Have you ever looked around your house, at all your stuff, and ever wished there was… less of everything? Less laundry, less clothing, less to do, fewer toys, less mess? With children, it might seem impossible—they have so much stuff! — but it’s not. Minimalist Moms by Diane Boden is a simple, realistic guide to help you achieve that.
If you think we shouldn’t need a guide to have fewer things, you’re right. Society shouldn’t be set up in such a way that requires us to work so hard to have less. We shouldn’t need a guide—but what about birthday parties? Or even just birthdays? What about holidays? And vacations? How about baby registries? Fundraisers? Even dinner, for goodness’ sake, if a Happy Meal is involved.
There are SO MANY SITUATIONS in which we’re given gifts or feel we need to give gifts that can make trying to reduce our stuff intake can be downright awkward. And what about those sentimental items that you just can’t let go of. And how about those sale racks? THAT’S what this book helps parents navigate.
About the Author: Diane Boden
Diane Boden is a mom, a podcast host, an author, a photographer, and a minimalist. Through her life experiences, she’s learned the value in leading a more simple, minimalist life.
Diane’s first awareness of minimalism, or the need for it, came when she was looking for something stored in boxes in her parents’ basement. Her husband casually mentioned something about all the hours her parents had worked for all the items that were boxed up and something clicked.
How many hours of their lives had her parents spent working to buy the things that then got packed away and stored into boxes? And that’s where her minimalist journey began.
I’m no stranger to books on minimalism. What makes Minimalist Moms different from the rest is how specific is it for parents. Most books on minimalism either casually mention kids’ belongings but leave you do to the hard part, or they don’t mention it at all. Minimalist Moms talks directly and specifically to parents and provides strategies for minimizing and reasonable alternatives to buying stuff.
Another way this book differs from the norm is because Boden actually encourages you to read slowly, asks questions for you to respond to, and take time to reflect on how you can make genuine changes. There are even workbook-type pages for you to take notes and write answers, making the book as relevant to your life as possible.
Minimalist Moms: Best Takeaways
In this parent-centric book, Boden shares what she calls “quick wins” for stopping the influx of STUFF. With simple tips like staying out of stores, choosing quality over quantity, and setting boundaries for belongings.
Need an example? Boden specifically calls out $1 Old Navy flip-flops—I know we can all relate to that. They’re hard to resist. What’s one more dollar? But what impact do those flip-flops have in our lives. Now we’re keeping and storing 12 pairs of (cheap, unsupportive) flip-flops, spending time deciding which pair to wear with which outfit, and pretty much just waiting to be that person limping around with a blister or a broken flip flop. Plus… do we really need bright yellow footwear?
A Shift in Thinking
Aside from the quick wins, Boden suggests changing the way we think about things — which is really the crux of minimalism. Having less requires intention and it can be very hard. If you’re doing a project, you might need a specific tool. If you’re planning a trip and book a flight, you might need some special items to make travelling with kids less stressful.
Borrow, Don’t Buy
Do any neighbors or friends have the tool you need for your project? Or maybe someone has one of those rolling bases you can attach to a car seat to make rolling through the airport with a toddler quick and simple.
If the item you need is one you won’t use regularly for a long time, ask around and see if you can borrow one.
What if we just… didn’t actually NEED something? Impulse shopping has never been easier, which means we can have items shipped right to our door before we’ve actually even considered whether we actually need it or we just want it. When we shift our mindset to just not needing things, we can save a lot of money and time.
It’s like when you’re in Target and you don’t have babies, you don’t even consider purchasing a stroller. When you see someone walking their baby in a nice stroller, you don’t think, “I could really use a stroller like that” because you just don’t need it.
Try NOT NEEDING more things. Telling yourself you have what you need and purchasing more is not an option is a strong way to reduce your consumption.
Pick ONE Favorite
We all have favorite items, and that’s okay, but when everything is a favorite, nothing is. Take some time to consider and prioritize your true favorites. What would you grab on the way out the door in a fire?
Focus on your true favorites and let some others go.
Everything Has a Place
This concept is key to finding the items you already own. Assign it a home and make an effort to put it back in its home when you’re done using it.
This is a much simpler task when you’ve got fewer possessions to maintain. Also, when you’ve got a minimalist mindset, you know one is enough and you don’t want to buy another because you can’t find the first. Putting items back when you’re done with them saves a ton of time and money.
As parents, it’s easy to apply sentiment to everyday items our babies have used, loved, and touched, but if we kept it all we’d be so buried in sentimental items from our pasts we’d cramp our present.
Boden suggests recognizing sentimentality as an emotion, and to remember that emotions change with time. That might mean storing a few sentimental items and then reevaluating them a few years down the road (maybe that box of stained baby clothes won’t be so impossible to let go when you’ve got a 6-year-old).
Additionally, make sure the sentimental items are attached to good memories. Are you hanging onto items from a past failed relationship? From a traumatic hospital visit with your baby? If the items bring back bad memories, let them go.
If you have some sentimental items you can’t let go, use them! Incorporate them into your home and your life as décor or for a specific function. Make a stuffed animal out of those baby clothes. Use grandma’s silver bowl to hold jewelry or loose change. Don’t let the items sit in a box and rot. If you truly love them, treat them that way.
When you hear the term, “minimalism” I’m sure you immediately think of a home. But what about your calendar?
Boden suggests that simply eliminating possessions isn’t quite enough to live that minimalist lifestyle. We also need to make sure we’re prioritizing how we’re spending our time. How many “obligations” do you have on your calendar? Events you don’t really want to attend, classes you don’t really want to take, sports your children don’t really want to play?
If you’re spending your time doing things that don’t align with your life goals and priorities, it’s time to change that.
Minimalist Moms shares great tips for lessening our obligations and being more intentional with our time. Boden has tips for reducing your “scroll time” on your phone (I know we’re ALL guilty of getting lost in the endless scroll), unsubscribing from emails, unfollowing accounts on social media, and embracing what she calls “JOMO” (like FOMO, only Joy of Missing Out instead of Fear of Missing Out).
Holidays & Babies
If you’ve tried to pare down your belongings but then found yourself buried again when it comes time for babies, birthdays, and holidays, you’re not alone. Boden gives helpful advice for keeping these events simple and communicating your intentions to well-meaning relatives.
Another aspect of this book that spoke to me was the concept of eco-minimalism. Sure, we all “do our part” to keep the Earth clean (meaning, we recycle and turn the water off when we brush our teeth) but minimalism itself can have a MASSIVE impact on reducing our carbon footprint.
The less you buy, the less has to be produced, packaged, shipped, and delivered. Plus, the less you buy, the less will end up in a landfill.
Aside from buying less, Boden provides other helpful recommendation for “going green,” which is near and dear to my heart.
How Minimalism Makes Us Better Parents
When you look around your home, do you just see a massive to do list? There’s always more cleaning, more tidying, more tasks to complete. Our day-to-day lives are full of a ton of tasks already (cooking meals, running errands). Do we really need MORE things to take care of? Yet that’s what happens when we have too much stuff.
Boden makes the argument that having less stuff helps her be more present, more patient, and spend more quality time with her children — essentially making her a better mom.
Reducing the number of items you own has so many positive trickle-down effects on the rest of your life.
Parenting is A LOT of work. Having more than we need and more on our calendar than we can handle doesn’t help. When we realize just how much we have and how we spend our time, we can realize that we need a change and make intentional choices to help us achieve those changes.
Minimalist Moms: Closing Thoughts
I appreciated Minimalist Moms’ simple, practical suggestions. Minimalism is all about taking baby steps and living life with intention. Readers looking to reduce their possessions can implement one or two suggestions at a time and then come back to the book when they’re ready to take another step.
Plus, since they set this book up as a workbook, you can truly personalize it to your life and needs.
Minimalist Moms is a great read for any parent who’s feeling overwhelmed with life and looking for a simpler path and calmer days—and really, isn’t that all of us?