The Simplicity Connection

There are many ways in which society has constructed parenting to be far more complicated than necessary. The result is parental overwhelm. As parents, we all have the same goals. Raising happy, healthy, successful kids. In order to reach those goals, we commit ourselves to doing anything and everything possible. We want to give our children the world—even if we compromise our own well being in the process.

Today, we are going to talk about the simplicity connection. In parenting, we have the best of intentions. But sometimes wanting the best outcomes for our children translates into overbuying, overprotecting, and generally just overdoing it. Which doesn’t actually get us closer to our goals of raising happy, healthy successful kids. Instead, it leads our families to stress and overwhelm. 

Learn more about Simple Families Foundations

As parents, we all have similar goals. We want to raise happy, healthy, successful kids. In order to reach these goals, we commit ourselves to doing anything and everything possible for our families. We want to give our children the world, even if it means compromising our own wellbeing in the process. Today, we're going to talk about the simplicity connection. In parenting we have the best of intentions, but sometimes wanting the best outcomes for our children translates into overbuying overprotecting and generally just overdoing it, which doesn't actually get us closer to our goals of raising happy, healthy, successful kids. Instead, it can lead our families to stress and overwhelm. So we're going to connect the dots and look at how simplicity can impact every aspect

Of your life. It's more than just decluttering your home. And personally, I've seen this connection growing stronger for me with every passing day. 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. Hi there. Thanks so much for tuning in. This is an episode that I have been wanting to record for years, but the truth is I still

Struggle to completely wrap my head around it. In this episode, we're talking about the Simplicity connection, how simplicity impacts every aspect of our lives. It's more than just decluttering the stuff and tidying up our houses. It's about tidying up our brains, bringing up mental space, parenting more intentionally. I will never promise you that the journey to simplicity is going to bring you a perfect life, but I will tell you, simplicity will bring you a lighter life before we get further into today's episode. I want to tell you that this week I am running a special offer on Simple Families Foundations. Foundations is my A to Z approach in simplifying your family. It is everything I know and everything I learned about bringing simplicity into your home and into your parenting. It's a self-paced program. So you can start when it suits you and work at your own pace. The special offer this week in honor of mother's day, we'll give you 40% off the full price and for extra bonuses, including a live coaching session to help you get started. The independent play toolkit, the positive parenting audio mini-course, and the quick start checklist and brand new is my new home tour. So you'll get to see what

Life looked like. Living simple in a bigger space in our previous home and what it looks like now

In our smaller home. Many people tell me that actually seeing what simplicity looks like in action is a game changer. So if you're interested in learning more, go to, again, You can get all the details there and feel free to email me with any questions that you have. And again, that special offer is running this week only. So when I said that I'm still wrapping my head around the simplicity

connection. I will say it's been a slow and steady process. Really understanding how simplicity impacts mealtimes

How it impacts, my interactions with my kids at the playground, and how I bring new clothing and toys

into to the house. I started to realize this connection pretty early on. Those of you who have

Been around Simple Families for a while will know that before I founded Simple Families back in 2016,

I had another platform which was mainly a blog, not a podcast, and it was focused on feeding children. And at the time

I was doing my dissertation and doctoral

Research, and this was my focus, looking at the parental approach to feeding babies and the impact that it had in children as they grow in the research on feeding kids. There's quite a bit that says we, as parents have an impact, the way that we approach feeding can make a difference in the way that our kids eat. And that feels very empowering to me. So I loved

Talking about feeding kids and I knew I didn't want

To stop, but simultaneously I had stumbled and I will say stumbled because I didn't see it coming into minimalism by decluttering my closet. When I decluttered my closet, I documented it took pictures, and wrote a blog post called why I got rid of my wardrobe that went beyond viral. I think that post probably saw like 8 million hits in the first week. Then I did another one on simplifying the toys and why I got rid of the toys. And that post also went viral. And I realized that minimalism is something that was making a huge change in my life, but it was also something that other people wanted to learn more about too. And it was something wanted to talk more about. So I found it Simple Families. And when I did, I kind of decided that I was just going to have to talk about simplifying the stuff.

And there really wasn't going to be room to talk about feeding kids anymore. But I quickly learned that that wasn't the case because those same strong underlying forces that lead us to want to do all the things and give all the things to our kids, lead us to overbuying and overdoing it with the toys. Well, those same forces lead us to overbuying and overdoing it. When it comes to mealtimes too, at the time I was doing some in-home consultations and I went to work with this family who had a toddler who was struggling with picky eating. And I went during dinner time and they showed me how they did things. And they had this long bar in their dining room and was probably like eight to 10 feet long. And what they did was they would pull out every single food in their fridge and line it up across the bar, mostly child-friendly things.

So like chunks of Turkey, chunks of chicken, chunks of ham, chunks of cheese, yogurt, you name it. So it looked kind of like this baby buffet. And they would just start at the beginning and just start offering her everything that they had. They were desperate to get her to eat anything. Now, this might resonate with some of you this feeling of please eat, just eat something. These were good kind, loving parents who wanted the very best for their kid. This was one of my first insights into seeing that as parents, we are committed to doing anything and everything possible to have the best outcomes for our kids and getting our kids to eat healthy foods, getting them to eat period is part of that. So we go to great lengths to make it happen, maybe in your family, that doesn't mean pulling out the entire refrigerator and making a buffet.

But what I found was when it came to feeding kids, parental behavior was often anything but simple. Instead we were often overdoing it. We weren't setting any boundaries. We weren't setting any limits. We quickly reached points of desperation that led us to do anything and everything to reach this goal of happy, healthy, successful kids. So I saw this firsthand parents overwhelmed by the feeding process, overdoing it, overwhelmed by the toys and all the baby stuff overwhelmed by just trying to keep their kids alive. And this connection started to unfold for me. And yes, society sells us on a way to buy ourselves out of our problems by this sleep sack. And your child will sleep through the night by this sunrise alarm clock. And you will get up before the sun and meditate every morning by these awesome fitness clothes. And you will exercise each day.

That connection is undeniable, but overwhelm and stress does more than just impact our buying. It impacts our behavior, our mental space and our parenting. So I don't want for a minute to sell you on this false assumption that you can declutter your house and transform your entire life. Decluttering. Your house will help. Absolutely, but it's bigger than that. Your home and your stuff is just one piece of the puzzle. And often it's the piece of the puzzle that we start with because it's right in front of us, we can see the physical stuff. And I often encourage parents to start there, start with the stuff in front of you that you can see work your way through that because you will feel immediate relief. You will feel the fruits of your labor. When you start decluttering your house, you'll feel it. And you'll see it, and you'll be motivated to keep moving forward.

So today I want to talk about the barriers that we face because simplicity makes sense to us, but it's often difficult to execute. We want to raise kids who are confident and independent and present and content kids who focus on important things. Kids who are good at problem solving and have positive relationships with their siblings and friends, kids who can focus on connection over content. That means focusing on the people and their relationships and prioritizing that over the stuff. Now you're probably nodding your head when you're hearing all those things, right? All those hashtag parenting goals. The barriers that come into play are that society tells us our kids need a lot of things. They need all sorts of things to be successful. But we as parents have to independently evaluate those things that we are being told our kids need, because a lot of those things are going to run counter to our goals more on this, but we're going to take a quick 62nd word from today's sponsor. The sponsor for today is Native. Native is an aluminum free deodorant. And it's a great addition to your daily routine. My husband and I have been using Native for years. Once we tried it, we never looked back Native cares about what you put on your armpits. And that's why they list ingredients with things you've actually heard of like coconut oil and Shea butter. Trust me. When I say I tried many other types of natural deodorant before I found Native and I nearly gave up,


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There are many ways in which society has constructed parenting to be far more complicated than necessary. And the result is often parental overwhelm. I'm gonna talk about some of the barriers to simplicity and the ways that they contribute to parental overwhelm and the ways that they don't even really serve our kids. Some of these things may feel personal to you. Maybe these are things that you've believed in the past, or maybe things that you still currently


As always with this podcast and anything I say, I encourage you to take what resonates with you and leave what doesn't. And I invite you to question some of these stories. If these ideas and expectations exist within your own parenting, maybe some of them are no longer serving you. Maybe some of them are things that you can let go of in search of a lighter life. So why is simplicity something that is so simple, hard to execute? We are surrounded by messaging from the greater society, from social media, from our neighbors, our communities, even our extended families about what kids need to thrive.

And much of it is not accurate and actually runs counter to the goals that we have for our kids. And because it's easier to look at the stuff first, let's start there. Let's start in the home. From the very beginning, we are sold this story that Parenthood needs to be filled with lots of gadgets to survive. You have to have a mama roux. You cannot get by without a wipe warmer. You need a baby food maker, which by the way, is just a glorified blender. Our kids need a heck of a lot less than we think. And because we are so often overwhelmed by Parenthood, we are quickly sold on things that claim to make our lives easier. And we have to be leery of these claims. Not only are we told that we need all the things in order to make Parenthood easier. We're also sold this messaging that kids are incompetent and they break stuff.

The truth is that kids are always learning. Are they going to make mistakes? Yes. Have my kids broken glasses? Yes. Have I broken glasses? Yes. I will tell you the adults in my have broken far more things than the kids have. What if we could move away from childproofing and lean into making our homes more child-friendly instead, how would that impact our kids' confidence? How would that impact their feelings of competence? If we didn't just jump right in and assume that they were going to break everything and ruin everything in our house and how about the messaging that kids need toys to be happy? It's confusing because kids need toys to play and kids learn through play. So in order to learn more, they need more toys, right? No, actually the opposite is true. Research shows us that kids play better. They play more creatively and they can focus more in simplified spaces.

So yes, kids learn through play. Yes, toys are a tool to play, but lots of toys are not necessary. And I'd even go as far as saying, lots of toys may impede upon play and may impede upon creativity more is not better. Even good quality educational toys more is not better. Trust me. I definitely fell down that rabbit hole in early parenting. We are also sold this story that kids eat kid food. You may have believed this even pre parenting. And when you go into parenting with this belief that certain food is for kids and certain fruit is for adults. The result is that we don't expect our kids are going to eat what we're going to be eating. We think this is normal. So we start to lean into giving them their most preferred foods. But the reality is that food isn't love hate.

There's a lot of gray area in food. It's not black or white. I know you love strawberry yogurt and you hate mushrooms. But what about sweet potatoes? What about chicken? Those things are okay. They're in the gray area. What if we teach kids to embrace the gray area and get rid of the love hate discussion? Most food is just okay, and we eat it to keep ourselves healthy. It's not always our favorite. We are also sold this story that if you don't hover over your kids, they may die. The truth is that kids are humans and humans die. So by hovering over our kids, we're not removing that possibility

By any means. But what

We are doing is removing the possibility that kids can grow and play and explore a new ways that they can build confidence and competence in their abilities. As a parent, we have to recognize when it's important to hover and protect. And when it's important to step back and let our kids go and let them grow. I will say that in many ways, hovering is almost easier. It eases our anxiety when we hover. And if you're someone who suffers from anxiety, you might find yourself hovering more often. You might find calm and hovering. We also fear our kids failing. And as a result, sometimes we overdo it by jumping in and intervening in their social relationships. Instead of letting them work out disputes amongst their siblings and their friends, we try to solve all their problems and prevent the disagreements because often it feels painful for us to see our kids hurt. And we want to avoid that. But by avoiding that, what if we're taking away opportunities for learning and growth and social development, there's also this long-standing story that we shouldn't let kids get bored. What is the saying? Idle hands are the devil's playground. The idea that parents should be the entertainers and should provide activities for their kids all the time is something that I'm seeing more and more. The result is that we end up overdoing it. We don't give our kids downtime. They end up exhausted over-stimulated and they don't know how to tolerate boredom.

Sometimes they don't even really know how to play because they're used to activities being so structured and laid out for them. So by over-scheduling our kids overdoing it. What if we're taking away opportunities for kids to be creative and learn through play? There are so many activities out there for kids and families to engage in that we're led to believe. We have to do all the things, and we might end up running our kids around to a million different activities. Maybe even things they don't even enjoy things they complain about. And don't want to do a soccer practice again. Do I really have to go to baseball? It can take a toll on our wellbeing and on the wellbeing of others in the family. We have to know when to pull the plug. If we've over-scheduled our kids. Okay. All that probably feels like a lot of information because simplicity is more than just, de-cluttering the stuff. It's a mindset change. It's a lifestyle change, but it's one that is well worth the journey. If you've enjoyed today's episode, take a screenshot of yourself, listening to it and share it in your Instagram stories. Make sure that you tag me. If you want to dive deeper into simplicity, I encourage you to take advantage of the special offer on Simple Families Foundations this week, go to as always 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.