Diane Boden (author of Minimalist Moms) explains how families can be happier with less stuff—and she even has tips to get kids involved.
I threw away a favorite pair of jeans in the middle of reading “Minimalist Moms: Living and Parenting with Simplicity,” a new book by Upper Arlington mom Diane Boden, who hosts a podcast of the same name.
It wasn’t because the book implied that I had to. Boden often says that minimalism looks different for everyone, meaning there isn’t one right way to do things. But reading along as she shared the intentionality behind everything in her own closet, my old jeans with ripped knees no longer felt like something I needed to keep.
Boden’s path to minimalism started years ago while sorting through boxes in her parents’ basement with her husband, Marty. He pointed out how the boxes were full of stuff they had once cared about but that was now stored away. She considered the cycle: wanting something, buying it, then ultimately stashing it in the basement.
A self-described “shopaholic” at that point in her life, she began reflecting on everything she owned but never used. “I was thinking about how much more I’d rather put into experiences with my husband around Columbus, or vacations I wanted to take,” she says. “It was a little bit of a light bulb that just happened organically that day.”
As Boden began changing her lifestyle, she met her friend Megan Ericson for drinks. They discovered they were both interested in starting a podcast and realized that their shared interest in minimalism—and their divergent approaches to it—would give them plenty to talk about. “She lived in a 4,000-square-foot house, and I lived in a 900-square-foot house,” Boden says. Their discussions on “Minimalist Moms” solidified Boden’s belief that there isn’t a single right way to become a minimalist, and that the concept of minimalism can offer important lessons for parents and children.
Both Boden’s book and the podcast, which is available on four platforms, provide practical advice for raising kids to be more conscientious about what they consume. She’s had success sharing her ideals with her three children and involving them in the process. “They will surprise you with how much they’re willing to go alongside you,” she says.
With kids, the reasoning is also important. Getting rid of old toys simply for the sake of cleaning may not go over well. But Boden says sitting her daughter down before Christmas or a birthday, reminding her that new things will be arriving and asking her to fill a box with toys for kids who are less fortunate has been a great way for her daughter to make her own decisions about what she needs, and it builds empathy in the process.
Boden, who also dishes out advice to nearly 15,000 Instagram followers, recognizes that clutter isn’t just physical. Her book includes strategies for dealing with digital overload, as well as time management tips. Most important, she says, is to preserve your time by only committing to things you feel truly excited about and then fully enjoying them (hint: put your phone down). Her family spends a lot of time visiting local destinations such as the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and Metro Parks; as they have fun together, she says, her children better understand the family’s commitment to buying experiences over things. Your stories live here. Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.
Sarah Otto, a Grandview Heights mother of four and the owner of Otto Skin Goods (a skin care product line), was a recent guest on “Minimalist Moms.” She says that minimalism “has made a huge difference in my confidence as a mom,” adding that Boden’s book is a helpful guide. “Minimalism can sound overwhelming, but Diane broke it down into an actionable guide that is easy to use,” she says via email.
Organizing expert Rachel Rosenthal, who owns Washington, D.C.-based Rachel and Co., has also been a podcast guest and writes in an email that having less stuff can be a helpful start for those seeking to lead a more organized life.
If you’re thinking that this sounds like a lot of work, you’re probably right—at least initially. It’s amazing how much time it takes to rid yourself of things you don’t want. But these items add up, as all parents know: the small sticks and rocks brought home from a walk in the woods, the gift bags from birthdays and school parties, the baby and toddler toys the kids don’t miss but that you simply can’t part with.
While I am by no means a fan of organizing, I do appreciate a method to manage my stuff. Boden inspired me to start tackling the many things that have piled up or worn out during this pandemic year. It’s been three weeks, and I don’t miss those jeans at all.
“Minimalist Moms: Living and Parenting with Simplicity” is available at bookstores. Follow @minimalistmomspodcast on Instagram for tips and information, and go to minimalistmomspodcast.com to download episodes.
This story is from the Summer 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.
Living and Parenting with Simplicity
Make minimalist living possible for your family. Parenting is hard enough already without trying to change the way you live in one fell swoop. Diane Boden, the host of the Minimalist Moms podcast, knows that what busy moms desire are quick, daily minimalist quotes that provide inspiration and a reminder of the positive impact of minimalism. Minimalist Moms is a book of on-the-go minimalist wisdom, that gradually teaches busy parents how to embrace the core principles of minimalism—simple living, focusing on what matters, and inner calm.