Beating the Winter Blues || “The Jar” Method + 21 Ideas to Stay Busy

DSC_0259.JPG

I purposefully live in a place where it’s winter for the better part of the year. I also purposefully live in a 37 foot RV. These two “purposely’s” can lead to some wonderful adventures, but, in our four months in this tiny home, I’ve also come to expect the stir-crazies as well.

Regardless of where you live, winter can be long and depressing and, especially when there are children involved, leave you counting the days till the sun shines again. Whether you struggle with seasonal anxiety or depression or are just looking for a few ways to keep your family busy this winter, I thought I’d share a few of the ways I’m proactively staying busy with my girls to ward off excessive winter blues.

The Jar

After seeing this post from Erin Lochner, I decided to do my own take on “the Jar” for winter (and likely each season afterwards). I simply wrote down every activity I could think of on a strip of paper, folded it up and placed it inside an empty jar. Each day, or whenever the winter blues hits especially hard, I have my girls draw one piece of paper. Regardless of what the activity is, we have to do it that day.

The Jar forces me to get beyond my home-body nature and ensures that my five and three year old children are getting the activity they need to stay healthy and engaged in a small space.

It seems rigid, or maybe overly simplified, but when given the choice to go out or do nothing, I usually choose doing nothing. This option forces me to do things that my girls will love and not default to letting them play on their own or, honestly, just throwing a movie on when I get overwhelmed.

My list isn’t exhaustive, but so far, it’s been so helpful for getting us out (or at least doing something new inside) each day.

  1. Build a snowman

  2. Make a fort inside and watch a movie together or read books

  3. Write a letter to grandma (or a friend)

  4. Pick 2-3 toys/clothes/items to donate and go thrifting for a new treasure

  5. Get bundled up and go for an adventure walk outside

  6. Go swimming at the local rec center

  7. Schedule a play date

  8. Bake cookies

  9. Have a picnic on the kitchen floor

  10. Have an at-home spa day (complete with manicures from Handmade Beauty, of course).

  11. Make hot cocoa and watch a movie together

  12. Go to the park and play in the snow

  13. Take the pup on a walk

  14. Play Eye Spy

  15. Draw a picture of…

  16. Play a board game

  17. Make homemade play-dough

  18. Play restaurant

  19. Go to the library

  20. Do 15 jumping jacks

  21. Go sledding

DSC_0256.JPG
WInter can drag on, espeically when you've got kiddos to entertain. Here are 21 of our favorite things to do when the winter "stir-crazies" hit.

What would you add to your own Jar? How are you warding off the Winter Blues?



A Tiny Christmas || Keeping Christmas 2018 Simple

DSC_0237.JPG

It’s officially our first “tiny” Christmas in the RV and, although I’ve always tried to keep the holidays simple and pressure free as much as I could, this year it feels like we’re taking it to new lengths, literally.

This season has, as it usually does, felt like a blur, but I’ve tried to keep my mindset on doing “less but better” be it an activity, buying a gift, or deciding whether to decorate or not. I’ll keep this post short and sweet, but I’m excited to share a few photos of our Christmas setup and a few (really simple) goals I’ve been sticking to over the past month or so.

ACS_0174.JPG

1. Keep Decorations to a Minimum

As much as I love to deck the halls, this year it felt overwhelming to try to add too much Christmas decor, especially when we’re still in the organizing and settling in phase of RV life. I stuck to setting up a mini artificial tree (reusable and easier to clean up than a real tree) and buying one pre-lit garland for the kitchen.

For the tree, the girls and I made salt dough ornaments and made a little garland using cotton balls and yarn and filled in the gaps with the few ornaments we already had (plus the addition of our RV ornament that I couldn’t say no to).

Our living area feels festive but not overwhelming and I’m not worried about where to put it all when we take it all down.

2. Focus on cultivating a sense of Christmas, rather than feeling pressured to do It all

This has been huge for me. We live in a very tourist-y area with LOTS going on over the holidays and although we’ve done a few of the events, I’m hoping to portray to my girls that the holidays can still be festive and exciting without having to be busy. So, we’ve decorated cookies, read Christmas stories, gone sledding and drank hot cocoa, and even went to the Denver Zoo lights, but I don’t feel pressure to say yes to every Christmas-y thing that comes our way.

DSC_0218.JPG

3. Keep gifts simple, but don’t stress if others don’t

Perhaps the most important tip for me this year has been to not stress about what I can’t control. I love gifts of experiences for my kids and meaningful things that don’t take up much space and encourage exploration and creativity. But. Not everyone else does. I can make my “wish list” for my family, pass it on to relatives with the note that we live in an RV so please don’t go overboard, and leave it at that.

As the packages for my kiddos arrive at our doorstep I try to appreciate the love that went into them, thankful for how many people love my girls. Instead of feeling stress about the new toys we will have to make space for, I’m working on controlling only what I can control.

How are you keeping the holidays simple this year?

RV Living: A Q&A + 7 Things I've Learned in Our First Month of Tiny

ACS_0031.JPG

We did a thing - a slightly crazy thing - forcing us into the lifestyle both my husband and I have craved for more than four years.

We bought an RV.

To live in. Full time.

With 2.5 kiddos.

The number of people choosing to “go tiny” is growing and, as someone who has always been in love with the concept of less but better, living in a big space allows for too much wiggle room (ie. hoarding). The confines of our tiny space allow for very little excess, and it’s a challenge that I’ve happily looked forward to for a long time.

A few of you asked about our square footage transitions, so here’s a quick run down of the size of the spaces we’ve lived in over the past few years. Our first (and only) home we’ve owned was a 2,400 square foot Victorian style home in Nebraska. It was beautiful and huge and we spent two years remodeling it, but we knew it wasn’t our forever space. From there, we moved to Colorado and our first condo here was a little two bedroom unit with enough space but no flexibility to make it our own. We left there and moved in with my parents for a season. We had a bedroom and a bunk-bed room for the girls. Now, our RV is a cozy 37 feet long with two pull outs for extra space, a bunk room for the kids and a separate “master bedroom” for AJ and I. It is small, don’t get me wrong, but it’s ours and it’s great. All of our extra belongings that we didn’t sell or donate (things like our dining room table and my piano, out of season clothes, and outdoor gear) are stored in a little shed on my parents property.

It’s been just about a month in our RV and, although the majority of our time here I’ve been battling morning sickness, we’ve gotten quite settled in and I’ve already learned so much. This blog post is simply me sharing my “initial lessons of tiny living” since I’m no where near an expert, and a quick attempt to answer a few of the most common questions I’ve gotten from you all. I plan on documenting much of our journey into tiny and plan to share a full tour once we get a few little projects out of the way and I feel the RV is closer to “done”. My goal is to get it finished by Christmas so we have room for a little Christmas tree.

For now, I want to share a few things I’ve learned this month and a few brands who’ve so sweetly agreed to help turn transform space from a weekend vacation home for wealthy elderly couples into a home for a family of four.

ACS_0030.JPG
  1. Bring the Essentials and Nothing More

    As I mentioned before, it was either, bring too much stuff and turn into a crazy woman, or choose just the essentials and create a place for each thing. Since we weren’t moving too far and had already downsized significantly after our move from the condo, I already had a pretty good idea of the things I’d need for the RV. We have just enough dishes for the four of us. We have just enough toys to not overwhelm the space (I can swap them out with others in storage to freshen up the excitement every now and than.) We have just enough clothes to fit our minimal storage options. And we have just enough bathroom essentials to get the job done.

    As for our clothes (one of the main questions I’m asked and one of my bigger hurdles thus far), here’s how I’m handling it: the RV has built-in storage alongside our queen size bed, over the top of it, and underneath it. The hang-up space is minimal (I’ll do a full tour soon!), so I had to create a mini-capsule of my most worn pieces. Since I’m getting more and more pregnant by the week, I knew I’d have to downsize and rely on pieces that are versatile, so it was an easy transition. I keep my extras under the bed, and my flat laying clothing and things like socks, bras, and underwear above the bed in the cupboards.

    The girls room has a lot of storage, so their clothes fit easily in the under the bed drawers. Aj’s closet is his own territory and I try not to look at it.

  2. Choose Aesthetically Pleasing Storage Solutions

Simply deciding where in the world to put everything was the biggest challenge. Our RV comes with lots of storage options, but of course, they’re not meant to house everything a family needs to survive, so I had to get a little bit creative. I’m thankful for brands like Urbana Sacs and Ten Thousand Villages who offer functional but beautiful (and eco-friendly/ethically made) storage solutions.

I put small things like my makeup, my Hand Made Beauty non-toxic nail polish (read more about them in my last blog post!), a few house plants, bathroom essentials, and cleaning supplies in my Urbana Creative Sacs, made from sturdy eco-friendly recycled paper, and store them in the open shelving in the bathroom and inside the vanity. They also sent me a few larger Sacs that I put my socks and underwear in and our toilet paper in another large one. They’re such a versatile and beautiful storage option that can used and reused for years.

3. Add Pieces that Bring You Joy

Since there is literally no space for “eh”, I made a rule for myself long before we even bought the RV that I’d only fill it with necessities and pieces I truly loved. I’ve had to do some soul searching to continue to nail down my “personal style” but I knew I wanted the RV to feel bright, cozy, and not cluttered. I’m using a lot of whites (hopefully out of reach of places sticky fingers can reach) and bringing in rich, rustic colors like burnt orange, deep navy, and forest green green when I need color. Luckily, I had most of the pieces I brought to the RV, but a few new additions are my Anchal Project throw pillow, my vintage runner for the kitchen I found on Etsy, and a gorgeous throw blanket from Quiquattro.

Anchal Project is an amazing brand that I’m honored to be working with - their pieces are made by women artisans in India and their designs are modern but cozy. I have their 22” Cross-Stitch Toss Pillow in rust and I love the pop of color it adds to our otherwise minimal bedroom.

4. Functional and Multi-Use Products are Everything

Aside from the few decor items I have in the RV, all other space is used for functional but cute storage and functional/cute everyday items. I’ve also come to rely on multi-use products that can serve multiple functions. I made all purpose cleaner that can clean literally any surface in the camper. My decorations also double as pieces I can wear (I hung my fedoras on the wall and have a small space to hang clothes for display on one of our bedroom walls (once the painting is finished!). Getting creative and learning how to disguise the unsightly things like remotes and cords with pretty baskets is a fun challenge.

5. Kids Don’t Take Up As Much Space As Adults

The girls we’re probably more excited than AJ and I were when we moved in. Since they’re so close in age (20 months apart) they’re used to sharing a space and their little bunk room is their kingdom. I have a few designated spaces for things like art supplies, play dough, blocks, and other toys, so they can have their own choice of things to play with.

I got a few questions about how I plan to encourage the girls’ independence and give them “space” while living in an RV. Although this answer isn’t necessarily a quick and simple one, my summarized answer is that kids simply don’t need as much space as we assume, and they really don’t need as much “stuff” as we assume. My girls have incredible imaginations, love playing together (usually) and can turn literally any space into whatever they want. If I ever sense that one of them needs a break from the other (usually when nap time needs to happen), we sit down, take a break, and give them space to play (or rest) separately.

6. Brighten Up the Space Wherever You Can

RV’s and campers are not known for their aesthetically pleasing instagram-ability. In fact, I think the opposite is usually true. They come with dark interiors, small windows and weird brownish beige walls. I knew that taking all steps I could to brighten up the small space would be one of my first steps to making it feel like “home”. My goal is to bring in as much white as possible, which includes painting the walls (a big process that we’re currently in the middle of), taking the weird brown curtains down and replacing them with sheer, bright ones, and adding white bedding.

The folks at Doplnok have been chatting with me for a long time and we finally decided that now was the perfect time for us to try out their fair trade, organic cotton sheets. The sheets are made with GOTS certified organic cotton and the brand is Fair Trade certified, which gives me confidence that their backing up their claims with action. The sheets were shipped in a gorgeous reusable box that will be put to good use in our tiny home.

7. Routine and Finding Out of the House Space is Important

In addition to the above, I’ve tried to set predictable routines and, especially important, make sure to get outside/out of the RV time as often as possible.

We didn’t decide to go tiny so we could spend our entire days inside cooped up in a camper - we did it so we could essentially be forced to get out more often, explore our home, and try new things. It pushes us out of our comfort zones, and I think it can only be a healthy experience for all of us, despite the obvious challenges.

Wintertime will be one of the biggest hurdles. Some days, it will simply be too cold to be outside, so I’m going to make a “Wintertime Fun Jar” full of fun inside ideas to keep us busy on the days where the winter blues strike. I’m so excited for our first summer in here though. Setting up the patio, letting the girls picnic out front, and (hopefully) getting to travel with it are a few things I’m anxiously awaiting.


One month down - countless more to go! I can’t wait to get more projects finalized so I can share a full tour of the RV. Stay tuned and, as always, comment away with any and all questions you may have!

Considering RV/tiny home life with kids? Read about our first month as a family of four in a 37 foot RV.

*This post was partially sponsored by a few brands who’ve helped me make the transition into RV life. Thank you to Urbana Sacs, Anchal Project, and DOPLNOK for making this post possible.*