Minimalist Moms by Diane Boden is a great book for parents striving for a simpler life. It tackles every day — and holiday — situations that can be tricky to navigate as a parent looking to live life with less. I recently had the opportunity to interview Diane, the minimalist mom, and I’m sharing the details below!
How We “Met”
Diane and I first talked a few years ago. We found each other on Instagram — I’m not sure who followed who first. I loved the focus of her account and podcast, Minimalist Moms Podcast — after all, the less you have, the easier it is to organize. When Diane asked me to be a guest on her show, I was delighted and immediately said yes. We discussed minimizing a pantry. You can listen here.
Now, a few years and a pandemic later, we still keep in touch via social media. Diane reached out a few months ago and told me about her book — Minimalist Moms — and asked if I wanted a copy. Which, of course, I said I did! I read it, reviewed it, and asked if I could interview her for my blog. It was her turn to say yes!
We had an old-fashioned phone call — no zoom, no screen, no makeup, kids in the background — and chatted about the pandemic, being an author, a minimalist, and a mom. While my interview skills leave a lot to be desired, Diane was gracious and wonderful to talk to.
The Interview with Minimalist Mom, Diane Boden
Life with Less Mess: Congratulation on writing a book! What inspired you to write it?
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: It happened more organically, actually. I had a listener [on the Minimalist Moms Podcast] who worked for Mango Publishing reach out to me in January 2020 and ask if I’d ever considered writing a book. It had always been a bucket list kind of activity. I had gone to school for English, but it wasn’t anything I was pursuing at the time. I signed a contract at the end of February and then Covid happened, so I wasn’t really able to write right away. My husband gave me the summer to work on it, he’s a high school teacher, and I went from there. So, it wasn’t anything I really sought out, it just kind of happened with the podcast.
Life with Less Mess: That’s amazing! How long did it take you to write?
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: I think it took me 3 months to write, and that was just working in the mornings and in the evenings. My husband could take the kids out of the house a couple mornings a week and then I’d have that time.
I would also say that because I’m already producing content on a weekly or daily basis with the podcast and Instagram posts, I felt like I had a lot of the content already in my mind, so that happened really naturally. I didn’t have to come up with a new idea because of what I was already doing.
Life with Less Mess: You just had to organize it, right? 😉
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: Yeah, I had to get organized it and see how I wanted to structure it.
That’s where the mantras, or “areas of focus” in the book, were helpful because I was already writing those occasionally, so I knew I wanted to include them and that’s really what helped me organize the whole book.
Life with Less Mess: So, do you like to read and is it really fun to see your name on the cover of a book?
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: Yeah! It is really exciting, and it doesn’t feel real in some ways, but then I’m also… when I do something [and am successful], I don’t really allow myself to sit and enjoy it. I’m usually like, “okay, what’s the next thing?” I need to get better about sitting and enjoying either the season I’m in or whatever the joyous occasion is. I need to sit and let it sink in. It’s a part of living slow that I don’t have nailed down.
Even with the podcast, when I hit certain milestones and goals I didn’t enjoy it, I just made new goals, I never just congratulate myself.
But it is very cool! It was very cool finding it in a bookshop!
It’s all kind of like, how did this happen? This year has been crazy enough without also having a book being published throughout it. So, I think that’s part of the reason that it feels so strange.
Life with Less Mess: Your book is on minimalism, specifically for parents. How do you feel your book differs from others?
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: I think mine has to do, not just with tangibles of decluttering, but it also includes your schedule and there are areas of focus in there like time minimalism and mindfulness, topics that are not always associated with minimalism, but more with slow living. While there are certainly books written about slow living, mine are just little snippets because I wanted them to be easily digestible for moms. I think other books out there on minimalism are not necessarily for moms or don’t go into as much depth as I attempted to do with this book.
I’m very proud of how the book came together. It was a little unexpected, actually.
Life with Less Mess: Do you ever have that “mom guilt” for not buying things for your kids?
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: No, I definitely don’t. I think that when you’re living a certain way for a long period of time, it just habit. It’s natural that I don’t feel that way. I don’t feel that way about myself either.
Also, I think we do so many things each day that my kids have a very rich life without having a lot of things. I try to give my kids a ton of experiences; we get out into nature, go to the playground, go to the zoo once a week.
They have toys, for sure, but I think living naturally this way for many years, the experiences are their toys, in a way.
Life with Less Mess: That brings me to my next question. What are some experiences you’ve been able to have that might not have been possible without minimalism?
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: My husband and I are super intentional about how we spend money. We’re definitely frugal, as well.
We were able to go to Paris on a baby-moon with our 2nd child because we did it in a very budget-friendly way, but we also prioritized setting aside money for things like that.
We don’t have cable, we don’t buy new cars, we don’t really go out to eat. There aer things like that that we say no to because we’d rather shift that spending towards experiences like going to Paris.
Our honeymoon was the same way. I felt like we traveled the country for 3.5 weeks in our car, just going all around the United States. We were able to do that because we weren’t trying to “Keep up with the Joneses” by going to some tropical place that our plane tickets would have cost $4000 by themselves. We camped out in The Grand Canyon and in Port Angeles, Washington.
We say no to certain things so we have room to spend on that experience-type life. And that’s not going to be for everyone, but I think you get to decide, when you’re living with less, that you get to curate that lifestyle you want.
And I think with possessions, anytime I’ve ever gotten anything… I’m thinking about a new sweater I just got for Mother’s Day. The excitement wears off, but I can think back to Paris or going to Disney World just before Covid. There are things like that that stay with me and are just as lovely to look back on. The joy isn’t as lasting with your items.
Life with Less Mess: I think creating experiences like that really impact and create a culture for your family in a way that possessions don’t.
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: Absolutely. So I know it’s not for everyone. Maybe some people don’t like to travel but maybe they want to put their experiences in creating a cool backyard for kids to explore and enjoy, not necessarily what you see in mainstream culture.
Life with Less Mess: What is your hardest item to resist? Do you have anything that, even though you’re a minimalist and intentional, you can’t NOT shop it or slip up sometimes?
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: So, the first thing I would say is coffee, but I don’t think that necessarily a possession since it’s a consumable. I spend way too much on take out coffee, but it’s actually an experience for me. It’s my moment of Zen.
Other than that… this is hard, my husband would probably have a good answer here. Whenever I spend money, he tells me [sarcastically] that I’m such a good minimalist.
Oh! I know! Thrifted goods! I am really into secondhand shopping and finding vintage goods from whatever time period. I think if I find a great deal it’s hard to say no to because it’s secondhand, so it’s sustainable. Plus, it’s inexpensive and I’m decorating my house with it, and I really love it.
There are a ton of Instagram accounts popping up where people go thrifting and then they post their finds for sale for a slightly higher price and you can buy it from them. It’s amazing and you can find them in your community so you don’t have to pay for shipping. I have a few here in Columbus that I love.
I’m selling so often from my own house when decluttering, that if I find I have a little money in my Venmo and I go and buy some thrifted goods.
Life with Less Mess: So, you brought up your husband. While I’m minimizing a lot and curbing spending, I brought up a kitchen renovation to MY husband the other day, and he told me I couldn’t be a minimalist and want to do a kitchen renovation. To me, those aren’t mutually exclusive.
What is a common misconception you find people have about minimalism?
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: I think that people, especially mothers, we don’t have to have just a few chairs and sparse walls and one toaster oven.
I believe that minimalism, to quote Marie Kondo, is pulling out the things that spark joy and that you really love and getting rid of the rest.
If you want a kitchen remodel, I have no issue with that because you’re crafting a place that you’re living in and spending time in every day, making memories with family. I guess you could do it really “bougie” and maybe that could leave some space for minimalism.
I always prefer quality over quantity, so I’d rather just buy one good quality microwave and have it forever than buy a cheap one and replace it every year.
That might be another thing people don’t quite understand about minimalism. It’s different from buying the least expensive option all the time.
Life with Less Mess: You mentioned that in the book. I love your example of Old Navy flip flops. Who hasn’t purchased a dozen of them in their life?
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: Yes! I love my Birkenstocks. I wear mine every day, all summer, with every outfit, so I get a lot of use out of them and I can get about three years from a pair. You definitely couldn’t do that with a pair of Old Navy flip flops.
Maybe compared with other minimalists, the extreme minimalist lifestyle isn’t for me, I have three kids. I think people could look at me and say, “Well, you’re not actually a minimalist,” but I think being intentional about the items in your home and getting rid of excess is a great step.
Life with Less Mess: As an organizer, I go into people’s homes a lot to help them deal with their belongings. The amount of items I sometimes see in people’s homes… they’re just drowning in stuff and it’s definitely an issue.
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: And you can be organized without being a minimalist, so that’s a whole other thing.
Look at The Home Edit. All those things that they do. I love The Home Edit and I think they do a great job, but it’s like, do we really need all this? Do we need everything that you’re putting in that space?
Going back to the kitchen, if you’re doing your kitchen like that and trying to add all the extra stuff that’s unnecessary, it’s probably unneeded. If you actually want to create a space to live in every day, it makes sense. You probably in your kitchen more than any other space.
Life with Last Mess: Last question. Do you think when you’re rich and famous for your wildly successful podcast and book, that you’d ever turn away from minimalism?
Diane Boden, Minimalist Mom: Um. No. Number one, I don’t think I’ll ever be famous, haha.
Number two, I don’t think so, but this is a curious question. I have an episode coming up on the podcast… am I a minimalist just because I’m surrounded by maximalists? So, last summer I was on a boat with family and it’s nice that I get the benefits without the ownership, but it sometimes makes me have to take a step back.
It’s not just about the tangible things that I own, but knowing how to say yes to things and no to others. I think it’s things like that that will never change about my lifestyle. Theres’s so much freedom here. There’s freedom of not being weighed down by your stuff.
We have some family members with big houses and boats and I appreciate I get to visit their lifestyle, but their spaces and stuff overwhelm me. I like bare-boned, let’s just have what we need, we know where everything is, and we don’t have to clean as much.
I find myself sometimes decluttering things just so I don’t have to clean it or clean around it.
Life with Less Mess: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today!
While she says the book deal kind of fell into her lap, it wasn’t quite that simple. The years of hard work and perseverance put Diane in the position to be offered a book deal, although it wasn’t something she was pursuing when it happened.
As moms, it’s hard to know the right path, spend time on yourself, and take credit when you deserve it. Being a minimalist in today’s consumerist world isn’t easy. Raising kids isn’t easy. Writing a book in the middle of a pandemic while parenting and hosting a podcast? Definitely difficult.
I’m grateful to Diane for writing such an excellent guide on parenting as a minimalist and speaking to me.