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Category: Around Our Home

Why I Took My Kids Clothes Away

There wasn’t usually a day that went by that didn’t start with tears. Either their favourite shirt was in the laundry or the third pair of pants they tried on didn’t feel right. With numerous outfits being tried and tossed aside on any given day, I would find dresser drawers spewing with unfolded clothes and of course the pyjama drawer was now filled with socks, hoodies and the odd t-shirt. Not to mention finding freshly folded clothes in the depths of the dirty laundry hamper! Something had to give. So when my ¬†favourite, Jen Hatmaker wrote about reducing her wardrobe for a month, I latched on to the concept.

 

I sent each of the kids into their rooms with a garbage bag, a rubbermaid tote and a good attitude! ūüôā ¬†The garbage bag was to put all the clothes they no longer wanted, that we could donate to our local thrift shop. ¬†The tote was to put clothes they liked and thought maybe they would wear again, but likely wouldn’t need for the next month. ¬†The goal was to end up with seven outfits in their drawer. ¬†These seven outfits would get them through the next month. ¬†I was to hear no whining, arguing or complaining about clothing choices over the course of the month. ¬†If I heard complaining, I told them I would extend our “clothing fast.” ¬†It was a big job. ¬†If you decide to take on this task with your children, allow an hour or two per child. ¬†Once our project of sorting and organizing was complete all three of the girls had seven outfits each in their drawer. ¬†All three felt accomplished. ¬†They could see what was in their dresser and closet now. I believe that a huge stressor was removed from their daily decision making because we narrowed down the choices they had.

 

Once they had their clothes organized I headed into my closet and narrowed down my wardrobe as well.  I picked a pair of black yoga pants and a hoodie, a pair of black jeans and a grey t-shirt from one of my favourite adoption organizations.  I also chose 3 blouses, a pair of leggings and 2 pairs of skinny jeans.  The rest of my clothes got moved to the farthest corner of my closet.  I was nervous about my selection but was bound and determined not to be a prisoner to my clothing.

 

Well yesterday was the end of our clothing fast. ¬†I was allowed to choose anything in my closet to wear. ¬†I stood in front of my clothes for almost 10 minutes. ¬†I pulled several outfits out of my closet and ended up with a huge mess on my bed. ¬†So not only did I waste 10 minutes finding something to wear, I also had 10 minutes worth of work cleaning up the mess I had created. ¬†So I learned something. ¬†My clothes waste my time, my thoughts and my energy. ¬†I have decided that I will choose another handful of outfits for the month of April. I don’t need choice. ¬†I need clothes in my closet that I know for certain I will wear. ¬†I’m certain, I won’t keep the same outfits in my closet from last month as I am quite sick of them at this point! Haha!

 

My girls have been dressing each day with ease. ¬†The mountain of laundry I am faced with each week has turned into a hill. One declared today that she doesn’t want her clothes back because it made her room too ¬†messy. Another said she thought it was simpler to have fewer clothes in her drawer and the other is begging me to get the totes out of the garage so she can fill her closet back up! ¬†We are going to get the totes out and we are going to go through them again. ¬†The outfits we didn’t miss are going to be given away, and the ones we remember and think we will wear this month will be put back into the drawers. ¬†It is my goal to end up with 14 outfits. ¬†That should be plenty. ¬†It will give the kids plenty of outfits for play and special days but will also be a manageable number or items in their dressers.

 

If you ever felt overwhelmed by the laundry, the untidy dressers, or the time and tears wasted on deciding what to wear, I strongly recommend working with your child to choose 6 or 7 outfits. ¬†Be sure to choose outfits that fit and feel right and your child is certain to wear in a month. ¬†Same goes for you mom! ¬†Narrow down your wardrobe. ¬†You don’t have to get rid of all of your clothes, but chose 6 or 7 outfits for yourself that you find yourself gravitating to most days. ¬†choose outfits that feel comfortable but also be sure to pick something that you can wear out for dinner or a coffee date with a friend. ¬†I dare you to try it for a month. ¬†Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself. I didn’t realize how much time I spent on my wardrobe until I had gone with a smaller one. ¬†I think when I go shopping, I’ll give my purchases more thought. ¬†If I don’t think I could where it every week, I likely won’t buy it.

 

Let me know what you think.  Would you try something like this?  If you have done an experiment like this before, were you able to stick with a limited wardrobe, or is your closet jam packed again?

 

Day 20

 

We are twenty days into our 30 day, no sugar challenge, and let me tell you that it feels great to have stuck with the plan. ¬†There have been a few slips along the way like the three restaurant meals we had while out of town for the weekend, or the night hot chocolate was served at a skating party; but for the most part I can say we have followed the “rules.”

 

 

 

Here are the top 5 Reasons eating whole has been good for our family:

  1. ¬†The mood swings and energy levels have improved for all of us. ¬†I am seeing better concentration levels in the kids and I’m not feeling so exhausted when the afternoon rolls around.
  2. The kids are not constantly asking for snacks.  I often have a tray of fruits or veggies out on the counter.  They walk by and munch as they please.  In the past I think the kids would have a sugar crash and feel tired and sluggish in the afternoon.  We would try and repair that feeling with snacks, like sweetened yogurt, crackers or muffins and cookies, which would lead to another sugar fix and then a crash.  
  3. Nobody is begging to go through a drive thru, every time I get behind the wheel of my car. ¬†It’s true, I would often grab a coffee on my way to wherever and the kids would all pitch in their orders for a drink or snack. ¬†Now I bring my coffee from home and no one is hounding me for a treat… it’s sweet relief mamas!
  4. My bank account is thanking me. ¬†I’m not spending unnecessary dollars on treats and drinks, which quickly adds up to a regular expense. ¬†We are also meal planning 90% of our meals, so left overs are being eaten and there is much less food waste at the end of a week, which means more dollars in my bank account.
  5. We are eating to fuel our bodies, rather than fill a void or satisfy a craving which also means my jeans are fitting better and the guilt of eating poorly is disappearing.

This is just the beginning for our family. I have been deeply touched by Jen Hatmaker’s book “7.” ¬†The book is described, as a “call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends a social experiment to become a radically better existence.” ¬†Cutting back on treats and sugars this month has been a tipping point. It’s made us realize that cutting back is doable. ¬†It has clued me in to the fact that we have and consume too much and we’re prepared to make a shift! ¬†I keep telling the kids that this experiment is about to get RADICAL. ¬†We’ll see how radical they feel next month as they figure out what 7 article of clothes they want to wear for an entire month!!!

As Jen wrote the book, some of her friends took part in certain aspects of the experiment. ¬†We’d love to have company and accountability on this journey, and would welcome you and your family along for the ride! ¬†Be blessed my friends.

 

xox MELISSA 

 

(here is the link to 7, if you are looking for an excellent read and a challenge )

Living with Less, A Minimalist Approach to Food

I just finished watching Minimalism. ¬†If you haven’t seen it on Netflix, I would recommend that you check it out. ¬†There are so many areas in our lives it seems, that we live with excess. ¬†So I’ve cleaned my closet, we’ve donated toys and clothes and I’ve hauled bags of garbage out of our space.

Over the holidays I made the announcement for everyone to brace themselves, because we were getting our eating habits back on track.  I thought I would hear moans and groans, but instead I heard whoops and hollers.  You see, we had been down this road before.  We all know the many benefits to eating better.

So with the cupboard purged and meals planned,¬†¬†I started re-reading¬†7, by Jen Hatmaker. ¬†Jen “felt trapped in a machine of excess.” ¬†so she, along with some friends and her family decided to give up seven areas of excess in their lives. Over the course of seven months, she gave up things like food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste and stress. ¬†It seemed that what Jen was saying touched my heart and I’ve felt compelled to try this same experiment. ¬†So I presented the concept to my husband and the ¬†kids. ¬†“How would you guys feel if we fasted from some specific foods for a few weeks?” I asked. ¬†At this point the whole gang is onboard.

Jen reduced her diet down to 7 items for the month. ¬†They included: whole wheat bread, avocados, spinach, eggs, chicken breasts, sweet potatoes and apples. ¬†Because of such a restrictive diet Jen’s kids weren’t part of this experiment. ¬†I want to be able to embrace this culture of living with less with our kids and so our diet will be much less restrictive.

We have decided to give up sugar and processed food for one month. This means no sweetened yogurt, no fruit juices, no desserts of any sort, no sugary drinks. ¬†We won’t eat any chips, fried food or pre-packaged snacks. For one month, we will say no to the food that is excessive. ¬†We’ll say, no thank you, to food that doesn’t nourish our bodies. ¬†As I’ve read 7, and watched the Minimalist, I’ve realized that there are so many areas in our life that are out of control, but by taking ¬†small steps towards a much larger problem, we will slowly be able to transform our bodies, our minds and our souls.

As we go through this month of fasting or living without some of the excess I will blog about it. ¬†I’m going to let you know about the highs and lows. ¬†I’ll keep you posted about how my kids are doing and what we learn along the way. I’d also love it if some of you chose to come along. ¬†Message me here or on FB to let me know if you want to be part of this experiment.

Some of you may think I’m crazy, to even try such an experiment. ¬†But I want to be a good crazy, a content crazy. I want my kids to stop asking for more, in order to find the next great thing. ¬†I want my focus to be on people and relationships, not on where we are going for dinner. ¬†So we’ll begin here. ¬†After a few posts on eating whole foods, I feel like our diet is a good place to start.

 

As in previous days, I have included the link to 2 of the books I am working through right now. 

  (This is the second 100 Days of Real Food) We have enjoyed a few recipes from this book this week and they all have been a hit!

10 Simple Ways to Get Started

So you’ve decided that you’d like to enjoy more whole foods, but in all honesty the thought of getting started is just too daunting. ¬†Let’s remember that this is going to be a process or a journey not a sprint. ¬†Over time you will learn what works and doesn’t work for your household and adjust accordingly. ¬†Today I am going to highlight 10¬†ways to get you started.

1> Meal Plan: recipes are at your finger tips with the world wide web.  Start searching real food and whole food family friendly recipes and you will come up with a multitude of recipes to try.  BUILD A GROCERY LIST from your meal plan, and stick to it!

2> Keep meals simple and straight forward. Don’t try recipes with complicated cooking instructions or a long list of not readily available ingredients.

3> Tackle an area of your kitchen that needs a “detox.” ¬†We started in the pantry. ¬†You will have to read labels! Anything that contains more than 5 ingredients, refined and modified sugars and enriched wheat flour should be pitched, or given away. ¬†Definitely get rid of any products that have ingredients in them that you cannot pronounce. ¬†We got rid of a lot of crackers, granola bars, canned soups and breakfast cereals. Next week we are moving to the fridge to purge all condiments, dressings and sauces that are loaded with sugar.

4> When you grocery shop, stick to the outside perimeter¬†of the store. ¬†There you will find your whole foods. ¬†Only cruise the aisles of the supermarket that have products you need on your list, like whole wheat pasta, cooking wine and vinegars, and raw nuts. Avoid “browsing.”

5> Prep fresh fruits and veggies the moment you get home from the grocery store.  Before you put food away in the fridge, prep it.  You are more likely to choose a healthy snack if it is at your fingertips and their is little to no effort involved before it can get into your mouth.  We wash and chop fruit and veggies, boil eggs and make veggie dips on grocery shopping day.

6> Involve your family. ¬†What I have learned is that my kids are far more likely to eat the food if they have had a hand in planning and preparing it. ¬†For example my kids would not touch avocado until one day they decided to “make something.” ¬†Now, we’re all gobbling up a variation of guacamole because they created it themselves.

7> Take baby steps.  For us it started with no more granola bars and crackers for snacks and has evolved into consuming whole grain pasta and rice, getting rid of canned soups and not stocking up on diet sodas  when we are at the grocery store.

8> Don’t forbid processed food. ¬†There was a time in this that we had “forbidden foods” ¬†and when it was allowed, we would all just binge out! ¬†Rather, educate yourself and your kids on the value of whole foods, so that you can make responsible food choices when you crave a treat like ice cream or french fries.

9>  Equip your kitchen with gadgets that are going to make cooking easier and more fun!  Be sure to have a good  Knife Set ,  Rubber Spatulas,  Stainless Steel Fine Hand Whisk  for mixing homemade dressings and sauces, and a good supply of Parchment Paper, to make for quick and easy clean up!

10> Be thankful for the abundance of food choices we have at our fingertips and the healthy food options that are available.  I know first hand that not all people have access to proper nourishment.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. ¬†Are you in, or are you out? ¬†What are your plans moving forward with a whole food mindset?

Our family is about to embark on a one month¬†fast and I’ll share the details with you here on Friday. ¬†Be sure to subscribe to my page, so you don’t miss out!

Once again, I have included associates links to favourite products of mine.  I may receive a small commission if you choose to purchase any of these products, from my link.

In the Beginning: Learning about Real Food

I am going to begin by saying that this has been a slow and steady learning curve for our family.  We have worked hard to get rid of the chemicals in our home, with the cleaners we use, the laundry detergents, and personal hygiene products.  As we started to become more aware of the chemicals we were putting on our skin, I started to research what we were ingesting through our food as well.

We have come a long way in how we view food, but also know we have a long way to go yet. ¬†I have bought into many different diets, meal plans, tools to help me meet my goals, only¬†to fall off the bandwagon long before I see any results. ¬†Needless to say our real food journey has been just that, a journey. ¬†It has been a process of learning that “light” doesn’t mean healthy, what real food is and how to read labels.

I was the mom who bought skim milk, light dairy products, whole wheat crackers and vitamin enriched cereal thinking that I was helping my kids eat healthy. ¬†What I didn’t know was that as soon as food is processed, the nutrients and vitamins that were once in food are stripped away. ¬†Not to mention the dangerous addition of sugar, dyes and flavouring. ¬†If we are eating real, whole food, we don’t need to be buying “enriched food” because all the nutrients we need should naturally be found in our diet.

Let’s talk about dairy products for a moment. ¬†I was stuck because I didn’t want the extra calories of the full fat milk, but I was learning that the overly processed skim milk may not be as healthy for our bodies. ¬†When the fat is removed from the milk it is believed that your gut is not able to as easily digest the fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin D, A and E. ¬†Full fat milk is also lower in lactose because it does not have the milk solids that skim will have. ¬†So when we switched to full fat dairy products, I began to notice that our daughter who had suffered from eczema, began to show even fewer symptoms. Was it possible that some of her skin irritations were due to a lactose sensitivity? ¬†If you are looking for weight control, it is still suggested to go with skim milk, because of it’s higher protein and fewer calories. ¬†But for my kids, neither of which were¬†a concern, we opted to make the switch to full fat milk, cheeses and yogurt.

I grabbed my cookbooks and started to meal prep one day. ¬†So many of my recipes called for a can of mushroom soup for this, ¬†or a package of onion soup mix in that. ¬†Something didn’t sit right with me. ¬†I couldn’t even pronounce most of the ingredients on the ingredient list, and the list was long. ¬†What I was learning, was that ingredients that said “modified” meant that a food was heavily processed and changed from its natural state. ¬†Items like MSG, didn’t have to be called MSG. ¬†It hides in the ingredient called “flavouring.”

It was like an epiphany! I opened my pantry and started reading labels. ¬†Most packages, contained “modified” ingredients, “enriched wheat flour” ¬†dyes and colours,and were “vitamin enriched.” ¬†Without further adieu I began to box up all the food that I no longer wanted to feed my family. ¬†I began to question what our body would do with ingredients that weren’t real and wholesome?

Let me stop here and say, our family still eats out. My kids on occasion like to try the microwavable meals and cook up a box of KD. ¬†But guess what? They often comment after eating highly processed food how much more they enjoy real food. ¬†They are also recognizing that whole food is far more satisfying. ¬†They don’t get hungry as often eating a whole food, balanced diet and they need less food to fill them up.

In my quest to find new recipes that were quick and simple to prepare I landed on this,¬†100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love. I have really enjoyed reading about this family’s commitment to change their eating habits and the simple, uncomplicated fashion that she presents her research.

I was finding that I was overcomplicating my time spent in the kitchen. ¬†I believed that healthy¬†recipes had many steps, odd ingredients I wouldn’t typically purchase, and were often quite pricey to create. ¬†As my research continued I realized that I most certainly did not have to cook this way for our family to be eating real, wholesome food. ¬†Somewhere through my parenting journey, I had forgotten that.

Jen Hatmaker in her book¬†7, says, “Maybe food simplification is a good idea for all of us, and for more than one reason. ¬†Spiritual clarity, and health come to mind. ¬†Waste reduction and time management and financial responsibility and gratefulness deserve some line space too, There are other things, but that’s a decent start list.”

Stay tuned  this week, as I highlight some simple habits to help you in the kitchen and share some goals we have set for the new year, including a sugar and processed food fast.

I have included links to the two books that I referenced in this article. They are affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if purchased through these links.

100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love

7¬† ¬† ¬†(Jen Hatmaker’s book that I will be touching on, as we go through our fast)