartments for a full year in the Hoboken/Jersey City area because when Brandon and I go apartment hunting we go full-on HGTV. We make pro-con lists, do a TON of research, and talk each other’s ears off about each one we see. By some miracle we find apartments that work for both of us and eventually we found this apartment in Hoboken! We saw it in the last week of June and by Aug 1 we were all moved in and thrilled with our new home.

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Everything I read about urban living said the lack of square footage could be made up in great natural light + high ceilings. Since I spend a good portion of the day at home with Calvin and I also work remotely, having those two things made the top of my list! I love the light we get through our windows every morning, it makes everything feel fresh.

I fell in love with this apartment the moment we stepped through the doorway and by the time we made it to the second bedroom we were both sold.

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It’s been the perfect fit for all three of us!

The high ceilings and windows make our limited space feel surprisingly open. It’s exactly what we needed and even on those cloudy, rainy days (or maybe especially on those days) I’m so glad we found a home with such wonderful light.

If you’re in the market for a tiny apartment, here’s my two cents: don’t let limited space scare you! Find a place with high ceilings and great natural light and hopefully you’ll love your home as much as we love ours.

 

So, that’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

Happy New Year!

 

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In the last few weeks of 2017 I excitedly pondered what goals I would set for the coming year. For the first time in my life I felt thrilled by the idea of setting goals to change my life and make it what I want. Don’t get me wrong – I love my life – and my goals are nothing drastic but the overall mindset and momentum behind my goal setting was unprecedented.

Here’s what did it for me: The Compound Effect and The Minimalists.

If you haven’t read The Compound Effect, you really should. Long story short: picture the life you’ve always dreamed of and set goals today that will get you there. This idea isn’t revolutionary but the details in the book guide you to make the most effective physical and mental changes so that those dreams can become a reality much sooner!

Keep in mind, that dream life is probably not hiding right around the corner – it will take a lot of work. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be happy while we pursue that dream.

“The happy life is not ushered in at any age to the sound of drums and trumpets. It grows upon us year by year, little by little, until at last we realize that we have it. It is achieved in individuals not by flights to the moon or Mars, but by a body of work done so well that we can lift our heads with assurance and look the world in the eye. Of this be sure: You do not find the happy life…you make it.”

Thomas S. Monson

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The less we negatively compare our lives to the lives of other people, the happier we’ll be! And believe it or not – the less we HAVE the happier we’ll be. If you have Netflix check out The Minimalists documentary, it’s life-changing. While I don’t think all of my belongings will ever fit into one suitcase, the idea behind it is what I’m working towards.

If you limit what clothes and household items you have, you limit the choices you have to make and the mess you have to clean. Instead of having five $10 shirts you sort of like you can have one $50 shirt that you love, looks amazing on you, and will last. And who doesn’t want to easily get dressed in the morning, always look fabulous, and have less to clean?! Less laundry and less clutter = more time and more of what you love with the ones you love.

Nothing makes me happier than being a mother and the entire package of life that comes with it. Now, that’s not to say that it isn’t hard – it is – but each day is a chance to start fresh and do better than the day before! And who would not love to be kissing this little face instead of doing laundry and cleaning?!

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I have several goals set for each aspect of my life but they all come together for the one goal of making the happy life I want with the ones I love. I hope yours do too!

Happy New Year!

 

 

PC: LW Photography