For the first 30 years of my life, I struggled with messiness. No organizational system worked for me. In this episode, I’m sharing about my natural tendency towards mess and chaos along with how simple living has changed that for me.

Let's talk about messiness. I am a messy person by nature, and I do think that's a thing. I think there are many of us who are prone towards messiness based on the way that our brains function. And I'm going to talk more about that in this episode today, but I know pre simplicity life felt even more than messy. It felt chaotic. And that chaos and messiness very much felt like a character flaw for me, no matter how hard I tried the physical stuff, the mental stuff, the parenting stuff, it all felt overwhelming. It felt like too much. So today I'm sharing a little bit about my story of my messiness. And if you're feeling hopeless, I want to reassure you that you aren't, or if you feel like your kids or your partner Hopeless, they aren't. If I can find my way on this path toward simplicity, I promise you can too.

Hi, this is Denaye. I'm the founder of simple families. Simple Families is an online community for parents who are seeking a simpler more intentional life. In this show, we focus on minimalism with kids, positive parenting, family wellness, and decreasing the mental load. My perspectives are based in my firsthand experience, raising kids, but also rooted in my PhD in child development. So you're going to hear conversations that are based in research, but more importantly, real life. Thanks for joining us.

For the last six months, I have very much felt like my goal here at Simple Families has been linear and that is to help you be happier at home in March, we were all in crisis mode and now that crisis mode has slowly started to slip into being our new normal. I know that for many of us who aren't used to spending so much time at home home, isn't always a place that feels like respite. It isn't always a place that brings calm, but right now we need that. And for the foreseeable future, we need that. So if you're feeling overwhelmed and you're feeling hopeless that this messy, chaotic life is what you're destined for this episode is for you today. I'm going to share a little bit of the insides of my messiness and how it's transformed over the past few years. I want to first thank my family and my college roommates and my husband for tolerating my messiness for so many years, all the people who've ever lived with me because I know it wasn't easy.

And the reason I was messy, always escaped me tidiness and order seemed to come so simply to other people, but for whatever reason, for the first 30 years of my life, every place that I went, I left a trail of stuff behind me, whether it was crumbs from things I was eating clothing that I just take it off and thrown on the floor or hairstyling tools left on the counter in the bathroom, putting things away was never easy for me. And what was even harder was really reconciling. Why, why was I incapable of cleaning up after myself? Why did I struggle to put the toothbrush back into the toothbrush holder after I used it, which I still kind of struggle with on occasion, I made countless trips to the container store and I bought all the tools. I had all this stuff to organize the stuff, and that would be transformative and it would be awesome for like two days.

And then it would all fall apart. But that didn't stop me from trying. I kept coming back to organization over and over again, thinking that, that was all I needed just a little organization. It wasn't until years later that I figured out no organizational system was ever really going to be the solution for me. The solution was minimalism, because let me tell you a little bit about my brain. I have a fast moving brain. I tend to talk fast and I walk fast and I think fast. And the way that translates into the world is that I just kind of fly through like a tornado, leaving things in my trail. My mother can definitely attest to this. So for me to get a handle on my overwhelm and on my clutter, it was less about learning how to clean up. And it was more about slowing down, slowing down, physically, slowing down mentally.

I mean, let me tell you, I've had probably six broken toes. That absolutely happened because I walked too fast and I run into things pre simplicity. I almost always had bruises on my legs from running into things all my life. People were telling me to slow down, but I just couldn't seem to figure out how to do it. One of the big turning points for me, I probably shouldn't even share this story because it's so embarrassing, but I'm going to do it anyways because it might resonate with some people. So one of the big turning points for me came when I was a new mom in my first child, my son's first year of life, I had two car accidents. I don't even know if you could call them car accidents. I had two car incidents. They were both pulling out of my driveway. We had this small iron gate on our driveway, in our house in Texas.

And it opened with a little button. I do want to add that the driveway was really narrow and the gate opened really slowly. And one day I pulled up too fast. I was in a hurry per usual. That was kind of status quo for me at the time. And I scraped down the entire side of the car. This wasn't just a scrape. The whole side panels needed redone. And once it scraped the gate scraped all the way down the side of the car, it actually hooked onto the bumper and ripped the whole bumper off. So this gate incident on the right side of my car resulted in both side panels needing to be replaced along with a new bumper. And it was embarrassing. It was just stupid. So six months later, I did it again in my husband's car, the same exact damage, both side panels and the bumper, but this time it got even better.

So I backed the car up because I was basically in shock, terrified about what my husband was going to say. And so I backed it up into the grass in the back of our driveway and I left it with the windows down, maybe like two or three inches and it was a Friday and we just decided to leave it for the weekend and take it in on Monday to look at getting it fixed. So I left the windows down like two or three inches rather carelessly. And I had parked on a fire ant Hill and I have an anaphylaxis allergy to fire ants. So needless to say, the car literally filled with fire ants. When I got in on Monday to take it, to get it fixed, it was covered. So I grabbed my epipen and some bug spray spray, the entire car down, killed all of them on contact and prayed that none were hiding under the seats.

And I drove the car to the repair shop to get fixed. So I left the car and they had to fix the panels and the bumper, and then they had to repaint. And what I didn't realize was that I had haphazardly left the on contact bug killer stuff that I use to kill the ants will had left that in the front seat. And it exploded all over the interior of the car from the heat when the car was being painted, as I was growing up, I remember the word careless was thrown around a lot about me and it never really resonated with me because I never felt like a careless person. I cared about plenty of things. I wasn't truly careless. I was overwhelmed and I was hurried.

And that resulted in messiness and chaos. Both of these experiences were absolutely turning points for me. I had the sense of urgency that I needed to slow down, that I needed to make change. I knew that I didn't want to raise my children in a cluttered hurried mess. And it was right about this time that simplicity and minimalism just kind of fell into my lap. I was nearing the end of my PhD program in child development. And I was learning all about what kids need to grow and learn and thrive. And the research all points towards simplicity. Our children need a simpler life with less hurry, less stuff, and less chaos. When I think about protecting the mental health and even the physical health of my kids, this is such a priority for me. It was a priority, but it wasn't always, or even mostly easy as I was studying and learning more about child development on an intellectual level.

I knew that simple living made sense for my family, actually, that it makes sense for every family. Because when you have less stuff, you have less to clean up. When you have fewer obligations, you have more time to rest and relax. When you have less distractions, you have more time to connect with each other. But even though it made sense, it's still felt out of reach. It still felt aspirational. It felt like something that worked for other people, but could never really work for me. And even throughout the early days of my decluttering, I feel like I was taking two steps forward. And one step back. And as we talked about last week on the podcast Comparison and FOMO and envy often leads us to question every move that we make, it causes self doubt. We're constantly wondering if our kids are going to envy their friends who have all the stuff, or if they're going to get behind.

If we don't put them in these expensive classes, the abundance of choices can feel paralyzing. And when I say abundance of choices, I mean the abundance of choices, not only of things to buy, but of ways to live ways to parent ways to spend your time and money. And if you don't have that time and money to spend the guilt that comes from not being able to give your kids the world. So all this self-doubt ends up as a cycle. You lack confidence about how to proceed and how to move forward. And it leaves you feeling stuck. And then you get to deal with the guilt over not knowing what the right way is for your family. Post simplicity, where my family stands today, I can tell you that I truly don't have that self doubt anymore. Once I started on this journey towards simplicity, I knew that I had found the secret sauce like this was it.

This was going to bring relief to me and to my family. And I'm telling you this, not only from firsthand experience, but also as a researcher and clinician, I've read the studies on child development. I've done the work with countless families on improving wellbeing. And I'll tell you what children need to learn and grow and thrive is absolutely a simple life. So if you're feeling that self doubt, doubt that you can ever really slow down, that you can ever really get a grip on your messiness, or maybe somebody else in your house's messiness. I want to tell you that it's possible for you. Maybe not just possible, but completely necessary. I have a child who has a very similar, fast moving brain as mine. And I already see some of the same traits coming out. She really struggles with cleaning up. It's not that she doesn't know how it's just, she's so ready to get onto the next thing that it's not a priority.

And that hurriedness is not just limited to the home. That hurriedness spills over to your brain. It spills over to your calendar, the way you spend your time when you slow down. And when you simplify, it impacts every aspect of your life. I'm not even going to pretend for a minute. Like I'm not messy anymore. Actually we're in the process of selling our house. And today is the first day we haven't had a showing. And the first thing I said to my husband, when we woke up this morning was, you know what I'm going to do today? And he said, what? I said, I'm going to make a mess. And the truth is I do not strive to keep my home in any kind of perfect shaper order. But through minimalism, I don't even really have to work that hard to tidy up our house. We decided to sell our house rather spontaneously.

And within a week it was ready to go on the market. I didn't have piles of papers to sort through. I didn't have heaps of things to donate or put into storage. It felt liberating to not be weighed down and slowed down by the stuff. And I do feel like our stuff weighs us down and slows us down the time that it takes to tend to it and to clean it up. I think about things like throw pillows. I had a bunch of throw pillows on my sofa, and I can't even tell you how many times a day I would readjust them. When it came through the house, my dog loves to sit on one of them. And every time she gets up, it's squished and I feel like I need to fluff it. That is a perfect example of the stuff in your house, sucking the life out of you.

So for me, rather than fluffing that pillow a million times, I'm just going to get rid of the pillow. My dog has other pillows. She'll be okay, but this one in particular, I'm done with it. And the same with placements, I actually didn't grow up using placemats. My husband's family did. And he just thought placemats were part of life. And we were supposed to use placemats. And we were using placemats in our family for probably, I don't know, four years after we had kids. And one day I just looked at him and I said, what exactly is the point of a placemat, and he said, well, it's so you don't have to clean the table. You just have to clean the placemat when there's a mess.

And that made me pause. I'm like, well, strangely, every single time I use a placemat, I have to clean the placement. And then I also have to clean around the placemat and under the placemat. And then I have to hang up the placemat to dry. And from that point on, we decided we're not going to be a place in that family anymore, at least for right now, I think we can always reevaluate these things in different seasons of life, 15 years from now, we might be a placemat family again. But right now I'm eliminating the little things that take me away from the more important things in my life. Like being present and spending time with my family living later absolutely helps me to be a calmer and more present parent. Have you ever lost your keys? You know, maybe you're running late to a school drop-off and you can't find your keys anywhere.

And then all of a sudden you're yelling at your kids. That is a prime example, the stuff, and the chaos and the clutter, absolutely overflows and spills out onto the people around us. I was that person who could never, ever, ever find my keys, but I will tell you that hasn't happened to me in years. Simple living and It's simple parenting has absolutely transformed my life and my kids' lives. So if you're feeling pulled towards simplicity, it still feels aspirational to you. You're in the right place. I'm so happy to have you as a part of simple families. And if you're striving to make home a happier place, you're striving to slow down and live a little bit more intentionally in this crazy year. I'd love to have you join me in the Simple Families foundations program. This week only the program is 40% off. Plus you get four brand new bonuses.

In addition to the full program content, you're going to get the in-depth detailed tour of my home. The six live group coaching sessions and the four brand new bonuses, which are the quick start simple living checklist, the positive parenting audio mini course, the fostering independent play toolkit. And then one extra bonus. Get started, group coaching session, go to and you can get all the details there. It ends on Friday, September 25th, and I'd love to have you join us. This will be the last time I do a special offer on this and this year. I'm so grateful for you tuning in today. If you are a messy person or you live with a messy person, there is hope. I'm so happy to have you listening. I hope this podcast makes a difference in your life. Thanks for tuning in and have a good one.

Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.