The Tug of War between Real Life and Simplicity

It was Sunday afternoon, and the children were lost in the world of legos and mini figures and tiny cars downstairs. The top step creaked under my feet as I rounded the corner into our bedroom. Daniel was stretched out on the bed, textbook and computer spread out in front of him. His dedication to school and biology and the mystery of muscles and cells blows me away. The light by the nightstand is often on till the wee hours of the morning before his heavy eyelids win and he snaps the textbook closed.

I paused mid-room. The dresser drawers were shut but contained a hidden evil.
I knew the drawers of little girls clothes were jammed, a hopeless jumble of wadded shirts, leggings, and mismatched socks. Having clothes on their level is both a blessing of ease and a curse of chaos. The widowed sock issue has reached epidemic proportions around here lately. Oh the glory of winter boots, which hide the fact that one tiny foot is wearing a purple sock, while the other sports a hot pink one.
Tell me I am not alone in this secret plight.

I’d had enough. The drawer and all its horror dumped on my floor and I tackled it with a vengeance. “Outgrown, discard,” and “keep” stacks grew around me. Words like “Capsule wardrobe,” “Simplify,” and “Minimal” floated around in my formerly frenzied but now clarifying mind.

Leggings on one side, tops on the other, panties in the middle and the drawer breathes a sigh of relief. I slide the drawer back into the dresser, and even the handles seem to smile back at me, just because I know what’s inside is organized again.

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Children’s clothing is a never-ending process around here, especially since I do it on a budget. Growing children, legs that seem to be adding inches monthly and arms that stretch beyond sleeve cuffs always catch me off guard. While I have loved finding just the thing I need at yard sales, consignment sales or thrift stores, it can get overwhelming.

A good friend told me the other day,
“We love our children better if they are wearing cute clothes.”
It sounds funny, but really, if they are wearing stained clothes or ragged, tired jeans, they look unkempt. But if they are wearing clothes that we picked out with care (yes, it can even be from a yard sale pile of .25 clothes) we will feel happier.
Funny but true.

I have recently been appreciating the idea of clearing out everything that does’t spark joy or have a good purpose… How many items do I have in my home simply because someone gave it to me, or I got it for a really good deal, but silently strongly dislike? Of course, I won’t use it if I hate it. So let’s do the deed and eliminate unwanted stuff in our homes.
Make it a place of beauty and purpose.

I love shopping with my sisters because they are quite gifted at style on a budget.
They have eagle eyes for flaws in used items. They have taught me to ask myself,
“Does it look worn?
Would I pay full price for this?
If I only had six tops in my closet, would this be one of them?”
The goal is in quality, not quantity.
A good deal isn’t always a good deal.

But the break down easily happens in children’s clothes.
When they grow like weeds, and look like the dirt that grows on them after a long afternoon in the yard, they DO need play clothes that allow for grass-stained knees and dirt.
Praise the Lord for a washing machine and yard sales on days like these.

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For some of us, shopping online versus shopping thrift stores is a better option.
Some seasons don’t allow for piling children into the minivan and braving long hours of half-price day thrift shopping or yard sale browsing.
There are seasons for all of us, and there is no right way for everyone.

So cut yourself some slack and embrace your season, your sanity, and realistic opportunities.

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I’ve had some really lovely second-hand finds, like a Gymboree pea coat for .25 or new with tags Carters items for a whopping quarter. I love when the handwritten sign on the yard sale table says “Children’s clothes: .25 or fill a bag for $5.” I carefully sort through and pull out the nearly new ones, even if they are not the right size or gender for my children.

In my garage, they get stowed in a tote marked “Summer Resale” and when warm weather rolls around, I either sell at a consignment sale or my very favorite- selling sized lots on my local Facebook marketplace. Everything is local and no shipping necessary.
Rolling the money I make selling used children’s clothes into the clothing my children DO need has been a fun budget challenge.

Last year I sold enough children’s clothes that it easily covered what I needed to purchase for them. This year I am creating an additional budget category: clothes for me out of what I make on Poshmark (disclaimer: yeah, it’s a referral link. You get $5 when you use it). While certainly a harder, higher dollar market, I’ve enjoyed finding and reselling quality shoes like Clarks and Keens. After all, who doesn’t love finding the very shoes they been searching for, but barely used for a fraction of the resale price?

I’ve also donated to and purchased from Schoola and they often have really good sales going. I love that I can skip walking down long and overwhelming isles in the thrift store and type in exactly what I am looking for. While it can be slightly hit or miss (since I can’t feel the fabric or see exact color hues) I have had some really great scores on here. It’s also nice to be able to donate and mail stuff off to them and not have to bother dripping stuff off at Goodwill.

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It takes constant attention, this thing of clothes on a budget.
But let’s never let it steal our joy, or lure us into the world of comparison.
Childhood memories capture the moments of sheer delight, of the mud puddles and carefree laughter.
Let’s cultivate a home where joy is everywhere, and Mommy is free to enjoy life with them.

I love white. I love Pottery Barn and clean, fresh style.
While I delight in my white bedspread, I currently can’t pull off white couches.
I want my home to be a balance of cleanliness and comfort. I want my children to learn to wash the mud from their feet, but also to feel welcome and comfortable in our home. Our brown leather couches wipe off super well. So much of life is about embracing seasons, recognizing limitations and choosing joy in the midst of it all.

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There are a million things that scream for our attention as mothers.
Even the best of things can distract us from what truly matters. God invites us into a dance, slow and steady, through the muddy footprints and piles of laundry. He asks us to listen to the song He is singing over us as we change diapers and nurse through the night. Seasons and demands change, budgets get breathtakingly tight, and we reanalyze the grocery list must-haves. But He is there, His hand extended and invites us into His presence.
The clothes, the food, and everything else carefully written on our to-do list- just hand it to Him.
He’s got this.  Even the clothes your children wear.

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What are your best tips for dressing on a budget and creating peace in your home?
I would love to hear your tips!

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Tug of War between Real Life and Simplicity

  1. This caught me: “He asks us to listen to the song He is singing over us as we change diapers and nurse through the night.” Especially since I spent the night last night more up than down, and I kept begging Him for a chance to sleep ‘just one hour’. I started to add a request for His grace and strength to help me, when I realized He already was with me. Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done… I’m glad He’s with me.

    1. Yes, motherhood IS one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But amazingly sweeter than I imagined too. Those places of deep exhaustion open the doors to deeper grace than I ever imagined. Hugs!

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