The easiest way to find joy when you “stay at home”.

maxwell playing Maggie Whitley

Sometimes it’s just a bit too easy for my focus to be on keeping our home super clean and tidy — only then will I be happy, I think to myself. But really, that mindset is a huge lie. Especially for our mama hearts when we already feel like we are juggling a small circus for 12 hours a day ;)

But I’m determined to not let that kind of discouragement into my home.

If I’m spending all of my time¬†cleaning and tidying (or even too much time, since cleaning a small space doesn’t take long) then other areas of our home aren’t being tended to.

Things like…

– loving on the people inside our home

– going on long walks where our hearts and minds are exercised

– feeding my family through meals and conversation around the table

– the purpose of our home: to grow and learn and rest and encourage one another, daily.

I try to reserve two small windows of time each week towards tidying our home, usually at the start and end of the week, so we (I) can fully enjoy the weekend in all it’s glory. This easy exercise has helped me find the joy in a lived-in home, especially since I “stay at home”.

Walking around plastic toy hammers, and blocks, and books, and the dog’s toy, and don’t forget about the laundry drying on the rack — these all shout LIFE to me, and life should be celebrated. If my focus is on putting all of these things away, what kind of message am I sending out?

It doesn’t take much for our home to feel unclean or untidy since we’re in a small space. But I’ve learned to know the difference between a home that feels comfortable to us and our friends, or a home that feels uncomfortable.

baby bump Maggie Whitley

And perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned with all of this: when I set too high of expectations on myself it’s not just our home that suffers, the people who live inside our home suffer, too.

It’s not my ability to clean and tidy well that should bring me joy…

It’s the day-to-day of life that brings me joy: having a messy kitchen, owning clothing that needs to be laundered, having floors that need to be swept of beach sand and pretzels, and tidying our toys because we play with them.

And this joy? It also brings me freedom.

6 small (yet impactful) changes for your home.

6 small (impactful) home changes to make right now // maggie whitley

Too many times I pretend I love our home without really, truly, fully loving it. Of course there are specific things about our home that I love, but there always seem to be bigger things I don’t love that somehow override what I do love. (Do you ever feel like that?) The apartment we’re currently in is perfect for our family right now, even though it has it’s quirks and disadvantages.

Our apartment may be a small space but it’s where we live, where we love, and where we practice grace. I’ve been slowly making changes to make our home even better for us and how we use it daily/weekly, and even more specifically I’ve been trying to build up momentum so these changes don’t take too long to for me to actually implement. Oh, the freedom that has brought me.

SIX SMALL CHANGES TO MAKE IN YOUR HOME:
1. ORGANIZE // our bookshelf has many purposes but was looking a little cluttered, so I re-organized a few shelves (this took all of 5 minutes) and now it’s more aesthetically pleasing.

2. HANG // for months I’ve been wanting a world map on the wall in the nursery, and I finally bought one! (See a glimpse of it here.)

3. MOVE // this one probably surprised me the most: I moved a floor rug a mere six inches so it now butts up to the wall (instead of leaving a gap of hardwood floor showing). The visual impact this change has is incredible, whoa!

4. MAKE // I grabbed some extra fabric and an hour of my time and sewed 2 new envelope-style pillow covers for our couch. This allowed me to re-cover two pillows that didn’t match our decor anymore using materials I already had on hand.

5. CHANGE // since our bedroom is really just a corner of our living room, it’s easy for the bed to become an immediate focal point, which I try to avoid. The first change I made was moving our bed so it isn’t the first thing you see when you walk through the front door. Then, I switched our bed quilt to something less bright and more neutral (even though I love bright/colorful materials). This two-part change stopped our bed from screaming “look at me!” and it’s also allowed me to create a neutral, relaxing bedroom nook inside our small apartment. I call that a win! :)

6. EDIT // I tidied up our 5-hook wall organizer (that hangs behind our front door) to include only the essentials. Anything we don’t use weekly was put away, but still within quick reach. This visible area is now refreshed and took me about 5 minutes to edit it’s contents.

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The great part about all of these changes is that, aside from buying the wall map, the only requirement needed was my time. Maybe it’s how I’m preparing for the birth of our second child, but my new mantra is that I want our home to be a little oasis from the hustle Los Angeles brings on so easily. I want our home to serve our family’s needs (relax, learn, love, grow). It may be small, but our home is full of intention. And, I want it to be a reflection of who we are while allowing us to grow individually. These six changes have made our home so much sweeter :)

I bet you could find a way to implement these six changes, too. Take 15 minutes right now and make your space something you love. You deserve to feel refreshed while at home — ready, set, go!

The beauty in small spaces.

kitchen maggie whitley

I’ve been a renter for ten years now, renting apartments & homes all over the country.

It all started after high-school graduation. I spent four years at Central Michigan University (2003-2007; where Zack and I met/fell in love) renting dorm rooms, an apartment, and then a house just off-campus. After that I lived in Lansing, MI for almost a year (2007-2008). Zack and I were married June 2008 and shortly after that we moved to Detroit, MI where we lived for a year (2008-2009). We then moved to Minneapolis, MN for three years (2009-2012). And now we’re to the present: living in Los Angeles, CA for almost two years (since 2012).

bathroom maggie whitley

Most of the places we’ve called “home” have been small and perfect for a him & her. For two years we lived in a very generous-sized house in Minneapolis complete with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a backyard, patio and private driveway. At 26-years-old we felt like we hit the rental jackpot.

But towards the end of our time in that large house Zack and I traveled to Tanzania, Africa with Compassion International (truly one of the most life-changing events I’ve ever experienced) — we came home, and pretty much everything about our lives changed.

The amount of space we live in…

The number of physical “things” we own…

The answer to a 14-month prayer of growing our family: your womb is full…

The yard-less yard… (This one is still hard.)

All of these things were suddenly not as they’d once been.

kitchen maggie whitley

When we decided to move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles the size of our home may have shrunk nearly 75%, but our hearts grew immeasurably.

Living in a small space has been really hard for me at times. It’s even hard for me to write that out! :) But it’s allowed me to look deep and hard at what I consider most important in this life…

I don’t share often enough about the struggles that come with living in a small space, but I’m inspired to change that.

Because as I’ve learned: where there are struggles there is also beauty.

accessories maggie whitley

We were not created to be defined by the size of our homes or the number of adventures we’ve been on. We are not defined by how much gorgeous sunlight pours in our windows, or the thick never-ending grass that grows off our patio, or by having a (unachievable) large social media imprint.

There is so much beauty, even in the small spaces of our home, and the best way to find it is to know the asnwers to these questions:

- what is your purpose for this season of life?

- what changes do you need to make so you feel satisfied with the everyday?

- what internal changes would help you feel more confident with where you are right now?

- are you giving your most important people first priority?

From there, however life sorts itself out (in a way that feels totally natural to you), is what you need to be doing. Don’t worry about what your neighbor is doing or what their life looks like.

When all think alike, then no one is thinking, –Walter Lippman

If you’re going to worry, worry you’re missing out because you can’t stop your mind/eyes from wandering elsewhere.

It’s perfectly wonderful to be different, to be brave, to be dancing to your own life beat. And that’s something living in a small rental has taught me.

to be continued…

An incredibly freeing quote…

"perfection is silly!" via maggie whitley

I saw this quote while scrolling through Instagram last week. It has stuck with me ever since, so I knew I had to write it down. The simplicity of the phrase is beautiful and incredibly freeing, don’t you think? What I’ve been noticing recently is how easy it is to sit and obsess over getting something “just perfect”, when in the end we miss the moment completely. When I think about how obsessing over perfection I think of meals gone cold, family moments missed, conversations where we’re only half-present, projects that steal our time¬† — that sort of thing. And so I totally agree with the quote, “perfection is silly!”

Instead of aiming for perfection, offer your best.

Allow yourself to be you.

Love the people around you for who they are on the inside (we all make mistakes).

Buy the ingredients, and then savor the process of making the meal.

Say you’re sorry when needed.

Love yourself, your whole, beautiful, quirky, quiet, sassy self.

And then lastly, don’t try to document everything. Let some things live only in your memory.

Perfection is silly; real life is awesome.