Live Recording: Your Simplicity Questions

Today I'm bringing you a live recording -- Your simplicity questions answered!

Hello. Hello. I have a whole lot of simplicity questions to answer today, including how do I keep up with daily tasks at home? How do I get rid of toys? How many purses do I have? What's the best place to start when literally everything feels overwhelming. And how do you respond to kids who are constantly asking for more toys today? We'll be talking about this stuff and so much more. 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, Denaye here. I get so many questions day in and day out, email on Instagram via my website. I decided to record this episode live and unedited. I'm answering some questions that were submitted in advance and also some that came in during the live recording on Instagram. It's good to change it up and try something new once in a while. Now that both of my kids are in school five days a week, knock on wood. As I say that, because I'll probably get a call from the school nurse that there's some sort of quarantine, but now that my kids are in school every day, I'm in my office more. And I'm going to be getting back to doing more interviews on the podcast. A couple of topics that I'm looking forward to exploring are ADHD and executive functioning and motherhood, how it's harder for some of us to juggle all the things along with social skills and childhood.

Talking about kids who struggled to make friends. And I'm also hoping to get a pediatrician on the podcast to talk me through my own decision-making process on vaccinating, my kids for COVID this fall. So more to come, and I'm also working diligently at getting my partners in parenthood program up and running for you all. This is something I've been working on for a really long time, and I'm really excited about this is a brand new program focused on unifying, the approaches of parenting in partnership. So stay tuned for more on that without further ado. Here is the live recording from this week. Got lots and lots of questions today. If you want to leave your question in the comments, I will try to take those two. All right. So the first simplicity question I have for today is how do you make daily tasks more approachable at home?

Now, if anyone that's done my foundations program before knows that we talk a lot about daily laundry there, if daily laundry feels crazy to you, you aren't alone. It felt crazy to me. I used to be someone who batched laundry. So I did it once a week or once every 10 days or whenever I really got around to it. And whenever something was dirty that I really needed. One of the benefits of doing laundry more frequently, whether you do it every day or every other day, it really depends on how big your family is and what your lifestyle looks like in our family. Our family of four creates a load of laundry every day, pretty much. So we do a small load. We have a high efficiency washing machine. We do a small load each day. Now it's not a hundred percent. Occasionally I do it every two days or every three days.

So don't get so rigid that it needs to happen at the same time every single day, but we try to roughly aim for that. So number one perk is that you can have a lot fewer clothes if you're washing more frequently. I love that all my favorite things are always clean. Um, now I know a lot of you all have tried this people who have said no way, this would never work for me. And I hear all the time that people love daily laundry. Also the way that I cope with things falling apart from being washed too frequently is that I buy fewer things and I buy better things. And I will tell you, I'll never go back to batching laundry because each day I go to bed at night, knowing that my laundry is done for the day. We don't have clothing, clutter that lays all over the floors, all over the house, which is something I used to have.

Even when I was single. You have to ask my, my college roommate and my mom and my husband, um, before pre minimalism. And they'll tell you that I had clothes everywhere all the time. So now the clothes in our house are either on our bodies or in the washing machine. Pretty much they have a brief stay in the hamper, and then they go right to the washing machine every evening after my kids, um, take their bath and put their pajamas on the clothes from the day, go into the washing machine. So daily laundry has been a change, not just because it's really given us some structure and predictability with the laundry, but also I feel like it's given me this comfort in knowing that I'm capable of doing things every day and being consistent about things. And it has empowered me in so many other things in the home and out of the home, in my work as well in that I don't pray.

Don't procrastinate as often I get things done each day and I feel better about it at the end of the day. So it's kind of had this trickle down effect where it started with the laundry, but now there are all sorts of other things that I do on a daily basis. And I don't leave kind of dangling, hanging over my head and it feels really good. So, um, I highly recommend trying it out if you are up for it. One of my tips for making it happen is we like to have one hamper on each floor of the house, our new house, all the bedrooms are on the second floor. So we just have one hamper at the top of the stairs. And that makes putting great gathering the laundry really easy. Cause I just have to grab one hamper. Um, all right. My next question is how do I get rid of the toys?

So my kids have a few of their favorite toys in their bedrooms. The things that are really special to them, the rest of our toys are in the main living spaces. And we don't really get rid of toys that often because we're at a phase where we don't really buy toys that often. So it's not something that we have to go through and do often, if you have not declared the toys yet, you might have a lot of toys to get rid of. And to do that, I recommend doing a toy vacation where you tell your kids that the toys are going on vacation. You have them pick a destination. Maybe it's a tropical locale, wherever it is. And they pack them up in a suitcase and they send them off for about three weeks and see how it is living later with fewer toys.

I can almost guarantee I've done this with thousands of families and rarely, rarely if ever does anyone go back? The only people that go back are the ones who accidentally leave the suitcase or the boxes accessible to the kids and the kids find them and start pulling them out. So after the end of the toy vacation, your kids will probably forget about a lot of it. If there's anything that they remember and they're asking for, you can pull it out, the risk you can move on to donations. Now, there are a lot of people who are very afraid of getting rid of the toys. The way that I view the toys that are out in the common living areas of our home is they're kind of community property. And I don't really hesitate in donating or moving things along that haven't been used in a long time in the toy space.

Just like I don't really hesitate moving things out in the kitchen. Um, now the things that my kids' bedrooms, things that are very special to them, both things we go through and we talk about together. Um, but if there's something in the common area that kind of belongs to all of us, those things, can I move in and out without really going deep and getting my kids permission on it? Um, my daughter is a collector. She loves to collect all the things. A lot of things she finds like on the street or in nature, um, things she makes things that she creates out of clay or whatever it might be. So that sort of stuff accumulates a lot. We do go through and declutter those things frequently because they accumulate all over her bedroom in her drawers. Um, she likes to sleep with the things in her bed.

So we have like rocks and shells and stuff under her pillow. Um, so that kind of stuff we do have to go through frequently and we do downsize. What I usually do is I'll give her a pile and say, all right, you keep one and you get rid of one. So it's one in 1 50 50. So that eliminates 50% of the stuff, especially the little stuff right then and there when we do that. So if she's got 20 rocks, we go through it and she picks her favorite 10, and then we get rid of the other 10. So keep one, get rid of one, keep one, get rid of one. And that's worked really well for us. And then sometimes a week later, we need to do it again. So if she started with 20 rocks and we cut it down to 10, then maybe the next week we do it again.

And we cut it down to five. Um, and the fun thing about rocks is there's always more rocks. They're always coming back in. So even though she is pretty attached to the ones that she has, she finds new ones and forms attachment to those new ones too. And I remind myself of that when I'm decluttering, is that especially if you have a collector of all the little things that a lot of the fun is in the collecting, it's the process over the final product. So it's the fun and the joy of collecting those things rather than the actual accumulation in keeping up them. So, um, definitely if you have a little collector, you're probably going to need to move things out more often and you can make it a collaborative process. Um, I do like to think about Marie Kondo's, um, little saying thank you to the things that we have enjoyed and loved.

Um, especially when it comes to things like this. Like let's think this rock for the joy that it brought you, and then let's put it back out in the driveway or wherever it might be. If you have questions, go ahead and leave those live in the comments for me too, and be happy to take any of those. Now I'm going to pause and take a quick 60s rate from today's sponsor. The sponsor for today's episode is KiwiCo, KiwiCo is a subscription box service. I first started subscribing last year, right before the winter. And I actually stockpiled our boxes in the closet hidden away because I knew with full-blown COVID winter, that we would need some activities inside. My kids have loved all of the stem focused boxes that they've done, especially the robotics box, but I'm thrilled to see that KiwiCo now has maker create subscriptions.

These are more focused on the arts. One thing that I saw that they have is punched needle, which I loved doing as a kid. And I'm really excited to introduce my own kids to that. So turn artistic visions into reality with maker crate from KiwiCo, you can save half off your first month plus free shipping at that's half off your first month at That's K I W I C Thanks so much for supporting our sponsors and we'll jump right back into the live recording now. All right. Right. How many purses do I have? I actually don't know how many purses I have. I have two that I use primarily. One is an over the shoulder bag. One is a tote bag. I use my tote bag for work and carry my laptop and that kind of thing in it and my over the shoulder bag for everything else.

I prefer over cross body, not over the shoulder, maybe cross-body same thing. I prefer that for comfort. Um, and just kind of to get things out of the way and keep my hands free. So, um, both of my favorite purses or bags are from Roth fees. Um, I love their shoes and I also really love their bags. So I have their tote bag and I have their, um, I think it's just called the handbag is what the name of it is. It's the larger version. There's a large one and a small one. So those are the two that I use. Primarily. I have a couple others, like I have a little white one and a little gray one that I use that are a little bit dressier to go out, but those are primarily what I use. What's the best place to start when everything feels overwhelming, I would say, find the part of your house that feels the most hectic to you.

A lot of people say that that's the drop zone, the area, when you first come in the house wherever and drops their shoes and their jackets. And if that's the space for you, maybe it isn't. But let's say for example, that it is because I know so many people have a lot of mess in the drop zone area is I encourage you to try to take that space and make it an active zone. So especially when we have kids at home, I think all homes benefit from being functional, but especially when we have kids at home, we have to make sure that our homes are functional places to live, right. They can be beautiful, but they also need to work for us when we make a drop zone, for example, more functional. We just keep the things we're using on a daily basis. One of the biggest mistakes that I see people making is that they store other things in the drop zone.

So let's say they have the rain jackets and the lightweight jacket and the winter jacket and the boots and the sandals all in the drop zone. And it gets to be very chaotic. So in our drop zone, we really try to focus on only keeping the things that we are actively wearing day in and day out. Everything else gets put away into closets or wherever our clothes and shoes and jackets and whatnot are stored. Um, so that means there's usually just one jacket, maybe two jackets, a front or shoulder season between seasons and one, maybe two pair of shoes out per person. So make sure that you're using your spaces as active spaces. I found this out the hard way when I was first, de-cluttering my clothes. And I had like 25 pairs of jeans and I found out I was only using two. And what was happening was the two pairs that I wanted to pull out each day were actually getting mixed in with all the other pairs they were getting in my way.

And it was making it harder to access the things that I wanted. So I got rid of the other 20 something pairs and only kept the two that I loved that way. Every day I opened up the drawer and there they were, I knew where they were. I knew if they were clean or not. And I got rid of all the rest that were really just taking up space. I created a more active space to place my jeans, and I have never looked back creating an active space in your closet, your drop zone, your kitchen, wherever it might be only keeping the things that you're actively using, putting everything else into storage or into a donation box will make your home so much more functional.

All right. How do you respond when kids constantly ask for new toys? So for, so for those of you who are on my email list, know that I recently talked about the fact that my kids have just started watching, watching commercials on TV and they had never, for the longest time watched anything with commercials, we've never really done YouTube with like the little, um, videos where kids are playing with toys and demos of toys and that kind of thing. So just the summer, really, they started watching some shows that had commercials and they started seeing these new and exciting toys. And I avoided them for the longest time. Cause I was like, oh, my kids are going to beg for all the things, but it's actually been this really wonderful conversation starter because we're talking about the things that we're seeing and how like, oh, that looks great.

That looks cool. That looks fun. But that doesn't mean that we're going to bring all these things home. So it's really started a lot of good conversations because most of the things in the commercials are not things that we're ever going to be bringing into our home, but we can still admire them and we can still acknowledge them. I don't have a hard time saying no when my kids are always asking for toys, because I think it's part of a lifelong lesson that they need to learn. You know? I mean, I can walk by a store window and see a beautiful jacket and say, oh, that is so beautiful, but I'm not bringing it home with me. Like there's so many beautiful, wonderful, interesting things out there, but we're not going to bring them all home with us because, well, number one, we probably don't have the space for them all.

Number two, it's not just going to clutter up our house, but it's going to clutter up our credit cards and bringing all the things that intrigued us home are, is a very quick way to building up debt as well. So knowing that saying no is teaching our kids that they're going to have to learn to say no for themselves to going forward. You're not being mean you're not limiting them. You're just showing them that it's okay to like things and admire and even wish for things. But not all those things are going to be things that we ultimately ended up keeping or bringing home. Um, even if you have a birthday or holiday coming up where you're going to get a gift, you might get one or two things, but you're not going to get all the things that you've ever wished for. So, all right.

Another question. All right. Question here on melodiousrn you said on the toys thing, my daughter loves the idea of new toys. She feels like she needs everything. She's seven and she doesn't fully understand it yet. Yeah. My kids are the same. I think they want everything. They see, especially things that seem, you know, glittery and shiny and new and novel. And I don't expect them to understand why we don't get all the things yet. I think it's more of the practicing and acceptance of hearing. No. And saying no, because there you have their best interest at heart. So you're setting that limit. You're setting that boundary by saying no and not buying everything that intrigues them in everything that they want. So I think it's okay if they don't understand it yet, you know, you're planting those seeds that are going to continue to grow and they're going to understand as they grow and they might be 20 before they understand it. Maybe 30. I mean, I was 30 before I really understood it. So, um, remember starting young planting seeds, but you're not expecting them to completely understand at this time yet.

All right. Got another question from Kellydn you said, do you ever feel like you're controlling too much? Yeah. All the time. I think that letting go of, of control is a huge part of parenting, right? We are giving our kids wings to fly and how do we do that? Other than setting them free and letting go of control little by little bit by bit. And for me, I tend to be a control freak. I think I do everything right. I think I know all the answers. Um, so it's really hard for me to let go of control, but I've been working on it. And for a person like me, who tends to be more of a control, freak, and likes to have everything my way it's, it does take a lot of intentional work. Um, some of the ways that I've been doing this lately are giving my kids a lot more choices.

So in the past I used to let them pick the color of their shoes. For example, like I would pick out the pair of shoes and they would pick out the color of the shoes. And just this fall, I took my son into a shoe store and I let him pick out his own pair of shoes. And now this might seem like no big thing for some of you, but for me, that was letting go of a lot of control, letting him pick out whichever shoes he wanted, because I mean, he could have ended up with like tennis ball, green shoes. He ended up with some red Nike's and they are great for him. But, um, just having that experience was, it was hard to let go for sure. Um, I also painted some furniture. Some of you that follow on Instagram will know that I've painted furniture for my kids and I let them pick the color.

I took them to the paint store and let them pick whichever color they wanted it to be. And my son picked like the brightest, hottest color of pink, and my daughter picked the brightest color of yellow, and I took a deep breath and I went with it, even though I'm would have much more preferred that we had done gray, but I kept my feelings to myself and we moved forward and we did it. We painted the colors that they wanted and it's great. They turned out great. Um, so I'm a little by little giving my kids autonomy. And if you are like me, have a hard time handing over that control, know that it is important to do it little by little and know that it's going to take practice. And you're probably going to have to take a lot of deep breaths in the process as you let go of that control.

Um, and it will, I think come about little by little as they grow. So Marcia, you said you just downsized from a 3000 square foot home to a 1400 square foot home. It was a great way to get rid of things, but I'm finding it hard to set up my kitchen, any tips. So if you just moved, give it time. I would say right now, put in your space, just a comfortable amount of stuff. The stuff that you really need, the stuff that you really use at least once a week in your kitchen and everything else, box it up and set it elsewhere and live with just that simplified kitchen for a month. Kind of like the toy vacation, almost live with that simplified kitchen for a month and see if you're really missing anything and kit the experience of living lighter. I think when you make the mistake of downsizing and you try to cram all this stuff into a smaller space, you're going to feel really overwhelmed in that space.

So I would say, take a lot of the stuff out until you get to the point where the kitchen feels very simple, very clean, very, um, very easy to maintain and live with it for a while and all that other stuff. Maybe you bring back one or two things, but you might find that you can actually declutter it. Um, when we downsized last year from about 3000 square feet to 1100 square feet, it was an amazing exercise in simplicity. And I did just that, you know, I filled it just to the capacity that it fit. And then I figured out what I had space for and when I didn't have space for, and the things I didn't have space for I decluttered. And I got rid of, and I have never looked back. There actually was something that, oh, I remembered what it was. There was something that I remember that I decluttered that I regretted.

I get this question a lot. The question I get a lot is have you ever decluttered something and then regretted it later? And one of the things that I did regret later was ID cluttered a bunch of lawn furniture. So we got lawn furniture maybe 10 years ago, and it had a bunch of cushions on it. It was a sofa and a loveseat and two chairs. It was beautiful, but it had cushions and they were always wet because we didn't have a covered patio and I never sat on them cause they were always wet. And if you sat on them, you got your pants all wet. So I'm like, you know what, I am done with these. So we sold them and they went to people who very happily embrace them and probably do a really nice job of bringing the cushions in each night, which I never did.

That always felt like too much work for me. Um, so I declutter those, I sold those and now we have a little sunroom and I'm like, you know what? Those outdoor, that outdoor furniture would have been perfect in this sunroom. So yeah, I mean, it does happen occasionally, but I've been doing this for seven years and there are really just a handful of things that I can think of. I mean, offhand, that's the only thing I can really think of that I've really regretted. So more times than not, you won't look back at the things that you have downsized.

All right. Question from teachinget you said, what do you do with gifts that people buy you that contribute to the clutter? So we will usually keep them for a little while and see if there's a way that we can put them to use. And if there's not, then we donate them or we find a new home for them. Now I will say that since we've been doing this for quite a few years now that most of the people who give to us know that we are keeping less and they really don't give to us things that we don't really need, or that we can't really use. So gifts from, like, for example, the grandparents that give to us, you know, they'll give us things like perishable items, um, gift cards, things that we can absolutely put to use in are not going to go to waste are not going to need to be rehomed.

So most of the people that gift to us are people that are intimate with us and they know our lifestyle. Now this was a slow journey. It wasn't like that right in the beginning. So if you're just starting and you have people in your lives that buy you a bunch of things that you're never going to use, and you just have to find somewhere to put it, um, know that with time, if you stick with it, that your family and friends, uh, will start to understand and respect your lifestyle more. So give it, it might take years, little by little as you're talking about and making visual changes, they'll see the changes within you too. You'll see that they start to buy differently for you. Katelyn. You said tip for anyone who hates the visual clutter of bookshelves. I got ones with doors and it's a life changer.

Yes, Katelyn. You know, I also don't love the visual clutter of bookshelves. We have some built-in bookshelves at our new house and I'm keeping them very sparse. I'm not filling them up with books. And in fact, we don't really keep a lot of adult books. Um, we keep a certain amount of kids' books and we try to use the library as much as possible for the kids' books. Um, but for the adult books, I have a bookshelf in the basement, right? Keep the more the, the reference books, the books that we're going to come back to time and time again. But other than that, I don't keep many books. And I know there's a lot of book lovers who will say like, that's crazy, but my rule of thumb for adult books is if there's a book that I pick up, I don't have any books on my desk right now.

But if there's a book that I pick up and I say, I remember I read about, I remember I read about this one thing in this book, and I might want to revisit that someday I will save it. But if I pick up a book and I've a never read it be don't think I will ever read it or don't have any interest in reading it and see have, or I read it. And did I already say that? Did I read it? And I don't remember anything from it, those books I donate because those books, I find that I'm never going to reach for them again. I'm never going to reference again, if I have no idea what's in them. So really only keeping the books that I'm going to probably use again. And I do have a lot of books, especially for the work that I do.

I do have a lot of books that I come back to and I referenced time and time again. And some of them, they only have one or two ideas in them that I really liked and really stuck with me, but I know which idea came from which book. And if I do know what's in that book, even if it's just one thing and it was meaningful to me, then I will keep it. But for the most part we do, we don't, we try not to buy as many books. I like to use my Kindle when possible, um, and like to use from the library, but I don't keep a huge amount of books. It's funny. Cause I used to think, um, I don't know, 10 years ago, I used to think that I wanted sort of like a home library. I wanted an office that was just filled with books, like floor to ceiling. And now I just like a really simple office space. As you can kind of see my office here got a message from the Scottish minimalist. You said, I love my E reader after a skeptical start. And you have rediscovered your love of libraries. Yes. I love that. I couldn't agree more. I think that it has been very liberating to not keep as many books because anyone that has moved to knows how hard it is to move books, they are so incredibly heavy.

So another question I'm going to take here from MgTasha, you said, you're wondering about the quality of the Vetta items that you bought. I, might, I just got a new job and think I may try it out. The, um, so I just ordered a Vetta capsule VE T T A. Uh, if you've been following me on Instagram, I've been posting some pictures of that and it is a capsule wardrobe company and I've been very, very skeptical. So I actually have been following and watching Vetta for a couple of years now. And I am like, no way not going to work. There's no way that I can wear a dress backward forward. And as a cardigan, it's just not possible. I'm a huge skeptic on this. So I just kind of brushed it off. So finally this year I'm like, you know what, I'm going to give it a try.

So I ordered a couple of things. Now, sometimes if there's a product I'm interested in trying, I will ask them like, Hey, would you like to send me one or two of these things? And I can try it and I'll share my experience on Instagram. Um, but I didn't want to do that with Vetta because I actually felt like I really wasn't going to like it. And even though you're not obligated, if you accept free things, you're not obligated to say good things, but it's awkward if you have bad things to say, so I didn't want to make any contact with them before I bought the clothes, because I was like, you know what? I really don't think these are going to work out. I'm super skeptical of it. So I bought them and I am so surprised that I love it. Um, the quality is great.

The things actually do work multiple ways. I will tell you that. I'm shocked. Let's see, I'm going to take one more question. Otherwise I'm going to lose my voice soon. Anyone listening live have a question. Otherwise, I'm going to grab one from my list here. Let's see. Okay. This one is from prob S T L R. You said you have a small house, 900 square feet with four people. The house is crowded with stuff, but I don't think we have too much stuff, no storage. So the right amount of stuff is the stuff that fits in your house. If your stuff doesn't fit in your house, then you have too much stuff. I think that's really all I have to say. You do have too much stuff. I'm sorry. I don't wanna argue with you about this, but you said you don't think you have too much stuff, but if it doesn't fit in your house and it feels too crowded, then yes, you need to downsize.

You need to minimize and really prioritize the things that you have. If you have a lot more space. Yes. You can keep more things. You have more space to keep it comfortably. If you have a lot more space, do you need more things? No, definitely not. I think you can still have very few things in a larger space. When we had a larger space, we had a lot of empty white space in the house and that's okay too. So if you have a larger space, it doesn't mean you need more things, but if you have a small space, it means you need a lot less things. I will say that for sure. So I am going to go ahead and wrap this up. I appreciate you all listening and I will talk with you soon.

Denaye Barahona

Dr. Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She partners with families to tackle the challenges of raising children. Denaye is a minimalist who claims to be a decluttering expert (don't let her near your closet). She loves to travel, talk health-and-wellness, and give unsolicited advice. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The Minimalists, Motherly, Becoming Minimalist, and numerous other media outlets. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Clinical Social Worker with a specialty in child and family practice.