Aileen Barker

Creative Entrepreneur & Mother with a Love of a Simple & Natural Lifestyle

Simplify Your Life Challenge | Declutter 50 Items

SimplifyAileen BarkerComment

Welcome to a new monthly feature that I'm pretty excited about! I know I'm not the only one out there who wants to simplify their life in order to feel more in control, less crunched for time and more peaceful. So at the beginning of each month I'll post a challenge to help you to simplify our life. If you have any suggestions for a future challenge, I'd love to hear them!

October Simplify Your Life Challenge: Declutter 50 Items

I actually mentioned this as part of my October Goals, but wanted to challenge you to do the same! Now, if you' haven't jumped on the obsessively decluttering bandwagon (oh, just me?), 50 items might seem like a lot but it's really, really not. To do this you can either choose a part of your house or life that is driving you absolutely crazy and start there. It can be your desk at work, your pantry that you know if full of expired food or you can even just declutter your whole house.

Grab a trash can and a bag for stuff that needs to be "rehomed" and get to it!

What will you do with it?

You have four options:

  • Trash (or recycle)
  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Give Away

Tips & Guidelines

  • Bring your trash can (or a bag you'll use for trash) over to where you're decluttering. Trash goes in the trash immediately, don't pile it to throw it away "later".
  • If you're doing the whole house walk around with a trash bag and another bag or box, like a laundry basket. Pick up those things you've been meaning to get rid of and sort through them when you're done.
  • Set a timer. This is my tip for a lot of things, especially those we have trouble with. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes and go at it. If you're not done, come back to it tomorrow.

What I'll be focusing on

I thought it might be helpful to share what exactly I'll be focusing on. To be honest, I already started and am probably close to 50 items just from this past weekend.f

  • Reevaluating home decor items
  • Removing kitchen items we don't need
  • Items in the garage we never touch
  • Baby clothes Atlas has grown out of that we don't want to save

If you'd like to join me please comment below! I'll be posting an update as well as next months challenge at the beginning of next month.


October Goals + September Recap

Blogging, Business, LifeAileen BarkerComment

Each month I like to share my goals. Last month I only shared blog and business goals due to my son taking up most of my time. But I think I'm ready to share some personal goals as well. I'll still keep my goals light since having an infant takes up about 90% of my time, but I think goals are important and motivating!


  1. Consistent Posting. FAIL I have been posting, but I wouldn't call it consistent as in every Mon/Wed/Fri like I had been hoping to. But I'm finding a balance and need to figure out what works for me and for the blog.
  2. Brainstorm & Come Up with 3 Digital Products PASS You know, I did start brainstorming for a millisecond and actually came up with a list of more than 10 vague ideas. I need to narrow them down and get to work!



  1. Editorial Calendar I want to finish up my editorial calendar for October and stick to it. I tend to shift things around, which is totally fine in my book, but I want to get to a point where I don't skip posts all together because I didn't have a chance to write them. Planning ahead is key here!
  2. Get Started on Digital Product I want to choose one of the digital products I brainstormed in September and get started on it. I want to at least have an outline and to start the content creation process. Once I know what I'll be doing it'll be easier to make more specific goals.
  3. Get Two Weeks Ahead on Both Blogs Between this blog and my frugality blog, I tend to feel a little overwhelmed with keeping up with posting as much as I want to. The goal is to sit down and knock out a bunch of posts this month so that I can be ahead. I've put this on my goal list before and have failed. Fingers crossed I can get it done this time.


  1. Purge 50 items I'm still feeling overwhelmed with stuff. Even more so now that I have less time to clean. So I want to get rid of 50 more items in October! 
  2. Pack Away Baby Clothes Somehow my son is growing so fast that he's already grown out of his preemie, newborn and almost out of his 0-3 month clothes. Right now the closet in our bedroom is chaotic and I want to pack away what doesn't fit anymore to get it a bit more organized.
  3. Get a Pedicure My thoughtful husband got me a gift certificate for a nail salon for my birthday in February that I still haven't used. I want to take some time to myself this month and finally put that gift certificate to use!

That's it and I think those goals are pretty ambitious on top of everything else I constantly have on my list. I think one of these days I might need to re-evaluate what my priorities are and cut down on some things for a while. The holidays are coming and I want to make sure I'm intentional with my time so I can spend it with my loved ones.

What are your goals for this month?

How to Cut Distractions and Be More Focused

Business, ProductivityAileen BarkerComment

Cutting distractions and becoming more focused can be important whether you work from home like me, work out of the home or maybe even if you don’t work at all (at a job that is). Everyone has their own set of distractions and certain tasks that knock them off track. I don’t know about you, but I can get distracted by the simple fact that there’s really delicious Thai food left overs in the fridge or that there’s an episode of Pretty Little Liars sitting on Hulu waiting for me to watch it. Add the constant dinging of my phone from social media notifications, emails and texts and it’s a miracle I get anything done with my focus being broken a hundred times each day.

Because of all the distractions and my desire to simplify my life and work smarter, not longer, I’ve slowly begun to cut the distractions and have succeeded at gaining more focus on the tasks I need to accomplish for my businesses, blog and even in my personal life. Now that I’m a work at home mom, simplifying and really focusing are even more crucial to being able to fit everything I need to into my life.

Turn Off Automatic Email Pushing (or Remove Completely!)

Everyone has email these days. And I’m going to just assume everyone gets email all day, every day. I can’t be the only one! I used to be one of those people who would check email on their phone half a dozen times times an HOUR because that’s how often my phone would beep to notify me of a new email. Instead of doing this I recommend either setting your phone to only check email when you open the app or, if you can handle it, taking email off of your phone completely.

If you have an iPhone you can change your email settings by going to:

Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data

Now scroll down to the bottom under “Fetch” and select “Manually”. This means that your phone will only check your email when you open the app instead of at a timed interval preventing you from getting interrupted all day.

Remove Facebook (+ other distracting apps) from phone

If you’re finding yourself grabbing your phone and looking at a certain app throughout the day (that you really don’t need to look at) then maybe it’s time to remove it from your phone. One of my worst distractions is Facebook. Every few weeks when I find myself extra distracted by it I will remove the app from my phone. Once I do this I’m always so surprised by how many times I grab my phone and try to visit Facebook. You’ll be surprised at how automatic it is and that you’re doing it way more than you think you are once the app is gone and you have to stop and remember that when you pick up your phone.

It’s only temporary (unless you want it to be permanent) so don’t try and convince yourself this is a drastic measure. If there’s an app or anything on your phone that you think might be taking up too much of your time/focus, try removing it for a few days to see how you feel. I bet you’ll feel much better.

Close email when working

I used to have email open all day while I worked. But that led to me clicking over all the time to see if anything new came in. If there were any new emails in my inbox, I felt the need to deal with them right then and there which would completely break my focus on whatever task I was working on before. Keep your email closed while you’re working.

Set “Email Management” Times

In addition to the above tip, try scheduling a few times a day when you check your email. Chances are nothing urgent is going to come up that can’t wait a few hours. Ideally, I check my email in the morning, mid-afternoon and right before I finish working for the day. Since I’m kind of always working it doesn’t work out as well as I’d like, but when I can stick to just checking email a few times a day I don’t get sidetracked by responding to emails or using them as a to do list when I already have a list of items that need to be done.

Work in Blocks of Time

Working in blocks of time is one of my favorite ways to work and keep focused. I will usually set my alarm for 15-45 minutes and work until the timer goes off. During this blocked off time I don’t allow myself to check Facebook, wander over to interested or stop to get a snack. I can get so much done in just 15 minutes of true, uninterrupted focus and I bet you can too!

Eliminate the Unnecessary Work

Take a moment to think of everything you do in a day. How much of is it truly necessary? Maybe there are things you can eliminate all together. Maybe there are some things you can cut down from daily to a couple of times a week. A few things I’ve been working on are scheduling social media a couple of times a week instead of trying to schedule posts every day. Other ideas might be: saving your filing by having a “to file” folder and filing them at the end of the week  instead of everyday or completely removing a certain task like approving all blog comments by allowing anyone to comment and moderating by checking in a couple times a week.

Do you have any tips on removing distractions and being more focused? I'd love to hear them!

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Atlas | 6 Months

Baby, Family, LifeAileen BarkerComment

Dear Atlas,

Happy 6 months, baby boy! I can't believe how quickly half a year has flown by. At 6 months old, your corrected age is three months. You seem so big to us, but still so tiny at the same time. I look back at pictures from the last 6 months and can hardly believe any of it. There was a time, a time that covered most of my life, where I never believed you would exist. Yet here you are: our perfect miracle baby.

While the days can be hard, especially when you're having a rough time, loving you is easy. Even when you cry, half the time I laugh at how adorable you are as I do my best to soothe you. Right now you are comforted by walking around and, let's be real, the thing that will make you the happiest the fastest is nursing. Oh! And car rides, but only if the car is moving. If I need to drive through for coffee at Starbucks I drive around town trying to get you to sleep first because as soon as that car stops for more than fifteen seconds you get so angry. Even at stoplights!

You recently started smiling and I'm greeted with one almost every morning. It's the best part of my day! One day you'll forget all the stupid things I do to make you smile, but each silly voice or face is worth it. And, even better, a few days ago we were playing peek-a-boo for the first time and I finally got to hear your laugh. It was the most perfect, joyful noise I've ever heard and though you haven't done it again, I keep on trying!

Our nights are pretty easy so thank you for being such a good boy! We usually only have to wake up twice at night and you usually go right back to sleep when your belly is full. Some nights you happily smile and talk to yourself (loudly) for several minutes before giving in and going back to sleep. Your dad and I sit up in the middle of the night smiling back and laughing at your midnight conversations. I just can't handle how cute you are.

Today, on your 6 month birthday, you started reaching for toys. That right arm of yours that is always in a fist, sticking straight up in your best superman impression, finally relaxed just enough for you to try and touch any toy I put in front of you. Aside from toys you really love your play gym. If I need to put you down for a few minutes it's almost always the play gym or your sit me up seat. 

I promise to start calling you Atlas soon. You have so, so many nick names and it's getting out of control! Your names evolve almost daily, but one of my favorites is Cheeks. I think the reason we call you cheeks is pretty obvious. The songs I make up, usually using your various names, are silly but you seem to like them okay. I'm sorry I don't really know any baby songs, but just know that the songs I sing were made just for you!

Every day you change and grow. My heart swells with love and sinks with the longing for my tiny baby from a few months ago at the same time. You are so loved and I can't wait to see you grow up!

Love always, 


Park Date with Atlas + Mommy Thoughts

Baby, Family, Life, MotherhoodAileen BarkerComment

On Friday Atlas and I had our very first park date. Last week was the first hint at fall and it was cool enough to be outside for a couple of hours. I grabbed a couple of blankets, some stuff to do in case he decided to nap and, of course, Atlas. We have this beautiful, tree filled, park in town about 5 minutes from our house and I was surprised that at 3pm on a Friday that it was mostly empty! It was ever so slightly breezy and the perfect day for being outside.

There we sat for two hours on our cozy blanket under the trees. We “talked”, I helped him stand and sit to his hearts desire, I fed him and he napped in my arms. I hardly touched my magazines or laptop and enjoyed just simply being with him on this beautiful day.

Our little park day was just what I needed to refresh and to remind me what’s important. As a work at home mom, I like to say I'm a stay at home mom on crack. I’m basically a full time stay at home mom, which is quite a job by itself, who also needs to somehow fit in part time work (sometimes full time depending on my workload). I’m constantly trying to juggle getting work done, keeping the house decent, running errands, doing my best to help Blaine care for all the animals and, obviously, being mommy to my adorable, needy little guy. But I’ve found that my best days are the days when I really keep focus. I have to remind myself to stop multitasking and that Atlas is my priority during the day. It’s when I remind myself of that that I’m able to relax, destress a little and just enjoy my baby boy.

Every day I’m reminded of how quickly he’s growing. The adorable little “gee” cry he used to do that I never caught on video and he never does anymore. The hilariously cute yell-sneezes that I also haven’t been able to catch on video to cherish forever. How he used to just want to sleep on my chest forever and now he refuses to. That last on really breaks my heart. I want to soak up every second of him growing up and instead of being frustrated that he won’t nap because then I need to stay up until 1am to get my work done, I’m learning to be accepting and thankful that I get to be there for almost every minute of his life. He’ll only be this little once and he’s already growing way too quickly for my heart to handle.

So for now I’ll accept the lack of sleep, time and extra income For I am trading all of those things for something far more precious and fleeting and it's more than worth it.