Our toy situation was mayhem at BEST. We had two large heavy fabric bins when we first moved in, one held books and one held toys. They were both stuffed to the heaping, spilling over brims. I would ORGANIZE AND REORGANIZE AND REORGANIZE their toys but I finally realized that when the issue is TOO MUCH JUNK, organization isn’t the solution!
The fun for my then 10 month old and 2.5 year old wasn’t playing with any of them, it was dumping each bin out and kicking, tossing, and hurling everything from them the length of our living room, with a few landing in the adjoining dining room.
I was 6 months along with our third around this time, and got in a mood one night after bed time. So much toy clutter was the source of a lot of my frustrations, whether it was misbehavior with it all, crawling on hardwoods pregnant to pick it all up, stepping on it, scuffling through it, the baby falling over it, and feeling really ick that I couldn’t seem to ever create a space that felt peaceful and homey and welcoming to both myself hanging out here all day being a one car family, and to my husband after a long 12 hour day.
I got three trash bags full. 2 were trash, broken down toys that were cheapy junk, 1 for Goodwill, and then an assortment of toys to be put in a large plastic tote that I knew they still loved and could pull out with the intention to rotate toys.
You know that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH power that just comes and radiates through your body when you’ve had it? Maybe it was Jesus, maybe it was my patience level bursting through my weak maternity pant seams but I WAS DONE.
I had no idea what to expect when my 2.5 year old woke up the next day, since he was the only one I figured would notice if something was missing.
Do you know what happened? Peace. They had less to play with, but there was no fighting, no dumping out of anything, it was glorious. I think it’s because they weren’t OVERWHELMED with options and chaos. They actually played! With what they had! We were all SO MUCH HAPPIER!
They also got more creative! I have a bone to pick with having too many toys that DO something because I think it’s less for my children to figure out, does that make sense? So in taking away a lot of their options, they’re forced to invent new ways of playing which I think is wonderful for their little minds.
And! They want to read more books!!!! With so much to overwhelm them, books tend to take the back seat as an option for entertainment. I love being brought a book and will take all of the chances I can to read to them!
That was 20 months ago. Since then, about once a month I do this. Toys get brought down from upstairs, in from outside, the Play Doh toys get mixed in, etc. It gets hectic.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that any toy that’s a “set” LEGOs, Squigz, Bristle Blocks, big shape magnets etc. get all mixed in together every single day, and then they don’t get played with, but when I make it a point to keep them separated out they do.
Today was one of the toy sorting days and it pained me, but I had to throw away a lot of books that the puppy had chewed up. I caught him climbing the toy storage unit and getting them down! Lots had pages missing, or were icky. I’m not a hoarder, but I think it’s criminal to toss a book out! It had to be done though. RIP Goodnight Moon!
I start the process by taking every single thing out, and giving the storage unit a good wipe down. (Why are there crumbs in it!!? Always!) Then I make 2 piles-trash, and things that need to go up into the rotation bin upstairs. Then I wipe down any dirty toys or books with a rag while making note if this particular toy is one they are into right now or not. If yes, back in the toy area it goes. If no, rotation bin.
Something I do to try to be more proactive instead of reactive, is making it a point to do this before any birthdays or toy heavy holidays which if you’re my mother is all of them! And then when we do get toys that are gifts, half are put up to bring out one by one as time goes on and half are put into the toy section. Recently, we’ve expressed to family that we appreciate so much their desire to give generously, but that EXPERIENCES trump toys for gifts for us!
So, we are headed into Labor Day weekend with the entire rest of the house torn up (more on the Home reno sitch later) but at least our toys are minimized and I can breathe easy for a couple of weeks!
P.S. If you’re digging my toy storage, here is the scoop! After a year of searching for a better toy set up, I scoured the Facebook Marketplace section for a month and scored this awesome Land of Nod 2 piece storage unit (I’m not being paid or compensated to mention this store) SIX YEARS OLD!!! but in awesome shape. It fits perfectly by our fireplace, and I’ve got it set up with one bin per child, books in one shelf, and whatever else on the second. I can see this piece being used for many purposes as it grows with us!
Before and After!
I have never bothered looking for a budgeting journal because nothing ever fit the way my mind does things. Everything always has too many lines for this area and not enough for that area. Some budget books are super cute, but expensive. But I don’t have any desire to spend money on a journal that might not work for me.
My mom, bless her, knows I love to write and buys me about 4 blank hard bound journals a year so I have stashes of them. I grabbed one on January 3rd of this year determined to bring order and a system to our despicable financial chaos. Things weren’t good. Neither of us knew the due dates of bills and both of us had kind of resigned to just throwing some away without opening them because it was overwhelming. REALLY immature and shameful to admit that this is where we were as a couple, but to date we’ve paid off roughly $18,000 so God has used that embarrassment to motivate us to live a different lifestyle!!
Have you you heard of Dave Ramsey!? I took an enrichment class in high school where we learned his principles for an entire trimester and while I never applied them until 10 years later, I’ve never forgotten his snowball method. In January of 2017, a year ago, we thought about doing his 7 steps to financial freedom, which I’ll expand on in another post, but because I’m so extreme and Ryan is so balanced, we never could agree on anything. In January of THIS year, we said okay. Enough is enough. Let’s give ourselves plenty of space to LIVE, but let’s kick the debt and live a financially free life!
SO FOR THE PURPOSES OF BEING TACTFUL AND DISCREET, all numbers are fictitious. I just came upstairs to my bed and hammered out an exact replica of my budget journal with numbers I made up.
Im honestly giddy about posting this because it has helped us so much, so let’s dive in!! The first picture I posted is what you’d see if you opened up my budget book, different numbers of course. But I have it laid out to make sense to me and so that my husband can open it and it is clear what is due on which date and how much. Very straight forward.
The second page is helpful with all account information and phone numbers or websites so that I can sit down each pay day and pay anything I can that is due in a two week time period, since I budget bi-weekly for us. Usually, I strap the kids into their car seats and drive around until the baby falls asleep, pull in somewhere for a few French fries and turn on the DVD player in the minivan so that I’m able to make my calls in peace.
I went ahead and wrote down every single pay date Ryan has (they aren’t the 1st and 15th of each month but for ease and speed in making this post I did that). Depending on whether or not he has overtime, his pay can change and I’ll write down what he made. This helps for two things, 1. when I make my bi-weekly budget, I can easily find from when-to-when the budget needs to be written for. 2. I can keep track of the income without having to search through my bank app or print statements. I also like having any work bonus or tax refund jotted down for reference.
The next page is all of the expenses that I know are going to happen each year, but that aren’t going to be monthly. Having an easy reference to them all allows me to jot myself a note in my budget: remember to save $$ for xyz next month. It’s amazing how scatter brained I can be about forgetting things that really add up. We pay $200 to get our taxes done every February, so in my REAL sinking fund list, I’ve got that. I’d probably forget all about it until the day came if it wasn’t in there.
I have all of my debts listed in ascending order because of how the snowball method works, BUT I also have whether or not something has interest or at which percent so that I can make a wise and informed choice about how I’m paying something off. This might not be Dave’s exact advice, and some people follow him to an absolute T, but for ME, I like to have it all in front of me about where my money will go next.
So the way I have things set up here is what I’m the most proud of sharing! How nerdy is it that this is probably not even that original, and that I’m really excited to share it!!!!
A monthly budget plan is something we wrote down a hundred times but never stuck to, and it’s because my husband’s paydays fall sometimes where we have an extra $xyz or sometimes we are way short $xyz. I buy groceries every week, and we get gas weekly, so this is something that works well in my head. That IS my real grocery budget however! Say what ya will! I ball out on groceries, sorry. The cable, electric, natural gas, and car insurance are real numbers too. My husband is in school, so we have internet/cable package that if we canceled the cable on would only knock the price down $18.
So I’ve got this set up by date, from when one paycheck is received to the day before the next paycheck hits our bank account. We technically DO live paycheck to paycheck I guess. Listen. We don’t have the best self control and are not just disciplined at saving money. If it’s there we tend to spend it. Save the lectures, we are getting there! This is what I have to do to prevent us from not having money in our account for a bill:
When the paycheck comes in, I do the French fry minivan thing where I pay every bill I can for the next two weeks, take out cash for groceries and gas. I check to see if this pay period is a week we are short or over so that I can plan next pay period accordingly. Let’s say it’s an “over” pay period. Then I might pick two or three bills from the next pay period and pay them. If not, I will take some money out and put it in a separate bank account where we keep our $1,000 emergency fund (EF) so it stays out of sight/mind until we need it. THEN I pay off debt with whatever is left leaving some fun money for us.
One big thing Ryan had, being a Marine and twice veteran of Afghanistan as well as a cancer survivor is that he didn’t want us to not enjoy life. He knows I get extreme and would maybe choose to pay off debt instead of taking the kids on a spontaneous zoo trip. There has to be balance. The Dave Ramsey Facebook groups are full of a variety of people ranging from PUT THE KIDS IN A CLOSET WITH BEANS AND RICE AND DONT TURN ON YOUR HEAT AND WALK THIRTY MILES FOR GROCERIES TO SAVE GAS OR BETTER YET DONT EAT to those who have found a lot of balance and good principles to apply. I think we have found that these principles are awesome to apply and are doing what works for us.
So I realize I didn’t explain the snowball method. First things absolutely first are your 4 walls. This means you need to be current on all payments, have food, clothes, gasoline etc for your family before you’re using any extra for debts. Next you’ve gotta have that $1,000 emergency fund somewhere so that when life happens AND IT DOES HAPPEN WHETHER YOU HAVE THE MONEY TO COVER IT OR NOT! You’re not stuck scrambling and throwing your electric payment at a broken window repair ( done that!)
THEN! You snowball babayyyy! You work that extra money you’ve got in your budget by paying the minimums due on all debts except that smallest guy, you’re gonna throw all your extra money at him, and once he’s paid for, you take his minimum due and all that same extra money you used to throw at him, and throw it at the next biggest guy.
Im really excited to share this on the off-chance anyone has a thinking cap like mine and has a desire to become debt free, I hope seeing this on paper helps!
It really does stink to be out that extra money each month that you could’ve used on amazon prime crap, but paying off debt is an amazing feeling.
I look forward to writing MANY more blog posts about the Dave Ramsey journey we’ve been on, through a Karbon filter.
And hey, $18,000 isn’t too shabby for 8.5 months, right???
My personality is chaotic. Super black or white. Fly by the seat of my pants. It’s tiring and frustrating and cyclical.
The last several years have felt like they happened TO me. Like I didn’t have a say and like I wasn’t an active participant in life, it was just going. And children were born, and a marriage happened, and more children came, and moves in and out of homes and towns were made, and to a point I was active in the little choices that led up to the bigger events, but it didn’t ever feel like things were in my grasp. Maybe another post would be best to dive into all of these details, but my life felt very unstable and like I could not stabilize it.
I now recognize that this thinking stunk and was part of my victimization mindset.
As a mom to 3, 3 and under, I often felt like I couldn’t have any order or routine while working some nights as a waitress and tandem nursing. Dinner always snuck up on me as a surprise event, which led to sporadic dinner times each night (why didn’t I consistently meal plan or prep or at least thaw a pound of burger out the night before so I had SOMETHING to work with??) the house was trashed by the end of the day (why didn’t I just pick it up as the day went on??) laundry was a whole situation. A hectic day a week of doing every clothing item when I realized there was nothing left for us to wear after digging in the family clothing heap. (Why didn’t I do laundry as it dirtied? Or put it away?) Bed time had me resentful toward my husband as I had put him in charge of putting our boy to sleep, and I corralled the tandem feeders for hours a night. Regularly recurring bills snuck up on us, and with no budget or discipline, our financials were a mess. Instead of dealing with my children’s behavior as communication, I played on my phone and threw snacks at them instead of helping their emotions.
This is all embarrassing to admit especially in the age of tearing every single person who is honest apart on social media, but at the same time I’m not in this place anymore, so I not only have zero judgment for another who is here, but I know it can be used to help someone!
I don’t have a lot of self-discipline. Lazy? Mental lethargy? Some critical childhood development thwarted? Lack of structure as a kid? Self-sabotage? I mean IDK. All of the above? A and C?
In all of my problems throughout life, I’ve focused solely on the cause or root, which while important for personal development and healing, has never served me as much as focusing on the solution does!
Here is what I did to help me become more intentional. I am not perfect but our lives have improved dramatically!!
Ask God to show you what in your life is out of order and unintentional. He loves you and wants to restore order from chaos.
2. 1 YEAR PLAN. 5 YEAR PLAN.
This would sound stupid to me if I read it a year ago. I hate stumbling upon anything that sounds like personal development life coach stuff when I am not in the mood to develop my personality. But it works because it helps you to bridge that gap of here to there because it begs the question, what do I need to do to get there?
This time last year, I desperately wanted my children to be sleeping by 7 each night and for us to get on a debt free plan. I wanted a tidier home, to be a better parent, and to gain control of my eating addiction.
3. IDENTIFY ROAD BLOCKS
So now that I know what I need to do...What is standing in the way of each of my goals? Getting my children all asleep by 7 required a new place for my girls to sleep as our fairly new home had the shared girls’ room on my “I’ll get around to it” list for fixing up. I cleared that baby out, had the carpet torn up, busted out tack strips, plastered and sanded, painted and had a local man whip up some cute toddler beds. It took about a month, but it freed up an area of stress for me when I envisioned bed time and how I wanted it to go. (More on this another day) I found a plain hard bound journal and began budgeting based on Dave Ramsey https://www.throughakarbonfilter.com/blog/how-i-set-up-my-budget-book
I took one or two days a weekend for a month and massively purged room by room on each floor, which helped the untidiness. (More another day!) I logged out of social media for 8 months to be more present for my children which helped their behavior immensely:https://www.throughakarbonfilter.com/blog/8-months-without-facebook
My eating has not been a real story of triumph yet, but I’m working on it. https://www.throughakarbonfilter.com/blog/8-months-without-facebook
4. WHAT IS YOUR MAIN SABOTEUR?
What is it about YOU that gets in the way of YOU? Realizing how you self sabotage can help all areas of your life. Try taking this test. What I really appreciate about this particular test is that it explains the original survival function of each saboteur. This can lead to serious healing! Ask God to help you recognize when you’re doing it, once you know! I’m NOT being paid or compensated to mention this website, by the way.
5. GUT IT OUT!
This is the hard part for someone like me who is so back and forth. This is where the WORK comes in. You have to actually do the things. Give yourself one at a time to work on so as not to become overwhelmed, and then do that thing for an amount of time you commit to. 10 days. Two weeks. Pray each morning for help, and have grace for yourself when you fall short. You can do it!!
Your experience could be different so if this doesn’t work for you, please share with me what does! Wishing you filters of intentionality!
I could kind of tell I needed to get off Facebook and never look back around Christmas time of 2017. I was posting in mom groups every day for the smallest inquiry instead of being self-sufficient and getting emotionally worked up by those who didn’t understand my question and hurled insults or presumptions.
I would get agitated at my children’s needs or desire to sit in my lap even while I was scrolling reading an article about how to be a better mom. I recognized the irony, but was also convinced if I deactivated my Facebook, I would feel lonely as a mostly stay at home mom to 3 tiny kids and miss out on some enriching reading.
The addiction was strong! Before my eyes adjusted to waking, I’d have my app opened to see who thought I was funny or had cute, sweet kids. I once ran a red light with my children in the van scrolling and I wish I could say it woke me up, but it didn’t. I am so terrified of the onslaught of comments I could receive for this admission that I may delete it before I hit publish. At night, I’d claim it was my “me time” and lay awake for several hours looking at mindless posts which exhausted me for my next morning’s job of corralling 3 toddlers. Which in turn led me to carb and junk loading for momentary energy.
I was scared to log off and feel alone with just me myself and 3 tiny kids, I take solace knowing anyone who is a mom would read that statement with complete understanding and zero judgement. Being a mom is a lonely job.
I decided to do a social media free 2018, and though I lasted 8 months instead of 12, I was able to log back on with a renewed attitude after I’d realized some things.
The first few months of having no social media were strange because it was like I’d wired my head to think in terms of posts. How can I phrase this unfortunate toddler mishap to be a funny mom life quip? On the one hand, I’d told myself that being raw and transparent and posting about real life was helping others. But on the other hand, it was hurting ME. Being so logged in, but so disconnected. I realized people’s lives were still happening without me sharing my best potty training tip in a funny take-it-from-me post. So getting my brain to think in a way that was not tailored for posting to social media was both freeing and rejuvenating. It was so tiring and I never saw it. I had this idea that because I did share so much that people were now entitled to EVERYTHING. Whether I wanted to share it or not, I felt an obligation and duty. Every snipet and low, I thought I owed it to the world.
I was beginning to have more patience with my children. I assume since I didn’t always having something important like scrolling Facebook to “get back to” and what’s MORE is that THEY didn’t seem so difficult...could my constant phone scrolling have caused them to ask for attention in less than preferable ways? YEP. 100%. There’s a direct causation effect in my home with the picking up of a phone whether to talk on or look at, and my children going wild.
The next couple of months I discovered that not only could we survive as a family without mom groups, but that I LIKED the silence and felt more connected than ever because I texted my friends and shared in depth things personally with them, just us, without posting something for tons of people uninvolved to be reading. And that was a relief to me because I knew whichever friend I was sharing with didn’t need me to preface my comments with a disclaimer about who I am even though I need to say this. They knew. They know me. It strengthened my existing relationships and it required some effort but was worth it.
As an amateur writer, I’d had things flowing through my head for years to write all the time, but during my season off social media I did not think of a single thing to write! Not one! And it was glorious. I was totally relaxed and free knowing that if God had given me the ability to write, He’d give me something to say when it was time to speak again.
The weekend before I logged back in, I took a ferry across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin by myself to visit a girlfriend for a girls weekend. On the top deck of that ferry with nothing to see but dark blue fresh water and light blue clear sky and wind so loud I couldn’t think was the most serene and unplugged experience of my life. I felt like I could BREATHE. It didn’t occur to me to take a picture until later when I saw others snapping selfies. I felt free in a lot of different senses and grateful.
Several family members missed seeing pictures of the kids and commented on it frequently, but I didn’t feel guilted into coming back on. I logged back on because I wanted to and felt ready. I deleted a lot of people I felt I needed to explain myself to constantly and unfollowed even more, so that when I am on, I am not comparing my life and also so that Facebook isn’t very interesting to me with only the posts of 12 people. But it also doesn’t unnerve me either or get me riled up. I left almost every group and unfollowed them all, leaving a couple up for searching recipes and remedies in.
As for the unnerving, I realized anything I read from another that gets me so upset and feels directed at me, was my insecurity being triggered. I never knew how insecure I am. How much my identity lies in things other than God. My husband loves me to the ends of the earth, but would never brag about me in a post so seeing women tagged in posts like that made me feel like I wasn’t as wonderful as them or had some improving to do before I earned a bragging post. Untrue. Lie from the pits. That was insecurity. A mom who had a perfectly tidy house made me feel like I couldn’t get my life together. How can she be on Facebook all day and still keep everything in order? Insecurity. Prettier women than me, smarter women than me, college graduates, mothers with 6 packs or any packs, nice hair, more style, I could spend the NEXT 8 months making posts that trigger my insecurity. But. Now I KNOW. God has shown me, and I can work on affirming who I am.
This blog post isn’t a finger pointing, or a shame thrower. No one owes me an explanation about how much or the why. Everybody has their own experiences with the way social media impacts them, this is just mine...through a Karbon filter.